There's only four teams involved in football's top honours these days, so what's it like to win silverware every season? This is the blog of one football fan who decided to, fully and unconditionally, do the unthinkable and change the football team he supported to spend one season at the top... AND NOW HE'S DOING A SIMILAR THING FOR EURO 2008 WITH A MATE BECAUSE THE SEASON'S FINISHED AND THEY'RE BOTH BORED

Archives for: 2007

Lofty ambitions

29/12/07

The Silly Season’s parent’s are moving out of the parental home in Stockport, where I spent so many years being ridiculed (but enjoying the attention) for being a Norwich fan.

As well as throwing up endless memories, a quick search in the attic produced a couple of classic football finds, including this: the pennant for Norwich City’s biggest match of all time.

The other find was a pair of Mitre Norwich shorts from 1996… I don’t think we need a picture of them though.

Those really were the days for me… Some will no doubt disagree, but I think European football is far more important than winning any domestic trophy.

The best bit’s got to be the inclusion of the football though, just in case you thought it was a cricket match…

It may have been Norwich’s finest hour, but this discovery has left me in my first real hour of need since starting The Silly Season. I’m an emotional wreck at the moment because of this experiment… Might go on a soul-searching mission with a few footie mates, and return at the start of the new year with some answers as to where my heart lies.

Match prediction: I think Arsenal are enduring a real wobble at the moment. Everton 2-1 Arsenal…

And considering I’m having a wobble of my own, let’s have the Norwich prediction too. Norwich 2-1 Wolves.

Mouse abuse

25/12/07

Happy Christmas from The Silly Season.

It’s probably a little late for presents, but here’s the best of Arsenal’s Superstore gift range. The most worrying? I’d say the poor little mouse who was probably minding its own business on Holloway Road before being swiped off the streets and having his stomach branded with a hot iron.

THE SILLY SEASON TV

Congratulations to Norwich City for climbing clear of The Championship relegation zone. Please don’t go down this season or I will be lynched.

In other news, I was quite rightly branded as “naive” by The Family last Saturday for predicting Spurs would lose 5-1. So, here we go: Portsmouth 1-2 Arsenal.

1 commentPermalink

Christmas comes early

24/12/07

Now, I know I said that £67 for the cost of a ticket for any match - derby or not - was a massive rip-off.

But that was Worth. Every. Penny.

A beautiful back-heel to set up a superb goal; a brilliant equaliser; a missed penalty by Spurs; a winning first touch by a substitute; a bee the size of a tennis ball flying at the crowd where I was sat… this match had it all.

Spurs were way better than anyone was expecting, and Berbatov was a thrilling as Adebayor. What’s confirmed though is that, as I suspected, Faregas is my favourite player. He’s a renaissance painter. I’m told by The Family that he didn’t have a particularly good game, but the contributions he did make were wonderful. Back-heels; beautifully chipped balls straight to the feet of players… Rosicky? Er I saw him lose the ball, once.

This is The Silly Season arriving right on kick off - what a buzz…

THE SILLY SEASON TV

I really wasn’t expecting the game to be that good. What I was expecting was the feeling of ugliness - that undercurrent. Something that, thankfully these days, is only confined to the arrests of a few boozed-up loud-mouths. However, I’m reliably informed by The Family that ’stuff’ does go on later in the evening, and that there had been some ‘action’ on Highbury Corner before I had arrived. Here’s the pre-match tension (not a great deal happens here, but, if you look carefully at the fluorescent coats in the bottom left of the screen 21 seconds in, you can just make out someone being arrested).

THE SILLY SEASON TV

Plus, I’m sure this drill-bit had just been dropped on Holloway Road the day before by a trustworthy handy man on his way to fix a door or something… Funny how you don’t see things like that when it’s a run-of-mill home fixture against Wigan though.

What a day. Biggest surprise? I involuntarily jumped out of my seat and screamed when Bendtner headed the winner. It’s the first Arsenal goal I’ve celebrated ‘organically’, if you like. Whether it’s because I’ve made the emotional transformation from my old team, or I was understandably highly absorbed remains to be seen.

Arsenal fans: "Seriously, don’t wear colours"

21/12/07

In the words of John Motson: this is getting better and better and better.

Spurs in the League Cup semi-final… AC Milan in the European Cup… The Family are ecstatic. To be honest I think they’d be happy if they played Spurs every week.

They’ve all been going on about tomorrow’s match for weeks, so here’s a few things they said in the pub as part of The Silly Season’s crash-course in the north London derby.

“There’s no getting away from the fact that they are to a man, in-bred, knuckle dragging, malnourished, ugly scumbags.”

“Never wear colours to a league game, although for the cup I usually do. Don’t know why, but the rules are the rules.”

“Up until fairly recently it wasn’t unusual for someone to watch Arsenal at home one week, and then watch Spurs the next.”

“Things notched up in the ’70s and ’80s when football violence was at its peak, but you can read reports of people carrying knives and getting stabbed from the 1930s.”

Surely that’s not true… People didn’t disagree about stuff in the ’30s - they just shook hands really quickly. Did they even have knives? Anyway, the best and, frankly, most frightening pearl of wisdom was saved until last:

“Seriously, if you are travelling on your own, I suggest you don’t wear colours. Take it easy, and just be aware of who is around you.”

Riiiight. Well if I do make it to the stadium I’m looking forward to seeing Fabregas play for the first time - I want him to be my favourite player. Also Diaby after that goal at Blackburn.

Score prediction? Lot’s of injuries and suspensions for Spurs’ defence so: Arsenal 5-1 Tottenham Hotspur

Quite simply, this is The One for the Arsenal fans. I hope it is for me.

—————————

CORRECTION:
The Silly Season would like to apologise to fans of Tottenham Hotspur for - on December 19 - implying that striker Robert Keane does a stupid celebration. I had it pointed out to me by Hobbsy at work that he “doesn’t do it any more because he thinks he might hurt himself". What a twat. Not Hobbsy…

Here’s the celebration in all it’s glory. Would you believe that, as if it isn’t bad enough done by Keane himself, Spurs fans then go on holiday and impersonate the bloody thing…

THE SILLY SEASON TV

—————————

Also saw this on the BBC sport website today (Friday):

The first legs of the first Uefa Cup kockout stage will be played on 13 & 14 February

Cup for it

19/12/07

The north London derby tension is hotting up, and now The Silly Season is getting involved…

I know I said I had no reason to hate Spurs in earlier posts but, fittingly, one Spurs fan appears to have decided they’ve got absolutely no problem hating me. This lovely comment was nestling in the comments box:

“Your a Prize c**t, f**k off back to tractor land and leave north London football to those who grew up with it and undwerstand it. C**T C**T C**T.”

I suppose I genuinely have a grievance now. I can take my hatred of Spurs to Ashburton Grove on Saturday and swear my head off legitimately. Thing is though, that’s just one nutter, not a whole football club. I mean, I’m really excited about this match, but that’s because The Family are salivating at the prospect.

Naturally I went crying to The Family on email about this comment. Outraged, they sent me back a retort.

If I had the wings of a sparrow
If I had the arse of a crow
I’d fly over Tottenham tomorrow
And shit on the bastards below, below, below.

Thanks lads… It’s no ‘On The Ball City’, but…

I’d better find reasons to hate Spurs for Saturday then:

Shirt? Nah, White shirts and navy shorts are quite a good neutral combo.

Fans? Hobbsy and Alan, the Spurs fans at work? Nah, they’re alright.

History against Norwich? Well, Norwich have always been absolutely tonked by Spurs for many years – fairly and squarely. Plus, there’s a long and established bloodline of Spurs rejects who have served Norwich City well (Ian Crook, Mark Bowen etc).

Ground? Well, it’s quite a nice double-tier affair to be honest.

Robbie Keane? Yes! THAT F**KING GOAL CELEBRATION! Christ, did he choreograph that ridiculous forward roll/smoking gun thing when he was drunk? Anyone who thinks that is, in any way, a good thing must be shot. Some Spurs fans must like it, so by way of reasoned thought, I have my reason for hating Tottenham.

Well, it’s no less stupid than me being a “c**t” for choosing to support a football team.

——————————–

Last night’s dramatic result against Blackburn handed me my biggest cheer for Arsenal of The Silly Season so far. Not sure why, but I’m really buzzing off the idea of watching Arsenal get ever closer to silverware (something English football no longer allows me to do as a Norwich fan). I think I secretly hold the League Cup close to my heart, as it’s Norwich’s only cup (won in ‘62 and ‘85).

Not surprised the Arsenal reserves are doing so well though. Many of them won’t play any other first team football this season, which must be determantion to enough stay in the competition. Plus you play in front of 90,000 at Wembley, get a trophy and qualify for the UEFA Cup at the end of it all.

And how on earth did Diaby strike the ball the way he did for the first goal? His technique is totally mystifying, yet beautiful. Here it is…

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x3sqm9_01-diaby-blackburn-arsenal-carling_sport

THE SILLY SEASON TV

1 commentPermalink

The Big Four: Grand Sham Sunday

17/12/07

I was actually half pleased I couldn’t get to the Chelsea match because I was still recovering from the frostbite I got at the Steaua Bucharest match. Plus, if I’d gone I would never have wasted my life on the classic 0-0 draw between Torino and Roma on Channel Five.

Since starting The Silly Season, a number of people have sarcastically asked me whether they have under-arse seat heating at The Emirates… the answer is an emphatic no. Never before have I looked so yearningly at the hospitality tier than last Wednesday, when at half-time, the seats emptied, the doors shut, the blinds went down and the lawyers and city boys quaffed champagne and burgers to keep warm. As most lower-league fans will attest, there are rarely such offensive illustrations of class-divide at Saltergate and the like. We all freeze together on Planet Real Football. I mean, who wants to go to a live football match and have their own bar, food and bog there in front of them - all with zero queuing? OK, let’s be honest, it must be heaven. I’d sit there and rattle my jewellery if, I had any.


AFC hospitality

The Chelsea match was a good game for any fan. Arsenal back to full strength - with the return of Fabregas, Hleb and Flamini - looked like a great team again, and the game ended in a loss for Chelsea with Ashley Cole lying on the turf in pain. You don’t need to spend a season trying to be an Arsenal fan to enjoy that.

This weekend’s Clash Of The Big Four has highlighted one thing though:

I lucked out going for the Gooners. It’s looks inceasingly that United and Arsenal are the two strongest clubs of the Four, so my attempts at a season-long smash and grab on the game’s silverware using Arsenal as my vehicle is looking strong at Christmas.

Remember? I chose Arsenal at the start of the season after emailing each of the four clubs. Arsenal (the club I chose because I was least offended by them as a small club fan) and United (the club who’s website www.manutd.com bollocked me for not being real after I asked them to convince me to join them).

Which reminds me, I never did email them all to tell which club I chose. I’ll do it now…

————————-

Talking of being offended by The Big Four, me and few other football ‘experts’ came up with this intriging made up statistic in the pub the other day…

The Big Four’s Premier League Of Hate standings:

Club Percentage of football fans who hate them
Man United 96%
Chelsea 92%
Liverpool 60%
Arsenal 40%

That seem right? Or do you disagree?

————————-

Score predictions aren’t going well - I haven’t won any money from Labrokes for weeks. They were chucking it away at the start of this experiment. I don’t know anymore… Er, Blackburn 0-2 Arsenal for Tuesday’s Carling Cup quarter final at Ewood?

On the ball Arsenal

14/12/07

I missed the first goal… Too used to a sluggish lower-league match, where nothing usually happens unless there’s a howling error, I took to my seat 10 minutes into the match and missed the best goal of the night. Where was my seat you say? Yep, right next to the goal Arsenal were attacking.

Great atmosphere though - I was treated to a number of Highbury hits, such as ‘1-0 To The Arsenal’, ‘Champions League? You’re Having A Laugh’ and the classic ‘Stand Up If You Hate Tottenham’. I stood up, but only because I couldn’t see anything when 58,000 others do. I don’t actually hate Tottenham… How can I?

Despite being the coldest match since Grimsby away (January ‘95, Norwich won 1-0 - an Ian Crook bullet) I had the pleasure of seeing some silky skills from the likes of Traore and Denilson. It’s great stuff to watch, and even when Arsenal switched off completely in the second half the Steaua fans next to me were great entertainment value. It turns out the ‘wanker’ sign is recognised in Eastern Europe. In fact, Steaua would have nicked it 2-3 if not for wasted chances.

I can’t lie though, there was something missing tonight. It was my first ever Champions League match, and there were thousands of fans singing around me all game long, but I left with one song in my head. Famous Norwich City anthem ‘On The Ball City’… I don’t know why - it was just there, and I couldn’t shake it. Maybe it’s sign. Maybe my support for Norwich is burned on to my brain, and there’s nothig I could do about it. I went to bed with it going round and round my head.

Strangest thing of the night though? Two blokes in Norwich shirts were apparently in the pub where I was meeting The Family [Arsenal fans] drink, but they left just before I arrived. It’s a small pub hidden well away from the main road, and Norwich weren’t even playing that night, let alone in London. Bit scary maybe?

————————

In other news… I did it. I beat The Man. I managed to walk into The Emirates stadium filming on my tiny little camera without being accused of streaming it live to Australian TV or whatever. Problem was, I was late, so I annoyed the whole row getting to my seat. I really, really hate doing that…

Good view of a beautiful stadium though.

THE SILLY SEASON TV

————————-

Score prediction: Arsenal 1-2 Chelsea (I don’t know why, I just can’t get past that scoreline in my head)

Trophy life

12/12/07

“When I was a shepherd, I was killing the old sheep for meat and I was selling the lame sheep to replace them with new, young sheep able to produce healthy lambs.” - Steaua Bucharest owner Gigi Becali.

Ah yes, that sounds like the eccentric metaphor of a continental club owner… The oak-smoked aroma of the tabac; the sugary stench of glazed fruits… Europe – God, I’ve missed you. After being given a taster of the glorious UEFA Cup as a teenager, I’ve pined for years to follow my team to the dusty, smoke-filled stadiums of Italy or snow-covered, Eastern Bloc concrete bowls of power.

OK, so I’ll be watching this match at the nice’n'clean, (no filming here, and don’t breathe our air please) Emirates Stadium for tonight’s visit of the worst team in the Champions League this season, but it’s a start. And it’s very, very exciting. I know any neutral can go to a European match and enjoy it, but I’m in the zone. I’m supporting Arsenal, and ‘we’ need to win tonight to hopefully take first place in the group to make it easier in the knock-out stage.

It’s my first ever Champions League match and, if I’m honest, this is the one I want to win more than anything. Why? Well, the silverware I’m chasing this season… It’s a once in a lifetime chance for me, isn’t it. If I end up returning to Norwich next season it’ll never happen again at this level. I wish they hadn’t abolished the Anglo-Italian Cup… I probably would never have needed to embark on this crusade if they hadn’t. Actually, that’s bollocks.


The Anglo-Italian Cup
(thanks to Notts County FC)

I feel very guilty about what I’m doing… but is it a crime to lust after silverware? Just for one season at least? I accept this whole experiment could be a pointless exercise if Arsenal don’t win anything, but it’s so exciting to know the team you support could actually win something. Honestly, until you’re in this position, you don’t know how exciting it is. Supporting any football club has it’s elements of excitement and surprise, but knowing you’ve got a real chance to win rally helps.

Maybe it’s just the novelty of this season supporting Arsenal. Maybe it’s just because I haven’t felt like this for years. Either way, it’s becoming apparent that there are major benefits to being part of The Big Four.

Carl Bradshaw ate my finger

10/12/07

I’m not bitter because Arsenal lost, and I’m not turning on the team, but Eboue’s a charmless, angry little man isn’t he? I mean, does anyone like him in the dressing room I wonder?

In case you didn’t see the incidents during the Middlesbrough, he slapped a player in the face because he wasn’t strong enough to fight off a challenge and then deliberately tried to murder Stuart Downing with his studs. That player seems quite unpleasent, on the pitch anyway. To me it really seems to upset the balance of concentration for the rest of the team - the other players don’t behave like dicks, so why should he?

Then again, other clubs do tend to try to muscle Arsenal out of their stride away from home, so Eboue’s antic’s could put players off in the future.

But it seems some of the lifelong Arenal fans feel the same. One of The Family said to me the other day: “I was frustrated by Eboue. Looks a solid enough player, but can’t stand the diving and histrionics. Despite what people would have you believe, Arsenal aren’t any more or less guilty than any other English club as far as this goes (except for him).”

Want proof?

Here’s a quick video of him cheating in the 2006 Champions League Final…

THE SILLY SEASON TV

I’ve never been a fan of your ‘nutter’ player like Dennis Wise or Robin Friday - hooligans of the pitch, if you will. And, I’ve never seen a Norwich player behave like a bloody fool… Well, apart from when Mike Milligan fly-kicked that Tranmere player and got sent off. And when Carl Bradshaw bit that taxi driver’s finger. And when Daryl Sutch missed that penality in the play-off final against Blirmingham. And Colin Woodthorpe… just by being Colin Woodthorpe.

But you get my point. I loved all the players who wore the yellow jersey, yet I find myself being very unforgiving of Arsenal’s players, probably because they play for a massive club. Once again I’m letting my Underdog Against The Rest Of The World anger get the better of me.

Or maybe I’m angry for another reason - because I’m beginning to care about Arsenal’s results. Maybe I am bitter because Arsenal lost.

1 commentPermalink

Earning your Spurs

07/12/07

Yes… The Family have come good. They’ve got me a ticket for Arsenal Vs Spurs – “the biggest game of the season”.

Oh, how much is it going to cost, you ask? Why, only £67 effin’ quid!

I’m still looking forward to it… provided the seat’s made of gold, I get to choose who plays and the beer’s free.

All the Arsenal fans were talking about in the pub after the Wigan match was the derby. To be honest, from the outside looking in, I’ve never seen the north London derby as much of a draw. But, I’m told it’s hardcore… One of the few matches left for Arsenal that still has real tension and buzz, so The Family say. A tension that’s been lost by the sanitisation of the club.

I’m told this is one of the great derby moments…

———————-

European Cup Final Fund
So, I got the score wrong for Arsenal Vs Newcastle yesterday. I went for 2-2. I had predicted a draw though, so I’m still a genius – just one that doesn’t win money from Labrokes any more.

As a result the European Cup Final Fund is reducing pretty rapidly (£36). I should probably explain, that, if I’m gong to spend a season watching Arsenal, then I should put some money aside for major finals in case they make it. After all, one of the reasons for this experiment was to see my adopted club lift a major honour, now that it can’t ever happen for Norwich or any of the other 87 clubs.

Thing is, this fund might have to get me to Moscow (where the final’s being held) and then a ticket (which could be hundreds of pounds). At this rate I’m going to have to sell the car.

To donate leave a comment stating how much you want to give and your card details.
Thanks…

—————-

Score prediction: Middlesbrough 1-2 Arsenal

Getting shirty

05/12/07

Good to see Norwich won last night - that’s 9 points out of 12 now. Looks like they’re going to be safe thankfully - I was being blamed by a number of Norwich fans for the team hitting bottom of the table. Seriously… like it was my fault because I ‘left’ for a season.

One of those fans is Gary - my mate who I used to watch Norwich with before I took on this crazy experiment. To be honest I thought he’d forgiven me for this, and we’d even been to the pub to watch the East Anglian derby together a couple of weeks back (yeah, yeah I broke the rules, I know).

Bizarrely, though, our friendship has taken another turn for the worse, after he read my comment a couple of days ago about how I “took seconds to get over the fact that Norwich had lost to a last-minute goal at Stoke". Seriously, he was furious. He sent me an email yesterday explaining his displeasure using his broad vocabulary of expletives. I emailed back asking to meet up in the pub so he could explain why he was more pissed off now than before while we watched the Arsenal Vs Newcastle match… No reply - I guess that wound him up even more.

I’ll offer to buy the drinks.. that’ll soften him up - then I’ll find out why he’s not talking to me.

—————

In other news, I was admiring the Arsenal shirt I bought the other day.

I bought a retro one of course - I’m a bit of an moaning old git when it comes to new shirts, and how they’re tainted by advertising and gold lettering and stuff. Plus the price of shirts are a joke. Retro shirts aren’t cheap from The Armoury (Arsenal’s club sho… superstore), but when you’re a as small as I am, then you have to buy the shirt size for 11 to 12-year-olds. Just £20, which means I win… I’ve beaten The Man.

But then I thought, as if I haven’t been a hypocrite enough this season, that I’m ignorantly wearing a shirt from an Arsenal era I know nothing about. So, homework time…

It’s a replica of Arsenal’s 1971 double-winning shirt. Bob Wilson, Pat Rice, Charlie George, Blahry Blahreson…

Turns out that Charlie George goal - the one where he scores in the last minute and slides along the turf on his back (played every three seconds somewhere across the world) is the 1971 double-winning goal. It’s no Jeremy Goss in the Olympic Stadium, but it’s fairly dramatic… I’ll give them that.

The cat’s in the picture because he was in that mood cat’s have where he would jump on the shirt whenever I tried to move it and wouldn’t let go, so I had no choice but to picture him with it.

Nice shirt… great badge. I have shirt pride.

Heart on head, I don't know where I stand

03/12/07

Well, if England had qualified, it would have been the most exciting draw day for years yesterday. But they didn’t, and it wasn’t. More so though because Arsenal didn’t draw Norwich in the FA cup - that would have been weird.

I know that so far I’ve been alluding to the fact that I’ve not really felt anything for Arsenal, and Norwich have still been tugging at the heartstrings, but this weekend saw a possible shift in my footballing emotions…

Like every committed armchair football fan I was watching the scores roll in on Final Score. Norwich were drawing 1-1 at Stoke, until the last minute, when Stoke to the lead, and the win. The change? I’d usually be cursing that for hours, but I was ‘over it’ in a few seconds. I think I’m beginning to desensitise myself.

Arsenal rode their luck a little bit against Villa, but were a class above. Of course it was exciting to watch, but I still didn’t hit the roof when Adebayor scored. I was offered a ticket to the Villa game by one of The Family, but didn’t spend the money because the Champions League Final Fund is not looking too healthy anymore after I lost money betting on the Arsenal score. Down to £39 now - my winning streak at Ladbrokes looks like it’s come to an end.

——————-

The best thing about FA Cup day? The quotes… Now, I’m not saying I’m any better after my stuttering on the radio when being interviewed for this blog, but I loved these two muddled quotes on Five Live on Sunday

Chasetown’s manager (of the game aganist Port Vale): “We’ll be hanging from the town’s church spira if we beat them tonight. Or whatever.”
Eh? There’s a chocolate church in Chasetown?

The Life President of Harrogate Railway about their match against Mansfield: “I really think we have a chance this time - heart on head, I believe we could do it.”
‘Hand on heart’ is usually a less gory way to express yourself, but never underestimate the passion of British football fans…


You’ll be surprised to know I couldn’t find a picture of someone holding a heart above their head, so a Spira will have to do I’m afraid.

Arsenal fans: "We hate being one of The Big Four"

30/11/07

THE SILLY SEASON: FEATURE

So, walking into a boozer alone to meet a group of seven Arsenal nuts was probably one of my more brave/stupid moments…

But it was well worth it - this experiment would be pointless if I didn’t try to immerse myself as much as possible in the Gooner culture. It’s not easy, you know… You have to kind of break a few social taboos and invite yourself to places without being asked first. I’m not entirely sure whether they want me there; whether they mind; if they actually think it’s quite funny, or if they’re just waiting for us all to be walking down a dark alley late on Tuesday night after an away match at Middlesbrough where I’ll be, you know, taken out of the equation…

Anyway, they’ve been very accomodating so far. “We’re a broad church", said one on the way to the Wigan match. And, as is the case for any fan over the age of 21, they fondly remember Norwich City’s mid-’90s UEFA cup ("Jerry Goss!” “Bayern Munich!") run, “because it was such a small club punching above it’s weight - and they beat Bayern Munich away".

Which brings me to my first point about supporting Arsenal. If half of football’s appeal is the phenomenon of triumphing against the odds, or the element of surprise, then surely the majority of an Arsenal fan’s season is quite boring. I was excited about the Wigan game because I was meeting people I’ve never met and I was watching Arsenal, but the fixture itself seemed (and was) a non-contest.
“It’s never boring mate, even if it’s a game you expect to win. I always worry about whoever we play. The tension is notched up for games like Man Utd and Spurs, but we never take games for granted. And we never take the feeling of winning for granted. You do get people that think we should be beating everyone we play 5-0, but they are more your newer fans.”


A member of The Family sports a ‘Che Grimandi’ T-shirt for the Wigan match

So what about these ‘newer fans’. What does that mean exactly? It seems there are two different types of supporter involved with Arsenal from what The Family are saying. The lot I’m hanging around in the pub with have been watching Arsenal since the late ’70s/early ’80s. Like fans of every club, they’ve lived through the dark times.
“It’s all different now,” they say. “We love being one of the most successful clubs, but we would never have been in this position if it wasn’t for Wenger. What we mean by the newer fans are people who support the club for the wrong reason. We feel like we’ve been forgotten a little bit by the club. Maybe not on purpose, but the atmosphere is lacking these days in the ground. They put the most vocal Arsenal fans at the opposite end of the ground from the away fans, and it’s hard to get season tickets that are near each other. We don’t want to cause any trouble or anything, but banter between home and away fans, or just between your mates was always part of the occasion.”

Do you not care that football just isn’t fair anymore? The Big Four have ruined everything. No one else will win anything, ever again. “We hate that name… The Big Four. And the gap that opened up is a problem – it’s not like we don’t recognise that and don’t care. What can you do? If I had a choice between the Arsenal now and the Arsenal of a less dominant time, I’d choose the older Arsenal.”

More on The Family’s feelings as we go on. I understand completely where these boys are coming from, but I was reasonably happy with the atmosphere at Ashburton Grove, probably because I wasn’t expecting it to be great. I’ve experienced far worse… Old Trafford.

Here’s nine seconds of a famous old Arsenal standard…

THE SILLY SEASON TV

————————————-

Match prediction: Aston Villa 1-1 Arsenal

1 commentPermalink

Spurred on

29/11/07

I’ve been reading Up The Arse - Arsenal’s funniest fanzine, it says on the front.

And, indeed, it is quite funny… if you ABSOLUTELY F**KING HATE SPURS. Seriously, no one can hate another club this much can they? I mean, they’re just other human beings doing the same thing as Arsenal fans… supporting a club. I don’t think there’s very much in there about Arsenal, just feature after feature on Juande Ramos and Ashley Cole. I know what I’m saying is sacrilege to most fans, but I’m a strange case… After choosing Norwich I moved to Stockport when I was seven, so I didn’t grow up living near Ipswich and probably missed out on all the aggro. The only club I truly hate is Man Utd. As a Norwich fan in Stockport I would always side with Manchester City fans, which is probably why. Or maybe it’s just because that club encompasses everything to hate about football.

Best bits of the fanzine?
I know it’s cruel, but the Carlos Tevez Plastic Surgery Clinic raises an interesting question. Does anybody know why he has such a huge scar running across his neck? He probably just fell off his bike as a kid… I don’t want to point and laugh, but I am curious.

Alisher Usmanov as Jabba The Hut is quite good too, although I’ve not read the actual story, so it might be highly defamatory. I meant the pictures were good. Usmanov has crushed bloggers with is little finger over things written about him, so I reckon he’s a bloody good bloke. Thumbs up for Usmanov, I’ve always said.

————————-

Talking of the press, I want to say a massive thanks to the good people at The Guardian newspaper, and especially The Guide. They featured The Silly Season in last Saturday’s Guide. Loving the thing about the entire city of Norwich turning on me.

Anyway, revelations from The Family [the Arsenal fans] in tomorrow’s post

Winners and losers

28/11/07

I’m sure no one else has noticed, but Norwich and Arsenal have been synchronising scorelines of late… City won 3-1 last night at Blackpool (Yes, come on! First away win of the season - Roeder’s a genius). Sorry…

Arsenal lost at Sevilla, which I was right about them losing, if not the actual score. In fact, last night was the first time I might have felt something for the team and, interestingly, it came in defeat…

What pissed me off was the manor in which Sevilla killed the game off. I think they deserved the win, but they pretty much elbowed their way to full time. I was furious when Walcott received a sly smack in the mouth in the last minute. But here lies part of the problem perhaps. Last night I only became passionate about the match when it was obvious Arsenal were going to lose – I felt like the underdog. Only then did I want to fight for Arsenal. Is winning a taboo for me? Does it feel wrong to have it easy?

Another pleasing thing about last night was that it means there’s something riding on the Steaua Bucharest game in a couple of weeks - my next match. Arsenal have to win to top their Champions League group.

So, my biggest problem at the moment appears to be the big difference in mentality between the supporter of a small club and a highly successful big one. I’m determined to get to the bottom of it.

In fact, my investigations started last Saturday after the Wigan match. And this is what one of The Family (the Arsenal fans) said in relation to supporting such a gigantic club: “If I had a choice between the Arsenal now and the Arsenal of a less dominant time, I’d choose the older Arsenal.” Interesting stuff…

Anyway, I’ll get it all written up for Friday. Meanwhile, here’s picture of me wearing an Arsenal shirt in public for the first time… Just after I’ve told the whole pub that the only size that fitted me was for 11 to 12-year-olds.

Their reaction? What do you think…

Wigan worrier

27/11/07

Don’t get me wrong, it was a good game, Arsenal won, and I was really excited to be a part of it. It’s my attitude that’s the problem at the moment.

This is why I’m finding it so hard to adjust…

First off, because Arsenal are so successful, I feel like they don’t need my help - or that they don’t really want it anyway. I feel rejected. I know that’s me being insecure, so I’ll try to fight that.

But the other revealing thing was the empathy I felt for Wigan right at the start of the match. For 25 years I’ve been going to clubs like Villa, United, Man City, Liverpool etc, relishing the fact that I’m representing the clear underdog. I used to love singing my head off as part of the minority, and sticking it to the lazy, apathetic home support. You truly are a soldier when you support your team away from home. Anyway, that feeling soon faded when it became obvious that ‘foul robot’ Michael Brown had been programmed to ‘Early Doors Reducer’ for this game, and every time they got hold of the ball it was ballooned out for a throw. If they’d used their heads at all they could have been at least a goal up by half-time, such was Arsenal’s profligacy.

So I enjoyed it, but I haven’t mentally prepared myself for supporting Arsenal well enough. The Faaaamily [the lads who invited me to their pre- and post-match ritual and who help me with tickets] assured me that it will take only weeks, and that Saturday’s performance was nothing to go buy. “International burn-out", they called it - it’s not something I’ve ever seen before to be honest, being the fan of a club who only ever had a coupled of Wales squad members at a time.

Talking of which, Norwich won 2-0 at home as well on Saturday [silently punches the air]. They beat Coventry, which is my boss’ team. Normally I’d be allowed bragging rights at work, but he says it’s void because I’m an Arsenal fan now. Fair point, unntil I discovered HE was at the Arsenal match at the weekend as well. DID YOU HEAR THAT COVENTRY FANS?

Here’s Marc’s moral stance on The Silly Season when he’s not watching Arsenal (this is a different video to the one of Marc I showed a week or two ago)…

THE SILLY SEASON TV

———————

Tonight’s match prediction: Hmm, I’ve been thinking about this one too much. Sevilla 1-0 Arsenal.

Although I’ve wimped out and bet £1 on 1-0 and a £1 on 0-0.

1 commentPermalink

Camera shy

26/11/07

“Up the arse? Or Gooner, sir?”

“Huh?”

“It’s the fanzine, sir… Which one do you want? Just a quid.”

“Oh right, yeah I’ll take ‘Up…’ The one one the left.”

So, I wasn’t a great match, but it was an exciting day overall… Best bit? Well it could have been so many things… the match, the pub banter, the new shirt. But, for me, it had to be Arsenal’s copyright infringment rules. In this video, you will see just how ludicrous the level of iron-fisted control exercised at Arsenal.

I understand the rules. You can’t just go to a match and film the whole thing. And, if I’d walked into the ground with a DVD HDHD super camera they use for telly, then I’d understand, but this was filmed on a OLD DIGITAL CAMERA THAT TAKES AROUND 30 SECONDS OF FOOTAGE.

It was supposed to be a moment I’d remember for the rest of my life. Your body hair stands on end; the blood rushes around your body; match fever grips you… Or, you’re interrupted, and all you remember is a flash of fluorescent jacket and fingerless gloves in your face.

I should say that the woman who ‘dealt’ with me was only doing her job and she was actually very charming.

THE SILLY SEASON TV

More stuff from matchday to come…

Prophet margin

25/11/07

Wow, what a matchday…

I bought my shirt in Arsenal’s version of Toys R Us, entered the stadium using (another person’s) Pay As You Go-style matchcard (what no ticket?), was threatened with ejection from the ground within a minute of being in there, saw a mildy rubbish Arsenal beat an abismal Wigan team and got the match score right again! Another £12 goes to the European Cup Final Fund… current balance: £43.

I met the Arsenal supporting faaaamily as well and stumbled through the door at about 11pm, so that must have gone reasonably well.

Got pictures and videos from the day, which I’ll stick up on Monday morning. Can’t do it now because the videos don’t work unless I upload them on the computer at work for some reason, blah blah blah. Plus, I’m hungover.

Meanwhile here’s the seat I got. Pretty good eh?

(Not so) Little Shop Of Horrors

24/11/07

I’m in a rush to meet the Arsenal fans, so must be quick, but I thought you might like an initial Arsenal shop report.

This is a lovely mug…

And this is a total mug…

And to think Rosicky was fast-becoming my favourite player.

I had a hangover yesterday and, probably as a result, forgot to bring my wallet with me, so couldn’t buy the shirt. I walked into the shop - sorry, superstore - took some pictures, tried on a shirt and then left. The staff probably think I’m a bit odd now.

Anyway, I’ll pick it up today at the match.

Prediction: Fabregas and a couple of others missing, so… Arsenal 2-0 Wigan

Get Shirty

23/11/07

Off to buy a shirt today in preparation for Saturday’s big match.

I was quite excited at first, but, as the hour draws closer, it feels more and more wrong. Buying the shirt or paraphernalia of any club other than your own must be a bizarre thing to do.

Buying a bra? Easy (as a gift obviously). Handing over cash for a club I’ve never previously cared out about? Frightening. Wrong. I asked Gary (Norwich supporting mate) if he’d come along for support. “I’d rather buy Ipswich pants, and wear them,” he said.

No then… Maybe I’ll go for a scarf. No, must have the guts - it’s only for a season, right? Besides an old Arsenal shirt is iconic… It’s the new experience of picking up a shopping trolley and entering The Emirates version of Matalan I’m really not looking forward to.

——————–

England’s Glory

Martin O’Neill’s just ruled himself out of the England manager’s job. I have an idea… How about the whole country is manager? Using the same model as Ebbsfleet United’s My Football Club fan-power initiative, all 50million of us should vote for who we want to play and in what formation, with Fabio Capello in an advisory role - telling us who’s available for selection. That way we have no one to blame but ourselves.

1 commentPermalink

Roll up for the Euro Lottery

22/11/07

Whoops. I shouldn’t have written England’s Glory yesterday. The whole thing’s my fault - sorry.

But this disaster does give everybody the chance to change their alligance for a year, without being accused of being a turncoat. Especially as, unlike in 1994, there are no other home nation teams - so we can’t all be Irish.

This is your chance to spend a year (England will begin qualifying for the 2010 World Cup by about September 2008) supporting a national side without the curse of birth. For just one year you have a choice.

Seriously, this could be good fun…

Firstly, open up your family tree to see if there’s any continental influence, no matter how old. I’m going to call my mum later, because I have a faint childhood memory that she once told me that my nan is 25% Italian. She could have been winding me up though. Fingers crossed she wasn’t…

However, if you’re unfortunate enough to be 100% English or Celt or whatever, then you may have to resort to more material influences. Where did you have your best ever holiday? Spain… Most hedonistic stag weekend? Prague… OK, cool.

Or, perhaps go through your flat and find out which country influences your life the most… Check through your wardrobe for where most of your clothes are from. H&M? Excellent, you could be Sweden. Check your fridge too… Is it dominated by Salami and Parmeasan cheese? Well done, could be Italy.
What car do you drive? Or which country manufactures the bus you get on every day?

Then, add all these factors to discover which European country influences your life the most. A mate, Simon, is going to find out about his family tree, but if he has no luck may have to go for Sweden judging by what he found in his life…


Sweden
+

Italy
+

Netherlands
+

Sweden

=
Sweden

Right, I’m off to find out if I’m 1/16th Italian

England's Glory

21/11/07

Think some match is happening tonight…

Something to do with a game between two countries, and then there’s tournament at the end of it.

But never mind that, I have my instructions from Red Fox… I must be in an Enlgish freehouse in Highbury called The Compton Arms at 13:00 this Saturday.

There I will send a text message, saying “Ticket please", notifying the ‘Gooner’ of my arrival. Then some bloke will turn around to hand me the goods, and I’ll be whisked off to a weird and wonderful world of red and white, where people talk of easy victories and beautiful, free-flowing football.

At least, that’s whats supposed to happen, but the two Arsenal fans who I’ve never met might have completely forgotten they were going to get me a ticket and I’ll have to watch Teletext… again.

Must learn some Arsenal chants… Or maybe I could teach them [Norwich City classic] On The Ball City.

Prediction tonight: England 2-1 Croatia

Championship Manager: Ebbsfleet Edition

20/11/07

THE TUESDAY SILLY SEASON FEATURE

The Silly Season is proud to announce that it has secured an exclusive interview with one of Ebbsfleet United’s new ’shareholders’…

Footie fans may remember him as the long-serving goalkeeper for Long Eaton Oasis FC… No? Well, he’s called Adam, and he’s one of the 20,000 people who’ve signed up to take control of Ebbsfleet Utd FC, as part of the My Football Club (www.myfootballclub.co.uk) project, which was dreamt up by a bloke called Miles Brookes.


Adam wears a shirt by New York Metrostars

Most of you will almost certainly know what the crack is with this… In a groundbreaking move fans look set (I think they’re still finalising some stuff) to take a 51% majority stake in a football club, enabling them to makes decsions, ranging from team selection to ground redevelopment, by way of voting.

Anyway, I thought it’d be interesting to ask Adam a bit about it because the idea for My Football Club comes from a similar disillusionment with the game that inspired The Silly Season

“I mean I’d love to be a shareholder in Liverpool, but even if I had billions of pounds, I still wouldn’t have as much say as I would with Ebbsfleet. It’s a way of invigorating people’s passion in football again. It’s easy to be disenfranchised with the bigger clubs these days. You begin to feel like you’re watching the stock market really.”

Adam’s a Liverpool fan, (because his old man is, and, er, Kenny Dalglish opened the sports shop in his local town back when he was six). It appears that it’s not just fans of the other 88 clubs that begin to wander what football’s all about these days. So, is this real-life Championship Manager a new lease of life for the footall obsessive?

“Hopefully it will shake things up a bit. Most exciting thing for me? Possibly the team selection. I’m already researching about all the players at the club, and reading up on their history, etc. It’s the perfect club for it to take place. Young club, young team - no history to weigh it down. They’ve also just signed a three-year sponsoreship deal with Eurostar, and the website is one of the best that I’ve seen for a club this size - really good content.”

Twenty thousand people have paid £35 to be a ’shareholder’ (or member or whatever), but there’s no limit to it. They’re still taking applications now.

“You’ll vote on team selections. The manager might tell you how the players have done and then provide you with information on form for selection, and then you’ll vote. One of the inital concerns was that people would interfere, but basically the head coach will prompt vote-based decisions.”

Are people not going to get bored, or do silly things like buy Jeff Horsefield and play him in goal?

“No, you idiot. People have signed up from all over the world. A Texan guy has spend about £1,000 on player sponsorship. [Birmingham Chairman] David Gold has criticised it, saying people will have their own agendas. But we want to win things. We all want the team to do well. Most of the people who have signed up are intelligent football fans, who’re interested in doing things in a new way.”

Do you think it could have an affect on your already unhealthy obsession with Liverpool?

“I might end up seeing more Ebbsfleet games than Liverpool games, you never know, but it won’t takeover my passion for Liverpool. The whole thing with Ebbsfleet is that it’ll be more involved - people will have a real interest in the club. It might not feel as detached as I can do supporting a club like Liverpool.”

You’re going to become obsessed with this…

“I don’t think I’ll become obsessed with it. I’ll look out for results each week. Whether I look for them before Liverpool or after remains to be seen… Honestly, I’m not going to become obsessed. I don’t think I will anyway.”

History lessons

19/11/07

So, with the barrage of hate I’ve been getting from Norwich fans over recent weeks I’d almost taken my eye off the whole Arsenal thing. But, with this Saturday’s big match in mind I’ve started to get my teeth into the history of the club.

First off, just detach yourself for a moment from the fact that Arsenal is a name so common within football. I mean, just think for a second… How cool is that for the name of a football club? ARSENAL. That’s like calling yourself The Battleship. Or the Death Star. It’s imposing, and it’s not technically a place. If that had been the case they would have called themselves Finsbury Park or Holloway. Have you been to those Finsbury Park?

And then there’s the badge. A massive cannon. Not an over-complicated council crest, or outdated Latin mantra. Just a massive gun.

It’s not as good as AC Bari’s post-modern cock though. But what is…

I’ve just looked on the internet and found a page that says that Arsenal Football Club began in an arms factory in Woolwich, south London. I’m boring you aren’t I… Anyway, they moved to Highbury in 1913 because it was seen to have a bigger catchment area. We may lament the money-minded decisions of football club chairmen in today’s game… but it’s nice to see they didn’t give a shit about fans even in the black and white days.

Thanks to www.arseweb.com for supplying that information for today’s history lesson.

——————–

I missed out on more ticket money by seconds on Saturday. I’d predicted 1-1 for Scotland Vs Italy, but Panucci ruined all that. I’ve still got a 100% record in the betting stakes though, because international football doesn’t count.

I’m going to call that bloke and ask him about Ebbsfleet United now… As you’ve no doubt heard, he’s one of the 20,000 fans who’ll be picking the team now. That’s not going to go wrong at all is it. Oh no…

1 commentPermalink

Helhurst park

17/11/07

It all started because of work… He’d get seats at The Emirates through clients. Also an inlaw had a season ticket…

“Next thing I know, I’m going to a fair few games. It’s like a drug, watching such beautiful football. I mean, you can’t take your eyes of it.”

This is the tale of a Crystal Palace fan, who just thought he’d take in a game “because there was a spare ticket going". Then there would be a chance to take a client to a match, and the favour would be returned. “Before I knew it, I’d be looking out for Arsenal’s results - sometimes before Palace.”

Before you write off Palace Pete - as we’ll call him - as a turncoat, what’s happened to him is actually quite an organic thing. It’s a bit like if you were taken to a matches by your dad when you were a kid. Before you know it you’re interested in how the team is getting on; you want the team to win, and you’re there… you’re a fan. Palace Pete was taken to a few matches, and the phenomenon of falling in love with a football team began for him again. Perhaps this is proof that you can change your team when you’re an adult. Even if you were never intending to.

“It’s got nothing to do with Palace being useless, or Warnock being useless, or Jordan being useless. It just crept up on me. I’m caught in between both clubs at the moment. I can’t fully commit to Arsenal – it still feels wrong,” said Pete. “I could just say, ‘OK, I’ll just watch Arsenal casually and tell myself I’m still a Palce fan,’ but I’m just being honest.

“I’m sure if Palace won the cup this season, beating Arsenal in the final, it’d be the greatest thing that’s ever happened to me, but eventually, if I keep watching Arsenal, that will change.”

So, all it takes is for a football fan to take their eye of the ball for a while, and look what can happen.

(At this stage I should point out that, even if Palace Pete is sometimes watching the game from the hospitality area of The Emirates, he always returns to his seat in time for the second half.)

We’ll revist Palace Pete at a later date…

As for the rest of you, feel free to leave a comment on The Silly Season about any supporting turnoil you’ve experienced. Or even just how you came to love the club you do.

———————–

Score prediction: Scotland 1-1 Italy (don’t care about England vs Austria).

Radio play

16/11/07

Thanks to all who listened to the stuttering fool that was me explaining myself on BBC Radio Norfolk’s excellent Norwich City show The Scrimmage.

For those of who didn’t listen, I’m sure you had a far more productive and enjoyable evening. And to the bloke who said I “should be shot, and not allowed to come back to the club"… Thanks very much, but I just want to pick you up on a quick point there: if I’m “shot” it’s not likely I’ll be trying to walk into Carrow Road soon, so…

Best bit? When, after all the agro I’d been getting all show, the bloke who was doing the travel news admitted he was an Arsenal fan. You couldn’t make it up… Well, you could, but I don’t think he did.

What the good people of Norfolk seemed to be most pissed off about though, was the fact that I used a picture of Alan Partridge in his Radio Norwich studio to illustrate the fact I was coming on the show.

So, just for you lot, here it is again…

——————-

The story about the Palace fan who confessed about his affair with Arsenal is coming I promise. I’m just a bit hungover… because I met up with him in the pub.

Fight Club

15/11/07

The revolution has begun, sort of…

I’m not talking about the Ebbsfleet takeover (although The Silly Season has secured an exclusive interview with one of the new ‘board members’ for next week). In the past few days, I’ve had long-time supporters from two different clubs (who wish to remain anonymous) admit they’ve been feeling disillusioned with what it is to be a football supporter these days. Plus, I’ve had a few comments sent to The Silly Season from people talking about their (successful or failed) attempts to change clubs.

As a result, I’d like to introduce The Silly Season Confessions Booth. This is a place where you can discuss feelings and frustrations that just cannot be aired anywhere else. Whether you’re a Man Utd fan who wished they’d chosen local club Torquay Utd in the first place, or just a fan who has fallen out of love with the game… No one will judge you. It’s like the film Fight Club, only you don’t have to punch anyone, and I won’t blow my flat up.

I’ll put an option to click on at the top of the home page as soon as I get hold of the web monkey. For now, just leave your confessions in the comment section. Then I’ll publish the comments WITHOUT REVEALING ANYONE’S IDENTITY.

Of the two aforementioned fans, one is Crystal Palace, and the other Luton. That’s all I can reveal about them at this time, although I’m meeting up with the Palace fan in the pub tonight, so we’ll find out his reasons tomorrow.

—————————

Don’t forget, The Silly Season is being grilled about leaving Norwich in the lurch by BBC Radio Norfolk tonight from 6pm to 7pm on sports show Scrimmage. You can listen online (probably).

A cat amongst the Canaries

14/11/07

Talk about being in the dock… I’ve been invited to take part in a sports show on BBC Radio Norfolk called Scrimmage, perhaps as a result of the good people of the area discovering the team I ‘dropped’ for The Silly Season was Norwich City.

As you may know, I’ve been crucified on Norwich messageboards and in bits of the local press there, and have basically been told not to come back by one of Norfolk’s premier sports writers… Shit.

So, although it does feel a little like walking through Norwich city centre naked, I guess it could help me set the record straight: That I’m doing this as a protest – if football has sold its soul, why shouldn’t I? If the Big Four decree that, if I want to ever taste victory in my lifetime, I have to give up the team I’ve supported for 25 years.

Please do join me this Thursday from 6pm to 7pm on BBC Radio Norfolk, 95.1, 95.6, 104.4FM and digital DAB, to hear me stuttering badly while the Norwich fans take aim…

Hey, Thaksin Shinawatra wouldn’t do it…

1 commentPermalink

I bet you'd look good on the match floor

12/11/07

Oh, I am on a role now.

I had a punt on Arsenal to win 3-1… £3 at 9/1. £30! This is well easy…

That’ll pay for the next match ticket.

Shit, why didn’t I put £1000 on? It’s always in hindsight…

This team are unstoppable at the moment. It’s a bit embarrassing in a way - I’ve never supported team that hasn’t lost for so long. Not many have I don’t suppose. When I think about the game itself, I know I enjoyed it, but is it making me love the club?

Maybe not yet… But I have got the same feeling I had as a kid in 1988/89 when Robert Fleck’s Norwich were top. It makes you dream.

1 commentPermalink

(’Un)forgiving

12/11/07

After being called a “tozzer” by Norfolk premier sports paper The Pink ‘Un I emailed The Man In The Stands column to explain what I was doing to see if I could garner some understanding.

I sent his email:

Hello Man In The Stands, hope you’re well.
I’m the “tozzer on Five Live” who you mentioned in column a few days ago.

Just wanted to say:
I made a vow to spend just THIS SEASON supporting one of The Big Four clubs in the Premier League for a protest…

English football’s biggest clubs have decided, through their monopolisation of the game, that none of the other 88 clubs in the football league will ever win anything ever again. Ever.

So, if football has sold its soul, why shouldn’t I? If I want to ever taste victory in my lifetime, there is no other way than to give up the team I’ve supported for 25 years. I’m trying to make that point. I’m not turning my back on City. I love the club.


Here’s what The Man said:

Thank you for your email.

To abandon your club in its hour of need is treason.

I don’t care if it’s ‘only’ for one season, that’s a bit like telling your wife you are ‘only’ going to sleep with other women for a year, “as an experiment".

I would ask you to re-join our relegation fight, but we are probably better off without you.

OTBC.

I guess the moral of the story is: you can try to decode the nature of ultra-support, and wind up a few people from your former football club along the way. But… If you do it to a club that’s bottom of the league, they’ll turn their back on you forever.

‘OTBC’ stands for ‘On The Ball City’, which is Norwich City’s famous terrace song. I sang it to myself after reading that. It was a dark moment… Most of my proudest moments in football came while bellowing that song out on the terraces. I feel very sad indeed today.

Still, Arsenal are playing tonight…

Score prediction: Reading 1-3 Arsenal

Might have a punt on that…

Legendary DJ Steve Lamacq joins the Silly debate

09/11/07

For those in the know, the man’s a legend. Esteemed radio DJ and stalwart of British indie rock Steve Lamacq said his piece about The Silly Season in a central London pub last night. I couldn’t resist asking… Celebrity sells you know.

Oh yeah, and some dude called Mole… Do they think football’s sold its soul?

THE SILLY SEASON TV

Gooner be brilliant!

08/11/07

Yes! I got the score prediction for Arsenal’s Slavia Prague match right.

I’ve just checked ladbrokes.com and it was 7/1 for no goalscorer. I’ll put £10 for the next match prediction, I promise (maybe). It was raining heavily in Prague tonight - maybe that’s a weakness for the carpet football geniuses. I noticed that someone played a long ball up to Adebayor tonight. That’s not why I chose Arsenal… Stop it.

So the two Arsenal fans who I’ve never met who got me tickets for Wigan and Steaua Bucherest game have had a look at the blog, and got back to me.

Never say that Gooners aren’t accomodating… It appears these two lifelong fans are ready to welcome me into the faaamily (pronounced like they do on EastEnders) with open arms.

For the Wigan match in a couple of weeks time I’ve been invited to the Compton Arms pub as a guest, to sample to pre-match warm-up… I’ve got a feeling this may involve pre-match beer, but I’m prepared to take one for the team.

The boozer looks quite good - they’ve got real ales (bonus). I’d better learn some songs though. Shit… and some history - don’t want to get caught out. I know that Steve Bould played for Stoke before Arsenal… That’s quite obscure… I don’t think that fact alone is really going to cut it though.

In the Pink ('Un)

07/11/07

This is what they said in the Man In The Stands column. Not sure what a “tozzer” is…

Score prediction for tonight’s match: Slavia Prague 0-0 Arsenal

1 commentPermalink

Two too many

05/11/07

The weekend felt weird.

Both games were good. OK, one was good - one was amazing.

I broke the first rule of The Silly Season and watched the East Anglian derby with my Norwich mate and a couple of other Norwich fans. It felt like the old days… I felt great. 2-0 down at half time, City clawed it back brilliantly to 2-2. The same scoreline as Arsenal’s match. Along with them, I hit the roof of the pub when (we) they equalised.

I celebrated far more for the Norwich goal than I did when Gallas’ ball was deemed to have crossed the line. Both were equally as dramatic, despite being for very different reasons. There’s evidently still some work to do in the depths of my footballing emotions.

I’ve not felt that way about Norwich for a good few months. After that match I was kind of regretting doing this whole thing. How was I supposed to know that the season I choose this footballing protest/social experiment that City would fall to their lowest for far longer than I’ve been alive? I can’t change back now - I’ve spent £50 on this blog.

On the I’m Less Popular Than Alan Partridge tip, it appears The Silly Season got a mention in premier Norfolk sports results paper The Pink ‘Un. Of course, it wasn’t very pleasant, but I’ll get my mate to find the link to find out what they actually said, and put it on here. Something about me deserting them in a time of need. I don’t know, I wasn’t really listening…

1 commentPermalink

Arsenal expect

03/11/07

That was great… Really great.

Maybe it was because Arsenal had to come from behind twice, and so I felt like I was backing the underdog during the match. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to change my underdog supporter mentality.

That’s what seems to be the main difference. Equalising against Man Utd is always a major event in anybody’s year, but as an Arsenal fan at home, I should expect it to happen.

It was sweet dening United, especially Fabregas’ equalizer… That felt pretty good actually.

Anyway, I’m off to meet my builder mate in the pub now. He went to the match - I couldn’t get a ticket, but it looks like I’ve secured one to my first north London derby soon…

I’m also going to watch the East Anglian derby tomorrow. There are some games you just can’t miss, and I’m trying to get my Norwich mate to talk to me again. He needs the support right now - he’s a man under pressure. This match could break him.

Mates stick together in desperate times

03/11/07

Another weekend, another huge match for Arsenal. When you’re top of the league, your team has to win every game. Sounds obvious, but it’s been a while since it really mattered to win every single match. Even lower down the leagues you can afford to lose four or fives games and still go up automatically.

So, it’s nearly time for Arsenal’s match, and I’m at a major crossroads… Why? Because tomorrow (Sunday) it’s the East Anglian derby. I’m looking forward to the Arsenal game, of course, but there’s a life of footballing heritage that I’ll be ignoring if I don’t watch the derby. And what a time for a classic footballing triumph over adversity: Norwich are rock bottom, but with a new manager. Ipswich are flying high, but the game’s at Carrow Road.

What’s more, yesterday my Norwich mate offered the olive branch to me by way of the text (pictured). I haven’t replied yet. I want to go… He hasn’t spoken to me for a few weeks now. Don’t want to lose a good mate, so I’ll probably meet him at his local to watch the match.

I’m just not sure where the biggest cauldron of tension is going to be this weekend… The Emirates? Carrow Road? Or the Royal Oak.

Prediction: Arsenal 2-0 Man Utd
Prediction: Norwich 1-1 Ipswich
Prediction: I’m buying all the drinks

It's Halloween, but I'm no longer afraid

31/10/07

I forgot that I’d be supporting two completely different teams this season.

It was almost confusing to see a bunch of children run out in an all-white strip, but it was also frighting to watch the RESERVE team pull Sheffield United apart like that… even if they are managed by Bryan Robson.

I know Eduardo’s just about a first team regular and Denilson’s virtually an old warhorse considering the amount of games he’s played in the Carling Cup, but still. Frightening… And it helps to prove one of my original points - I can’t help thinking it’s unfair on the other 88 clubs. What if MacLaren entered four cars into a grand prix instead of two (which they could obviously afford to do). They’d take half of the points available.

Actually, that’s a shit example, but Arsenal’s ‘reserve’ teams are young, fresh and motivated. They haven’t just slogged out a hard-earned draw two days before.

The first different experience as a Top Four club supporter
The strangest thing about the Sheffield Utd match is how I approached the game mentally. My immediate feeling was fear. Being the fan of a smaller club for the past 25 years, the prospect of a trip to Bramall Lane was a scary one. Sheffield United, in my mind, are a big club.

So this was a very new experience. All my life I’ve had my heart broken over and over again at places like Bramall Lane, Goodison Park (I once saw Norwich lose twice in a week there in league and cup), The Valley… even Vale Park for crying out loud. They, along with many others (thanks Blundell Park), are places I associate with pain. Right now, there’s no stadium (or club) in Europe that’d give me the fear.

Middlesbrough must sign more porn stars, say fans

31/10/07

So my new Arsenal-fan builder mate, who I trampled on me on Sunday (see Pang Of Love, below) during the Liverpool match, turns out to be a diamond geezer, as they say. He’s got lovely kids, and isn’t stingy in the round buying.

However, after speaking to him and his mates, I did possibly hit on an interesting psychological point about fans of The Big Four and the rest of English football. More on that when I’ve worked out how to explain it.

Meanwhile, me ‘and the Arsenal boys’ round on Middlesbrough fan Peter:

(Be warned: there’s swearing. Plus, I promise I’ll get the light thing sorted for the next video)

THE SILLY SEASON TV

Roed to nowhere?

30/10/07

Well, as some Silly Season readers will know, it was controversially revealed last week that the club I ‘dumped’ in order to indulge in a season of success was Norwich City (I was subsequently slated on the Canaries messageboard).

So I’m not technically allowed to be commenting on news about my old club, but I can’t let this one pass. I’ve no doubt Glenn Roeder is a lovely guy, but, talking to the Norwich fans who don’t hate me, they all have their heads in their hands today. As far as I can remember his management hasn’ t been a disaster at his previous clubs, but I don’t think he ever vastly improved a team’s fortune either. So if it won’t get any worse under Roeder, but it also won’t get any better, then Norwich are doomed.

I know I’m hated for this across Norfolk (and worshipped in Ipswich?), but I can’t believe the season I decided to embark on this crusade Norwich are looking like a club in crisis. Things got a little shakey in the late 90s I remember, but never this bad.

So, good luck Glenn… look after her for me while I’m away, and please try to bring her home in the Championship. No, really please do try. This is your ‘burning jeep moment’ (I don’t know what that means either, but someone at work said it the other day).

The first pang of love?

29/10/07

Right, I’m over yesterday’s road accident drama just about. Bit hungover though - my new builder mate kept buying me San Miquel. It looks like I saw all the best bits of Liverpool vs Arsenal anyway - the equaliser and hitting the post in the last minute. Liverpool appeared fearful for most of the game - certainly towards the end. As well being skillful, Arsenal look like they’re learning how to impose themselves psychologically as well.

The first pang of love for Arsenal came about because they insisted in playing the ball along the floor patiently, even in the dying seconds. That’s SO important to me as a fan, and most others probably. I can’t remember another team who insist playing the ball along the floor all the time. The moment you start hoofing it, it’s all over, right? Seriously, hoofing’s for rugby. It’s a testamant to the culture that Wenger has instilled. Not hoofing in rugby, Arsenal.

Joe at work went to the American football game at Wembley at the weekend, he said: “It was a bunch of f*nny. A sport based solely on selling TV ads. Everyone stands around doing nothing for three minutes waiting for the telly.” He said it would be like the equivalent of going to a commercial break every time the ball went out for a throw in during yesterday’s match.

Anyway, here’s me being trampled on by my builder mate and loads of other Arsenal fans when Fabregas equalised. You can’t see much, but basically I forgot to jump up - it’s not that natural yet obviously. Note to self: remember to celebrate when Arsenal score…

THE SILLY SEASON TV

Match: sort of postponed

28/10/07

Hello, so I was waiting for the bus to the builders’s pub this afternoon, when two people were run over at the bus stop.

I was the first on the scene, so I had to call 999 and go over to the people who had been hit. It was a man and a woman. At first I thought it was two cars who had just had a bump at a junction. But then I went around from behind the bus and saw what had happened…

Nothing like this has ever happened before to me… It blew me away. I eventually made it to the match for the last 25 minutes, but I think I’ll write about it later.

Never found out what their names were or anything. I left after giving the police my details. Even an air-ambulance helicopter landed.

Today, it turns out, there is more to life than football…

1 commentPermalink

Building friendships

27/10/07

So I had a builder in to fix my knackered bathroom floor yesterday. I made him a cup of tea with 40 sugars, we got chatting and I told him about this blog, and how I’d changed my team to one of The Big Four for one season because it was the only way I was going to be involved in winning a major honour in English football in my lifetime.

Then I explained that I’d chosen to support Arsenal, but that I didn’t know any Arsenal fans, so it was hard to fully ‘get the experience’. Unsurprisingly, he thought all this was hilarious, but then revealed that he was Arsenal season ticket holder, and has been for many years. So he thought it would be a great idea for me to meet up and get “absolutely crucified” by him and his mates in their local on Sunday for the Liverpool away match.

Before I had a chance to even think about how stupid it might be for me to say yes, he’d pretty much decided he wasn’t going to fix anything in the bathrrom unless I did.

Check back on Sunday night or Monday to see if I’m dead. I’ll get some footage of the crucifiction.


Ticket touting

25/10/07

I’ve got tickets for two matches from a couple of Arsenal fans I’ve never met…

A bloke at work told his housemate about The Silly Season, and they liked the idea so much they wanted to “see me suffer". I’m told they’re from Holloway (very close to The Emirates) and their families have supported Arsenal for generations (always a good for a ‘turncoat’ like me). The first game is at home to Wigan in a couple of weeks, then Steaua Bucharest in early December.

That will be my first Premiership game for 12 years, and my first Champions League match, well, ever I think. That might surprise you, but I’ve been shelling out my hard-earned cash on Nationwide and Coca-Cola league matches for quite some time now.

More news on the new Gooners when I find out who the hell they are when I get it from the bloke who knows the housemate of the guy at work.

Meanwhile, here’s Marc. He’s a Coventry fan. As you may have read, there’s a real possiblilty that Coventry won’t exist if they don’t get their finances sorted out, like, now. So, what would he do if he had no choice but to change his team…?

THE SILLY SEASON TV

Seventh heaven

24/10/07

Been down the pub, so I’m a bit pissed writing this…

Congratulations to the Gunners for the 7-0 mauling of Slavia Prague. Everyone was coming into work and - after berating me for this blog and calling me a sell-out - were saying just how awsome they thought Arsenal where. I mean, really, they were that good. Wenger is a genius. I wander if fans who have supported Arsenal for years think they’re going to walk away with it this season, or whether they’re worried the team are peaking too early and could mess it up…

Unlucky Norwich. At least there was a spirited fight back… losing 2-1 after going 2-0 down after four minutes. Anyway, I’d better stop talking too much about Norwich now, and get on with the task in hand.

Please leave your comments as you’ve been doing. Thanks a lot for them. Even you, Norwich fans… All opinons are welcome here at The Silly Season… even if it’s comments threatening to take my face off.

In terms of getting tickets for an Arsenal match, a bloke at work says his housemate knows an Arsenal fan who can get tickets “no questions asked", whatever that means, so tomorrow I should have some news on the next game. I’m looking forward to my first contact with Real Gooners. Now where’s my cockney rhyming slang book?

Public enemies

23/10/07

Right OK, things are beginning to scare me a bit. I haven’t revealed the team that I ‘left’ in order to succumb to football’s monopoly before yesterday’s interview on Five Live, but it appears the fans have worked it out after I gave people a clue and said I used to support a team “that currently doesn’t have a manager and is doing really badly". Probably a bit obvious… Have you guessed? Try to guess… OK, it’s Norwich City.

So, I was torn apart yesterday on Norwich messageboard www.wrathofthebarclay.co.uk. They called me an “ugly bird” (I’ve got long-ish hair) and some other stuff, but to be fair I wouldn’t look that hot if I was a woman, so Steve In Holland’s not technically wrong.

I kind of want to set the record straight on this though. I never actually wanted to implicate City on this, which is why I didn’t mention it first. Norwich City is a great club that I still love, and I’m not changing my team because of that club. I’m changing my team for one season in a, kind of, protest against the monopolisation of English football. I want to see what the big deal is supporting a Top Four club and win something almost every season. Do they get more out of it than the rest of us? Because they’re the only ones who will ever now what it’s like to win the top honours now. It was always my intention to come back after this season.

Do you see my point City fans? I’m writing this at five past eight, while Norwich are playing Burnley are Norwich are 2-0 down after four minutes. That still hurts. That said, Arsenal have just scored a second against Slavia Prague. I’m off, I’ll be back next season. Possibly.

The Silly Season on Five Live!

22/10/07

Striker!… Today The Silly Season made it on to Five Live’s Midday News programme for an interview about the blog… aka a total public lynching from most football fans.


(Source: BBC)

It was great to get a mention on national radio, and apparently there were loads of texts into their studio as a result. Some people even came out in support of this crusade, but most people think it’s just wrong. So, if you’ve made it here through listening to that interview, then welcome. Please don’t hate me… This is genuine social experiment by a real fan who has supported his club for more than 20 years, until now.

The idea of supporting one of The Big Four (I’ve chosen Arsenal by the way) came from the fact that football has been completely monopolised by these teams… None of the other 88 teams in English football now stand a chance, cash injection or not. Seriously, The Big Four have covered all bases: they buy the best current talent and sign the youth players up on massive contracts before anyone gets a look-in. If a benefactor came along now to finance any of the other clubs in English football, it wouldn’t matter. You still probably wouldn’t win anything… You’d be Spurs or something.

It’s a protest in a way. There are many reasons why we choose to support our clubs, but one was because we believed that they could conceivably win something at some stage. That reality has been taken away by The Big Four’s rule.

Also, I just want to see if a football fan can emotionally and unconditionally detach him or herself from the club they’ve supported all their lives and, by the end of their first season, love their new club like they did the old one. Or, can it not be done? Will I go back to my old club next season?

Anyway, I intend to throw myself headlong into this, and give an honest account of the experience. There’s plenty more fun to come from this, so stayed tuned and do that RSS feed thing down the bottom of the page. (I’m not sure what you do with it, but it means you can keep up with what’s going on for The Silly Season.)

1 commentPermalink

Alone with Arsenal

18/10/07

One thing I didn’t consider when entering into this was that I would be totally alone. My mate from my old Middling Championship Club I left is just about talking to me again, but he’s off watching the old club with the others, and I’m left out in the cold. I don’t really know any Arsenal fans, so what do I do?

Don’t get me wrong, I’ll happily go to a match on my own and enjoy it. I’ve done it in the past plenty of times. But if I’m going to find out what it’s like to support one of The Big Four, I need to throw myself into it. I have to go and find an Arsenal clan, and try to charm my way in.

But how? Join a forum and put up messages? Nah. Hang around in pubs surrounding the ground? No way. Leave your number with the supporters’ club along with other lonely Arsenal fans? I doesn’t feel right somehow, and it’s not going to give me a taste of the club culture necessarily - I’ll just end up going to the matches with another version of me.

How do people watch football these days ayway? Do big groups of supporters still get pissed, then amble down to the ground for the game before going back to the pub until Match Of The Day’s finished? Or do the majority of fans drive to and from the match, generally keeping themselves to themselves?

This is going to be like the first day at school or university or something. Except everyone else is already settled, and made their friends and enemies. And I’ve done a really bad thing (by switching clubs) and I have to explain that to everyone. Christ, this is going to be like a first day in prison.

1 commentPermalink

The Arsenal Stadium Mystery

14/10/07

So, I was having doubts about my choice of team because of the ticket situation. I can’t get one. At all. It’s annoying, and it looks like I’ll have to become a ‘Red Member’. But I guess I’ve only got myself to blame for this… I ’sold out…’ I chose to support a Top Four club, and now I can’t get to see my team. It just feels like, with all the commercial fine-tuning of the Premier League, I - Mr normal footie fan - don’t get a look-in just because it’s so popular. Milan? You can get a ticket five minutes before kick-off. Barcelona? The Nou Camp’s only really full on derby days and the really big games…

But… something happened the other day that told me I’d made the right decision supporting Arsenal. First of all, a home game against lesser opposition showed sides to my new team that every football fan is happy to see. During the 3-2 win over Sunderland they were briliant: going 2-0 up early on in emphatic fashion, having the almost charming complacency to screw it up just minutes later and then showing the spirit to come back with Van Persie’s winner with 10 minutes left. Non-stop entertainment with bright, enlightening football.

Perhaps more telling though, was when I bought a new football to take up to Nottingham to see my mates. It was a real retro cracker - a Mitre Ultimatch, which cost me £12 (thought I’d splash out). But, as I was loading the car with beer, crisps, sleeping bags etc, I simply placed the ball next to my foot in what I thought was a small hole. When I turned around to pick it up it’d gone. Sadly, I’d obviously forgotten I live on a very steep hill… And at the bottom of the hill, about a mile down the road? The Emirates…

Furious and incredulous, I jumped in the car to chase the BRAND NEW BALL, which HADN’T EVEN BEEN KICKED, down to see if I could catch it up. I didn’t get as far as the Emirates. It was a lost cause, and I was late, but I’d love to know where the shitting thing went. Hopefully into the arms of some needy young street urchin (this is north London after all), but probably a crackhead who turned it into an ashtray or something.

Anyway, so it was meant to be, and Arsenal are top of the league playing beautiful football. So far, so good. My old team? They haven’t scored for hours and I reckon the manager’s about to be sacked. Guilty? Do I feel guilty? No chance… I had to put up with it for more than 20 years. Leave me alone, I’m enjoying myself. Supporting Arsenal is easy. Unless you want to get a ticket that is… Then it’s impossible.

Fulham in last-ditch bid for my support

01/10/07

So, this morning as I was rehearsing a couple of Arsenal terrace chants at home, when a letter dropped on to the floor from Fulham football club, and no other than manager Lawrie Sanchez himself.

“Dear Mr [Silly Season], I would like to make you aware that there’s been no shortage of excitement at Craven Cottage this season,” he said. “With 18 goals scored, we’ve refreshed the squad, and I’m now confident that it won’t be long until this team is 100 per cent where I want it to be.

“We’ve got three vital home matches coming up, and ticket prices start from just £25 for adults.”

Eh? Does Lawrie Sanchez sweep the floors and make the tea at Craven Cottage as well? He even goes on to tell me the phone number of where I can buy tickets to come along and support his team. All written in a thrilling professional, post-match interview style.

Amazing, obviously some marketing exec at Fulham believes there are many football fans so fickle that they would change their allegiance on the arrival of a letter. What bizarre timing, that it should happen when I change my team… In protest at the monopolisation of English football.

It turns out I watched my unnamed championship club at Craven Cottage a few years back, and must have unwittingly had my card details copied and pasted on to some dark and devious marketing-strategy statistics database. My old team lost heavily by the way. Very heavily.

Anyway… One, two, three…

‘Cos fulham can stay at the cottage
Southampton can stay at the dell
And as for tottenham hotspurs
Well they can go to hell
‘Cos we’ll drink, drink together in praise of the afc
Yes we’ll drink, drink together, in praise of the afc

Out-of-fashion Serie A is bargain bin treat

23/09/07

Ciao amicos. £9!… Yes, £9! And you can turn up at the ground five minutes before to buy a ticket.

No, I’m not talking about the price of my first Arsenal ticket, but the cost of watching top-flight Serie A club and Champions League winners AC Milan. To put this in perspective, it cost roughly half the price to watch AC Milan play Parma at the iconic San Siro stadium, than it did to watch Notts County against Bristol Rovers last season. Who would you rather watch? Kaka? or David Pipe? Pipe costs twice as much to watch.

OK, so you might witness some fans throwing a scooter on to the pitch during a particularly rough derby match at the San Siro, but this is proof that English football is a massive rip-off. At least it is when it costs so much to watch football at any level in this country.

Anyway, it’s looking more and more like I made the right decision to support Arsenal doesn’t it? Adebayor is class… They’re an excellent team, who play beautiful with low-key players in a cracking new stadium… Who new that, towards the end of last season, all it took to for this team to mature enough would be to get rid of The Pouty One. Don’t get me wrong, I wish I’d seen Henry play in the flesh, but every player seems to be an equal in this Arsenal squad.

So, it’s about time I put some considerable money where my mouth is and watch them play. So, the first league match I can go to? Wigan at The Emirates in November, except I can’t because I have to be a ‘Silver Member’ (sounds expensive). Although if I wait until a couple weeks before the game I can get tickets, provided I’m by the phone at 9.30am and I’m a fully paid-up ‘Red Member’.

Is it fair that this new top club supporting business is already starting to annoy me? Maybe it’s not that uncommon to have to be a member of a popular football club in order to get tickets these days, but I didn’t have to be in Milan. Why do I have to be a ‘Silver Member’ to get tickets for one of the least attractive fixtures of Arsenal’s season? And, most annoying of all, why do I have to sit by the phone as if I’m on speed-dial trying to get tickets for Glastonbury or something?

Someone at work’s just told me his mate lives near the Emirates and can get me a ticket for whichever game I like… he didn’t say how much it was going to be though. Anyway, I’ll try for Bolton at home, or maybe Slavia Prague. Cool! My new team’s in the Champions League. Forgot. I’m excited again…

And the winner is...

14/09/07

It’s been a while coming and finally the decision is made. No not Gisele, but that crass branding behind her. I’ve chosen to support Arsenal this season. The point of the illustration is that, in the end, it came down to beauty, and they football they play. Who wouldn’t want to support that every week? All of The Big Four have strengths on and off the pitch, we all know that, and in recent times all have achieved great things in terms of footballing honours. So, I guess it comes down to the sutble differences between the clubs. I could blather on about the pros and cons of each one for weeks, but from the outside looking in there was only one club who seems to do things differently.

Here’s why I chose Arsenal (reasons in order of importance):

Beautiful football

The best-looking stadium

Youngest team (who don’t tend to get ‘snapped’ outside nightclubs wearing expensive T-shirts with writing on the front)

Arsenal always achieve the most by spending the least amount of money of the four (I think)

I live nearest to Arsenal out of the four

I’ve given it a lot of thought, but, to be honest, Arsenal were the only team I actually found myself wanting to support. The only team that came close to exciting me. Why, I can’t really say. Maybe that’s the point. Maybe no one can actually say why they support the team they do, although I’m determined to find out through those small interviews I’ve been putting up.

The overall reaction from my interviewees is that they think it’s stupid to change the team you support, but they acknowledge that, as fans of clubs outside the top four – be it Everton or Walsall – they know it’s unlikely that they will ever see their team take a major domestic honour in their lifetime. Perhaps more interesting here, is why they decided to support the clubs they did, and whether they would ever consider changing teams. So far most have said they’d never change, but most made their choice during childhood for a reason they would never consider valid now that they’re adults.

With that in mind, here’s Danny talking about Everton… and calling me an idiot for making the change, of course.

Sadly, I’m going to miss my first north London derby because I’m off to Italy now to watch AC Milan, and maybe find out how they do it over there. Although I haven’t bought a ticket yet, so that’ll be an interesting argument with an Italian version of a ticket tout. I wander if they’re all Mancunian as well…

1 commentPermalink

The Big Four reply! Man Utd are arrogant (shock), but human after all

04/09/07

Drumroll please… The Big Four have spoken (sort of) in response to me asking which one wanted me as a fan the most. Here’s a reminder of the email I sent to a couple of days ago:

“Dear [club],
I have decided to support one of the top four teams in the Premier League, but I’m not sure which one. Can you help me decide?
I would be very grateful if you could get back to me with a few details to convince me that YOU are the club I want to spend the rest of my life supporting.
I very much look forward to being a fan.
Best regards”

So, least bothered first…

Arsenal:

“Thank you for your email. For all Club information and news please visit the website at www.arsenal.com.
Regards
Arsenal Football Club”

Liverpool:

“…” [aka shrugged shoulders]

Chelsea:

“Hi
With regards to your email all details of our club can be found on
www.chelseafc.com
Kind regards”

Not going well so far, but Chelsea’s website did offer a list of anecdotes where people could explain how they became fans. The one I chose was perhaps quite telling… Maybe I’m not the only one playing the choosing without prejudice game:

“All my mates were either Liverpool or United, so I HAD to be something different. Chelsea would do, as Townsend was there, and it was either them or Man City (thank the Lord I made the right choice!). As I started to follow the Blues with a growing interest of not just the team but the game, I was roundly villified by my peers. “Why the fuck Chelsea?", they’d cry. “They’re shite, they’ve no good players.”
At that time, maybe not - Townsend and Wise (in my eyes) excepted. But had they just been a shite journeyman side, I would have found another mast to nail my colours to (ah, the luxury of choice).”

Thanks to some bloke called Alan for that…

And finally, the best reply of the lot…

Man Utd:

“Do we really need to convince you?

Ticketing & Membership Services
24 Hour Ticket & Match Information Line - 0870 442 1968
Ticket Line - 0870 442 1999
Enquiries - 0870 442 1994
www.manutd.com”

My reply: “Huh? Er, yes.”

Man Utd:
“We have no need to convince you. If you look at our history, the year of the treble, all the trophies we have won and our huge success over any other club in the premiership and more so in European games, we are the most successful club in the world, let alone the Premiership.
Our aim is not to win over supporters, you support a club for a genuine reason, not because you decide they have more to offer - its call passion and its not handed to you.
You only need to look at our history to see how great this club is… Plus we have the best support in the world and play some of the best attacking football.
Regards
www.manutd.com”

My Reply: “Yeah, I think you’re absolutely right, choosing the football club you support does come from passion. But, as a neutral I’m passionate about football as a whole. Now, I want to back one of the great Top Four teams in the Premier League - it’s kind of a clean slate for me. Following any one of these clubs will probably bring about great excitement throughout any coming season. Utd have the best record and, as last season proved, played the best football, but what of the others? Chelsea are perhaps the most ruthless and competitive, Arsenal play the most beautiful football, while Liverpool’s tactical approach makes them one of the best teams in Europe. All four clubs have their strengths, I was just interested in what each club’s views were on why they are the best to support, above the other three.”

Man Utd:
“…”
www.manutd.com

———————————–

Riiiiight. There you go people. A very official reply from the very official www.manutd.com. To be honest, to get an impassioned human reaction was actually very refreshing, compared to the automated voice response I got from the others. But perhaps most telling is that, whoever was on the other side of the line, as it were, found it impossible to contemplate that someone would be in a position just to be choosing one of The Big Four without any preference (or passion).

In fact, being bollocked by a Man Utd employee is making me think this was a very bad idea. What I am doing? He’s right… “It’s called passion and it’s not handed to you,” he says. I know! I know! I followed my passion; I followed my instinct, and look where it got me… I just want to know what it’s like to genuinely challenge for football’s top honours, but the monopolisation of The Big Four has killed my dream! This is your fault, Alan Sugar, Richard Scudamore, Martin Edwards, Roman Ambramovich, Peter Kenyon, Jimmy Hill, capitalism, Americanisation…

Sorry… In the next post, I’ll reveal my team. I need to hurry up after all, the season’s started. I held back from choosing before the start in case one of the four were particularly shit. Surprisingly it appears to be Man Utd, so far, but that’s not going to last is it… Is it?

I’m also going to put up videos of people’s reaction to my switch, and the reasons why they supported their clubs etc…
Here’s why Ali Berk Osalan decided to supported Besiktas…

1 commentPermalink

Choosing one of The Big Four

25/08/07

Now I’ve told my closest footballing freind what I’m up to, it’s time to choose a new team. Thought I’d wait until the season started in case one of them was much shitter than the other three, but, as expected, nothing’s changed - except that Man City won…

For the first time, I feel like a kid in a sweet shop. There are no external pressures on choosing my team this time – no pressures from my place of birth; dad’s chosen team; first team I ever saw on telly; or just being a very young and naive age. Come on, how many of you reading this chose to support your team without some sort of external influence that, as a child, you don’t question. If someone told you, you had to live in the place where you were born and you could never leave - because you were born there - you’d tell them to fuck off, right? I chose my Middling Championship Club based on where I was born. A fair enough reason, but we’re all nomads these days – staying loyal to where you come from has never meant less.

I could give you a run down of the clubs, but we all know what they’re about. So, my choices are:

Arsenal:

Liverpool:

Man Utd:

Chelsea:

With no real preference for any of the The Big Four, I’ve set out to see which of the clubs wanted me the most – after all, the marketing people behind these huge entertainment businesses are the best in the world at selling their clubs to fans. It seems they’ve conquered large parts of eastern Asia already, so how would they value gaining potential revenue from me?

First step? Email each club, I thought… Get in there and ask the clubs straight, in what I believe the tabloids call a ‘Come and get me plea’.

Here’s the email I sent…

Dear [club],

I have decided to support one of the top four teams in the Premier League, but I’m not sure which one. Can you help me decide?

I would be very grateful if you could get back to me with a few details to convince me that YOU are the club I want to spend the rest of my life supporting.

I very much look forward to being a fan.

Best regards

I’m coming out…

18/08/07

So I’ve been watching the Middling Championship Club I support with a mate of mine for a few years now. There’s been a few up and downs (literally), but this is the biggest shock for both of us…

“What? I don’t understand? Why? How long have you felt like this?”

9pm in the pub and ‘the bomb’ has been dropped. ‘Dave’ and I (for the purposes of this blog, we’ll call him Dave – even though his real name’s Gary) have been supporting the same under-achieving Championship team all our lives, and have been watching their state of flux together for a few years. But change is afoot…

It was around ooh, the end of last season when I came to the conclusion that The Premiership, FA Cup, Carling Cup and Champions League have been and will be, for the foreseeable future, dominated by the mini-league known The Barclays Big Four. There’s no need to go on, all of us reading this are well aware of the extent of this monopoly, but how does it feel to know that, unless you’re a fan of a team in that league, you don’t stand a chance of winning anything. More to the point, what’s it like to support one of these clubs? What’s it like to know you’re going to win, or be involved in the final stages of, at least one of the four aforementioned competitions? Seriously, I’m 27 years old, and…

“I don’t know what it’s like to win a major competition, and as the supporter of a Middling Championship Club in English football today, I will never know the feeling of winning a major honour as long as I live,” I say to Dave.

“You’re an idiot…” he replies. Fair comment, perhaps. As ‘they’ say in this country, you can change your sex but not the football club you support, right? But has nobody ever wandered what it’s like to just switch? (Football team, I mean). Just for a season? Just once. Sure, anybody can do it for one week, or have a ‘second team’ – but what about making an emotional commitment to a completely different football club for a whole season? Will if bring me back the excitement I had as kid? Will it revitalise my passion for a game that has become predictable for the 40-plus other clubs left in the Premier League and Championship – the majority of whom would have had a fair crack of a major honour at some point in the past.

Anyway, this is the nine-month adventure that will take me (albeit just for a while) into the higher reaches of English football. Come join me, as I grace the top stadia, challenge the perceptions of football club supporting, buy a new shirt, worship new players, learn the history of a new club and… try to avoid the kicking of my life.

1 commentPermalink

11/08/07

I made a vow to spend this season supporting one of The Big Four clubs in the Premier League.

The Reason? It’s a protest… English football’s biggest clubs have decided, through their monopolisation of the game, that none of the other 88 clubs in the football league will ever win anything ever again. Ever.

So, if football has sold its soul, why shouldn’t I? If I want to ever taste victory in my lifetime, there is no other way than to give up the team I’ve supported for 25 years. And why wouldn’t I want to taste victory? Isn’t that one of the reasons why we all started out?

Also, I want to see if I can emotionally detached myself, completely, from the club I loved all my life, to love another. Can it be done?

This blog exists to cover all of the surprises that will no doubt come my way over the next nine months, including the search for a new club; the reactions of my peers; the search for new ‘footie mates’; going to the matches; learning the history of my new club; buying a new shirt/scarf; watching it in the pub; how it feels to ‘belong’ to one of The Big Four; comparing the experiences across the season with my old team.

So, will I see my new team win some silverware? Can I ever go back after this season? Will I be welcomed by my new fellow fans? There are endless elements to the biggest sea change in a football supporter’s life. Join me to see what happens, as I challenge the whole football supporter culture.

The Silly Season

2007
 << Current>>
Jan Feb Mar Apr
May Jun Jul Aug
Sep Oct Nov Dec

XML Feeds

What is RSS?