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August 2021

Football matters to us; that’s what the pundits cant grasp

By Tony Attwood

There’s been some chatter in the media of late about the abuse Adrian Chiles suffers from football supporters.  As the Telegraph said in a review, “As a presenter, Chiles divides opinion. Either you hate him, or you despise him.”

They then go on to wonder why this is so; why people should get so worked up about such an affable old duffer.  (Actually that’s my phrase, but it is the image that he seems to me to want to present.)

I’m not particularly concerned about Chiles, but rather, what gets me is the way that the whole football media seem utterly to misunderstand what football supporting is about.

Almost all of us who watch football support one team.  Some of us have a special place in our hearts for a second team (mine as I’ve mentioned before is Torquay Utd, the team I went to watch with my father after his retirement to the south west, years after he had first taken me to Arsenal).

Some of us (as Emma alluded to yesterday) go and watch other teams, just for the fun of it, and our trip to Lancing to see Guernsey FC play this season is as important a memory to me as any Arsenal game this season.

But for me of course the Arsenal matches matter in a way that no other games can.  Indeed against Liverpool, Stefan, who sits next to me at the Ems, had to restrain me in the opening minutes as the first set of Liverpool fouls came pouring in.  It mattered because they were fouls against Arsenal, and it mattered more because they were committed by Liverpool.  That’s just how it is.

It matters.  And this is what people like Chiles, and all the other jolly joking chatterers don’t get.  So important do they and their production teams find their own points of view and their ceaseless desire for trivialisation, that they have forgotten what real supporters think and feel.

Arsenal matters to me in the way that I suspect religious issues matter to anyone who follows a religion.  Not that (contrary to popular opinion) I think Arsene Wenger is a deity, but rather that I guess followers of religions think about their religion and their deity every day.  I think about Arsenal every day.

It’s not that if someone laughs at my devotion to the cause I take offence.  I don’t, I can laugh with them, because yes, it is odd.  It is the sniggering and trivialisation of the issue, and the whole lack of understanding of what it means to be a football supporter, that frustrates me.

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Which is also why I have never forgiven BT Sprout for making fun of the Emirates Cup’s simple device of giving a point for a goal (the panel were totally unable to work out the league table after all of four matches).     And why I like Sky Sports Saturday afternoon show on the few occasions a year when I’m in on a Saturday – there we have a pundit (Jeff Stelling) who is a true supporter of his club.  I almost like Hartlepool just because of him.

Of course I never go so far as to say that, “I would gladly watch Adrian Chiles burn to death,” as someone apparently wrote (according to the Telegraph) but I am endlessly bemused that journalists on TV and in the press think it clever to denigrate what the viewers and readers think important.   And this is what Chiles does par excellence.

So when he said, during Fulham v Sheffield United, “If you’re still watching, write in and we’ll send you a fiver each,” he was utterly insulting the supporters of those clubs.  They may well have been fed up with the game, but HE WAS INSULTING THEIR TEAM.   I put it in caps because I can’t understand why neither he, nor other presenters who do the same, nor the directors, and others involved, get it.

Even when our clubs are playing badly, it matters to us, and laughing at us doesn’t help.

Of course I don’t like the over hype either, all the stuff about the “must win” game, simply because few games that are hyped up this way, ever are must win.

And indeed this annoys me because trying to present one game as being definitive within the season insults my intelligence.  I know, you know, we all know, that points will be dropped somewhere, that games will go wrong, that the unexpected happens.   Indeed it is when you get an all conquering team like Bayern in Germany or Celtic in Scotland’s premier league or Rangers in Scotland’s third division, football becomes dull and boring.
I don’t enjoy it if Arsenal lose to a little team, and I wish we didn’t, but at least it keeps up the interest for next week.
So here’s my message.   Arsenal is important to me, and making fun of Arsenal, dismissing Arsenal, or (and this happens so often) just generalising about Arsenal without checking the facts, annoys me and I tend to turn off.   But equally over hyping a game or situation, also annoys me and I tend to turn off.Maybe it is just me and my mates who feel this way, but I wonder if one day one media channel might actually realise that many of us are not quite as dumb as they think.  Yes, supporting a team utterly, passionately and totally, is odd.  But it is not a sign of stupidity.Books on Arsenal at a discount

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7 comments to Football matters to us; that’s what the pundits cant grasp

  • Jax

    I could never understand the rise & rise of Adrian. His chubby, chummy, brummie persona was well suited to MOTD2, but all of a sudden he was everywhere at once, adding The Apprentice- your fired & The One Show to his rosta of TV shows. I should think BBC were secretly thankful when he was eventually poached by ITV where he has made a right pigs ear of everything he’s been involved with. In truth he rose above his level of incompetence (AKA The Dilbert Principal).

  • TommieGun

    “Arsenal matters to me in the way that I suspect religious issues matter to anyone who follows a religion. Not that (contrary to popular opinion) I think Arsene Wenger is a deity, but rather that I guess followers of religions think about their religion and their deity every day. I think about Arsenal every day.”

    The best sentence ever written in this site.


    As for Chiles and the rest of the post – I’m not sure I share your opinion.

    Does he ever make derogartory/funny comments about his beloved WBA? If the answer is yes, then I don’t have a problem with him, because he just takes his football easy. Fair enough. Maybe he doesn’t, but maybe me and you feel it’s ok to make fun of other clubs, and would have done so if we were sitting in the pundit’s chair. It’s all about perspective and the wish that the rest of the world would be as sympathetic to Arsenal as we are, or would know the facts, etc. But it isn’t. People tend to trivialise things that are far away from their hearts and to seriously address the things that are important to them.

    And here is a true story. My wife’s uncle is a die hard Man United supporter. When my eldest son was 2, we went to the beach near my house, and I went for a run on the beach. Coming back after 30 minutes or so, all pumped up, I was terrified to see my little boy being taught “glory glory man united” by this very funny, loving, 60+ old man. I am in my thirties, and very fit. 2 people had to restrain me, and luckily too, because I think it would have ended with him in hospital and me divorced, if I had managed to get my hands on him. Everybody was shocked by my reaction, but to me it was like someone was trying to convert my 2 year old into [insert religion of your choice]. Can’t be too proud of that story, but the moral is, when it comes to your football club and your children, and god forbid, when the 2 combine – it’s explosive.

    But I have learned my lesson. My feelings toward Arsenal are not other people problem and I have to accept it.

  • Tom quinn

    What a very good read I couldn’t have put it better my self well actually I couldn’t have put it any where near as good as you have lol but I think you are reflecting the views of the majority of fans who pundits and comentaters seem to have lost touch with great stuff

  • para

    A ficticious conversation every supporting father dreads.
    Me: Son, we need to talk.
    Son: Ok Dad, what about?
    Me: Well, it’s about, football, you know.
    A frown appears on my son’s face.
    Son: Ahm…
    Me: I have noticed that you do not want to go to matches with me anymore.
    Son: I’m growing up now dad, and… well i.. (stuck for words).
    Me: It’s ok son, you are growing up and starting to make your own decisions.
    Son: I just want to go sometimes with my friends too.
    Me: So that’s all?
    Son: Yes.
    Me: Really?
    Son: Yes.
    Me: And you are not changing teams?
    Son: DAD, how could you think that? I will never change. Dad, get off me,(as i rush to him and hugged him) i’m too old for hugging now.
    Me: Sorry, young man, i just thought, thought, (gulps) you were changing teams, and it frightened me, i’m sorry.
    Son: Shame on you, how could i change teams now, from the greatest team to WHAT?
    Me: I’m so proud of you son.(leaving his room with a broad grin).
    Wife: What are you grinning about?
    Me: I have just seen our son grow into a man, and i’m so proud.
    Wife: What happened?
    Me: He still supports Arsenal.
    Wife: Shaking head in amusement, dinner is ready.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Chiles annoys me in the way most punters do, though at least he puts across a bit more humour than some….stand up Messrs Hansen and Shearer
    Have to say I was impressed with Chiles at a recent event though. He hosted a charity tribute evening at the Albert Hall for his fellow Baggie, Charlatans drummer John Brookes who had recently died of a brain tumour.
    I know the character of AC is not really the point of this article, but thought he came across really well at this event….in a way that I am not sure other pundits I am not over keen on could….but guess you never know…
    But yes, these guys are increasingly out of touch with the average fan.
    These shows should do a bit more rotating of players as guests rather than regular punters, you never know, some weeks you may even get someone with the intelligence and insight on say Vincent Kompany

  • Mike Collins

    Tony well said.
    Since the 1950s I have always regarded the other teams as there to make up the numbers for Arsenal to play against. Supporting a football team in many ways as the great ‘Fever Pitch’ said is an exercise in futility and probably stupidity. In that respect we have more in common with a die hard spurs supporter than a newly minted pot hunter from who knows where. Of course we moan and groan and threaten never to watch that rubbish again but we are afflicted and that is that and no cure is in sight. I do always wonder about the media and when was the last time they actually ponied up hard cash to watch a team. Oh and by the way just to let you know I am personally responsible for the teams success or lack of success. As a season ticket holder and after a win I had to use the same entrance gate, the same urinal and eat the same burger from a cart outside the ground. Not to do so was to have the football Gods turn on me. Now as a far away armchair supporter if my wife dares to ask the score I know that my hold over the result has vaporised. Supporting a team is not easy, in fact it is downright illogical, but we are stuck with it for better or worse, and there is usually more worse than better in a supporters life time.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    I have come to accept the fact my misguided sons will one day see the light and return to the Arsenal fold.
    The ManUre supporting one( he just followed his classmates)seems to have thoughts that may be EPL may have been fixed after all.
    The Chelski loving one seems always to refer back to Arsenal and/or AW no matter the topic .A damn obsession I tell you !
    Me ? While I occasionally fret during games and keep looking at the clock (and not moving from my rigid position on the bed !),I’ve learned to chill and get into the cool zone !
    I care sweet FA what commentators say and the volume is way down low – you ain’t teaching me anything new ,you cunts !
    May this ride go on till may !