This is it: the big one for the little one’s. Or “le grand un pour les petits” as they don’t say in foreign parts.
Who can ever forget one year ago?
There was the memory of the fact that our little guys (with one or two biggies) had a year before smashed Liverpool at their downtrodden home 3-6, revealing for all to see just how impoverished junior football north of Watford actually is. And the came along came 23 September 2008.
A day when the rest of the footballing world started to realise that Arsenal really were developing something that had never been seen before in the history of the western spiral arm of the galaxy.
Arsenal Kiddies 6 Sheffield Untidy 0
Oh joy. Oh memories. Oh ****ing incredible (as we say in the East Midlands).
Average age about 3 and a half (actually 19 years 5 months compared with 27 years for Sheffield Saturday). Average height (for readers of the Sun) 5 feet 11 inches which is about 24 litres in metric.
- Fabianski the injured
- Hoyte the younger, Song the not yet ready, Djourou the not injured, Gibbs Who Had Not Yet Been Discovered
- Wilshere we’ve heard about but not yet seen, Randall the impetuous, Ramsey the Welsh, Merida the not quite yet
- Bendtner the “he’ll never make it”, and Vela the Mexican Hat
Oh it was incredible. It was unbelievable. And as for Carlos Vela, the story that he was about to become the greatest Mexican player ever, and ever, and ever, was finally revealed to be true.
Where are they now?
- Fab is injured
- Hoyte the younger is playing for his country
- Song is in the first team
- Djourou is injured
- Gibbs shone like a shiny thing last season and has revealed himself ready for anything thrown at him
- Wilshere will win the world cup for England (says so in the book of Revelations)
- Randall is still impetuous
- Ramsey can now slip into the first team anytime and plays for Wales
- Merida has shown us all his brilliance, and is now playing for his country
- Bendtner is a first team fixture who got us out of jail in Belgium
- and Vela, thank goodness, is just back from injury.
So to replace the injured and those who have moved on to a higher plane we have Szczesnyxyzcsxzynz the Unpronouceable in goal. Senderos the Milanese is back, and Traore the Disappeared will play with Gibbs on the left. (Actually the last part of that sentence is ambiguous, but I mean both will be on the pitch on the left hand side.)
If you don’t follow Arsenal Reserves (how could you not, they are bloody brilliant this year) you won’t know that they have played three, won three scored eight and let in none.
(Incidentally you also might not be fully conversant with the fact that the all powerful, all forward looking, all monied Tiny Totts are in such a staggeringly brilliantly organised situation that this year they suddenly pulled out of the reserve league about a week before kick off. I wrote to them and suggested that if they don’t have any players who can stand up against our 3 year olds they could play a brown paper bag, but they didn’t reply to my letter).
If you read Highbury High you will know (when you pick up a copy tonight) that I have Coquelin down as one of my players to make it – watch him – he looks ungainly with that movement of his, but ever since he suddenly turned up at the Austrian camp a year ago, he has been amazing everyone.
Phil Gregory, in his excellent analysis of the game, has a forward line of Barazite, Watt, Wilshere, and believe me (if you don’t watch the little ones) that is some forward line. Writing later than Phil I now know that Carlos the Hat is playing. And I also want to include Sunu – although he didn’t play in the last reserve game so maybe he’s injured – but he scored two in the second reserves game of the season and is superb. (He is also Thierry Henry II but don’t tell anyone).
In fact no one corresponding on Phil’s article included Sunu. What’s going on?
Anyway, back to the future. What happens?
Kick off is delayed by 25 minutes following a fight in the special guests section as 268 visiting managers, scouts and coaches jostle for position, waving loan documentation and bribes at our players, our support staff, and Gunnersaurus. Manchester Arab sign the mascot.
There is then a second delay as it is discovered that five of the team are caught up outside the ground where over-zealous stewards are trying to charge them £5 to get in. Two are arrested for being out after dark on their own.
There are further problems at half time where five of the squad are promptly marched off by their mothers who announce that it is way past their bedtime.
Commentators from the “media” (the so called “journalists”) spend most of the game saying that Wenger has lost the plot as last year’s side (the youngest ever to represent Arsenal in a competitive match since the club was founded in 1886) was younger than this year’s.
“Has Wenger lost the plot?” screams the Sun, but fortunately no one listens.
Arsenal win 18-0.
“At times it was hard to believe what was happening. A side with an average age of less than 20 containing one 16 year old and four players making first starts, played through their more experienced opponents as if they were ghosts, only pausing to catch breath or to celebrate the stream of goals.”
The Guardian, 24 September 2008.
It is fashionable to say “I nearly cried” at such events. That would be wrong. I cried. I couldn’t believe how wonderful it was. Everything that I believe in, in football, served up in one game. I just raised my hands to the Lord Wenger and said “thank you for this”.
More of the same would go down rather well chez Attwood.
(c) Tony Attwood 2009.