Football on a Thursday

Monday 22nd April 2016

Last night’s game finished at approximately 9.40pm and I walked through my front door around 1am. This is pretty much the norm for midweek games and like all of us Gooners who have that kind of time to gather their thoughts I found my mind wandering off to seasons in the past. That was far more pleasurable of course with three important points in the bag.

Let me take you back 34 years or so…..

26th January 1982 – Brighton at home – Attendance 17922
2nd February 1982 – Wolves at home – Attendance 15163
13th February 1982 – Notts County at home – Attendance 18229
16h February 1982 – Middlesbro’ at home – Attendance 13738!!

and

16th March 1982 – West Brom at home – Attendance 15799

Those of us that remember back then always look with fond memories. But, Highbury being less than a third full was the norm for a period and the football at times was pretty dire too. Our opportunities to win domestic honours were an occasional cup semi final appearance and European experience was limited to the odd early Uefa Cup round fixture.

Through all that however, our club remained committed to its values of tradition, solidarity and class and the fun and games we all enjoyed off the pitch was because when it came to what we all followed we were as one. And that, in my opinion, that support and sense of belonging combination should never change. If people choose to not turn up for games I’m not too bothered to be honest. Success is not a devine right and if you feel it is you shouldn’t be a ‘supporter’ of our great club, or any other for that matter. Go and be a bandwagon riding glory hunter elsewhere.

Back in 1982 The Baggies came to North London for a midweek fixture kicking off at 7.30pm (remember them?!) Raphael Meade and Alan Sunderland netted our two goals in a 2 all draw against a West Brom side containing the likes of Derek Statham, Ally Brown, Gary Owen and former Gooner Brendan Batson.

43 thousand short of capacity

43 thousand short of capacity

The programme that night included a picture of George Wood collecting a ‘Golden Glove Trophy’ for keeping 4 clean sheets on the bounce. In a period where there was no other ‘silverware’ to talk of, what we would give now for a similar period where defending was a success! Elsewhere the Travel Club was selling the trip to Coventry away but possibly more intriguing was their Easter shopping trip to a Calais hypermarket! As for the letters page, a Mr Redmond from Essex congratulated the club on being the only one in the top flight to not erect fences around the pitch. As always with Arsenal Football Club, a decision of real class, integrity and dare I say it, foresight, made under considerable pressure from the football’s authorities.

Back to April 2016 and like in all games where there is some kind of background revolt I thoroughly enjoyed last night. Good banter with all my mates who would have been there even if we were bottom of division 2 is why I go.

And the reason?

Because when things aren’t looking so good (relatively speaking of course), not only do we still have a crack, that feeling of us against the world is absolutely awesome. And that camaraderie, that sense of belonging, that ‘Victoria Concordia Crescit’ is something I wouldn’t change for anything in the world.

And I don’t apologise for that.

There wasn’t a massive difference between our latest performance and Sunday in my opinion. Maybe our passing was a little crisper and we were a tiny bit sharper. But I’m not convinced that wasn’t because we got a lead so early in the game.

And that can be looked at in 2 ways. Either Sunday wasn’t so bad or last night wasn’t much better.

Above all else and moving forward we scored a couple of goals and got those massive three points.

And not only am I happy with that I am delighted I was there to see it. In fact, like the vast majority, it never even crossed my mind not to be there.

Arguably we head up to the Stadium of Light at the worst possible time. They are simply battling for their Premier League lives. And if their neighbours’ performance at home to Man City was anything to go by the other night, I don’t expect anything other than an extremely tough encounter.

My journey involves a flight early tomorrow morning and that means a Friday night in Southampton Airport Travelodge. That’s the ‘rock and roll’ lifestyle of following your team home and away folks! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Miss it? Are you having a laugh?!

Arsenal through and through.

Come on you mighty yellows!

Frank
@stubbsy70

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6 responses to “Football on a Thursday”

  1. Paul says :

    Great article as always! I really wish more so called ‘fans’ had your sense of realism. This season has been disappointing, as was clearly a great opportunity to win the league, but as you say, there is no divine right to success. We have been spoilt in the last 20 years, fantastic football, trophies and champions league football. A level of consistency completely unrivalled, at a time when two clubs were effectively financially doping and we self-financed a fantastic stadium. That conveniently gets forgotten when people talk about 10 or more barren years. I also think the media plays a huge part as they jump on the negativity and cannot wait to put our great club down, as well as promote the views of morons like Piers Morgan. I wish we as fans stuck together and got behind the team, then maybe we could be that 5% difference that’s sometimes needed. This season the negativity during home games has been palpable, so it’s little wonder our home form has been patchy. Finally, those pathetic banners are a disgrace, in 100 years Arsene Wenger’s name will still be synonymous with our club and deserves far more respect than he is currently getting.

  2. patrickafc says :

    I’ve wanted Wenger out for the last six years, but I’ve remained a season ticket holder as not supporting the manager doesn’t mean I can’t still support the team on a matchday. I recognise that no-one has a divine right to win trophies, but Arsenal charge the highest admission prices in the world and we ought to be able to expect the club to at least try to be the best. But we’re not even the best in North London!

    Every time we have a chance of winning the league, our results fall away and we end up in an annual fight for a place in the top four to qualify for a Champions’ League that we have no chance of ever winning under the current regime. By which I mean the likes of Kroenke and Gazidis as well as Wenger.

    The entire ethos of the club is geared towards finishing third or fourth, the manager has bought into this and therefore the players have no mental strength to cope with a title challenge. Wenger simply does not have another league title in him, and certainly not a Champions’ League. Let’s make it clear, the man is the greatest and most successful boss we’ve ever had – but everyone has a sell-by date and he is well past his.

    As for the ‘financial doping’ perpetrated by Chelsea and Man City, how do you (Paul) explain Leicester and Tottenham leaving us in their dust? Leicester have no resources, squad or stadium compared to us, but they clearly have team spirit, defensive organisation and great motivation. All of which is clearly missing from our lot, and Tottenham are showing what a young, dynamic manager with fresh ideas can do.

    As for the atmosphere at home games, we pay through the nose and the players we’re watching have already made more money than we’ll ever make. It’s their job to give us something to believe in and get behind, I for one do not believe in blind faith.

    If you would like to present a logical, fact-based argument for Arsene Wenger remaining in charge, I sure would love to hear it. In Arsene We Rust.

    • franklin1 says :

      Firstly thanks for reading my blog Patrick and appreciate your thoughts. Overall the game is always going to be about opinions. We are not all going to agree on everything. I try and to take a slightly more light hearted look at being a home and away fan whilst expressing my emotions now and again rather than all my opinions. Being an extremely laid back bloke helps! My choice I guess.

      My only gripe is the banners. The media love thinking they represent every fan. But they don’t. The do for some of course. But not everyone.

      I must admit we live in a world now it seems where even winning the FA Cup is no longer considered success. And I find that quite astounding.

      The Leicester story is incredible. Possibly THE most incredible story in the modern game. And every club is below them. Not just us. Every one. Yet the likes of Man City, Chelsea, Liverpool etc etc etc do not get the criticism we do. Even that lot down the load (barring an incredible turnaround) are in with a good chance of getting no more than we do this season. And that is in their best season for decades.

      As for a young, dynamic manager…..he is doing pretty ok. Not the story however when you look at someone similar that many a Gooner told me they would like as our next manager but has arguably taken Everton backwards.

      Our management situation will change soon, I think we all know that. And I really hope the new person is successful, loyal, dignified and is our manager for years to come. Until that day I will show the current manager the respect I personally feel he deserves.

      Overall Patrick, I love hearing people’s views, I genuinely do. Its one of the best sides to being a football fan. I want to win things like everyone else and I hate that feeling when things are not going well but the travel, the off the field fun, the friendship, the time spent with my dad, the sense of camaraderie, the emotion, the incredible destinations I have visited etc etc etc are all because of Arsenal Football Club. And the older I get that is much more important to me personally.

      Cheers and if you see me come and say hello and I’ll buy you a pint ๐Ÿ™‚

      Stubbsy

    • Paul says :

      I wholeheartedly agree this year has been disappointing, it was definitely the best chance to win the league for sometime. But Leicester have been superb, they have stumbled onto a formula, several players have had the season of their lives and they have also been fortunate on the injury front. The same can be said of Spurs, they have exceeded all expectations and have got on a roll so confidence is sky high. We have not done that for one reason or another. I think injuries again have contributed, losing Sanchez was a blow. Imagine Spurs doing without Kane for 2-3 months or Leicester (to a lesser extent) losing Vardy or Mahrez. Unfortunately, some of the squad have just not delivered and if anything have regressed. If Arsene has a fault I think he has been far too loyal on occasions and some players may have taken advantage of that. We all know change is coming, but after all he has done I think we owe it to let Arsene decide when and how. Hounding him out just isn’t ‘Arsenal’, we are better than that.

  3. patrickafc says :

    Stubbsy – I’ve always read your blog, ever since you started writing on Arsenal.com all those years ago, and have enjoyed reading your thoughts on the games you’ve been to and the places you’ve visited.

    I must admit I was one of the fans holding up the “TIME FOR CHANGE” banners at yesterday’s Norwich game, which I have every right to do having paid for my ticket. I don’t pretend to speak for anyone else though, using such a banner is an expression of my opinion and no-one else’s. In fairness to the BBC, on Match of the Day they pointed out that there were many fans supporting Wenger as well as those against him. What they failed to notice is it was a protest against the whole regime of the club, not just the manager.

    I never said that winning the FA Cup wasn’t a success, of course it is. I loved the whole experience of attending the last two finals, and winning them meant everything. But they should have been a springboard to bigger success i.e. the league title. I just hope Man Utd don’t equal our haul of FA Cups later this month!

    I take your point on the comparison between Pochettino and Martinez, I think the former has got a bit more about him though. I actually wanted Moyes to replace Wenger years ago, when he was still at Everton – and we know how it turned out for him at a bigger club! People do always say, ‘who would you replace Wenger with?’ They need a history lesson, how many of us had heard of Arsene when he rocked up 20 years ago? It doesn’t necessarily need to be someone we’ve all heard of.

    I didn’t manage to get my season ticket until Ashburton opened, it’s always been my biggest Gooner regret that I never had one at Highbury. I did still go to plenty of games back then and I miss the old place. One thing I like about having a season ticket is seeing the same faces at every game, which obviously wasn’t the case when I was touring the four stands of Highbury!

    I did see you in person once, on Wembley Way after last year’s FA Cup final! The sea of yellow that day was something to behold. I might take you up on that pint, it would have to be a pint of Coke though as I don’t drink alcohol – apart from alcopops!

  4. patrickafc says :

    Paul – I agree, Leicester have had no major injuries or suspensions, and no distractions as they weren’t in Europe and went out of the domestic cups early.

    In our case, you mention the injuries and I think our medical department is in serious need of an overhaul. We always get far too many injuries, and it takes our players too long to recover from them. Is it a problem with the training methods, the conditioning, the style of play? I don’t know, but I would certainly like to! Just another recurring problem that comes up every season.

    Some players certainly have gone backwards (Ramsey and Giroud spring immediately to mind), and others have taken up near-permanent residence in the treatment room (Wilshere, Rosicky etc.). I just hope change happens soon, the entire club needs shaking out of this malaise and not just the management.

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