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Arsenal Stoke: the Chinese perspective; the Swiss view

By Billy “The Dog” McGraw

Watching Stoke City
is rather like dancing the night
with a girl with no rhythm
Only to wake up with a hangover and find
She won the dance competition.

Lao Tzu, Chinese philosopher, Zen Tse Province, 537 BC

It has been a matter of some debate among academics how Lao Tzu, perhaps the greatest of all the Chinese philosophers, the author of the “The Way”,  would write about Stoke City FC.  And why.

Indeed it was not until Alfie Einstein, physicist, lover, Arsenal supporter, watchmaker, hedgehog, groundsman at Leyton Orient and first poke in the Swiss 1936 Olympic underhill ski bobbing XI, wrote his seminal paper, “If you think time only goes in one direction, then you are facing the wrong way,” that the truth of the matter was revealed.

For as Einstein pointed out time not only travels at different rates depending on the speed of travel of the clock maker across the universe, but like the other three dimensions it can go this way and that.  And quite possibly both at once.

But why, philosophers and football analysits have asked ever since, pick on Stoke?

In “The Eternal Vision and The Eternal Light”  Tsu Lyn wrote, “Transmorph time in a game, and the game is won, the game is lost.  The game is all, the game is not,” and of course we have all been agreeing ever since.

For many viewers it was the original Wimbledon, Cup winners over Little Liverpool (no championships for 21 years) who devised Anti-Football – kicking the ball long up the field towards the corner flag in the hope of muscling it back.  It was Wimbledon (and not Stoke) who would always kick the ball out for a thrown in, in the sure knowledge that they would be able to elbow the opposition out of  the way to regain possession.  It was Wimbledon who had crowds so low that the notion of negative numbers had to be introduced to count them.

Of course these days Wimbledon has cleverly re-invented itself, by putting the blame on MK Dons for stealing the club – but the truth is that the original Wimbledon was not a club worth stealing, they were a club worth wrapping up in the paper left over when you open a sticky toffee pudding, and jettisoning into the darker regions of Ursa Minor.

This re-writing of the past – again noted by Lao Tzu when wrote so metaphorically,

Girl with no rhythm
I awaken with a hangover again
And find you are really Wimbledon in disguise.
Do it again
And I’ll smash your bleedin face in

who thus drew the attention of how football supporters can re-write history as if the new version was true.

Tottenham, (50 years since winning the League) are masters of this.  Having cheated their way into the Football League by coming a brilliant 7th in the Southern League (QPR, the winners, were so certain that they were going up into the Football League they brought in new players, ordered a new kit, and resigned from the Southern League, only to find the horrific Totties doing their stuff), Tottenham came a resounding bottom of the 1st Division of the League a few years later.

They then claimed that they shouldn’t go down, because the League was being expanded and they should be rewarded for their absolute and total failure.  When Arsenal were voted up to the first division (following expansion) then went berserk and again re-wrote history.  (Quite often including a parrot in the story for reasons that will not become clear at this time).

So it goes – time forwards, time backwards.  All that is constant is the eternal downwards spiral of the Totties and the Stokies (if I may be so bold).

What of Stoke?

Stoke Ramblers was formed in 1863 by the uppity Chaterhouse School and the downward spiral of North Staffs Railway Works playing 15 a side football at the Victoria Cricket Club (an interesting game, and a style that they have kept to this day).

Little has changed which is why today you will see the ref counting the players before the match starts.   Time wasting and leg breaking are their key activities.

The Stoke team expected for today’s game.
In 1997 Stoke Towel (as they were renamed) move to the 28,000 all-standing Towel Stadium, after 119 years at the God-What-A-Mess Ground, the longest time spent at a rubbish pit by any team in Britain.  They lost 7–0 at home to Birmingham City – a feat that was so extraordinary that Lao Tzu wrote a poem “It is beyond the realms of possibility and normality in our time zone for Brummies to score more than one” in celebration of the event.
Chris Kamara, Alan Durban, and Brian Little all had a go, each lasting about three weeks in the job before being sacked and replaced by Gary Megson, who lasted four days.   Iceland then bought the club (“it is as much of a frozen wasteland as you can find in the UK – right up our street” said Stig Stiggissonson).  Gudjon Thordarson became manager and Stoke won the Autoglass Trophy.
Thus the history, and the future, the past and tomorrow, the beginning and the end.  Throw in the Towel.
Arsenal today…
Szschschzchsnycsch
Max Planck, Erwin Schrödinger, Erwin Schrödinger’s cat, Heisenberg
Gustav Ludwig Hertz, Richard Feynman, Paul Dirac
Niels Bohr, Do you know, Any other physicists?
I am not sure Cesc is ready to start, nor if Theo is either.  A worry about the defence though.   Heisenburg has looked very uncertain to me (uncertain, Heisenberg, geddit? oh well, you did the wrong subjects at school), and the inclusion of a cat who may, or may not be all there, is frankly, worrying.
I’ve put Hertz in midfield to keep up the rhythmn, Feynman to do the unexpected, and Dirac to transmit a sense of total uncertainty.
Do you realise my journey to Arsenal is 100 miles each way, the snow is 33 meters deep and the temperature has just dipped below absolute zero?
What’s more there is just a chance that a photo of all the authors of the new Arsenal Til I Die book might actually be appearing somewhere soon.  And we all know who wrote the centre spread for that little number don’t we?
Arsenal History (we got a bit in the Islington Gazette this week).
Making the Arsenal (the third edition is now in stock and all orders were sent out yesterday)


12 comments to Arsenal Stoke: the Chinese perspective; the Swiss view

  • A Casual Observer

    Anyone who has watched StarTrek (TNG) knows who Werner Heisenberg is, and aware of his principle of uncertainty, due to the use of ‘Heisenberg compensators’ in the transporter. Marvelous devices those!

    We’ll only find out if the cat is there as and when the ball is passed to him and the camera pans that way… I alas cannot be there – I tried but the weather stuck the boot into my plans.

    Talking of which – give that shit-kicking twunt Shawcross an extra loud volley of abuse from me.

    I’m going to just sit here and be grumpy for the rest of the day.

    Bah humbug.

  • Mick

    Billy “The Dog” McGraw, I love your writing and sense of humour, it brings a smile to my face. Lets hope we Arsenal supporters have a big smile on our faces later on today and Stoke and their fans are stuck in a 30ft snow drift somewhere on the motorway.

  • walter

    A casual, game just cancelled so you will get another chance

  • Hey – I thought Everton were supposed to be the School of Science albeit caramelised (ok yeah geddit?) down in the lower reaches of the Prem these days. But if you must with the physicists, then Dirac should take all the corners as his gravity-not-constant conclusion makes him best bet for hanging-ball inswingers. Faraday would give us some electromagnetic induction, something we could do with a bit more of right now. Huygens in midfield could supply that extra ray of inspiring light to stop the munchkins from making yet another pass instead of shooting, for which Newton would then be essential for his command of basic ballistics, especially when it comes to firing cannons from 6 yards.

  • I knew there would be a physicist out there somewhere. Is there nothing I can make jokes about without having to get the Britannica out to check all the facts?

  • Dark Prince

    Arsenal’s last losses b4 united match had come in pairs of 2!! And today we had a good opportunity to break that jinx…..but the weather gods didn’t want that and so now after the united loss, our next match is against chelsea…..hmmmm

  • gooner80

    I think we blame the likes of stoke too easily the real problem is the referees.

    if the refs clamped down on the thugs like in spain they would be forced to evolve into a much more pleasing on the eye team. Stoke operate within the rules of the refs game in this country but in spain they would end up with 9 men every other match.

    football in this country will never evolve while we have dinosaur refs in charge that let horrendous challenges like sagna getting his shirt retailored but give a soft penalty for the ball hitting his hand( clichy).

    is it me or have arsenal decided to stop passing the ball so much and devolving into a more direct team dont get me wrong in some ways I have called for them to be more direct but the passing game has been going down hill I am not sure if the possession stats back this up

  • A Casual Observer

    Match cancelled – excellent… I’ve been in the potting shed for the last 8 hours so I didn’t know.

    I would think an extra weeks rest is just the ticket going into the Chelsea match – wouldn’t surprise me if we cancelled for this reason.

  • walter

    What was missing was the snow perspective….

  • well-endowed gooner

    It’s funny you picked Schrodinger and his cat as our centre-backs. There is, after all, a 50/50 chance that our defence will go missing during the game. Ain’t quantum physics wonderful?

  • A Casual Observer

    Ahhh… but if our defence is quantumised (like the UK fanbase it seems) – then could we not see a superposition of states where they are both attacking and defending simultaneously?

  • kiwigooner

    Schrödinger is a box player only!
    Perhaps in view of temperature Kelvin on the bench?
    Heisingburg is definitely a winger, great speed, but you can’t rely on his positioning in defence.

    Excellent.