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: January 2008

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

January 2008
Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
 << < Current> >>
  1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 30 31      

XML Feeds

What is RSS?