Totally malicious and misleading headline reveals newspaper contempt for Arsenal




By Sir Hardly Anyone

Ex-Arsenal star hunted by police after failing to appear in court

So proclaims the Mirror on its website today, followed by the secondary headline, “Former Arsenal star hunted by police after failing to appear in court for third time.”

It is a story that might come as a bit of a shock, and you might well want to know who the “former Arsenal star” is who is “hunted by police”.

Now the player in question is Anthony Stokes, who we are told is 35, and who was “handed a non-harassment order against his ex-girlfriend but continued to bombard her with messages.” 

OK that’s a thoroughly nasty thing to do, so quite right that the police are after him, but still you might be a little puzzled by the name.  Anthony Stokes.  An ex-Arsenal star?  The name doesn’t seem that familiar but the the Mirror is not saying “Ex-Arsenal player” but  “Ex-Arsenal star”.    Really?  How come I can’t remember him.

And yet the Mirror is pretty certain of this “star” business since they say “Stokes was born in Ireland but joined Arsenal’s academy as a teenager, making his first-team debut in a League Cup match.”

So a debut in a League Cup match … that sounds possible – lots of Arsenal players have started in that way.   But the name still doesn’t seem familiar.   So time to go searching.

Yes, Stokes did indeed join Arsenal when he was 15, and he did indeed make his debut with the first team (or rather with a bunch of reserves) as a substitute in the League Cup match against Sunderland on 25 October 2005.

But… he came on in the 88th minute as a replacement for Arturo Lupoli.  So with the added time awarded by the referee, that would mean he played at most five minutes for Arsenal.   After that he went to Falkirk on loan and then was sold to Sunderland, followed by a varied career including playing with the wonderfully named Tractor Cultural Sports Economic Club in Iran.  His longest spells after Sunderland were with Hibernian and Celtic. 

But with Arsenal his career literally was five minutes – although it could have been four – I can’t find a record of how long the time added on was.  And yet the Mirror proclaims in a banner headline “Ex-Arsenal star hunted by police after failing to appear in court.”

So what on earth did he do in those four or five minutes to become a star?

Well, nothing.  Nothing at all.  After those five minutes he left Arsenal and never returned.

But now we are told that Stokes “was expected at Hamilton Sheriff Court on Thursday for sentencing for sending offensive messages to his ex-girlfriend and her father. But he was nowhere to be seen and his defense lawyer confirmed he has ‘no explanation for his absence’ with another warrant now issued for his arrest.”

We should also add that Stokes was found guilty of sending abusive messages over a seven-month period and was given a four-year non-harassment order and apparently has failed to appear in court on at least two other occasions.

So, on the basis of that reporting from Scottish newspapers, we can perhaps build up a picture of that player.  But the one thing that comes across very clearly indeed is that in no way can a teenager who played for about five minutes in a league cup game be called an “Ex-Arsenal star.”

Of course, a pedant might argue that the player was Ex-Arsenal in that he was on the club’s books, and later he played for Celtic regularly for a few years, so was then a “star” but whichever way you look at it, he was not an “Ex-Arsenal star”.

But it is perfectly clear that the Mirror is trying to link this law-breaker with Arsenal.  So we might ask “why?”  

One reason is that it will bring in more readership among English readers.  And this notion is supported by the fact that in the Daily Record (owned by the same people who own the Mirror) the headline is “Ex-Celtic star Anthony Stokes hunted by police after failing to appear for sentencing”

So clearly the headline has been changed just to get readership, and of course that’s what headlines are for.  But that does not give the headline writer an excuse to be deliberately misleading – which the Mirror’s version is.

There is little that Arsenal can do about this, but it does seem to me to be worth holding in mind that basically, all we are getting from the Mirror in relation to Arsenal is a constant stream of misleading headlines and articles presented with the sole intent of knocking the club, and giving supporters of rival clubs a laugh.

We might ask why they are doing this about Arsenal – and that’s another matter.  But I do think this constant campaign by the Mirror should be regularly exposed for what it is.  This is yet another in a stream of fantasies designed solely to denigrate Arsenal.  And that is what the Mirror’s football reporting is about.

4 Replies to “Totally malicious and misleading headline reveals newspaper contempt for Arsenal”

  1. Doesn’t that run afoul of truth in advertising laws? I know it’s a stretch but clickbait like that should be regulated.

  2. Of course the Mirror is part of the Reach PLC corporation .For that matter so is The Star , The Express and numerous regional outlets including the Liverpool Echo ,Birmingham Live , Football London and Manchester Evening News .
    As you plough through News Now just see how many of these outlets recycle the same tawdry stories about the Arsenal.
    They have 26 outlets , I wonder if the monopolies commission should take a look.

  3. The Mirror are a disgrace and have been attacking Arsenal with innuendo, half truths and lies for years, not least through their supposed ‘massive Arsenal fan’ John Cross. As it is pertinent to this article and their continuous attacks, this is a bit of background behind what I did around 15 years ago. I posted it yet again the other day in relation to Amy Lawrence’s drivel that Tony highlighted in an earlier article.

    “John Cross is another Arsenal fan who constantly criticised Arsenal with non contextual garbage. As I have mentioned here before, I wrote to The Mirror and asked for an explanation and all I received was an inane reply asking if I knew what a massive Arsenal fan John Cross was?

    Well, yes I did, which is what made his endless, exaggerated, non contextual ravings the more galling”.

    To think this kind of attack is sill spewing from these pathetic hacks is beyond belief.

    I stopped buying the Mirror, oh, let me think……………about 15 years ago.

  4. Here is another one from the Mirror :

    “Granit Xhaka makes it clear who was behind Arsenal exit after Mikel Arteta disagreement”

    So basically, He and Arteta got pissed at each other and he left…

    as for the ‘disagreement’, her it comes :

    “Earlier in the summer it was outlined that Xhaka was looking forward to playing as a No.6 at Leverkusen as their “head of operations” – a different role from the one he was deployed in at Arsenal. Despite Xhaka’s preference for such a role, it is unlikely that Mikel Arteta would have agreed to use him as a No.6 he had stayed at the Emirates.”

    Here you have it again. The statement is based on a crappy speculation by the so-called writer. No truth, no fact, no reality. Just turn a phrase so Arsenal are made to look bad. It is unlikely = disagreement and fallout….


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