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.
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