By Tony Attwood
We live in a world of blame. And not just any old blame, but instant blame. Blame for the last minute of the last game. Blame for violence. Blame for the economy. Blame for the fact I sneezed just as I was going to start writing – it must be the fields beyond my house (and the fact I have the window open).
Whatever happened, I wonder, to that philosophy that says “it was my fault” or even, if that doesn’t work, “shit happens”? It seems to have transmuted into “shit happens and I know who to blame.”
As the build up to the current mess in France began, I rather fancied the notion of an England team packed with Danny Rose, Kyle Walker, Eric Dier, Dele Alli and Harry Kane playing each and every match and England getting near to the final, largely because it would mean that most of the Tottenham team would be knackered before next season began. (If only the Tinies had come fourth, and had to play a champs league preliminary round before their players got back from France, that would add to the fun I mused. Still Man C have that pleasure this year and there’s a chance some of their men won’t be available – 16 to 24 July. The Euro final is on 10 July).
Such are my random thoughts as I drive around the country, or indeed sit here peering out at the trees, the bushes and the occasional sheep. And I also wondered if we might have another tournament in which the media blame… the media, although not our media in England of course. They are practically perfect in every way.
And after just one match I saw not only accusations pouring out about the Russian media from our totally pure media, along with just one or two plaintive suggestions that maybe someone ought to tell supporters of England not to taunt the Compagnies Républicaines de Sécurité.
Thus it struck me then that somehow all those people who keep writing in to Untold telling me that (in regard to the views expressed by the regular writers on Untold) we’re living on another planet, are maybe right. I mean, on the planet I live in, if a mob of the CRS came heading my way I would first hide, then I’d leave town. Shouting at them is not an option in my world.
But then I also wouldn’t take my grandchildren to an England v Russia football match in Marseille.
So overall I suppose in old age I’ve got to the position of enjoying the mishaps of Tottenham (and they do seem to be a team that is extraordinarily good at pulling mishaps down upon themselves) and not going anywhere where I get into trouble.
Of course I can’t always stay out of trouble, as I reported on Facebook yesterday, given that in the early hours of Saturday morning I was stopped while driving my car at a police check point between Kettering and Corby (it is pretty wild in the East Midlands) where there were some six or eight police cars and maybe 20 police who had closed two lanes of a three lane highway. I was then reprimanded by the police for driving too slowly when told to pull over, held for 20 minutes while they “checked my car” and “checked my driving licence” and then breathalysed.
(Since I had been dancing, and high speed jive and alcohol don’t mix I hadn’t been drinking).
I suppose, given that I live in the county that has the worst death rate on the roads per number of drivers of any county in England (because the Conservative local council has ordered all the speed cameras turned off to save money), having gatherings of police in the early hours stopping and holding passers by might seem a good idea. And it is what I have to put up with, living in Northamptonshire.
But going to Marseille where people are taunting the CRS, and then going to a match where an England team full of calamity prone Tottenham players play Russia… well no, I don’t think so. It makes Northamptonshire with its eccentric police force and death dealing council look quite tame.
I didn’t see the game (I went instead to an absolutely brilliant night of jiving at The Shed in Nottingham – making sure that I came back via the cross country route to avoid the police around Kettering) but according to the Daily Mirror, the Totts “all played the full 90 minutes. Crucially, they al played well, with Dier even scoring England’s goal.” Now I am not sure who “al” is, but I suppose he was one of the England guys. Twitter didn’t seem to agree.
Anyway, this morning, the Guardian really doesn’t cover itself in glory. Having written the most outrageous stuff about Arsenal fans and the last match of the season in the last couple of days (thus losing all credibility in terms of accurate reporting) they now blame the Russian media for inaccurate reporting.
The initial response of Russian media to the scenes of violence in Marseille was one of gloating that Russian fans had come out on top, and planting the blame squarely on England supporters. Some reports in Moscow insisted that a small group of England fans had attacked hundreds of Russians and provoked them into a response, while others painted a picture of heroic Russians fighting off hordes of English hooligans.
“Some reports” is interesting, since the Guardian has not been able to bring itself to say “some Arsenal fans” when talking of the treatment of Giroud (although I’ve checked with a few friends since yesterday and none of us can recall any anti-Giroud sentiment at the final game against Villa).
“Two hundred and fifty Russian fans repulsed an attack by several thousand English and forced them to flee,” state news service Vesti reported. “English fans started the fight by attacking our fans, but 250 Russians from different corners of our country did not flinch and repulsed the attack of the heavily drunken islanders.”
As the Guardian says, “Hooliganism in Russian football has a long history”, just as wild allegations about Arsenal and Arsenal supporters in the British media has a long history, I suppose.
Of course I don’t know what really happened in France – as I say I was having a great time dancing in Nottingham – but I do think one should be careful where one goes of an evening. I’ve learned to avoid the main roads around Kettering and Corby, just as I don’t go to Tottenham away games (that is a reflection on the policing not the Tottenham fans), just as I don’t go to Marseille to watch England.
But I suppose they are all waiting for Russia v Ukraine next.
So what have we learned? Maybe before getting engaged with the French police it might be worth watching the TV series Braquo and The Last Panthers. If you have never seen either, I’d recommend both.
Oh yes, and not fill an English team with Tottenham players. You never know what ways they might find of clutching defeat from the jaws of victory.
Although come to think of it, actually we do know.
- Why is it that when Arsenal goes for a player something always goes wrong?
- Memo from editor: It’s the Euros. Make sure you knock Arsenal and its fans at every turn
- Accounting regulations make club finances hard to compare, but Arsenal are going in the right direction.
And on the Arsenal History site…
- Arsenal in the 1930s – the day we won the league for the first time…
- The First League Season, including a review of each player who played in that season
- Arsenal in the 1970s – the complete review of every game and every transfer
- 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