95 Comments

Arsenal Versus ‘Boro: Simple Pleasures

07 04 09

I own one of those portable screens, you’ve probably seen them, they’re about the size of a slim hard backed book and are terrifically clever. One can watch television programmes, read electronic facsimiles of books and play simulated card games on them. As I say, quite extraordinarily impressive devices and I never fail to give a small, disbelieving shake of the head whenever I press the button and the thing begins to glow.

The various functions are controlled by fiendishly ingenious lines of computer code commonly referred to as applications. In order to choose which of these is most suited to one’s need previous users are often kind enough to write a brief summary of their experience, a review, if you like. Apart from being extremely public spirited these reviews are also very useful, but it is neither their utility nor the generosity of their authors which set the wheels turning and prompted these words.

It was rather the nature of one review in particular, a stylistic approach complimented by its content, the character of which caught my eye. The writer simply pointed out how enjoyable the application was, how easy she found it to use and how wonderful it was to be able to employ this particular programme. Concise, succinct, positive and cheery, the author told us nothing of herself but spoke with a simple eloquence of her pleasure at having her leisure time so enhanced.

As I cast my eye down (or rather moved the electronic type upwards – such is the modern world) I couldn’t help notice how different the majority of contributions from other users seemed to be. Self consciously acidic in tone, often little more than an opportunity to show off how much more they knew than than the people who had designed the application; how much better it could and indeed should be. There was an impatient arrogance and a burning desire to tell the world just how clever they were and how crucial it was that their opinions be shared.

There is, as you’ve doubtless already ascertained, a certain parallel to be seen here. An analogy with the world of the modern day football supporter. In truth the self same bombast and self important impatience with the experts is rife on any topic from climate change to cookery. The decline of the football fan isn’t the disease, merely another symptom.

I am these days firmly in the same camp as the lady who was simply delighted at being able to use something called Netflix on her shiny portable screen. I am happy to find the technology so helpful when I want to watch a football match. I’m glad to be given so much information on the players, to be treated to regular expert analysis on the club’s website by a certain Mr Clarke and to be able to cheer my chosen team along in the virtual company of many like minded folk.

I see absolutely no added value in attempting to understand why one season may be more successful than another, and nor do I want to convince hundreds of strangers that my opinion is more valid than theirs. I absolutely do not wish to involve myself in telling the experts at the club where they’ve gone wrong. Until someone can give me a convincing explanation as to how any of this would make an jot of difference to the fortunes of the players on the field or the running of the club I shall continue not to give a fig for such behaviour.

Today I am excited about football. I’m keen to get under way and watch the first match of the day as I travel to the Memorial Stadium for Bristol Rovers epic clash with Oldham. I should get home just in time to settle in front of my computer for the Arsenal versus Middlesbrough game. Whether Rovers have a realistic chance of a play off place or Arsenal a prayer of a top four finish is a matter of supreme indifference. There are two games of football to be enjoyed. Teams and managers lined up in a test of will, skill, tactics and fortune and all I have to do is first stand and then later sit back and watch. I can shout and cheer or groan and despair but I’m only a spectator, I’m not a part of either of the clubs I follow and they owe me absolutely nothing beyond a game of football.

It hurts me to see players or managers coming out with forced public relations statements alluding to them having ‘let down the fans’ as if they are performing solely for our benefit, striving only to please us. We are grown ups. We are able to deduce that their prime motivation is a powerful competitive urge present in all sports people. They want to win for their own pride, self respect and for their legacy in their chosen field of expertise. Pleasing the unwashed hordes in the cheap seats might add a certain spice to the occasion but unless we the supporters show ourselves to be an integral part of any success through unwavering and above all loud encouragement we forfeit any claim to even the slightest vicarious pleasure in the players’ triumphs.

So I shall enjoy the matches today and indeed for the rest of the season. I shall do so happy in the knowledge that whatever the temporary fortunes of my chosen club be they good or bad I am lucky to be living through a golden age where I am able to watch some of the greatest athletes the game has ever produced. I am able to do so with an ease I couldn’t have dreamed of as a child. Above all I shall do so as a happy amateur, a spectator and consumer, not an expert, not a critic and never, ever someone who thinks he knows better than Arsenal’s greatest ever manager.

About steww

bass guitar, making mistakes, buggering on regardless.

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95 comments on “Arsenal Versus ‘Boro: Simple Pleasures

  1. Hi Steww,

    Like you I am still as excited as ever I was. Another excellent Post, and it makes me realise that there is too much sadness in the world to waste time worrying about a game – other than my deep desire for Arsenal to beat poor old doomed Middleboro – and by a big score, surely everyone can agree with that? — Maybe not!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Morning Henry, don’t you feel sorry for those clever, cynical types who can’t enjoy the game for its own sake.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What a fantastic post, those that think they have a right to demand success,should really have a big look at themselves,demanding a club buy players,sack players,change board members,owners and managers, should be made to live in a real actual world, Sure football appeals to the emotive but when those emotives are fear,anger and hate,not pleasure,happiness and contentment there is a big chance there’s something wrong with your life,maybe a short stint living in Ethiopia or Syria would make them realise what fear,anger and hate is.
    I will be watching tonight hoping we win and play well but accepting if we don’t the world has not ended and it will still be Tuesday tomorrow,

    Liked by 5 people

  4. Excellent Steww and Henry is right, as the game starts its difficult not to feel as excited as I did as a five year old watching the boys in red and white run out onto the pitch.
    At a time when the football world is treating us as blue rather than red the simple sentence from Arsene brings us back to reality “football is happiness” and that is how everyone should treat it.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Well said Philbet

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Good morning Steww and the world.
    What a recessing piece to read today.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Magnificent Stew!

    After spending the weekend with family I too shall sit down tonight and watch the Arsenal game to unwind from what has been a long weekend.

    As you said we are grown ups and should be able to handle ourselves, thus I shall be keeping my fingers cross that our boys can keep the mob at bay for at least 1/2 days following a good result tonight. One cant help but feel for them having to work in such a designed difficult environment that intends to rob their of joy.

    COYG!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Great article Steww. Thanks. You forgot one thing, that there’s also a degree of schadenfreude available when watching your least favorite side lose! Indeed Chelsea yesterday reminded me of some of our recent away performances.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Look forward to this game, and backing the team, from a distance.
    But, this has been a horrible season….in relative terms of course.
    I want to see the team win, challenge, surprise, raise expectations, hasn’t happened this season apart from the odd game.
    Clearly we cannot compete consistently with the big boys, but we also lack the pragmatism, cynicism and refereeing …….to do what smaller teams are now doing….especially against us. This team needs to find a counter to such tactics.and learn how to beat bigger teams, as others do.
    I love the team, but really have not enjoyed recent events, as a shallow fan, I really hope they do whatever they need to change things and restore some degree of hope next season.
    But let’s hope fortunes soon change, starting this evening, some of the performances have been almost unrecognisably poor in all aspects. I think the managerial situation is really hindering them. If Wenger is staying, surely not beyond a nod and a wink to stabilise the players, or at least those who want him to stay?

    Like

  10. “but unless we the supporters show ourselves to be an integral part of any success through unwavering and above all loud encouragement we forfeit any claim to even the slightest vicarious pleasure in the players’ triumphs.”
    In a fucking nutshell, as they say Stew, In a fucking nutshell.

    Liked by 4 people

  11. Oh, and the entire article is a joy too by the way. Take a bow Son.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Morning Stew – but only just. As with the marvels of modern technology we live in a world where too much is taken for granted being an Arsenal fan. I am as guilty as any.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. It’s a great parallel you draw with the app-reviewing know-it-alls and the attention-seekers who similarly seek to score points at the expense of the professionals running our football club. It’s always so, so easy to snipe away from the sidelines, never having to take responsibility for your views or inaction.

    That, alas, is the modern world and it’s symptomatic of both the technologies we have at our disposal to facilitate such and the ever-increasing distances we find ourselves from the ever-more heavily protected playing staffs.

    And the world appears to have become a black and white place; teams are either mindbendingly brilliant (see Jose’s alleged ‘masterclass’ from yesterday) or solely responsible for putting the ‘dire’ in diabolical (see Chelsea’s ‘suicidal collapse’, also yesterday).

    So technology, distance and dumbing down appear to be at least three of the curses of modern life.

    I wonder if, per chance, they are in any way related?

    Liked by 5 people

  14. The consistency of your blogs are reassuring like a sturdy rock in a sea of something appropriately analogous that I can’t quite think of at the moment. marvellous.

    Liked by 5 people

  15. Top, top stuff, Stew. Although I’ll confess I’m getting mighty tired of these weekday games, I’ll hit record this morning, and hope to come home this evening with a good spectacle to watch. But, if it’s not, I’ll survive, and like Philbet said, tomorrow will still be Tuesday.

    Weird as it is, I want the players to be happy. (Of course I realize that what I really want is for me to be happy. And somehow I’ve let the fortunes of a bunch of talented young men I don’t even know affect whether or not that’s the case. I really need to work on that…)

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Arsenal? What about the O’s, now that is a serious situation, sadly a great club on the brink.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Orient are in a terrible situation. Players being paid via PFA loan, medics not paid…..all because they sold to the wrong guy, and surprisingly, the FA s due diligence didn’t work. What was Barry Hearn thinking of?
    Hopefully, the fans can get together and rescue one of the older clubs

    Liked by 1 person

  18. No Idea what Barry was thinking of Mandy, but he seems to be regretting it or so I read somewhere. They deserve a full house today.I hope they get one.
    The game is on today though as theyve got a replacement doc.(for free!)
    Come on you Os!

    Like

  19. Steve – a sturdy rock in the PA sea of marvellousness!

    Liked by 2 people

  20. I went to Brisbane Road three seasons ago to watch them in a top of League One clash against Brentford – ended in a draw. Fast forward three years, and 10 Orient managers(ten) later the Bees sit comfortably mid table in the Championship, and the O’s are on their way out. Football eh.

    Liked by 2 people

  21. …theyre still hanging on Andy-slim chance, but still holding on!
    Trouble is the situ that the Os have are also affecting many other clubs, who knows if slowly many teams will just have to pack up? Sure hope not!
    COYOs

    Liked by 3 people

  22. And so it is that we are about to see another game unfold… And the wonderment is that none of us has the faintest idea of the outcome. That’s the beauty of it, and the reason we always come back for more. Perhaps these days more in anticipation than good sense, but come back we do. And how privileged I am to be an Arsenal fan in these times. Contrast this with the predicament of “the Ointment” (as I recall the Os used to be called colloquially) and you will see what I mean. Apart from the quality of Arsenal’s football being of a much higher standard (although I acknowledge that “quality” and “excitement” do not necessarily go hand-in-hand when watching a game), I can – and do – watch and enjoy every single minute of every Arsenal game through the wonderment of new fangled technology. And a cheque book as well it must be admitted. If you follow the Os this opportunity is unlikely to exist. Indeed, if you followed Arsenal not that many years ago, the best you could probably hope for was a radio commentary (sometimes) and “teletext”, with your eyes idiotically glued to the screen to see if Arsenal changed from “0 goals” to “1 goal” – in those days teletext for Arsenal games was rarely troubled by “2s” or “3s”. We are living in a wondrous age and those of us with long memories and aching limbs are forever grateful for this. Or at least I am. Against this backdrop, it’s criminal to witness the vitriolic spleen and hatred spat out by (our) “fans” and indeed by many people generally. As a society, we really don’t realise how fortunate we are to be living in this golden age, or at least those of us lucky enough to have been born in the UK. Ending on a more trivial note, let’s hope our players do indeed realise how fortunate they are (I’m sure they do) notwithstanding the cretinous media machine that sits on the touchline waiting to feast on the next “calamity” and to spit out anger and bile to the waiting masses.

    Liked by 5 people

  23. Apparently beating Chelsea at home elevates the management/coaching to tactical masterclass status…..well, perhaps with the exception of one manager.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Didn’t fat Sam also beat them at home? I don’t recall such elevation of the masticator!

    Liked by 1 person

  25. 3 at the back folks. Biggest tactical change I remember in ages. Excited about chance to see Holding and hope, obviously, it goes well.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Very surprised at that formation..they are not used to it, so could be a bumpy ride..but good luck to them, they can turn this around as we get round to what really matters

    Like

  27. Thoroughly enjoyable start to my ‘Monday Football Extravaganza’ with a win for Rovers. Now a fascinating team line up, full of exciting promise for tonight.

    Liked by 2 people

  28. Up the Gunners – I’m ready

    Liked by 1 person

  29. Wenger reinventing himself with that line up

    Like

  30. anthony taylor being anthony taylor

    Like

  31. harsh free kick on Giroud, lets’ head height high foot on Xhaka go, books Ox (fair, but you almost never get booking for that first 5). 3 mins gone

    Taylor

    Liked by 1 person

  32. Enjoyed the article too. Unlike most of you guys, Easter Monday is no holiday in my parts. Game on DVR.

    Liked by 1 person

  33. PGMOL rules no penalty for Arsenal

    Like

  34. “It’s Boro lads”

    Like

  35. Players don’t even bother to complain

    Liked by 1 person

  36. Adrian Clarke‏ @adrianjclarke 6m6 minutes ago

    Very poor from Taylor not to see Ayala’s bear hug on Giroud. So clear. No consistency with ref decisions this season! 😡

    Liked by 1 person

  37. Desperation of the commentators firstly the ball bounces behind the line the full back then clears to the sideline commentator calls a throw-in.
    Boro player knocks it behind commentator calls Boro corner

    Like

  38. surely clayton had to be booked there

    Like

  39. alexisssssssssssssssssssssss with a brilliant freekick, goalie never even moved

    Liked by 1 person

  40. Think he’s been working on his free-kicks. That’s about 5 crackers for us and Chile this year. Often hit bar but no danger of that this time. Lovely

    Liked by 1 person

  41. of course taylor has no trouble booking gabriel,

    Like

  42. I should wait till end of game given how this season’s going but man I like Rob Holding

    Liked by 3 people

  43. HT: Middlesboro 0-1 Arsenal

    the 11 men lead the 12 after a great freekick by alexis.
    a frenetic game so far with arsenal still to hit our best. which is hard with taylor ruining the game.

    a bit odd that we have gone to a 3 at the back when two of the players such a formation would look to suit – mustafi and bellerin, are out of the starting team, mustafi with a stomach bug, and bellerin with a little concern over his ankle
    ox a bit hot and cold so far, ramsey not in the game enough, nor are ozil and alexis. giroud should have had a penalty, but its taylor so no chance.

    Liked by 1 person

  44. Any praise from commentators for us looking solid defensively when they so love to hammer us when we aren’t?

    No chance. They’re griping about it being a poor game.

    Hope we get a second fairly quick to halve danger of Taylor and give the nerves a bit of a rest.

    Liked by 1 person

  45. I do not subscribe to the view that all referees are corrupt, or have an agenda against the Arsenal — but that Taylor is, at the very least, a thoroughly incompetent so-and-so – to award yellow cards against Arsenal players for innocuous challenges, and yet allow Boro players to lunge two footed at our guys and go unpunished [Leadbitters jump at Özil should have been a red card] and the wrestling holds on Giro watched by the ref without punishment 9yellow card and a penalty] was a disgrace.

    Hmmm — maybe there is something in this corruption scenario after all. Bastard!

    Liked by 1 person

  46. Beautiful free kick goal by Alexis, by the way!

    Liked by 1 person

  47. alexis gives away the ball cheaply and boro break, why kos did not head it i do not know, and its 1-1, awful stuff

    Like

  48. what does a boro player have to do to get booked by taylor, what a cunt

    Like

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