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October 2016
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Do the people who leave the ground early also leave the sofa before the end of a TV match?

By Tony Attwood

There have always been some people who like to leave the ground early, but this strange and eccentric habit seems to have got worse and worse and worse in recent years.

I suppose it was harder to get out when we had a ground that had large standing sections, and for those people who wanted to avoid the rush, it was less of an issue at Highbury with only 38,000 instead of 60,000 present.

But now it seems to be an ever-growing desire – to get out before everyone else.  And of course because everyone else wants to get out before everyone else, the leaving gets earlier and earlier and earlier.

Of course it is not just Arsenal – it happens everywhere.  Jürgen Klopp said he started to feel rather lonely when he saw it happen at Liverpool.  Mind you if I was forced to watch Liverpool week after week I think I might….

But no, that’s still no excuse.  For it doesn’t matter too much what the score is or what’s going on.  Yes, if it is ten minutes to go and Arsenal are a goal down, throwing everything into attack, and then the opposition break away and score, there will be a mass exodus.  But otherwise it seems to happen no matter what.  5-0 up, 1-1, 0-1, they leave early.

The curious thing about this is if you stay in your seat at the end of the game, you’ll be able to watch some of the players walk around and applaud the fans.  The centre backs are particularly good at doing this, and usually we get five or six players giving their thanks back to the fans.   It only takes a few minutes, but once it is over, the exits are quite a bit freer.

If you stay even longer you’ll be amazed how quickly all the exits clear – it really is just a case of a few minutes.  If you visit the Arsenal shop, or go and have a drink after the game, you’ll find it is only a matter of 15 minutes from the final whistle that even Arsenal underground station is pretty clear.

Trying to evaluate all this, it struck me that the number of people who take it slow in getting out of the ground is probably the same as the number of people who exit before the end.  Which suggests that the early leavers, on time leavers and late leavers are actually different personalities.  You never know they might even have different genetic make up – but since I never was much good at biology, let’s be safe and stay with the psychology.

I’ve met some of these early leavers in other walks of life.  They always have to be there first.  If there’s a queue they have to try and worm their way to the front.  If people are moving at a regular pace they try and go faster.   Driving along a regular English A road with one lane going in each direction and a standard national speed limit of 60mph (just under 100km per hour) they try and overtake even though it is illegal and often extremely dangerous.

But above all these people have never realised that even in the unlikely event that they manage to go at 70mph for 10 minutes on a 60mph road they will only have only got there about one and a half minutes earlier.  They will have used more petrol, it will have cost them more, and anyway they will either have gone through a speed trap or they will have got stuck behind a truck or in the worst case scenario had an accident which will be utterly their fault, because they were breaking the law.

And still they keep doing it.  There’s no benefit, they just keep doing it.

People who leave at the whistle sometimes get stuck in queues, but just take it as the norm, while those who stay behind most certainly have an easier exit and probably easier journey home.  But either way these people will see the whole game and end up a lot less hassled.

Now that we know that Jürgen Klopp was surprised by the Liverpool walk out, I guess it is a cultural thing as well – the Anglo Saxon disease of always being in a rush rush rush for absolutely no reason.  It was probably true in the Dark Ages, King Alfred saying, “come on I want this country unified and the Danes kicked out by Thursday”.

I mean, what do these people who leave early do with the extra ten minutes they gain?   Anything?

But that brings me back to watching the game on TV.  Does an early leaver get up before the end to make a coffee or get a beer, in case there is a sudden rush in the kitchen?

Certainly, as I walk the mile or two up the Hollway Road to Archway, I know that all that is happening around me is one big traffic jam.  Quite often I see a bus, think of getting on it, decide I could do with the exercise, and then get to the tube station at Archway before the bus.  (Mind you the road is reduced to one lane each way near the overground station, and that doesn’t help.)

Thankfully the other public events to which I give my patronage (the theatre and the cinema) don’t have a similar exodus, although I’ve noticed of late that in certain parts of the country the amount of getting up and down during the movie has increased dramatically.  I suppose it is the effect of the endless need to graze that some people now have.

At dances there are early arrivers, later arrivers, early leavers, and those who leave after the DJ has announced the last track – but here it doesn’t really inconvenience anyone else.  I have left early sometimes when the quality of lady dancers is a bit disheartening, or when I have danced so much, so many days running, I can’t lift my feet any more.  Often I’m one of the last out.  I love my dancing.

But dances are different.  Plays, films and football matches only make sense if you have a fixed start and a finish.  (Some dance clubs keep playing the music as long as there are dancers on the floor).

But then I thought: what does this say about the endless moaning about high ticket prices?   I think I pay around £45 per match with my season ticket, assuming I make it to every game or manage to sell on my ticket if I don’t.    That means the game costs me 50p a minute in performance time.  So leaving ten minutes early would cost me £5.  Even if there were a refund it wouldn’t seem like a good deal.

Are the people who leave early also the people who ask for lower prices I wonder.   If Arsenal reduced every ticket by £20 throughout the season then the club would lost £30m a season.  Enough to buy another Alexis.   But I suppose if you leave early you miss some of the goals so maybe that doesn’t matter.

But is it just us fans that are besieged by this early leaving?   I once sat behind Alan Smith, the ex-Arsenal centre forward who became a writer with the Telegraph and was astounded when five minutes before the end of the match he closed his laptop and started a lively conversation with the reporter sitting next to him.

In that game he was right in one sense, nothing much happened in those last five minutes, but still it would have been amusing had there been a total turn around in the game after he had powered down.

But maybe best of all those early leavers ought to be encouraged to watch the Saturday afternoon football on Sky Gillette Soccer Saturday  with Jeff Stelling.   They always manage to build up the last five minutes of the games into higher and higher levels of excitement making me wish I was there, rather than sitting on the sofa, because Arsenal are away, or because our game has been moved to Sunday.

However, like crazy speeding on our highways, leaving early for limited benefit now seems to be ingrained in the English psyche as one of the multiple personality quirks that seems to have eaten into our national being.

But at least I get a laugh each time Arsenal scores in the last five minutes thinking about all those people who paid the same as me, but missed the last goal.

Anniversary of the day

11 November 1930: Racing Club de Paris 2 Arsenal 7.  This was the first in the series of games to honour and raise money for those who gave their lives in the first world war, each game played on or close to Armistice Day.

The latest meanderings from the History Society….

Arsenal in the 70s, part 1: the re-birth of the club. 1969/70

Arsenal in the 70s, part 2: preparing for the impossible.  July to December 1970

Arsenal in the 70s, part 3: The Golden Treble

21 comments to Do the people who leave the ground early also leave the sofa before the end of a TV match?

  • proudkev

    Tony, my own sentiments.

    It drives me barmy that for around ten minutes I am constantly standing up and being distracted from the game I paid to see, for the early leavers. These people are utterly seflish, it is all about them. They would rather disrupt other fans than have to spend an extra 5 minutes waiting for a train or perhaps not getting a seat on one. I have missed numerous late goals because of these people standing and walking in my vision.

    They are a pain.

  • Usama Zaka

    I rarely eat anything while watching Arsenal, so as to avoid missing anything. And I am happy to say I haven’t missed a match on TV in 4 years.

    When Arsenal are winning comfortably, then I sit back and enjoy match the rest of game talking to my brother about the good times today.

    And when we are losing badly I just watch the match till it ends with my hand over my head, avoiding any conversations about the match in the process.

  • apo Armani

    November 11, 2015 at 2:18 pm

    They should have special seating for these type of exit-prone “fans” right by the exits 😉

  • colario

    I thought the delight of queuing was an English hobby, part of the English psyche. it seems no from what you say here.

    I hate queuing especially in shops. However when I go to an event I like to sit back and savour the event so I am a patient late leaver.

  • Pete

    I almost always stay until the final whistle but then leave immediately. Fortunately my seat is near an exit (planning!) which is good for the tube… so I can usually get to the tube before the queues build. This is important as my mainline connections are at pre-defined times. Particularly midweek if I miss my train it is an extra half an hour, which means half an hour less sleep and so on. But it works for me – and I get to see the whole of every match!

  • Pete

    What really irritates me are the people who leave early at half time – and arrive back late for the second half… often one and the same. Are they that desperate for a pint (or several)?

  • N8

    People are entitled to leave when they like. They have paid for the ticket and that’s it. Ideally we’d all like to stay till the end and basque in the glory of watching our team win, but the sad fact is many of us need to work to pay for the ticket. This usually means having to wake up early. I left the bayern home game 10mins early and arrived home at least 45mins earlier than I would have done otherwise. When u wake up at 5 30am it’s a sacrifice you have to make

  • proudkev

    N8, thats a very fair point with evening games and well made.

    Not sure that translates to afternoon or midday games though, especially with the huge numbers that seem to depart ten minutes before the end. However, it is a right royal pain when the intensity of the last ten minutes or less is constantly interrupted to let people pass your seat or standing up in front of you, that’s all. As the point of going to the game is to see your team win, why would you leave before the end if the score is level, just to nget a seat on the train?

  • nicky

    You betray your age.
    In the immediate post-war years, it was a manly custom for all active cinema goers to head madly for the exit, a few minutes before the end of the main feature… avoid standing for the National Anthem.
    Many’s the time I’ve been caught while the girlfriend adjusted her popcorn (for want of a better expression). 😉

  • Ando

    When me and my mate Vince used to stand on th North Bank at Hoghbury, we always stayed until the final whistle.
    We would notice people starting to leak away fromall around the ground from about 15 minutes before the end, mostly the away fans from the Clock End if they were getting beat, but also upper and lower tiers East and West stands. By full time, it would be a steady stream from all quarters which would turn into a massed exodu as the whistle sounded. This was oit signal to head for the nearest crush barrier, turn our backs on the pitch and discuss the game with each other for 5-10 minutes while we watched the crowd heave and shove.
    At the end of that, we would climb the terraces and descend the steps into Gillespie Rd and turn left to th3 Tube station, where it was out great fortune to use the northbound platform (which was empty) to travel to Arnos Grove and thence, the 251 bus to Mill Hill where the Risinge Sun pub would just be opening.
    We were always glad that others left early – it meant we could see the whole game and have less hassle leaving when we chose to, because of the numbers who had already split.
    We didn’t bother to think why they did this – it’s just other people, innit?
    I do understand those who have work / family commitments, but I am retired now and can suit myself.
    If i ever get to go to the Arsene Wenger Stadium (as it should be known once the Emirates deal lapses) I shall stay until I want to leave

  • Brickfields Gunners

    I guess that most would leave to catch the game highlights as put out by the tv companies and their paid experts , and possibly to compare notes at what they witnessed – just to be sure that their views concurs with that of the ostriches ‘ head in the sand opinions .
    At least by their leaving early , there are less people at the stadium booing !

    What does the moaning one do after vacating his seat early at their home games ? Think up some funny ‘putdowners ‘ , punchlines or jokes ? Or cleaning up himself after witnessing another orgasmic inducing performance from his team ? I notice that this season he does less of it . Wonder why ?

  • Sammy The Snake

    I travel a bit too much, and regularly change travel plans to make sure I don’t miss a game. How can a supporter leave early?

    My guess is that those leaving early are not fans. They are tourists who just want to have the experience for once.

  • WalterBroeckx

    I have never in my whole life of going to football left a ground early. And certainly wouldn’t do this at Arsenal.
    I also agree with the half time walkers: they are a real pain in the a… Ok I can accept that if your bladder is small and you really cannot wait you have to go but if this would be the fact for all those people leaving and making me stand up then I think there should be an enquiry from the health department in to this situation. They should seek and find the reason why so many English people have a too small bladder.
    Now for those who really have a small bladder: it helps to drink less before a match to avoid you having to leave your seat during the match.

    And at home I never turn off my TV even when we play extremely poor or get beaten heavily. I suffer till the very last second of the match with my team and fellow supporters.

    I must say that on a few occasions I couldn’t see the match till the end as I had other obligations and had to leave my house but even then I will delay my departure till I really cannot wait any longer much to the annoyance of my wife or whoever I have to go away with. 🙂

  • Rantetta

    I wanna see every minute of the match on my occasional visits to see Arsenal. I dislike getting up and down for people passing prior to half, or full time. And they just appear like they’re fully entitled to summat. Not even a fake or regretful “excuse me please”.

    On the opening day when we played Aston Taylor – many, many months ago, once the final whistle blew I was able to run along the entire row I’d occupied so I could berate the ref. I know damn well he couldn’t hear me as I couldn’t get down the stairs – so I’m there shouting like a mad man.

    I was at the final match last season. I had everything planned. Everybody would **** off 15mins before full time and I’d therefore be able to rush down to row 1 and savour the lap of appreciation, and also say thanks (or more) to Arsene Wenger.

    Did they leave?

    Did they ****!

    I was stuck 20 rows back in the lower stand, and left regretting not having brought my binoculars with me. What happened to all you “early leaving gits” that day? Sometimes, my fellow supporters, you make me angry.

    Why you 60,000 can’t think of my needs escapes me.

  • serge

    I was at a Highbury match against Man U., we were getting beaten 0-1 and it looked all over for us (so the ground started emptying) until we scored two goals in the last few minutes to complete a rare double.
    The early leavers completely missed a famous victory.

  • porter

    Obviously most of you are sitters in the stadium . Where I am it is standing all the way. At Highbury I had aisle seats on the North Bank and found the stairways filled up at least 10 minutes before the end of both halves . Now I deliberately chose seats or ( positions ) in the very centre of the tier . This means if the people to the right want to go :- they go right and the left vice- versa. Although we stand we are not disturbed by the constant drift to the bar or train . One thing that does bug me is however as you go down the steps and turn left towards the station and the supporter’s club , who sells the licences for burger vans to park in the road blocking of half the walkway and causing congestion as half of the road is blocked by the barriers for the queue to the station. Next week I will moan about the surfeit of charity collectors sticking their buckets under your nose as you enter and leave not to mention the touts.

  • M18CTID

    What’s this? An article of Tony’s that I fully concur with 😉

    This is a topic that pops up now and again on the City forum I post on and it usually descends into an abusive slanging match between the early leavers and the stayers. Their main argument is that it’s their own business when they choose to leave and to be fair, they do have a point. It doesn’t stop me getting wound up about it no end though. City’s ground is probably up there with the worst of them for early leavers and there are some mitigating circumstances – I’m led to believe that the main car parks at the stadium are a nightmare to get off at the end of the match. However, there are plenty of parking spots a bit further away from the ground just outside the residential permit zone – about 15 minutes walk to the ground – which would probably ease this but many of these fans either don’t want to park there or are simply unaware of them.

    That still doesn’t excuse our ground being half empty at the final whistle when we beat Newcastle 6-1 the other week. No way 20-odd thousand City fans were in cars parked in the environs of the ground and the fact that it was a 3pm Saturday kick-off put to bed one of the other arguments put forward by some early leavers that if it’s a night match they have to get home in good time due to being up for work and/or their kids have to be up for school the next morning. Of course, some fans will always have a perfectly valid and understandable reason for having to get away before full-time and I fully understand that but I honestly can’t fathom why so many thousand fans would bail out when their team is winning 6-1. And if we were losing 6-1 I’d be equally determined to stay until the end partly because I’m a bit of a masochist at heart!

  • finsbury

    Having attended mid-week games at the new Arsenal Stadium as a guest of friends who needed to leg it before the end of a game so that they could get the last train heading North of Watford in order to get home to their loved ones i can fully appreciate why some people have no choice but to leave early, those that have to rise early.

    Especially when my own walk home is shorter then the walk to Archway tube (i think i might need to start doing some more excercise!).

    But I couldn’t help but notice how full the stadium was after the full time whistle blew seconds after Ozil made 2-0 against Munchen. A mid-week game.
    Many but not all of the people who leave early or at the final whistle leave because they want to not because they have to.

  • Goonermikey

    Midweek games mean I either leave before the end to get back to Coventry at a reasonable time or I watch until the end, show my appreciation, go for a pint and get the last train back (with several other Gooners) which means I get to bed before 02.00 providing there are no delays. And yes I have a responsible job and no I’m certainly not a youngster with loads of stamina. I’M A SUPPORTER…..the clue is in the name!

  • WalterBroeckx

    Reading M18CTDI his comment it looks to be an English attitude problem 😉
    Probably the same people who complain about the high ticket prices 😉