Can you remember May 11th 1993?

November 20, 2010

Yesterday I had the great pleasure of describing my path to the Light, and my close encounter with The Dark Side. Today is an opportunity to reflect upon past games against The Stratford-Bound Spurs (please Mr Levy take them there – you will be lauded forever in the anals of history – deliberate spelling 😉 )

Let us start back in Black and White. Not that wonderful Spurs double team of ‘61 but the supposedly as good side of ‘71; Gilzean, Chivers, Peters, Mullery, Perryman, Knowles and the best keeper of his generation Pat Jennings  formed the basis of their team with Mike England the cornerstone of their defence. We mullered them at WHL to take the League title with Raddy and Kennedy heroes of the night. The next week Charlie George secured our FIRST double.

Then there is the classic 5-0 at WHL in Dec 1978 with that wonderful Liam Brady goal. Or the 1-0 in the Cup semi-final at Wembley when TA gained our revenge for that awful day two years previous, when Gazza and Lineker’s goals sent me on a truly depressing drive home on the North Circular.

Thinking of great goals. Has anyone scored a better goal than Thierry in 2002. Receiving the ball in his own half, and weaving his way at speed through an increasingly bewildered Spurs defence before finishing with aplomb and running  Adebayor-esque up to the stunned Spurs fans in the Clock End. Sliding up to them on his knees the picture taken from his back towards those saps is one of the images of the decade.

Have we won the League at White Hart Lane just once? 2004. We arrive needing just a point to win the Premiership. Vieira scores in the first half. Pires adds a second. The Spuds jammed one from Redknapp (he used to play football) and get a second to force a draw through a dodgy penalty in the 93rd minute, by which time the only fans in the ground were wearing the Red and White.  The lads parading the champagne and the Cup around White Hart Lane was a delicious moment.

Then there was Fabregas’s classic at the Grove just a couple of years ago. The commentator had this to say “one of the greatest solo goals in Premiership history”. And Fab is better now….

Can you recall a victory for Spurs at our place? Would it surprise you if I told you it was 11th May 1993? I was at the game along with a paltry crowd of 26k. It was the last game of the season and we played our reserves, included in our team were Mark Flatts, Neil Heaney, Scott Marshall, Lyderson, Alan Miller and Gavin MacGowan. Why? Because we were playing Sheffield Wednesday on the 15th at Wembley where we won the Cup Double. Teddy scored for Spurs that day as he was to do so often down the years. He remains my and most other Arsenal fans most disliked player.

But let us think about that. 1993 against a reserve team. More than 17 years ago.

And before that? According to the Spurs website it was in January 1985, with goals from Garth Crooks and Mark Falco !! To say that we have dominated is a misnomer – we have ruled the North London divide for 25 years.

We have heard yesterday how the pendulum is/has swung Tottenham’s way. Where is the evidence for such a ludicrous statement? Is it in the table where they languish 5 places below us. Is it in their goalscoring record? No, we have scored 5 more than them already. The defence? Can’t be –  they have conceded 5 more than us. Is it their attendances – don’t be silly. The only evidence I can come up with where they are ahead of us is that they have spent tens of millions more than Arsenal in assembling their squad – but then they always have, so I can’t see the pendulum swinging.

As was pointed out in the comments, it is Liverpool who have suffered from the upturn in Tottenham’s form, but will they be able to maintain their place in the Champions League? In my opinion Everton, Villa and City are the frontrunners for 4th. Spurs are below Bolton and Sunderland yet their fans remain delusional!!

Spurs will consider leaving with a point a major victory and further proof of their improvement, whereas we will consider it two easy points thrown away.

One further point – a good refereeing performance is essential in a NLD, today we have Phil Dowd, a ref who is a disciplinarian. Let’s hope the game doesn’t rest on one of his more controversial decisions

Could today be the day when Spurs finally break their hoodoo?  What do you think?

COYRRG


High Noon

November 19, 2010

In my very young years Spurs were the best in the country if not the world, with a team that had it all – speed, craft, strength (what a player Dave Mackay was), super full backs, centre halves (as they were then) a fine keeper and the late , great Bobby Smith upfront. I can still name the entire 61 Double team, such was their impact upon my psyche.

It was touch and go whether I supported the forces of good or evil, my father had gone over to the dark side and encouraged me to do the same. I was taken to  the coven at WHL to be surrounded by waling banshees and devil worshippers. Thankfully I saw the light and was led onto the path of good and righteousness by other family members. Had they not exorcised me I could have been subjected to a life of ridicule and envy, for such is the life of a Spurs fan. How those poor saps made the disastrous decision to support the joke that is THFC is for them to analyse, but I think it must be centred upon low self-esteem and a history of bed wetting.

Last season we lost our record of not having been beaten by them in the PL this century – you may recall they brought out a DVD. In a way it took a monkey off our backs, but it still rankles that our team didn’t perform that night and a Spurs lad scored the goal of his life (poor chap has gone back to a life of obscurity). And then there was the 4-4 (another DVD!) a game which in which we threw away 2 points and allowed an ex-AFC reserve to score the goal of his life – we must stop that habit!

Spurs go into the game with fresh legs thanks to them having so few Internationals, whereas our boys have all (16 of them!) been away playing meaningless friendlies.  Players like Arshavin and Nasri who played 90 minutes will struggle for fitness.

To see the vast gulf in class between our clubs one only has to assess the respective managers. Mr. Wenger is approaching sainthood, whereas Harry is an execrable human being whose only redeeming features are his fit daughter-in-law and his bank balance.

There can be no doubt that at last Spurs have a decent squad, they can play good football and have quality throughout the side. In Gareth Bale they have the best player in the World – the new Messi  (yeah, right….typical Spurs, 10 decent games from Bale and he is worth €50m!!), the Bale/Sagna battle will be mouthwatering. Modric despite having a ratface and the body of an undernourished spaniel is a player who would flourish at Man Utd – he is wasted at the Sh**hole. Jenas is likely to play thanks to Fatboy Huddlestone’s ban, a player who loves a goal against us – he will have to closed down fast. Lemon is quick but crosses like Clichy, Crouch is hated by the Spurs acolytes which sums them up – I like him but hope he has a stinker tomorrow. Same goes for Pavlachenko – actively disliked by his own fans (check out their blogs). Then there is  Van de Vaart, the “New Dennis Bergkamp”, an Real reject who has started well in the PL, he is without doubt a fine player and an excellent signing by Redknapp, our defensive midfielders will have to be very aware of his movement, for that reason I would play Denilson ahead of Wilshere.

Our ex-captain WG will start and I expect him to get a rousing welcome (actually the expected response will be apathy unless he scores). Should (when) Spurs lose tomorrow their fans will focus upon their defence and the lack of their 3 best CB’s, but let us be honest, if King plays 12 games a season he has had a good year, Woodgate isn’t even in their 25 man squad; Dawson it has to be admitted is a loss but they have a WC winner as a replacement!

Our team:

We have had 2 back to back away victories and return to the Grove where our record is surprisingly not great this season. The fighting performances on the road must be continued if we are to win tomorrow. I am told Arshavin is running into good form, and Chamakh is on a fine scoring streak. Fabregas has found aggression to add to his sublime skills and Nasri is the Premiership’s form player. We have easily enough quality to win this game – what will be required is commitment and concentration over the whole 95 minutes.

The North London Derby (NLD) has at last got some frisson back thanks to the resurgence of the devilspawn fro N17, the atmosphere at The Grove will be electric, the teams excited and inspired, and I just wish I could be there….

Here’s hoping for a great game, a decent referee, an early goal, one just before half time to calm the nerves and a victory for the men in the white hats.

This is not a purely a question of football superiority – it is the eternal battle for the triumph of good over evil

COYRRG

Written by BigRaddy


Loan Players.

November 19, 2010

At the weekend Danny Welbeck scored for Sunderland in the wonderful win at Stamford Bridge, not only did he score but he put in a fine performance that had Chelsea’s 2nd string CB’s running all over the pitch allowing others to attack. Fairplay one may say, good on him and good on Sunderland, but Welbeck is signed to Man Utd.

Sunderland first goal was one of the goals of the season scored by  full back Onouha. Onouha is on loan from Man City.

So Chelsea were undone (in part) by players from direct rivals, how can this be?

At Blackburn in our valiant 2-1 victory earlier in the season, Blackburn’s goalscorer was M. Diouf who gave our defence a torrid time. Diouf is on loan from Man Utd.

Last week we played a Wolves team who had Mancienne in their defence, an excellent young player on loan from Chelsea, and we face the prospect of playing Spurs at the weekend who may play Pletikosa in goal – another loanee.

Last season we loaned out young Jack to Bolton and this season we have gained the benefit of his experiences there. Had he scored in a win over MU we would have been delighted !

With the increasing gap between the wealth and quality of squads of the CL clubs and the lower PL clubs, it is inevitable that those players who have a value to the CL clubs but are not within their 25 player squad will be loaned out ( I realise this is simplistic due to the homegrown rules). Furthermore, we have some fantastic young players who will be too old for the youth/reserve teams and not good enough to replace an established player but need experience to develop. That player will go on loan, and he will go on loan to a club in the lower half of the table.

I assume there is an unwritten agreement that loan players do not play against their registered clubs, but why should that be? It weakens the team playing the loanee and therefore gives an added advantage to the loaning team.

I believe there should be an adjunct to the loan rules that stops clubs loaning to teams within the same division, thereby allowing the loanee to get experience  in a first team and does not advantage the loaning club. It did Chesney no harm 🙂

By the way, anyone know who was the last loan player who played in Arsenal’s first team?

We have now published a pre-view of the spud game, press the HOME page to be connected to it


Arsenal, Tottenham, Man City: Boo Boys Compared

November 18, 2010

Booing, when you think about it, is a very funny sound.

It’s the sort of sound a cow might make if it had a bad head cold.

And right now, around the more charmless corners of the Premier League, there has been quite an outbreak of snuffly Fresian behaviour.

The pale blue herd up at Middle Eastlands have been booing their little hearts out because their £350 million squad can’t rustle up a goal for love nor money. Well, actually, just for money – there’s not a single player at Man City who loves the club, although they all love their pay cheques.

Then, down the road in the pastoral idyll that is London N17, the all-white herd are just as noisily petulant because, in their case, they are feeling let down and betrayed: this was going to be THEIR YEAR. It really was – that top four finish was going to be a stepping stone to the League title, while the Champions League trophy would be scooped up along the way. The white herd, as is well known, is strongly infected with mad cow disease.

In both cases the booing is truly absurd.

Look at Citeh: Booed off at the weekend against Birmingham; booed off after drawing with Manchester United and at half time and full time when drawing with Blackburn; jeered off the pitch at half time when nil-nil at home to Wigan. I could go on but there are just too many examples to mention.

Sky Blues fans – what are you doing? Are you mad? You have spent years of your life loyally supporting a rubbish team that hasn’t looked remotely like winning anything for a generation and now, just because someone has come in and flashed his wad at you, you expect the earth?

Did you really think that all it takes to become a team of champions is to pay over-the-odds prices for greedy players looking for a mega payday, throw them all together and see what happens?

Chelsea managed it with Abramovich’s cash because (a) the league was not as competitive then and (b) Chelsea had the nucleus of a good team (which had already won silverware and competed in the Champions League before the Russian arrived).

City would probably be doing better now if they had kept the likes of Given, Ireland, Dunne, Elano and Bellamy and added some quality imports to that strong core. And yes I know Given is still there, but he’s not exactly first choice, is he?

I used to always like meeting Man City supporters because they had a great sense of cynicism and dark humour about the fortunes of their beloved club. Even their iconic anthem, Blue Moon, with it’s wistful, yearning air, reflected their understanding that they followed a club destined never to be fashionable or successful. And you know what? They hardly ever booed their boys back in the pre-lottery win days. Now look at them. Frankly it’s sad.

And then we move to our noisy neighbours, from whom we hear the sound of booing echoing over the rooftops of North London on an almost weekly basis – most recently after drawing with Sunderland last week.

Unlike poor Citeh, whose fans have had their heads turned by all that dough, the Spuds supporters have a long tradition of booing their team. They booed them under Ramos and under Jol and Santini and Pleat; they booed them under Hoddle and under Graham and Gross and Francis; they were probably booing them all the way back in 1898 under Frank Brettell, first in a long tradition of managerial failures at the mighty Cocks.

But they, too, need to ask themselves why they are booing their team this season of all seasons. They are in the champions league – a feat they will never achieve again in the lifetime of many of their fans – they are in the top seven in the table and are getting to see some decent players on a weekly basis (Bale, van der Vaart, Defoe, Modric, Kranjcar).

Don’t you Spuds realise that this is as good as it gets for you? And you’re STILL booing? Really, you deserve the club you’ve got and it deserves you.

Finally there’s Arsenal. One of the things I love about our club is that we don’t collectively boo the players off the pitch. When some sections of the crowd booed Emmanuel Eboue as he experienced a mid-game mental breakdown it caused an explosion of self-examination that continues in the blogosphere to this day.

Yes, there’ll be occasions when the team don’t exactly leave the pitch to a standing ovation, but collective booing by a large section of the Arsenal crowd is almost unheard of. (I have read reports of Arsenal being booed off at the end of games where I have been present and there was no booing – just muted applause. I can only imagine that some particularly dopey individual who likes to boo happens to sit near the press box).

Liverpool supporters hardly ever boo their team (and God knows, they have had reason to in the last few seasons). Nor do the supporters of Manchester United. Along with Arsenal, what those two clubs and their supporters have is history, and a touch of class. They know what success is, they have had high highs and low lows, but they also know their jobs as supporters.

Manchester City used to have class in a peculiar, downtrodden way, but the glint of money has stolen it from them.

The Spuds have never had it and they never will, so the mournful sound of booing from N17 will long continue to rival the chimes of Big Ben as one of the traditional sounds of Old London Town.

RockyLives

The England team were booed off the pitch at Wembley  last night. The France team which had a poorer World Cup than ours managed to look more like a football team than we did. What is more frustrating, the coach, the players or the media feeding the expectation of the supporters?


The Emirates Library …. sshhhhhh ……

November 17, 2010

Written by CarlitoII

Who wasn’t excited to hear about the Arsenalization process of “The Mothership” as I call our beautiful stadium? The reinstatement of the North Bank and Clock End, the murals and all that other jazz designed make the stadium more of a fortress was our CEO’s shining hope to create more atmosphere and add to the uniqueness of the stadium. Does anyone feel it worked?

I, for one, feel that the atmosphere at the Grove has been even flatter this year than in years past – the only game that really got going was the game against Birmingham. Now, we’ve never had the loudest fans at home but those away boys do us proud, don’t they? So why is it that the lads behind me barely murmer along to the songs even though they’re barely 20 years old? Why is it that the guys next to me comment to each other as if they’re watching the game in their front room?

Before I get into my explanation, it has to be said that it’s never a flat atmosphere when the spuds, chavs or manks turn up- but against West Ham, West Brom and in particular against Aston Villa last season I felt that the whole stadium and overdosed on Nytol on the way to the ground!

Reason 1: Ticket prices. I pay about a month’s salary for my ticket. In practice, a lot of the members in and around me sell their tickets on for the less glamorous fixtures and this means that we get a lot of football tourists – possibly not even Gooners – coming to watch a game. My choice of verb is important here. They do not seem to consider the need to support the team, and I often find myself becoming part of the show for these good people (“ooh, he’s a colourful character – look at him shouting”)! I won’t blame them or the season ticket holders for selling on. Anyone who likes football would want to come. But if true Gooners could afford to go every week there would be a far better atmosphere.

Reason 2: Easy access. You can get from outside the ground to your seat in about 90 seconds – except you can’t in the 5 minutes before kickoff when everyone’s had the same idea and the turnstiles get blocked. The culture of getting into your seat/ grabbing your spot on the terrace has disappeared so the atmosphere doesn’t build up.

Reason 3: Booze restriction. If you could take your pint to your seat you would stay there, wouldn’t you? The irony of a tournament being sponsored by Heineken and Amstel having a booze prohibition is a matter for a different blog – but I cannot see any reason why I shouldn’t take a beer to my seat for a premier league game!

Reason 4: Plastic fans. I hate to say this but there are too many fans who were not with us before Arsene Wenger’s revolution. The “sing when your winning” mentality has to stop. We need to sing louder when we’re losing. I think this is the main reason why we are doing better away than at home – the real fans sing louder.

This blog is a bit of a rant, but I really believe that the team shouldn’t always be held responsible for the atmosphere at the ground. It’s our part to support the team and inspire them to greater things – we really lack the 12th man. I hope the CEO will take look at some of these factors – even putting “Come on you Reds” on the screens like they used to a Highbury would be a start!

Finally- what is the deal with the food? North London has fantastic food from Bagels to Turkish food, Indian, Thai, Italian- you name it. What do we get inside the stadium? Nachos. Hotdogs. Popcorn in the name of all things holy! This is only going to encourage people to treat a match like a trip to the cinema. Let’s make the stadium a reflection of the supporters and not the corporate ideals of the board- murals schmurals – let’s get ‘em singing!


Arsenal’s home form, is it a matter of concern ?

November 16, 2010

Written by kelsey

Having lost twice already this season at home to W.B.A. and Newcastle, I thought it might make interesting reading to compare our home form at the Emirates compared to Highbury.

When we played Newcastle that was our 83rd home league game at the Emirates (season 06/07 to the present day) and in this period we have won 48, drawn 18 and lost 17.Goals scored 162 and 87 against.

The last 83 league games played at Highbury (season 01/02 to 05/06) resulted in won 60 drawn 15 lost 8. Goals scored 200 and 87 against.

The figure that stands out is that we have won 12 fewer games and lost more than double the games at the new stadium, and there may be several reasons for that. Naturally one could argue that over this period the team has changed dramatically yet has always maintained a top 4 place.

Obviously the cost involved in the building of the new stadium has had a great influence in restricting our buying powers and at the same time the arrival of Abramovich and now the the Sheikhs at City have inflated the prices of players to a level never dreamed of some ten years ago.

Furthermore one would have to take into consideration a certain time frame to adjust from moving from one of the smallest pitches in the Premier League with an enclosed area to a modern state of the art far larger pitch at The Emirates, which many say lacks atmosphere which in turn doesn’t benefit the players.

One would have theorized that with the increased pitch size our style of play would have been tougher to defend against – which has not proven to be the case.

One could also argue that it’s not the size of the pitch that has been our problem and that it might be down to either long term injuries to our strike force or other teams using the Big Sam’s man-ball tactics, but W.B.A. especially disproved that point.

In conclusion I would say that the main reason that we are not a “fortress” is that defensively we are not as strong or organised as we were in the Highbury days.

I would like your thoughts , as we approach our next home game which is imperative for us to win to keep up our new found momentum.

In conclusion I would like to thank gunnerN5 for providing me with some excellent stats.


Roll on Spurs, we just can’t wait.

November 15, 2010

Written by kelsey

Those who are regulars on here would have read that I had positive vibes for the game at Goodison in my early comment yesterday morning. kelsey positive!!! Never they cried. Well the oracle for once was proved right.

This was never going to be an easy game, with Everton having strung together a sequence of good results at home after a somewhat shaky start, nevertheless I hoped after a tricky but deserved win at Wolves for once the momentum would continue.

The first twenty minutes were somewhat cagey but both sides were intent on playing football and though physical it was a test that we hoped would show that there was a new determination in the way we fought for every ball, and we weren’t disappointed.

The first goal came from an unlikely source through Sagna and then shortly after half time with as astute substitution of Wilshere for Denilson, he himself was instrumental in providing Fabregas with our second .

Everton are no pushovers these days and we knew that we had to be at our very best to await the onslaught on our goal, yet if Nasri had scored with his dazzling run through the middle or Chamakh had just stretched another six inches we would have been 3-0 up and the game would have been literally over. However it was not to be and the much maligned Fabianski yet again came to our rescue on more than one occasion, showing what amazing reflexes this young man has, and that his confidence is growing by the day.

A late scrambled goal inevitably by Cahill near the end made the score just about fair,though there was more than a hint of a foul on Song in the build up.

Webb had a strange game, again focusing on the inconsistency by referees, but one thing is clear Distin fouled Fabregas and the referee got that booking completely wrong.

Man of the match for me was Nasri, who is fast becoming an immense player for us. A special mention also to Djourou arguably our forth choice centre back, who had his best game of the seaon and his partnership with Squillaci stood in the main, firm.

Just a word about squad strength when we have RvP, Walcott, Gibbs,  Rosicky and Denilson starting on the bench today, Bendtner to return and Ramsey only a few weeks away from strengthening our squad even more.

So roll on Spurs.


Which Arsenal will turn up this afternoon?

November 14, 2010

Another tough game on the road. Goodison is one of my favourite grounds, there is always a good atmosphere and the food used to be good!  Plus Kevin Campbell (a diehard Gooner) was a big success up there.

The stats going into this fixture definitely indicate a home win, Everton are in a fine run of form, have finally got through their regular dreadful start to the season and are climbing the table. They have drawn with Man Utd and beaten Liverpool at home and today will be expecting another good result. We on the other hand have been going through a topsy turvy run, sometimes playing sublime football and the next losing to the Barcodes. Let us hope for a continuation of the grit shown at Wolves.

Everton will be missing Fellaini which is a major positive for us, but both Heitinga and Rodwell are in contention. In Arteta they have a player who is almost as good as Cesc (not really!!), and we can expect an even battle in midfield. With Pienaar (often cited as an AW target), Cahill and Yakubu, they are dangerous both on the break and at set pieces. With two fine full-backs in Baines and Hibbert and another AW target (?) Jagielka alongside the experienced Distin, they should be solid at the back.

I am not anticipating a repeat of last season’s result at Goodison!

AW has an almost full squad to pick from. He intimated that he will rotate the midfield which I take to mean the JW will get a rest. I would play Theo in the final 30 mins when his pace will cause Baines problems and hopefully stop him venturing into attack.

Theo and Nik to come on after 60 mins.

For historical details about Everton please refer to my Liverpool posts! All I know of the area is that it inspired a fine album by Paul Weller named Stanley Park – but I would have Weller down as a Chelsea fan.

With the results benefitting us yesterday and Chelsea having a relatively tricky home fixture (Sunderland),  three points would be great but with our inconsistent form I would happily take the draw.

COYYRG


Little and Large …….The Perfect Striker Partnership

November 13, 2010

Written by Neamman

Wright, Henry, Van Nistelrooy, Shearer, Drogba, Cole, Owen, Ronaldo, Rooney  ..   all players who you would expect to score more than 20 goals a season when in their prime. We haven’t had a player like that since Henry left.

Don’t get me wrong, I like Chamakh and Van Persie, but a look at their history tells us we will never see more than 15 goals a season from them at best. That’s not a criticism as they both bring so much more to the team but they are superb support strikers and not the main man. They are a Wiltord to Henry, a Skolshar to a Van Nistelrooy, a Sheringham to a Cole. We have not yet found a striker who truly puts fear into our opponents defense.



All is not lost however, I actually think we have them on our books in the shape of NicBendtner and Theo Walcott. Big Nic, in his breakout season two years ago, scored what..14 goals.. but he has struggled for fitness since. In an injury plague season last year he scored 9 goals and started off this year with two goals in his first two appearances.

Theo, after a restful summer, also has been hot knocking in 7 goals plus he has hit the post a couple of times in his last few games.

They are both young and are perhaps a year behind where they should be because of their injury plagued last 18 months. If our fitness gurus can keep them on the field I am quite confident we can see a minimum of 20 goals each from our Little and Large. It may mean a switch back to 4-4-2 so that they can play up front together, one small and lightening fast, one big and strong. I truly believe that they would terrorize most defences and when backed with Chamakh or RVP we will see Arsenal dominate the scoring charts yet again.

Before I close I cannot help but ask… why are players so prone to injuries? If it’s the boots not protecting metatarsals, surely some company can design a better boot??? To be fair it is not just us, more and more clubs are suffering from injuries it seems.

Football clubs are investing a lot of money in their stars and we need to see them on the pitch much more than we do.

Just imagine if Nic and Theo had played all of last season and the beginning of this… I cannot believe we wouldn’t have stuck a few more goals past the Toon and West Ham!!! So lets hope in the FA Cup and the League Cup we start to see our Little and Large starting together and building an understanding that should lead them to dominate the scoring charts for the next 6 or 7 years.


Musings of a true Gooner, banishes doom and gloom

November 12, 2010

Written by RedArse

I fell to musing, in a slough of despondency, after the desperately disappointing results of the recent past, and wondered; why do I feel so desolate, so full of despair?

What was the cause of this aching void in my mind, and in my body, where the act of breathing, of existing from minute to minute was such a struggle? How could simple adverse results; shattering defeats, for my beloved team, Arsenal, cause me such extreme anguish?

I suppose it had its origins many years ago, back in my childhood, when, and I can be precise here, I first heard the word, the fascinatingly military sounding name, “Arsenal”. It was while sitting on my father’s shoulders at my very first visit to watch a game.

He had told me he was going to a match, and asked if I would like to go? I knew nothing about football, indeed, I had never heard of such a thing, but I would go anywhere with my dad, just to be with him. Little did I know that would be the beginning of a lifelong love affair with a club, a team who were to so dominate my very existence?

Ironically, the match he took me to was not played at Highbury, but the pre-Bates Stamford Bridge, to see something called a derby between someone called Chelsea and his arsenal. Young, I may have been, but I knew that word, arsenal. It was a place where guns, ammunition, and weapons of all sorts were made and stored. Oh yes, I was going to like my dad’s arsenal; it was every boy’s dream come true.

The old Stamford Bridge was a huge sprawling, open aired amphitheatre which was desperately in need of renovation, and we seemed miles from what was known as a pitch. Puzzled, and a little confused, surrounded by legions of people, I asked my dad where the arsenal was. At that moment there erupted around us a crescendo of sound, and there in the distance, what seemed to be little men, poured out onto the pitch in a tumultuous wave of red and white, and my dad yelled to me, over the cacophony, “there they are”, and gesticulated delightedly towards them.

My eyes opened wide in amazed comprehension that these were, in fact, the Arsenal, so beloved of my father, and who in turn would become the delight of my life.

Over the many years since then, the increasingly glorious victories, and great feats of derring do were to become the stuff of my footballing dreams. None of the vainglorious nonsense spouted by fans of other clubs, following their empty, meaningless wins, could stop me strutting around as proud as a peacock that I was a gooner and a follower of the greatest team the world had ever seen! It says so in the song even!

What cannot be denied is that those dreams, as a child, were occasionally suffused by both pain and ecstasy almost beyond my ability to bear them. A catharsis so intense, that the experience of Arsenal losing a game left me hopeless, helpless and near to tears, whereas the sterling victories achieved an euphoria impossible to describe.

There then lay the roots of my current misery, the counterbalance to the exquisite sense of well being when we win. No amount of alcohol, in my later years, could ever quench the pain of Arsenal losing.

Many gooners, I am sure, can identify with these sentiments, which helps explain the gloom evident in the Arsenal blogs of late. So let me leave you with this crumb of comfort.

Over the years, every Arsenal setback has been more than matched by a thrilling win, and the emptiness of losing has swiftly been consigned to the dustbin of history.

I would love to hear your own stories of how you treat those two imposters, defeat and victory, because whichever of them are currently in the ascendancy, our love of Arsenal will over-ride all.

We will always be Gunners!