19 years above Tottenham, 17 years in the Champs league, and a lot of fun and laughter.

By Tony Attwood

So, what was it actually like, actually being there, at the Emirates, watching a game like Arsenal v Newcastle?

It is, as it is most of the time with Arsenal, amusing, jolly, funny, friendly, interesting, warming….    It is in fact exactly the opposite of what you might imagine if you ever read some of the blogs or the newspaper reports.  There’s lots of laughter, there are warm greetings of friends meeting up, and bizarrely there are always people sitting in the wrong seats.

If you haven’t been to the Ems, or maybe just go once or twice a season (and I don’t mean that as a criticism – I’ve had three seasons when I simply could not make it to a single game) it is hard to understand what is really going on in the stadium.  Especially if your main experience is the league cup, when many of the regulars don’t make it.

Certainly if you read the chit chat around the blogs you would never guess what the pubs feel like before the game – the camaraderie, chatting to people you don’t know, the exchange of what we are told is called “banter” (although I’ve never heard anyone outside the media use the word), the smiles, the laughter….

I’ve discussed research degrees with two academics standing in a queue for fish and chips in a tacky shop in the Holloway Road, as I have discussed tactics and bad fortune with a Fulham fan in a totally Arsenal pub, and walked to the ground discussing a topic that lasted 10 minutes with an Irishman whose natural accent combined with alcoholic intake was such that I never understood a word.  It’s how it goes before a game.

As for games at the Ems I know there are some who are under an impression that the place is quiet – the word “Library” is used to signify this, and yet it isn’t, and indeed last night it wasn’t.   Even Newcastle fans made some noise, (although not that much and a lot of it negative).  But credit to them, at 8pm on a monday night.  284 miles and five and a half hours from home on a night when there was a tube strike, they took up their allocation in the ground.  I imagine some are still trying to make it back.

And here’s something else you might not know if you aren’t able to go.  We do songs – and lots of new songs these days.  The old “Stand up if you hate Tottenham” seems confined to history now, thank goodness.  There’s the sedate and charming “49” song which got quite a few airings last night.  And of course

It’s happened again, it’s happened again…

Tottenham Hotspur, it’s happened again…

It suddenly started, that song, about half way through the second half, and I suspect many people who haven’t sung much since “North London is ours, North London is ours, fuck off to Stratford, north London is ours” to the same tune, all joined in.  It was just that funny.

Each year since 1996 (there’s an article on this in the Arsenal History Society blog) Arsenal have finished above Tottenham – although I can’t remember singing this song before. But maybe that’s just my memory.

And all this is what you don’t get from the TV and the commentaries written by bloggers with an anti-Arsenal agenda.  That with something like 42,000 season ticket holders there, this is fun.

It is the fun of the fact that even with something like 55,000 hard core Arsenal fans in the stadium you still get chance meetings, like Drew and I bumping into James and his pal from the north as we walked round the stadium to Entrance D.  (James, Drew, Ian and I were last together on saturday afternoon for Corby v Bedford – what are the chances of passing each other outside the stadium?)

There’s handshakes, laughter, and as I said before always people who sit in the wrong seats.  Why do they do that?  I really don’t know.  I know my seat, know the landmark, know who’s around me.  When someone isn’t where they should be, it feels odd.

But it gets sorted, no one is unpleasant, and if any of those bloggers who endlessly   call for Olivier Giroud to be replaced ever turned up, they would be bemused.  Because inside the stadium he’s really appreciated.  The Giroud song rings round the ground, he does his stuff, and he’s very close to Henry’s season two total now.

Özil that supposed useless failure is loved too.  His song is a bit of a dirge, but he is adored by the crowd, almost as much as Aaron Ramsey who seems to be approaching the god-like status previously reserved for Henry and Brady.

The more I think about what I experience at each Arsenal home game, and how it contrasts with what I read in the press and blogs, the more bizarre it seems.  As if there are two games going on – one, the real thing, inside the stadium, played in front of those of us who pay our money and turn up, and one played out to journalists and commentators who never make it.

Unless you were there, you also wouldn’t know that Alan Sunderland put in an appearance and talked at half time about the Man U cup final when he scored.  He was lovely, an elderly gent who lives on the island of Gozo in the Med, really enjoying being back.  The interviewer asked him what he was shouting after he scored the Wembley goal that won the cup, while reminding him that children might be watching.   Alan grabbed the mic and replied, “Blank, blank, blank, blank, blank, blank, blank brilliant”

So we will end above Tottenham for the 19th successive season – and as we celebrate this I’ve even seen some people writing that this shows the limit of our ambition.   How to reveal that you don’t understand Arsenal’s soul – just say that.  Even Lukas Podolski who has no history in our region knows the meaning of “St Totteringham’s Day”.

Even the Telegraph, which today does mention the crowd in its commentary for once, gets in its snidey dig, “They still need to move on from this “fourth is good enough” feel.”

What drivel.  There is no “fourth is good enough” feel about Arsenal you silly Mr Winter.  The feel is “fourth and winning the cup is good enough this season”.  We’ve got our stadium and had years of privation to get it – something Liverpool and Tottenham haven’t experienced yet.   We have got a very good team.  Give us a few more top, top players to overcome the battering we get each year from the thugs unrestrained by referees, and we might well be able to keep going through the year.  There is a feeling of “we are close”.

We are also close to a 17th successive season of Champions League football – will the money hold out at Chelsea and Man City ever to get there?  I’m not too sure.  For us to miss out Everton have to win both their games (including the one against Man C) and we have to fail to win both.  We’re almost there again.

Of course we want to win the League again, but en route to doing that, we are still singing, still having fun.   You’d never know it from reports, but really you do have to be there to get it.


39 Replies to “19 years above Tottenham, 17 years in the Champs league, and a lot of fun and laughter.”

  1. Does any other Arsenal manager have an unbroken record of St Totteringham’s Days?

    Re Giroud. Not sure I can agree. I sat in the West Stand (unusual for me) for the West Ham match and was really surprised at the vitriol aimed at him – especially with the unsuccessful flick he tried when straight through in the first half. It only stopped the second after he scored when of course everyone started singing.

    PS just realised the answer to my own question – Bruce Rioch: the David Moyes of Arsenal.

  2. Arsenal is a well balance side with, but what arsene should realise is that with the current we have yes we can win the league with them but how can we if we don’t have the rite backup of players to fill the injury line, and we think its time that arsene with arsenal put their hands in the coffers and sighn some players

  3. Lovely article Tony.

    Unfortunately due to various reasons, work mainly(I have to work Saturdays and a lot of Sundays), partly money, I cant get to see my beloved Arsenal in the flesh anywhere near as much as I, and the Wife, would like to. But I used to. Home and away.

    I spent the whole week talking about, or at least thinking, about the next game. It was such a massive part of my life. It still is but in a very different way.

    Meeting up in the Arsenal Tavern, the Gunners or the Plimpsole. A few beers and a laugh. Forever optimistic, often with very little reason to be !!

    The walk to the ground. That buzz. The churning in the stomach as you get closer and hear the roar….. COME ON YOU REDS, COME ON YOU REDS…

    You pay your one and six, then you walk into the ground, up the stairway, and there it is…the whole arena opening up in front of you. WOW !!

    I must of done that hundreds of times and the thrill was always the same.

    Okay Okay, a wet Tuesday Evening. Home to Norwich. Only 25 thousand inside the ground, was perhaps not THAT thrilling. BUT 7.45, Tuesday Night and it was the visit of Man Utd, Liverpool or spurs and over 55 Thousand crammed inside. Sweat, steam, NOISE !!!

    Personally I have never experienced anything else like it. It was amazing.

    But the real camaraderie was the away days.

    Meet at Euston. Announce your presence with a few ‘choice’ songs about ‘flying over Tottenham together………’ Yep, a few beers. Okay it was only 10 in the morning but what the hell. A journey full of hope.

    Then the arrival. 2, 3, 4, thousand of us, more sometimes, marching ‘en mass’ to the ground singing our hearts out.

    Wonderful memories.

    And yet funny enough we hardly ever won a match !!!!

    Somehow it didn’t seem to matter quite so much in those days.

    Yes we’d all have a little moan after the game, avoid the papers the next morning, but by the next day we was all excitedly talking about Saturday.

    It was all about the love of Arsenal. Of all being in it together. Of sticking together no matter what.

    It sounds to me Tony, that as different as it is today, on the surface at least, with the different fan demographic, the shinny new ‘all seater’ stadiums, the frills, and those feelings of camaraderie are much the same today as they where back in the day.

    The main difference is the pesky media pissing on your parade, not just Monday Mornings, but every hour, of every bleeding day.

    Anyway, thanks for jogging a few memories Tony. I do love the occasional stroll down memory lane 🙂

  4. Tony
    Thanks for the insight into wat the Emirates, Games nd after Games feel like. Thou some of us( like me living in Lagos Nigeria) may never get the chance on see nd feeling the atmosphere of the Emirate but live of thought 4rm the report given on UNTOLD.
    Off topic
    I think the problem of Giroud is our lied to by 1 who wish 2 know what we’re smoking @ the Emirate to wana go 4rm no money to offer them #40.1 for their player which lead to the Failed bid. Some Arsenal fan are nw taking their anger out on Giroud has if he is the one who stop Arsenal 4rm buying Suarez so everything he does his been compared wit Suarez while both player are totally Different.

  5. Fantastic stuff Tony, it’s nice to read the truth rather than relying on the biased crap we get from the media. Watching on television as I have to, it is nice to hear your experiences from actually being there. As you rightly point and as those of us who watch on tele are painfully aware it seems the media are only too happy to play down the predominantly positive support in favour of harping on about the small minority of moaning minnies and their critical ranting of all things Arsenal.
    Take the after match analysis by Carragher (is there a bigger twit on television: oh yes almost forgot Michael Owen) and Neville as an example on Sky. Very little praise for Arsenal it was all about how bad Newcastle were, how their centre backs presented us with all three goals, how Ozil only performs against the poorer teams, doesn’t score enough goals etc etc. We got it all through the match as well from the commentator, a bit more subtle than usual maybe, and as usual ably supported by Alan Smith.
    Happy St Totterhinghams Day to one and all.

  6. Hi Tony ,
    Very nice article . Reading the news and listening to the radio about Arsenal , a person will come to the conclusion that Arsenal are a boring team that has fancy football and a ‘almost’ great manager .
    The media fail to realize that fun != trophies . I mean I woukldn’t get a chelsea season ticket even if it were free; even if they get the quadruple . No class , no verve ,19th century football and no morals .

    Gooner forever !
    And lest I forget ” HAPPY 19th ST.TOTTERINGHAM’S DAY !

  7. Tony,
    You didn’t mention the food. Or how you got home.
    Newcastle were so bereft of ideas, during the second half, at home, I left the TV and made a snack of cheese and biscuits (Extra strong Cheddar).
    Never remember doing that before.

  8. hell with the media, hell with the AAA, hell with all the haters…..we’ll celebrate the st totteringhams day.


  9. An excellent write up and a good presentation of the scene at the Emirates.

    Tony, the camaraderie you describe and the sense of happiness and fun inherent in Arsenal fans is a very important part of our character – and that happiness, strangely enough, at present is continuously under attack, as the depressives, the AAA and the media propagandists try to undermine the club by creating despair and misery among the fans. That the fans in general resist that propaganda says a lot for their character, spirit and football knowledge.

  10. Tony

    You missed out one of the the best bits about going to the match – waiting at the train station home after a win wearing a shirt or scarf and Arsenal fans coming up anxiously ask you the result, and being able to be the bearer of glad tidings. I remember being at Victoria after the league wins against Everton at Highbury in 1998 or at White Hart Lane in 2004, even neutrals were happy for us and coming up to offer congratulations.

    Of course you can have even more fun if you happen to be in London when its a Spurs home match and they have lost heavily again, by going up to as many Spurs fans as you can and asking with an innocent face “How did you do”? Just make sure they don’t spot you asking someone else afterwards – that can turn a little nasty.

  11. Perhaps the village elders at Les Ems or at whatever hospitality venue they tend to frequent might consider sanctioning a new public/Arsenal holiday to compliment St. Totteringhams day?
    The day we a sure to finish higher than ManU. After years of gloating by Sir Redface and his muppets we deserve to acknowledge their new place in the world.
    Probably fell in mid April this year. Who knows, in 19 years time we could be consoling poor old Ryan or Louis or Roy and Co. after yet another year in our wake. Suggestions for a suitable name for such a day?

  12. Graham,

    Some people must have someone to blame and when it comes to Giroud, most of his detractors are just following the crowd. That guy is a great player. I mean an all round player. His finishing can be better but by golly, he is a great team player. He defends well, he supports the midfield and he feeds the other attacking players while scoring his fair share of goals. What else do we want?

    I am just fed up with the constant whining about Ollie that are often accompanied – ironically – with panic about what will happen to us if he gets injured. Bloody hell, how can we miss such a ‘waste of space’ to injury when he is the most useless striker to ever wear the shirt of Arsenal FC?

    Whiners must whine but I love and appreciate Giroud. He is a great player and a fantastic employee of Arsenal FC.

  13. Thanks for another good article

    I don’t get to games that often because of where I live (next island to Guernsey – Alderney) — cost would be around £300 to get to each game + the ticket.

    I was watching the game on Sky last night, and it seemed to me they had the volume for the crowd turned down! You could hear all the signing very fiently in the background, not at all like you usually hear.

    and a question for Walter, as a fellow referee, I couldn’t find anything in the laws of the game for the reason for Kos’s yellow card. It is not covered under the “Celebration of a Goal” section. And it wasn’t “delaying the restart of play” by kicking the ball away as celebrations were still continuing, and it wasn’t “dissent”.

  14. Bootoome
    I think many of the fans only remember the days of Van Persie, Bergkamp, Henry and Wright and let’s be honest OG doesnlt quite measure up here, but who does. But if you remember Hawley, Meade, Hartson, Jeffers, Campbell etc then its a different perspective.

  15. Paul,
    I think it can be called a bit “unsportsmanlike behaviour”? The moment I saw him kick the ball away I thought: that should get you a yellow card. Such a thing would piss me off as a referee. No need to do this and it took a while before the ball returned eventually. The worst possible goal celebration 😉

    Kicking the ball away after the ref has blown the whistle or the match had been stopped?

    For me it was stupid behaviour.

  16. Tony
    “The library” might have originated in Spurs supporters response to the particularly quite (Arsenal) support at the Highbury Clock End. It was where I used to stand in preference to the loud sometimes unpleasant North Bank. By unpleasant I mean if there was going to be any trouble it would start there. I’d found a spot where the terrace was a step higher than anywhere else and could see over the heads of those in front quite easily. I knew a regular crowd by name who were OK, but we never sang or chanted. Clock End was always a bit subdued and apart from a bloke called Lenny who used to blow a bugle was so quite. I wasn’t sorry when it was given to the away crowd and started going into the West Stand seating and remained there until I got a season ticket to the Emirates, now surrendered due to moving too far away.

  17. Walter I’m going to have to agree with Paul regarding Kos’s yellow, for me it reflected the ref’s insatiable need to book Arsenal players no matter what.

    Great write up Tony; thank God for Untold.

    Enjoyable read Jambug.

    Bootoomee you and I are in agreement regarding Giroud, fabulous team player and yes I too love him.

  18. Have to agree with the pro Giroud crowd. He’s scored around 20 now (a good return) which Theo & Aaron would’ve matched quite easily and if not for their injuries we would have maintained our challenge all the way. We don’t actually need a world class striker at all, just a good team player who can finish well. The other world class players we have will set up the goal scoring chances.

  19. @Tony

    Your best post of the season. This also goes some way to explain why we go to matches. For me it is about the whole experience: the green of the pitch, floodlights (if evening game), the noise, colours, meeting people, people watching, the funny comments and chants, the smell of hotgogs, burgers and onions outside the ground, the prematch drink and of course the Arsenal game its self. It is expensive to go to a game now, let alone buy a season ticket and it is for this reason that I try not to get too ‘wound up’ by results any longer. I just appreciate the fact that I can afford to attend games and dont take it for granted.

    Funnily enough before reading your post I was reading the BBC review of the game. On this BBC post Steve Claridge makes the comment about how surprised he was to experience the feelgood factor within the ground last night. Interesting.

    We do have a good team. For the life of me I cannot understand the flack that Ozil gets. Giroud is a good player. I am positive that he has played a number of games this season when he would rather have had a rest. Playing for the team. Ramsey is quite simply superb and the prime example of how the negative faction of our following can get it wrong. The same goes for Koscielny. We do need to add to the squad though and I’m sure we will.

    All that said, recently and with some factions of our support, I feel that we are always one bad result away from all hell breaking loose. I really don’t enjoy that. I’m not sure what can be done about it though.

  20. Lovely article.

    Please forgive my ignorance, what is the 49 song, and Ozil’s song? Does Ramsey have a song?

  21. Pete

    I take it you weren’t at Highbury on the night of 9th February 1994 or you would know why I added Campbell to the list. Only time I ever walked about before the final whistle.

    But yes it was harsh – I still remember the day George Graham woke up with a personality transplant and played a forward line of Merson, Smith, Limpar, Marwood and Campbell against a title chasing Sheffield Wednesday with all 5 scoring in a 7-1 win.

  22. Pete

    I take it you weren’t at Highbury on the night of 9th February 1994 or you would know why I added Campbell to the list. Only time I ever walked about before the final whistle.

    But yes it was harsh – I still remember the day George Graham woke up with a personality transplant and played a forward line of Merson, Smith, Limpar, Wright and Campbell against a title chasing Sheffield Wednesday with all 5 scoring in a 7-1 win.

  23. Quincy,
    the Özil song is in my opinion not a good one. I think Özil deserves a song like Santi and Giroud have. A song that when you hear it you can join in.

    I once suggested at the start of the season a song you will hear about “Brazil” in the chorus. Brazil, Brazil nananananaaaaaa

    Here Ray Connif version of it just replazing Özil where you sing Brazil, pra mim. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m57J53JZV7g
    or this version

    That would be recognizable from the first note they sing.

    The only Ramsey song I know is the ‘one Aaron Ramsey, there’s only one Aarom Ramsey’ There is in fact 🙂

  24. From reading this article, I wonder if Arsenal13 was either at the game yesterday, or the audio he was listening to picked up the stands. I think it was mid second half (as well) when he called for St. Totteringham’s Day un Untold.

  25. Well done to the team! Even I went inside the kitchen to fix food for the dog.It was that kinda game…And yes Michael Owen is a moron…he has nothing nice to say about the current Arsenal team.

    Another thought doing the rounds is that will Everton put up a real fight against City, knowing fully well that defeating City would mean handing the league title to Liverpool!

  26. Thanks Tony ,and guys for sharing those memories . Am waiting for the day Arsenal FC screen their games directly to their fans and bypass all those morons on the ‘expert’ panel and commentary box .
    As I avoid the media mostly , viewing the game without any volume was quite refreshing .Will be doing it more often !

  27. Interesting point Asif regarding Everton, but I feel Everton will be doing all they can in that game to help themselves, should make for an interesting watch.

  28. I get tired of people talking a about how we need 2 fantastic players at every position. That would be nice but we have NEVER been able to afford that. Even in our most successful years we have been dependent on not having a great deal of injuries. Yes, the nature of player movement means a team must constantly upgrade or risk slipping behind. But beyond natural replacement of players (hopefully with better players)it is unrealistic to expect a total remake of the team every year. We can hope for 1 major signing but we shall never be able to splash out 100 million in a single transfer window.

  29. This business of happy at finishing 4th is just crazy talk. There might be some relief at finishing 4th, satisfaction at finishing higher than Spurs, and anticipation of an FA Cup final but we are not satisfied with 4th. We are, however, optimistic for the final and for next year, because we trust our manager and our players and frankly don’t you think we should be happy after having just beaten the barcodes?

  30. @ Walter,

    I understand where your coming from in regards to koscielny’s yellow, but I have to agree with Paul in the sense that Im not entirely sure theres a rule regarding this behavior. (although I defer to your knowledge on such matters)

    for instance. after a goal is scored and the keeper picks the ball up out of the net and kicks it away (often down the field) is that ‘offence’ punishable by a yellow? i have seen keepers do this many times and dont recall them getting a yellow card.

    also if a goal is scored and an offensive player runs in and kicks the ball into the back of the net again, another form of celebration i see often, is that a yellow card?

  31. Tony,

    Good to bump into you and Drew last night. Indeed, what were the chances?

    References to the ‘Library’, the ‘Highbury Library’ that was – a reference adopted by the media (not to mention opposition supporters) who were/are far too lazy in finding another word to rhyme with ‘Highbury’ – were proven false last night.

    In the lower tier of the Clock End, where the fans sang their hearts out all night, we had the full repertoire of songs including a number of fine renditions of ‘She Wore….’ and the repartee with the North Bank for ‘We’re the Clock End, We’re the Clock End, We’re the Clock End Highbury’.

    Unlike our North Bank counterparts, the fascination with ‘Stand up if You Hate……’ persists but is offset with the humour of ‘Is There a Fire Drill ‘ aimed, not this time at deserting Spurs’ fans, but those leaving before the final whistle (I know there was a Tube strike but why leave early?).

    Perhaps it was the pre-match confidence that we would defeat the poor opposition, the ease with which we accomplished it or the impending trip to Wembley, but a library the Emirates was certainly not last night.

  32. Another St Totts year, with a Tott treble for our much maligned team. Must have really hurt some of the London based media.
    A lot of the aaa are now saying finishing above the spuds means nothing, and hold similar views on a possible cup win, they suggest we should have the likes of Chelsea in our sites. The very same people that want us to finish outside the CL but the types we would never hear the last from if we did finish below the spuds or out of the top four…..you know the sorts that come on here from time to time….

  33. I’ve got a ticket through ticket exchange for Sunday, the last home game of the season. Looking forward to all the chanting and singing, and the players parading round at the end. It is so great at the Emirates now, especially compared to a couple of years ago. This year we could even sing ‘We are top of the league’ – for quite a long time.

    Recommended, as usual, Jeremy Wilson’s article today in the Daily Telegraph. Just a few quotes: ‘Teams do not lead the Premier League for more than half a season by accident…Ramsey was asked last week if he ever thought “what might have been” had he not got injured on Boxing Day and the honest answer was a resounding “yes”. Given that Arsenal are still only seven points off the top of the Premier League, the only reasonable answer is that they would have been challenging for a third double of Wenger’s tenure … It is some transformation from three weeks ago when defeat at Everton was causing angst and outrage among fans. Arsenal were fortunate at that time to have a manager with such experience and perspective. As Wenger says, “life is movement” and his team are on the up again.’

  34. Thanks Ash79, I put notice of that elsewhere too (without URL).

    Our last game of the season (at Norwich) could be interesting. Apparently the fans have decided to vote for the 3rd string goalkeeper (who hasn’t appeared for Norwich this season) as player of the year, and another part of the fan base (same part?) is planning to walk out of the match at 60 minutes.


  35. @Ash79

    I don’t know whether Arsenal used Tonys piece with his permission or not but whatever many different media outlets (including Talkshite) have used Untolds articles and data, either with or without permission, does that mean he or Untold or on the take there as well.

    And what exactly is Tony deluded about?

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