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Escape to Victory: Highbury to Wembley and Back Again

Today’s post is by Finsbury

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The magic of Wembley ..?

“I love the idea of Per & Laurent and the rest taking turns during half-time and the game to help dig the escape tunnel out from the dressing room (passing straight under Probert & Riley’s office, of course) out of Wembley and back to Highbury” – said a friend after the FA Cup Final.

There are great reviews of the Cup Final itself available, you all know where to look. Not forgetting the fantastic coverage of the parade and celebrations. So I thought it might be interesting to look at the two comparative stadiums, built at the same time in the same city to vastly different budgets and results. The similarities and the differences and how the experience of visiting Wembley compared with going to a football match at the new Arsenal stadium for me as a football fan. I took some photos but considering the problems I have keeping hold of my phone during a football match I chose not to take a proper camera. The soft focus in some of the following pictures is for artistic effect!

The 2014 FA Challenge Cup Final was my first cup final and my journey began on the morning of the final. Highbury and Finsbury Park were full of Arsenal fans from the early morning. It already felt like a carnival and I hadn’t even reached Finsbury Park Station. Memories of the carnage witnessed upon the Seven Sisters Road following previous victories and titles came flooding back. The weather was beautiful, people were excited, and the Arsenal had to win. I took the usual route to Wembley for fans using trains, meeting up with friends near Baker Street and then onto crowded carriages packed full of football fans on the way to Wembley. For the Arsenal this journey did not begin nine years ago, it began at the end of the last century when The Arsenal began to seriously discuss their plans for the future.

The comparative stadium projects for both the FA and AFC involved the complex demolition and rebuild of new stadiums upon, more or less, the same existing sites. That shift across by a few hundred metres in Highbury and the new housing matched the complexities with the Wembley site and that arch for the Wembley builders. The end result is that on match day football fans still get to enjoy the walk down the traditional routes of Wembley Way or Gillespie Road and still visit the same places, supporters’ clubs and associations, cafes, bars, restaurants, parks and friends on their way to the football.

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Wembley Way- people like to parade on their way to Wembley, and afterwards they like to celebrate with parades.

Overall there seemed to be a great atmosphere between the fans with respect, rivalry and friendship. The experience of Wembley Way on cup final day matched its mythological reputation. A great spectacle. Let us hope that no one tells our groaners that Wembley Way was probably inspired by a Parisian boulevard.

Apart from Wembley Way there are not that many civic or green spaces for people to wander about in the area. The area around Wembley Stadium has been redesigned for cars and other motor vehicles. Islington retains some of its older human proportions even though the ancient Great North Road (Holloway Road/ the A1) now starts in Highbury. Dick Turpin used to rob the rich on the Great North Road, and you can find Dick Whittington’s cat loitering in Archway near the Whittington hospital, not too far from the new Arsenal Stadium. It’s possible that these rose-tinted specs inlaid with rubies and quartz distort my parochial perspective but as far as I can tell the main roads in Islington have more charisma then the main roads in Wembley. This makes for good parades!

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Fans entering Wembley Stadium – note that the bottom left logo on the sign indicates that footballs are not allowed at Wembley …

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After Wembley Way there was a slow wait to get through the gates. The turnstiles looked flimsy when compared with the gates you get at the new Arsenal Stadium, which probably explained the slow progress.

Inside the ground the experience of the acoustics at Wembley have been previously described by many as awful. And they were correct. This is only because the stadium management choose to blast out an awful – as in cheap and awful – PA system that makes it impossible to talk or sing when the players are not playing, which is the only time they pull the plug on the awful racket. I was lucky enough to go to the game along with my friend’s Uncle who used to co-ordinate rigs for musical concerts back at the old Wembley stadium amongst other venues. And in his experienced opinion the quality and design of the PA was awful as well as annoying. We do not like the PA at the new Arsenal ground but it is not as poor as the one at Wembley and the people using it are not as stupid or annoying. After the trophy presentation it was very hard for the Arsenal fans to serenade their victorious team although they were happy to try! At that moment I almost wished that I could escape back to N5 so that I could appreciate what people were trying to say or sing.

I’ve written it before and I’ll write it again: broadcasters simply don’t care about the fans in the stadiums.

Visually the experience inside the grounds is similar. Great views, unobstructed by columns and other stuff. The incremental additions of colour and decoration inside and outside the new Arsenal stadium have been led by some talented designers, and the Arsenal stadium looks nice from the inside as well as the outside. The Wembley interior is very bland in comparison. (Props to Redaction for smuggling in some giant flags, they looked good.) The seating at the Emirates is also of higher quality.

There are many similarities with these two new London stadiums with minor superficial differences if we try to ignore the football pitch itself. But we can’t ignore the cost.

The cost.

Wow, the cost. Don’t mention the cost!

This is the reason why the semi-finals are played at Wembley, so even if we wanted to we couldn’t ignore the variation. This huge difference (at least half a billion), the use of an inappropriate contract for the Wembley project tells us everything we need to know about the differences between the FA and AFC, and the two stadiums. For example, the specification for the grass for the football pitch in the new Arsenal stadium was written into the contract for Arsenal’s new football ground. The quality of a football pitch does affect the experience for the fans, the tradition of maintaining good pitches is understood and appreciated at Arsenal. Two women footballers I met on Saturday had been told off by the Arsenal groundsman for going onto the pitch to warm up before they were given permission during a tournament in the recent past. Not surprisingly he was upset during Saturday’s pitch invasion, heh!

I think it is safe to say the quality of the football pitch was not a consideration for the FA at Wembley when building the ‘home of football’.

Certainly not in the contract. This is why the FA has then had to spend further millions replacing their pitch. Several times. Meanwhile this year the numbers of amateur footballers and the facilities they require in the UK declined for lack of funding from the FA (according to our very own Keown). Those burning bins around the Wembley pitch before kickoff, I imagined that they were burning off the excess fertiliser that was used to salvage the Wembley pitch in preparation for this final? Who knows what was in the bins? Not the FA; perhaps they were full of melting black bin liners?

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Irony alert: Black bin liners finally being put to good use.

As well as forgetting about the football pitch when building their billion pound football stadium it was also noticeable on the day that the FA had forgotten to organise any ball boys or girls for their cup final showpiece. The Lawn Tennis Association may not know how to manage a sport but they do know how to run their facilities when the world is watching. I initially thought that there must be no ball boys or girls because of a cup regulation, or at Probert’s request. But I was wrong. Eventually two ball girls – as in two – appeared after half-time. The FA cannot sort out a football pitch let alone a stadium, or even the ball boys and girls for their equivalent of the Wimbledon finals. No need to comment on the referees.

Do we need to ask the question: “What are the FA good for?”

Burn the PA rigs and introduce safe standing and cheaper tickets at all football grounds, that’s what all supporters’ groups in Football should be fighting for. It’s certainly not rocket science. I do not believe that they should be attacking people that consistently show and sometimes say that they “love football”.

Conclusions – We all know about the negatives and positives that come with these modern stadiums, the benefits in the UK that would come from adding some safe standing areas etc. Most of the lower tier at Wembley seemed to stand up for most of the game anyway. The best thing about both projects in comparison to other new stadiums is that they were kept upon or very close to their original sites.

For Arsenal there would have been advantages to relocate to Kings Cross, the third option that was available for the club to consider alongside moving to Wembley or staying in Highbury. Kings Cross was always a more practical solution, good transport links etc. The site was viable because it was not too far away but the Grove was always the more romantic option. And moving to Kings Cross would not have kept the strong links with the spaces and places that inhabit the club’s past. This was not a consideration in the early twentieth century when the club first moved, but I believe it is with today’s hyper real constructions.

In my possibly biased opinion there is no debate to be had regarding which is the better stadium when comparing Wembley with the new Arsenal stadium.

The Munich Allianze Arena is also a comparable project. They relocated to a new out-of-town site, which is why many who have seen both the Arena and the new Arsenal stadium prefer the new Arsenal Stadium.

A diddly/league cup wouldn’t have done the job and unlike an FA Cup it would not have been added to the list of trophies that circle the Arsenal pitch. Although the victory is recorded inside the ground there was not a parade in Highbury after the FA Cup was won in 2005.

What happened on Sunday was a housewarming party for the new Arsenal Stadium.

This carnival in Highbury started the day before, and would have kicked off when the final whistle blew in Wembley. On our return to Highbury from Wembley we conducted a grand tour around the stadium in order to investigate.

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Many people were celebrating on the streets around the stadium – we stumbled upon a sound rig here by the Arsenal letters. Good tunes!

Unfortunately the police felt threatened by happy teenagers partying on the streets of London so we were forced, by law, to investigate many of the bars and restaurants and clubs on our lap of honour around the new Arsenal stadium and we found that even as the bands began to pack up and get ready to go home, that spirits remained high. No doubt many venues kept plenty of staff *coughs* on hand into the early hours to help clear up and prepare for the next day’s celebrations.

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Arsenal fans would have gathered by the Highbury clock tower to watch local lad Pat Rice and his troops celebrate the double in 1971. The fans were there again on Sunday, all day long.

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Arsenal fans on parade – people wanted to show their appreciation and I hope the German Gunners got to see this sweet sign. Great atmosphere.

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What it is the significance of reaching the end of this journey?

…we silenced a lot of people…” – Kieran Gibbs

Ramsey said the same thing using different words. So did Podolski. Arteta. Mertesacker. Rosicky. They all said it, because they all felt it. The pressure. This pressure was more then the gibbering nonsense of wind-up merchants, or the consequence of consistently malicious propaganda. It was the task, the responsibility of completing this epic move, which is what weighed upon the Arsenal players. This pressure was too much hard work for the two previous captains and the previous squad had to be dismantled and rebuilt. As Thaksin Shinawatra discovered this is never a quick process. Fortunately during the times when Arsene Wenger had allegedly “lost it” and had to rebuild, he somehow managed to sign Germany’s best defender Per Mertersacker, Prince Arteta, the adored magician Carzola, and an unpolished gem in Koscielny who went on to sparkle against the world’s best forwards. Someone called Özil? And more.

On the 17th of May 2014 one chapter in Arsenal’s history came to end and another began. The new stadium has been baptised with St.Totteringham’s blessings. The pictures and drapes were already up and now with the bauble added atop the mantelpiece the new Arsenal Stadium finally resembles Home.

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The party lasted long after the parade had finished

Journey’s end.

An appropriate place to close these rambling thoughts on the Royal Arsenal.

A team of lions led by a lion.

About ArsenalAndrew

Annoying, perennial optimist and lifelong supporter of the finest football club the world has ever seen. My support for the club manager and every single player is non-negotiable, yesterday, today and tomorrow. Retain all options on fellow fans.

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54 comments on “Escape to Victory: Highbury to Wembley and Back Again

  1. Terrific fan’s-eye view of a wonderful cup final weekend that will live long in the memory of all involved.

    Great piece, Fins.

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  2. Marvellous Fins and I agree that the new Wembley is a bit of a soulless barn, it does have a couple of nice touches through in the escalators to the upper tiers and the outside/open air bars at the top that you can take in the view over London from. Wembley Park station is also a very slick operation.

    Ah the padded seats at the Grove though – luxury …………….!

    The other thing that strikes me about the new Wembley, is now much better it is than the stadium it replaced which was truly a crumbling heap that had got by with spending as little £ on it as possible for decades. The “modernisation” of the stadium consisted of ripping out barriers from the terracing and bolting on seats instead with no rebuilding involved.

    In the end the FA had to spend big to make up for decades of nil investment

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  3. A tour de force Fins. Wonderful. Later I hope to give some real feedback.

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  4. A truly outstanding piece of writing. I was captivated from start to finish. Lions indeed.

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  5. They are all wondering why there is a smile on my face here at work. I don’t smile very often here…but then I don’t read stuff enjoyable stuff during lunchtime. Great stuff Fins…thanks

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  6. shameful and embarassing! lets all laugh at fins!…..a catastrophic account of events…..noone cares mate……what a waste of time…..and what is that there i see? taking the piss out of the wollies who cant even lay the grass properly in their national stadium…?..yet want to lecture arsene wenger on anything to do with football? no footballs allowed in a football ground …… have you redefined irony ? just who do you think you are mate ? stop it….arrest him!!

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  7. Thanks for this Fins. I really, really enjoyed it. Had never properly thought about Saturday’s win signalling the end of the first journey, but it makes perfect sense now. As you say, this team of lions have now made The Emirates properly their (and our) home. Let’s hope they have a good holiday before embarking on the next journey.

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  8. I don’t think my efforts were up to Andrew or Stew’s high standards, but I made it past the management. Thanks George, took a bit of editing there I’m sure!

    In case it wasn’t clear overall I think that the new Wembley is a decent stadium, and apart from the integral problems they had with forgetting the football pitch in the original build most of my moans could be classed as superficial. Things that can be changed.

    We can’t ignore that Wembley cost more then double what Arsenal paid for their new home. This seems to reflect how Arsenal aspire to sign players for the market rate (as Lord Sugar says ‘Arsene Knows’ the market! The former owner of 5pur2s is an AKB!) ,like Podolski, or play the market so well as with Carzola, when we compare how they’ve been doing their business with others. £30M for Carroll? £25M for Loldado? Nice work, if you can get it!

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  9. Loved this writeup FINS.
    Very educational too and hay , understood every message. You didn’t go into time of completion for both projects as in the length of time required to build the stadiums. Its just that time of completion also says a lot regarding the thoughts and planning that went into the projects. I also love the fact that you only called the NEW ARSENAL stadium , by its current sponsors name , only once. I’m partial to NEW HIGHBURY when the sponsorship ends. How about you??
    I also find it such a missed opportunity for the club not to have had an open top parade when winning the league or the FA CUP in the past. This one went ahead with hardly any issues or problems. Its not as if we are dealing with or taking about manIOU, Newcastle or tottenham. (0(
    Well done on the writeup mate..

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  10. Kam there have been parades in the past, 2004 was another good party.
    I can’t remember there being one in ’05, could be wrong (I was going through finals at the time, barely got to watch the game!),

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  11. What ever happened to that other lovely stadium built a decade ago?? Hahaha. The millennium. Last I heard it was collecting dust or am I mistaken and its being used properly.

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  12. I mean how does it stack up in comparison two the two in your post.

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  13. The Millenium works well and its location is excellent – you can see it was built with one eye on the budget and the finish is cheap, seats flimsy, too few toilets, looks a bit tired now

    It gets used though – two rugby finals on this weekend

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  14. With you there mate. I also think the authorities take it too far sometimes. I say put some fun back into the stadium experience. In designated areas of course so as not to distress those more sensitive and there with younger family members not to mention the fairer football loving ladies amongst us. make the lower levels the designated fun parts. And behind the goal lines the fun farms for the animals amongst us. Hahaha.

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  15. Ahhh. Thanks COLL.
    what say you regarding the fun farms. ?

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  16. FUN ?????

    Ssssshhhhhhhhhhh – too much fun at my age could be fatal !

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  17. hahaha. God forbid mate. God forbid. Moderation is key. I would just like to add a bit more atmosphere to the ambiance. Also a bit of the fear factor towards visiting teams and fans. Cauldron.

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  18. Excellent evocative piece Fins. Thanks for posting. And I loved the pictures as well!

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  19. There wasn’t a parade in 2005 and I’ve never seen an ‘official’ reaction as to why that was the case. Presumably, back then, if it wasn’t a double it wasn’t worth celebrating?

    Fin’s experience of the weekend chimed very much with my own and many thousands of others, I’m sure. It was also particularly wonderful to see photographs tweeted from literally all round the world from our amazing overseas supporters gathered in their groups in bars and pubs all going as nuts as we were here in England.

    Agree with the sound quality issues – in fact there are, as Fins points out, two big problems and they are prevalent at Wembley AND the Arsenal stadium. Sound quality at Arsenal tends to be pretty muffled – half time interviews are particularly hard to discern. At Wembley the whole system sounds broken with entire sound channels simply cutting out on a regular basis resulting in vocal tracks going silent whilst the backing continued. Hard to tell if they have a faulty stereo or a very dodgy surround sound on the blink. The second issue is the modern obsession with pumping artificial noise around stadiums on the assumption the attendant fans can’t generate enough sound themselves. Tedious in the extreme.

    What I felt both Wembley and AFC got right was the organisation of both days. Travel to and from both events was trouble-free and the pre-match entertainment at Wembley was actually entertaining (though missed by most late-arriving Gunners, caught up in the bars, ahem), and the Parade was simply superb.

    The marvellous celebrations at the Arsenal podium were exactly as I’d spent many years imagining them to be …

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  20. Excellent Fins im going to read it again and again. The ARSENAL groundsmen have always been protective of their precious pitch, I remember Steve Bradshaw kicking me and my mates off the Highbury pitch when we were painting the terraces during the summer.
    The no football signs is more than ironic as in the old flat car park opposing fans used to have mass football matches when getting to Wembley early in the morning before the pubs opened.
    The other thing I don’t like about the new stadium is Wembley way, the players coaches now come round the back of the stadium and so the masses don’t get to see the players in to the stadium an old cup final tradition

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  21. Top post, finsbury. Very enjoyable. I hope to comment more fully later.

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  22. Brilliant Fins,a great day apart from me nearly getting chucked out for celebrating Santi’s free kick-good job the steward was a gooner! I also gatecrashed my mates pubs open top bus for the trip back to Islington,I’ll never forget the Holloway/Seven Sisters/Blackstock road that night as long as I live-it was like we’d won the cup,such was the reception. Magic. Oh…Wembleys shit by the way!

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  23. Managed to come to my favorite site after a long time.

    and my word! what amazing posts have I read today.

    I especially loved this post and one before that.

    Thanks a lot to everyone!

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  24. Thanks.

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  25. Someone hired a bus back from Wembley! Excellent work.

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  26. FINS
    looks like NICKY & PARK are goners. Released. Good luck to both wherever they go.

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  27. Enjoyed reading this. What a great couple of days. The Gibbs quote says more than its words. Things have now changed, we can move on without the tired media vibes. The club has less pressure bearing down upon it. Even wenger, who many see as a strong…some would say stubborn…indominatable force of nature….maybe he himself needed a bit of vindication for his methods and philosophy, so alien to many in the English game.
    So many great memories from those heady couple of days, but perhaps the most poignant …..wengers happiness, relief and serenity in the aftermath of a long road to victory, vindication, respect, redemption…..not in the eyes of us who always believed in him, but in so many others who wavered.

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  28. Hear hear.
    so happy for him. Vindications indeed.
    To all our good friends at UNTOLD , take a bow…..

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  29. That is a lovely post Fins.

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  30. Morning GEORGE. hope all is well and your still happy. Our old friend from Scott puffins sight , that young man cesc appeal is talking about us on LE moaned.
    He has become more rabid. Been swallowed by the dark side completely. Lost his mind.

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  31. Kam, where abouts is it. I’m not reading all that bile just to find it. Give me a clue.

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  32. I stumbled upon accidentally two or three days ago. They were ganging up on some guy named SAVAGE. He held up his end very well. Put a few in their places. They thought he was HUNTER. they think everyone with any sense is HUNTER. (0(
    I think our boy here has traumatized them permanently. (0(
    It was was the post by that American dude Joshua, I think.
    Sorry I can’t be more specific but when once in a blue moon I go there I come away with a pounding headache. 75% of the comments there are just irrelevant bullcrap. The other 25% , agenda driven bullshevick. I don’t know which is worse.

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  33. ‘Kam why read that crap when you can watch this?

    player.arsenal.com/player/5130-fa-cup-mini-movie

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  34. FINS
    exactly. A bunch of foulmouthed numbskulls with no sense of loyalty nor morality. I went there after a year hearing a true gooner , whom I forget the name, was tearing them a new one.
    Couldn’t find it. Unfortunately. Seven hundred comments worth diddely. Bunch of airheads stroking each others egos. no sense of right or wrong. Just me me me , now now now.
    Give me a ZIMPAUL OR SHOTTA post any time any day. Amongst others with great insight including you mate.

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  35. I too visit Pedro and Co every second year to gloat (I have never posted there since my threat made and meant years ago to meet any of them anywhere and bring tattooed friends to have what I imagined as a short, violent chat about Eboue and monkeys; long ago I stopped being “sensitive” with racists) or to remind myself that village idiots actually exist outside of the small villages I know. We tend to like our village idiots, they are figures of fun and glee, a little like a happy clowns; in fact in our myth the village idiot typically comes out on top, like Inspector Clousseau. But my image of that lot is of scowling people attempting to spell “out”, to complete a two word sentence and post or placard it. Wenger Owt? The possibilities are so many, but resemblance to reality so few. I know they can spell “out”, and frequently prove it by doing so, and even stringing an argument together; but their cocky infantilism knows very few bounds. I shudder to think of many of them with a pair of scissors, or any sort of power, accidents happen. They remind me of Lord of the Flies, my old O level book. Kids, hey? In any event the Arsenal they imagine they want is the stuff of comic books and cartoon cut-out heroes, and the Wenger they so despise is their nightmare of real life blossoming.

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  36. I have actually seen more respect for our manager and team on tottenham blog sites than on the peroni beer sponsored one.
    His minions are malevolent, to say the least.

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  37. “In any event the Arsenal they imagine they want is the stuff of comic books and cartoon cut-out heroes, and the Wenger they so despise is their nightmare of real life blossoming.”

    I wish I’d said that.

    I will one day though.

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  38. Part of me sometimes feels I’m missing out on something when I read some of you here discussing another place I don’t visit. Fortunately that part of me is overwhelmed by the rest of me – the rational, insightful rest of me – and I manage to keep away from what sounds like a collection of idiots who have no appreciation or awareness of the truth even when it slaps them truly hard in their gormless mugs.

    Great post btw fins.

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  39. Cruel fortune befell Derby.
    Twitchy is back in the prem.

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  40. I imagine there are 19 managers and coaches of PL clubs who are rubbing their hands at the prospect of taking on Rangers

    What a poor performance and undeserved result

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  41. In 2016 Atletico de Madrid will have a new, shiny stadium provided for them by the Mahou brewing company and a fund set aside by the city of Madrid. The stadium was built during one of Madrid’s failed olympic bids and Atletico’s benefactors are expanding it. The deal has Atletico paying a pittance in rent and their club will not incur massive debt like ours did. Just a bit of information for you just in case you have a gloryhunting fan as a mate and he tries to use Atletico’s being in a CL final to make Arsenal seem less than.

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  42. That should read “a cash strapped Atletico.”

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  43. Finsbury, I must salute you.

    Why anyone should want to wander over to read Peter Wood’s thoughts for the day, is short of a few rivets!

    Back in 2012, May 7th to be exact, an article was published. Ashcroft wins Groundsman of the Year Award.

    “Arsenal’s Paul Ashcroft has won the Barclays Premier League’s Groundsman of the Year award.

    The Sports Turf Research Institute has revealed its findings after looking at playing surfaces in all the professional leagues in England.

    Ashcroft then commented on the two main challenges he and his team had faced since moving from Highbury to the Emirates Stadium in 2006. “The main thing was the change of environment from open corners to a bowl with much less natural light. So we bought the SGL (Stadium Growth Light) system to help us get light onto the playing surface and so keep the pitch consistent in the winter months.”
    “Another big difference has been that the Emirates Stadium can be used for summer concerts whereas Highbury was too small to reconfigure. The week before we move to concert build, we clear the grass off the playing surface by raking it away with a machine. We can then lay a protective floor””.

    Later that year (!!!) 3rd August 2012, to be precise, there was an article with the headline – Pre-Season with Arsenal’s Stadium Manager.

    “The role of the Stadium Manager is to prepare the stadium for the advent of 60,000 people arriving at the venue on a matchday. The stadium manager ensures the stadium has all the necessary certificates and maintenance requirements in place and that all the testing has been done in order to ensure that when we hand things over on an event day, the safety manager can run the event. It’s coordinating everything to make sure the stadium is fit for purpose every day.”.
    “We have approximately 50 certificates that we have to prepare at the stadium and test so we’re ready to go. Islington Council will verify that we have all these checks in place and each of the areas have been serviced, all our fire-fighting equipment, everything from the turnstiles down to the electrical intake rooms, the gas equipment, the boiler rooms, anything like that has been tested. It’s a very heavily legislated industry.”
    “We relay the pitch each year, we’ll have 30 cleaners in for a week washing and cleaning our 60,000 seats and all the steelwork in the bowl. All the above has to happen in the six to eight weeks of the close season.”

    Now you know, what is happening at The Emirates, London Colney and Hale End Academy.

    The Arsenal shops at the stadium and Brent, will all require refurbishment to Puma’s exacting standards and restocking. Using Ministry of Defence cost-plus of 10%, I would suggest somewhere in the circa £5 millions, excluding Value Added Tax.

    That is £5 millions that will not be available for transfers and salaries!

    PG, over to you!

    Finsbury, acensoredleftfoot can clean your shoes!

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  44. I’m a lightweight but I’m glad QPR are back, and I think they’ll do better this time round. Good to see Harry El Twitcherani back where he belongs, bringing mangled vowels, more knowledge about the game than any of us, and a real whiff of Gangsterland to the Premier League party – somehow the very essence of the Krays and Ronnie Biggs’s 60’s London all over again. Good that another London derby replaces Fulham, and we’ll have a bit of fun with them for the next few years (they will stay up this time, and they will grow).

    “White City Blues” remains the best novel I have read about hopelessly supporting a team and coping with being almost 30, and although it has little to do with football by the time it finishes it is very real.

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  45. NOTH

    I must salute you. What prompted your post?

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  46. This is funny…. i imagine more or less true. LOL. saw it on bbc live text

    Kieran Colton: Atletico have parked the bus, put the handbrake on and slashed the tires.

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  47. TEAM SPIRIT
    hahaha, but you have to feel for AM. they played with total commitment specialy in first half. 90 seconds from lifting the ECL CUP for the first time in their history. Cruel cruel football faith. As with DERBY. always the better team they got sucker punched minutes from going to extra time and winning. And they would have won in extra time. Tactical error by Steve and defensive f••• up by their captain. so cruel to ship a goal with only one of three chances qpr had all game. When will you learn Steve. ?
    qpr won’t last one season in the prem. Guaranteed and I wouldn’t be surprised if harry jumped ship again.
    For the RAMS , always the next year. Liked what I saw. Except for one error that cost them dearly sooo cruel..

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  48. Once again we see the fine lines between success and so called failure, it reflects how close we have come without recognition over the last nine seasons. The best team doesn’t always win the pots especially in cup competitions which makes the doomers stance even more ridiculous, Quarter Pound of Rubbish or Quick Promotion and Relegation and Real Madrid were both lucky but you wonder whether the pundits and journos will reflect this in their commentaries or will they just bask in the winners glory. Some of the best teams in footballs history have been runners up like the famous Total football Dutch team, the hope for both Derby and Athlectico s sake is that their teams are not picked apart by the money teams of todays football

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  49. Well I thought Real were clearly the better team.
    QPR however ?

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