131 Comments

Arsenal’s Waterloo? Or Allez Les Bleus?

Charge_of_the_French_Cuirassiers_at_Waterloo

Anyone who buys into the oft repeated media convention that the FA Cup no longer means anything in the modern game needs to take a look at the scenes which took place in Villa Park on Saturday evening. The explosion of emotion from the Villa fans which spilled from the stands and onto the pitch served to remind the old and infirm among us of a bygone era. Not always a better era I hasten to add. Running battles along concrete terraces, ploughed pitches that made Selhurst Park look like the newly laid baize on a snooker table, up and under cloggers sending the ball skywards, racist chanting and mounted police. Age provides us with a curious telescope through which to gaze at the past. I know all of those things to be true and yet still experience a serene, fuzzy contentment when I allow myself to wallow in the warm waters of my nostalgia. There was an electricity in a football stadium whether it was a European Cup night between giants of the modern game or an early round of the Sherpa Van Trophy against Wallsall on a wet Wednesday evening at Twerton Park.

The raw, visceral excitement contorting the faces of those Villa fans as their team moved to within sight of a trip to Wembley – even if it was only for a semi final – had that same lightning running through it. This wasn’t generated by the magic of the FA Cup per se, it had more to do with the way football manages to connect with some primitive ferocity within us, encapsulating fear, anticipation, loathing, love, release, relief, joy and exultation all in an adrenaline fuelled ninety minutes of savage nail biting tension. It does help that there was a chance of glory at the end of the game, that the opposition were local rivals and that their side had endured a very poor season thus far, but it did me good to see that people still cared enough to get so carried away.

The BBC commentators were of course appalled by the pitch invasion and even those of us less feeble minded than Mark Lawrenson (and I am not excluding much of the human race in that statement) were concerned as the fans streamed onto the pitch. I ought to point out that I wasn’t overly worried about public safety more that Villa might see the result overturned if their own fans caused the match to be abandoned. No one wanted to see Pulis get a second chance to stink up the semi finals with his twisted, smug little grin did they? I didn’t particularly fear for the safety of the inept referee or the players as it looked as if most fans crossed the invisible barrier simply to congratulate their heroes, take a selfie or just to express the rapture of the moment. The debate which followed however, stirred some memories.

The last time I went onto the pitch during a game was, I think, about nineteen ninety six. It was Ashton Gate, Rovers were destroying City by two goals to nil and many City fans spent the match locked out of the ground due to a sell out crowd. Some of these started trying to come in through the back of the stand in which the away fans were corralled. Made a deuce of a row tearing off hoardings and banging on the walls as I recall. We decided to wander onto the pitch to avoid becoming embroiled in any potential disorder and thereby alert the authorities to the fact that a bunch of fans were wrecking their own stadium to try to get at us. It was a frightfully genteel pitch invasion with people helping elderly supporters over the barrier and those with children being shepherded to the front of the queue. Later on however the home fans raced onto the turf intent on chasing the players and officials from the pitch. In the main they succeeded, but the Rovers centre forward Peter Beadle not only stood his ground but actually stepped forward towards the baying mob which then broke about him like water around a rock. It was quite a sight. Put it this way, if I had stood in an infantry square on the field of Waterloo as the French Cuirassiers bore down upon us I’d have hoped to find Peter Beadle stood next to me. Mounted police cleared the pitch and if memory serves the result stood.

I don’t anticipate any such scenes at Old Trafford tonight. There is still passion in the game, Villa park provides ample evidence of that, but I suspect the stewarding and policing when Man United host Arsenal is pretty slick. Evidence the fact that the only real problems in recent fixtures between the two clubs have involved the management and or playing staff rather than the supporters. The match means no less to either side than it did to Pulis and Sherwood’s teams, it represents a very real chance of a trophy to a United ensemble which looked to have lost its way for much of the last couple of years. The pessimistic among our fan base probably feel the same about us. Personally, I think Liverpool are the team to beat this year and I don’t mean to belittle the challenge of overcoming United when I say that. It’s just they are the ones in form right now, whereas United, like us, have got results without always looking a hundred percent convincing.

My optimism before kick off is of course irrelevant. You all know by now that I expect to win every game and am always bewildered when we lose. This doesn’t grow out of any blind faith or inability to acknowledge potential pitfalls. It stems from the simple fact that on our day, when everything falls into place and our best players play to their potential we can absolutely stuff anybody you care to put in front of us. It is impossible to know in advance if today will be one of those perfect days, but faced with the simple fact that it could be I choose to think it might. Why not? The self harm brigade don’t have a monopoly on guessing the future. Today though my usual Leonard Nimoy style of logical, clear thinking has been invaded by what might almost pass for superstition. You see I just feel we’re due a bit of a break against Man United. I think we’ve been unlucky against them too often in too many ways. Drawn when we should have won, lost when we could consider ourselves unfortunate had we only drawn, been the victims of injustice too many times to count. If you ask me it’s time to lay a bit of a diabolic red ghost to rest. I don’t underestimate United and I don’t underestimate the passion of the FA Cup but I don’t believe Arsenal should be underestimated either.

The fervour on display at Villa Park has given me much pause for thought. Seeing just how strong is the power of football, how it still has the ability to galvanise the emotions of its adherents made me realise something I’ve perhaps overlooked. In the age of isolated support, when folk sit alone all over the world watching the game with those same emotions tearing through their veins, they have no outlet for their feelings. We can’t all run onto the pitch or be humiliated by Peter Beadle when passion overcomes us but that same passion is there nonetheless. Is it any surprise then that some people may be prone to rash and injudicious outbursts? Perhaps I should be more understanding when some folk rush to judgement on twitter if things go against their team. Maybe I’ve been a little harsh in the past when some supporters simply fail to master their feelings and their reactions lack a desirable discernment. I shall endeavour to be more forgiving in future and especially this evening. It is after all the FA Cup quarter final. I think we’re allowed to get a little carried away aren’t we?

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.

Comment navigation

Newer Comments →

131 comments on “Arsenal’s Waterloo? Or Allez Les Bleus?

  1. I failed at getting a ticket for Saturday’s game…..bastard Gooners getting there on the Tickect Exchange before me…..

    Like

  2. I think I’m going to sleep well tonight…..

    Lovely article Steww…thanks….

    Like

  3. Words of wisdom Georgaki – words of wisdom.

    Like

  4. And also fighter mesut ..three times !!!! Three!! 3!!! he chased back after losing possession and tackled ladies and gentlemen, and tackled well. With purpose.

    Like

  5. I was referring of course to your 10.16pm post.

    Like

  6. Steww well done as per usual. Am fully glad with the results… we surely needed that!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. whinging gooners comments after the game about our players – all comments made after tonights game by people claiming to be gooners, either in comments on arsenal blogs, or on twitter, it really is amazing that even in a victory at old trafford they can’t find happiness

    szczesny – what the hell was he doing on their goal, just not good enough for us

    bellerin – that bad he had to be taken off before he was sent off
    mertesacker – where was he for the rooney goal
    koscielny – where was he for the rooney goal
    monreal – almost cos us the knob, any other ref would have rightly given a penalty for his foul late on

    Coquelin – great game again, but we need far better than him in that role, and far bigger too
    Cazorla – was he even playing

    Oxlade-chamberlain – injury prone and time to get rid
    Ozil – lazy, wasteful, coward
    Alexis – not hard to see why Barca dumped him

    Welbeck – done nothing except score from a utd mistake, not good enough for arsenal

    subs
    giroud – showed why he is not good enough for arsenal
    ramsey – selfish cunt who is playing for himself, sell him
    Chambers – never will be good enough for arsenal

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Eduardo. Could you do that again and reference who said what where. I will turn it into a blog. Its very telling and should be highlighted.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Very helpful Eddy – much obliged

    I am struggling with the crowd over the MotM for Michael Oliver but football wise it has to go to Coq

    Monreal eh – he is a formidable clever neat and tidy footballer – I see a lot of myself in that boy

    Santi had a serious wasp up his arse tonight – for the 2nd game in three he missed out on a great volley picking up on a goal of the month

    And what was all the miserably shite on Szcz ? The boy done good – not perfect but good considering his bench time

    Like

  10. So many things can be said about that hard fought game.

    – We really needed that win. Psychologically the team kept it together.

    – Micheal Oliver did a good job, the commentators called him brave – which is sort of acknowledging in a round about way just how many cowardly refs there are at the moment in the English game. So many of the older experienced refs would of reduced the game into a farce.

    – I appreciate Monreal’s contribution to this squad & I hope more Arsenal fans do too after tonight.

    – With that draw Bradford might get to be on telly soon. I wouldn’t mind us exacting revenge on them.

    – It was great seeing Pat Rice in the stadium, after his illness he looked really good. In fact he looked like he was going get out of his seat and have a few words with someone.

    – I thought Welbeck might score or get an assist, that was a real poacher’s goal.

    – In my opinion De Gea is still behind Neuer in the goal keeping stakes, even after that performance.

    – I reckon you can judge the level of someone’s football knowledge and understanding based on their opinion of Ozil. So in football pundit Danny Murphy’s case not much at all. Ozil put in another sterling performance today, but Murphy inexplicably tried to criticize him.

    – Finally with all the talking points after a match like that, I just wanted to highlight something that will probably get overlooked and that is the deft creative movement of twinkletoes Alex OC to make space and lay on that pass to Monreal for the 1st goal. We need AOC to stay injury free.

    Liked by 3 people

  11. Well done The Arsenal. A close run thing but a result that will have a significant impact on all sorts of things. Not least the gradual rewriting of the soft underbelly meme. As they might sing on the North Bank to some happy clappy tune

    We’ve got the hardest coq in the land.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. its from all over the place, especially on twitter, I’m not up for going after it all again, if I come across any of them again I will take note of who and where and send it to you, but I’ve been on over ten different arsenal blogs(its comments on the blogs and not from the blog writers themselves) and I’ve viewed loads of gooners twitter(again most of the negative stuff is from others commenting as I don’t check out negative twitter accounts but as you know PG the boo boys like to make these comments to the positive gooners on twitter). It would be a mammoth task to find the tweets. But like I said if I come across them I will note them, or if it happens in another game I will certainly keep a record of it so you can write about it.

    I know that the dialsquare guy was very anti szczesny all night and here is more having a go at him

    Gunner Report @GunnerReport · 3h 3 hours ago
    Goal United 1-1 as Szczesny stands still

    Arsene FC @VieiraPaddy · 3h 3 hours ago
    Szczesny is as talented as De Gea. Just retarded.

    Like

  13. Goona Gal I’m glad you mentioned danny murphy’s having a go at Ozil, could not believe his comment near the very end of the game, that you could not question Ozil’s work rate but his quality. Come on, moron of the year award goes to Murphy

    Liked by 1 person

  14. @ Eddy – perhaps having a pop at Arsenal, AW or our players is part of some commentator media initiation thing that needs to be done to jump into the gang. I dare a whistle blower to step forward, it’s the only way to put an end to the madness.

    Like

  15. Seems like a lovely day to troll some Wenger haters. Should I get kicked off any blogs it’s all your fault, steww

    Like

  16. yes gg, there seems to be an understanding that to get in with or keep in with the gang you must slag off AW and AFC and all AFC players as much as possible. Compare how ex utd and ex liverpool or ex chelsea pundits totally take the side of their former team on all things, and look at how few ex arsenal players do it for Arsenal, and has any other club got so many ex player pundits who go out of their way to slate their former club a la Robson and Merson etc

    Like

  17. Danny Murphy is a moron who gets work 3 days per week as a pundit at Talk Sports. No wonder they are so many idiots calling-in. He is one of them influentials have helped Fulham down in the Championsip. Idiot.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. The away support was amazing. 9,000 outsang 65,000 easily. Why can’t we have this at the Ems?

    Liked by 2 people

  19. murphy started off about Ozil early in the game saying something along the lines of “ozil lucky to keep his place in the starting 11 tonight as he has been in such poor form since his return from injury”

    Like

  20. i wait with bated breath for the media in general and sky in particular to highlight that utd had two players booked for diving tonight, imagine the uproar if it had been two arsenal players

    got to laugh at the utd fans singing “same old arsenal always cheating”, oh the irony

    Liked by 2 people

  21. What a cunt Danny Murphy is. We could sign Pogba and the cunts would still find some cons to the signing. If this Ozil thing that’s taking place isn’t a campaign I don’t know what is. Even that cunt Yogi is picking up on it and had him sitting for the sake of being more “direct”. Unspeakable levels of assholery taking place in the online world of AFC. You’d like to hope for a slightly more savory experience but most AFC fans have their heads so far up their own rears they don’t what’s what anymore

    Liked by 2 people

  22. Just dont read the shit Loomer. Stay here, on the sunshine bus.

    Liked by 2 people

  23. Match of the Day @BBCMOTD · 2h 2 hours ago
    The FA Man of the Match is Francis Coquelin with 43,2% of the vote. Full result here http://bbc.in/1C2sYFf #MUFCvAFC #FACup

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Dominus litis
    ‏@hahostolze
    Fucking love that. The game changed at half time with Van Gaal making two changes. Like you wish Arsene did.

    Like

  25. Dont mind me, George. Just getting a bit carried away on the interwebs over here. Nice glass of craft beer or two a curry and a bit of spliff should sort it though. Im off lads enjoy it everyone. Lord knows we have waited long enough

    Like

  26. Ozil was my MOM. Arsene Fucking Knows.

    Like

  27. The Welsh Zidane. For Fuck’s sake.

    Like

  28. Cripes, you really know how to hit spots, don’t you Steww?

    I actually looked in the press for reports that expressed something of what I felt when seeing the pitch completely filled at full time. Fk-all. Merely, big fines-a-coming. I command you to reminisce or whatever you wanna do, with your utterly instinctive essay titles -to boot!

    Great post match comments from Goonagal and Shotta, as well as others.

    I’m gonna nave to watch it all again. The first half lasted about 8 minutes.
    How I laughed when 5 mins injury time was shown at the end. It may well have been fully justified, but it just the number I guess..

    Like

Comment navigation

Newer Comments →

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: