Tonight’s ref: the inside story, plus the journos prepare their excuses

Tonight the ref is the number one ref in Belgium.   Or as Zafod Bebblebrox says in the Hitchhikers’ Guide “Belgium Man!”

Here’s the assessment of our resident Belgian Referee: Walter Broeckx……..


I really hope he doesn’t screw up on us.

Last season he had the Liverpool – Real Madrid game and before the game there was an article in the Flemish press where he said how he loved to go to Anfield and he visited the museum and what a great club Liverpool was.

He then refused to give Madrid a few important decisions and they lost the game rather heavy. They still hate him for that in Madrid but I bet they even didn’t know what appeared in the Flemish newspapers before kick off.

So it could be that he just likes English football and this could mean that we could benefit from that.

BUT… he is named as one of the candidates to do the final at the World Cup. It will be his last big tournament as he has to stop after next season as a Fifa ref because of his age.

And if you remember the piece I wrote to you about how Uefa could influence referees I could imagine the next conversation between a Mr. Bribethemall and De Bleeckere: Well Frank, you are named as a candidate to do the WC final this year. Yes, Mr. Bribethemall, that would be a great achievement for me.

Mr. B: Well Frank it would help you if Uefa and Michel Platini could back you for this final. Did I even mention that Michel P. doesn’t like Wenger ? Yes they are both French but he would hate it if Wenger would win the CL. You really need his support regarding the world cup, my dear Frank. I think you know what I mean, Mr. B.

I just hope he has a good game and we have a nice and undisputed win.

Enjoy yourself tonight



In the dim and distant reaches of Docklands, the English press are waking up to the horrible possibility that Arsenal might actually win something this season – besides the inevitable Youth League and the Women’s League.

Thus conferences are being held all around beer stained tables as the men in dark glasses come up with their excuses.

First, they can talk about the bookies taking a hammering, by still offering 5-2 on an Arsenal win.  And they might even comment that Bet365 are taking a hammering since it was realised that Bet365 sponsors Stoke City.

So, silly bookies as a first line of deflection.  And then…

Next up is the quality of the league is in decline. Arsenal would not have won if Man U had been buying.  Arsenal would not have won it last year.  Stories will abound of the fact that Sir Alex F Word is now demanding £250bn to buy a new squad and Mr Abromavich has mortgaged another set of oil wells.  Arsenal won’t win it next year.

After that its, “Arsenal can’t be real champions because Man U and Chelsea beat them.”  In other words, the other games in the campaign don’t happen – just the top four games – ignoring the fact that in the past, on that basis we would have won the league.

Then there will be the reversal of reality pieces. Bendtner’s finishing is so fluky that some of the shots will go in by chance and this will always bemuse the opposition who are used to precise finishing.  It lowers the standards of the league to have Bendtner there.

Then we will have the fact that after the Shawcross disaster, other clubs laid off Arsenal out of sympathy.  Arsenal won it on the sympathy vote because clubs weren’t trying enough.  (And if you think this is fantasy land, you were not listening to the radio or reading the papers after we have won things in the past).

What must not be mentioned is that this is the youngest team to be serious challengers for the EPL. And that we have got JET and Wilshere just on the edge of breaking through.  Plus all those guys who have been kicked and hacked to pieces through the rotational fouling system that now dominates English football.

Anyway, who cares about journos?  You can read all the reality you want here.  And if you watch on TV, just turn the sound off.  (Actually if you are listening on radio, turn the sound off there, too.)

Walter Broeckx and Tony Attwood, 2010



Last night at Wigan, the crowd chanted at Liverpool, “Europa League? You’re having a laugh”





  • Arsenal’s darkest hour
  • The days when football journalists could write, entertain and make us laugh (a true newspaper report about Arsenal in the 1930s)
  • “Making the Arsenal” – the novel.  The most extraordinary book about Arsenal ever.  And that’s unofficial.  Available from and from the publishers direct.

The sound of Arsenal winning the league is (c) the sound of everyone who kept faith, and never once started moaning that Wenger must go, we need more players and Bendtner should be shot, giving a rather smug grin.

Editor’s PS: For midweek games I have to leave work at about 3.45pm and get back home about midnight. If you post a piece for the first time, or post a piece with a link in it, the item will be held in moderation until Wednesday morning.

48 Replies to “Tonight’s ref: the inside story, plus the journos prepare their excuses”

  1. Another excuse could be the cold and long winter. Oh no wait a minute we don’t like those cold winters as most of our players are just a bunch of soft foreigners…

  2. On the subject of betting: fair dos for Mark Lawrenson. He said on MOTD this weekend past that he had a punt on Arsenal at 10-1 to win the League. I think this was after the Chelsea game….apparently Hansen may be required to do the Hansen forfeit a la cutting off the tashe on the last day if Arsenal win the League. All gooners to set their recorders as presumably they’ll still be down the pub if that happens!!

    List of excuses, none of which are either true or justifiable:
    1. Fernando Torres was injured.
    2. John Terry got stitched up by the Press so they lost to Man City.
    3. Utd had to play City 4 times this season – too many derby matches.
    4. Sir Alex was blooding Rafael and ersatz-Ronaldo.
    5. The Toffees broke their duck against top 4 sides but not against Arsenal.
    6. Martin O’Neill wanted a pay rise so he beat Utd at OT.
    7. The Press had put money on England winning the World Cup, so Arsenal weren’t allowed to win the league too.
    8. Russia didn’t qualify for the World Cup, so dear old Roman needed to be palmed off with the league.
    9. Platini’s dad (Arsene’s first patron at Nancy) is now too old to duff up his son, so the French mafia still try to stop Arsene winning the league in World Cup year, as they still don’t forget Morgan’s headline: ‘Arsenal win the World Cup’ in 1998. 1-1 on that front so far…….
    10. The Italian Mafia expects an Italian manager to win the League. As there won’t be one winning the Italian Serie A, will there??
    11. James Lawton wanted Arsenal to win and the other journalists don’t like him……

  3. It is unsatisfactory that a team with only one Englishman in it (who rarely plays) should win the League. It is demeaning, it spoils our chances of winning of the world cup, and makes everyone who bangs on and on about successful clubs having an English spine look terribly stupid.

  4. This piece has just made my day. . . .am about to leave the office am gonna print it and take it down the pub and have a laugh with my pals!!

  5. No matter whoever is to officiate this game Arsenal has to go to next stage in the champion league,Porto will gamble to day`s game. sorry for them.

  6. At the beginning of the season I said to everyone who would listen, “I have no idea whether we will win the League or not, but we will be very, very entertaining and much better than a lot of people think”. Of course I was laughed at quite a bit and told how stupid I was. To me it was obvious. The 2nd half of last year we improved hugely, stopped losing to teams below us in the table, and as long as we continued that we’d be fine. That is exactly what happened. Since November 23, 2009 against everyone except Utd and Chelsea we have played 47, won 32, drawn 13, and lost 2, scoring 110 and conceding 37. And that is despite a run of 8 draws in 11 games to begin that stretch. Basically, for a year and a half we have been bloody awesome against everyone except Utd and Chelsea. Those two are tough nuts and their combination of talent AND experience is still too much for us. We will get there.

    Those who say we are “undeserving” or that the league is worse are also forgetting how Utd and Chelsea would do if they lost Rooney and Drogba for half the season, as we lost RvP. Would they still be doing as well?

    No matter what happens now, it has been a bloody good season. We just need them to keep going for a while longer. Last season our defense fell apart when Gallas got injured. That is why AW bought Vermaelen. Hopefully he can hold us together for just a while longer.

  7. Correction 2008 above not 2009 as the beginning of our “streak”.

    Oh, and Tony, I just only saw your response to me on “Irrationality and Football” and I see what you are getting at with more blogs each day and therefore more chance for “personal” pieces. I agree that there havent been many of those pieces so far, but having been on other message boards those kinds of pieces multiply very quickly and become almost competitive sports unto themselves after a while as fans try to outdo each other for most interesting “why I became a fan” story. I guess I would just hate for this blog to go that way as well. Besides, I always think Nick Hornby covered all that as well as could be done in Fever Pitch, the whole “irrationaility about supporting” thing and why sometimes you just get hooked, despite everything.

  8. i dont know if we will win the league this year ,i hope so, but i am convinced that if we keep this squad and add a CB (and a GK perhaps?)we WILLrun away with it next year

  9. Tony: Spot on. Damn the Arsenal bringing in all these foreigners, raising competition and making English players train harder. We need quotas to ensure they get playing time, as we know that just gifting first elevejn places based on nationality will make England better.

    I nearly kept a straight face writing that. Nearly.

    Walter: A while back I read a piece on employment restrictions amongst referees. Basically, refs are forced to work within the country of which they are nationals. Absolutely insane legislation, free movement of labour = best refs paid the most = best refs go to the best leagues, raising the quality of refereeing in the leagues where the most is at stake.

    What are your thoughts on this, as a referee?

  10. i hope we prove you guys right, and the rest wrong guys.
    just a few words on the tossing of bendtner

    while i like bendtner, and disagree with many fans that want him out, it did disappoint me to see him leave the pitch with a huge, huge smile.

    i know in sport it’s always chin up. but i’ve seen RVP get pretty god damn frustrated after missing his chances. it would’ve been nice to see bendtner actually blame himself for one of those. even when he looked to the sky it was like “why didn’t you let me score god? i’m awesome!”

    but i hope it was just an off day and that his casually positive attitude actually is positive.

    like i said, i like him and have faith in the guy, but i’m still not totally convinced.

  11. kind of saying, even though we should give him our support. i think we still need to question players

  12. Sam – I see what you are trying to say, but think Bendtner should actually be applauded for his honesty in terms of self-criticism. Sometimes, no matter how competitive you are and how serious the stakes, it is best to just smile, laugh and see the ridiculous nature of your predicament. Bendtner had one of those days on Saturday. The chances were too easy. Had he missed tougher chances he probably would have been annoyed at himself, but let’s face it, he’ll have known that those were chances that you and I should, and would, have taken. What can you do? What does getting angry do? You can imagine what Bendtner is like in training, he probably leaves the ‘keeper flat-footed all the time and buries EVERY chance that comes to him. Then he gets on the field and misses those chances. You have to laugh, or else you’ll drive yourself crazy. That is part of growing as a player. 22 is still ridiculously young for a top-class player. Chelsea dont have anyone under 26 starting for them (except for the few occassions when Mikel plays).

    He gets a pass for the weekend, and I like the fact he smiled, kept his sense of humour, and especially that he acknowledged that the crowd was still acknowledging him as he left the pitch. That was really important and in my view.

  13. @ Super sam Super sam

    Wenger said Nik and he was just putting a brave face on it.

  14. you can watch the match and listen to Arsenal tv online.however the comentary is about 19 seconds behind the pictures

  15. Wonderful performance from the lads.. Bendtner did save his goals for Porto.. Hope this is first of many to come from the lad..

    Nasri and AA truly showed their class. AA was full of his creativity and wat a dribble by Nasri for the 3rd goal. Noone seemed to take the ball from him.. Wonderful close control and well taken goal.

    Eboue was Eboooooooouuuuuuuueeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!! Full of energy and eagerness to go forward..

    Vermaelen was awesome and was on the neck of Falcao like a vulture. He made up for Sol’s lack of pace. Clichy and Sagna worked tirelessly and gelled with both the attack and defence. Big Al had a good match..

    It was a perfect reponse to everyone. This team is going from strength to strength.. They have belief in them.

    Lets get behind this team and give them the support they require..

  16. Good performance from the ref even though he whistled a lot more than I would have liked.. Didnt allow any hard tackles.

  17. The ref was really good, I was impressed. Didn’t seem to be biased, whistled fairly.

    Don’t think there is much to say about our absolutely splendid performance. Arsenal forever.

  18. Hahahaha.

    Le Boss: “I hope Bendtner’s hat-trick will not give him too much confidence, but I’m happy for him.”

  19. 2 hattricks.. 3 assists for AA23(I counted the 1st goal too) and 3 goals for Bendy.

    I guess AA wasnt joking on his web when he said B52 is saving his goals for this match 😀

  20. The only minus points I give the ref is for the yellow card on Vermaelen. This was just a minor thing but I guess he wanted to show that he was not favouring his compatriot.

    As I was watchting the game with my son and brother, the Emirates team one could say, at my home… we went totally crazy during the game. My brother kept telling Bendtner would get his hattrick and he did.
    With the Nasri goal we jumped against the ceeling… and then watch with open mouth to the Nasri trickery…. what a goal…. one of the best I have ever seen….

  21. stil cant believe that nasri goal.had2pinch myself. no fab…rvp…gallas…dam.

  22. Niklas Bendtner, Adriano, Ronaldo and Wiltord. The only three forwards to score a knockout round hattrick since the Millennium. Sensational.

  23. Suuuuuupeer, suuuuupeeeeer Nick, suuuuupeeeerr Nicklas Bendtner…. LOL.
    I told you Tony, he left them for today.

    My God, I think it was a party at the Emirates.

  24. Did anyone miss Cesc?
    What does this mean for the flexibility and adaptability of this young team?
    Nasri, Song and AA were awesome but I was most happy for Bendtner.

    I guess Porto’s boss was confounded about Arsenal’s awesome performance tonight: his team wasn’t slack and was challenging Arsenal for most of the game and yet it got hit for five!

  25. I can also tell you that I just heard that the grandfather of Thomas Vermaelen died yesterday. Despite this loss, Thomass had another great game.

    May your grandfather rest in peace, Thomas. And we wish you and your family strenght in this period.

  26. “Good performance from the ref even though he whistled a lot more than I would have liked.. Didnt allow any hard tackles.”

    IndianGooner, please refrain from those views on this blog. I’m sure Tony will very much agree that advocating mindless violence against players like Ramsey is wrong and only contributes to the obvious media conspiracy threatening Arsenal players!

  27. LenH, I’d take a step back there, there is a difference between heavy tackles and dangerous tackles.

  28. No, apparently telling players to ‘get stuck in’ and go in hard is why Diaby, Eduardo and Ramsey have been injured so badly. Not my opinion, the opinion of most on this site.

  29. LenH, I’m against Dangerous tackles like the ones we get a few times in the league and which took out the likes of Ramsey/Eduardo/Diaby for a long time. But I love the hard but fair tackles. I’m sure most people over here like this. And yesterday Porto were trying for some dangerous tackles but the ref wasn’t taking any of this. He blew and even cautioned whenever he could. He didnt let the game go out of control. Thats I said the ref had a good game. He kept the game under control and we got the freedom to play the game.

    Walter, I could see Vermaelen was pumped up yesterday. He wanted the win badly and I guess He is going to dedicate this victory to his grandfather. May his grandfather’s soul rest in peace..

  30. YESSSS !What a response from this crocked team .I especially pleased for Bendtner after his personal nightmare last weekend.I have to agree with Paul C and the crowd at that game – Bendtner tried his best but things did
    not go right for him .He got into all the right positions but only the finishing deserted him .His commitment was there for all to see.AW handled it well in allowing him more playing time and not subbing him early.
    Off hand I can recall two other instances when we did everything but score.
    The first was against Blackburn in a league match where the keeper kept us out,, while in a CL home match against CSKA Moscow, we missed every chance- when scoring would have easier.The commentator remarked that very few 0-0 draws are this one-sided.

  31. Exhilirating performance.

    I say, send those Refs (the like of yesterday’s) to the EPL. The Refs here could learn how to referee & control a game properly; not how to condone thuggery in the guise of tough tackles.

  32. Great Great match. The first 10 minutes of the game was the best I’ve ever seen Arsenal play. Bombarded the Porto goal right from the word go. My MOM would be Nasri….he was immense and the third goal was brilliant. Have always rated NB and feels good to see him among the goals today. It’s a measure of how much NB has changed that I had completely forgotten about the press rumblings about the discontent between NB and the other team mates….anyone remember people pointing to how none of the other guys celebrated when NB scored etc etc. The guy has undergone a total personality change over the last 1 year and I’m 100% sure that its been Arsene Wenger who has been responsible for the change.

    And lastly special word for Emmanuel Eboue…..this guy is a SUPERSTAR….maybe not for his gameplay but simply because of the way he has come back after being forced off by the Emirates crowd a couple of years back. That really takes some doing.

  33. Wayne, there was never a problem between Bendtner and his team mates. That was all manufactured by the newspapers.

  34. wow what a game … staying awake at wee hours of night to catch the match was totally worth it 🙂 … now onto Hull Spitty and Phil Orange … 1 game at a time folks, 1 game at a time.

  35. I wonder was this the best team performance of the year sor far ? Every player on the pitch and also the reserves just had a magnificent game as a team.

  36. I looked for the headline ‘Scoring, Scoring Arsenal!’ without success……..

    Fire all the headline writers immediately!!

  37. Totally agreed Walter…

    Stayed awake till late but still feeling fresh today.. The best part for me was that the whole forward line was able to driblle and pass… Nasri, Arshavin, Diaby, Rosicky, Eboue, Walcott and even Song,cant say Bendtner(but who needs it)..

    Great game and a pleasure to watch.. Just had a doubt.. Who will go out of bench when Cesc is back..

  38. Note from Tony…

    IMPORTANT NOTE RE THIS COMING SATURDAY: You may have been inconvenienced in the last few days by finding that the Untold site has gone down a couple of times. We’ve tracked this back to something rather simple: our audience has just shot up again.

    God knows where all these people keep coming from (another spot of post-modern gibberish there) but Hi guys, how you doing.

    Anyway, we have a problem because the latest rise in readership has overloaded our server, and we are going to have to add another four billion trillion gigsandwiches or ramraider or something. This will happen on saturday (not ideal for Untold, but there is a business called Hamilton House Mailings to consider, and it is the best time for the money making side of the operation.)

    So for much of this coming Saturday there will be no Untold Arsenal. I am shocked and devastated by this state of affairs, not to say mortified beyond belief, but there it is. People will keep reading this stuff, so we have to move with the temporal anomalies (or anemones).

    To be technical about it, all being wonderful and well Untold will work ok until Saturday morning, then vanish, and then reappear.

    But seriously, you wouldn’t believe the readership figures we have just been getting this month. I am overwhelmed by everyone’s support.

  39. How are we going to survice this Saturday ??? 😉

    Every advantage has a disadvantage, it’s good to have more readers but the more readers the more technical problems. I hope the pizza guys do a great job on saturday so we can enjoy our daily portion of untold for the next years to come.

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