Untold Arsenal meet Vermaelen gets a hint about our next big signing

By Walter Broeckx

By being an Arsenal supporter I get to visit a variety of places.  Of course I come to London to see us play. Or I come to London to play in the Emirates myself. Or I go to places like Liège to see us play in the Champions League.  I was also thinking of going to Cologne to see us play in the pre season as it is not that far from where I live.

So just recently being a gooner brought me to Stabroek.  Now you might well say Stawho? And yes Stabroek is not the centre of the world. Not the centre of Europe. Not the centre of Belgium. Not even the centre of Antwerp. No it is just a little town next to the port of Antwerp. So what on earth has a gooner to find there on a Friday evening?

As you may know I am a member of the Arsenal Benelux Supporters club. And I don’t want to sound pretentious (but Tony is always saying I am too modest, so I will lay the details on the line) but I am one of the oldest (in years) and one of the most busy what with writing for the website, match reports and the Arsenal Benelux magazine.  So yes I do keep myself busy with this.

So when our supporters club got an invitation to come to Stabroek to represent Arsenal Benelux our president wanted to come and asked me to join him. And what a special evening it was. It was an evening where Stabroek offered a special prize for their most famous citizen: Thomas Vermaelen.

We got the invitation from the parents of Thomas Vermaelen and I would like to thank them once again for having thought of us. Don’t know if they read this but: really I appreciated it!

As I have written before on this website before Thomas Vermaelen is the Ambassador of the “Damiaanactie”  (only in Flemish and French I am afraid) one of the biggest charity organisations in Belgium.  It is named after Father Damiaan who went to Molokai (Hawaii – USA) to help the people in their struggle to survive leprosy. In the mean time the Damiaanactie has not only an eye for people who suffer from leprosy but also fights tuberculosis.  And Vermaelen is acting as their ambassador and tries to help the Damiaanactie in raising funds.

And his community Stabroek wanted to celebrate not only this but also the fact that their “little boy” has become a great player of the mighty Arsenal.  From the stories I heard there is not a living soul that supports Man United or Chelsea still alive in Stabroek.  And if they can find any they will use them as the goose when the goose riders go out on the streets again.

(This last is a joke of course. They will not tear his head off while still alive.    They will  anesthetise him before doing this.  Okay this is another joke, they will just throw them in the Schelde.  Is it really written The Sheldt in English?)

(Hi – this is Tony – I didn’t get the goose bit, but I am told there is a marvel comic that deals with goose riders.  But I do know my European rivers.  In English the river is The Scheldt, and curiously in French the Escaut, and it dribbles along through the Netherlands, Belgium and France.  The name in English comes from the Old English word for “shallow.”   Now back to Walter).

Seriously, the community has organised a Thomas in Action day with all kind of activities in co-operation with the Damiaanactie to raise funds. And to give it a bit of an extra push they wanted to use this occasion to give Thomas Vermaelen a special prize known in this part of the world as “De Gulden Garve”.  Never mind the name just it is something special for the community.  And we were there as Arsenal Benelux but of course Untold Arsenal travelled along with me.

And after all the official moments, with Thomas having to attend a press conference, and then some waiting, we finally had out meet and greet with Thomas Vermaelen. And yes your writer has had the pleasure of talking with him. And he is just a typical Flemish boy.  Very modest (we really can’t help it Tony) and I think that for him all those official awards and standing in the spotlight was not really necessary. But he did it with a smile on his face.

Always friendly, talking to all the people who wanted to talk with him. Even a former world champion in cycling and winner of the Tour de France was there. And then the people from his home town. And then people like us from Arsenal Benelux.  He signed my Arsenal shirt and now that is something I will treasure for the rest of my life. How stupid for a grown up man like me, but what the heck I really keep it with me as long as I live and my brain is working in a normal way. He also signed the shirt of my son.

We talked a bit about how he was doing (which was fine) and some questions about whether he wanted to have some kind of ceremonial function in our Benelux supporters club (which he had no problem with). And of course I tried to get some answers to questions that burn on all Gooners’ lips.  But Thomas knew that I am writing stuff on the internet  (his mother knows this and has mentioned it when we have met) and he’s not so silly as to mention anything that would get onto Untold.  So he said he knew nothing and had heard nothing. A very diplomatic answer.

We took some pictures for my own use and for the Arsenal Benelux site and who knows if Tony wants it I will put a picture in this article of me standing next to Vermaelen.  (Yes please Walter – put it in another article).  But I couldn’t get him that far to give me some more information about things that could happen this summer.

But however there could have been one slip of the tongue. But not the tongue of Vermaelen. No at the end of the show they showed a little film where old teammates and trainers said a few friendly and good words about Vermaelen.  And one of them was Danny Blind (former Ajax captain an trainer of Vermaelen at Ajax) who said that he was sure that after this bad year now the best was yet to come for Vermaelen.

And another person was Jan Vertonghen.  The current Ajax captain who  by the way scored a wonderful goal on training a few days ago, just check this link http://www.voetbalkrant.com/nl/nieuws/lees/2011-05-14/wereldgoal-jan-vertonghen

And he said something that made my eyebrows raise. Because after praising Vermaelen and the good old days of them together  at Ajax he said and I translate it from Flemish: “Looking forward to playing back together again”. Now this could just point at the fact of playing together for the Belgium national team. But maybe, just maybe there was something more in this message. Maybe he was talking about playing together in club football? Well who knows what will happen. But if Vertonghen hinted at playing together at Arsenal I heard his message from his own mouth on a summer evening day in Stabroek.  Stabroek of all places….  The home town of the Verminator!


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26 Replies to “Untold Arsenal meet Vermaelen gets a hint about our next big signing”

  1. I have been advocating for the move of Vertonghen to Arsenal for over a year now. I could see him getting half his games in defense and half in midfield. As a direct replacement for Wilshere in some games, he would provide all the defensive attributes needed also adding 5 and a half inches of height to our short left hand side. Also having Vertonghen drop into the defensive line when Vermaelen rushes forward means we would have two types of attacking threats from the Belgian pair. Lets hope this happens! Please do it Arsene.

  2. God i hope so, that would be fantastic. It sounds like they have a very good understanding due to their partnership for Ajax and Belgium.

  3. Walter,
    this week has been very delightful for you as an Arsenal supporter.
    I has two questions-What does Benelux mean? Is Stabroek pronounced as Stawho?
    Your modest nature is waning, Walter, be wary. :-p Especially after you scouted a ‘stylish’ goalkeeper playing at the Emirates last sunday… 🙂

  4. I Love your post Walter but ” Jesus Christ”! go straight to the point!lol! Anyway, as a belgian fella myself I would welcome another belgian lad at the Emirate. So cross fingers it could be a tremendous partnership…. for those who want Witsel unfortunately it seems that he is heading to Milan! Never mind we will attaract others talent.

    @ Naren

    Benelux is an ” economic” partnership between Belgium Holland and Luxemburg.

    Stabroek is prononced as stabroek! Walter meant Sta…Who? as is unknown place in the world.

  5. I sure hope we’d sign someone quick as Wenger promised. Haven’t seen Vertonghen play so can’t really comment but if he’s as good as vermaelen then we’d have a strong pairing at the back.

  6. Another bull shiit stroy, well written to an extent though, watch your grammar. I’m sorry but let’s get real, he meant playing for Belgium…

  7. In Wenger We Trust …. can I just clarify one thing for you. English is not Walter’s first language, and I remain utterly in awe of his ability to move through a multiplicity of languages without hesitation. I do edit Walter’s work as I do everyone’s work – but I try (with all contributors) to make my changes very limited, so that the flavour and style of the original remains. I don’t want everyone’s work here to become something in the style of Tony Attwood.

    The main changes I make tend to be in relation to headlines – and I always admit I do this in order to try and draw in new readers who might just see us on one of the news accumulator sites that just runs headlines. Walter’s original headline did not focus on the possible new signing and he left that as a note at the end. I am guilty of building it up.

    So, any grammatical slips can’t be blamed on Walter – if anything I have to take the wrap there. But I guess if we are going to be pedantic, we might say that “bullshit” is actually one word and not two, and the the word is “story” and not “stroy”. And the headline does just say “a hint” – as with the article it does not suggest we really know what is going on.

    (Apart from the names of rivers in Europe, I never have a clue what is going on).

    Tony Attwood

  8. @Naren – “Is Stabroek pronounced as Stawho?” He means Sta-WHO??? as in WHO are Stabroek

  9. Is he croc free and has he world class potential? Can he neutralize Messi and Xavi next time we play them? If you answer yes then he surely can stop the best in Premier League. If no don’t bother.

  10. And this happens when you have a few days off and forget to upload the picture in to the article and then suddenly come on the internet and see that Tony put the article online and the picture not in it. So I put the picture in the article later on.

  11. Narren, you can say it has been one of the best weekends ever as an Arsenal supporter for me. I think only winning the league and being at the Emirates when it happens can be better than this. 😉

    Benelux stands for BElgium, NEtherlands and LUXembourg and we always like to think that the working of our 3 countries together on some things was actually the start of what has become the European Community. I don’t know if this really is the case. Love us or hate us for this… 😉

    And you pronounce the name Stabroek like “Stabrook” in English. It is pronounced like the name of Mel Brooks but without the “s”. In fact my last name has the same origine as the “broek” in Stabroek. It points at a piece of swamp land in the landscape. So long time ago my ancestors will have lived in a region that had “broeck” (= old Dutch) in its name. Who knows, maybe it was Stabroek. 🙂

  12. Stevie E
    I did think so but then I am never short of amazement at how spelling and pronunciation have no relation sometimes in Europe. Thanks for confirming it.

  13. Walter,
    You cannot stop the Greeks begrudging you if you people laid the foundations for EU. 🙂
    Thanks for that piece on etymology…loved it. If you don’t mind, can I ask such questions in the future?

  14. Wow Walter. You’re looking so dignified and serious in that photo. Almost as a if you had to make sure Vermaelen knows you are a referee 🙂

    But congratulations to you for, as you say, one of the best weeks in your life. Richly deserved I must say.

  15. quite a non-starter.
    Rambled on about being from belgium or holland or somewhere shit then waffled on about nothing then drew no conclusion other than if he’s right, then he’s said he’s right. ugh. bollocks mate.

  16. No problem Naren, you can ask me anything. Except money.. 🙂
    Serious now, I always love it when I learn something new from the internet. (or any other place in fact). One is never too old to learn I always say to myself and a day without learning something I didn’t know is a bit of a lost day in fact.

  17. @Archimedes:

    You said: “Can he neutralize Messi and Xavi next time we play them?”

    Does it really matter? The players Arsenal already has managed to do that better than anyone else in the world last season…I’d worry more about neutralizing Phil Dowd 🙂

  18. @Walter:

    Wow, you’re just managing to get cooler and cooler in the off season, aren’t you? 🙂


    Grammar? You’re worried about GRAMMAR? I mean, I know things get boring in the off season and all, but can’t you at least concern yourself w/ such crucial topics as the possible Nasri move to ManU, the possible Cesc move to Madrid, etc, like everyone else? I mean, grammar, come on…:)

  19. Lovely post Walter. Is it just me or is Vermaelen looking considerably younger in that picture? Perhaps the effect of the surrounding 😉

  20. Goose riders? Ah yes this must be “Goose Riders in the Sky” – a big hit for Vaughn Monroe back in 1949. Arsenal had the Comptons, Laurie Scott, Ronnie Rooke et al and went on to win the title in 1950! Oh, hang on, maybe it was “Ghost Riders in the Sky?” Oh well, never mind, it was still a great song!

    Enough of all this rubbish – All I can say is – Great article Walter! – you seem to be starstruck when you meet your heroes. I think that’s great and I can really relate to that. I was like that when I met George Swindin when I was a nine year old back in 1952 and I am exactly the same now. Perhaps I will grow up one day, but I doubt it and I sincerely do hope not.

    Yes Walter, treasure that signed shirt!

  21. @ phil: I find your comment rude & offensive! You have the right to your opinions but you don’t have the right to be offensive to the dear Walter without cause…why don’t you just slink off the bathroom if you are feeling frustrated?

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