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: February 2008

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.

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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

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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

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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.

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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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