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: 2008

News flash: The NEW Silly Season!!!

24/06/08

Oh yes, The Silly Season can exclusively reveal that it will be here for another season!

I have smashed The Silly Season’s transfer record by signing East Midlands correspondent Adam Buss on a permanent deal worth in excess of £25 for the 08/09 season.


Adam yesterday: “I’m really happy to sign for a blog with such passionate supporters”

Now, as a pair of football punks, we’re going to attack the game and its stayed traditions head-on next season.

A lot of different things will be happening in the new season, rather than us just trying to write a lot about one subject and just talking shit. There will be more exclusive pictures (or drawings on Post-it notes), more videos and… other stuff!

There may even be some sort of reverse Silly Season thing going on with Adam, who is a Liverpool fan - although we haven’t discussed this yet… I just thought of it then.

Anyway, stick around because hopefully two brains are better than one - and we’ll make it good.

We may even make some special Silly Season T-shirts that no one will buy!

———-

Score prediction:

Shocker! Germany 0-3 Turkey

23/06/08

Adam’s post below is absolutely right.

Or…

you could support Turkey!

Which is what I’m going to.

Knew I should have chosen them in the first place…

————

Plus, keep you’re peeled for an *new* announcement soon about what’s coming up on The Silly Season

Matt, London correspondant

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They think it's all over it is...not yet

21/06/08

The joy of football

How bad are we at picking teams? It’s like The Silly Season is cursed because of our crimes against fandom. Croatia still entertained and it was a pleasure being a pseudo supporter of the mighty Hrvatska for one night. Modric will light up the premiership next season and someone has to put a bid in for Rakitic. But they are out, and so are we.

So what do we do now? In all honesty it feels like being an England fan again. It’s quarter/semi final time and the team we are supporting is out, so no change there then! It’s usually at this point where the unadulterated joy of football can come to the fore and this morning I found myself getting very excited about Mehmet Topal’s strike from the edge of the area whilst watching the highlights on BBC interactive. It’s quite simple I (we) LOVE FOOTBALL and no matter who is playing there are always moment of shear joy.

As far as I’m concerned I’m not supporting or favouring anyone from now on and I think London feels the same.

Bring on the football, bring on the joy.

Silly Season East Midlands

Croatia: Brazil of the Balkans!

20/06/08

Never doubted it for a second…

It was always Croatia that we really wanted to support, me and Adam (The Silly Season’s new recuit).

We we’re forced into supporting Romania against our will, by a cruel character known as False Hope.

But this is Croatia’s time. I can feel the momentum and the destiny of a team winning against the odds.

Even without Eduardo they look like a very good team. Modric, Srna, Pranjic, Olic… all the household names are there.

They’d better not bloody lose…

Score prediction: Croatia 3-1 Turkey

Matt, The Silly Season London correspondent

In a Mootu

18/06/08

What do we do now?

After last night’s very sad but rather uninspiring attempt of Romania to beat Holland The Silly Season is at sea.

I did really want Romania to win, and last night felt… different. It felt like I was going to watch the team I support. But, that said, my support for the team, quite understandably, was/is wafer-thin. I’m already looking around to see who else I can support now.

But is that allowed, or should there be some rule to this - like support the team who put Romania out. Or not support anybody?

Me and Adam’s football-supporting relationship has hit a rocky patch too. He wants us to go for Italy now. I want to go for anyone but Italy…

Maybe I should relent – that would be a proper test, turning a hatred for a particular team into full-blown support. Don’t get wrong, I love Italian football, it’s just all the moaning and skriking the Azzuri do in major tournaments… Make the biggest noise and you get your own way syndrome, it call it.

Or maybe we should support different teams now - rival it up…

Or maybe you lot should decide.

Matt, The Silly Season, London correspondant

No expectation = more excitement

17/06/08

Banel Nicolita on holiday

It’s crunch time and I am excited, elated and a little nervous but I don’t expect to win. I think that’s the major difference between supporting England and supporting Romania, I don’t expect to win but I am hopeful, with England the expectation inevitably leads to disappointment.

But that’s enough surmising, what about tonight? Teams are just in and Silly Season favourite Banel Nicolita (PICTURED) starts in midfield with Sorin Ghionea coming in at centre back for suspended man mountain Goian.

Nicolita grew up in a house made of straw and mud with seven brothers and sisters, basically he is as far removed from the world of the overpaid and unaware superstars we have in the Premier league as you can get and so is officially (whether he likes it or not) a Silly Season hero.

Can we win? YES

Will we win? MAYBE

Here’s hoping

Silly Season East Midlands Correspondent

Go Romania!

17/06/08

How do you say “come on Romania” in Romanian?

Please write in and let us know.

It should have been the first thing we learned really…

I know it’s “Hup Holland” for the dutch - I went to a world cup match in ‘98 against Yugoslavia (Davids was imperious). Then the car broke down outside the ground in Toulouse.

Anyway, all this major tournament reminicing is giving me the fever – tonight will be MASSIVE. Surely, Van Basten will go under-strength - he’d love to wind up Italy and France in that way, wouldn’t he?

I know it’s not a very confident way of urging Romania through. We should believe in their ability – but hey, I’m a Norwich fan…

Anyway, until we know what Romania’s rallying cry is, let’s just say:

Come on Romania – Brazil of the Balkans!!!!!!

Score prediction: Holland 2-2 Romania

Italy 1-1 France

The Silly Season London correspondant

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The Italian job

13/06/08

Alfredo Cramerotti

My heart has stopped racing, I never thought I would say that after a 1-1 draw between two countries I have no direct association with. Romania did themselves and The Silly Season proud (I’m fairly sure they don’t care)and even though Mutu missed a crucial penalty there was no disgrace on what was a fluid and highly entertaining game.

I watched it with an Italian friend of mine (pictured) and I was looking forward to testing his patience with some cheap jibes when Romania stuffed them but it wasn’t to be and to be honest I would have felt too guilty to do it, I suppose that proves I am not a real fan.

That said, I am hoping that Holland can hang on (they are 1-0 up as I write this)and give us the best chance of an easy ride and a safe passage through in the last game.

Sorry Alfredo but this was one for the mighty Yellows.

P.S If anyone knows a Romanian or is a Romanian please send us a message, your embassy doesn’t seem interested in us. Can’t imagine why…

Romania send world champions crashing out... maybe

13/06/08

Obviously, in football, any team has to earn there place in history by stepping up to the plate and claiming a major honour. It come from team work, belief, skill, blah blah winning mental attitude blah.

So why is it that the Italian squad always seem to approch major tournaments as if they’ve already won the damn thing before it started, and if they don’t win it’s because of some terrible injustice against them. Like Holland scoring an not-offside goal. There were two other goals as well…

Anyway it’s Romania’s, and The Silly Season’s, chance to put the over-inflated Italians to the death tonight.

Can’t wait…

Score prediction: Italy 0-0 Romania

—————–

It’s 16:23 as I write this and the team news is just in. After speculation that Marica may come in Niculae retains his place and Siena midfielder Paul Codrea starts in midfield (click here for a player profile)… oh and some bloke called Del Piero is playing for Italy. Never heard of him to be honest, but he’s got shoulders like a bodybuilder – wonder how he got those….

I couldn’t find a Romanian to watch the game with so have got an Italian instead who I will ridicule mercilessly if we win. Sorry Alfredo.

Hopefully today’s game will not incense the pundits as much as the last game. Actually, sod that I can’t wait to see Robbie Earle and Andy Townesend raving about the mighty yellow wall of steel in front of Bogdan Lobont!

Watch this space for a match report later.

Adam (Silly Season East Midlands correspondent)

Yellow army

09/06/08

Just writing this at exactly 76minutes 23seconds in the Romania-France match.

Very exciting… They’re passing the ball around really well and Mutu looks good.

Starting to feel genuinely excited now. There is something fresh and new to supporting someone you have no history with. A blank canvas.

Don’t want to speak too soon, but this could be the first underdog triumph, even if it’s only a 0-0. Plus I’m a few minutes away from my first correct score.

So, me and Adam have been doing some research on our new team as announced on Friday (see, Romania: the Brazil of the Balkans)

This is him by the way…

Thought I’d introduce my Silly Season: Euro 2008 Special comrade properly. I think (I hope) he was in a play in this picture, which is why he’s covered in blood.

So, he emailed the Romanian Embassy (not covered in blood) to try to get linked up with some supporters groups in England. We think there might be quite a few groups, so hopefully they’ll get in contact.

Also, we can exclusively reveal that our first celebrity Romania fan (for Euro 2008) is: Lembit Opik, who has chosen Romania becuase of his Romanian fianceé Gabriela of The Cheeky Girls. In real footballing life he’s a Leicester fan. Unlucky mate.

Betting

Adam’s not wasted any time wasting his hard-earned on our adopted club. He had a punt on Betfair, and got 210/1 on Romania to win Euro 2008, with Adrian Mutu as top scorer; 48/1 on Romania to win the tournament; and 50/1 on Mutu as top scorer.

If they come in he stands to win about £2k.

91:21 now, and still no score.

Come on the Romanians!!!

Romania: the Brazil of the Balkans

06/06/08

I think that’s who I’m going with…

It was going to be Turkey because I have a mate who I was going to watch the matches with in the Turkish quarter. But he went back to Istanbul for three weeks today, so I can’t now. Bit selfish of him, but there you go… I’ll have Turkey as a back-up in case Romania are knocked out early doors.

Is that allowed? Having another team if your first choice is knocked out in the group stages? Of course it is! This is The Silly Season: Euro 2008 Special. We make the rules.

I can feel the liberation already. No more penalty shoot-out disappointments, no more drunk England fans fighting, no more Phil Neville! (Sorry Phil).

Ain’t international football brilliant!
If this is your first time on The Silly Season, then welcome. By all means have a look at the Catch-up timeline at the top of the screen to find out what I’ve been up to for the past nine months.

Anyway, here’s the first few reasons for why The Silly Season has chosen Romania, declared by my mate, the east Midlands top football expert and newly crowned Silly Season collaborator Adam Buss:

“Romania always have a good tournament when England don’t qualify (although this is based purely on World Cup 1994!)”
“They have a past of recent legends - Hagi, Popescu, Dan Pet Rescue etc.”
“They have a manager who likes to attack and play attractive football (Vitor Piturca)”
“They are from an impoverished and embattled country that always seems to punch above its weight”
“I genuinely think they can win. Greece did, and they are better than Greece (they qualified above Holland). Just as long as they keep Mutu and Chivu fit…”
“They have a real gypsy in their team (i think) - intriguing”
“They are the Brazilians of the Balkans”


Dan Pet Rescue yesterday

Is Romania a Balkan state? I think it is… I’ve just checked the internet, but it doesn’t seem sure. I’ve also just realised that Romania are in the Group Of Death. I didn’t think that through did I… Well, victory will be all the more sweet.

1 France
2 Netherlands
3 Italy
4 Romania

Anyway, stick around because there’s lots more to discover and discuss about our new teams. We’ll also be looking into how to get more involved; to get the full experience, like. Starting, for me, tomorrow, with a traditional Romanian breakfast of bread, salami, cheese, cucumber, tomatoes and eggs. Nice… I’m on to a winner already then, according Wikipedia’s Traditional Romanian Breakfast page.

Score predictions:

Switzerland 1-2 Czech Republic
Portugal 2-1 Turkey
Austria 0-4 Croatia
Germany 1-1 Poland
Romania 0-0 France
Netherlands 1-1 Italy

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The Silly Conclusions: homeward bound

03/06/08

I did consider spending another season at the top with Arsenal.

Hell, I might even have seen some silverware.

But, you know what, my missing Norwich angst is more intense than my trophy angst after nine months away from Carrow Road.

The things that spring to mind first when you spend so long away from your team is the memory of when you decided to support them in the first place. You know, the eureka moment.

Maybe it’s because it’s like denying yourself oxygen - when your brain thinks you’re going to die, your life flashes before your eyes, or so they say. Well, I keep seeing the City team photo with that amazing Hummel kit from 1986.

Plus all the other memories: the first time you went to your home ground; the first time you bought the shirt; the first time you experienced an away match… all that

No, I can’t shake my love for Norwich, and it’s not because of the guilt I felt at leaving the club for the season. I mean, I must be hated in Norfolk that much by now that it would probably be worth me staying with Arsenal just for a quiet life (and a European cup or two). But I can’t do it. I just can’t.

Doing The Silly Season has made me realise that, depending on certain circumstances, people can stop supporting a club in their heart and mind. It’s totally possible - don’t feel obliged to support a club, or feel ashamed if you don’t want to. Marketing twats rely fans like us to make many from a brand we don’t dare snub.

But the bond is still there for me. It would take a good five years of solid Arsenal watching for me to stop waiting for the Championship results scroll to come on Sky Sports News after the match (which is what I kept finding myself doing throughout the course of this season).

Norwich are the club that still give me that feeling.

In fact, I think football itself is the wider problem for me.

Don’t get me wrong, I can’t wait to watch a Norwich match next season – I missed it a lot. But, I don’t have the expectancy, or the belief… or even the hope that anything is going to happen for my club anymore. These are fundamental feelings a football fan should have - but they’re gone.

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Defection is infectious…

29/05/08

… Or something like that.

I noticed today that Norwich City’s head physio Neal Reynolds has left his post to join Arsenal as assistant to Gary Lewin.

That actually pissed me off. How stupid is that? I’m the one who defected to Arsenal, yet when I see it happen the other way around I think: “Traitor, he’s just going for the glory.”

Meanwhile, Roeder wished Reynolds all the best on the Norwich website: “We would have liked to have retained his services.”

Well, we would have liked to have retained Huckerby’s services, but that didn’t happen either.

Anyway, there’s just a couple more Silly Conclusions to come I reckon. Don’t want to bore you to tears.

But, many thanks for all the comments on who you’ll be supporting for Euro 2008.

It’s really interesting to see the freedom of choice we all have.

There are many reasons for the country selected: some of you have chosen your Pro Evo (it’s a computer game) teams; some choices are based on a particular player; one is even considering going for the best looking team!

Me? I haven’t quite decided yet. Maybe I’ll rope in a mate to help me choose - do this as a team. That’ll change the dynamic for The Silly Season 2008 Special, coming up in a week or so.

The Silly Season: Euro 2008 Special!

24/05/08

Yes that’s right.

It’s not over yet… Oh no

Coming soon is The Silly Season Euro 2008 Special.

You can all play along with this one…

Here’s how it works: none of the home nations have qualified for Euro 2008, so we have to chose a different country to support.

Easy…

The question is: are we really that patriotic? Or is it the buzz of the tournament that we get the real pleasure from?

Could we support any country and feel the same rush of excitement?

Anyway, I’ll explain this better when I know exactly what will be involved…

——————–

Well done Doncaster and Hull by the way

More Silly Conclusions to come

The answer to beating trophy angst

20/05/08

So, Portsmouth got their hands on the cup on Saturday. The first club outside the Big Four since Everton in 1995 – making The Silly Season’s theory complete and utter bollocks.

But the Champions League final has become the new FA Cup for the Big Four hasn’t it?

In which case, couldn’t the Premier League pull out of the Carling Cup altogether and leave it for the league teams? Sod the UEFA Cup place, they can have that back. I just want to contest a trophy my team could win. League One and Two have the Johnstone’s Paintbrush. Even the Conference has one. Why not the Championship?

Maybe that will help me lose my trophy angst… Maybe I don’t have to sell out to the Big Four after all.

Come on FA, sort it out!


It’s called the league cup, so make it
exclusive just to league teams please

As for the European Cup, well that’s just over-rated rubbish isn’t it really.

However, would I be fighting the urge to buy a vintage Norwich shirt off eBay so much if I had just touched down in Moscow with The Family for the final? Hmmmm…

Anyway, here’s a list of past FA Cup winners. Only six times in the last 25 years has a team outside today’s Big Four won the cup. Does that make my theory look like less shit now?

No? OK…

2008 Portsmouth
2007 Chelsea
2006 Liverpool
2005 Arsenal
2004 Manchester United
2003 Arsenal
2002 Arsenal
2001 Liverpool
2000 Chelsea
1999 Manchester United
1998 Arsenal
1997 Chelsea
1996 Manchester United
1995 Everton
1994 Manchester United
1993 Arsenal
1992 Liverpool
1991 Tottenham Hotspur
1990 Manchester United
1989 Liverpool
1988 Wimbledon
1987 Coventry City
1986 Liverpool
1985 Manchester United
1984 Everton
1983 Manchester United

———–

Former Norwich City midfielder and hero of Norwich City’s 93/94-season UEFA Cup campaign, Jeremy Goss is talking on Sky Sports 1 just as I’m writing this. It’s a programme called Where Are They Now?

These are his words:

“With Norwich, we finished third in the Premiership that season [92/23]. Will we ever see that happen again? I don’t think so, no.”

If the mighty Gossmeister is writing off the future of football what chance do we have?

————

More Silly Conclusions and that announcement thing to come…

The Silly Conclusions: Emirates new clothes

13/05/08

Sorry, I don’t know why I called the last post ‘League’. I must have been in a massive rush.

I was probably trying to think of something funny. I didn’t.

Anyway, more Silly Conclusions

Part of The Silly Season was to see if I could leave one club and learn to love another in the same way.

Did it work? What do you think? I spent most of the recent Arsenal, You’ve Changed post talking about Norwich City’s win over Bayern Munich. I even went and found a YouTube video of that match - which I then watched five times in a row.

Don’t get me wrong, Arsenal (and fans, The Family, of course) had a huge affect on me, and without a doubt Arsenal is my second club forevermore. This season has been a wild journey I’ll never forget, and I have witnessed a very different side to football by spending a season in a Big Four club (as I’ll touch on in another Silly Conclusion post). But, it was not an experience that got rid of my trophy angst - for obvious reasons. (Yes, yes - I know Norwich City won the Milk Cup when I was five or six, but anyone who says they settled their trophy angst at that age is lying.)

It’s been emotional - on both sides
Yes, the campaign of beautiful football, Premier League leading, badly broken ankles, and dodgy penalty decisions were very emotional experiences.

I mean, I felt for Arsenal and I was frustrated, but so where loads of other people. My real feelings were back at Carrow Road - and that’s something I just couldn’t let go of.

I was worried about relegation, I was worried about Roeder (at first)… Hell, I was worried I was going to be murdered after a Norwich fan said I should be live on radio (see Radio Play).

That fact is, not only did I feel guilty for walking away from Norwich for a season, but within a couple of months - after the Emirates new clothes had worn off, so to speak - I missed Norwich City. The canary yellow colour that’s burned into my psyche; Carrow Road; that bloody endless journey into Norwich; Darren Huckerby (Sh*t, I missed Huckeby’s last season!); Delia – loads of stuff.

THE SILLY SEASON TV

Don’t get me wrong. At the start, it was bloody brilliant to do something I’d never previously considered - walking away from the shackles of supporting a (relatively) unsuccessful club, and suddenly being surrounded by the Champions League; the chance to win, well, everything; beautiful football; and other good stuff. It was really exciting at first, but so is bungee jumping (probably).

Close, but no Cygan
You know what, if this experiment lasted four or five seasons, I would have become an Arsenal fan.

I mean, it’s just conditioning, isn’t it? If you spend enough time with people, and a certain amount of time watching one football club, it just happens. It’s a gradual thing - there’s no eureka moment.

Even one of the Arsenal fans I met at some matches this season tended to “drift” between clubs. That’s just how he supported his football – he’s been an Arsenal season ticket holder for 12 years up to this point, but if he moves on, so will his allegiance.

Maybe the wider question here is how I feel about football in general.

My excitement has been sucked out of the game for many reasons: high prices, Americaniastion, blah blah blah.

I don’t mind if Norwich City spends the rest of it’s existence in Championship mid-table, but what I DO mind is knowing it’ll never get better than, say mid-table Premier League at best.

Right now that seems pretty good, but it’s having no hope of actually winning anything major, or at least getting close, that is so painful. That’s why this Big Four monopolisation makes me so angry.

——

Right, stick around for more Silly Conclusions, including stuff I found out about The Family.

Plus, after some fruitful boardroom discussions, a big announcement is coming this week on the future of The Silly Season.

No, I haven’t signed the newly unemployed Sven Goran-Eriksson as a guest columnist…

Or have I?

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League

11/05/08

Do you know what? I think, for once in his life, Keegan’s right – The Premier League is boring.

Whether we, or the deserved winner, like it or not the human condition dictates that we seek variety. And having four clubs as the only ones who can win the league (well, three really) is not enough variety.

So well done to Man Utd. Was it them who won?

I feel asleep.

—————

More Silly Conclusions to come this week!

Arsenal… you've changed

07/05/08

The Silly Conclusion Part 1

So let’s see…

Did I make the right choice by supporting Arsenal at the start of the season?

Er, no - not if I was looking for glory and silverware. Which I was.

But there’s more to it than that – the question was: what is it like to support a Big Four club? Is it different for these fans? Knowing you are going to win one of football’s top honours in the very near future.

I thought Arsenal were the right choice because they were overdue a victory in at least one competition this season after a three-year (I think) drought. And for a good while I was proved right. I guess it goes to show that there is some unpredictability in English football these days. It’s just what exactly Man U, Chelsea, Arsenal or Liverpool are going to win. Yeah, thrilling I know…

It’s plain for all to see how skilled Arsenal are as a team, but they just didn’t have the stamina or, well, brute Englishness to see it through.

The Club
As a Norwich fan I have always had a soft spot for Arsenal since they won both the League and FA Cups in 1993, thus propelling Norwich (who’d finished third – yes, THIRD IN THE PREMIERSHIP. You know IN THE TOP FOUR) into the UEFA Cup. The rest, of course, is history…

You don’t remember? Surely you do… Norwich beat a Bayern Munich team of with Lothar Mattheus and Jan Wouters, and were narrowly robbed by Bergkamp’s Inter Milan in the third round.

Here’s proof. The best bit has got to be when John Motson says: “This is fantasy football“, in that Alan Partridge way that he does.

What a feeling. What a feeling.

Anyway, I’m talking about a different Arsenal. The Arsenal of Ian Wright, Tony Adams, interesting Adidas kits and, of course, Highbury.

That was the Arsenal I admired from afar - not this one…

I think Arsenal have changed - because everything’s changed. I know I sound like a moaning old git, but there was a time when a fan outside the Big Four was allowed to believe, and to hope. It’s not easy having that taken away from you.

————-

Find out more from The Silly Season Conclusion series later this week, when my boss isn’t wandering what the hell I’m doing.

————-

Score prediction: Sunderland 1-1 Arsenal

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Winning isn't anything

02/05/08

Well done to Chelsea and Man Utd for making the European Cup completely unexotic.

Just remembered. I can spend my European Cup Final Fund now. I don’t need it to get to Moscow anymore.

You know, that actually feels like a large weight has been lifted off my shoulders. This season-long pressure I’ve had to win something…

Is that what it’s like for fans of Big Four clubs? The only surprise in a season for a Big Four fan is if they don’t anything.

Is that not a bit weird?

Shame I had to alienate almost every single Norwich fan in Britian to find that out…

Anyway, in case you didn’t know, the European Cup Final Fund was money The Silly Season was betting on Arsenal matches to raise the cash for Moscow.


The European Cup Final Fund yesterday

As things stand, it could now get me 10 cheese and onion pasties at Carrow Road or four burgers at the Emirates.


My European Cup (Pie)

Yup, it’s £24.

Anyway, stick around. Next week it’s the start of The Silly Conclusions series - where I decide what to do about this football-supporting mess I’m in, and work out what all this was about.

——————

I’m really hungry now…

Score Predictions: Arsenal 3-1 Everton

Sheffield Wednesday 2-1 Norwich City

Never doubted it for a second

29/04/08

Well done to Arsenal for twisting the knife into poor old Derby.

But especially well done to Norwich City, for not twisting the knife into The Silly Season buy avoiding relegation by beating QPR 3-0. They may well have saved my life.

However, I was heavily distracted from ‘being an Arsenal fan’ today after Norwich City released their new strip and sponsor for next season - always an exciting event.

Plus the book I ordered off eBay when I was drunk has arrived…

Don’t tell anyone - I might read it tonight…

Come on Barcelona!

The Family: "It was better when winning wasn't the norm"

25/04/08

THE SILLY SEASON FEATURE

Never mind what The Silly Season thinks of what it’s like to support a Big Four club, I wanted to find out how The Family feel about supporting what I’ve discovered over this season to be something of a ‘business’.

To be honest, what surprised me the most was what one of the lads said about winning trophies…

“It was better when winning wasn’t the norm. They seemed harder earned and more deserved somehow.”

So there you have it: Even some Big Four fans understand the nature of true, fair competition. Not every fan is gorging glutenously on an annual silverware haul, laughing at the small fry below.


A Family member yesterday

This is what one of the lads said after a heart-to-heart I had in the pub with them last week…

“My fundamental feeling for the club in terms of the football hasn’t changed much, but I do think that the club has changed way it views me. Where once the supporter was the core to what the club was, we are now another captive segment that the marketing people target. Season ticket holders are probably described as ‘guaranteed consumers’ or some other tosh.”

Here’s his kind of pro and cons list of comparisons from the (fairly recent) past to now…

Now
“Great football; great stadium, but we’ve all seen mega domes; it costs a ridiculous amount to watch a game; there’s overzealous stewarding; you can’t stand; ID cards via the back door; me being seen as a marketing opportunity; poor atmosphere except for a few games; not winning things is seen as an exceptional thing; Jocasta and Barnaby [the upper-middle classes]; the club is a business first and a club second”

Then
“Defensive football; great atmosphere the norm; standing; deciding to watch a game on the day and pay on the door; not winning things the norm – and therefore better; the stadium is totally unique and feels like home; Stan and George; Club was a club first and a business second. Happy days.”

So there you go… As a Norwich fan, I may have been denied the hope of winning trophies, but perhaps the Arsenal fans are losing their own club.

Maybe we’re a generation of fans who have transcended with football… We’ve gone from inclusive, atmospheric shacks to this sanitised and americanised sport. Inevitably, we’ve seen both sides of it, so we’d probably suffer the most.

Some kid tomorrow will go to his first ever football match, and he’ll absolutely love it. He won’t know any better…

————————

Inevitable perhaps, but considering Arsenal are playing Derby, my attention has turned to an obvious place, as Norwich’s relegation struggle beckons…

Score prediction: Norwich 2-2 QPR

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Another Silly Season?

23/04/08

Even The Family were saying the match against Reading was like a training excercise…

They didn’t kill me in king’s Cross by the way. But only because everyone was too drunk to get there - that’s what happens when you go straight to the pub after watching a match that kicked off at 12.45 I suppose.

During said pub visit, The Family threw a real curve ball by suggesting I spend another Silly Season supporting Arsenal. That way I’d have a whole other season to see if I would ever witness ‘my’ team lift silverware.

I have to say though, after Norwich City’s loss to West Brom on Saturday it’s looking very dodgy on the survival front. What if I’m not there for my club if they are relegated? I don’t think I could ever forgive myself.

And League One. Christ… Not league One! League Two’s better than League One. At least there’s no hope in League Two…

Reading too much into it…

18/04/08

Reading at home is The Silly Season’s next Arsenal match…

But is it my last?

The Family have invited me to “a mate’s party” after the match in King’s Cross. I believe King’s Cross is mainly an area with disused warehouses behind the railway station.


King’s Cross yesterday

I hope this ‘party’ isn’t their way of thanking me for jinxing the club with dishonourable support, which led to a season of crocked star players and cruel, last-minute losses.

I’m also intending to ask them how they feel about Arsenal these days – whether the domination of the Big Four have taken any of the pleasure away for them. I guess I’ve got nothing to lose if they do want to kill me.


Will this be my last match in an Arsenal shirt?

Am I looking forward to the Reading match? Yes and no really. Will it be the moment I decide – through all the adversity, bad penality decisions, and cruel luck – that I love Arsenal forever? Or will I be concentrating more on Norwich’s nail-biting relegation-avoiding attempts at home to West Brom?

Yes, I have noticed that Norwich have somehow slipped back into ‘it’.

———-

In other news, I’ve made contact with the bloke who turned from Arsenal to Shrewsbury – he sold his support on eBay – and he’s happy to talk! When he comes off his holiday on Tuesday though.

So, don’t go away just yet, readers. I may be posting by means of a séance by Monday - and who wouldn’t want to hear about what it’s like in the afterlife?

———–

Score prediction: I’ve just got a feeling - not about dying! about Reading: Arsenal 0-1 Reading

Operation Re-Canaryise

14/04/08

Phase 1 of Operation Re-Canaryise has begun it seems…

My Norwich supporting mate (who I’ve shunned during my season of ‘protest’ with The Big Four) and his girfriend invited The Silly Season around to his flat for dinner on Friday night…

After a lovely risotto from Mrs Mate, he plyed me with real ale and then insisted on watching the 2003/2004 promotion season DVD.

Then, while drunk, we went on eBay and looked for old Norwich shirts – and he pressed ‘buy’ on a book about Norwich’s 92/93 UEFA Cup qualifying season.

I even bid for a 92/93 away shirt – the one that was mostly white with a blackcurrent ‘splash’ across the top. (As is always the case with Norwich away kits, it was probably worn once by the team on a pre-season tour of Iceland or something – anyway, its that rare I can’t find a picture of it.)

Stupid drunken football reminiscence… I tried to resist it, but it was brilliant.

And, as my football support runs dangerously along parallel lines, so do the fortunes of Norwich City and Arsenal.

Both were trying to upset their main rival’s bid for The Premiership title/Play-offs; both took the lead; both lost 2-1…

Ludicrously typical of The Silly Season experience then…

Agony and beer stains

09/04/08

I couldn’t look The Family in the eye after that result.

Mainly because I was blind drunk, but also because it felt wrong to try to share their pain. I’ve been there all season, through good and bad, but I didn’t feel qualified somehow. I felt like I could walk away from it all.

The Family couldn’t…

The Silly Season watched the match at (north London gig venue) the Islington Academy. There was a giant screen and about 400 hundred screeching Arsenal fans in there.

Considering the season Arsenal have had, it was all a bit much to take. One minute I’m being flung around the place, covered in Carling - the next, the beer’s being hurled toward the screen, followed by blood-curdling shouts containing the ususal expletives.

Arsenal didn’t deserve to lose like that – not to a bad penalty decision just after scoring a likely winner. What a way to blow the season apart… and cover your glasses in Guinness.

—————-

In other news, I’m still trying to get hold of the Arsenal-turned-Shrewsbury fan. Plus, I now have to re-evalute my position as silverware-hunting scum, and I’ll ask The Family about them feeling detached from Arsenal.

There’s plenty more to come from this Silly Season yet…

—————-

Score prediction: Man Utd 8-0 Arsenal

The Liverpool Trilogy concludes

07/04/08

So, unless Arsenal beat Man U an Saturday, anything other than a victory tonight is as good as the end of the season.

I really want Arsenal to win - but that could be because I don’t want to see The Silly Season turn into a farce… OK - even more of one.

That said, I think I’ve made a breakthrough with my not-very-scientific study of the psychology of a football fan. Well, this football fan anyway. Although I think I’ll wait to see if Arsenal are still in a chance of winning anything before revealing it.

I guess it won’t be long…

—————-

What I need tonight is a heady, sunny European evening. When the players are coming on to the pitch and it’s still a bit light - but the floodlights are blaring out, and the flags are flying high.

There’s no better place for that than Anfield - so let’s be ‘aving you Arsenal.

————

Score prediction: only a fool would bet against Liverpool… Liverpool 1-2 Arsenal AET

Losing your right to vote

04/04/08

Hmm, another bad result in the Champions League on Wednesday then.

Still it’s only Liverpool. Arsenal will win in the second leg to keep the trophy dream alive - it’s not like Liverpool always mysteriously punch above their weight in Europe or anything is it.

I went on Norwich’s website the other day to look at Dion Dublin’s amazing goal against Colchester. I know that’s technically breaking the rules, but I couldn’t stop myself.

While there, I noticed it’s time to vote for player of the season. And this time, of course, I can’t do it… sniff.

http://www.canaries.premiumtv.co.uk/page/NewsDetails/0,,10355~1264095,00.html

Do you think I’m missing the Canaries by any chance?

More on that to come. Plus, I’ve started to try to get into contact with that Arsenal fan who defected to Shrewsbury by selling himself on eBay, so hopefully he’ll be in touch soon.

———–

Score prediction: Arsenal 3-2 Liverpool

The Big Bore

01/04/08

I went for ‘a breath of fresh air’ at half time during the Bolton match on Saturday when Arsenal were 2-0 down.

So imagine my surprise and delight when I got back in. Told you I was having an effect on Arsenal’s fortunes. I’ve also elected to stay away from the Emirates for the Liverpool Trilogy - mainly to save the European Cup funds for the semis or final.

Great idea… that’s not tempting fate at all is it.

Last Friday was a big day for Big Four hating…

Found this in the Daily Star

“An incredible two-thirds of football fans questioned in a survey believe that following the sport is a complete waste of money and are considering switching to rugby instead. Eight out of 10 fans feel players’ wages are “offensive", while 67% are bored of the Big Four clubs dominating the Premier League.”

Then I went to the pub and chatted to a bloke who’s also sick of it all, and is vowing to “try out rugby instead". Small wonder, perhaps – he’s a Newcastle fan. The cost and The Big Four were his main reasons though.

So, I’m not the only one then. Anyone else? Please comment on what you’ve had enough of.

————-

Score prediction: Pleeeaaassee don’t screw this one up. Arsenal 2-1 Liverpool

The Silly Season in trouble with the Premier League

28/03/08

I’m (not that) proud to annouce The Silly Season has ruffled the feathers of the football world once again…

This time? Er, The Premier League, Football Leagues, Scottish Premier and Football Leagues.

It’s about pictures I’ve been taking in the stadiums this season. Here’s the letter that really scared me when I saw it:

Dear [The Silly Season],

We write on behalf of the FA Premier League, the Football League, the Scottish Premier League and the Scottish Football League ("the Leagues") in respect of the licensing of certain intellectual property rights of the Leagues, including Match Action photographs for this season August 2007 - May 2008, for use by third parties.

We have noticed that your website www.thesillyseason.co.uk is displaying Football Photographs. In order to display these images you must obtain the necessary license. If you do not wish to obtain a license, please remove any player or match action photographs.

So there you go. What it means is no more blurred pictures of Theo Walcott, which is probably a relief to you lot anyway.

I did ask how much a licence to take pictures inside a ground costs… Let’s just say it’s way too much for this footballing crusade.

I have to say, the people who dealt with me have been very understanding - probably after realising how grovelling I was when I thought I was going to be sued for millions.

But fear not, that isn’t the end of the thrilling match action on The Silly Season

I just have to draw on yet more of my considerable skills – this time as an illustrator.

This is Aliadiere netting for Boro in the last match. That’s Gallas on the left by the way, sitting on the grass moping.

You can’t get anymore accurate than that…

————-

Score prediction: now the league’s ‘over’ it’ll probably be Bolton 1-7 Arsenal

Three trophies down

25/03/08

I had a good feeling about Sunday…

For all the draws against supposedly inferior opposition or the injuries to key players, I was convinced we were going to win at Chelsea.

And, after the opening goal, I wasn’t the only one.

It did feel good. It felt right.

After the equaliser went in, however, I just felt guilty. Arsenal’s worst run of form for nine years (or seasons or whatever) must be my fault. I must have upset the football-supporting spacetime continuum by taking on this experiment.

I wasn’t the only one feeling the pain, as I watched the game away from The Family this time – instead with a Coventry, Nottingham Forest and Hibenian fan (who all wanted Arsenal to win for some reason).

But The Family were feeling the pressure too, judging by the texts I was receving every few minutes.

Still, clears the way for the Champions League…

And where was the usual gloating, all-too-frequent text from my Norwich-supporting mate, who has been so disgusted with my defection this season?

It didn’t arrive because, on the day Norwich get their biggest win of the season, he’s on holiday in… wait for it… the Canary Islands.

You couldn’t make it up…

What next? Official Arsenal dog shirts?

Oh…

Boro'd time

20/03/08

“Well, that’s the league blown then,” according to the Arsenal fans who’ve been helping me be a Gooner after the Middlesbrough match.

“It just doesn’t feel like a league-winning season.” You don’t say, lads.

“Oh well, next year.”

See, they’ve said that before. There’s just no consideration for one-season ’silverware hunters’ like The Silly Season.

As I said before, that’s what keeps Arsenal and other fans of Big Four clubs smiling - safe in the knowledge that there will always be another season… and it’s always the very next one.

“We’ll always be smiling,” says one member of The Family (seven Arsenal fans who’ve taken me under their wing this season), “because it never used to be like this for Arsenal. We got really lucky with our timing - with what happened to the game, and then finding Wenger.”

As a mild altercation fizzles out between two fans in an otherwise very peaceful pub - an indication that possibly Gooners know in their hearts the season has been blown - we discuss exactly how Arsenal “made it".

I mean, who’d have predicted all this success after someone, during the mid-’90s in managerless Arsenal’s boardroom said, “Well, there is this French guy who manages Nagoya Grampus Eight we could try.”

————

Well done to Spurs by the way for the other night.

Score prediction: Chelsea 0-2 Arsenal… maybe

————

Coming up on The Silly Season (hopefully):

The Arsenal fan who sold his support on eBay, and was bought by Shrewsbury Town

And The Family talk about how it feels to be fans of the all-conquering, impersonal, Big Four Arsenal.

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It's a sign

16/03/08

So, as you probably don’t remember me saying, all this Silly Season craziness made me come to the conclusion I needed break.

So I went to New York. A) because I’d never previously left Europe and, B ) Because I wanted to cleanse myself of football, and go somewhere where no one could get at me. Where most people think Fabregas is a soft drink, or something.

Now, I remember that my Norwich City-supporting mate had once told me a year or two ago about a bar in New York where ex-pat Norwich fans watched matches, but I’d forgotten about it.

Then, on the last day of the trip, I though I’d sit up at a sports bar, sample a smooth Californian pale ale (!) and try to work why America loves basketball so much.

So, it had to be a sign, that, of all the bars in all the gigantic metropolises, I had to walk into the George Keeley - just off Central Park in the Upper West Side - and be greeted with the iconic Canary.

To be honest, most of the people in there that day didn’t seem too focused on the plight of Norwich City. Heavily refreshed local Max wasn’t a soccer fan anyway (“I see Chelsay have taken Durbee 6 to 1 there, Matt”) – he was a Yankees fan.

Maybe it’s me… Maybe New York is that vast a city that there’s a bar for every football league club. Perhaps a couple of blocks away is the The United States Grimsby Town Supporters’ Club, and I just lucked out.


Barman Chris holds up the bar’s “Norfolk meets NY Folk” T-shirt

Either way, it made me wish I was a Norwich fan again.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m enjoying this European Cup and top of the Premier League stuff, but I just miss Norwich City. No real reason, not particular fixture, not because of any aggro from Norwich fans… I just do.

Proof I’m not talking crap (you’ve got to love the Ipswich On Fire badges): www.nycanaries.com

Champions League

15/03/08

So it’s Liverpool. A reasonable draw by all accounts, but this has taught me something…

For the first time I really fear Liverpool. If you asked me any time this season if I fear Liverppol, I’d laugh. They’re just not that good.

But it just shows how involved I am with Arsenal. I fear them because of what they’ve done. After such a great win in Milan in the face of such adversity… to lose to a proven lesser team would be catastrophic.

And it looks like Arsenal are going to have to do it the hard way. Most likely, we’re going to have to play just English clubs to win the European Cup. Gutted - no exotic trips abroad either.

But, if these nerves illustrate just how emtionally involved I’ve become with Arsenal over the past couple of months, then what happened on a trip to New York this last week has given me a stark reminder of my football-supporting roots… More on that as soon as I find the time to get the blog up.

**Also, sorry about the lack of pictures at the moment, there’s something wrong with he server thingy and I can’t fix it. Hopefully be sorted shortly.***

——-

Score prediction: Boro lost to Cardiff abjectly and Arsenal HAVE to win. Arsenal 6-0 Middlesborough.

Adebayor signs for Norwich

12/03/08

I’m going mad…

Had a dream the other night that my favourite adopted Arsenal player Emanuel Adebayor signed for Norwich.

It must have something to do with my guilt. I’m having withdrawal symptoms from not watching Norwich City for the first time in my life.

Strange how I didn’t dream about Gary Doherty scoring a 30-yard screamer though…

Bang goes the Big Four theory

10/03/08

Yeah, so my “Big Four dominate everything theory” ain’t looking too strong at the moment.

I’m not worried about the league… We’re in safe hands there (apart from Liverpool), but this season’s FA Cup has succeeded in making a mockery of The Silly Season.

The season I decided to make the point that no team gets a look-in in any competition in English football, Spurs win the League Cup and three Championship clubs make it to the FA Cup semis. Typical.

Fine by me though… It’s been absolutely thrilling to watch United and Chelsea get knocked out.

So, is this the end for The Silly Season? and its ludicrous theories?

No way… I’ve come this far. I’ve wound up that many Norwich fans that I can’t set foot in the city again, and had people shout in my face on national radio. I think I’d quite like to bag myself a European Cup out of this.

———-

Well done to Arsenal for expertly leaving the League to the last minute again. you see, I’ve got it now - Big Four clubs like to keep their fans interested by leaving the league campaign unsolved until the last possible moment, so you get the most out of extortionate ticket prices.

It’s all a plan to go to Sunderland on the last day of the season and lift the Premier League Trophy in front of Roy Keane. They’re going to fly Viera in especially for it.

Well, how else do you explain beating AC Milan on Tuesday, followed by a 0-0 against Wigan?

1 commentPermalink

Buzzin'

07/03/08

The Silly Season’s still absolutely buzzing after Tuesday…

Even if I’m convinced my support doesn’t feel completely real, I couldn’t feel more involved in the madness of Arsenal’s season.

From one weekend wandering if Arsenal are no better than any other Premiership team, to believing they can beat anyone and win everything What a roller-coaster!

I’m I need a holiday…

Score prediction: Wigan 1-5 Arsenal

Feelin' good

05/03/08

I’m a bit scared now…

I thought my passion for Arsenal was probably going to be a non-starter. I thought I couldn’t feel anything for this big, ugly, red sporting behemoth…

But last night was absolutely amazing

No one gave us (whoops!) a chance, but Arsenal couldn’t have played that game any better. Even Eboué wasn’t sh*t.


The dream is back on

The mayhem in the pub was something to remember: beer and people flying all over the place.

I’m not saying I don’t want to go back to Norwich. I’m still missing it a lot, especially as they were playing in Watford last night - a game I would definitely have gone to.

It’s just that, for one moment (admittedly a really, really good moment) last night, I looked down at my AFC pin badge and got a special feeling. I wasn’t the special feeling, but it was something.

Milan or bust?

03/03/08

I know it’s not exactly Newcastle blowing a 12-point lead, but it has still been a royal cock-up. Five or six points clear in the Premier League… and in about a week, it’s gone.

But, perhaps more worryingly, I found myself dancing around the place on Saturday when Bendtner’s equaliser went in. It was a massive relief. I don’t know about other Arsenal fans, but I feel like the whole world is against me right now.

Man Utd are unstoppable at the moment. And AC Milan? Well, it looks unlikely doesn’t it. Wenger says he’s not worried that Abebayor and Bendtner don’t get on. Well, The Silly Season bloody well is…

The one potential saviour is that AC Milan are very old and very slow, and Arsenal have enough pace to catch them out on the break.

If they do somehow manage to win something this season, it feels like it will be one of the sweetest victories in recent years. Or perhaps I’m just getting caught up in all the drama. Or maybe I do care after all.

So, it’s off to the San Siro… OK, the pub, with The Family to save my season (possibly).

Score prediction: AC Milan 1-1 Arsenal

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Supergrass support The Silly Season

28/02/08

First it was legendary DJ Steve Lamacq, then it was legendary horse racing tipster John McCririck

Now, legendary British rock stars Supergrass have joined The Silly Season’s ludicrous crusade.

The Silly Season bumped into them in a central London pub where we briefly got talking about footie. Gaz is a Man United fan, Danny a Spurs fan, Rob - Birmingham City. Mick? “I just like snooker, mate.”


Supergrass: Danny, Rob, Gaz and Mick

So, I explained the idea…

Lead singer Gaz: “It’s an interesting idea, but the game changes all the time. It’s an ever-changing sport. Who’s to say it’ll be Man Utd, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool forever. Why does it always have to be them?”

Danny (drums): “Well, it probably will be for about 10 years at least Gaz. But teams do make it to the Premiership at least. Look at Reading.”

Rob (keyboards): “I think it’s a really bad idea. I can see your point, but you’re boycotting your team, man.”

Some interesting views that kind of concluded with them thinking it was a sh*t idea. But as I shook their hands and went on my way, I could hear the debate rage on in the Supergrass camp.

You can’t say The Silly Season doesn’t get you thinking about the whole notion of football support.

—————-

Score prediction: Arsenal 2-1 Aston Villa

Injury time

25/02/08

Blimey…

The Silly Season hasn’t had that feeling of dread since David Busst’s ‘horror break’ at Old Trafford in 1996.

Will Eduardo ever play footie again? Let alone for Arsenal.

They reckon he could return by Christmas, but Gonch of The Family said, according to Norwegian paper Dagbladet, the doctors were ashen faced because his foot was literally hanging off his leg. It was completely seperated and if it wasn’t for the quick medical treatment, there would have been a risk of amputation.

Let’s hope he recovers fully.

————

This past week has put things into a rather strange perspective for me.

I’m beginning to realise what happens when you mess with football’s karma balance. When you switch clubs and support teams in a fabricated way.

In the past eight days Arsenal have lost 4-0 to United in the cup, failed to score against Milan, had their Premiership lead cut by United… and Spurs have won a trophy.

Now we’re out of strikers. Robin Van Persie’s only two weeks away from fitness, so they say. But that’s been the case since October 2007.

This leaves Adebayor and Bendtner… who hate each other (possibly).

And, to add insult to absolutely horrific injury, has fate has played a part? It turns out that Martin Taylor had just returned to the Birmingham team after a couple months on loan at… you guessed it – Norwich City.

I’m not trying to make light of an awful injury, and Taylor did not mean to hurt Eduardo… it’s just a bizarre coincidence that’s all.

————–

Obviously there are loads of videos of the injury on YouTube, but The Silly Season thinks it might be best to remember why Eduardo will be such a loss.

Patience and technique…

THE SILLY SEASON TV

Family: always there for you

22/02/08

As you might imagine The Silly Season’s work colleagues have had an absolute field day this week… (field week?)

I mean, no one was ever going to give me an easy ride, but all this aggro is making me more determined to see it through.


Grief at work: every Big Four fan experiences it

Socially, the difference between supporting a Big Four club and a smaller club is this: you’re admired for following a team that doesn’t stand much chance of winning anything, but you get lynched if your Big Four club fails to win. I should know, I used to take great pleasure in having a pop at the ‘glory hunters’.

It’s been weird trying to let go of the underdog mentality for this season, but I’m beginning to feel it being replaced by this new type of Big Four supporter outlook – Us And Them Syndrome. More on that when it begins to take hold…

————-

To help me through this dark period, Gonch, of The Family sent me 10 minutes of ’80s Arsenal glory footage, from the season when they nicked it from Liverpool in the last few seconds.

I fell asleep about three minutes in, but it’s nice to know your Family’s there for you…

THE SILLY SEASON TV

Score prediction: Birmingham 0-1 Arsenal

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Pain killer

20/02/08

I’ll level with you… I’m finding it hard to get over that match last Saturday where that team beat Arsenal.

I really wasn’t expecting that at all.

The Family are totally over it though… readying themselves for tonight’s Champion’s League match with AC Milan. Not including me tonight though, I’ve been dropped to the bench (pub) for this one – the match sold out weeks ago.

“There’s always next year, lads,” said Gonch as we left Old Trafford. And that’s just it - fans of a Big Four club know it’ll only be a year until they’re in exactly the same position again. It’s far easier to get over a humiliating loss with that guarantee.

Me? I’ve only got one crack at this silverware/glory thing. There’s no next season for me.

So, in that respect, fans of Big Four clubs definitely do have a better footballing life. More very important games far more often.

Fans of smaller clubs must have a more painful existence. Barnsley fans waited 10 years to even play Liverpool, let alone beat them. Bristol Rovers fans waited 50 years to reach a cup quarter final…


Norwich Mate was sympathetic after the third goal went in

I’m really struggling to bring myself to even look at the pictures of the match from Saturday right now. But, as they say, if you prang your motor you’ve just got to get straight back behind the wheel. Even if you’re not that confident.

Score prediction: Arsenal 0-5 AC Milan

1 commentPermalink

Our Day Out

17/02/08

I know it’s stupid, but I honestly feel like it’s my fault – I’m jinxed.

Arsenal haven’t lost this emphatically to old adversaries for many years…

5-1 against Spurs, 4-0 against Man Utd. Obviously this one hurts quite a bit. Not only is Old Trafford the location of footballing pain once again, but the FA Cup dream is over. Forever.

This was it - this was the best chance for me and ‘my team’ to lift the FA Cup, and it’s gone.

As The Silly Season’s many detractors will gleefully observe, that’s two trophies down, two to go.

Don’t be under any illusion that it wasn’t an enjoyable experience though… A sunny away day: banter on the train and in the pub; terrace chants; standing up throughout the match; ordering what I expected to be a roast veg and mozzarrella pannini and being served a baguette with peppers, carrots, and Red Leicester cheddar in a ‘cosmopolitan’ Manchester pub… My day out with the Gooners had it all.

But the deflation after a match like this is immense, simply because of the excitement preceding it. All the Arsenal fans I was with couldn’t wait for this one. And they truly believed Arsenal would win. Why wouldn’t they? They’ve done it before…

I didn’t believe it - I thought Arsenal would lose… But I’m a different kind of fan to an Arsenal fan.

Credit to them though. Even a defeat as humiliating as this is water under the bridge quite quickly for Gooners. Well, apart from whoever it was that did this to my seat after the third goal went in. Maybe he just doesn’t like The Silly Season

Why is it easier to let go for Arsenal fans? Because when you’re a Big Four club, you know you only have to wait one year for the chance to come again - not four decades. And that’s the big difference…

Besides, they’ve got a another huge match (against AC Milan) to think about on Wednesday.

In other news, Norwich lost 4-0, to Leicester, so I suppose it’s my fault as well, now Norwich probably won’t make the play-offs as they’re nine points adrift…


Here’s the humiliating departure for me and The Family, while United fans sing “Same old Arsenal, always leaving“, and Nani stands next to his own penalty area juggling the ball.

THE SILLY SEASON TV

Oh, and here’s a Utd fan alseep on the train home to London (of course). Less than five seconds after this picture was taken he’d fallen off the luggage rack and had his head in one of those bins you get inbetween the seats. Beautiful to watch.

'Cup final' Saturday

15/02/08

So it’ll be early doors at Euston station tomorrow…

The Family (the Arsenal fans) have told me to turn up some ungodly hour for a Saturday, armed with a crate of ale and a lot money.

We will join a very long queue of football fans getting on the train to Manchester Piccadilly. It feels strange to be going ‘home’ to the city where I spent about 20 years of my life for what is effectively the Cup Final.

I’m nervous, not least in case someone I know from Stockport sees me being herded through Piccadilly train station wearing an Arsenal shirt.

But, it’s the reason why I did this… To experience a clash of two titans.

Will it be different? Will it be unforgettable? Will it shine the badly needed light on The Silly Season experience? Or will I still be fighting the 25-year bond with Norwich City that I just can’t shake?

It’s definitely going to be different… Watching league home games and drinking in the domination of The Big Four has so far been an experience which is normal for them and, so far, quite unrewarding for me.

No, this time it’s different. This time everybody’s nervous… The Family, Cliff The Arsenal fan, The Club Level Boys (another set of Arsenal fans introduced to me)… Even me. I know I’m going to feel extremely deflated if Arsenal lose.

I’ve come far enough on this journey to care…

The Family have kissed their children, wives and girlfriends goodbye… Apart from ‘Gonch’ who’s at home washing his lucky redcurrant Arsenal socks from the 05/06 season and ironing his Giles Grimandi T-shirt.

I watched this vid I took at the end of the Blackburn match to raise the spirit (and sticking it to The Man at the same time by infringing Arsenal’s copyrights).

THE SILLY SEASON TV

So to Saturday… A day of success? A day of epiphany? A day standing in queues while other football fans vomit cheap lager and let off fire extinguishers on the train? Almost certainly the last one…

Can’t bloody wait!

————–

Score prediction: Thanks to Richard for his comment. He’s predicted a 1-2 win for Arsenal, so I’ll put a fiver on that too (plus a fiver on 2-0 for Utd because I’m scared that’s what the score will actually be).

It's a kid's world

13/02/08

When I said Arsenal annoyed me yesterday, I think that was a bit harsh - I was annoying myself at the Blackburn match.

In recent days, I’ve had a few moments recently of remembering what it was like to support a team when I was a kid…

I mean those special pangs of excitement you get when you’re young and feel like anything’s possible - not disaffected by life, etc.

Kind of hard to describe I guess, but you don’t get those feelings so much as an adult. It’s the kind of inspiration and excitement that binds you to a club from such a young age, and that’s what I’m having so much trouble fighting against when trying to support a club I haven’t previously loved as an adult.


A young fan yesterday

And that’s what the Premier League and Football League trade off - a unique, very British, undying support for a football club.

Of course we’d follow our clubs to America and Japan to watch league games… We’d follow our clubs off the edge of a cliff if it came to it. But there’s no respect for that by the powers who run the game - they just want to make as much money as possible and trade off that undying love.

That’s why this weekend’s game against Man Utd is as crucial for The Silly Season as it it for Arsenal. This could take me out of my pergatory and my give me that special feeling football used to give me.

The anticipation; the match fever; the drama.

I’m not saying winning at Old Trafford will make me love Arsenal and forget about Norwich. Just: is it going to be special?

I hope so… Not least because: Ticket + Train = £103

————–

And when I said “people around me were annoying me” yesterday I didn’t mean the Arsenal fans I go to the pub with, and who help me buy tickets (aka The Family). Just wanted to clear that up before I get a slap…

The main Family pub talking point on Monday night was the United cup match obviously, but also how amazing it was to watch United play a match in a traditional old-style shirts (to honour those who died in Munich). The unanimous agreement was that all clubs should play in sponsorless, old-school shirts from now on.

Forkin' hell

12/02/08

Hmm, last night was a strange one for The Silly Season

I found it really hard to get into the spirit of it. Probably because it was a freezing cold Monday night match against Blackburn.

People around me were annoying me, Arsenal were annoying me. I didn’t feel any satisfaction from going five points clear at the top of the Premiership. I didn’t feel any satisfaction from being an Arsenal fan…

More on the match and the Arsenal fans later, but first this video from last night. Once again Arsenal tried to stop me taking pictures inside their oh-so secret GIGANTIC STADIUM WHERE 60,000 PEOPLE SIT.

I tried to discuss it with the steward, but after the camera went off I actually came quite close to my first stadium ejection.

But, the best bit for me is when some guy runs past from nowhere looking really flustered because he’s forgotten what I can only assume is his lucky kitchen utensil. Either that or they give out roast dinners in the bottom tier…

THE SILLY SEASON TV

——————-

Buy the way, I got the score prediction right again for last night’s match, and didn’t put any money on it AGAIN!

AGAIN!

Norwich Hate

11/02/08

And email sent to me today from my Norwich City mate who I used to watch matches with before embarking on The Silly Season:

Norwich Mate: Four, count em, four points from the play offs!!!!!

You can stick your Premiership trophy which, come the day will leave you feeling pleased, but not ecstatic, because you know in your heart of hearts you would much rather be watching the mighty yellows scoring a last minute winner at Wembley to take us up!

And if that happens…. You won’t be there! Think about it…just think about it for a few minutes!!!!!

Please don’t let that happen. Please

With that in mind this is a massive week for The Silly Season. I think my fabricated support for Arsenal is fading – I’m losing my nerve a bit. But tonight is a chance to give my Goonerism a real shot in the arm.

The Blackburn match could take me/us/whatever five points clear at the top of the Premiership tonight, but then if Saturday’s FA Cup match at Old Trafford goes wrong I’m two trophies down.

Score prediction: Arsenal 2-0 Blackburn

1 commentPermalink

Arsenal 0-1 Norwich

08/02/08

I broke the rules again.

This time I studied the Championship table throughly to see how Norwich City were doing, to make sure they’re not too close to the relegation zone. I got a shock though…

Is this experiment starting to backfire on me?

Earlier in the season Norwich (the team I’ve deserted for a year) were bottom of the Championship, and Arsenal were flying high. Very high.

Now I’m beginning to worry… If Norwich’s superb form under Glenn Roeder continues they will be promoted via the play-offs. After being bottom of the league in October, they are now just seven points away from the play-off ‘zone’.

I wanted to challenge to the culture of football support in England, and know what it was like to support a Big Four club… and while I’m at it take some silverware, because - thanks to the Big Four - it was the only way I was ever going to experience winning a trophy in my lifetime.

However, if Arsenal blow everything (FA Cup, Premier League, European Cup), and Norwich get promoted this will literally be the most flawed football/social experiment in the history of… well, everything.

It could happen…

Would it be too much to ask for Norwich City to wait for a season until I come back?

No? Thought so.

——————

Overseas league games
Is there no end to the madness? “Arsenal Vs Blackburn Rovers, coming to you live from the Chicago Bollockdome on ESPN.”

No sooner have I embraced Big Four culture (accepting astronimcal ticket prices; credit card-style ground entry; censorship in and around the stadium) than I find I may have to travel thousands of miles to watch Arsenal play.

I think I’d get more enjoyment out of footall if I went down the park and watched a pub team with my mates. You could have a couple of cans of bitter, smoke, talk to people you know, and appreciate/laugh at the skills on display.

If I wasn’t so obssesed with stadia I’d do it tomorrow.

Maybe…

In your 'ead son

06/02/08

Football fans are a creative bunch aren’t they…

After the Newcastle match The Silly Season discovered this superb unofficial Arsenal merchandise stall… aka, a grit bin.

On sale? A compilation CD of hits with the lyrics altered to honour Arsenal players and express hatred for Spurs.

I challenge you to listen to this video and NOT spend the rest of the day singing “Adebayor” to the tune of UB40’s I Got You Babe in your head. It’s horrible… I haven’t been able to shake it for a week now. I wake up and it’s still there…

Other classics include The Prodigy’s Firestarter with the lyrics changed to: “I’m the Tottenham hater, twisted Tottenham hater".

I’ll buy a copy next time I walk past and put it on the site.

I think Adebayor might be my favourite player now though. Here he is in action for Norwich… Or maybe not, sadly.

1 commentPermalink

United front

04/02/08

Now we’re talking…

The Family have done the business. We’ve all got tickets for Arsenal’s FA Cup tie at Old Trafford.

I’m pretty convinced we’ll lose to be honest - although I don’t dare tell them that. Perhaps that’s my underdog pessimism coming through.

Still the excitement is back, and on many fronts…

This match is massive. Imagine what losing will do to the Arsenal players’ confidence. It would be typical that, should they knock us out of the cup, United will go on to win the league. And do you what? I really do care. But there’s a reason for that.

I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before on The Silly Season… Although I was born in Norwich, I spent the majority of my life as a Norwich fan living in Stockport (which is about five miles south of Manchester). As a result, I spent many lonely years on the receiving end of endless stick (and occasionally respect) from Stockport County, Man City, and United fans.

As an adult I have, for some reason, come out of this torrid footballing upbringing with a healthy respect for County and City, but with one of pure hatred for United.

And this vitriol was all the more justified when official website www.manutd.com had a right go at me for embarking on The Silly Season (see Man Utd are arrogant (shock)).

So there’s some unfinished business associated with this match, and it’s going to be happening right in my back yard. What better way to wreak revenge than with the Big Four club that took me in.


“Ha ha ha ha ha ha… Ha!”

Click here for the video of Martin Keown’s great, if childish, moment…

In fact, do you know what? As a Norwich fan I hate Man United more than I hate Ipswich Town. There… I’ve said it.

——————-

Score predictable
Yes, The Silly Season got the score right for the City match (1-3). Did I put money on it? Course not, that would be far too clever…

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Big bother

02/02/08

The video didn’t work of the latest celebrity to (sort of) endorse The Silly Season, so here’s a picture of John McCririck leaving Ashburton Grove in his limo.

(Does everyone who’s been on telly for five minutes get a free car and chauffeur?)

I don’t deliberately annoy celebrities (see Legendary DJ joins debate) but, after my trusty Zippo lighter failed on me, I couldn’t help but notice McCririck’s seven-foot long cigar.

While he was happy to ignite my roll-up with his considerable Monte Cristo, he didn’t react well when I said: “I didn’t know you were an Arsenal fan.” To which he rolled his eyes and produced his considerable midriff, covered in Newcastle’s famous stripes.

——————

More Arsenal censorship?
I can’t remember what happened exactly here because I was looking for my row, but this looks to me like Arsenal taking their copyright laws to extreme measures again. (Remember what they did at the Wigan match? See Camera Shy)

Plus, spot the bad nickname…

——————

Score prediction: Manchester City 1-3 Arsenal

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Stand up; shout "yes"; punch the air; applaud

30/01/08

It’s getting more exciting to see Arsenal score these days…

What I mean is, slowly, I’m beginning to think a bit more like an Arsenal fan (yeah, they do think).

Rather than look at the club from the outside as I have been doing, I’m beginning to get more involved with the trials of the team. Maybe it was the awakening after the 5-1 defeat against Spurs… I don’t know.

I think I’m starting to care a bit more. I just sat down, didn’t over think about things and let the game flow through me. Celebrating the goals came a lot more naturally to me than they have before…

Stand up; shout “yes"; punch the air; applaud. It just felt a bit more normal. Not totally, but a bit more…

I was even out of my seat before most of my row for the first couple of goals… The third? Er, I pretty much missed that because I was taking pictures of the stadium’s roof. So I’m not completely there yet, evidently.

Still, all this slow-burning enlightenment didn’t stop me staying behind until the stadium was empty to wait for the Norwich result to flash on to the massive screen. 1-0 against Southampton - another away win… yes!

Anyway, a lot of this is thanks to The Family letting me tag along for the ride. If I’d just begun supporting Arsenal alone it would have been hard to relate to the club and their fans. So, coming up (when I sort my life out): a feature about The Family and their contribution to The Silly Season so far.

—————

Big bother
Who’s this then (below)? And why are they running away from The Silly Season? Find out in the next blog post… if I can get the b*stard video footage to work.

United we'll fall

28/01/08

YES!

What a draw. Now, The Silly Season really does hate United. It’s a perfect way for Arsenal to prove themselves after the 5-1.

Seriously, this could make or break the whole season. Lose the match and Fergie’s mind games could make Arsenal’s young boys blow the league as well… Arsenal could be another cup down, and it’ll only be February by then.

I texted The Family very excitedly…

They just couldn’t believe I couldn’t identify Walcott. Don’t suppose that’ll be forgotten in the pub tomorrow.

————————

Theo
Congratulations to Colm for identifying the mystery Arsenal player picture (see Cup Upset, below). I say congratulations, but I don’t know the true answer, but it looks about right.

Anyway, apologies to Colm, but your prize of a night down the pub with Norwich Mate is cancelled (he never answers my texts these days). The Silly Season has now been banned from holding competitions for misleading the public.

I like the picture actually. It’s a bit like The Scream by Edvard Munch… Or maybe not.

—————–

In denial
Do you ever do that thing where you follow your club through the cup draw to see who they would have played had they not been knocked out? Even though I’m not supposed to be involved with Norwich this season, it’s so frustrating. They would have played Southampton away (winnable) and then Bristol Rovers away (well winnable). Quarter-final at least.

And they would have played Southampton on Saturday just gone, and they’re playing Southampton again on Tuesday - just like Arsenal did on Saturday, and are doing on Tuesday, with Newcastle. I’m talking too much about Norwich again aren’t I?

Score prediction for Tuesday night: Arsenal 2-1 Newcastle United

Cup upset

25/01/08

It’s a never-ending tirade of matches when you support one of The Big Four. Europe this, semi-final that…

Do any of these fans have any money left?

The Silly Season has decided to sit out this cup fixture with Newcastle through fear of groundhog day and bankruptcy (they play again in the league on Tuesday). I’m still upset at the way Arsenal behaved in defeat to Spurs anyway.

If Norwich players had a fight every time they shipped four goals there’d be no squad left. At least they can take defeat.

I did the pub quiz with Norwich Mate last night… The first words he said to me? No, not, “Alright mate". More like, “Well that’s one cup gone, you massive loser.” He also said he felt “great” when he saw the final Spurs score.

Cup competition
Here’s a quiz for you lot. The Silly Season was sifting through its football photos the other day, when this action shot turned up. Thing is I can’t work out which player it is. First to get it right wins an afternoon in the pub with Norwich Mate…

—————

Thanks to Norwich’s early exit from the FA Cup at the hands of Bury (still can’t believe it), there’s now no chance City could be drawn with Arsenal. Now that would have been a test of The Silly Season’s nerve.

Score prediction: Arsenal 4-2 Newcastle

Silverwhere?

23/01/08

Oh dear…

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear…

This puts The Silly Season in a rather sticky situation. The trophy angst is tightening its grip around my neck, as is the guilt of this season of chasing glory. I’ve sold my soul for this bloody lot.

Everyone in the office at work thinks Arsenal’s 5-1 defeat is absolutely wonderful, of course. The only thing they haven’t done yet is flush my head down the toilet… it’s lunch, so there’s still time.

I should have known. The atmosphere in the pub was weird. The Family were nervous of Wenger’s use of the kids, as were the Club Level Boys - another crew of Gooners who joined us.

Never let it be said that Arsenal fans don’t have a sense of humour and occasion though. As soon as the final whistle blew last night the pink champagne was uncorked, and we toasted Spurs’ next victory against Arsenal - due, on current form, around December 2017.

So, as one of The Family trots off to A&E this afternoon for a knock he picked up last night by kicking a pub, I consider my loneliness. I mean, Arsenal fans have their history, their record against Spurs and constant success to keep them going.

Me? I’m in it for short haul - the smash and grab. I know the Arsenal fans are feeling the embarrassment of losing to Spurs, bur f**k Spurs - they hammered us fair and square.

I’m far more gutted at losing out on a cup final. I’ve made a big sacrifice here - my club hate me and I might end up in football supporter purgatory. All I’m trying to do is find out what it’s like to win a trophy before I die. I was so close last night, and it was so disappointing to see that slip through my fingers.

I WANT MY TROPHY ARSENAL. SORT IT OUT.

"I'm not The Silly Season"

20/01/08

Bit worried about the picture thing now…

Will I never be able to go back to Carrow Road if I’m identified? A total ban from from a whole county wasn’t exactly what I’d planned when starting The Silly Season.

No news so far on whether Norfolk’s premier sports facists, sorry, sports paper The Pink ‘Un have found a picture of me, after implying they would publish it so I’d be identified (and killed?) by Norwich fans (see Mate Campaign, below).

Naturally I’m a bit worried about this, so I Googled myself to see if anyone could find me easily. (I’m not revealing my name on here by the way - this site isn’t about me, it’s about The Silly Season.)

Thankfully, nothing came up.

Bizarrely, these did though.


“I’m not The Silly Season”


“I’m not The Silly Season”


“I’m not The Silly Season”


“I’m not The Silly Season”


“I’m not The Silly Season”


“I’m not The Silly Season”


“I’msh not The Shitty Sheashon. Blaaah”

———-

Well done Arsenal by he way. 3-0. They haven’t been ’sussed’ after all.

Tuesday’s the big one though – I’m on the verge of my first final of the season. Very exciting.

Score prediction: although the water suggests heartbreak… Tottenham 2-0 Arsenal

Mate campaign

17/01/08

Norfolk’s premier sports paper The Pink ‘Un are having a big go at The Silly Season.

And they’re not holding back…

Under the headline WHO NEEDS A ‘SUPPORTER’ LIKE THIS? they appear to have started a hate campaign, in which they encourage people in Norfolk who know me to email in pictures, so I’ll be identified should I ever set foot inside Carrow Road again.

After hearing the New Year’s interview on Five Live, they said:

And…

And…

Fair point on that last one. I had (and still have) that attitude for 20 years. I’m just curious what it’s like for fans who support a team who win all the time, so I thought I’d spend a season doing it. After all, The Big Four have ensured it’ll never happen to me as a Norwich fan.

The Pink ‘Un’s Man In The Stands sounds like a very frustrated person. Maybe he should do a Silly Season of his own. Hopefully after this one has finished I would have relieved myself of all trophy angst… Perhaps that’s his problem. That said, I liked the line about me having my prawn sandwich and eating it… Very slick.

Anyway… I’m going to wear a balaclava from now on.

And, did I say that every mate I’ve ever had in the Norfolk area is a bloody brilliant person… Be sure that I can always be relied upon to buy you ALL a friendly pint next time I’m there…

Two pints? ………………………………

A pub?

———————-

By the way, I know Norwich fans think I don’t care, but losing to Bury was massively infuriating… I couldn’t help but be gutted by that - so there

1 commentPermalink

Party peace

14/01/08

Phew, Norwich Mate’s housewarming party was quite messy.

As previously mentioned, the bloke who I have spent years watching City with me hasn’t been returning my texts in recent weeks.

Anyway, The Silly Season was a guest at his housewarming party on Saturday night. And I was ‘welcomed’ by three more Norwich fans, a Portsmouth fan and, for back-up, an Arsenal fan.


Norwich Mate fact: threw his Bayern Munich ticket stub away “because I thought we’d play loads more clubs like that”
———————————————————————-

Of course the party was a good laugh, and we all got drunk… I can’t actually remember a lot of what was said, but I was on the receiving end of a fair amount of good-natured ribbing.

Norwich Mate was annoyed with me though, saying he thought it “was a bit of fun, but it pisses me off when you see it all playing out on a blog".

Sorry mate.

So, after many pale ales I was sent packing at 6am with a copy of Iwan Roberts’ autobiography shoved in my hand and a promise I would be kidnapped and driven up to Carrow Road “to reprogramme me".

——————————-

Score prediction: Bury 1-2 Norwich AET

Don't think, feel

11/01/08

For those who think there’s a lack of atmosphere in the stadiums of very big clubs, it’s not always true. It was great on Wednesday. Loads of terrace chants, etc.

One thing: do you really have to ’stand up if you hate the Spurs’. During a derby match, you’re up and down every 30 seconds.

So, in short: it was a match of great tension (see the Handbags video, below); Berbatov, when he can be bothered to jog, is phenomenal; Diaby has sublime skill; Arsenal were borderline rubbish; and rich people were throwing bottles and rubbish out from the middle tier on to the crowd below. And, bizarrely, a dragonfly swooped over The Silly Season and a number of others.

But has it stoked my Arsenal fires? Well, yes kind of. I’m sure it might have been because of the occasion, but that famous red and white shirt felt a little more special on Wednesday than it has done in the past.

What was most special was the significance of the game to me. I was excited in the pub before the match, and The Family (Arsenal fans) could tell.

Of course, a League Cup semi-final is as exotic as making a cup of tea to them. But that was huge for me. Would it feel more special if it was Norwich? Maybe but, thanks to The Family, I do feel involved… I feel like an Arsenal fan when I’m not thinking about it, if that makes any sense. When I’m sat in the pub immersed in Arsenal talk.

I guess I need to think less and feel more.

The Family introduced me to another Arsenal legend on Wednesday… Burgerman. Now, I’m not suggesting for a second that British beef is still dangerous to eat, but…

———————————————-

Yellow and Olive branch
A meeting has been arranged between me and my estranged Norwich Mate. He’s having a housewarming for his new flat, and I’ve been invited.

He’ll be there, probably after reading this, ready to rip me to bits. And so will Occasional Norwich Mate, who me and Norwich Mate would meet at matches.

Maybe it’s a set-up… Still, I’ll get fed for free before I die

———————————————-

Score prediction: Arsenal 3-1 Birmingham

"Handbags"

10/01/08

Phew, last night’s Carling Cup match was tense. Very tense.

Best Arsenal match The Silly Season’s been to so far, without question.

I’m unable to go into too much blathering detail until tomorrow morning, but here’s a taster of what happens after dark on north London derby day…

Warning: This video contains loads of swearing, and I think I can hear someone being racist.

Scared? Me? Yup…

THE SILLY SEASON TV

Spurred on

07/01/08

Score! The Silly Season has a ticket for the Carling Cup semi-final against Spurs.

Many thanks to The Family for getting hold of that for me. I tell you, it relieves the pressure I’ve been feeling recently. As players might say, “It’s just good to just get back to football” – rather than being chased by Norwich fans or being shouted at in a studio.

Christ, I’ve got to go through all that build up about hating Spurs again…

Well, good. It’s always going to be exciting. Also, I’m in a cup semi-final. And, if I get nothing else out of this season, it’s been a pleasure to beat Spurs on a regular basis after spending 20+ years being hammered by them as a Norwich fan.

I’ve really been feeling the betrayal karma in the past few days. Feel a bit like I’ve forever tainted my support of Norwich. I feel like I’ll never been forgiven. Almost as if I can never set foot on Carrow Road’s hallowed Barclay End ever again. It was all just getting too much. Until, that is, a full-strength bunch of incompetent idiots nearly lost to Bury at home. Bury.

Score prediction for Wednesday: it’ll be nothing like as exciting as the league match. Arsenal 1-0 Spurs

————————-

Score! #2 My score prediction radar is back on form. OK, so the Norwich one was a little off, but the Arsenal score was right. Good job I completely forgot to put any money on it then…

————————-

Five Live audio
Sorry I didn’t put this up on Sunday. I promise I’ll never lie about when I’m going to do stuff again.

Here it is… The massacre actually went on for seven and a half minutes. Seemed longer funnily enough…

Five Live New Years Day Massacre

Cup for it?

04/01/08

“We are not going to win the FA Cup, and I do not care less about it, to be honest.”

Not the words of The Silly Season - the words of flame-haired Reading wonder Dave Kitson.

The point being, perhaps, that a lot of players are resigned to the fact that they don’t stand a chance of winning anything if they’re not plying their trade with one of The Big Four.

Kitson went on to say that he just wants to ensure he plays in the Premier League. If Reading had become a mid-table top-flight club 10 or 15 years ago, there would have been a very real chance that they would have reached at least a major cup final or something. Now there’s no chance.

Is no one else massively frustrated at how inaccessible English football is now? That must be why the FA Cup has lost so much of it’s magic. Less people go to FA Cup matches now, because less people believe in the possibility of major progression.

That said, it’s still a special date in the footie calendar. Happy FA Cup Third Round Weekend to you all!



—————-

I’ve got hold of the audio from the kicking I got on Five Live. Just listened back to it… I go all Alan Partridge near the end as I desperately try to defend myself… Idiot.

I’ll put it up on Sunday.

—————————–

FA Cup correct score betting:

Burnley 0-2 Arsenal
Norwich 4-1 Bury

1 commentPermalink

New Year's Day massacre

02/01/08

OK, I’ve had a walk now.

Basically I was asked on to Five Live as a studio guest on New Year’s Day to talk about the blog because they said they were interested in my idea, and they wanted me to come on to explain myself.

A great honour… even if it did mean getting out of bed at 7am on New Year’s Day. Anyway, I was fairly relaxed about it. I’ve done radio a couple of times now - this’ll be OK.

Or maybe not…

What actually happened was that I walked in there like the innocent footie fan I am, just trying to do an honest season’s work swapping football clubs, when a presenter and two comedians took me to task as if it was them I was two-timing.

Now, I know full well that to do something like a blog like this is going to attract nothing but criticism. I don’t have a problem with getting cutting emails and comments from fans - that’s to be expected (Spurs and Norwich especially). But, like the interviews I’ve done before this, I was expecting to be given space to explain The Silly Season’s ludicrous premise.

I wasn’t - at least not enough space. They laid into me, rubbishing The Silly Season and throwing in a few snide comments to finish me off.

You know what? I’d be glad if the attack was caused by the notion of swapping your football club, but I suspect there were more mundane agendas of self-promotion at work… After all I wasn’t there to sell anything or promote a global corporate firm - just to talk about why the current state of English football can drive a fan to the ultimate compromise.

I’ll try to get the audio tomorrow and put it up on the blog so you can judge for yourselves.

These were some of the messages I was getting as I left the studio…

Oh well, The Silly Season’s a lover not a fighter… It might have been a slap in the face, but Five Live’s a great sports station that I’ve listened to passionately for 15 years and I’ve already had a great interview on there earlier in the season (on Aasmah Mir’s Midday News).

So, half way through this experiment it’s all getting a bit personal.

Deep breaths… it’s all just pantomime, right?

Five Live

01/01/08

Woah, just been on Five Live today to talk about The Silly Season.

I was really looking forward to it (Five Live, what an honour!), but the reality was quite different. I was on for about five minutes, and they said they were interested in my story and I was asked to come on and tell them about it. But I can’t help feeling it all went a bit wrong.

It was over in a flash, but judging from the reactions of texts from friends and family after I left the studio, it looks like I might have been stitched up.

More to come tonight, after I’ve had a walk. A very long walk…

1 commentPermalink

Half-time

01/01/08

Gael Clichy says Arsenal are tired. Well, so am I.

My mate, who I used to watch Norwich City with, isn’t talking to me and my head’s in bits as we hit the The Silly Season’s halfway stage.

Don’t get me wrong, this is a great season to be a trophy-seeking turncoat, but I’m just surprised I’m in two minds. I honestly don’t know where I stand with my support for either Norwich or Arsenal.

At first I thought there was no way I could change clubs: I’d chosen Arsenal for this season, and I’d started watching the matches and hanging around with The Family (seven Arsenal season ticket holders who I’ve befriended for the season), but the club annoyed me – I felt detached, ignored by such a huge business.

Plus, I couldn’t not look at Norwich’s results – I care too much about the club. It’s been with me all my life, so it felt like I was walking out on someone. And it’s not just the betrayal… I miss the club; the unique colours; the constant Delia Smith pie jokes no matter who I’m talking to (colleagues, taxi drivers, my mum…). No one’s said “Let’s be avin’ you” to me for months.

Psychology
There have definitely been changes… I’m beginning to condition myself. You can’t focus on Arsenal and go the matches with die-hard fans and not expect something to happen.

Watching Arsenal is exciting, and knowing they could win anything this season is thrilling (having that belief is something I’ve not felt since the mid-’90s). In recent weeks, I feel like I’m beginning to care. But I’m still singing Norwich’s famous terrace chant On The Ball City in my head when I walk away from The Emirates…

God, I miss it. Here it is…

THE SILLY SEASON TV

So I reckon there’s perhaps one key thing in all this: my psychological approach to football. I’ve been a Norwich fan for 25 years and, as a result, I’ve developed an underdog mentality. I hate big clubs and love it when an underdog wins. I mean, doesn’t everybody?

One thing though, I’m beginning to enjoy the fact that Arsenal are becoming villains in the eyes of fans who “don’t think they should be top”. I’m beginning to feel the ‘us and them’ element of supporting a club this size…

Could that replace the ‘underdog’ feeling of being a Norwich fan that I’ve been unable to shake since starting this? After all, no Arsenal fan feels like an underdog…

————————

Anyway, happy New Year from The Silly Season… there’s far more to come on this adventure, not least the fact that I still haven’t told my girlfriend that I’m probably going to Milan with The Family for the next round of the Champions League (unless she’s reading this, in which case I just have).

————————

New Year’s Day match prediction: Arsenal 3-0 West Ham

The Silly Season

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