50 Comments

Adultery: An Arsenal Love Story

valentines-day-752x483

Valentine’s Day is around the corner and love is in the air. Apparently approximately 150 million Valentine’s Day cards are exchanged annually, making the second most popular card-sending holiday after Christmas. Woooosahhhhh!

In the spirit of the season I must admit my current romance with Arsenal Football Club. I eat, drink and blog it. But I have an adulterous past.

My earliest relationship with football was born of out total innocence. As a young teenager I fell head over heels with the 1970 world cup winning Brazilians. Almost all were “ballers”, blessed with great technique and molded into one of the greatest teams ever (Apart from Pele, they had Tostao, Rivelino, Jairzinho, Gerson, Clodoaldo, Carlos Alberto, etc). From a distance, it seemed they were dedicated to not simply winning but winning with style. Despite the efforts of the English press to write them off as a soft touch, (“fancy dan foreigners”), they simply out-footballed their rivals in 1968. The highlight was that classic final with the Italians. Being my first football love nothing since can ever equal it.

But as I became older, my affections strayed to the 1974 and 1978 Dutch team, the pioneers of “total football”. Their failure to win a world cup will never erase memories of the then revolutionary concept in 1974 that all eleven players on the field must be technicians capable of playing in multiple positions. Being a love-struck teenager I cried tears when they lost in the finals to what was then called West Germany. Four years later, when they lost to Argentina in the 1978 final, I was already hardened to the vagaries of love. I was partially lusting for the winner to come from the western hemisphere but to be honest I will always share with the Dutch, especially Cruyff, Neeskens, Johnny Rep and company, a feeling of remorse for a great team that twice came to  the mountain top but never saw the promised land.

While writing, I recognize that being young I made no commitments when it came to football; I was a serial adulterer. By 1986 I was fully in the camp of Argentina and Diego Armanda Maradona. Now more mature, my politics was beginning to inform my choices. Because of my anti-colonialist and anti-imperialist convictions, I was aching for every possible symbolic revenge against the English after their defeat of the Argentinians in the Falklands War four years earlier.   Never did I imagine there would be two singular, unforgettable events in world cup history by Maradona; the “hand of god” goal and the subsequent one-man demolition of Messer Beardsley, Reid, Butcher, Fenwick, Butcher (again), and finally goalkeeper Peter Shilton. Yet in four years my heart was broken when the “god” of football, as he was known in my hometown, had his then immaculate reputation sullied by his being expelled from the 1994 world cup for drug use.

It took me nearly 10 years to once again fall in love with a football team. I was introduced to AFC by a sibling in the 04/05 season, shortly after the Invincible year. By that time I had long immigrated to the US and had been cut-off from football except when the networks did their obligatory coverage the world cup. I even made it to France in 1998 to give my support to Jamaica, my homeland, in their world cup campaign.

But no team moved me like the Gunners once I saw them up close and personal, with the help of satellite tv. I was captivated by Wengerball; slick one-touch passing combinations, speed on the counter-attack, clinical finishing and, best of all, the ability to take on and beat an opponent one-v-one. I was gobsmacked by Bergkamp (when he played), Patrick Vieira and Titi Henry. They reminded me of my first love the 1970 Brazilians; they not only had to win but win with style.

Later we were to learn that Arsene Wenger may have been similarly inspired. In 2014, speaking of the challenge of fitting several #10s in the Arsenal team, he remarked:

“When you look at the Brazil team in 1970 they had Tostao, Rivelino, Pele, Jairzinho, Gerson, Clodoaldo. They all played number ten in their club.

“They didn’t know what to do. They put them all together and they won the World Cup in a convincing way.”

After entering this relationship with AFC I quickly learnt this was no love for the faint-hearted.  It became evident by the end of the 04/05 season we were witnessing the break-up of the Invincibles. The owners of the club, with Arsene’s agreement, had undertaken one of the most daring, ambitious projects of any in the premier league; the building of a brand new stadium with a capacity for 60,000 fans at an estimated cost of £390 million. The priority was no longer winning titles but paying for the stadium.

While many fans initially signed on, thinking it would be an easy ride, illusions were soon disabused when the foreign oligarchic owners of Chelsea and later Manchester City started firing £500 notes across the lawn at Highbury, trying to buy the best Arsenal players. In fact they were partially successful as AFC had to sell some of its best assets to pay for its stadium. Those clubs went on to eventually win things while Arsenal relied on project youth and the genius of Arsene Wenger’s management to remain competitive, always in the top-4, always qualifying for the champions league.

Thirteen years later on the eve of Valentine’s Day, I am as in love with Arsenal and Wengerball as I was the first day I saw the gunners gliding over the turf at Highbury to snatch my adulterous affections away. Never in those years was I ever convinced by the faint-hearted, by the cowards and the weak-willed that the manager, who had achieved three-titles and two-doubles prior to my supporting the club, had somehow lost his touch and we were at the end of an era. Despite still being substantially outspent by United, Chelsea and City this season, Arsenal is currently in second place in the league. I am convinced by the unbiased data, if we had not lost out technical leader Santi Cazorla, we would not be so far off the pace and be better positioned to challenge for the title.

I still love you Arsenal, oh yes I do.

50 comments on “Adultery: An Arsenal Love Story

  1. Good morning Shotta, the romance of football and the effect of the Brazilians.

    I remember we were talking about this in the Bank of Friendship and the Mexico World Cup was the first one I had ever seen in colour and, pretty much as far as I remember, about the first games I ever saw in colour. Vivid or what.

    Not just the Brazilians though, the Germans and the Italians we magnificent with their semi final a truly inspiring game. The Franz Beckenbauer people know these days is a slightly dodgy, elderly football administrator with his finger in far too many pies. That day the man was a hero.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Whilst looking for a picture of Franz and his dislocated shoulder I came across the snap below which I could not resist sharing with as large and discerning an audience as possible;

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I remember well Andrew. Now you know this love story has been in my mind for months. As is evident I am a serial monogamist but adultery sounded more sexy. But all my football loves have been global sex symbols. We men are incorrigible, no?

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Franz is another sex symbol who has been corrupted by greed. Sometimes I am amazed how little attention has ben given to the integrity of Arsene Wenger. He could be holding fort at PSG winning titles every year in that one-horse league.

    Liked by 4 people

  5. Ooh that’s beautiful Shotta.
    I too, although already a Gooner, fell in love with the boys from Brazil and I was thinking what about the Dutch totals and then there they were in the second paragraph. I didn’t like any of the Argentinian sides many because the spud connection and then the Maradonna sides were to influenced by him.
    After thirty years of loving the Arse I never expected to see in front of me such glorious passing flowing football from my love. Even in the so called bad years there was always some beautiful football to go all dreamy over.

    Liked by 4 people

  6. Great Article
    One small mistake you made shotta
    Maradona was expelled from the 94 wc and not from the 90 wc.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Thanks Rosicky.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Updated based on my fact-checker Rosicky.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I posted this on yesterday’s thread, but I think it is right for this one too

    passenal quote – “Rugby doesn’t thrive on controversy like football does”

    can not agree with this at all, you are right Rugby does not thrive on controversy, in fact they are doing everything they can to make sure there is no controversy, mainly down to the good refs, video refs, siting of players, proper code of conduct from players and management towards the officials, and their constant looking at and tweeking of the rules to try and improve the game.
    For me football does not thrive on controversy, I know no one who began watching football, or became a fan, due to controversy, the maradona hand of god goal did not bring in the fans, but his other goal in that game is likely to have peeked the interest of a few, as would the great Brazil sides, the Dutch of cruyff, the Platini French side, and all the other great teams, the great goals, the skill.

    I tell you who has thrived on controversy, – these expert pundits, the journos, sky, bt and other media outlets, and lets not forget the bloggers etc.

    for me the best football highlight show on the telly is ITV4’s Bundesliga coverage, and all it has is an introduction and finish from the host, the best bits from each game, and a comment or two from players/managers. Not a single debate, not a single controversy, no one telling us that Xhaka is a liability, or that you can’t win a title with Giroud etc etc. No time is wasted by stupid waffle, we get the action, the whole action and nothing but the action. What a pity MOTD do not follow suit.

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  10. so despite saying it has to be intentional handball for it to be a foul, Dermot Gallagher says it should have been ruled out cos “nobody likes to see a handball goal”, what utter load of shit, why can’t he just admit that “nobody likes to see Arsenal allowed that goal”, no surprise that later on in his article DG says nothing wrong with Gabbiadini goal despite it hitting him on the arm, I bet if Gabbiadini played for AFC then it would be different view from the former ref.

    Sanchez handball

    INCIDENT: Arsenal take the lead through Alexis Sanchez, who handles the ball in as it ricochets off his arm from close range. Deliberate or unintentional?

    DERMOT’S VERDICT: It’s a moral dilemma when you think about it, because a handball has to be deliberate. Sanchez will say it is not, but it doesn’t sit right with anybody that he scored with his hand.

    The problem there is that it has happened so fast. Mark Clattenburg can’t see it, the linesman from his angle thinks it has hit him on the chest.

    The VAR (video assistant referee) will come, and the VAR will have looked at that and decided it was handball and it would have been cleared up. But with human error being what it is, he’s got away with it.

    Gabbiadini’s handball

    INCIDENT: David Moyes complained that Manolo Gabbiadini’s opener for Southampton was a handball. The ball struck his arm, which was beside his torso, and went into the goal.
    Manolo Gabbiadini scored the opening goal via his upper arm

    DERMOT’S VERDICT: No handball.

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  11. As I generally find Howard Webb sets out the pros and cons fairly;

    “If you were a Hull City fan you would feel pretty hard done by, but I believe that Mark Clattenburg was right to let Alexis Sánchez’s goal stand.

    It was not deliberate handball. His hand was not in an unnatural position. When you kick a ball with your left foot your right arm comes out. The ball rebounded straight back and hit Sánchez’s arm. It was not as though he was flying in for a header with his arms up in the air — there was no movement of the arm to the ball.

    I would argue that even if a defender had been hit on the line on the hand in a similar position after the ball had ricocheted back as they tried to kick it away, then it should not have been a penalty or a red card.

    There is, though, a lot of subjectivity in judging handball decisions and some other referees may take a different view. One way around it would be to change the law to say that you cannot score a goal if the ball comes off an arm regardless of whether it was deliberate or not. That is something I would support as it would bring greater clarity, but it is not the law as it currently stands.”

    Sounds right to me, and not just with my red tinted specs on.

    Liked by 5 people

  12. What a wonderful, enjoyable and inspiring piece Shotta.

    It was written in the same vein as my own piece a few years ago now. It seems we were both inspired, first and foremost, by beautiful football irrespective of who played it. But when Arsene became the manager of Arsenal we had the pleasure of wallowing in almost weekly supplies of artistry on a football pitch.

    Great piece…thanks

    Liked by 4 people

  13. Interesting piece Shotta and whilst I was brought up a late 1960’s Gooner, my first football recollections stem from the 1970 WC.

    I recall the flowing passes – Rivelino, Jairzinho, even their names, both exciting and rhyming like poetry – the overlaps, the incredible headed goal by Pele – wait a minute, GORDON BANKS!!! WHAT A SAVE!!

    What I never knew at that moment was that years later, my early impressions of Arsene’s Arsenal would take me back a quarter of a century to those satellite broadcasts of the mesmeric Brazilians. English football was both figuratively and literally stuck in the swamps of Hackney marshes but in the 1990s Wenger brought explosive new hope that the international football of the late 60’s might at last be recreated far closer to home and rather than just every four years or so, every four days or so.

    My admiration for Wenger’s work in this respect has never dimmed.

    Certainly watching yesterday’s Super Sunday Sky Super Duper offering (Chelsea v Burnley and Swansea v Leicester), it was as if the 70’s had hardly left these shores, such was the largely unwatchable, turgid nature of yesterday’s encounters.

    Sure, not every Arsenal game is Brazilian in class but even in the worst ones it’s possible to divine the fluid movement, the playing ambitions, of those early Brazilians.

    Wenger’s achievements in the other areas of his work have added to my admiration for the man but in his very first season in North London I’ll never forget the excitement I felt when I first laid eyes on his extraordinary new Arsenal.

    It saddens me to think so many others appear to have done so.

    Liked by 7 people

  14. As we see AA there are too many among the noisy mob who are not actually interested in football and who probably do not really like football. What they are interested in is ‘trophies’, and what they see as the all important outcome of ‘winning’.

    I would not speak to them in a pub, I would cross the street if I saw them turn the corner. Fucking halfwits most of them.

    Liked by 7 people

  15. Well at least A5 imbibed with me in a pub. Thank you Lord for the privilege (banned smiley, winky, winky).

    Liked by 2 people

  16. AA: You may want to edit the last sentence of your post. Shouldn’t it read:
    “It saddens me to think so many others appear NOT to have done so.”

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  17. AA is right Shotta, he’ll never forget, but others appear to have done so

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Eduardo, I stand by my comment from yesterday. Shotta’s post is spot on in reminding us that football should be about discussing some fantastic move or goal or game until the next fix. But the modern ‘product’ with 24/7 blogging and punditting seems to require controversy to keep it going rather than focussing on the quality of the game or the skill of the players.

    P.S. I too am old enough to remember that Brazil 1970 team. I don’t really remember who won what, but the Brazil 1970 and Holland 1974 and 1978 teams and their wonderful football live long in my memory.

    Liked by 5 people

  19. This is why any1970 Brazilian would have fitted in beautifully at the Ems;

    Liked by 4 people

  20. Passenal my point is that although many are using controversy in the game to gain clicks, football actually does not need it, as its the actual great skills, great goals, great teams that draw us in, and keep us in, if anything controversy only dims our love of the game. Those using controversy to gain an audience(and those allowing controversy) are in fact doing the game a great disservice and are harming the game. No one falls in love with the game due to a controversial incident.

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  21. Xhaka faces no charges

    A statement said: “Police were called at 19:29hrs on Monday, 23 January following an allegation that a member of staff had been racially abused at Heathrow Airport, Terminal Five. The allegation was made by a third party.

    “Officers attended and spoke with a man in his twenties. He was not arrested. He voluntarily attended a west London police station where he was interviewed under caution. He was released with no further action.”

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Passenal is right Shotta, but my double negatives probably not making for the easiest of reads.

    Certainly agree with Passenal’s point about the all-consuming nature of modern football, fuelled as it is by week-long fixture lists and 24/7 access to (anti)social media. The amount of discussion rarely seems to ease off regardless of how minor the controversy or even the time of day!

    Well, 1970 feels like a long time ago now, for better or worse.

    Loved the pictures and video posted earlier btw.

    Liked by 4 people

  23. I smiled at this a few times Shotta.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. The only man who can rival Merse for pure thickness is at it again…..Stan Collymore in the mirror, apparently Wenger has to go, and be replaced by Simeone.
    Stan says arsenal players,are too nice, parents would be happy for a daughter to bring home to meet the folks. He comes out with quite a few other cliches.
    Cannot imagine any parents would be happy if their daughters bought Stan home to meet them, should they know of his record on treatment of women, that’s another story, but perhaps the MSM should not be giving a platform to a known domestic abuser. But as long as he slags off Arsenal and Wenger constantly, they don’t seem to want to drop this idiot to think, the planet size intellects, the articulate words, and original and objective thoughts of Merson, Collymore, Murphy , Redknapp, Craig Burley , Shearer and others are leading the thinking of some of the sheep like WOB
    Some say a new manager will unite the fanbase, but a fair portion of the WOB were dickheads before, during and will be after Wengers shift, cannot see any unification with them

    Liked by 3 people

  25. Beautiful, Shotta.

    Liked by 2 people

  26. Oh what a boring old fart I am. All my great memories are from Highbury, Wembley or the Grove with a good few coming from away games such as WHL in 1971.

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  27. Ed Aarons ‏@ed_aarons 1h1 hour ago

    Gabriel Jesus out for 2-3 months with broken metatarsal #mcfc

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  28. Sniper ‏@clockendsniper 14h14 hours ago

    There’s a decent chance that Liverpool away will be a our only premier league game until West Brom away on March 18th in 33 days time.

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  29. 8th May 2013 in case you wondered

    Liked by 2 people

  30. My own Arsenal love affair began in the 1950’s as a schoolboy supporting his teacher who played for Finchley. When said teacher (George Robb) transferred to Spurs I was on the verge of following him but was dissuaded by my Arsenal supporting best friend Tony.
    I didn’t get to see them play until I started work in 1956 and with my Spurs & Finchley supporting mates used to go to the three grounds and support all of them. Unthinkable now, but we’d travel all over London for a decent game of football. I saw & even enjoyed Spurs double team, but early marriages limited my mates football supporting days so I stuck with Arsenal, but I have no regrets about my WHL adventures & never think ill of them.

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  31. I was having a polite exchange of views on Twitter with @Cataphonics, one of the wittier contributors to the Arsenal digital empire on the subject of the official announcements of the crowd at the Ems compared to the actual number of people in the ground. Needless to say he topic arise because our friends at AST have ” accused” the club or producing “fake” attendance figures for the Hull game. As has been widely reported there were many empty spaces among the home fans.

    As this crops up season after season, and anyone can get the actual bums on seats figures if they ask, I don’t understand what the complaints are about. What difference does it make other than to emphasise that we have a load of supporters who decide they have better things to do on a Saturday lunchtime in February than go and watch Arsenal v Hull but are still content to pay for the privilege of making that choice ? Why don’t AST do something about it, ie go to the game – or for example appeal to people to put their unused tickets on the Exchange early, rather than get into “accusing” the club.

    If the boot was on the other foot and AFC put out numbers of people in the ground instead of seats paid for I imagine there would be even more of a self indulgent look-at-me fuss with the club “accused” of fraud, or worse.

    Liked by 5 people

  32. simply Arsenal could avoid this nonsense by calling it tickets sold, rather than attendance. Yes Arsenal, like loads of other BPL clubs, announce the attendance as the tickets sold, and they also have on many occasions made it clear that this is what they do.
    By the way even at games that are sold out, and have what looks like full attendance, there is normally around 3000 people who do not turn up, for many different reasons, work, illness, transport, death in family, and of course the fixture having been changed for tv coverage.

    AST as usual are attacking the club, in an attempt to gain favor with other fans who are always keen to attack the club. AST wants Arsenal to introduce a use it or lose it policy for season tickets. Not a bad idea, but at what % of use do you make the cut off point, what exemptions do you allow, what appeals process can be used – especially considering the time constraints on renewals etc. Of course AST has only put forward the notion, and not a workable model with all the problems ironed out. Does any club have a use it or lose it policy and if they do how does it work, and what problems has it run into.

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  33. I’m shocked and astounded that our CL goalie, David Ospina, is being picked for our CL game tomorrow,

    Liked by 2 people

  34. afcstuff ‏@afcstuff 2h2 hours ago

    Lucas Perez has not travelled with the squad to Munich as he has failed to recover from a hamstring problem. #afc

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  35. UberArsenal™ ‏@UberAFC 5h5 hours ago

    Rio Ferdinand: “Mesut Özil has become an easy scapegoat when things are going wrong at Arsenal. It’s not fair and it’s not right.” #afc

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  36. Anybody, can download the 2016/2017 edition of the Premier League Handbook, everybody!

    Each club fills in Form 11, Gate Statement (Rule L.39), which details

    Tickets Issued and Attendance. split between Home and Away, giving a total tickets sold and number of spectators attending, including the hospitality or prawn sandwich crowd.

    The value of tickets sold, exclude VAT.

    Gate Statements
    L.39. Within 10 Working Days of a League Match the Home Club shall submit Form 11 to the Board duly completed.

    What matters, is the money paid to see the game.

    The spokesperson for the AST, is usually that Tim Payton, who claims to be – a sports communicator?

    Check out the forms. the Premier League clubs have to complete.

    Scudamore, Amey and Beeston, have the data for each club (subject to porkies).

    The auditor for the EPL, is Deloitte LLP. The information is there, how much each player earns, Form 3 (Rule E.21) etc.

    The AST members, for example, do not know their apex from their anus!

    Liked by 2 people

  37. seemingly Sanogo is finally back in training.

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  38. yeah notoerthehill, the ast like to quote the mets attendance figures, despite admitting that these to not include anyone who enters the ground via the car parks. But as we know, dim tim likes to make his facts fit his agenda.

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  39. I have no idea about the PL handbook NOTH but HMRC’s handbook is fairly clear.

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  40. Stephy Mavididi makes his full debut for charlton v oldham tonight

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  41. afcstuff ‏@afcstuff 49m49 minutes ago

    Wenger: “We had PSG and we could deal with them. Let’s focus on what we want to do and not too much on what people say and think.”

    Liked by 1 person

  42. JB™ ‏@gunnerpunner 13m13 minutes ago

    There were Arsenal fans who were fuming when we ‘only’ drew with PSG. Warped expectations.

    Liked by 1 person

  43. PSG 4 0 Barfa ’72?

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  44. Ed ‏@edAfootball 7m7 minutes ago

    Have to say, it would be almost too perfect if PSG won the CL in the season they got rid of Ibrahimovic. Same happened at Barca & Inter.

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  45. Barca might need Busacca to come out of retirement to save them on this one.
    Arsenal did well to hold this team in two games

    Liked by 1 person

  46. PSG brilliant tonight and the Catalans torn limb from limb.

    I shall give it 24 hours before howling with laughter too loudly.

    Liked by 2 people

  47. Champions League Verified account@ChampionsLeague

    One to watch? Arsenal No11 Mesut Özil has scored 4 goals against Bayern. #UCL

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  48. Wenger must GO!!
    Hey!! I’m just echoing the war cry of the majority of Gunnar supporters. And, City is in second place now.

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