A confession: when we lose it is all my fault. Football rituals and me

On Saturday I eschewed nearly all of my pre-match rituals and we lost to the worst United team since the dawn of time (or sometime in the 1970s I think).

Why did I stop?

Well because for most of the season they haven’t worked and frankly I’d reached the point (it was Anderlecht at home I think) where I realized that apart from shouting and singing my support at matches I have NO influence over how Arsenal play. Ok ok I know I might have come to this conclusion earlier but I am only 51… (and in my heart I am still the that 15 year old that stood on the North Bank every other Saturday with my mates from school).

So this got me to thinking about these strange rituals and why we do them. I’m hoping you all do it (or am I really THAT weird?!) and will share yours with us on Untold in the comments.

So here are as many as mine as I can remember…

I will never wear anything new to a game, especially not anything Arsenal related (like a scarf) ; I have to break it in first. I have to get into the ground early enough to read the manager’s and captain’s programme notes before the game, and put on my Arsenal shirt (never before) and I always check my seat number after entering the turnstile (even though it hasn’t changed in three years).

On days when Arsenal are playing I always decorate my porridge and blueberries with a carefully crafted AFC crest formed from golden syrup. Tony and I almost always drive to Finchley Central and take the Northern line to Archway and walk down the Holloway Road, I like to enter the ground in the same way, past the Ché Guevara pub, under the railway bridge and up the steps to the right of the Media Centre.

Are you getting the picture?

In the past (before I could go every week) I used to sing the entire squad’s songs (or make them up if there wasn’t one) on my way to school/work. I can’t listen to Arsenal on the radio with anyone else and I can’t be interrupted. My dad did this once during one of those everlasting FA cup replays against Liverpool in the 70s, and Dalgleish (or Keegan I forget) scored. I’ve still never forgiven him (my dad not Kenny).

I don’t really enjoy watching Arsenal on TV and certainly not in company (even of other Arsenal fans – sorry Tony!) because I can’t relax. Recently Em (my much better and well balanced other half) and I went to Sunday dinner at some friends. It was the day of the Swansea game and I’d resolved not to watch, not to listen, not to check texts etc. But they put the game on. For me. On a MASSIVE television. It was agony. Sitting there not able to interact with the match, being licked by their two huge dogs, politely smiling at their observations on the game…

Even as a youth I always stood on the same spot on the North Bank – I had to even if I couldn’t see much (I’ve never been more than a short arse), and likewise I don’t feel comfortable about changing my seat now. I get nervous if we don’t kick away from the North Bank in the first half (always have) and I prefer us to play in yellow away from home (not blue).

I am not religious – I don’t believe in god (or God if you prefer) but I cross my fingers when the opposition get a free kick/corner/penalty and touch my Thor’s hammer. I even bought Tony a hammer for luck (sorry again Tony!). I will admit to being superstitious – I salute magpies and make wishes on rainbows – but I am MUCH MORE superstitious about football.

But and enough is enough. Arsenal win lose of draw with or without my pathetic attempts to influence the gods of football. So it is time to stop my rituals and just try and enjoy Arsenal. After all, as my wise old chum Tony remarked as we left the Emirates after the United game, we pay a lot of money and expend a lot of time and energy going to see the Arsenal – it might as well be something that is enjoyable, otherwise why bother?

So M. Wenger, Bould, Gazidis, Wilshere, Özil, Flamini and company, it is down to you lot now. I will applaud, sing my heart out, shout at the ref and the opposition, stand through fair weather and foul, pay through the nose for my ticket, defend you to my friends and colleagues, and support you till I die…but from now on you can make your own luck.

Thank you for listening; please feel free to share your own experiences.


[The men in white coast have arrived now…that’s a really lovely jacket..but the sleeves are much too long…doctor…doctor.. I don’t like needles doc…DOC! I’m feeling sleeeepyy…]

The books

26 Replies to “A confession: when we lose it is all my fault. Football rituals and me”

  1. hope when u wake up, we don’t need million chances to score 1 goal, the players have realized that they can’t bomb up every single time and leaving our BFG exposed and AW screaming / barking orderes from his tech area rather than moaning at boudly. if that happens, your suffering of getting that needle up ur bumb will be worthwile and hopfully you will then be cerified as Sane.

  2. Thors Hammer…not religious, sounds like you are an Odinist to me!

    Think I am equally to blame. Was in Brighton during the game, as I was when we lost 8-2, and at home to Villa.
    In fact, I go to brighton rather a lot…..but it seems more than coincidence to me. Will from now on avoid the place whenever Arsenal are playing, that should turn things around at Arsenal even quicker than strengthening the defensive side of the game and getting injured players back.

  3. lol…. used to be a bit of a Modette back in the day! the second wave of the Mod thing, not the original I would add, even I am not that old!
    Still see quite a few Hells Angels and scooter boys down there, but fortunately, the battles on the beach seem to be a thing of the past.

  4. You are not alone …

    1. I need one of my kids (at least) to be watching with me. Too bad for CL matches as they are usually asleep.
    2. My wife needs to leave the living room. She is the worst jinx in the world. Thanks hon for stickin around for the past 4-5 matches, duh !!!!
    3. Need to wear at least one piece of garment bearing the club logo / colors (scarf, shirt, socks, hat).
    4. No matter what not go out to the balcony for a smoke break.

  5. Mandy,we went down there too( I was also second wave), although there werent any rockers around.Skins and some early Casuals in the very last days few Heavy metal nerds, I was pretty young and a bit nervous. Shame that Mods all above ground now.Anyway, Im sure plenty of people still enjoy it!
    A friend of mine was an orginal Mod up in Halifax which all sounded a bit crepe until he told me what they got up to the bands he’d seen and showed me the tickets etc and photos, truly amazing, I certainy changed my mind about Mod being more Southern.He also came to London at the end of the 60s to live and study and he and his wife rented a flat from Frank Mclintock and Charlie George. He hates Arsenal and Frank and Charlie, said they used to come to collect the rent and then sit down and watch tv and wouldnt go!
    My Dad was the bit before (the Absolute Beginners-book not film)Modern Jazzer.He was a musician and he cut a ska record in 1962…said he heard it on Brixton Market once!
    Ive a million Mod stories.If Untolds Mod doesn that make LG the rockers?

  6. sorry, off topic but reports saying that Giroud not available for the Dortmund game….because his recovery time has been less than predicted and he has not been registered for the CL in time.
    We really are the gift that keeps giving for our critics at the moment!

  7. Blacksheep: I am sorry, but it is totally your fault, and you need to go back to basics. I did something unforgivably similar against Anderlecht, and wrote about it on the Positively site.

    Never, ever risk upsetting the sporting gods – they are not to be trifled with.

  8. I am sorry to say. but from Current Squad, apart from Ozil and Sanchez everybody is below Average. Jack is good, but he is not consistent.

    Wenger knew that our defense is short and fragile. he should have bought a decent CB and DMF. He chose not to. Fans pay a fortune to watch such a pathetic display. We lost to the worst United side I have ever seen. His post match press conference was even more shocking. His time is up. He is a legend for the transformation he has done. but he has to leave now. He cannot be clinging to the power without accountability. 10 years and not PL. No manager, or for that matter no employee of any organization has been given so many chances to succeed.

    Thank you Mr Wenger.

    But please leave..

  9. @ashwin Gunner
    I have a much simpler solution for your woes. Since the source of your disgruntlement lies in getting such poor quality for your money, simply keep your money in your pocket and walk away. Nobody forces you to support Arsenal and quite frankly we could use your absence on this site.

  10. Is …for instance…Kos below average Ashwin? Girouds stats are anything but below average, so are Theos, Ox is developing into a very good player,…to name but a few.
    Strange how the narrative has changed from 9 years without a trophy to 10 years without a PL
    Some rather fetching pics of Peter from Le Grove starting to appear regularly as avatars – it has to be said.

  11. Usmanov is not a happy chappy going by his comments. Now we can either take that statement @ face value or make a hundred different assumptions about his overall intentions. His is not happy and neither are the fans. Let’s be clear, we are not looking to sack the manager. We win some and loose some, that’s part of the game. It’s how we loose and if we have learnt any lessons from that loss. But looking the recent games, it seems we haven’t and are just happy doing our own thing. And this IMHO is infuriating fans.

  12. Of course he should have done. That’s what the old chap said on the bus this morning. The defence is short and fragile. They can get pushed aside, or pushed into goalkeepers, goalposts, hospital wards.

    As for this being the worst United team you have ever seen – how long have you been watching football?

    You do realise of course that ManU were relegated, did actually go years without winning anything. Imagine that – the team of Best, Law and Charlton in such terminal decline they fell out of the first Division!!

    In reality it was my fault. I didn’t wear the colours. How that got communicated to Jack with the ball at his feet and the goal in front of him I’ll never know.

  13. Gouresh,
    I haven’t read Usamov’s actual comments and so certainly couldn’t say just how much of a ‘happy bunny’ he is. I did read the “arseblog” write up of his speech and there was nothing in that to warrant anyone getting worked up about. the press have picked up a few words, rearranged them and made up a different story from what he seems to have said. no change there them.

  14. The narrative needs a diversion. Where’s Brendan Rogers this season? What any idiot could see at the bottom of the ocean blindfolded and with their hands tied behind their back – Suarez created space, Sterling & Sturridge and any attack would prosper – was not seen by the assembled hacks of TV commentary land and the PR fields of newspapers.

    Rodgers = four losses in succession. Thank the Lord for Arsenal!!

    As for the other front runners – Martinez, Klopp – what is happening to their teams this season?

  15. The only ritual I have regarding my Gunners is the daily consumption of any Arsenal related info available (Anything to keep my mind off the Audit work ‘n reports). It’s so educational to read all the differing views from Gooners around the world.

  16. Ashwin. I see you have a picture of your beloved leader, Peter Wood, as your Avatar. That picture speaks a million words mate.

    I have no idea why you and those like you want to antagonise and wind up other Gooners, that is pretty sad behaviour to be honest. Shit way to support a club. I mean what kind of ‘fan’ visits a blog that has a different opinion to their own, just to be argumentative and wave around their tiny manhood.

    Do you visit Spurs and Chelsea blogs and wind them up? Of course you don’t. It is actually really sad and such a shame that we have ‘fans’ like you pissing on the club and fellow Gooners at every opportunity. It is embarrassing.

    But not quite as embarrassing as hero worshipping a blog writer that hasnt got a clue about the game.

  17. ‘I mean what kind of ‘fan’ visits a blog that has a different opinion to their own, just to be argumentative and wave around their tiny manhood.’

    One of your proud leaders on here did exactly this on Le Grove which according to most is an anti-Wenger site before he was ‘banned’.

    Are you yourself not Revvin Kevin anyway who used to be a prominent poster on Le Grove?

    Or do you just both coincidentally have the identical opinions on what makes a ‘real’ fan and are called Kevin? Now that would be quite something.

  18. Eagle. I have no need to join a blog to which I have nothing in common. I would not create an account on Le Grove if you paid me. Why would I want to comment on there? It is not a football blog, it is just for people to praise Chelsea and Spurs, insult other Gooners, call the manager names, make fun of Diaby and pretend they know more about football than anybody else. I do read it from time to time – as I like to see what Peter Wood is spinning for you all to lap up. How he gets away with some of that tripe is amazing.

    You want to join a blog to pick a fight, fair enough if that floats your boat matey – but that is not for me. I grew up years ago.

  19. I love this blog and visit it almost everyday. But you guys need to wake up. Anything would not have changed these last few results. What is currently happening is Wenger’s fault. And the player’s (which is again indirectly Wenger’s fault). First things. It was pretty stupid of Wenger to not buy another defender before the start of the season. In my head, it’s simple. You need one cover for every position. Plus whatever contingency planning that you may have. It clearly looks like this was not done. Plus I don’t understand why Jenkinson can’t be recalled from loan. Then the injuries (inevitably) happened. I’m not saying this is Wenger’s fault, but some honest reassuring words periodically to the fans from anyone in the management would have really helped. The lack of honest communication has irked me further (but that’s just me). Now coming to the players that we do have and the string of bad results (lets be honest, the results have been bad and the performances have not been eye catching so far this season. You’d be blind if you did not see it). Look at the ManUtd squad that last won the Premier League. I think it’s the worst squad to have ever won it. Why did they win? They probably put in performances because they were shit scared that SAF would murder them after the game. Referees might have helped and all, but that won’t account for an entire season’s worth. Is that the case with Wenger? Our players may respect him. But they SHOULD be scared of him too. At times like these, you need the bad cop routine. You can’t do good cop all the time. Again, I do not know if this happens or not, which further pisses me off. Any communication on this issue from either players/management would atleast help dissipate that negative vibe that is growing in me about Arsenal. Players would put in extra effort if they knew they’d probably get murdered by the boss if they put in a bad shift (maybe Wilshere would have converted that chance he had then. Mertersacker/Arteta who are known for their positional play would not have been in such bad positions for the 2nd goal). What is being done about the defensive issues? Why are we leaking so many goals? Is this even being worked on? I think it is based on this thought process that people blame Wenger. It’s more a case of not knowing what’s happening I feel. At times of crisis (which we are in right now), it helps to keep people informed about what is being done to resolve the issues at hand.

    What is really frustrating is knowing that we genuinely have a world class squad. But they are not playing like one. It is not wrong to expect a trophy from this squad at the start of the season. Also, I think that somewhere, people must be jealous of the kind of money these footballers and managers earn (making them unrealistically expect absolutely no mistakes from the players). When I think about it, if I performed in my day job, like some of the players and the manager are performing currently (we know the ones who aren’t in form), I’d get screwed. That does not seem to be the case with these footballers (Again. I don’t know if that is the case or not. Any information about this would help).

    The worst part is the feeling of indifference I feel towards Arsenal these days. No bad result surprises me. Infact it has got to a point where a good result would surprise me. I’d write it off as an anomaly currently. Somewhere, Wenger has to take the blame for what is happening. If you praise him for all the awesome titles we won, you should blame him when bad results/seasons happen too. I agree that sacking him right now would be the stupidest thing to do. In terms of the squad, there is nothing we can do till January now. But for the current state of the team, I do blame Wenger. As much as i respect the man, I feel he should stay for another season at the most and then quit. And things may turn around this season, but we’ll again end up finishing fourth (i’m not even sure about that). It’s just getting a little frustrating.

  20. I too must confess – I broke my usual rituals during the ManUre game . I watch the game in bed and don’t move ,even to go to the loo or to get a drink or snack.
    Being very encouraged by our first half performance and filled with optimism , I committed the cardinal sin of gluttony , as well as to answer nature’s call .A bit premature as it turned out !
    Most of the regulars here may know of the ‘rituals’ I observe before the CL matches , and having abandoned them this season , has resulted in some bad results .
    So I hope to get back to the old ways , to help the Arsenal cause . More details tomorrow !

  21. ” Rumours are carried by haters, spread by fools, and accepted by idiots.”

    “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” – Aristotle

    A positive attitude may not solve all you problems ,but
    it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort.
    – Herm Albright.

  22. Since we are on about confessions ( the smart ones , that is !), here’s one most may not know .

    The true story as told by Hillary Clinton

    Finally, the true story as told by Hillary Clinton to world leaders.

    “Some years ago, nearing dinner time at the White House, our regular cook fell ill and they had to get a replacement on short notice.He wasn’t the smartest looking guy, in fact he seemed a bit dirty.

    The President voiced his concerns to his Chief of Staff but was told that this was the best they could do on such short notice.

    “Just before the meal, Bill noticed the cook sticking his finger in the soup to taste it and again complained to the Chief Of Staff, but he was assured that many chefs did that.
    “Dinner went okay, although Bill thought that the soup tasted a little funny. By the time dessert came, he started to have stomach cramps and nausea. It was getting worse and worse until finally the President had to excuse himself.

    “By now, he was desperately ill with violent cramps and was so disorientated that he couldn’t remember which door led to the bathroom. He was on the verge of passing out from the pain when he finally found a door that opened.

    “As he unzipped his trousers and ran in, he realized to his horror that he had stumbled into Monica Lewinsky’s office with his trousers around his knees.
    As he was about to pass out, this naive girl bent over him and heard the President whisper in a barely audible voice:”Sack my cook”

    “And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how the whole misunderstanding occurred.”

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