Tag Archives: London

We are the Arsenal, we boo when we want

I’d like to counter Keenos article regarding his disgust over Arsenal fans booing at the final whistle of Wednesday’s draw. https://shewore.com/2014/02/13/arsenal-fans-disgraceful-booing-as-team-sit-second/ I’m not going to put up an argument against his dislike of the booing (though my feeling from watching the match on TV, was that some of the booing was also directed towards United for finishing the game on a whim and being negative).

However, at least those who booed stayed until the end like a football supporter should do. Half the crowd had buggered off early – as they always do win lose or draw. Why is that not the bigger issue? Whether it’s an exciting game, or a dull game, this mass exodus is the worst form of support – but yet a few timid jeers become the measuring stick of dissatisfaction and fickleness. It baffles me that fans would pay such a high price to go to a game and yet arrive 5 minutes late, leave for a drink 5 minutes before halftime, get into the second half 5 minutes late, and then leave 5 minutes before the final whistle. I’ve said that £62+ is an outrageous price for just 90 minutes, but in this case we’re talking £62+ for just 70 minutes. “I’m Arsenal till I die -but I can’t stay till the end, have to go now bye…”

“We’re by far the greatest team the world has ever seen- but even so, I’ve a very early start tomorrow so must beat the rush”

I’d certainly like to take issue with Keenos comment that “Arsenal fans acted spoiled last night”. You mean the same fans that pay the highest ticket prices in world football? I would not label any set of football fans in England today as spoiled. I would describe all football fans as trodden upon pawns, of whose loyalty is taken advantage of by the forces of greed. Football clubs are spoilt because enough fans will stick with them no matter how badly they are treated. Ivan Gazidas’ distain for the fans was highlighted most starkly last month against Tottenham, when he hit supporters with Grade A prices -straight after the New Year when people were short of money. It was an FA Cup game and should have been Grade B, yet the board got away with it because the club is heavily spoiled with loyal followers. Arsenal PLC is a spoiled brat who gets what it wants because of unconditional love. The fans are the ones who have made the playing staff, the management and the executives filthy rich, so if they feel like booing very now and then, I’d say live with it and accept it because your greed created it.

I stopped attending games because of the prices, but I was the kind of supporter who would sing for 90 minutes and I would not have booed a team that is just one point off the top. However, I don’t blame anyone for feeling like jeering, because what they witnessed on Wednesday was passionless, boring and lacked quality –and yet was incredibly expensive. They’ve been sold a dream of caviar and been provided with junk food. Not so many years ago that same fixture would have cost you the equivalent price of a cinema ticket and the fans would have accepted that sometimes you have off days. There would not have been booing at the end. The greed culture of modern football has created this monster in the stands and so it’s a simple case of you reap what you sow.

Matthew

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Theatre-Silence-Lost-Soul-Football/dp/190349057X

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The Arsenal and Me – Johny’s Story

It’s December 2008, and I suddenly realise I am in a spot of bother. I am sitting in my Lounge in my house in Harare, the capital city of Zimbabwe. The country formerly known as the bread basket of Africa had been crippled under the Robert Mugabe regime who after 28 years in power had lost the presidential election and undertook a bloody campaign in order to stay in power. It worked and he remained president. The economy hit all time lows with world record levels of inflation being recorded. It was difficult to measure but it was estimated that monthly inflation hit its peak about a month before, at 6.5 sextillion percent. For those of you who perhaps don’t know a sextillion is equivalent to a trillion billion so that’s 6,500,000,000,000,000,000,000%. What this meant is that money had lost all value. It was cheaper to wipe your arse with the highest denomination note (Z$100 trillion) than it was to buy one square of toilet paper to do the same. It was more or less impossible to buy anything in the shops. The country had ground to a halt.

This was the world that had greeted me when returning home on vacation from Rhodes University in South Africa. On top of this, we had not had water supplied to our house from the municipality since 1999 and we were in the middle of a 5 week power cut. Things were dire, it’s hard to describe. And to top it off my parents had conveniently absconded to South Africa for a wedding, leaving me with an empty fridge (no power anyway) and a small amount of Zimbabwe Dollars (a few kazillion perhaps). To compound these problems, my brother and I had gone out on a week-long binge on our return and spent all the cash. In our defence though, at the rate it was devaluing, we had to spend it before it was worthless. But now we had no food, no money, and no transport and had been surviving off the garden in a Bear Grylls like manner.

However none of the aforementioned issues were the cause of what was troubling me at that exact moment. The only thing that was troubling me, as I put some water on to boil to hopefully avoid becoming another statistic in the outbreak of Cholera, was that Arsenal was playing Liverpool in a few hours, and due to the lack of electricity I had no way to watch it. My only option was to try and source some petrol to fire up a generator which would power my TV and Satellite dish. This however was no easy task as my car had already run out of fuel, there was no fuel available at the service station and I had no Zimbabwe dollars to buy fuel. Unperturbed I took the last $20US note, which I had been saving for complete emergencies, developed a plan and set off by foot on my way.

Having spoken to every dodgy person I knew in search of Zimbabwe dollars, my first port of call was an illegal black market money dealer. This bloke owned a commuter taxi service and so had cash in the form of Zimbabwe Dollars available which he sold for extortionate amounts. He would for example accept a cheque for 500 trillion dollars in exchange for 100 trillion in hard currency – such was the premium on cash. Ridiculous. I pitched up at his place, and after persuading him I was not any form of law enforcement officer, and much haggling, he exchanged the $20 for a duffel bag full of Zimbabwean dollars the exact amount of which I cannot remember.

Second obstacle to cross was trying to find petrol. Luckily again, I knew a bloke who knew a bloke who worked in a fuel station but he was about a 4 mile walk away. After much pleading he sold me 15 litres of petrol. Back then we had to physically weigh money on a scale to check it was as much as being claimed as it was too time consuming to count such large quantities of cash. The deal was done and I set on the long walk home with 15 litres of fuel in a container balanced on my head. But at least I had gotten rid of that bloody bag of money to make the journey easier! After a very painful walk home I made it back just in time for kickoff. But it’s like my old man always says, ‘Africa is not for sissies’. I fired up the generator and turned on the telly just in time to catch the end of that bloody Gary Bailey giving his pre-match analysis. He was biased as hell against Arsenal as usual! The actual game was a disappointing 1-1 draw. Some dutch person whose name I can’t remember scored for us and some Togolese bloke got sent off. And Fabregas got injured for a few months. Robbie Keane scored a goal and that was definitely fluke. But the main thing was that I wasn’t gonna have the last thing that I had taken away from me: The Arsenal.

So how you may be asking now did I become a Gooner? That’s what ‘The Arsenal and Me’ is all about after all. Well in was inevitable really. It was in my blood. My mother is a staunch Arsenal Fan, she watches every game. She speaks fondly of her larger than life grandfather who was Arsenal mad and went to every game at Highbury. Despite my grandparents immigrating to the British colony of Rhodesia as it was then, due to a lack of jobs in post war Britain the undying support for Arsenal continued in the family.

It was inevitable that I would move to London and when I did so 2 years ago Arsenal was at the top of my agenda. Suffice it to say my match days are somewhat different now than to the one described a few years ago above. The beer always flows at the Tolly and other surrounding pubs, and I am constantly grateful to be able to watch my team live and be part of the Arsenal community. That said I am also am very thankful to have had the upbringing I did in Zimbabwe and I was lucky enough to explore some of the more remote areas of Africa. And the funny thing is no matter how remote and rural the area you are in, no matter how far away you are from a television and civilisation, people can always tell you the football scores from the weekend. Football is an incredibly global phenomenon and it has been a pleasure to meet gooners from all walks of life. I look forward to sharing a pint with more of you in North London in the future.Johny

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The Arsenal and Me – Trond’s Story

How did it start? And when?

I’m really not sure. It was the early seventies, the very early seventies. I would guess sometime in 1972. A small kid with the universal dream of becoming a professional footballer in England chose Arsenal as his favorite team.

Why Arsenal?

Don’t know that for sure, either. Maybe because my best friend at the time was an Arsenal fan (or became one at the same time I did). Maybe it was the shirts – for sure the coolest and best-looking strip in the English 1st Division.

Was The Double in 1970/71 part of the reason?

I don’t think so. It was probably the red shirts with the white sleeves and the cool cannon that clinched it.

Plus Charlie George, as cool as they came.

Which means I was a young boy coming of age, supporting The Arsenal through the seventies and eighties. That was rough sailing.

Back then, being an Arsenal supporter (or supporter of any English team in the north of Norway) was hard work. Norway’s only TV channel, NRK, Norway’s BBC (well, not really), showed a handful (10-15) of games throughout the worst winter months. News from England about your favorite team was hard to come by. Twitter was still a few years away. Our only TV channel treated English football in a random manner. At worst it could actually take 2-3 days to get to know the score from last Saturday’s match (if we weren’t able to tune into BBC on the radio on Saturday afternoon).

Now, if there is a slight delay in the transmission – or if I am watching on a lagging stream – I can learn on Twitter about a goal being scored a few (milli-)seconds before I actually get to see it.

I could give you loads of descriptions of how terrible life was for an «arctic» Arsenal supporter – or for anyone – back then, and up here. Imagine wanting to run outside to emulate my heroes’ achivements, only to be met by black darkness in the middle of the day, and a couple of meters of snow…for months and months.

Anyway, the worst problem with being a sub-arctic Arsenal supporter in the seventies was – obviously – the results.

To jump ahead: After The Magic Night at Anfield in May 1989, my level of support, or should I say willingness to spend time following the Arsenal, waned. I was/am not a fan of the Graham era. Sorry. I like my football like I (used to) like my drinks: Plentyful. I’d rather see Arsenal win 5-4 than 1-0.

Enter Arsène.

Oh yeah, I quickly became an AKB. Still is, will always be. Probably annoying and naive, but there it is. I am not one to change my mind easily.

With Arsène football became fun again. Arsenal became fun again. Exciting. Thrilling.

Still, it would take another almost 10 years until I went to Highbury for the first – and only – time (going to London, spending a night or two in a hotel, paying for tickets – it sets you back a few quid). It was Arsenal vs. Juventus in the Champions League on a fantastic London night in March of 2006. The night Cesc really came of age, leaving mentor Vieira on his arse, and scoring a goal. The night Pirès made a tackle. And the feeling of floating above the North Bank when Henry scored his magic goal, putting Arsenal 2-0 up…I am a big and very tough man, but a few tears escaped my eyes then.

Nah, it was the wind and the chill, of course it was.

And I was bitten – my visit to Highbury gave me The Sickness, and I have been to The New Home of Football several times, soaking up the feeling of London, North London, The Arsenal.

I hope to be back soon – actually just a few days ago my Arsenal supporting wife made the point that it is too long since we went to see The Arsenal.

Lucky man, huh? Both an Arsenal supporter and married to a girl who enjoys going to the games (almost) as much as me.

Now all that is missing is a trophy.

Over to you, Arsène.

Trond

If you would like to tell your Arsenal story, click here