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July 2021

Behold! Two revolutions beckon in football – both at once.

By Tony Attwood

Football was invented as a way of one village assaulting and destroying another – the victor in the game in its 15th century form being the village whose inhabitants managed to kick the ball into opposition’s village.  You only had to do it once, because then you “took” the village, and by and large wrecked it.  (It was the origin of the notion of “taking” the opposition end which Woolwich Arsenal supporters adopted as they invented and developed the notion of away support in the 19th century).

The Victorians used football initially as a game for gents, but quickly transformed it into a game in which working class toffs who had made their money out of property development and factory ownership could employ working class roughs and watch them kick hell out of each other on a pitch, while the supporters gambled and drank their week’s wages away.

In the post-war era football tried to gentrify this image, suggesting in that quaint old fashioned Radio 2 (as it then was) way that after the match the supporters would have “talking points” in “pubs and clubs”.  When the older notion of going to away games and taking the ground resurfaced as affluence found its way into Britain in the late 1950s, they were “shocked”, “appalled,” “amazed” and “annoyed”.  Often all at once.

Football was thus gentrified, and much of the fun, laughter, bile and anger that could be seen at games exported itself onto the internet.

Of course many of those writing on the internet have never been to actual big time games, and so have never quite got the hang of the humour, the really funny chants and songs (which are censored out on TV and radio as generalised crowd noise is inserted in their place) that populate many matches.

Most such bloggers, as remote from real football as the editor of the Daily Express is from real life, take themselves incredibly seriously, many trying to pretend that they are as important in the national psyche as newspapers, presenting themselves as being at a distance “Arsenal fans will be worried”.  (Translation, “I want them to be worried”).

Not going to a game is excused by “not being able to get a ticket” (even when they are running stories about the empty seats) (here’s a clue guys – join as a Red Member and buy a ticket) and “it being too expensive”.   Another thought – go and support a local non-league team.  We’re doing it, when Arsenal are away, and believe me it’s fun.  (Ah, but that’s the point.  Football is fun doesn’t compute for the modern non-attending Arsenal-hating blogger.)

(Actually there should also be a lot of season tickets to be found in dustbins; I know this because lots of bloggers said during the summer they were doing that.)

Meanwhile the internet has developed its own style of football reporting – a style which is utterly short term, and in which all logic goes out the window.  A well argued 1000 word article which provides evidence and theory, analysis and examination, is dismissed in five or ten words of straight abuse and opinion.  Surface tribalism triumphs over everything.  “You are the idiot, because you believe x.  I am right, it’s obvious, I don’t have to prove it.”

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Remember the “Arsenal are bound to fail because we don’t have a defensive midfielder”  commentary? That was it.  No analysis, no logic, just that, followed by abuse because one doesn’t see it that way.

So it is that the defeat to the ref who ran the Aston Villa game was reason not to “out” PGMO who employ the Premier League officials, but to destroy Arsenal’s manager, CEO, half the team, and while we’re at it, Untold and its fellow-travellers.

A run which sees us top of the league sends the perpetrators of the out campaign not into the joy, they could have had if they were Arsenal supporters, but silence, waiting for one game, any game, in which the team slips up.  Then they will be off again.

So we have a series of hate-crimes.  One is to take a well-argued view and dismiss it simply by saying “you’re a wanker”.  We might call the perpetrator of this an “Oik 1”.

The second hate-crime is to take one game, or even one incident, and say because of that the world has come to an end and everyone, starting with God and presumably ending with St John, while taking in the Arsenal management, should suffer.  This tripe is distributed by “Oik 2”.

Now the important point is that Oiks 1 and 2 never think through their position.  They might say that they want Wenger out and Usmanov in, and then forget that Usmanov supports Wenger, as Walter pointed out the other day.  They might stand in stunned silence at the appointment of Mesut Özil complete with umlaut, and yet state that we need more players, forgetting that we actually have several new players.  Flamini might have been here on a free, but he’s proving very effective.  Ramsey is in essence a new player, because he is way ahead of where he was this time last year.  Gnabry may not have cost, but he’s one hell of a talent.  (Oh but he’s 18, and 18 year olds don’t count at Arsenal, while another club signing an 18 year old brings shouts of “why can’t Arsenal do that?”).

Demanding more and more players?  Oik 3.

Then there is the nonsense that appears to be a long article, which might have some logic in it, but it becomes just a wild rant with no logic, no evidence and no theory.  Remember Just Arsenal News with Arsenal fans are becoming the biggest mugs – AGAIN!    Who could forget it?  Oik 4.

Banter, fun, having a laugh at Tottenham, being amused at Man U’s struggles, watching Sunderland make fools of themselves, that’s all part of football.   So is having a serious chat with a fan of a rival club in which you both recognise you are tribal at heart, but you can still discuss.  Having an honest and genuine conversation with a Tottenham supporter about how all their new signings are fitting in, is not only beyond the wit of the Oiks, it is utterly outside of their reality.

So is doing the incredibly hard work of exposing what has gone wrong with referees to such a degree that now, at long, long, last PGMO is breaking its silence and is briefing the newspapers.  The oiks can’t imagine such a vast body of work.   For them life is self-evident, common sense.  If you jump up, you come back to ground.  Obvious ain’t it?   Theorising about why it happens is for wankers.

Arsenal are crap.  It’s obvious.  Theorising about it and possibly finding that (unlike gravity) it actually isn’t real, is utterly, totally, completely, overwhelmingly, 100%-ly, beyond their comprehension.

But the media love the oiks, because it makes their job simple.  Which is why the press have hated the revelations about something being seriously wrong with refereeing in the Premier League.  Easier to run the stories that have (in response to Referee Decisions and Untold) come out of PGMO in recent weeks, as if it were investigative journalism.   Non-investigative journalists – Oik 5.

Of course this is a bit like the revelations in the Rangers tax case.  Year after year after the English media ignored what was happening at Rangers, with the Scottish media saying everything is just fine.  Just a small number of people knocking away at the rock face day after day, until eventually the utterly discredited journalists were forced to change direction, just as the Party does in “1984”, and pretends it got it right all the time.   Suddenly, the newspaper “can today reveal that…” forgetting that for years it refused to reveal anything of the kind.

Football is passion, football is fun, and football requires proper analysis, thought, theorising and review.   The media has not lost the plot over football because it never had the plot, always characterising it as something done by others who we can laugh at or reprimand.  (Try reading Mark Andrew’s superb “The Crowd at Woolwich Arsenal” if you want a real insight into how it was in the past).

The press and TV won’t move until the handful of blogs that don’t do instant reaction, but which investigate and consider, theorise and propose, come up with a case which ultimately breaks the surface and can no longer be ignored.  Then they will claim it as their own.

One such case, as I have suggested, is the question of the quality of refereeing in the Premier League and whether it is down to incompetence or corruption.

Another is the fact that carefully, painfully, slowly and surely, Arsene Wenger is building a brilliant team at Arsenal with a new form of tactic that outsmarts the now-traditional rotational fouling.

The Oiks, and their allies on the internet and in the media, hate acknowledging either because to do  so takes a bit of intellectual ability.  But the fact is the revolution is happening.

We are seeing a new Arsenal, and indeed a new type of rotational football.  We are seeing the fruits of the labour of many referees who have analysed what Premier League refs are up to.

Welcome to the revolutions.

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36 comments to Behold! Two revolutions beckon in football – both at once.

  • Shakabula Gooner

    That was a long rant about everything you hated about your fellow bloggers, etc who wouldn’t do their homework before they write their pieces. Anyhow, once in a while, it is justified; it is cleaning and it serves as celebration when a pov one has labored hard to project is on the ascendance – as you well think.

    While I share your optimism on the trajectory of Wenger’s ongoing work on the Arsenal team, I wonder if you are suggesting that PGMOL have turned a new leaf and we are to see vastly improved referring henceforth? If that is what you are saying then please avail us with more concrete evidence as to the reasons for the optimism as there wasn’t much of such evidence offered in this piece.

  • Digvijay

    Excellent article! More on the *new* type of rotational football?

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Nice Tony , another hitting the nail on their heads article ! Was wondering where the tail between their legs AAAA were , and lo and behold ,I came across this fine and detailed study by the BBC .
    Although no mention was made of ‘them’ you can understand the inference . I could anyway !But then I talk to animals all the time ! Hmmm…..

  • Brickfields Gunners

    The one who follows the crowd will usually go no further than the crowd . Those who walk alone are likely to find themselves in places no one has ever been before .
    Albert Einstein

    By Changing your Thinking
    You Change your Beliefs;

    When you Change your Beliefs,
    You Change your Expectations;

    When you Change your Expectations,
    You Change your Attitude;

    When you Change your Attitude,
    You Change your Behaviour;

    When you Change your Behaviour,
    You Change your Performance;

    When you Change Your Performance;

  • marcus

    This might interest:

    “If we think referees do not talk with managers and media then we are naive. How about the ref who regularly rings a senior figure at Match of the Day on Saturday nights to see how his game is being edited and what they might say about his performance?”

    “Why is the Premier League the only competition in Europe that controls top-flight refereeing – the PGMOL offices are even in the same building – when federations adminster it elsewhere?”

    As has been said repeatedly: Why the need for hush money?

  • nicky

    Far be it that I should query anything you say of an historical nature but I think you should tell us what happened to football between the 15th and 19th centuries.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Are all his revelations a confession of sins past ,and a cry for redemption ? Lets see what else is in store for us .
    In the meantime who will absolvesthese three pastors ?

    Three pastors took a day off and decided to go fishing after a busy Sunday. They agreed its so difficult preaching to people all the time and no one preaches to them. Sitting by the river with little response from the hooks one pastor thought of sharing his heart with others.

    He said “guys its rare to get such an opportunity to be among ourselves like this. It would be good if we look into our lives and help each other with our weaknesses”. They all agreed to this.

    This pastor said “Gentlemen I need help! The people in my church give a lot of money every week. I started taking little by little but now I take a big chunk. I can’t stop stealing from the church please pray for me. The day they will find out I will be fired”!

    Another pastor said “brothers your sins are better than mine! I have slept with every woman in the church including married women. As I preach my eyes hover over the congregation looking for the next prey. If this is discovered people will not fire me, they will kill me!”

    The last pastor’s feet were shaking as they were talking. They thought he had a big story to tell. He stood up and said “My brothers my problem is gossip! I can’t sit anymore. I have to share this!
    I will be back!

  • AL

    Good article Tony, and please keep up the good work exposing these corrupt men ruing our game. Why should Halsey be struggling to get his side of the story out, when people should be commending him for doing that with reporters queuing at his door to interview him.

    I wonder though who this ref in the link marcus provided is, and who the senior figure at MOtD is. Anyone got their hands on this book yet?

  • marcus

    It’s funny how various people are quickly vacating their posts these days.

    It also seems that all the people who have bandied around the term ‘conspiracy theories’ need to learn a new term:

    ‘conspiracy facts’

    All the layers of collusion will be slowly revealed as the blanket is peeled back …

  • para

    I think that many of the negative comments without any attempt to explain the reasoning are not from Arsenal supporters, but from trouble makers trying to stir it up and cause argument, most supporters when they have a problem do try to explain what they see, in the knowledge that they may be wrong. Also i think we have been taken to high levels by Arsenal and anything less makes us feel the team is not performing. It to me a while to realise the changes going through our team over the last 5 seasons, from a flamboyant masterful playing style that thrilled, to a solid masterful defence unit with flamboyancy when needed, and a desire to win every game. I can now appreciate the digging in when needed (we used to flap and make mistakes), the closing down of the opposition (we used to let them play their football cos we were better) and the strength against bigger teams( we were a little afraid sometimes), all in all a new branch (team) has grown again.
    Forward ever gunners.

  • dan

    Great Article.

    My brother (villa man), stated this weekend, Fergie’s bail out from Man U was impeccable. The thought crossed my mind before, but, my time is pre-occupied by all things Arsenal. Looking at Man u, many have pointed out the deficiencies. The average age is 27, 24 mil for Van Persie (29), David Moyes unable to attract a recognised midfielder, 27 mil for Fellaini and a ever sitting debt. With all this Fergie retired, now the reasons could be anything, however, much of his PGMOL cronies are now at the twighlight of their careers. Webb wasn’t as influential in the recent derby, my feeling is something rotten will surface soon!

  • Tasos


    Ian Ridley is the ghost writer for Mark Halsey’s book.

    Here’s the Ian Ridley interview on Talksport.

    Worth a listen.

    Forward to around 20:45pm

  • Digvijay

    After hasleys comments, I noted in the matches over the weekend, the referring was better than usual. For Manchester derby and even at Arsenal, Mike Dean was actually favoring arsenal – commentator did say in 18 matches arsenal has won only twice with Mike Dean. PGMOL covering up?

  • elkieno

    Love it!!!
    That’s Untold for you right there. This is not a blog anymore, surely its above that level now?

  • Shard

    About the Halsey book. It must be remembered that the person writing that article has a vested interest in the book doing well, and creating a controversy will help boost sales.

    But it seems to be the case that the PGMO definitely didn’t want the book to come out. Their payment of hush money should be a concern, and Ian Ridley does highlight one point, which I admit I don’t fully understand the significance, but it is important.

    “Why is the Premier League the only competition in Europe that controls top-flight refereeing – the PGMOL offices are even in the same building – when federations adminster it elsewhere?”

    I’ve thought before that the FA aren’t really capable of controlling referee excesses and that the real people running the show are the PL. So has Walter, as I recall, making the case that refs give better performances in the FA Cup. Surely this is a question worth asking, which Ridley does.

    He does however, brush off the topic of Halsey calling Ferguson to ask for a professional favour on behalf of his colleague. That is not something to be taken lightly, and the fact that Halsey himself reveals this shows that he doesn’t consider it to be wrong. Maybe it means he has a clean conscience, but if Halsey is willing to talk about breaking the rules so openly, what else must go on behind the scenes that no one wants to talk about?

    Will it all come out? No. It won’t. Not ALL. Nobody would want the boat rocked too much. Not even clubs like Arsenal who lost out. They aren’t going to win any titles from the past (eg in 2008, we finished 3rd, when we should have won) and nobody cares about a paper champion anyway. And destroying the credibility of the league completely would harm their future prospects as well.

    AT most, Ferguson’s retirement was forced on him, so that the league can have a fresh start. And yet, Taylor’s opening day performance, the award of a penalty and a man advantage to ManU against Crystal Palace, and Chelsea’s non-red card, and non-penalty (plus offside goal) suggests that it isn’t really the case.

  • Gooner S


    This post comes across as Teacher giving the troublesome boy in class a jolly good talking to, or more to the point talking down to.

  • marcus

    The fact that Halsey went to Ferguson on the Clattenburg matter tells us one thing conclusively, and also begs several questions.

    That whole incident in itself was somewhat bizarre really. What is for sure is that the fall-out was that Clattenburg’s personal and professional reputation were on the line. Coughs. So, if Clattenburg had been found to have said that, he would have been curtains professionally, in any walk of life, not just refereeing. That amount of pressure would give a lot of leverage….. anyway, we know that Clattenburg had given indications prior to this event of being, er, coughs, somewhat unhappy with the way the PGMOL conducted itself. Coughs – clears throat.

    What can be stated clearly is that the fact SAF made a statement shows who the head honcho was, The Godfather, The Big Cheese …… and it wasn’t Mike Riley was it?

  • bob

    Nice phraseology, mate: Yes, the evolution in understanding amongst the oiks and (what I call) coincidence theorists has moved from the “conspiracy theory” smear to “conspiracy facts” (as in how actual competitive life is lived).

  • bob

    so sorry marcus! My last is meant to you. I’ve got brickfields in mind when it comes to wordsmithery. Plenty of room for everyone at this inn. Cheers.

  • bob

    “Demanding more and more players? Oik 3.”
    Overall compelling. But, on a cautionary note (always the but), one item in your Typology of Oiks feels a caricature: I find that your indictment of Oik 3 ignores the many nuanced and analyzed calls – both from inside and outside the club, and in no small number of UA comments – that continue to advocate for another high-quality striker in January (as in the summer). The unexamined Oik 3 label throws this baby out with the bathwater (of the spend, spend, spend brigade). This is not reducible to your Oik-3 brickbat of “more and more players.”

    Imo, you feel a calling to legitimate the youth development process which adds to our team with some players and fattens profitability via sales, resales and loans. Yes, that’s to the good; but let’s not defend and redeem AW’s Project Youth at the cost of bashing/backfooting those who argue earnestly and analytically to acquire quality backups for rotation and defense against injuries that are bound to come. To refuse to see this inevitability is reckless. So, affordable proactive quality purchases would seem to be a no brainer, if the aim is to produce a championship contender this season. This is possible, with 1-2 quality purchases.

    This said, in the last few seasons, imo, you’ve been loathe to advocate, ahead of the club’s actual buys, for needed expenditures. (The usual defense is what can any fan know compared to the paid experts. Well, who could argue; but no one has the monopoly on insight and useful analyses.)

    Last bit: Actual Advocacy for a targeted quality purchase (as in January) is not the same as someone saying ‘I’m not against quality expenditures.’ Advocacy is not waiting for the club to act, but urging the club to act. So, if that makes this point of view “Oik 3”, then I’d have to say you are painting with too broad a brush; one that distorts what many gooners are actually thinking and feeling.

  • Tomas

    Tony. You raise some valid points in your article , especially in regards to Oik1 through 5. Although some might argue there are representatives of Oik 3 within Arsenal squad( oh the horror!), with Mr Wenger himself admitting the need for strengthening. Giroud,Arteta and Wilshere are all on the record as well, but never mind that. As a student of the game I’m much more interested in what you describe ( without actually describing anything) as a revolution taking place on the pitch, something about ” new type of rotational football “. Would you care to elaborate?. I’m very much interested. Take care.

  • Nicky:

    the agrarian revolution
    the first industrial revolution
    the second industrial revolution

  • bob

    ” but never mind that…”
    Tomas, Mr. Attwood,
    Why not mind that? It is too trivial, say compared to the agrarian and industrial revolutions to comment on?

  • Tomas

    Bob. Never mind talking about the Oik’s 3 within Arsenal squad because its been well documented and I don’t feel the need to beat the proverbial “dead horse”. Especially that there’s not much interest from UA to talk about it ,as it seems to contradict their position on the subject. But I would very much like to learn more about the ” on the field revolution “Mr. Atwood dedicated one sentence to in his quite lengthy article boldly titled “Two revolutions”

  • Mandy Dodd

    Not much good news for the extremists on the WOB and AAA spectrum, although looking around , some of them see theo as riding to their rescue with the latest high profile injury.

  • Unbelievable belief

    Superb Article.

    Ohh, how I wish Fregie’s phone was hacked.
    That’s not illegal, is it?

  • Unbelievable belief

    Bob 5:58pm
    Urge the club to act?
    Why, because the current custodians don’t know how to run or manage a football club?

    I find this whole ‘fans-have a right to advocate’ meme to the club about how to run it very uncomfortable indeed.
    Especially when self-appointed people representing a tiny minority of the fan base are using very one sided arguments, and closely associating themselves with well known ‘WengerOut’ self-publicists.

  • marcus

    Ideally Tony you would have a blog format with a margin to the right, where you could oik-stracize people who make baseless accusations and like to hyperventilate to simulate a car crash if there is no actual car crash to gawp over…

    So after say 15 consecutive wins on the trot, the poster who says: “yeah but the squad is thin, and we’re a one man team, and Wenger is a fucking incompetent” can be quietly slotted outside the margins of meaningful statements.

  • marcus

    Actually that probably encapsulates most of the venom;

    the rubber-necks who love to come out in force when the team loses

    and the brass-necks who will maintain that Wenger is a fucking incompetent even if the team wins 20 matches on the trot

  • bob

    “closely associating themselves with well known ‘WengerOut’ self-publicists.
    Unbelievable belief,
    Really? Stick your witch hunting where the moon don’t shine.

  • bob

    Great link!
    This points directly to The Dean:
    ““My surprise soon turned to anger when it became clear that, while this particular referee was on first-name terms with the opposition [Drogba], he didn’t have a clue who any of my players were,” wrote Holloway. “I reported my concerns to the relevant authorities, asking how a match official could be regarded as a neutral arbiter when he was treating one team’s players like they were long-lost buddies. And do you know what happened? Absolutely nothing.”

    The article continues: “Holloway declined to discuss the matter further when asked about it on Sunday. Blackpool played Chelsea twice under Holloway and the referees were Mark Clattenburg and Mike Dean.” Nuff said?

  • blacksheep63

    @Tony @Nicky I will try and fill in the important gaps in football history c.1400-1900 in my next post

  • sukebe

    Is anybody really threw their season ticket?

    Such a waste of money, for i know i can’t afford it in years of time.

  • unbelievable belief

    what was Payton doing on the grove then?