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August 2021

From Woolwich Arsenal to Ignasi Miquel. Be a partizan, but smile at the same time

By “Arsenal Forever” (ok its Tony really, but there’s a point to the name)

I’m currently working on a book with two esteemed Arsenal supporters Andy Kelly and Mark Andrews called WOOLWICH ARSENAL: THE CLUB THAT CHANGED FOOTBALL.

Now don’t run away at this point thinking “its another one of those history things, why doesn’t he talk about Benfica?” because I will come to that.  And indeed there’s a link.

Mark has contributed some extraordinary research to the book on the subject of the crowd at Plumstead, and reported on a commentary in a local paper, The Woolwich Gazette, which states, “The neighbourhood is solid for a six thousand gate at once.”  In other words, that’s you local committed support.  Anything above that are floating occasional football supporters.

In what Mark calls “the halcyon days of 1904-8” Woolwich Arsenal got much larger crowds than this, and this drew some commentary at the time.  “Red Rover” in 1905, stated “Woolwich is essentially a working class population, and the spectators with half a crown or 3s.6d (25p or 35p) to spare for football are few and far between. I grant that London and some of the suburban sports furnish a good number of supporters, but it must be remembered that these folks are not Arsenal supporters in a partisan sense. They go wherever they think the best attraction is.”

Today it is different – you have to be a member to get a ticket, but it is clear from the early 20th century onwards the link with locality is gone.  I was brought up two miles from the ground, and my father and grandfather went, so that’s why I’m here. But that’s probably an exception.

I re-read Mark’s work recently while I was trying to think of a name for supporters like me, who support the club no matter what, through thick and thin, and of late Walter, Dogface and I have been having a real bash at trying to find such a name.  I suggested the word “partizan” – although my colleagues on the site were far from sure because of its association in more recent times with right wing violent groups.  At the moment, for want of anything else, I have got the phrase “Arsenal Forever”, although we have flirted with “Arsenal, Eternal”.  But partizan keeps coming back.

But this vision of the club – supporting the club no matter what, is not so popular today among Arsenal supporters, which I think is a shame, but reading the reports of Woolwich Arsenal it is clear that people did lose faith fairly easily in the early days.   Support has never been what it used to be.

Reading today’s blogs it seems some got terribly upset over the defeat to Benfica last night.  But I must say even as a partizan it is not spoiling my sunday – we’ve got friends and family coming round, and as soon as I have finished typing this, there’s the clearing up to do, the table to be laid, and the like (the meat already being in the oven).

So maybe as a partizan Arsenal supporter I don’t have to worry about losing to Benfica, because I’ve been through it all.  I remember one pre-season friendly where we beat Celtic about 6-0 away (early 1980s I would guess).  The papers didn’t report it, and I never saw it but it made me expect a great season – which we didn’t get.  Friendlies are never good guides.

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Likewise the people who are upset today tend not to report that Manchester United lost 8-2 to Marseilles or Hull 3 Liverpool 0.  But they happened – and they aren’t guides to the season either.

One report however really made me smile.  It was a complaint that Squillaci had been preferred to Miquel, against Benfica.

As far as I recall Squillaci didn’t play at all in the Ems Cup games, so needed a run out.  Ignasi Miquel played in the 2011 UEFA European Under-19 Football Championship and has only just come back.  In fact he played in every game from the start, and from what we read in reports Mr Wenger will have seen every game and evaluated the player.

Anyway, I made a silly mistake in a very recent article of mine saying that the young lad came from Barca, and suggesting they would try to sign him back later.   In fact he was at Barcelona’s La Masia academy. But with that great clarity and insight for which Barca is known they kicked him out and he went to UD Cornella – a team playing in division six in Spain.

He then became Arsenal’s reserve team captain and has been compared to Gerard Pique.  He can also fill play left-back apparently.

He almost certainly will be our central defender soon, although I am not too sure when.  And for those who believe in the concept of “winning mentality” he certainly must have that, having just won the European Championship.

As an Arsenal  Partizan I am thrilled at the development of this youngster, especially in a position deemed to be a problem.  What Miquel does not want to see is his way eternally blocked by the buying of endless central defenders – but maybe that is necessary at this point.

What I suppose I really dream of is that Miquel can be a Tony Adams.  Tony became a regular in the first team around the time he was 20, and that will do for me.  Because although I am a Partizan, I also believe in “Arsenal Forever”, and with that phrase I can wait two years for Miquel to come through.

And who knows, by then, Barce will probably have discovered that Miquel has Catalan DNA in his blood, or wherever else they imagine the DNA is.  (It’s in ever cell, and 98% of it is the same as a monkey, guys, but don’t let that trouble you).  And they will offer billions for him.

And we might just say no.

Anyway, the sun is shining (at least in the East Midlands where I now live) and I’m going to get the house ready.  We lost to Benfica, but I’ll still be at the Ems for every home match this season, and I’ll enjoy it, as I have every year.  If you are worried about Arsenal this season, try smiling.  Try relaxing.  Think of Miquel.  You’ll feel better.

(I’ll also be at the Ems on Monday night for the AGM of AISA.  If you are there and have read Untold, please do come and say hello.)

Untold Arsenal: you know it makes sense

Arsenal History: what used to make sense

Making the Arsenal: when nothing made sense

30 comments to From Woolwich Arsenal to Ignasi Miquel. Be a partizan, but smile at the same time

  • Mandy Dodd

    I think the most depressing thing about the Benfica game is the injuries – RVP please no! TV – Please no! Gibbs is a worry too, I think Traore is a good prospect but still raw. Hopefully these reports come to very little but heading into the start with Jack, Theo, the above mentioned and then the Cesc / Nasri sitation could be a worry, and with the injuries a familiar worry.
    Agreed on the Miquel situation, we would all love to see him intorduced however as indicated, at the moment, we may have to put someone else ahead of him for the time being.

    But as for the blogs this morning, some gleefully speculating on Wengers sacking should we fall to Udinese.
    Well, AAA, your master, your deity has spoken, underestimate Wenger at your peril!

  • RobL

    You’ve got to be a total idiot to be upset with the friendlies – we were up in all of them with the 1st team, and then swapped out virtually the entire team for the second halves, where we made most of the errors.

    That’s what preseason is really about – get your first team gelling and firing (tick) and let the outsiders get a run out to see what they can do without sacrificing 3 points (tick). Then again I have been supporting for nearly 40 years….

  • Phil23

    Sorry but I agree with whoever wrote the article about Miquel. Squillaci doesn’t have the confidence of his team mates and I would prefer that Miquel played and made mistakes than Squillaci play and make mistakes. My logic being that Miquel has to go through that at some stage so it might as well be now. Squillaci’s presence on the pitch is scary (for anyone wanting Arsenal to win), the fans go berserk every time they see him and he is on a downward curve so there is no logical reason for him to improve.

  • i wrote the article about Miquel and Squillaci. I knew that Miquel had played every minute of five matches in the U19 World Cup in which Spain triumphed. Squillaci played 45 against Boca in emirates cup, played 45 against Cologne, played 45 against greentown and played 45 against malaysia XI. Even though Miquel is only 18 surely he could have managed 45 minutes against Benfica despite playing for Spain recently. My point was that putting him on for ten minutes wasnt going to prove anything and that he should have been given more time. I know Wenger would have seen him play on international duty, but surely on the last game of pre season he could have atleast played him for 35 minutes then replaced him with Squillaci and kept vermalen on. When Squillaci came on against boca we shipped 2 goals and drew the match, against benfica we shipped 2 goals and lost the match, against greentown he was playing and we let in a goal. Surely Squillaci had already enough game time pre season and training with the rest of the team to be able to sit out the last game and come on late. When he came on yesterday he was shocking. I think Squillaci is average and i dont want to see him get more unneeded playing time at the expense of a very talented Miquel. I dont see how that extra 45 minutes was going to make or break squillacis pre season or help us any more for next weeks opener at Newcastle. Thanks

  • Paul "the Gooner"

    I agree with the comments about our ist team were winning in all the matches,then the others came on.My problem is that it is exactly what happened last season.The squard players were not good enough.1 to 15 we can match any teams,after that we are off the pace.
    I do think all this media crap is gettting to us all.Every paper,radio or other media outlets are after us.Having just listened to the Sky Sunday Supplement i know why.
    Henry Winter is up Dalgishs arse(wrote is last 2 bks) the spud tosser Paul Smith(Sunday Mirror) hates AW and us and Beesley i love myself(Chelsea) is the same.We do not have anyone, maybe Keown who will speak up for us.
    Finally,if we get off to a bad start,you just wait and see the media frenzy.You will not have seen or heard anything like it before.
    A great site.

  • mog

    read quite often always interesting never replied before.
    live in the east midlands which part as i live in nottingham.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Some of The media have an agenda they want Wenger sacked and they want to say they have played a part in it

  • bob

    Paul “the Gooner,”
    why not consider biting back by joining Untold Media watch and having a cold-eyed look at any media outlet of your choice and then (weekly, or as you can) report back to Anne (editor) here on how that tv, radio, online or newspaper outlet reported on our previous match? If you’re willing, do write to Anne’s address as posted hereabouts a few times in the last two weeks.

  • Kirwa

    Think of not just Miquel, think of Bartley, Afobe, Frimpong etc all pulling a Wilshere/Song and Fabregas.
    I love this article, its fertile with sense.

  • bob

    I take on your point about a friendly being a tale of two halfs. But I do feel there’s some cause for worry when one of our clear shortcomings last season was insufficient depth to adequately cover our injuries. In that context, it does worry me to contemplate starting our schedule from hell with the several apparent injuries (our endless lament) to key first side players with the likes of Squillaci there to step in. I think there are grounds for worry in the depth department, and to act like it’s not a cause for concern is wishful thinking. I say this with no joy, especially as I remember (like a broken record) how many good-willed and constructive (not only AAA) calls there were in last January’s x-fer window for reinforcements (again in the face of an oncoming hellish schedule) as we were competing in a 4-front war for trophies.

  • Alex L

    ”You’ve got to be a total idiot to be upset with the friendlies” to be fair every time the camera turned to Wenger during last nights game he looked, at best concerned and agitated and at worst utterly annoyed. So it’s a bit harsh to criticise fans for sharing those frustrations.
    before I have my ten pence worth I will say my views are far closer to those held by those of untold’s readers and writers than to those held by le gripes and countless other anti arsenal blogs but…
    At the end of the season it looked like Wenger had a very tuff gob on his hands to freshen up the squad, fix some fundamental issues and most importantly regain the faith/belief of the fans and players alike. 6 days before the season starts I really can’t see much proof he’s pulled it off. On a high note, it looks like Wenger’s done a good job of replacing Bendtner with someone who looks far more suited to the position Wenger will play him in. What doesn’t look so promising in the short term at least is we’ve replaced Eboue Clichy and Denilson, with talented but inexperience players. We also have a very dark cloud hanging over the heads of two of our two most influential players and to top things off we still have Squillaci masquerading as a centre back ( I rather have the peanuts we payed for him playing at the back).
    It doesn’t take a string of poor pre season results to tell me we’re heading into the season with more questions than answers and I think it’s a bit unfair to call fans non partizan for not showing blind faith.

  • bob

    Alex L,
    imho, you’ve offered a fine example of how to give a constructive critique that’s still partisan and on side. the alternative partisan way is blind faith — which is as undemanding as it is (dare I say it) a bit less loving.

  • Good and sensible article that hopefully has calmed some of the frustrated fans.I agree with tony’s points about modern day fans.Unfortunatly nowadays the emirates is a divided place:we have two sets of fans,the pro wenger fans who usually have been arsenal fans for many years and the anti wenger brigade who sprought nonsense about wenger ruining the club and having no ambition.These fans are in my opinion fickle and foolish presuming that they are the base fans on which are superb club was built.Regarding miquel,i also agree that he looks a fine, composed centre back and certainly one for the future.However Squillaci on the other hand is a destructive influence who whenever he comes on to the pitch causes heads to drop down.Anyway, providing wenger rectifies the squilaci problem than i look forward to a succesfull and happy season.In Arsene i trust.By the way i am a different alex than poster Alex L.

  • bob

    surely there’s other ways than the two you mention to be pro-Arsene, pro-Arsenal and to be constructively critical at the same time. i think that it’s important to expand the conversation without saying (you may not be saying this, granted) that there’s only two choices, end of story.

  • Re bob:Of course there is.I didnt mean to portray my point as black or white.Wenger is not untouchable from criticsm from arsenal fans or the board.Unfortunatly though it seems that those blinded by their disappointments at the end of a match or season do not always think rationally, and as a result choose the easy option which is to critisize wenger.There are more reasons than the anti wenger brigade think about.

  • Arvind

    I thought Squillaci did okay last season bar a few games [No I do not have the figures]..he was bought for some 4 million+ to do a job of a 4th..sometimes 3rd choice CB and ended up playing a lot more than that due to TV’s injury. Lets face it, you just cannot have 4 players of equal quality in each position [approximately]. Plus Squillaci has won championships at Lyon as well and played? CL with Sevilla as well; I remember the Sevilla fans really rating him when we bought him. All I’m saying is, there is just no way to say for sure if a player will make it or not..and for a 3rd/4th choice CB – he is probably okay.

    Now there may well be a case to throw Kyle(not any more) or Miquel in at the deep end and play FM while getting rid of Squillaci. Per Mertesacker is the latest name by the way. Will he be any better? Maybe. Or will he too be exposed as a defender with the ‘turning speed of a hippopotamus’ etc etc etc. I don’t know.

    Add to that the financial side and what’s written in contracts for all these so called terrible players..and really..there’s no way..we as fans can tell the club what to do or what the best course of action is. Yes, we can voice our opinions in whatever way we choose, on Untold or elsewhere or at the Grove..but to say that we would have won something for sure..if ‘Strategy X’ had been followed..I’m sorry..I do not agree.

    All I ask of Arsenal every season is – Be competitive..don’t give up and do your best. The end. The trophies are icing on the cake. Oh and by the way .. I knew about AFC after the year 2000. So I’m not even an ‘old’ Arsenal supporter.

    Forget the friendlies results guys, and try and spread some positive vibes around here. Its supposed to be watch football..lets keep it that way :). Peace.

  • Dave clarke

    Sorry to be picky but 3s 6d is not 35p but 32.5p.
    But liked the article.

  • bob

    Hi Arvind,
    You say:
    “there’s no way..we as fans can tell the club what to do or what the best course of action is”
    Another silence is golden mantra? Is this prescription, doctor, a symptom of the underlying problem or a welcome cure? Hard to say right now, this weekend. Let’s see what the week brings, with six days before the season starts. Are we having fun yet?

  • Rog B

    @Tony Again good stuff,Patizan? I can understand why others on the site were not so sure,not only because some would see it as a right wing association,abit of harsh I think,but Partizan can be interpreted as somewhat maybe rebellious? Perhaps an opposite to the word you are looking for? Yes Partizan is good as it describes my/your reaction towards the increasing anti Arsenal/media frenzy that we all seem to witness daily,but the word does not seem to cover all the aspects of being a tue Arsenal fan,that you/myself are looking for. I don’t know,it’s a very difficult one and it might sound corny,but if you asked my friends to descibe how I felt about Arsenal I’m sure most of them would generally describe me as ‘Hard Core’,Arsenal through and through… Difficult.

  • Rog B

    or Die Hard?

  • Ugandan Goon

    nice try, buddy.
    Why are you not going to try to be positive? in fact what is really being asked for is stoicism.
    The grace to accept what we cannot change. Are we all going to run arsenal football club/ no. should we support arsenal football club? yes.
    Are we going to change what arsenal football club do by going mad on the blogs? not likely.
    Mmmmm, what to do? Enjoy whatever football we get and put trophies to back of our minds, we have improved from last season after all and we weren’t bad last season that’s one way, the other is support the clubs that run on petrol, but that, i couldn’t countenance. could you?

  • Gooneraside

    Good article indeed, Tony.
    As you say, pre-season results mean nothing (except possibly sometimes to give the players a misguided over-confidence). Next week we will begin to see what quality there really is.
    One small thing – was not half a crown worth 30d, equalling 30/240 of one pound, i.e. 12and1halfp?

  • Pat

    I don’t know whether this will make you more or less likely to stick with the name ‘partizan’ Tony, but when I think about partisans I don’t think about right wingers, I think about the brave underground fighters who fought against the Nazis and Italian fascists in the Second World War – in Italy, Yugoslavia and many other countries. So to me it is a very honourable name.

  • bob

    Tony, Pat,
    kudos, pat. that’s the context – spot on!

  • bob

    Ugandan Goon,
    Somehow the names Arsenal and Stoics don’t quite mesh. Like oil and water. And speaking of petrol, don’t ALL clubs run on petrol? Even Arsenal, for away matches? (or is jet fuel a derivative thereof, so you’re not counting it?)

  • bob

    Ugandan Goon,
    do you call “grace” the stoicism that it takes to accept say, no video replay? I’d call it “defeatism” or even “giftism,” as in gift-giving to Dowd and Fergie and Bladder and Flat-teeny, but hey, that’s just me. anything but “grace,” old chum.

  • eche

    play the mogo Squillaci or anything you call him as a striker, rather than defender. i rather have miss chances than concede nonsense goals. he is an example that wenger needs a defence coach, the earlier he understands that he is not good in defenders, the better for the club. my only problem with wenger is that he knows too much and such people are always troublesome.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Arsenalnistas ?

  • Ed

    the performances in the pre-season concerns me although i am not in the group who think wenger should go and it is a crisis at arsenal because putting it in perspective, we are still one of the best teams in Europe and the Premiership.

    i am still fairly confident that we will be in the top 4, but it worries me that the same problems which prevented us winning the premiership still seems to be there – lack of quality in the reserves, over-confidence against smaller teams, defensive mistakes, injuries to key players.

    I certainly know we are a good team, and most fans enjoyed the moments we were winning last season and getting the top of the league, but the frustration was knowing we were so close and blowing it due to these errors which look like will happen again.

    On the other hand, i am sure Wenger knows the problems with the team and is working to fix them, but for some reason or other has not been able to. i dont agree with throwing money at the problem such as Liverpool or Man Utd did. can you imagine if Arsenal bought De Gea for 20m and he played like he did yesterday? 20m for henderson who is not better than anybody we have in cetnral midfield? or Downing who is not top4 quality and is not the person to make us the title winners.

  • Rog B

    @ Tony/untold,Well I’ve slept on the word ‘partizan’ and have woken warming to the term. So I’ve checked the Collins english dictionary to get a clearer definition; ‘partisan or partizan an adherent devotee to a cause or party,etc’. Seems that this term is spot on and I would gladly be associated as an ‘Arsenal partizan’ forthwith. I prefer its spelling with the letter z,gives it abit more oomph.