By Tony Attwood
I had hoped to get home around midnight, instead it was closer to 1am. That was frustrating and annoying.
The cause, inevitably was the British Dig Up The Motorway Scheme For Congesting Traffic, that has been introduced by the Dept of Transport as an alternative to speed cameras. We’d hadn’t expected the slip road to the M1 to be shut again, nor for the road south of Milton Keynes to be down to one lane. So we sat in traffic with prats endlessly changing lanes and pushing in, in order to get a three second advantage.
And I was frustrated because I hadn’t expected this, but of course I should have done. That’s what British roads are like. That’s the way people drive on British roads.
As for the game, given the way Sunderland fans celebrated at the final whistle (a wild upsurge of joy with their players running towards them dancing with delight), it looked very much as if their wildest expectations had been far exceeded.
(Alternatively Wearside has become the new home of British acting, and we ought to move most of our drama schools there, as they clearly have a huge amount of talent).
And so I got pissed off.
The one good thing we can say about the affair is that the aaa didn’t bother to show, even though there were masses of empty seats. Given the distance the Sunderland fans had to travel (including for those who have jobs, taking a day or two off work) they took up a decent sized allocation, and all credit to them. Their expectation was relegation, and they got salvation, and went wild.
We were pissed off because I think most of us expected Arsenal to win. We were talking 2-0 or 3-0 in the seats around me. (I felt sorry for the gent who took up a seat next to me who used to play for London Welsh. He hadn’t seen a football match in many a long year, and he got last night. Hey ho, that’s how it goes.)
But I thought once the first goal was in, that would be that – we would actually see football rather than 13 behind the ball (the eleven Sunderland players, the ref and one of the linesmen). And we got…
So it is all expectation, but we’ve been here before and come out of the other end. 2009 with four 0-0 draws in a row in the league, 31 January to 28 February, with a 0-0 draw in the FA Cup at Cardiff in the midst of that just for good measure. I lived through that, so I guess I can make it through this.
And that’s what makes me a supporter. Come the weekend I’ll be making arrangements for the journey, looking forward to seeing friends again, and hoping for better fare than this. After all, in the final match the visitors have got nothing to lose and their manager will want to show that he knows the rules of football. (I don’t think he does, but in his own mind he thinks he does).
So expectation is what it all is. During the Billy Wright era, during the latter days of Bertie Mee, during the league season in which we won the cup double under George Graham – and thereafter under Graham, during the dour defences of Don Howe, we had no expectations. The football was ghastly, the results were ghastly, and we still turned up and watched. Because we expected nothing else. We were Arsenal and for some reason we could never understand we were being punished for it.
These days, we’ve come to expect playing a frustrating qualifying match at the start of the season, which tends to distract the team enormously. Avoiding it will be nice. A little light in the gloom.
It is always expectation.
But the one thing to remember is that no matter how frustrated I got during that game last night, the aaa must get far more frustrated than I ever do. Every year they predict that this is the year when we will end up mid-table, and we never do. How frustrating is that.
And how frustrating for that strange guy who does the black scarf thing who keeps tweeting about Untold. Or indeed all those Man C and Liverpool fans who keep coming here and giving Untold more and more hits, and keeping us high in the rankings. They want to knock us, and all they do is make the site even more popular. I’m always grateful.
But the aaa, they must be so fed up. They go to game after game and the results never come out as they predict.
Ah well, there’s always someone more fed up with a game of football than me.
But to be honest it wasn’t all bad. Far from it in fact. I had the regular chance to meet up with friends, have a good chat, catch up with Andrew and Blacksheep, and have a lot of laughs along the way. (I felt sorry for the gent who shared a table with the three of us. He sat there throughout our meals, looking straight ahead as the three of us came up with ever more crazy articles for Untold that will never be published, and then after about 40 minutes got up and wandered off. I don’t think he understood a word).
Actually now I come to think of it, as an afternoon/night out, it wasn’t that bad.
I could have done without the traffic jams though. Anyway, let’s do it again on Sunday.
An anniversary to suit my mood….
21 May 1925: The day on which it was reported that the new rules about corners were challenged – but it wasn’t! (Actually it was 15 November 1924). The issue related to whether a goal could be scored direct from a corner, or not.
And something more positive…