By Tony Attwood
I started sketching this notion of what I would like to see next season, about a week ago, and the more I thought about it, the more entangled it got.
So I decided to start with the new bits I will see.
First, I will see the game from a different angle. I am extremely fortunate in having a season ticket, (or maybe I should say that I had to foresight in the days of George Graham to go and get one) but more than that, I have a new season ticket seat from the new season. In the East Stand upper, on the 18 yard line. Of course I haven’t sat in it yet, but I’ve had a look through the club’s virtual reality thing, which allows one to see the ground from a particular seat, and it is pretty whizzo, I can tell you.
The change was rather forced upon me because my eyes are not quite as good as they used to be, and I’ll be sorry not to be with the friends I’ve made in the north bank over the years, but one has to adapt to the times.
Anyway, this year I was one of the lucky ones (many more people seek to change seats than actually can), and my number came up.
I also will see the Untold Banner at the Emirates – or at least I hope I will. If it is placed in the East Stand I won’t see it during the games, but I will certainly take a trip around to the West from time to time, just to make sure it is there. Incidentally if you support what Untold is, and want to help with the cost of the banner (and see it and read all about it) the article and information is here. A contribution is £5, should you wish to be part of Untold in a very real way.
And I will see the publication of the sixth volume of the Arsenal Independent Supporters Assn series on Arsenal’s history: Tom Whittaker: the end of the dynasty. AISA publishes one volume a year, and this deals with post-war Arsenal, and the last of the four managers who were at the club with Chapman in 1925.
I’ve had the very good fortune to talk with Tom Whittaker’s grandson in relation to this volume, and he’s very kindly offered to write an introduction, which I am very pleased about.
For these publications I write the text, but don’t do the pictures, so I won’t see what it looks like in full much before anyone else. So, I will very much be seeing it for the first time, this coming season.
Anyway, a copy will go, as always to everyone in AISA. If you are not a member, and you want to be, there are details about AISA here. Join now and you’ll get your copy free.
So that’s what I know I will see for the new season – the Untold Banner at the Emirates, the publication of volume 6 of the AISA history of Arsenal series, and the games from a new seat. But, being a greedy sort of cove, I want to see more. Here are the first few of my ideas of what else I want for the coming season.
1. The FA Cup won for the third successive time.
I actually want this more than I want us to win anything else. More than I want Arsenal to win the League, or even the Champions League.
The reason is simple – history. Three successive wins has been done twice: The Wanderers (1876, 1977, 1878), and Blackburn Rovers (1884, 1885, 1886). So to do it for the first time since 1886 (when of course winning was so much easier) would be amazing, unbelievable, and probably never ever to be repeated.
Arsenal are one of just two teams who have twice won the FA Cup in successive years – the other was Tottenham – and Arsene Wenger is the only manager in history twice to win the Cup in successive years. He is also the most successful manager in the FA in the FA Cup in the 20th and 21st century. Winning it again would make him the most successful manager in the FA Cup of all time.
Mind you I don’t know how my nerves would hold up at the Final.
On the other hand I’d also like Arsenal to beat the goal scoring record for modern times in the FA Cup Final – and if we did that my nerves would be fine. No one has scored more than four in a final since 1903. So a 5-0 win in the final would go down a treat. Another record. (7-0 would give us the all time record score, but I don’t want to be silly, and besides 5-0 would be the record since the off-side rule was changed in 1925).
This unique triumph – of being the only team to win the FA Cup three times in a row in the 20th or 21st century would be something beyond belief – and given that I have been lucky enough to have been at the last two cup finals, I would love to make it a third.
That then is my dream – my aspiration – for the new season. The FA Cup.
But what if I can’t have that? Then I’d accept the Premier League title, or the Champions League, as second best. Especially if somehow I was able to get a ticket for the final of the Champions League at the San Siro. (OK I know I am getting a bit silly here, but you know, we can all dream).
So, the Premier League – is it possible next year?
Well, we were not that far off this year just 12 points behind Chelsea. So let’s change a couple of results and see what happens. Instead of a draw and a defeat to Chelsea as we actually got, supposing we got two wins. That adds five points to our total, and reduces Chelsea by four points. That leaves us three points behind Chelsea.
Now last season we went unbeaten in the first six games, but our problem was that we drew four of these. Supposing we had won two of those four draws – say away to Leicester (a game I was at, and it was a game we could have won easily) and at home to Man C (ditto).
That is it, we’ve won the league. I have changed four results. Three draws turned into wins, one defeat turned into a win. Of course it is a fantasy, a bit of wishful daydreaming on a nice summer’s afternoon – but maybe that is difference between people like me, and people who inhabit the aaa. I can relax, dream, and have pleasant thoughts. That doesn’t make me any less of a person – in fact it makes me a much happier person.
Of course I could combine this and say, let’s win the FA cup for the third successive season, and the League. A fourth double. OK, I’ll have that.
As matters stand we’ve done the double three times, and so has that pesky Man U team. Preston, Tottenham, Liverpool, Chelsea, Aston Villa, have each done it once.
A fourth double would have a nice ring to it.
I have plenty more on my wish list, but I think, for the moment I’ll leave it at that. If you would like to provide your own wish list please do comment – or if you wish to expand, you could always send me an article. Email Tony.Attwood@aisa.org
From the anniversary files
- 27 June 2002: Arsenal played a pre-season friendly against Rapid Vienna, but the game was abandoned after the home crowd threw flares and stewards moved into the crowd. After the game was restarted both sides colluded to get the ball down the far end of the ground away from the fighting. The ref then blew and the players ran for the changing rooms.