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That’s Entertainment. Or at Least It Should Be

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It’s fascinating and hilarious in equal measure how so many football fans are incapable of enjoying the most exciting months of the football calendar. Do you remember Zimpaul comparing a season with an 800m race? He suggested a few months back that we were approaching the final bend, runners jockeying for position and preparing for the home straight. We the spectators, inching slightly up from our seats, anticipating the finish and wondering if our chosen athletes had anything left in their legs.

I thought then and I still feel now that it was a perfect analogy from one of our very best posters. I wonder if you will indulge me as I stretch that metaphor to the section of the race when the finishing line is in sight. Can you even begin to imagine the spectators and supporters in an athletics stadium screaming abuse and throwing up their hands in horror, turning away in disgust to argue with those around them while the race is still in progress? Or stamping on their hats and wailing ‘It’s all over’ as the competitors charge flat out, neck and neck, giving it their all for the few remaining metres of the race? It’s a laughable scenario and one for which I apologise. They would of course be screaming and cheering and doing every last thing in the hope that by sheer effort of will they could encourage a tiny fraction more speed or stamina from their favourite.

This is where we are now in our season. It is absolutely the best part of the whole shebang. Every decision, miss-kick, flukey goal, each unpunished foul or arbitrary decision not to grant an appeal in any number of games is magnified and so very very significant. I even enjoy watching Spurs right now. Yep. And I know a whole load of other people watched the events unfold at the DW Stadium yesterday. But a glance at Twitter and doubtless in the comments section of various Arsenal blogs showed people putting themselves through some kind of self flagellating agony. An ecstasy of misery and convinced despair overwhelmed people, when they ought to have been enjoying a closing scene in the finest drama the Premier League has to offer.

Allow me to lift an example from a popular social networking site. The Spuds had been awarded a free kick on the edge of the Wigan penalty area. It was the last chance in a game of so much theatre and the pressure was on both sides desperate for a result at either end of the table. As the rest of us thrilled at this moment of decision an Arsenal fan groped for his keyboard and typed

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Instead of sitting back and enjoying the final act in a totally unpredictable drama with goal mouth action at both ends, the lead changing hands, mistakes, skill, violence and bad haircuts this joker couldn’t wait to spread his negativity, so convinced was he that the Spuds would score. As it transpires they nearly did but didn’t quite and it was all terribly exciting. Also things ended with the right result for us with them dropping another two points in what is at best a faltering stumble down the back straight.

As the final whistle approached some people were even screaming for Wigan to defend, get back, hang on for the point. I loved the fact that quite to the contrary they wanted to and tried to and very nearly did win the game. After all, we wanted them to win didn’t we? We want our rivals to lose, surely? If you cannot enjoy the run in where so many teams have so much at stake and where other matches suddenly matter to us like never before then you can’t hope to enjoy competitive football at all.

So where does this all leave us? I’d say on a Sunday facing a four o’clock kick off against the newly crowned champions of the Premier League. In a game many think of in that loathsome, meaningless phrase; a ‘must win’. Which can only mean they already know Spuds and Chelsea’s results between now and the end of the season. Of course it’s a big game and one we most want to win. No game is bigger than Arsenal versus Man United. If both teams were safe from relegation but out of the running for European places it would still matter. It would still hurt more to lose than any other fixture. As such this is probably the only game of our ten cup finals where league points and positions and the impact on the final places is actually overshadowed by the bitterness and rivalry between the two clubs.

I’ve dealt with my detestation for them by pretending they don’t exist for the last few seasons. It’s been working like a charm. Whereas I used to be able to name their first team squad, with my lip curled and special vehemence reserved for particular bêtes noire, these days I actually don’t even know half of their first eleven. But of course,he is still there. No I don’t mean this generation’s Frank Stapleton. I mean the manager. The man who has consistently tried and failed to get under the skin of our infinitely more assured and intelligent talisman. The man so beloved by the British sporting establishment, an establishment which so despises us that we couldn’t fail but to wish ruin upon their darling.

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I’m not going to bother with any more talk of honour guards or reactions to ex players, I made my position crystal clear on Thursday. In any case I know you’ll do all that in the comments section. I am however, in contradistinction to my modus operandi, going to force myself to watch the whole thing live. After all it is long overdue. Maybe I’ll like their new players. I hear someone called Cleverclogs is as good if not better than Jack Wilshere. It’ll be fascinating to see if that can be true. Also long overdue is us outplaying and beating them, but I don’t feel in the mood for rash predictions. Apart from anything else the pressure cooker our players are trying to perform in right now makes everything so difficult for them, add to that the disadvantage of being at home in front of people convinced we must fail and one can only foresee an uphill struggle.

I know we can do it, of course we can. I know this because Spuds beat Oil City against all the odds then dropped points to Wigan. Just because Man U have nothing to play for and will be easy and relaxed knowing their work this year is done, and we will be edgy and nervous with so much resting on the outcome doesn’t mean we are bound to lose. Football is an unpredictable game. Ask Blackburn, Bayern and Real Madrid. The crucial thing is we try to enjoy the three games after this one. Today we might enjoy the result, we cannot hope to enjoy much of the match with the poisonous red and black slime oozing over the pitch and befouling the sweet air of our lovely stadium. However we can put the visit of the evil one behind us after this afternoon and get back to enjoying the nail biting race for the finish line.

Remember it’s just a ride, and we bought a ticket because we hoped to enjoy the ride. So smile, sing shout and by all means swear but please spare us your endless doom ridden predictions of failure. Some of us will be trying to actually enjoy the entertainment.

About steww

Arsenal, books, photography, bass guitar, dog walking, mountain biking, being on the radio, writing, talking too much, failing, making mistakes, buggering on regardless.

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187 comments on “That’s Entertainment. Or at Least It Should Be

  1. Blimey Arshavin, this angle was not shown on tv. Yeah, he gets the ball. Judas’ right leg trips over Sagna. I am not able to tell if Sagna tripped him or he left it there. He definitely got the ball though. I think from Dowd’s angle it looked like a foul. Also Sagna’s desperate lunge would have influenced the ref. Shame that he didnt see how well Sagna got the ball.

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  2. stew @ 6 47.

    Haha

    I won’t spend much time thinking about it today. That performance was golden and that for me is enough.

    3 more finals and we will win them all. If I wasn’t arleady convinced I am now.

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  3. @Arshavin
    Don’t even dare make me think about that! I feel utterly robbed that with him having signed for us 2006, I have been robbed of so seeing him in many, many matches because of all those injuries.

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  4. Evil sir,

    Please don’t me saying this.

    In my culture the “jinx” works the opposite way. The thing is we believe whatever we say comes true. Hence we refrain from saying anything negative. We don’t consider saying something that we really wish for as a bad omen.

    Again two different worlds eh?

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  5. don’t mind me*

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  6. @Arshavin
    Haha, that’s a good way of jinxing things. I will try it out immediately. We will win the league next year.

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  7. Watched game in our gooner bar in Dublin.
    Sky repeatedly showing the one camera angle on Bac’s tackle. Never heard of camera foreshortening? Never a peno from any other angle.
    Bac’s back pass was a howler but I think he did just enough in the recovery tackle. Dowd has booked so many scum he was desperate to give them something back.

    Rambo got a standing ovation going off and Gerv played well! Positives!!
    Theo needs to fucking man up.

    A point will have to suffice, the manure play the € haves at home and they hate Rafa so hoping for points droppers there. We need all 9 points remaining. Not easy, it never is with the Arse.

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  8. I wish you hadn’t posted that, A23, I feel absolutely robbed now.

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  9. Haha Shotta! “…slummed off to Twitter” That is a good description of it. But I’m always happiest to come back here after it’s over.

    What a game. Entertainment you wanted, Stew, entertainment you got. And I enjoyed it all. The boys were so clearly up for this today – not that I thought for a minute they wouldn’t be. Poor Bac, I felt so badly for him. You could see written on his face how he felt. Came back from it though, which is all you can ask. And what a treat to see and hear the applause Aaron got when he left the pitch, even after a mistake or two. That has been a long time coming – well earned and well deserved. Three more cup finals to go. UTA!

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  10. “on Sir Alex Ferguson’s transfer plans…
    I don’t know but he will not sign them from us!:

    Ha ha Arsene! Once bitten!

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  11. Who knows – perhaps Dowd was trying to ‘even up’ Theo’s offside ?

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  12. The ref and linesmen were in the guard of honour, WTF????
    Arn’t they supposed to be neutral and impartial?

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  13. Anicol5.

    Even up eh?

    http://www.101greatgoals.com/blog/pictures-were-all-3-robin-van-persie-first-half-goals-against-aston-villa-offside/

    All three here are offside. They get their fair share of those too. Its always ‘one up’ never ‘even up’ in case of Man Utd.

    But forget all that. Lets not talk about refs anymore today. It was an awesome performance.

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  14. Watching the GoH

    I have to admit I missed it

    Was it good ?

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  15. Quite right A23 – good performance – matched the Mancs – another day we could have snapped up the points

    The reason we didn’t was because we came up a bit short, just not quite good enough, more work needed

    That is why I was surprised to read posters whining about Dowd, who also had a good performance

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  16. “just not quite good enough, more work needed”

    Nice!

    We should never be satisfied with just a draw against Man Utd. True, very very true.

    I was very happy with what I saw but we should aim for more.

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  17. Guys,
    I’m not complaining about a 1-1 against manure at home, considering schezzy making about 4 point blank stops and our own wastefulness in front of goal but I have to keep screaming this: IT WAS NOT A PENALTY!
    You are all being suckered by SKY’s selective use of camera on tv. ditto with Theo,as it is clear ball was already off Rosiskys foot when they shoe theos move.
    Don’t dance on Bac’s grave just yet but we we really should have put them to the sword today. They should have passed to Theo for his 2nd, it would have been a tap in.
    What about our own peno shots?
    Oh, sky did miss a handball by Per.

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  18. d c

    Yes It was NOT a penalty.

    The penalty made all the difference. It changed the complexion of game. We had to make ourselves vulnerable which led to Man Utd creating chances, all because of them equalizing. It was a big moment.

    Arsene sums it perfectly.

    “on the match…
    It was a quality game with a lot of intensity. I believe we were on top in the first half and it was disappointing to concede the equaliser the way we did. Why? Because it put us in a position in the second half where we had to completely open ourselves up and throw everything forward, and sometimes [we did that] more with energy than technique. We opened ourselves up for the counter-attacks where we could have lost the game. I feel that equaliser played a big part in this game because it put us in a difficult position. Overall I can only praise the players for the effort, the dynamic and the desire we put in. Let’s keep it going like that and we will have a chance to be where we want to be.”

    But as you say Theo’s 2nd would have mostly put the match to bed. I am not as happy with the single point as much as I am with the performance.

    Overall it was a step forward I believe.

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  19. Arsene says,

    “I have always respected my contracts and at my age I will not change anything,” Wenger told reporters.

    “I am concentrated on the next match and I am already preparing for the next season.”

    He will be with us next season, not that it was ever in doubt. Arsene is not leaving without completing what set out to do.

    Arsenal have done most things right in the last few years. Its time fate pays us back.

    Hope is a good thing and no good thing ever dies (The Shawshank redemption – watch it if you haven’t)

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  20. I agree with Arsene.

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  21. Harry
    I hope we all do.
    What we are about to become next season makes me drool.
    And I hope keeps fergie awake every night screaming. Or that might be the whiskey.

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  22. im annoyed with stew I went to the game positive and prepared to think the crowd would support the team, which they did for about five minutes and then when quiet.
    after that the normal abuse of the team started and I nearly had a fight at half time after some twot was slagging down Ramsey ( somebody even shouted out shoot him ).
    its getting more and more difficult to go to games and support the club I love, if we cant get ourselves up for an important end of season game against utd then we might as well play our games behind closed doors as no noise is better than a tirade of abuse

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  23. steww im tired of praising you and your posts..consider it a given. i stopped watching their games when they won it in moscow just because a donkey had slipped..if you can believe it i didnt watch the champions league final ( ffs) the barca-manu final at wembley in fear theyd fluke that too. only the games between us. cant tolerate their deflections/ricoches and webb giving them penalties. just the score…

    ramsey and konsciely are my favourites. well done bacary but since you go for it cripple him too noone will complain.

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  24. arse_or_brain @ 10:18 pm
    Re: Crowd support – Don’t throw in the towel. In every forum, we should demand better. Shame them, name them.

    Of course they will hop on the bandwagon the closer we are to a title.

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  25. arse_or_brain – my sentiments pretty much entirely.

    Went to the game expecting great things from the crowd but left largely disappointed by it.

    Thought the team were magnificent, didn’t look like a penalty conceded by us though clearly Bacary gave Dowd a problem with the challenge, given cuntface’s theatrics.

    Kudos to Dowd who stood up to Manure’s thugs though they are of course home and dry as far as the league goes. No doubt the celebrations continue in darkest Surrey.

    Not certain we as fans actually deserve success on the basis of today’s supporting effort which was inconsistent and patchy at best. Gerv wasn’t exactly roared onto the pitch at that most critical of match phases though Aaron has clearly won many around as the standing ovation was well – and widely – delivered.

    Kos looks like the best defender on the planet on current form.

    There are so many positives about the team.

    But the weak support largely ruined things for me. The crowd weren’t truly awful but if it can’t rouse itself to be the best it can possibly be against this kind of opposition in these kinds of circumstance then, well, what hope is there for us?

    Sincerely hope many of the fairweathers don’t bother renewing their season tickets; time for a new generation of real supporters to be given their chance.

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  26. arsenal andrew…..only if the club decides to keep 5000 seats behind one of the goalposts purely for nutters..with very cheap tickets ..the good “hooligans” …not the critical ones..

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  27. I was discussing with a few people today about how they wanted marquee signings this year as we now have the money, but I think ive now decided I don’t want major signings or silverware for that matter I just want an ARSENAL team full of ARSENAL players and if that means a couple of seasons sixth seventh or eighth then so be it, give me youngsters who will play and stay for the shirt. 89 was wonderful not only because of the amount of time we had waited or the way we won it but because of team we won it with.
    it would be nice if all the invincible every year wannabies would fuck off and take their knapsacks with them

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  28. Yes guys you have raised a good point.
    People leaving in droves before the final whistle today, with a chance of beating manure?? No excuse as the tubes don’t open for half an hour after the game. And this is a Sunday afternoon game, where are they rushing to, Ikea?
    I blame the season ticket holders for a certain lack of loyalty, including whoever they have Passed on the tickets to, and there must be a whole bunch of ‘corporate’ lower tier season ticket owners who have great seats but are not Arsenal supporters.
    And they can fuck off about the Price – it’s great value for a capital city club and includes all the cup game tickets too.
    AFC Really need to crack down on the boo boys, other clubs kick out haters, we can too.

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  29. “it would be nice if all the invincible every year wannabies would fuck off and take their knapsacks with them”
    I am tweeting that before you get the chance to

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  30. finally some cultured pessimists are realising that the policy of whether to go for titles or play it safe till stadium is repaid is the decission of the owner …..silly me telling so ages ago when everyone was blaming an employee.

    later on they will realise that since the priority has been “get to 4th with minimum expenditure as possible” that the managers decission on players were practically forced and it wasnt like he could pick whichever player(s) he wanted like our rivals. bargains and youth was the viable way.

    now they want stan to come out and tell everyone what his intentions are. did these lifelong fans interrogate the previous ownership structures back in the 70;s 80;s 90;s etc what the plan was? wow…all of a sudden , these lifelong supporters who have seen arsenal lifting multiple european and international honours and 6 domestic titles in a row and part of them dynasties are angry that they dont know the plan…… ..

    my question to all these lifelong supporters…..was there any kind of plan in this club before wenger? what do they think? these demands that the owners come out and make their position known are not made with genuine interest for the club, but so that they know where the owner stands and as such define the area of critique. if the owners come out saying “we are now going for titles” the fans will critisise the failure of winning them. titles are not guaranteed but try explaining that to the fan after youve told him that its your target. if the owners say ” haha what titles?! we still owe money for our stadium” then the fan will complain about getting ripped off and attack it for lack of ambition.

    i dont know where this psychosis comes from the fans. this need to know what the plans are. its what causes frustration and devision. they seem unable to show confidence and rest assured on the thoroughly competent management of arsene wenger. i do not understand what gives them the right to worry so much about arsenal to the point of wanting to stick a mic up stans face and ask him like a depressed sweatty junky ” whats the plan stan….?…… whats the goddamn plan man …??””

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  31. Hunter, spot on.
    Arsenal haven’t won a thing in 8 years. Fuck ’em for complaining.
    12 domestic cups in 126 years of trying, is about 1 a decade.
    13 titles too.
    And 2 European triumphs at times when English clubs were not fashionable in Europe,
    About once every generation since 1970.
    These freeloaders don’t know what they have gotten into with the Arse and they are too pig ignorant to see the building work Wenger is making for our future.
    Question the owner and the board? Yeah try that with roman or the glazers and see how they treat you.

    The plan is simples – try to win everything every year, like all the other clubs do. They don’t manage it very often either. Last time I looked, we still had the 3rd biggest trophy room in England.

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  32. “they seem unable to show confidence and rest assured on the thoroughly competent management of Arsene Wenger.” (Hunter13)

    The plan is unfolding right in front their eyes yet they cannot see. In a big game like today’s there were 4 of the English core seeing out the game, Walcott, Wilshere, Gibbs and Oxlade-Chamberlain. Subbed was a Welshman who had given his absolute all for 70 minutes. The core is being supplemented by quality players who are committed to the cause. One or two will be added over the summer, that is certain. The transition is coming to a close. As Wenger said we know how we want to play, the structure remains the same. Just need to get the doubters on board. Either they shape up or get out.

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  33. Ha DC try explaining that to them generations who witnessed them triumphs and dominance against puskas’ madrid, kruyff;s ajax and sagghi;s milan. or how we would compete with maradona stoichkov van basten baresi and some other leightweights back when we were big. now we are small you see. back then we were huge. therefore we need to know the plan yes….the plan…

    shotta i know man. there are two ways. either with mercenaries or with what wenger ajax barcelona ( even manure albeit just one serious generation in the last 20-25 years) do. since option one isnt available, wenger’s PLANS will do just fine.

    apparently some think that the arsenal board is comprised by zidannes valdanos butragenos costacurtas sammers kruyffs beckenbauers and other gurus of the sport who could press wenger and be more strict towards him. lets ignore the fact that none at board level knows even half of what wenger and boro do about football let alone that wenger hits the targets set to him by the board…fuck that…we the fans will tell the board what the targets should be ( to hell with financial responsibilities and realities- we are all multinational ceos behind our keyboards with expert knowledge on sports entertainment business, we know what it takes) and we will press the board to press the manager to deliver what we demand as truthful fans…

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  34. Is it my imagination or has JvC, as FG thus named him, put on an extraordinary volume of muscle mass, especially left sided; and doesn’t run as much with arms flailing, more beefy, more dare I say it …. testosteroneally hormonal? It kinda reminds me oddly of Ronaldo turning from skinny teenager to the hulk, in a season, all those years ago. What on earth do they feed them with at Old Trafford? Mash and supplements?

    I am delighted Jones does not play for Arsenal. Everything about him sings,”I’m a big and arrogant lad and I charge about physic’ly, I use my head and I use my feet, I’m the new enforcer can’t you see?”; he’s a big tough rugby lad with a forehead to match.

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  35. dear zimpaul…at the risk of sounding repetitive i will mention alex’s hobby …breeding horses for races.. haha..one of the “cleanest” industries surely…like armstrong hero champion, wrist band trailblazer, world peace ambassador, personification of the olympian spirit…but then again maybe i prefer this case of revisionism than gg;s world class back 5 that owned the football world for decades… unlike this clueless french chap taking the club backwards…

    whats the motherfucking plan stan ?

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  36. i keep finding these gems

    “Show that your intentions are indeed geared towards football not making money.”

    dont know whether to laugh or cry, or perhaps the comment is made by a 7 year old. hallo…entertainment industry…companies …business…

    companies taking advantage of the fans psychological attachment? wow how shocking..never thought that day would come, did any of you? its not like we live in a capitalist society where everything in life is driven by profit are we ? we have commercialised birth and death as a society, but the fans of arsenal, them lifelong gunners who love their club win lose or draw title or no title, want their football club to be all about football….not just a business. and football as we are tld is all about 1st place…isnt it nice how we put everything into simple black and white categories like typical uneducated imbeciles.

    i digress…

    yet here we have a manager who although understands the financial limits the club/ company/business must operate within, he also produces the kind of football these purists want from their football club, no? but , alas it aint winning football is it? and how can it be when the players are bargains and youngsters trying to make a career?

    conclusion : arsenal fans = weirdos ……….an army of paris hiltons …they dont know what they want or how to express what they think they want.

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  37. the board wanted kroenke because he was seen as the one who wouldnt mess up with their plan. instead of the fans embracing this , they are attacking it…..

    when will we as fans cash in on our emotional investment to arsenal ?

    when god damn it ?

    hahaaaaaaaa

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