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: November 2007

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

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Match prediction: Aston Villa 1-1 Arsenal

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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.

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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.

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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…

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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…

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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.

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(’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

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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…

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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

The Silly Season

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