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: October 2007

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…

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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.)

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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.

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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

The Silly Season

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