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Unclench, Breathe And Enjoy Your Football

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Which London club finished highest in the inaugural season of Murdoch’s Premier Leagueship? Go on take a stab at it. Here’s a clue, their manager made his name on the sloping fields of Twerton Park as Bristol Rovers’ most successful boss, the Pirates’ Arsene Wenger if you will. We’ll draw a veil over the fact that he went on to manage the Spuds. Still not sure? OK how about this. One of their past managers was poached by Barcelona before going on to be a filthy Spud and eventually England boss, and two of their managers were coaches at The Arsenal.
Ok sit up straight and I’ll tell you. The answer is (he announced to a depressingly unastonished audience) today’s hoopy opponents, Queens Park Rangers.
Until my mate Dave Goode became a season ticket holder, QPR were just one of those odd up down relegation promotion teams who only really came to my attention when they installed a plastic playing surface at Loftus Road. charles and diIt was 1981, the charts were dominated by Shakin Stevens, Adam And The Ants and the mighty Joe Dolce, and QPR were for possibly the only time in their blue and white hooped history, trend setters.Claiming that they were in the vanguard of an historic change in football they were the first of, ahem, four sides to dig up the grass and replace it with astroturf. Let’s face it even back in the days of the SDP, Bucks Fizz and IRA hunger strikes, astroturf sounded about as futuristic as a nineteen fifties sci fi comic. The ball bounced to the kind of altitude occupied only by Fred Dibner and Per Mertesacker’s barber and physios ran out of plasters to treat the grazed knees and elbows of sobbing players.
A glance at QPR’s recent history leaves one reaching for the anti bacterial handwash and drinking it to be on the safe side. Grubby financial dealings, court cases, ownership wars, near bankrupcy, take overs and a managerial merry go round that makes your head spin. They were, at one time, bought by a phenomenally wealthy man who invested bugger all in the playing staff, the team benefiting not a jot. A cautionary tale for certain sections of our own support. This season’s arrival of Wheeler Dealer, club destroyer and media darling ‘appy ‘arry Redknap was just the perfect icing on the cake as the club slid inexorably into the jaws of yet another relegation.
It’s a shame in a way because I had something of a soft spot for them. Not a love affair, or even a romance you understand. I do know how these things work. Nick Hornby had his Cambridge Untied and my dalliance with Bristol Rovers is acceptable but if I were to try to slip a love of any other London  team past you all it’d be a date with the hot tar and duck down. No, my interest in QPR was simply that Dave moved to London and although a committed Wolves fan he bought a season ticket to QPR. Gave him something to do every other weekend and suited his penchant for isolation and quirkiness. So his letters were full of tales of The Hoops. Add to that the Bristol connection (Francis, Holloway, Penrice, Yates, the inimitable Devon White Devon_whitewho I saw kick more balls clean out of a football stadium than any other player in history) it was as if Rangers were almost using my local side as a feeder club, and so I can surely be forgiven for not loathing them as much as perhaps I ought.
A shame, as I say that the current owners saw fit to appoint one of the most laughable men in the modern game but a move which has added spice to today’s encounter. Not that the third game from the end with so much riding on it is a dish particularly in need of seasoning. Add to the fact that it’s a five thirty kick off and things are just that little more tense that perhaps they should be. It was said by in the comments yesterday that matches at that particular time seem more fraught with danger than a good old three pm fixtures. I must confess this is a nonsense to which I also subscribe. There is no logical reason I can think of. Does anyone know the stats? Do we lose more ‘winnable’ games early evening on a Saturday? I don’t know, perhaps it’s just the buttock clenching closeness of the fight for third and fourth (surely more exciting that the title race has been this year) which gets the old ticker beating that little bit more quickly today.
There is in general more nervous, superstitious, fretting concern over this fixture than one might expect. Had it been played in December folks would doubtless be more relaxed. You’ll never guess what, I have a theory about this. Lie back, and allow me to expound upon it. I believe it is probably related to the same synaptical silliness which makes an opponent’s free kick on the edge of our area seem like the simplest position in the world from which to score. Our defenders suddenly appear inadequate in number, too slight of build to impact upon the situation. The posts grow ever farther apart with each passing second and our goal keeper cuts a disappearingly tiny figure lost within the enormous width and height of our goal frame. Conversely the same brain attack happens in reverse if we are awarded a similarly placed free kick at the other end of the pitch. Their defensive wall appears to be made up of huge bloated impassable men, about thirty in number whilst their keeper fills the tiny goalmouth with one enormous gloved hand and it is so obvious that we have no hope of scoring.
It’s a common problem and one with which the doom ridden are unable to cope. We are all responsible adults here though, can easily tell the difference between Stork and butter and as such should not be afflicted by this irrational hyper emotional garbage. The simple facts are that we are the superior team, with most to play for and are enjoying the better run of form. This isn’t hubris, nor a prediction of an easy victory. This is just a statement of unarguable facts. Sport can of course be a lottery and I acknowledge that banana skins are there to be slipped on as much as avoided, but come on, lets put all silly hocuspocus and fears behind us and just enjoy the entertainment. If Arsene hadn’t piloted this largely new team through the choppy waters of a tough campaign we would never be enjoying the tension and excitement of this end of term battle of attrition. We have the right man at the helm and it’s becoming increasingly obvious that we have the right men on the pitch, so go forward with a spring in your step folks, we know we can win and there is nothing to be gained from dwelling on what might go wrong.
You don’t drive to the seaside worrying that the wheel nuts might come loose do you? No of course you don’t, you wind down the window, turn up the stereo and enjoy the view.

1950s Family Portrait Mother Father Son Daughter In Chevrolet Convertible Automobile

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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83 comments on “Unclench, Breathe And Enjoy Your Football

  1. ” I believe it is probably related to the same synaptical silliness which makes an opponent’s free kick on the edge of our area seem like the simplest position in the world from which to score. Our defenders suddenly appear inadequate in number, too slight of build to impact upon the situation. The posts grow ever farther apart with each passing second and our goal keeper cuts a disappearingly tiny figure lost within the enormous width and height of our goal frame.”

    Wonderful.just simply wonderful writing

    My concern is the pitch.It has not been relayed for 15 years ,and make the ploughed fields that Martin O’Neil used to prepare ,look like a carpet.

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  2. Lovely article Steww. How on earth, virtually out of nowhere, did Positively Arsenal get not one but two such gifted writers? PD …you’re the other. Thanks Guys. Happiness for all of us this evening.

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  3. This is exactly what I needed today stew, since my “synaptical silliness” has reached such levels that the worst case scenario is invading my dreams!

    As for the late kick off, it’s actually the early ones that frighten me the most as the team and the crowd especially at the home games, seem to still be half asleep when the match starts!

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  4. Cheered me up Steww no end this morning.
    ‘You don’t drive to the seaside worrying that the wheel nuts might come loose’ : smile.

    Wenger has toughened up the mentality of the players since the fubars against city and chavs, I expect no ‘brainfreezes’ (that was just fantastic, steww!) out there today.
    I expect the R’s to get pretty nasty against us today, with Zamora back and Jordan on the sidelines – they will want to take us down. I do think we have enough quality to win, but we will have to go at it at a very high tempo, maybe a goal in the first 5 mins from us will take the wind out of their sails. We have 10 days rest after this so we can go for broke with pace. Our away defending has been superb too.
    A bit weird the team knowing the spud result before the game this evening, I hope they don’t ease off if spuds drop 2 points.
    I predict a celebrity death today, come on Rambo! (Let’s hope it’s Piers ‘organ this time)

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  5. Despite the state of the pitch, I’m hoping we can count on away advantage today.

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  6. Another cracking piece Stew which cheered me up as I start work today.

    Have a soft spot for Rangers that goes back to the 70s when they really did have a good side under Dave Sexton (Arsenal connection ticked) and but for the odd point could have won the title ahead of Liverpool in 75/76 (?) A 2-1 win against us on a May Bank Holiday at Loftus Road ended a good run in but not quite enough – I was one of the 40,000 in the ground for an early kick off that day – by god it was tight. We finished 17th that season in case you wondered, 6 points above relegated Wolves – I just looked it up.

    But after that high point in Shepherds Bush Stew, as you say, Rangers are the footballing equivalent of the yo-yo

    While it never does to presume too much one advantage we have tonight is that Rangers were sunk last Sunday and there will be no kamikaze imperative for their players, many of whom are soon to be ex players, to get stuck in. The home crowd, or at least the poor souls who still have the stomach to attend, will be quiet. ‘Arry (Arsenal connection ticked) will be resigned on the bench, the occasional facial spasm betraying he is still aware the game is in progress.

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  7. The programme that Easter Monday in 1976 !

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  8. Fantastic number 10, I expect another nerve jangling game,there is no logical reason why it should be when you look at both teams and their current plight but that’s how we roll!

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  9. Fook me Steww, this is brilliant. Half the the QPR history aside, I can connect with every word. “Synaptically silliness” indeed. Breviloquent, the other day. Don’t you know you are supposed to be writing for dumb football fans, not adults?

    You said it all. This is a game we are supposed to win as we continue our upward projection. The rebuild-transition took time but the results are unfolding in front of our very eyes. We have the right manager and the right players for this time. Nine points should see us through. Only “the doom ridden are unable to cope.”

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  10. Mel, I think the nerve jangling is because we know how much is riding on each game.

    Anicoll5, I hope you are right, but I suspect players will be playing to attract new suitors and there is the spurs connection with their coaching and some of the playing staff to be wary of.

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  11. The R’s had no fight in the at all at Reading last week. shocking, terrible performance.
    I would expect even half good players like Zamora, cliff and Jenna’s to want to put in a decent shift for the fans today.
    It’s a Derby, they will be up for it – Flappy (easy on me George, i like the guy!) even said there were too many Spuds in that club to feel comfortable.
    That being said, our guns are better than theirs. at 30 yards! volley!, Rapid fire!
    Poldi, that means Los! For you.

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  12. There may be a touch of the shop window today Passenal. Some of those Rangers players have been dire throughout the campaign though. A couple of bright games after having failed the club all season will be lucky to earn them any attractive move.

    Reading Fernandes in the paper today he says he has already sat down with Arry, has 60% of Rangers players listed who have wage cuts tied to relegation and who are likely to be kept on, and the other 40% will be moved on (by whatever means neccesary). Arry has seen his wage cut too.

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  13. “Arry has seen his wage cut too.”

    I should think so too! Performance related pay is the way to go. How many times has he been rewarded with a fat contract elsewhere after destroying his previous club?

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  14. Nice read, I remember QPR & Luton having plastic playing surfaces. Who were the other two? anyone know?

    As for QPR’s relegation, I do believe the tune groups sponsorship deal with referee’s runs out at the end of the season. Guess even Mark Halsey can’t help out.

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  15. Preston had a plastic surface

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  16. Could name one or two places with plastic fans if that’s any good?

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  17. Just looked it up. Oldham as well.

    @AA name them sir.

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  18. another brilliant piece to calm us down, ARSENAL were the last opponents to play on that plastic pitch before they ripped it up and we won day and invaded the pitch afterwards. it was a really strange pitch and you felt like you was bouncing as you walked on it like some astronaut bonging along on the moon.
    arry is a closet gooner so im hoping hes telling the quarter pound of rubbish defence to score in their own net
    George I think we are better equipped to deal with crap pitches than we were a few seasons back so hope for an ARSENAL weekend

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  19. Spuds game delayed till 3:30.
    Something to do with wheels comming off a bandwagon, I hear.
    And problems at Tottenham Hale Station.
    Anyone know what is going on?

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  20. Watching the Saints vs Spuds game. Does anyone else see the resemblance between the Saints manager and Sam Gamgee from the lord of the rings movies?

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  21. ha ha lots of resemblance between WHL and Mordor too

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  22. With Santi the hero of the Shire on our side I have no fear. (Eeek!)

    COYG

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  23. Dont forget Theo Merriadcott, and the big Ent at the back.

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  24. Wenger as Gandalf!

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  25. Nice one Steww
    My synaptically silliness extends to corners as well.
    That said 3 points is vital.

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  26. Pochettino is a coach I’d like to see in the premier league next season. I’d even send some loanees his way if I were Arsene. Him and Laudrup coming to the prem is an absolute coup.

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  27. Will FC Bale need a bale out from Bale again today?

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  28. Gains, there is a translator looking for a job this summer! He could help poncho.
    He he.
    Watching the git in Madrid trying to back peddle into keeping on there this week one he realised Chelsea had someone else in mind was hilarious.

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  29. Hahaha! The Portu-git is swirling down the drain like the turd that he is.

    The funny thing about being a cocky bastard is people go out of their way to try to find you out. And, surprise, surprise, the guy flopped at Real Madrid like many a keen observer thought he would.

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  30. Your title is very apt, steww. My fingers were shaking just logging in to ArsenalPlayer!

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  31. Breathe fg, breathe.

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  32. I’m trying, steww.

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  33. I hope that whatever the result of the Sp*ds game, (which I am not following so as not to jinx it), that our boys just concentrate on their game.

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  34. Team in full: Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal, Arteta, Ramsey, Rosicky, Cazorla, Walcott, Podolski.

    Subs: Mannone, Vermaelen, Wilshere, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Coquelin, Jenkinson, Gervinho

    \Looks like Gibbs at home (more attacking) and Monreal away (stronger defender)

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  35. Crikey, what a day of football so far.
    I thought the final day of the championship was entertaining, and now Wigan and Villa have really stirred it up at the bottom end.
    Not ideal for us mind, but now there is a real cat and bird fight down there.

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  36. Fuck! Let him get on his favored foot, mere yards away from the goal, why don’t you?

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  37. Bloody Bale.

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  38. Spuds bailed out by Bale. Bad defending though.

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  39. So my not following the game didn’t help, then?

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  40. What a start!

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  41. Feoooo~.

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  42. Zamora, what the hell was that about?

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  43. Happy that QPR went with Green in goal. Julio Cesar would’ve probably kept that one out.

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  44. Oh my, my commentator talks about Arteta just being “a little bit too quick”. That’s bs, Zamora tread on his ankle and would deserve a booking for his effort.

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  45. Qpr look really poor, I just hope they don’t drag us down to their level

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  46. are you seeing ramsey..he is playing with such impishness and playfulness. I am falling in love with the boys game.

    Arteta is playing a solid game. I predict 4(or more) – 0

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  47. Looks like Bac is back as well

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  48. Aargh, close!

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  49. Come on, Arsenal, let’s not give them any hope.

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  50. Ramsey is the real deal. One only has to watch him touch the ball a few times before knowing that he’s a very gifted player.

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