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Arsenal Versus Tottenham: Journey To The Gods

hillaby

I’m reading a book written by one of my favourite authors. John Hillaby was a naturalist, historian, international perambulator extraordinaire and above all a damned fine writer. The journeys he undertook and later wrote about are littered with fascinating insights into the history of the places through which he passed and observations on the present at once pithy, unusual and dryly comedic.

While fascinated with the past he never fell into the trap of viewing it through the prism of sentimental nostalgia. He was honest about mistakes of the present but could be equally caustic on the many examples of how badly things used be done. This is just one of the many lessons Arsenal fans could learn from Mr Hillaby’s work.

The book I’m reading at the moment is unusual in that it is all about London. Nothing odd in writing about that huge, muscular sprawling powerhouse of a capital – many pages have been devoted to it in both fact and fiction. I say unusual because this is a walker, a travel writer exploring a city usually traversed via subterranean tunnels or inside slow moving metal boxes through its traffic choked streets.

I am more used to following the author through the lanes and byways as he walks the length of of the country in his peerless masterpiece Journey Through Britain. In this book Hillaby often encountered incredulity from passing motorists when he politely declined the offer of a lift. He found it difficult to explain how taking the slower, often more painful even occasionally torturous route was preferable. Where was the sense of achievement without the discomfort, the danger, the difficulties which preceded the sudden vista from the top of a Scottish mountain, or the unexpected panorama of the sea?

We may feel that we are following the slow and twisting back lanes to the title in 2016. Getting lost on what appeared on the map to be a straightforward road, or becoming stuck on the moors, waist deep in sticky mud when we seemed to be making great strides. We have taken turns which have led us in entirely the wrong direction but still somehow we are trudging on, our journey three quarters done, the other walkers drawing away from us one week then stumbling themselves when we least expect it.

Will Leicester City stick their foot down a rabbit hole again between now and May? Looking at the map they’re following it all seems to be straightforward without a bump in the road to disturb their progress. If they should unexpectedly confuse their north from their south will we be close enough to take advantage? We could do ourselves a huge favour this lunchtime by grabbing hold of the straps on Mr Pochettino’s rucksack and swinging alongside him. If we can get back into our stride today and shake off the hesitant gait which has seen us lose sight of the track on the last two legs of our journey then even the fans who seem to have lost interest in the whole trip might perk up a little bit and stop complaining about their blisters.

Hillaby was a hugely experienced walker. When he wrote Journey Through Britain he was already in his fifties and would one imagine have known all there was to know about travelling à pied. However, he still managed to find himself slowed to a near stand still with cramps, sore heels, and swollen toes even quite early in the journey. At other times he described hitting a stride with an unconscious ease which , once achieved, could, he felt, propel him without effort for days on end. He experienced a  near weightlessness, as if he were gliding across the landscape barely in contact with the sward beneath him.

It is, I suspect, the same for anybody whatever their discipline, whatever their speciality. Even top footballers used to working in harmony with one another can suddenly inexplicably find the simplest task just that little more difficult than it ought to be. Once a couple of cogs fail to mesh the entire machine looks a little ungainly and in a league as competitive as ours the couple of inches by which the end of a move is off means that instead of running out winners by four goals to two we hit the woodwork three times and lose by two to one.

Make no mistake we were not as awful as those who would rip up the map and catch the first bus home would have you believe. A team simply doesn’t create the chances we do nor come so close to scoring if they are playing that badly. Tottenham today will provide a stern test, a steep and difficult climb but the match is also an enormous opportunity. Peg them back today and we not only draw level with them on points but condemn them to back to back defeats and we know all too well how that can drain one’s moral and unchain the lunatic element lurking in the fanbase of every top team.

The odds may appear stacked against us. The stakes are high. Lose and that is three on the bounce and a very tough road ahead. Win and the momentum swings the other way, the pressure shifts, the stone is in their shoe and we begin to step more lightly across the ground, belief is rekindled.

Once John Hillaby crossed into Scotland he had already completed much of his journey and may have been forgiven for thinking the end was in sight and he could stroll to the finish, the hard walking all behind him. Of course he discovered that much rough and unpredictable terrain lay ahead of him. At one point he slipped and rolled down a sheer cliff face among a small avalanche of scree convinced he was falling to an untimely demise. He picked himself up, made a painful and tortuous return to a track he felt sure he’d lost entirely and eventually completed his journey.

Giving up was never an option. Cursing the map, the clouds which obscured his landmarks, the damaged compass or his disintegrating shoes was pointless, counter productive and more likely to guarantee failure. Belief, perseverance and a stubborn bloody minded refusal to allow the setbacks to get him down. Those were the qualities which saw him through, those were the days when he won the battle against despair – not on the beautiful sunny open meadows nor in the easy springing step across gentle turf. Anyone can do the simple stuff. It is when the going gets hard that we are all truly tested.

 

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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185 comments on “Arsenal Versus Tottenham: Journey To The Gods

  1. Villa the ones in blue right?

    Like

  2. Ro ‏@Bradyesque7 2h2 hours ago
    Imagine we got to play the same rules as our opponents.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. renato ‏@tw14renato 42m42 minutes ago
    Those Ozil quotes doing the rounds are FAKE.

    Like

  4. Eddy, your post at 3.59pm sums up the WOB thought process, as does Stew’s at 3.56pm-The real bugger will be Frank’s suspension,and Im sure he feel frustrated and angry,that was the sort of game that sees a red card.And the Spuds were lucky(or something) to not end up also with ten men.However, I liked Mo’s cool head today,big,noisy game to deal with and he played well as A5 says.I can imagine he could step up and be a rock in the middle with his cool intelligence.Hope so, hes a likable guy and I wish him a great career with us.
    But lets face it all the lads are really likable and if we can get that confident run going they can beat anyone! If we dont pull it off this year then next is also on the cards,Wenger knows it too.But its not over yet…
    Onto the ArseHull!
    COYG!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Tim Stillman
    ‏@Stillberto
    In short, being nice, genteel fair boys with refs & opponents is getting us nothing but the shaft. It has to stop

    Liked by 1 person

  6. well the one good thing on coquelin red, he only gets a one game ban and that is v Hull in the FA Cup replay, a game he was likely to not start anyway.

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  7. Brandon Bott‏@bushpig28
    It seems you have to do more to get a card playing against Arsenal than you do playing for them. Same in every game.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Ryan Tomes ‏@RyanTomes 4h4 hours ago
    BT Sport banging on that we haven’t won the league in 10yrs & conveniently not mentioning Spurs haven’t won it since the 60’s. Cunts.

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  9. Scenes at Goodison as the Irons storm back against 10 man Toffees

    Get used to it Mr Moshiri

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  10. That was a good solid performance. Surely, it will breed the confidence we need. We looked dangerous on the attack. With 11 v 11 we would have won.

    I cannot fathom some of the comments I see from the malcontents. I’m glad most are retweets I couldn’t cope with more. You would believe that they didn’t enjoy that performance and take the positives. They are so entrenched they cannot accept anything good with our club so long as Arsène is in charge. What a state of mind….

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Duncan Castles ‏@DuncanCastles 1h1 hour ago
    Chelsea since Hiddink took over: Ten home points dropped to Watford, WBA, Everton, Man Utd & Stoke. Just one home win – over Newcastle.

    Like

  12. Patrick Timmons ‏@PatrickTimmons1 1h1 hour ago
    Arsenal are unbeaten against all sides in the top 4 in the PL this season
    P5
    W3
    D2
    Big game bottlers? #AFC

    Liked by 1 person

  13. the looks given to Coquelin when he got sent off

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  14. 163 replies before 20:00 is brilliant TBH and reflects what a good performance this was after going into the game with everything against them and during as well. Certainly I haven’t been the most positive this week and after the Elneny substitution I was screaming at the telly, wrong again and another Arsene gamble paying off especially as he doesn’t do tactics.
    Well done to the team, well done Arsene and well done to all contributer’s on this blog.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. I absolutely flipping well love this team. And Arsène ‘s boys aren’t too shabby either.
    Stew’s post was different class: you’ll not find better. And the team was just great and let’s not be too harsh on any of them that were just trying their hardest. And welcome Mo too: he will be just the job.

    Liked by 3 people

  16. @steww 4:14 pm
    George has banned emoticons, but I’m sure you can visualise the one I would have put here.

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  17. Leicester City now have to lose 2 and draw a game, out of the remaining 9.
    Assuming Arsenal can win 9 out of 9.
    It’s a big ask.

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  18. 5 of their 9 games are at home

    14 Mar
    Leicester City F.C.vs Newcastle United F.C.

    19 Mar
    Crystal Palace F.C.vs Leicester City F.C.

    3 Apr
    Leicester City F.C. vs Southampton F.C.

    10 Apr
    Sunderland A.F.C. vs Leicester City F.C.

    17 Apr
    Leicester City F.C. vs West Ham United F.C.

    24 Apr
    Leicester City F.C. vs Swansea City A.F.C.

    1 May
    Manchester United F.C. vs Leicester City F.C.

    7 May
    Leicester City F.C. vs Everton F.C.

    15 May
    Chelsea F.C. vs Leicester City F.C.

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  19. if AFC beat Hull in the FA Cup replay on Tuesday, Leicester City could very well be 11pts clear of us before we play our next league game.

    we certainly are running out of games to catch them, but first and foremost we just have to go on a run of wins, and see if they crack under the pressure, it can be surprising how a team can buckle under pressure, when a rival is on a run of wins.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Jeorge Bird ‏@jeorgebird 7h7 hours ago
    Hale End products George Dobson and Olufela Olomola on the bench for West Ham and Southampton respectively today.

    Like

  21. did you know that AFC have not been awarded a home penalty this season in the BPL, and only 2 in away games. By contrast LCFC have had 3 at home and 7 away, and Spurs have had 5 penalties, 2 away.

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  22. Paul Carr ‏@PCarrESPN 3h3 hours ago
    League position of Leicester City’s remaining opponents:

    19th, 15th, 8th, 17th, 5th, 16th, 6th, 11th, 10th.

    Like

  23. its so funny, but not unexpected to see the media saying AFC blew the title today, but none of them saying spurs fucked up, after them being at home, a goal up, a man up and a ref up, and yet failed to win.

    Liked by 4 people

  24. Kal ‏@GoonerKal 4h4 hours ago
    Also, why are Spurs fans given a police escort from Stn to Emirates and Arsenal fans left to run a gauntlet of abuse to WHL? @metpoliceuk

    Like

  25. ozil pfa POTY 16 ‏@Murphy1Sam 1h1 hour ago
    lamela pushes Sanchez, Sanchez pushes back, lamela on yellow gets nothing Sanchez gets a yellow card hmmm

    Double Flamini ‏@double_canister 1h1 hour ago
    Let’s get this right – Coq was stupid but Dier wasn’t . Right?

    Like

  26. and the award for the wana be mike dean goes to

    Like

  27. Some beautiful thoughts about Arsenal Football Club by Liveorangejuice on Twitter:
    https://pbs.twimg.com/media/Cc0GACIXEAAin2z.jpg:large

    Liked by 2 people

  28. how true club legends comment, take note wright and keown

    Bob Wilson ‏@BobWilsonBWSC 10h10 hours ago
    Amazing result. Character? Loads of it. Dier red card? A cert. Well done Ospina.

    Like

  29. Steve Gooner ‏@Merse10 10h10 hours ago
    Not going to be too harsh on Coq. Vieira (fabled missing leader) sent off on a regular basis. Stupid, yes but let’s not go too overboard

    Like

  30. Kev ‏@GarrulousGooner 3h3 hours ago
    Leicester have lost 3 games all season. We need them to lose 3 in 9 and win all 9 ourselves; including trips to Goodison Upton Park & Etihad

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  31. some great fight shown by the team today. Good to see a couple of fairly defensive MFs starting, and Ramsey further forward, think this may be useful in certain games. And well done Ospina.
    Cannot argue with Coqs red card, but why were lamella and Dier let off the hook? Ok….maybe Bellerin as well.
    Always had Oliver down as one of the better refs….but a bit baffled by him today.
    Starting to Look like Leicester’s year, though not ruling out a city revival…precious little going wrong for leicester. They seem to field the same team week in week out….Vardy has surgery…out two weeks…Kante…hamstring….just a couple weeks….I know their players have played less games than ours, but they are either very lucky, or have some really shit hot medics and fitness staff. Spurs as well, apart from verthongen, a full strength side today, what are these teams doing that we are not…apart from maybe being a bit cynical, and generally getting the fouls in first?

    Liked by 1 person

  32. This is a great quote to help us rationalise the comments of too many vis a vis:

    “The problem with the world is that the intelligent people are full of doubts, while the stupid ones are full of confidence.”
    ― Charles Bukowski

    Liked by 2 people

  33. Old fart’s thoughts:

    Snakes and ladders, ladders and snakes. Talk about up and down like an whore’s drawers. For the first 20 minutes or so the spuds seemed to be attempting to play football whereas we were playing kickball, anything to get the ball away from our half. It was not an inspiring sight,
    As a result, there may be some around who thought that our taking the lead ….when Rambo calmly (for the first time in the match) side footed Hector’s cross cum shot into the net….was a bit of a bloody cheek.
    But that spurred us and it was so good to see some fight back in the team. For the rest of the half the spuds looked a bit peeled and we thought that the horrors of the last week were gone.

    And so it was for the first few minutes of the second half. Then le Coq cocked it. Silly bloody thing to do having been carded in the first half. Instinct says that Kane slowed up and then accelerated in order to achieve the foul? Or is that just my paranoia showing? Whatever, down to 10 men and all of a sudden, struggling. All the bad habits seen last week returned and we were 2-1 down within 5 minutes. Where’s the prussic acid?

    But, this strange, We aren’t giving up. The wonderful away supporters are making all the noise and, if not exactly on top, we’re creating a lot of havoc. Welbz, Alexis and Hector making waves, Oosp doing all that was necessary at the back and this is such a happy change from the last two games. How have we managed this? No cause for grumbling from this old fart.

    And then, perfection. ALEXIS scores. Hector gives him a great pass and at last our Chilli pepper bites. The spuds are struggling despite some very benevolent whistling from Master Oliver, their fans are hushed and we look like a football side with cojones again. Hell of a pity we couldn’t get a winner but who can complain?

    At least we know what we have to do on Tuesday. Keep the faith.

    Liked by 4 people

  34. New post up

    Like

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