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August 2021

Forza l’Arsenale! A few reflections on Napoli


I’ve been scrambling around looking for something to write about Arsenal’s upcoming game against Napoli, without mentioning Higuaín (damn) or Rafa Benitez (double damn). What do I know about Napoli?

Well they are of course an Italian football team that play in Naples on the beautiful west coast of that country, south of Rome. Naples has a turbulent history; it was established by the Greeks and then seized by the Romans before later becoming a part of the Byzantine Empire. By the ninth century it was independent only to be again seized, this time by the Saracens*. In the middle ages Naples went Norman, then became part of Spain, then France then Spain again. It’s a wonder they know who they are really.

In the late 18th century our very own Horatio Nelson pitched up there for a bit of rnr with Lady Hamilton and helped the local aristos resist the lures of the French revolution. It has to be said lady Hamilton was less resistant to the charms of our most famous jolly jack tar 🙂

Clearly Napoleon was un-amused and captured Naples once Nelson had left and installed his own brother, Joseph as king. Napoleon made a habit of this, the Swedish monarchy is still descended from ‘le petit corporal’ and ABBA’s first hit song is based on an old Napoleonic folk ditty (bet you never knew that Tony, eh?)

In 1861 Naples joined the rest of Italy in Unification and the mass eating of Garibaldi biscuits became a regular feature of Neapolitan life (along with multi-coloured ice cream and my favorite type of pizza). And to be honest, until 1926 when Napoli FC was founded that’s about all there is.

Except for Giambattista Vico…

Vico is Italy’s most important philosopher and he basically invented history. Well, not really, just an interpretation of history. Giambattista (or Giam as he was known to his friends) lived from 1668-1744. In 1725 he published a book called the New Science in which he argued that we have to understand past societies on their own terms. Social change was, he suggested, caused by the unintended consequences of ‘the evolving needs, reason, and interests of essentially egotistic individuals’.

So for Giam its all about ME. ME ME ME ME . And I thought to myself…

Paulo de Canio anybody?

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So that’s my threepennth worth on Napoli but I must leave you with the old adage; ‘edi Napoli e poi muori!’ or See Naples and die!. This should really be written as see Naples before you die. Its not a threat but a reflection what a beautiful place it is. Let’s hope them come over and play beautiful football…but are ‘killed’ by our demon midfield!

Forza Arsenal!


See also…

Recent posts are listed on the right of the page.

The books…



* a Rugby union club** from London who play in Watford apparently

** rugby union is a game that involves chasing eggs apparently

15 comments to Forza l’Arsenale! A few reflections on Napoli

  • ClockEndRider

    Caravaggio famously created merry hell there also. A story well worth looking into if you’ve got a few mins.
    Unfortunately now the city is ravaged by crime and poverty as a result of infighting over the last 20 years within Camorristi. Quite honestly I wouldn’t look to go to the away leg if I were you…..

  • WalterBroeckx

    About the city: The only time you hear Naples mention in the news over here is when they let us see images of bin bags lying in the streets meters high. Rats running from left to right having a party….
    So maybe for the moment it probably is see Naples and probably you could end up dead.

  • WalterBroeckx

    About the club: they went bankrupt in 2004 and so are in fact a new club having to restart at the third level of Italian football at that time.
    Their most known football player was the hand of coke, also known as the God of dope, and some claim he was the best player in football for a while. Some called him also Maradonna.
    God still owes the Italian tax man a bit of money I heard a while ago but that is only normal procedures for Argentinian superstars it seems.

    But at the moment they surely are a very decent team.

  • On the other hand they ain’t doin’ bad just now being second in the league behind Roma with 5 wins and a draw out of six.

    Scored 14 let in 4.

    Just as in our league there is only one team in this season’s Champions League that is in the top four of the Prem, so in Italy there has been a bit of a turnaround, although not quite as much as we have seen thus far.

    Juve 3rd, Inter 4th, Milan 9th. Oh Silvio where are you?

  • One more…

    Napoli was managed for two years by an ex-Arsenal player William Garbutt who in his own way was as revolutionary as Herbert Chapman.

    The story is told at

  • Gunner T

    You forgot to mention Naples isn’t that far from Mt Vesuvius and it’s overdue an eruption!

    Also, what’s with Gervinho at Roma? Why didn’t he play like he is now for us?

  • Pete

    @Gunner T,

    Quite simple re Gervinho. He doesn’t have the “supporters” on his back now. Some players can resist abuse (e.g. Ramsey) others can not.

    They should not have to be in that situation.

    I hope the moaning minnies are proud of themselves – directly responsible for the club’s loss of several million quid.

  • para

    Good luck tonight lads, we should beat Napoli as long as we concentrate and play well, although it will be a tight game. They are well capable of scoring and winning, and we have to be focussed and ready.
    Forward you gunners.

  • ARSENAL 13

    @GunnerT, Vesuvius, due an erection oops eruption ( Its a good time for Vesuvius to think about throwing up as Rafa is in town). That all I know about Naples. Now I know a bit more though, thanks to Untold.

  • marcus

    Gervinho is no longer a battery hen, he is now free to roma

  • Andy Mack

    @ Pete, 100% correct about Gervinho!

  • Andy Mack

    As ClockEndRider says, Napoli is all about the Camorra now.
    They own the city and the Campania region.

  • Gord

    @Tony is running a number of history articles at the moment, including a summary of managers. Your article says Chapman did not invent WM, the article uses the word “introduce”. But, I didn’t catch any mention of UA in that article.

  • Brickfields Gunners


    A lion was getting married.

    At the wedding a mouse was shouting and dancing, and congratulating the lion, “All the best, my brother. Good luck.”

    Seeing the mouse shouting away claiming that the lion getting married is his brother, another Lion grabs the mouse in anger and asks: “Who the hell do you think you are? How can a lion be your brother? You are only a mouse.”

    The Mouse replies: “I, too, was a Lion before I got married.”

  • Brickfields Gunners

    The Innocent Smuggler

    A mexican teen came up to the Mexican border on his bicycle with two large bags over his shoulders. The guard stops him and says, “What’s in the bags?”

    “Sand,” he answers.

    The guard says, “We’ll just see about that.” He takes the bags and rips them apart; he empties them out and finds nothing in them but sand. He detains the teen overnight and has the sand analyzed, only to discover that there is nothing but pure sand in the bags The guard releases himputs the sand into new bags, hefts them onto the man’s shoulders, and lets him cross the border.

    A day later, the same thing happens. The guard asks, “What have you got?”

    “Sand,” says the youngster.

    The guard does his thorough examination and discovers that the bags contain nothing but sand. He gives the sand back to him, and the young man crosses the border on his bicycle.

    This sequence of events if repeated every day for three years. One day, the teen doesn’t show. Instead, a messenger comes and hands the guard an invitation for a house warming.

    When he gets to the address, it is a large villa with a pool, and many guests celebrating. Inside he finds the teen, holding a glass of wine and enjoying with his guests.

    “Hey, Buddy,” says the guard, “It’s driving me crazy. How are you so rich when all you were carrying across the border was sand? Just between you and me, what are you smuggling?”

    The youngster smiles and says: “Bicycles.”