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These Boots Were Made For Walking

A few years ago I clambered aboard my trusty mountain bike and set off upon an epic journey. My plan was to cross the barren wastes of Dartmoor and then to negotiate the hills and valleys of Exmoor. I didn’t do this in order to raise money for charity nor to raise a laugh from passers by as they strolled alongside my sweating labouring hulking mass as I attempted another doomed assault on the 5mph barrier. I did it because I’d happened upon the concept of a channel to channel challenge whilst whiling away a wasted day on the internet and felt inexorably drawn to the neatness of the idea, the pleasing bookended symmetry of the thing fired up something in my synapses. My course began on the edge of the English Channel, on the Hoe in Plymouth to be precise, and ended a few saddle sore days later with a memorable helter skelter descent into the unfashionable West Somerset resort of Minehead, that fading jewel of a town nestling against the lapping muddy waters of the Bristol Channel. It wasn’t an enormous athletic achievement but I did it and didn’t get lost and at the end of it I took the steam train out of Minehead to the foot of the Quantock hills where I rewarded myself with another bike ride. But that’s a story for another day.
The whole thing engendered in me an interest in coast to coast escapades both great and small and through further research I discovered a little ritual in which walkers traversing the body of England like to partake. Say, for instance, you were going to hike from the Irish sea coast to a destination adjacent to the North Sea. What you would do is get right down onto the beach on the first day of your walk then select and trouser a pebble. Any pebble. Whichever might take your fancy. For reasons which will become apparent a particularly large pebble wouldn’t necessarily be a good idea and a tiny one that could get confused with your pocket fluff and loose change would be similarly unsuitable but for different reasons. Then you stride off, ruddy of cheek and berucksacked into the rising sun the reassuring lump in your trousers belying the presence of your chosen pebble. When at some point in the future you stagger sans rosy cheeks and with considerably reduced levels of enthusiasm onto the shore at the other side of the country you complete the ritual. Quite simply you take the pebble from the beach on the west coast and you fling it into the waters of the east. It’s a simple and symbolic thing to do and one I rather like. I dare say if too many people did it it would have a deleterious effect on coastal erosion but that needn’t concern us today.
Because today is of course the day of days. We along with the fans of all the other Premiership clubs are at that point where we are stooping on the first beach and selecting our pebbles. The pebble which hopefully ends up being flung into the net in the Champions League final. Football seasons are very much like coast to coast walks. The parallels are obvious but if I just leave you to think of them I’d be doing myself out of a blog so I shall elaborate upon my theme. We begin today with everything possible, everything in front of us and many miles to travel before the end. The end which seems so distant so fraught with potential pitfalls and yet bursting with possibilities. And one day we’ll suddenly find ourselves on the other coast. It will all be over for another season and we will be left scratching our heads and wondering where all the time went.
In recent times the first and last games have been for us the most important. The former where we start refreshed, renewed, virginal and pure and the latter where our efforts are ultimately measured, our rewards doled out. These two matches are of course not the be all and end all.  Just like the intrepid hikers on their coast to coast adventure it would be a hollow unsatisfactory affair to simply leap from one to the other. What defines a season isn’t necessarily the finishing positions nor the trophy haul, if it were then every team in the country bar a tiny few might just as well have not bothered lacing their boots. What makes the season is every twist and turn along the way. The journey is defined by every amazing comeback, every appalling refereeing performance, every outrage committed against us and every triumphant tackle, pass and goal that our side pulls off, makes and scores. It isn’t the arriving it isn’t even this wonderful, exciting, hope and expectation filled departure that will make 2013 -14. It’s the journey itself that matters. The fixture list is our map, our season’s route planner. There will be unexpected diversions as a result of cup replays, weather or the whims of the all powerful television executives, but wherever the journey takes us we shall go. We don’t really have a choice. Arsenal chose all of us at some point in our pasts and whither it leads we must follow. For me at my great age it was a dim and distant moment. The white sleeves? The cannon? Bob Wilson’s cap? I can’t remember what device our great club used to ensnare me for life but I know this: I’m bloody glad it did. The alternatives don’t bear too much close scrutiny – imagine looking in the mirror and seeing a Chelsea fan.
I don’t want to make predictions on the outcome of today’s encounter with the men from the Midlands. If you want that kind of baloney I can recommend a good fortune teller in Minehead. What I will say is that we are perfectly poised to make an impact on the title race this time around. We were by any measure the best team in the league for the second half of the last season, and remain unbeaten in, what is it? Ten? And let’s be perfectly frank the title was lost in the first half of 12/13 when too many new faces were being accommodated, too many important people becoming acclimatised to the premier league and to each other. They grew into a team in front of our eyes and by the end were  playing with an incredible spirit, a refusal to roll over which, if maintained, will make us a force to be reckoned with this time around. Not only are those new faces now fully bedded in and battle hardened but with Jack getting back to fitness, Aaron and Kos on an upward trajectory of form which if it continues will see some stratospheric performances, and, fingers crossed, TR7 available from the start the improvements in our prospects from this time last year are blindingly obvious to all but those who don’t want to see.
So come on, get your packs on, untwist and elongate those funny modern walking sticks, and pick up your pebble. We’ve got a bit of a hike ahead of us.

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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125 comments on “These Boots Were Made For Walking

  1. Our lads had 3 clear chances to dive for penos.
    I was joking in our supporters club that Suarez would have done that.

    Fuck the ref, fuck villa’s violence of a game plan and fuck the transfer market.
    Wenger and the team did nothing wrong today.

    Watch MOTD and see everything I have said and all your posts undermined.
    By Idiots, paid by the taxpayer but hand picked by BBC. Who run the show from

    Manchester.

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  2. PG
    A proposal to Ivan:
    Disband the season tickets in the East and West lower stands. 90% of the wankers have done nothing to deserve them.
    Sell the tickets to red members instead.

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  3. Hi Vonao.
    I agree with what you said about that place elsewhere, but they are a bunch of tossers.
    Seriously.
    It’s a circle jerk.

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  4. I take it we are appealing Kozzers first yellow.

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  5. you cant appeal yellows

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  6. Why not?? @ DC

    Instead of the why-and-the-where-and-the-who-and-the-what etc etc…… Ain’t nothing gonna change the fact that we lost. Now I’m not saying Villa made the most of it but these things happen.. No use crying over spilt milk or something like that.. Btw I have Lactose intolerance.. So can’t say much..

    Emotions are high and all – But like I said – We’ll get over it.. Cheerio..

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  7. What I mean PG is can we not appeal the suspension?

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  8. Oops sorry
    Edit – “Now I’m not saying + we were outplayed + But Villa..

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  9. DD
    You are taking the travesty of the refs performance quite philosophically. I don’t share your calm emotional analysis, in fact I doubt it is sincere.
    If Arsenal get beaten or draw in a fair game if football, anywhere in these world and by whatever team I would always salute the better team. But today was not one if those days. I am worried that you think it was a fair game today.
    Want to elaborate on that?

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  10. @ DC

    Like I said – The refree made a shackle of the game. What did you think?? That Villa was just going to let us steam-rolled them?? They played well and dirty (Cue -Agbhanlor FFS What’s his spelling?? )

    But instead of blaming the refree (Curse him)- we can take the positives from this game and try to implement them onto the next, don’t you think??

    It wasn’t a fair game – Not by a margin. But to be Champions/Winner’s/ – we have to pick ourselves up after time we fall. Isn’t that what it is all about??

    Or should we moan on and on and on about how incompetent the refree was everytime we lose or manage a draw. Just get on with it. Life is not fair.

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  11. No ,BRF there is no appeal against 2 yellows

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  12. DD
    So, how do you judge the game today in such a skewered environment?

    You make judgements about the team’s overall ability, I disagree, it can’t be judged today.

    Again, I find your lack of emotion about what happened today a worry from a fellow Gooner, or at least one I’d like to know.

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  13. PG
    Sadly, you are correct.
    Sadly we cannot even complain about the fact that the ref’s outfit entirely blended with the away teams kit. for both fucking half’s! the overall level of disrespect to our club today was shocking.
    no DD I am not a bitter looser, I just will only respect teams that get the better of Arsenal during a game of football.

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  14. @ DC

    When did I make a judgement?? I just shared an opinion – mine alone – And if you or other’s disagree with it that’s fine.

    Lack of emotion you say. Why?? Because I know that football is played on the pitch not on the paper – At the end – It’s doesn’t dictate who or what we are. I’ll still be a gooner -Win or lose – Champions or Relegated – Watching football and shouting obscenities at the telly don’t make much of a difference – now does it??

    I’m sorry if you took offense to my casual remarks but to me this is all that is there is to it.

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  15. Ok cheers PG

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  16. I don’t think enough is said about where the refs are from. Taylor is a Manchester born and bred boy. Born a few miles from OT.

    DC, you been posting on Untold with a different name, same picture?

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  17. Anyways catch you ‘morrow @ DC

    It’s 4 O’ clock in the morning from where I’m from and I don’t want to get a massive dose of hangover. Thanks for the chat. And once again – don’t mind me. I’m just a bloke.

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  18. F$%k it.. Minus the “from”.. Last peg!! Good night!!

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  19. Conspiracy?? Ppheeet. What conspiracy. All is well in the epl..
    Carry on.

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  20. Well the dust has settled and an unfortunate and some even say unlucky opening day defeat has consigned the whole season to the ‘utter failure’ column. 14-15 games unbeaten followed by a defeat – unbelievable – unique – unknown ever in my experience

    All that hysterical energy wasted over the Summer transfer window dreaming of who we were going to sign and how many tens of millions we were going to shell out come to naught. And with the cash spent surely we would enter the gates of Paradise as the righteously anointed.

    Some might however that a good slap in the mouth, jointly administered by Villa and Taylor, might serve to focus everyone’s mind that much better.

    Football being about what happens between 1st and 90th minute and what effort and imagination can be delivered by the 11 players on the pitch – not the 417 who do not actually play for the club.

    Sticky game against the Turk – but what better place to restart a long unbeaten spell.

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  21. Adam,
    Yes – I use a name called unbelievable belief which I quite like and am surprised no one else has used. There is some serious lack of positivity by posters over there.

    DD ok, I’ll call it quits.

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  22. “eltamatrox August 17, 2013 at 7:17 pm

    I think this was the worst referee display since the second half of Newcastle – Arsenal (4-4) ?”

    I agree with that – and also I knew as soon as we scored that the ref was going to find some excuse to give them a penalty. I didn’t see the first one, but I was virtually on top of the second and it was an absolutely perfect tackle by Kos. The ref was nowhere near and the linesman who was near it did not think it was a penalty.

    I also agree with Hunter – Ivan has got to use his influence to stop people screwing us over. There is no way a ref would allow Man United players to be targetted in this way. I am prepared to believe that this ref was incompetent – perhaps compounding his errors by thinking that he was going to be “strong” and not give in to crowd pressure, but I wonder. I am almost at the point of thinking I will take no interest in the League or any of the competition, and just enjoy watching us.

    For fans of Arsenal Ladies, they are playing a big match today at 2pm – a must win League fixture against Birmingham. We’ve never beaten Birmingham away, and we absolutely have to, so send out the good vibes. There will be twitter updates here: https://twitter.com/ArsenalLadies

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  23. New post up

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  24. I thought it was you.

    Yes, I’m looking for a new home, Untold is being over-run by shit heads and I cannot handle it anymore, I have already lost it with a couple of posters on there and offered them a meet up. But then they fuck-off for awhile, then turn in when results don’t go our way.

    Seems to be a concerted attack happening on the club and Wenger via some organised negative commenters on what used to be a positive site.

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  25. that was really shit and diabolical from the ref. we should have people in the fa stripping him off his licence . thats what bg clubs do…ensure that little peasants with antiwenger agendas get the fuck out our way.

    demented…funny how easily you dismiss the constant and systematic irregularities that refs perform against arsenal….. its the number one factor that destroys our players psychology….frustrates them …look at rosicky……then fans get on their backs..and then alltogether fans and media attack the club…. as you can can see it serves a purpose…the purpose of keeping arsenal in a fire ..burning… everyone complaining..turmoil..

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