The art of the football steward and the corridors of world sport. Arsenal 19 Wigan 2

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Victory Through Harmony

By Tony Attwood

In the papers this morning the Lord Coe (he of running, Olympics and the Conservative Party) announced that “it would be very difficult for us to be taken seriously in the corridors of world sport and arguably beyond,” if the Tiny Totts are allowed to trash the olympic running track down in the east end.

It is, I guess, not a feeling shared in north London, where the chant “North London is ours” has really caught on and got quite a few resonating choruses during the course of the match against Wigan.

Every other site in the multiverse reviewing the game will speak of Robin, not to mention Batman, but this is Untold, and here we do things differently.  And so I would like to begin with the contribution of the stewards to this match before returning to Lord Coe and his little tantrum.

If you are not familiar with the Ems let me explain. The area reserved for visiting support is in the lower tier occupying a corner area.  It can be expanded or reduced according to demand.  Next Sunday it will expand to the whole of the south bank lower.  This week it was at its smallest, as Wigan is a club with only limited support.  (I make no criticism of that – quite honestly I think it is a miracle that a club that has such limited support in its home town – Wigan is a rugby town – can host an EPL club at all.  The fullest of credit must go to the owner for using the traditional benefactor finance model just to keep the club alive.  In such a situation I have no argument with benefactors at all).

Anyway, this situation meant that even with the away zone reduced to its smallest, there were not enough people to occupy even 20% of the region, and in fact for the first time at the Ems away stewards outnumbered the away support.

Seeing this situation the stewards did something rather odd.  They arranged themselves into an art work – a pretty pattern of orange in a row of seats from pitch level up.  But more, each steward then spread his/her arms wide along the back of each seat to make a set of T shapes one above the other.

To their right (of left looking as I do diagonally across the pitch) there was the little gang of Wiganians (if that is the correct noun) some of whom sat and watched and others who got up and wandered around, wondering if the next seat might offer that slightly better view, or if a row higher could actually encourage the team on a little more.

So it was, as if the away section were replaced by an unmoving sea wall, while to their right an eternally moving cascade of people ebbed and flowed sometimes drifting towards it, sometimes away.

And then came the goal, and that suddenly broke the unmoving wall.   For the stewards did not just stand – but they deconstructed, surrounding Wiganestas (another attempt at the noun), and much pushing and shoving took place.

How could this be in such a calm and peaceful sea? (note the internal rhyme).   Well, it seems that a few of the Wiganetas cheered Robin’s first goal (scored at their end on the southern shores of the Emirates) and that sent the stewards into a lather of discontent.  Oh how they flowed!  Oh how they moved!  But oh what the hell were they thinking about?   There were about 100 Wiggles there, and 250 stewards.  So what if the supporters’ contribution to the day was to jump up and down a bit and keep warm when their team let in a goal.  Have the stewards never heard of postmodernist irony?

It was both amusing and shameful, and the explanation by the stewards that these were Arsenal fans who had sneaked into the Wiganitized zone was hogwash.   Art should be art, and not mucked about with, even if the art is made up of stewards and football fans.

Anyway, as I mention at the start, North London is Ours, is now the chant of choice of the discerning Arsenal supporter, and as a North Londoner born and bred (although I now live out of the city) I applaud this chant utterly.   Which means I too want the Tiny Totts to win the Olympic running track bid, and move to the east end.  That trip is about 8 miles (not as I said outside the Auld Triangle where I was holding court before the game, 15 miles.  Sorry Kevin, you were right to raise a question at that).

Now 8 miles can be a bit tricky for a motorist of limited vision (I speak of course of Tottenham fans) and it is true they might get lost en route.  But still I think some of them ought to be able to make it there if they try very hard and leave early enough.

But Lord Coe (until recently a member of parliament for a pat of Cornwall which is actually 300 miles from Stratford) thinks that letting the Tinies loose in Stratford is a Bad Thing.  “It’d be very difficult for us to be taken seriously in the corridors of world sport and arguably beyond,” sayeth the Lord.

Now I must admit, “Arguably beyond” is an interesting place – the gateway to other realities and alternative dimensions, and it is one that Tottenham H have inhabited for a long old time.   Indeed it is even further away than Cornwall.   And now I know where all those runners are heading for as they rather pointlessly run round and around and around.   They are looking for the exit – the way out of the corridors of world sport, a way out of the Arguably Beyond in which they are eternally trapped.  You can hear their moans if you listen carefully in the middle of the night (although that might just be six big Spaniards who have each strained their back trying to pick up Harry Redknapp’s wallet in a Madrid Street).

Lord Coe, sir, your lordship, your highness, your Cornwallianess, east London is not your normal stamping ground.  You know a thing or two about the House of Lords at Westminster.  You might even have been to Cornwall once or twice.  But really, your eminence, your gratuitousness, you know as much about where the Tiny Totts ought to play as Wigan knew about scoring yesterday.  They had two shots, neither on target.   We had lots.  Hence my headline.

Lord Coe, let your Tottenham go.   Stewards, stop mucking around with a handful of Wiggies who have made the long and hopeless journey.  Both actions ill become your station and I want no more of this.  North London is Ours.


The Untold Untolds (plus some Untold Tolds)

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Making the Arsenal, shorter, funnier, less accurate

23 Replies to “The art of the football steward and the corridors of world sport. Arsenal 19 Wigan 2”

  1. Tony – I don’t think that a Gooner-view on Spurs moving is as simple as that.
    No doubt, if they did move, we will never hear the cries of ‘gypsies’ aimed at us from them ever again. But if they don’t go the options could be just as attractive to us – if not more so. Staying where they are and redeveloping a new stadium is still fraught with difficulty for them both in terms of planning permissions and cost. If it went ahead access to WHL would be chaotic for at least a couple of years and their much prized ‘atmosphere’ severely inhibited.
    The cost would be very much greater and the ground naming rights (I would guess) very much less valuable. Far less land would be available to sell on to third parties and, again, income would be less. Overall, redeveloping where they are could be financially crippling for them without very regular Champions League football at least. And don’t forget how many of their current squad they will need to replace during the next 3 years or so. Hence their desire to move to Stratford even if it blights the futures of West Ham, Orient and maybe even Crystal Palace.
    Given the pretty well established fact that everything Spurs do is window dressing in preparation for a sale of the Club then then we are right to be cynical about their actions. But staying where they are could, in the long run be of even greater benefit to Arsenal.
    Don’t forget the old adage – keep your friends close but your enemies even closer!

  2. Here’s something that no one seems to have picked up on and could make Tottenham the laughing stock of football. It is one quote from Daniel Levy in this report:

    Levy says: “It’s exceedingly difficult to find a site to build a new stadium, and the North London Development project [redeveloping White Hart Lane] is not financially viable at the moment.”

    This is the first time anyone from the club has mentioned the cost of redeveloping White Hart Lane. There are now three possible outcomes:

    1) Tottenham move to Stratford and all the “Woolwich Wanderers” and “gypsies” comments stop straight away. They have a 55,000 stadium but can only atttact 40,000 for the likes of Wigan and Wolves.

    2) Tottenham stay in Haringey, redevelop White Hart Lane and put themselves into dire financial straits.

    3) Tottenham stay in Haringey and keep the existing stadium. Everyone laughs at them. Especially as they have spent millions on buying land and levelling it in readiness for construction.

    I can’t wait to go to work tomorrow and really give it to one fan in particular. He told me that Arsenal would never be able to afford to build the Emirates, then it would never be built, then it would never be finished, then the financial constraints would hit the team, then we wouldn’t qualify for the CL, then we would go into financial meltdown.

    And one more thing. ‘arry has spent a nett £53m on players in his 2 1/2 years at Tottenham.

  3. Agree – not sure Harry could operate any where near as well as Wenger on a post new stadium budget.Assuming he is still there and not with England of course.
    Spurs are a buying club essentially (especially under Harry) with very little input from youth development, having to stay at WHL could mean some lean times ahead.
    I personally think West Ham will get the olympic stadium, track and all BUT I am quite sure Spurs have friends in high places, and will have more luck filling a stadium at this site, – maybe we will just have to get used to the concept of Newham Notspurs.

  4. It has to be west ham’s new ground…its west ham territory for a start. The fact that tottenham are considering the move morally puts their boring woolwich-arsenal jibe firmly to bed anyway.
    I hope west ham get it, they are a decent club. decent supporters…although the board are not seemingly too honourable.

  5. I don’t know if this is an over-simplification of the issue or not. Spurs want the Olympic Stadium but will remove the running track. West Ham want ditto but will retain the track.
    On the basis of (a) the Olympic ideal, (b) the fact that public money has built the Stadium and (c) the proposed use of the track and associated facilities by the youth of the UK, it seems to me that West Ham have, per se, a clear advantage over Spurs.

  6. In Antwerp the town where I grew up in Belgium we have an Olympic stadium. It was built for the Olympic games in 1920 and it for many years it had the original track around the pitch.
    One of my children even has ran on it when he was member of the athletic club some years back.
    And in the last 10 years they have removed the track and rebuild 3 stands. So it still has the name “Olympic stadium” but this looks ridiculous to be honest.
    Another result was that the athletic club had to leave its home where they had been for 80 or 90 years.
    I think it takes away a bit from the stadium. Now it is more a football stadium with 3 stands close to the pitch but nothing reminds of the 1920 Olympics anymore and as they were somewhat historic in those days (first after WOI and for the first time the use of the now traditional flag with the coloured rings) it is a shame I think.
    And if the plans of a new stadium in Antwerp goes ahead in a few years time the stadium will be useless and maybe will disapear in total and will be occupied by new houses.
    From a sporting view I would say: let the spirit of the Olympic games stay in the stadium and let the track remain there as a memory of the games.

    And I also think Wembley is a bit different as this stadium already existed before the Olympics came to Wembley (I think it did?)

  7. West Ham have put together a reasonable proposal and pretty out of order how the Spuds have tried to scupper the deal at this. I like althletics and think that this sport should have a legacy after the olympics. Personally I detest the porno kings at the club and a lot of WHU fans. Over the years I’ve heard way too many racist chants, paedo comments and nasty words from some sections of their support to like them.

    So I wouldn’t mind watching the Spuds make a mess of the redevelopment, especially as ‘arry will definately walk away half way through their project unless the price is right to stay. The spainish pick pocketers hit the jackpot when they mugged him. I wonder just how much was in the missing brown paper bag. I guess this scuppers Forlan being annonced as another bargain buy this transfer window for them then. HMRC tax inspectors should have someone assigned to be Rednapp’s shadow every transfer window.

    @ Richard B, I totally agree with your comments. Everything Spuds do seems like its rushed and like they are trying to take short cuts to success. There is no long term strategy. They are desparate to keep up with us and this will probably be their undoing.

    @ Andy Kelly the most logical one would be option 3, but option’s 1 & 2 will make for better comedy.

  8. Oh let them both have the stadium Tony, it can be the san siro of east london 🙂
    I have a donkey and cart and will help spurs move all their silverware and everything else they own down to the new place fans the whole can go if they build a few appartments across the road from it.
    As for the stewards, you should have taped it and stuck it on u tube 🙂

  9. RedGooner – you are right. A ground share is the best option and we’ll see whose fans complain the most. In the meantime the list of people who are falling out with Spurs (including their own local authority) gets longer by the day.
    Perhaps it all comes from being owned by someone who lives thousands of miles away in order to avoid tax.

  10. @Richard B

    Oh yes, I forgot about the falling out with Haringey. It’s got that bad that Haringey Council has put a letter on it’s own website defending itself against Tottenham’s accusations.

  11. Sometime around 1600 William Shakespeare (you may have heard of him), and his fellows fell out with the management of The Theatre where the troop put on Shakespeare’s works. The landlord wanted a higher rent and didn’t like the players and the sort of people they attracted.

    There was a court case and the judge decided that the landlord owned the land but the players owned the theatre as such (the stage, etc).

    So Mr Shakespeare and his crew turned up in the dead of night, loaded the lot onto hardcarts, wheeled them to the river, sailed them across, and built the Globe on the south bank.

    I think this is a fine lesson for everyone involved in this case. Pack up everything, head south and go and torment Millwall. We’ll watch from a safe distance.

    I do feel sorry for Leyton Orient though – although that is what comes of doing a deal with Tottenham. You let them play their reserve games there for years and the next thing you know they stab you in the back.

  12. Walter, I seem to recall Wembley Stadium, before its recent rebuild, had a greyhound racing track around the football pitch.

  13. I was under the impression that WE had paid for the bloody Olympic stadium in the first place and now Spurs want to tear it down. Well, let em give us back the money first, all £500 million of it if they get the decision otherwise all of us who have paid through ludicrous increases in Council Tax bills will have partially funded their bloody club. Sod that for a laugh. Arsenal supporters have already financed, directly or indirectly, the Emirates. Let them finance their own sodding stadium.

  14. What all this points out to me is the idiocy of the AAA. The only clubs that have attempted to build a stadium of our size without too much state aid has been Valencia… and they’re broke. Bayern’s Stadium was built with the full support of the Bavarian government and even Bayern haven’t managed to qualify for the ECL as consistently as we have! Yet you get idiots who claim to support Arsenal questioning why Wenger got a pay rise? How is it possible that people can be so very stupid?

    My view is that West Ham should get the Olympic Stadium at Stratford simply because they have the more intelligent and respectful proposal. Tottenham will struggle for years if they build a stadium at White Hart lane simply because of the costs involved. Unless they are bailed out by some Arab sovereignty fund with more money than sense. TBH I don’t give 2 hoots about Tottenham… I’m too busy marvelling at Arsenal’s achievement and the manner in which we’ve achieved. Some day people will look back at this period and whistle at enormity of what Arsenal achieved… they’d also marvel at the sheer idiocy and stupidity of a blog like Le Grove… the Arsenal Blog with the lowest IQ

  15. There’s a bloke who starts posting abuse about Wenger on a certain site at about 9 am and continues between meals for the whole day, practically every day. According to him Wenger is a moron who knows nothing about football and just wants to line his own pocket. He wants Wenger out and a complete new team to be bought. When someone asked who should be the manager of this new era of World domination he came up with the name of Martin O’ Neill. In some ways the Internet is a dangerous place but these people manage to seek each other out through the sites of other like-minded knuckle-scrapers. It’s best not to get involved. Posting on those sites only encourages them by fanning the flames of their hate. I suppose it might provide a vent for their general anger though which would otherwise be taken out on some other poor sod.

  16. We have had 3 good wins (WHU, Leeds and Wigan) but they have been against inferior teams (Wigan were awful yesterday) and my worry is that when it comes to the big games some of the poorer apects of these performances could stop us winning the Prem or CL this season. To win the Prem or CL ultimately we need to beat the best teams – Manure, Chavs and Barca. If we dont take points off Manure they will win the title. In the big games we will not have the luxury of the amount of possession and goal chances we had yesterday. Big games are close affairs with rare chances to score. So to yesterday – what bugged me and quite a few sitting near me was Walcott’s performance. There is no doubt he gets lots of the ball and causes problems for defences but his final product is not good enough and in big games will be just fatal. Why when he was one on one with GK did he pass it sideways. This was the incident of the game. Is this really the goal scoring instinct of what some think will be our new Thiery Henry. This incident seemed to show a player who cannot take chances. Our open goals yesterday came from sharp penetrating passes from middle to front – not from Walcott’s labours. The boy needs to work on his finishing.

  17. Personally I think it is absolutely disgusting that Spurs are being so brash about the Olympic stadium. It has taken a lot of time to build… a ton of money and will generate a heep load of Passion and joy in 2012. Now as much as I love Football. It is not the only sport on the world. I really do thinly getting rid of the track would be an injustice to choice in sport in the UK. Playing 11 aside in this country is dwindling… why do we have to throw football down peoples faces. Let’s let our next generations train and become the next best athletes in whatever sport. Let’s supply the facilities to do this like America and their amazing development programs. It feels like school again when football or rugby takes over and of your not good at those then your deemed a failure. Total joke, and I for one if Spurs get it will protest about the track being removed. The stadium was built for Sport not Tottenham.

  18. Steven,
    It’s not only Walcott who is infested with the “sideways pass” or “a pass too many”. They are all at it at times. It’s the curse of Wenger coaching. Even Csec admitted recently that “we overdo it at times” and then he said “but that’s the way we have been taught”. The whole attack must cut out attempting to create “the perfect goal”. It doesn’t exist (except at London Colney).

  19. Very true Tony- is Spurs desire to move to East London not a tacit admission that North London – in terms of its fan base is already ours. If you cant stand the heat – get out of the kitchen?

    As a an example of project management the building of the Emirates could very well be used as an exemplar. A key was how the club got the Governance right-enabling AW to focus on developing the squad. Despite this fantastic achievement- Arsenal have had to be patient and plan for success.

    Spurs are classically a club looking to have their cake and eat it too by cheekily putting forward a plan which involves the taxpayer massively subsidising the clubs rapidly expanding growth in spending.

    Spurs are not exactly a model of financial transparency- and I for one resent a single penny of British tax payers money being spent on subsidising them- and supporting their way of managing a football club- which involves a benefactor owner and dodgy offshore tax accountancy.

    As for West Ham-how can this be justified when the club is currently run by the people it is run by and has been so badly run in the recent past? A reward for shocking bad management?
    Coe is right about this issue except I was hoping that the Olympic stadium would remain a first class athletics venue- which the capital badly lacks and could be completely open to the community. If West Ham or Spurs want to train there- thats OK but what have they done to justify owning this stadium?

  20. I thought the performance against Wigan was fantastic. Yes Wigan are not the best but was their defending so bad? Compare the room Arsenal had to play in against Wigan with the space afforded to United by Birmingham- there was a difference- Arsenal made the space, United were given the space.

    The EPL looks winnable at this point in the season. You’d have to say though that even one or two injuries to key players could scupper all that- and considering the injury record, number of games against dirty sides like Stoke-well its possible more than likely.

    OK so Man U will fancy their chances against us-but this team is a different kettle of fish to the one we fielded against them last year- RVP, Nasri, Fabregas and Walcott for starters.

    The only opponent that seriously worries me is Barcelona. After watching them closely recently, they look even stronger than last year. their passing accuracy and speed and penetration is staggering. If we are to beat them my guess is we’d have to perform at a level across the whole team we have not seen yet because otherwise we simply will not touch the ball enough but then you are not going to see a performance like that against the likes of Wigan.

  21. Mr Attwood, it may have escaped your notice but Lord Coe is a Chelsea season ticket holder. HIS Tottenham as you call it is nothing of the sort.

    He is also an IOC delegate and a leading light of the IAAF, which is almost as luminary an organisation as FIFA, but it is the body which runs the sport of athletics worldwide.

    Lord Coe is defending his own patch, Mr Attwood, which is ATHLETICS.

    Now I realise to large numbers of football supporters that no other sport counts for anything.

    But athletics, particularly fun runs, represents a MASS PARTICIPATION SPORT. Every place I have lived in, which included Cambridge, Oxford, Reading, Glasgow, Manchester and Leeds regularly ran mass participation fun runs in the middle of town and these are just as rich a part of our sporting culture as Hackney Marshes.

    Now when the Government was unwise enough to spend £150m of taxpayers’ money on a Wembley stadium revamp, I don’t remember all other sports weighing in with a ‘get rid of this expensive, obnoxious crap and build something in Birmingham for £100m’, do you? We now have a stadium which took years to grow grass properly, has poor transport links and is inaccessible to large parts of the country at the times of the week that FIFA now wish internationals to be played. But I don’t hear any of that crap being spouted about Wembley, do you?

    It may have escaped your notice in the past 30 years but Britain has produced far more European, Olympic and World Champions at athletics than they have produced World Cup-winning footballers. I will now name a few for you:
    1. Sebastian Coe, Steve Ovett, Steve Cram.
    2. Allan Well, Linford Christie.
    3. Roger Black, Iwan Thomas.
    4. Fatima Whitbread, Tessa Sanderson, Steve Backley.
    5. Daley Thompson, Jessica Ennis, Denise Lewis.
    6. Jonathan Edwards, Phillips Idowu.
    7. Sally Gunnell, Dai Greene.
    8. Mo Farah, Jack Buckner.
    9. Paula Radcliffe.

    Surprisingly, this has all been down without the billions poured into football and often on what might proverbially be described as ‘a shoestring’.

    Now you have been writing disparagingly about the atrocious state of finances in English football and I agree with you, broadly it is atrocious.

    There is a conclusion to be drawn from that: it might be a good idea for football to SHUT THE FUCK UP about other sports and GET THEIR OWN HOUSE IN ORDER.

    There are large numbers of people for whom football is NOT the be-all and end-all of their sporting life and the day that football acknowledges that will be the day that it is a fit and proper industry to wade into discussions of how other sports should run and promote their own affairs.

    So far as I can see, the football community wants football to dominate all sport in this country to the detriment of all else. Platini is now proposing summer football, which will all but kill cricket, rugby league as professional sports in this country. It is not about money. It is about which sports individuals are best suited to playing. And for many that is not football.

    Now I suggest that if you wish to frame arguments as to why Spurs should get Stratford, you do it in terms slightly less disparaging to Britain’s most successful athlete at Olympic level in recent times and do it on the basis of respectful argument toward a man considerably more successful in life than your good self.


  22. Rhys – you are coming across as completely humourless. Tony’s article doesnt disparage Lord Coe at all. It is a funny plea to let Spurs take the Olympic Stadium so that “North London” is ours. Now we know that what Arsenal fans want will not come into the decision making process, so it becomes pretty obvious that this whole piece is pretty tongue in cheek. You seem to have some kind of mission to try and make Tony look bad, and all you are doing is making yourself look absolutely ridiculous. Chill out and enjoy life.

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