26th May 1989 – It’s up for grabs now!!!

May 26, 2017

This is Big Raddy’s story of arguably the Greatest Day in Arsenal’s history.

May 26 1989, a day never to be forgotten in Gooner history, but also a preface to the modern Arsenal. Here is my story of the evening and why I think it changed the face of our fabulous club.

 

The run up to the game is embedded in the history books, but no-one can effectively describe the disbelief and despair that echoed around Highbury following the 2-2 home draw to Wimbledon. We had a 12 point lead over Liverpool at Xmas and had seen it whittled away to being 3 points behind. We had thrown away 5 home points in two games against poor opposition. We had choked. Goodness knows the furore had there been blogs in those days – Samaritans would have been busy!

The drudge home after the Dons game was very long. I gave little hope for our chances at Anfield and didn’t even try to get a ticket, but approaching the game I dug deep, sought some “mental strength,” found some fighting spirit.

It should be noted that the game was on a Friday night…. unheard of in those days and rare now.

My wife, thinking that football was a Saturday sport, had booked us to go to a dinner party at her new Boss´s (let’s call him Rupert) flat in the centre of Hampstead. She worked in the media business, and all the guests were from Saatchi & Saatchi.  I told her that I couldn’t attend unless I could watch the game through dinner, her response was to tell me to call Rupert. And here we come to the huge social change that came about that night, and in my opinion changed the face of football forever.

This was the season of Hillsborough, the reputation of English football fans was at an all-time low. If you liked football you were either violent or ignorant and uncultured. Football was for Yobs. Rupert, being cultured and polite, was delighted to hear from me and said that as a guest of course I could watch the game, but ….. I would have to sit at the table with the sound off and participate in the conversation.

We arrived and were shown into a beautiful dining room with a long table and I was sat at the end with a separate table for my 14″ TV. I felt humiliated and less-than, however my addiction came first and I was satisfied. The host had caterers to do the food and serve the wine allowing him to concentrate on his guests. Needless to say., I was at the opposite end of the table to him, due to his assumption that my passion must mean I was incapable of enriching any intelligent conversation.

Seriously, to those youngsters who read this, football fans were viewed as stupid. There were no University courses in Sports Management, no Soccer Academies etc et

So, the first half comes and goes and I am getting tense. At half time people were very “nice” to me, commiserating as though I had lost a pet. Champagne was flowing around the table, some guests went to the toilet to “powder their nose” and I sat there non-communicative, wishing I could find somewhere dark to be alone.

Second half kicked off. Smudger scores. I jump up shouting; they look at me as though I have escaped from a Psychiatric Unit, BUT and here is the start of the change – they got caught up in my passion. Rupert asked me to turn the TV so he could see it. Questions were asked “Who is the tall bloke who keeps raising his arm?”, Why don’t they shoot more? ( 😉 )”, “Why , when Arsenal play in red & white are they playing in yellow and blue?” Needless to say, I was incapable of speech.

The Mickey T moment. Never ever to be forgotten. It replays in my mind in slow motion (as I am sure it does for you). The whole table went mental. Jumping in the air, hugging, back-slapping and shouting. My main recollection was thinking “Where is my coat, I have to get to Highbury…”. but Rupert and his friends were high on the game. They had really enjoyed watching a half of football. They connected! If Big Raddy  – a less thuggish man you could never meet – was a football fanatic, it couldn’t be just razorblade toting thugs that went to Highbury.

I am ashamed to say that I “liberated” a couple of bottles of bubbly, grabbed the wife, and scedaddled as fast as I could to N5. I was dropped off outside the Gunners Pub carrying the champagne which lasted about 4 minutes.  The Fever Pitch film got it right, there was an enormous street party, a feeling of camaraderie never repeated. The noise was deafening and I stood on the Marble steps until around 3 a.m. Even at that time the Holloway Road was awash with jubilant Gooners , sharing laughter and booze. Fantastic.

I met Rupert and a number of the fellow guests over the following seasons. All had bought season tickets at Highbury and were as knowledgeable and connected to the Arsenal as any Gooner. Football had become the Cocaine of the Masses!

This is what the Guardian write of the game and the social effect….

“Many cite the match as a pivotal turning point in English football. Writing in The Guardian, Jason Cowley notes how instead of rioting, as had occurred at Heysel with fatal consequences, Liverpool fans stayed on after the game and applauded Arsenal “as if they understood that we were at the start of something new; that there would be no returning to the ways of old”. Cowley describes the match as “the night football was reborn” and that the event “repaired the reputation of football”.

The match is not only seen as the starting point of a renaissance in English football, but also the moment where people started to see the untapped commercial potential of live football on television.”

“Good Old Arsenal We are proud to say that name”

Big Raddy’s story.


One Cockerel does not a summer make

April 30, 2017

So here we go folks, the final North London Derby at WHL. This occasion really should have called for the daddy of pre-matches, but unfortunately there are some trees that need a hug…..so you are stuck with me.

I need to say in advance that I have a superstition about being too condescending ahead of these games so if you are expecting lots of belittlement and ridicule then disappointment will be the order of the day. Having said that the rest of you can fill yer boots.

I strangely feel a degree of sadness that this is the last outing at their place, as WHL holds some fond memories for us. I am normally very nervous about these games. On reflection I think this is because we have pretty much been the favourites in games against them since some fellow called Newton had an apple fall on his head. As such I think the expectancy to win adds more angst to the occasion. This time however I have them down as favourites. Spurs are the form team this season while we have struggled.

Stating this actually doesn’t cause me any issues because this aberration can be redressed in readiness for next season. A shift in the balance of power?……pffft (he expectorates on the floor in distaste). As Lord Wenger intimated the other day, one cockerel does not a summer make. If anything Spurs form versus ours this season may be the main proverbial kick up the derriere that we needed. If it turns out to be the catalyst for action that sees us awaken from our slumber and head into next season a different animal, then I will doff my cap to those white lillies and say thank-you. I may even resort to a chicken on a beach ball as my screen saver……ok maybe not….still a few white wine spritzers clouding my judgement this morning.

I am reconciled with the fact it is now near impossible for us to celebrate St. Tott’s day this year. If you gave me a choice between winning the F.A cup and finishing below them or finishing above them with no silverware then I would take the former all day. This is a real possibility for us so it could be that in a few weeks time we are actually celebrating a more successful season than them. How galling would that be for them?

Onto team matters. I am not sure if a mere stand in for the pre-match is allowed to mutter these sacred words, but here goes………..

my team (ooh it does make one feel powerful) :

 

Cech

Holding Koscielny Gabriel

Ox Coquelin Ramsey Monreal

Ozil Sanchez

Welbeck

Why change the formation that has revived our fortunes recently. I would also like to stick largely with the same players with a couple of proviso’s. I think the pace of Welbeck with Ozil and Sanchez flitting about behind him would suit this game more. Giroud and Walcott are useful impact subs. I think we need the defensive graft of Coquelin in a disciplined role front of the defence. They are dangerous in that area and a big game from him could be a deciding factor. If he is able to largely stifle them in this area and free up the rest of our team in attack then I will be very hopeful. Xhaka has played well recently but is more reckless and we can’t afford to be down to 10 men in this game. Other than that it is as you were.

As I said, based on form and them being at home they are the favourites…….but I have a feeling in me bones. Being favourites carries that extra psychological burden. Also our new system will be far less easy for them to predict than when we were labouring with the 4-3-3 system. Even we don’t yet fully know what Arsenal will turn up in this system, so it should create some doubt and uncertainty in their minds.

All this should mean that for once, us rather than them, can approach the game with less to lose and can literally just go out and play without burden. There is one final consideration. This is a historic day for them. There must be a few nerves in their camp that the final NLD at old WHL could go down as an Arsenal win. WHL holds some fond memories for the Arsenal. Who can forget the 3rd May 1971 or the 25th April 2004? Let the record books show that Sunday 30th April 2017 saw Spurs title bid crash down around them as the good guys in red and white registered a historic final win at WHL.

COYRRG’S

Written by GoonerB

 


Poetic Justice does exist – Leicester Player Ratings

April 27, 2017

My old man used to bang on about justice to me when I was a kid. By the time I’d reached my teens, I had categorically realised that it is an abstract notion which does not, in reality, exist in any tangible form.

How beautiful it is when rare moments in this cruel and random world actually make it appear that poetic justice, karma, poor behaviour getting its comeuppance etc do have some outward manifestation, however imaginary.

Leicester have certainly returned to their shape and structure of last season. Ten men behind the ball as often as possible, hoof the ball up to Steptoe to chase whenever the opportunity to swing a size 11 boot presents itself. Don’t get me wrong, they did have a few sniffs at goal, largely from Arsenal-inspired breakdowns of possession, referee-inspired dubious free kicks anywhere in our half and even from some revolting, Delap-like trebuchet missiles. However their negative anti-football in the second half, purely designed to win them a point, got them exactly what was deserved – sweet Fanny Adams.

The first half was pretty tedious it has to be said. The personnel changes to our new system took some bedding in. We attempted to give Crisp Advertisers FC some golden opportunities with dodgy back flicks, poor GK clearances and other examples of sloppy play.

Our two best chances I can remember came from a Gabs’ near post header which nearly fell to our new striker, Nacho and the outstanding moment of the half when Sanchez crashed the ball against the bar with Schmeichel floundering just before the break.

The second half was a procession towards the North Bank goal. The Leicester defence dropped deeper, their half-time talk was obviously about wasting even more time and killing any entertainment the fairly sparse crowd had bothered to turn up in the hope of seeing. Unwittingly they were just the stooges in their own downfall, building the platform for an epic final 10 minutes.

The strangest challenge of the whole game was when the Leicester defender with the incandescent bonce decided he’d use Giroud as a climbing frame. How on earth Mike Jones didn’t see that as a red card only Mike Riley knows.

The goal, when it finally came, was beautiful in its grotesque manifestation. My brother had spent large parts of the second half repeating the mantra, ‘we must clear Huth’ every time we had a free-kick, corner or cross. For Nacho to smash it wide of the goal but not wide of Huth’s massive gut and the ball to cannon into the back of the net, became such a glorious vindication of my old man’s belief in the idea that people should get what’s owed them.

Those who left early not only missed the beautiful post goal celebrations but also a Mike Jones Brian Rix-inspired farce of epic proportions. (When I commented after the game about it being like a Brian Rix farce at the end, Ant wondered why I was on about Graham Rix).

Previously Ulloa had left the pitch when substituted as if he had bound feet, each step moving him forward six inches at the most. Now the Leicester defender with the shiny head, Bennylooanus or something, was subbed and he sprinted off. Every person left in the ground with a red and white heart, howled with derision. So funny.

Then the farce reached new heights when Sanchez stood in front of Fooks readying to launch another long throw into the box. Mike Jones did not ask Sanchez to retreat but encouraged Fooks to get on with the throw. Eventually Fooks’ petulance got the better of him and he simply threw the ball directly at the Chilean. It was clearly intended to cause a few lost teeth and so we were astonished when the ref failed to send off the Leicester player but instead booked Alexis for deciding he needed to closely inspect the fine partly-artificial weave of the Emirates turf. The melee involved most of the players on the pitch including both keepers.

Yeah sure, we believe you

Leicester’s final chance also seemed scripted for Mack Sennett’s keystone cops, bodies flying everywhere followed by Schmeichel and several players in blue chasing the hapless referee.

The 4 minutes injury time morphed into 6 or 7 with all the mayhem, but justified victory was finally and beautifully achieved when the ref thought he’d better blow before someone grabbed his shorts and yanked them to his ankles.

Ratings

Cech – Poor kicking, magnificent save from Mahrez ……7

Gabriel – Silky skills on the ball and a fearsome warrior in defence ……7

Koscielny – Cool, calm, composed Captain. Seemed to recover from a knock in the 2nd half – we need him on Sunday ……8

Monreal – Looked fine as part of a back three and his half-volley against Huth’s belly a thing of rare beauty….8

Gibbs – Gibbo looked a little short of match practice understandably. Covered well for Nacho …..7

Bellerin – Cornrows gone, back to man bun. Wing back could suit him down to the ground. Crossing/delivery into the box needs to improve ….7

Coquelin – Fighting every step of the way. You just cannot fault his commitment …….8

Xhaka – The new formation suits him as he has more cover behind, so can look forward instead. Lovely to watch in possession…..8

Ozil – Struggled to break down a resolutely tedious defence but never let that stop him trying…..7

Walcott – Really weak, struggled to get out of Hector’s way for most of the game. If he doesn’t score, he’s pretty redundant …..5

 Sanchez – Gave away possession, smacked the bar with a beauty and then rivalled Rivaldo for a Bafta  …..7

chas


Riverside Revolution? – Player Ratings

April 18, 2017

Match Thoughts

So three at the back is less than four at the back but as we generally play with the full backs over the halfway line, three is more than two. That’s the tactical bolleaux over with.

I’ll leave more in-depth analysis to the specialists.

The first half was pretty unmemorable with both Boro and Arsenal struggling to create many meaningful chances. The referee seemed hell bent on giving the home team free kicks anywhere in Arsenal’s half for the softest of challenges as if he realised Boro needed as many opportunities as possible  to lump the ball in the box.

The one cast-iron free-kick correctly awarded was for a foul on Xhaka at the edge of the ‘D’. Thankfully, Alexis had brought his up and over boots to the game and produced a magnificent dipper which the keeper would have struggled to have got anywhere near, even if he had been able to see the ball.

The second half started in customary ‘what are you smoking at half-time?’ fashion.

Boro equalised and looked capable of going ahead. Gradually we eased our way back into it and Mesut scored with his swinger from a fine chest lay-off from Ramsey. The last 20 minutes were reasonably comfortable and hanging on to the three points was exactly what was required.

The team looked genuinely pleased to have won after a difficult run of results and the new formation had been given its baptism.

Ratings

Cech– Fairly solid, though a huge upgrade on Martinez, I’m not so sure ……7

Gabriel – Gabs likes defending and maybe the back three will suit him  ……7

Koscielny – So good to have him back though Negredo gave him the slip for the equaliser ……7

Holding – Hopefully will mature into an Arsenal great. Very accomplished….8

Oxlade-Chamberlain – The Ox looked more comfortable in a middle 4 than stuck out on the flank. Involved throughout  …..8

Xhaka – Looked composed against an admittedly poor Boro side. Always looks good when a destroying DM is not really required   …..7

Ramsey – A little ponderous in the first half but grew into the game as some match sharpness returned …….7

 Monreal – Maybe Nacho will enjoy playing a role further forward without having to worry about the huge gap he’s leaving behind him as in a 4-3-3…. 7

Ozil – Ran his heart out for team and scored a really crucial goal …..7

Sanchez – Peach of a free kick. Many wasted dinks and chips into the box but one helped to produce the winning goal, so keep it up Alexis…..7

Giroud – Fought manfully (mais oui), was unlucky not to win a pen for being manhandled but should have scored with an attempted curler from one of our few clear-cut chances. …..7

chas

Match Thoughts from FGG

Don’t Juve play 3 CB’s under Allegri? Bit of conspiracy theory for you. Maybe this was nothing to do with what Wenger wanted and with the season practically over our new manager is now influencing things! 😄

Back to reality, I feel we need a ball playing CB to really make this formation work. Mustafi is decent but another is needed aswell. I’d also like to see a new LB, hopefully the lad that’s been linked is the answer. If not then why not go for Rodriguez who were linked with in the summer? His new manager is the guy who just left us and took Ljungberg with him. Could be an easy deal to sort out. Another question is how do Ramsey and Wilshere fit into this formation? It’s been an ongoing issue for a while and I don’t think this change makes it any clearer! Fabregas has found it tough to get in the Chelsea side.

Does this formation help or hinder Giroud? It gives us more crossing opportunities based on what we saw yesterday with Ox and Monreal getting chances to put it in the box, but at the same time there will be occasions where Özil and Sanchez get into narrower positions and are looking for a run in behind. Do we still need a better CF or could Welbs or Giroud thrive.

Finally, where does this change leave Walcott? If we are to switch permanently, how can you fit him in the team?

 fatgingergooner


Arsenal v Boro. Thoughts

April 17, 2017

Boro are one of the rare teams that conjure no emotion whatsoever in me, it’s like they do not exist, and yet I’ve just looked them up only to discover that unbelievably they’ve been around since 1889.

I imagine many Arsenal fans will glance at this fixture and offer little more than a shrug.

While I no longer harbour any hopes for top four, and am disgusted by the thought of Thursday Night Football, come match day, the same tingle of excitement greets me. Can’t help myself.

Don’t know who their manager is. Don’t know who plays for them. Don’t even know where Middlesbrough is. Don’t know which Arsenal players are fit.

Personally I’d target the Cup game at the weekend and then focus solely on the Utd and Spurs fixtures in the league. With that in mind, I suppose some momentum would be a good thing ahead of Wembley, and in any case, we’d all rather see us win every game and score as many goals as possible.

I’d like to see Iwobi and The Ox start.

MickyDidIt89


Where the real power lies at Arsenal

April 13, 2017

I stated on here a few weeks ago that I felt Arsene’s future would be determined by the players.

Last season Chelsea finished outside the European places. The players ousted Maureen. They now lead the League with something to spare.

Last season’s Champions, Leicester, lost five on the trot, ousted Ranieiri, then promptly won the next five on the trot.

Like most, I watched the Arsenal Palace game, then very unusually for me, I sat with two Gunner chums who insisted on watching the post match analysis. There was a bloke with hair gel and a tight shiny suit and standing in front of a screen they kept touching were two foreign experts. Ranieiri and Carragher.

When I reviewed the full English translation of what they were saying, I understood that Carragher was implying that the Arsenal players were not trying. He was right.

In a proper leftie world of a Karl Marx, the real power rests with the workers. I’m not sure whether players on 50k+ a week qualify as the workers in a State such as The Arsenal, but they sure as heck hold the power.

Right or wrong?

MickyDidIt89


The Arsenal Dilemma …. summed up in 4 lines …..

April 11, 2017

Whatever is going on behind the scenes, it cannot be in the best interests of the club or the team to maintain this radio silence. Apart from those at the top in the know, everyone else needs clarification.

With 12 players entering the last 18 months of their contracts, and the likely loss of millions from dropping out of The Champion’s League, there is also a looming financial problem to address.

The calls for the manager to go have reached an all-time high, but still there is no decisive action from the club. Could it be that our management structure has disintegrated? No-one knows who’s in charge?

From the perspective of a mere supporter reliant on the media for information, this is how I would sum up the situation:

Arsene has too much power?
Gazidis has too little power?
The Board haven’t got a clue what to do?
The owner isn’t bothered?

This is not the time for supporters to turn on one another.

We need to know ‘what’ we are supporting … is it a team that has no heart? … a club that has lost its direction? …. a manager who cannot let go?

Your considered and respectful thoughts are welcome ….

Rasp