by Tony Attwood
The “606” radio programme on BBC Radio 5 Live is not a particular favourite of mine, but I do listen occasionally while driving back to the Midlands from the Arsenal. However I don’t think I have heard Mr Savage ever insult a supporter who has taken the trouble to phone in, quite so much as when he called an Arsenal fan “pathetic, pathetic, pathetic” last night.
The cause of the repeated insults was the fact that the supporter was doing what we might expect – he was celebrating a victory against our biggest local rival, and celebrating another improvement in Arsenal’s performance. Savage didn’t seem able to get the notion of local rivalry at all, and appeared lost, disjointed and mindlessly repetitive.
Indeed it seemed he was (not for the first time) completely out of touch with what being a supporter actually means. To dismiss such rivalry as “pathetic” and to go unchallenged by his co-presenter is to show (also not for the first time) that increasing numbers of professional commentators on football are so far removed from the real world that they end up talking about some sort of fantasy created by themselves. PAYING customers seem to live in another dimension.
“PAYING” that is, in terms of the cost of the ticket, the transport, the programme, and everything else. SUPPORTING in terms not only of your team, but also your team against its historic rivals.
Indeed the distance that people like Mr Savage have travelled from the experience of actual football supporting, is enormous. For all their relevance to what happened yesterday they might as well have been watching pony trials.
Anyone fortunate to have been with Walter, Andrew, Blacksheep, myself and a rather large number of other supporters, will live forever with the memory of yesterday and its unbelievable unfolding. Indeed I was left ruminating as I drove home, on the fact that this was probably the second most emotional game I have ever experienced in a long life of emotional experiences at football matches.
I’ve often written that watching the last match of the Unbeaten Season had me churned up inside, hardly daring to believe (especially at 1-0 down to Leicester) that we could actually do it and go unbeaten all season. When we did there were tears down my face.
No tears yesterday, but rather utter disbelief. But here’s a nice little coincidence. Both games happened on 15 May.
Of course there was not disbelief that Arsenal won, nor that Arsenal got four, nor that Giroud got a hat-trick (I’ve never given up my belief in him), but that Tottenham could actually lose from such a position. But of course it can happen. And indeed, it happened again.
When the roar went up around the ground as the first Newcastle goal went in, it was louder and more prolonged than the roar for the first Giroud goal, simply because it was more unexpected. When the second went in, it was louder again, and more prolonged – and tinged with utter total disbelief.
When Tottenham got one back there was a sinking feeling, and a recognition of how many times we have seen a team come back from 2-0 down to snatch a draw (which is all Tottenham needed). For the third Newcastle goal there was delirium, by the fourth there was hysterics – and of course by then our victory was long since secured.
And then the Arteta goal – a real Would You Believe It? moment. I know the churlish souls without a heart will insist it goes down as an own goal by the keeper, but to push that point is to miss the sheer overwhelming power of what we do each weekend. We support OUR team against OUR big rivals, and the whole occasion is part of OUR lives. And this was one of OUR moments.
That’s why those of us who follow the notion of supporting the club, the players and the manager are so far removed from those who will join supporters from dozens of other clubs in calling for the manager to leave. We don’t do that because it is OUR club, OUR family, and truly OUR game.
It is indeed no surprise that R Savage on Radio 5 doesn’t come within a billion miles of understanding that, given the distance the media has travelled away from real football and real fans. Although even so it is a little surprising that the Corporation should think it is a clever idea to have an ex-player be paid to call a supporter “pathetic, pathetic, pathetic” and for everyone to think that acceptable.
But perhaps it is the start of the desperate attempt to explain away how a team denounced by so many journalists and writers of bloggettas as being the worst Arsenal team in decades, as being so awful, useless, pathetic, horrible, talentless, etc etc, should have won the FA Cup twice and then come second in the league in the past three seasons. If Mr Wenger is so awful, what does that say about 18 other managers in the league?
And not just that, but also the fact that Arsenal has come above both Manchester clubs and Chelsea, clubs that have infinitely more resources than Arsenal, and all of which were tipped by different people as league winners. Indeed while coming second, third or fourth is not a trophy as we are told every day, coming second, third or fourth is rather handy as a way of playing in the Champions League and two of those giant clubs won’t be doing that next year. Do they care? You bet they do.
This has been a season in which a bunch of people, aided by those who work in radio, TV and newspapers, as well as the little bloggettas that do nothing but tell us they can read the future (and the emotions) of managers, have once again predicted the decline of Arsenal – from the Daily Mirror to the Telegraph the message has been rammed home.
And once again they have got it very, very, very wrong. When on earth will they ever learn?
This is the era in which P. Morgan Esq has told us that we should have signed Martinez as manager. And Moyes. And most other people. But we didn’t – and thank goodness for that.
Of course for some people two FA Cups and a second place in the league is not enough in three seasons after building the Emirates, and maybe such people should go and support Barcelona or Real Mad in Spain, where trophies come along in convoys. That one option. But for me, I’ll take the sheer excitement and overwhelming joy of yesterday any day of the week, and look forward to winning the league next season.
|1||Leicester Curiosity Shop||38||23||12||3||68||36||32||81|
|3||It’s happened again||38||19||13||6||69||35||34||70|
|7||State Aid United||38||16||14||8||65||51||14||62|
|10||Chelsea will win the league||38||12||14||12||59||53||6||50|
- guess what…?
- Arsenal v Villa. Only half the teams in the Prem next season were there 10 years ago.
- Arsenal v Aston Villa 2015-16 Season Finale – The Match Officials
New and recent series on the Arsenal History Society Site
- Arsenal in the 1930s – the new series has begun
- Arsenal in the 1970s – the complete review of every game
- Arsenal in the summer – the transfers, the friendlies, year by year
- Arsenal anniversaries – nearly 5000 entries
- The full index to all the series is on Arsenal History Society Web Site