The Emirates: the view from the….running seats. Plus canons, rounds, counterpoint and jive.

By Walter Broeckx

After the last European game we had two different views on how attending a game at the Emirates is being experienced.

Drew who sits down is in fact standing up most of the time. And I do admit on the rare occasions when I have gone to  see my own local team over here I always go to the standing area of the ground. I could sit for free (one of the benefits of being a referee in Belgium is you can go to any ground in Belgium and get in for free) but I prefer the other stand where the few hundred hard core fans are and join them.

And yes I do join in the singing of our local songs. Some are the same as in England as we nicked them from you. But we have some own local songs as well. We even sing a song in canon* (I do hope this is the same word you use in English as I really don’t know any other word for it). And despite us having become a small club compared to 25-30 years ago we are rather famous and very muck liked as we still bring along a lot of people (speaking in Belgium terms that is!)

But it is fun standing with the younger lads (and a few old to very old – even for me) who still keep on standing and refuse to go to sit with the ‘old folk’ as they call those who sit down in their seats.

Drew likes to stand up and as he is still young and vital he should have no problem with that.

Tony gave his view on sitting up there. I could say: ‘with the older folk’. The ones that drink cappuccino before the match. You know people who are more of the sitting kind. (I hope I will not have written my last article on Untold this time). Or do you also stand up Tony? Well apart from to get a cappuccino I mean. (I think I am close to the edge now so I better stop it)

(If you must know, Walter, we stand when Arsenal score, and when there is a sudden Theo type breakaway that looks like it might lead to a goal.  Otherwise we sit.    Except when going to get the coffee. – Tony)

So while Tony and Drew both are more of the supportive kind of supporters who want to do all they can to help the team be it by standing up and signing or sitting, drinking cappuccino and looking at the chocolates a few seats further, I thought that maybe we should add something to the experience.

I know a lot has been said already about bringing back standing areas in to the grounds, not just the Emirates. Safe standing as it is being called. And I wouldn’t object it to be honest. I think I would go there as I also do it over here.

But I do have another option. As you know I also am a bit of a referee. Well for the moment I have changed to being an assistant-referee since a while (doing very well thank you very much).  So every week I watch a game of football from my privileged place on the touch line.

For 90 minutes I walk up and down in a kind of shadow dancing with the second last defender. Sometimes just walking, then turning, the sprinting and then back to doing the crab-walk which assistant referees should do to have the best view on the pitch.

And while reading the articles from Drew and Tony I suddenly thought that there is another way than looking at football apart from standing and sitting.

It is what I called and I will copyright this the “running seats”. Now let me explain.

Why don’t they make an area for people like me? People who appreciate the fact that when doing our shadow dance with the second last defender is the best place to have an excellent view on a match. You really (if you can keep up with play of course) have an excellent view on things and you could text your mate in the North bank who has no idea if it really was offside or not, that it was or was not offside. You will be a man with inside knowledge on such things. You can twitter it and people will hang on your lips to discover it. Apart from those lazy bastards sitting in front of their TV. Like me most of the time when Arsenal plays.

But if Arsenal were to make a part of the stadium free for the running seats (which by now you will have realised are not really seats to sit on but a running area where you can follow the match from) I surely would try it.

Let them make it somewhere between the lower seats and the field between the advertising boards. So we don’t ruin the vision of the people in the lower seats of course but we do have the best and closest look on the pitch and on the development of play.

Now I must admit there are a few downers on this brilliant idea (well I think it is brilliant). There will be restrictions on how many ‘seats’ can be sold. Because you have to imagine that some 100 people running down the touchline might cause some troubles at times. And a sudden turn in the running of the second last defender might create a huge collision between the running bodies. But the good thing about such a collision is that it will be fun to watch of course. Nothing funnier than to see the assistant fall on the ground (it never happened to me yet – I ‘m tempting fait now I think), but just imagine a dozen people bumping in to each other and falling to the ground.  Even the dullest game will become a funny entertaining thing.

You do have to be fit to take your seat of course. Maybe Arsenal could do physical test before the match to make sure that the people are able to run and sprint a bit. Which should be no problem for me as I have passed my physical test this season. But with all respect I could not see Tony doing it. At least not for 90 minutes. Certainly not without a cappuccino at half time.**

And to add to the attraction Arsenal could provide us all with an assistant referee flag. So we could give our opinion and show it to the stadium. Was the assistant right in raising his flag? Don’t look at the replay, look at the running-seaters to see if they raised their flag. It could add a whole dimension to football and refereeing.

It would be ideal for people who want to stay fit or do their training while watching the match. So you wouldn’t have to do your training after the match and you win valuable time. Time you could spend in the pub talking about the fact that you immediately saw that Theo was onside when he scored that magnificent goal. People will envy you as you will almost have touched his sweat while he ran off at top speed.

So it would be fun (well I think it would be fun to run out there next to the players) and it would keep us fit and it will be another attraction for the people in the stadium.

Yeah, forget about safe standing areas…I want running areas in the ground. I wonder…is there a law against it?


* A canon, in music, is something that most UK citizens will know from school days – in the form of  “Row row row your boat, gently down the stream”.  The other canon most commonly heard is   “Frère Jacques”.   The singers are split into two or more groups (four in the case of “Row row”) and each starts the melody one after the other.

Technically it is a special form of counterpoint, and Row Row is actually a special form of canon – most commonly called a “round”. 

I always knew that having once been a Senior Lecturer in Music would have its benefits – I just didn’t know when it would happen.

** I strongly object to the suggestion that I am not fit.  On Friday of this weekend I attended a jive dance as is my wont, and danced from 9pm to midnight.  On Saturday I repeated the activity only started at 8.30 – the later start on friday being due to the fact that I went to the wrong venue.  Now that may say a lot about my increasing senility, but does not reflect on my ability to take physical exercise.  And for those who don’t think that jiving is physical, just try three hours of continuous vigorous movement, without a break for half time.  So there!


PS: Don’t know if you have noticed but we are top of the league.

12 Replies to “The Emirates: the view from the….running seats. Plus canons, rounds, counterpoint and jive.”

  1. Walter, your proposal sounds like an idea from It’s a Knockout / Jeux sans Frontieres!

    I regularly run the line for my son’s matches and my biggest concern is trying to persuade the coaches (and occasionally the spectators and substitutes) to remain behind the 2nd line (or respect line as it is sometimes known – between 2m and 4m back from the touchline). At some stage I will be running sideways and will collide directly with a coach – who will probably be heavier than me. At least it might stop him bellowing at the kids though!

    Actually, I was allowed to referee today and all went smoothly. My biggest concern was what to do about the other team’s foul language (several F words – not what you expect from 11 and 12 year olds). But as it didn’t seem to be aimed at me or the opposition I was quite lenient – although did have to clamp down hard on a couple of incidents of dissent. I expect this situation to get worse as the children get older. The likes of Rooney are not a good example to the youth of today.

    Another story. One of our other squads won 6-1 this morning and the striker scored 5. He had only signed from the opposition in the summer. I enquired whether he had declined to celebrate and was met with bizarre looks. Of course he celebrated!!

  2. Its good that Wenger is keeping his feet,the team’s and ours, on the ground. We did really well yesterday and that was with some having less influence than they would have liked ( Cazorla and Wilshere, for example).Most times in previous seasons, when 2/3 players were off the pace, we’d draw matches we ought to have won or even lost. This season, without playing well all the time, we’ve got results and a lead at the top. Next month will be a crucial test. We need to do what is needed to finish top of our group in the CL and we have some very tough away games in the League. Some of us have been here before – 07/08 and 10/11- seasons when we could and maybe should have won the title, but we fell away in March and April, so enough of this nonsense that we always finish strongly. So what do we do to avert those gremlins at the end of the season? Giroud needs a rest now and again- he looks exhausted and we need to rotate sensibly, unlike Liverpool today ( leaving out Coutinho and Sakho for Sterling and Toure)). We definitely need a striking option in January who can hold the ball up, play with his back to goal, bring others into play and work his socks off ( so not Walcott or Podolski). Surely our expensive scouting system has identified an embryonic or a Giroud Mark 11? Let’s not make the mistake of previous years where dithering and “I’ll only buy players who are better than what we have” mentality has cost us hugely.

  3. The next two home games look winnable. But you never know.We all know the 99.99% influence of the refs who can make/break a team.The Spurs had minimal or no contact with the rd. A penalty was given. If you look at the penalties and decision going the way of the red face less over the years ,is it any wonder they can’t win games and trophies?
    That is why we all know they continue and will continue to get unstuck in the cl.
    As for Hull,the gunners underrate them at your peril.Their swift and direct soccer in contrast to Pool’s methodical build up was the difference ,imho.I rate the Everton game the toughe of the two. Martinez will instruct his boys to get in the gunners’ difference with Ramsey singled out for special and robust tackles.
    If the gunners can beat Everton, Napoli beckons. There is no reason why the gunners can’t get a drawand with it qualification.

  4. Trying to visualize 100 people running up the side of the Arsenal pitch and then colliding as they change direction. Great stuff!

  5. Haha, Walter, that’s a hilarious, but still brilliant idea!

    Am certain that it will never happen because of liability issues – I will buy a “runner’s ticket” if available at my local stadium, but I am sure to bump into somebody / fall down and hurt someone / something. Multiply clumsy people like me by 100, and can you imagine the complaints clubs will face!

    Neil, I don’t think it’s possible to find a Giroud Mark II who will be able to slot in seamlessly & immediately (Giroud took some time to find his groove, remember), play well, and be happy to sit on the bench when Giroud is rested enough / fit. This new signing is also going to take developmental time away from Sanago (when he comes back).

    If we are going to buy a striker, and given that a new signing is likely to require time to settle down, chances are that (a) he’ll be more than a stand-in, or (b) he’ll be “one for the future”.

    Hence, I think it’s more likely we’ll just have to tweak our system if for whatever reasons, both Giroud and Bendtner are unavailable, but we have Theo and Podolski coming back in. E.g. our “offensive”/advanced midfielders (Carzola, Ozil, Rosicky etc.) will have to drop back more often to help fetch the ball from the back, especially as Arteta & the fullbacks seem to be closed down more tightly nowadays.

  6. @watler, hahahahhha. I just tried to visualize it and had a little laugh. BUT it is not practical at all. Bumping is funny but stampede is not…..

  7. Dear Sir Tony,
    I don’t see the funny side of a staff of Untold Towers poking fun at a prone, cappuccino addled, pudgy and puffing boss. Its high time you dock his press pass before he catches a serious bug from the likes of Messrs. Hansen, Shearer and Wright. Please don’t let him near the touch line either Mr. Riley is looking for recruits for his cause.
    At this critical time in Arsenal’s season, we cannot afford to be lax in our vigilance and on this, a good indicator that someone is getting close to the edge is insubordination, masked as humor. This should not be tolerated in UT.
    Awaiting your firm an decisive action!
    Yours fretfully,
    Fearful and looking under the bed for enemies Gooner

  8. Can I just take you back to football and ask your opinion of Lee Mason’s officiating at Cardiff.

    I watched the match on TV in India and I was appalled by the blatant unfairness. He only booked Arsenal players and allowed Mutch off for some serious foul play (elbow in Artetas ribs). Odemwinge dived a couple of times in the area and wasn’t booked. The dive was ignored by Mason. He gave a goal kick when it was a clear corner. He ignored the tackle from behind by Cardiff players and allowed them the freedom to foul Arsenal at every challenge.

    One other interesting point is Rooneys petulance. He kicked out in the Cardiff game and the referee let him off with a yellow. The FA did nothing about the incident. In the match against Tottenham he kicked out at an opponents calves several times in succession and was not pulled up by the officials. The FA will again do nothing.

    If Rooney was correctly punished, Manchester United would not have his services for 3 matches.

    Is the game corrupt? In my view it is.

  9. @ Walter – nice , and you can bring in that Vietnamese ‘running man’ to coach you how not to bump into things or people !
    And if Arsenal is willing to sponsor me , I’d be there to take care of the injured !
    In other countries there is a tract where huge club flags are carried by ‘runners ‘ and this may be a potential hazard .

  10. Nun of this and definitely nun of that …from

    The Nuns of St. Norton!
    A man is driving down a deserted stretch of highway when he notices a sign out of the corner of his eye. It reads:

    10 MILES

    He thinks it was just a figment of his imagination and drives on without a second thought. Soon he sees another sign which says:

    5 MILES

    Suddenly, he begins to realize that these signs are for real. Then he drives past a third sign saying:


    His curiosity gets the best of him and he pulls into the drive. On the far side of the parking lot is a somber stone building with a small sign next to the door reading:


    He climbs the steps and rings the bell. The door is answered by a nun in a long black habit who asks,

    “What may we do for you, my son?”

    He answers, “I saw your signs along the highway, and was interested in possibly doing business.”

    “Very well, my son. Please follow me.”

    He is led through many winding passages and is soon quite disoriented. The nun stops at a closed door, and tells the man,

    “Please knock on this door.”

    He does as he is told and this door is answered by another nun in long habit, holding a tin cup. This nun instructs,

    “Please place $50 in the cup, then go through the large wooden door at the end of this hallway.”

    He gets $50 out of his wallet and places it in the second nun’s cup. He trots eagerly down the hall and slips through the door, pulling it shut behind him. As the door locks behind him, he finds himself back in the parking lot, facing another small sign:


  11. I have a seat in block 18 – lower tier. Down by the away support. Most of the game is spent standing. So all of this discussion about ‘safe standing’ is somewhat of a moot point for me.

    I make no bones about this I prefer to sit. It’s a personal preference born out of experiencing standing from the late 1970s until all seater stadia came in. I wanted to sit then and still do. If you create a ‘safe standing’ area people will still stand in the lower tier seats to ‘see better’.

    Most of this discussion derives from making the atmosphere better. This season there hasn’t been too much wrong with the atmosphere – funny that! I wonder why. Highbury had its moments but it was never a bear pit!

    The demographics of those that attend games needs to be looked at. Perhaps noise equates with getting more males of a certain age group into the ground? Perhaps cost influences this more than standing? Perhaps it is perceived that safe standing will be cheaper for the consumer per game than an equivalent seat? Just a thought.

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