This is the 5000th edition of Untold. What have we achieved?

By Tony Attwood

So yes, we have written and published 5000 articles on Untold Arsenal since we started this rather eccentric and somewhat different publication back on 14 January 2008.

Our first piece, rather portentously, was called Arsenal witness the end of football and we plodded along writing maybe five articles a week.  These days you are more likely to get 20 a week.

But have we done anything?  I mean, have we actually changed anything in the world of football.

I’d love to think so – after all ever since I started writing professionally I have held dear to the motto of the late 1960s commentators, “the only reason for writing is to change the world”.

But that is a dream – I don’t sit here thinking that anyone in particular is waiting to hear the latest from Untold.  Nor do I sit here thinking that we do influence what journalists say or the authorities do.

Indeed sometimes I get very frustrated, as with our exposure of the reason why Sport England withdrew its funding from the FA for grassroots football, and how the press totally swallowed the FA’s gibberish nonsense of a story that it was all horribly unfair.

Indeed I can’t recall anything much by way of criticism of the FA in 2014 from other sources, which suggests in that sector Untold has no impact.  We’ve given the press a mountain of ammunition and they’ve said nothing.

But sometimes stuff happens.  As with our piece which reported an article in the Daily Mail where Keith Hackett, the former head of the PGMO called for the head of Mike Riley.

That was a good moment, and it made me think maybe we have opened up the debate on referees a bit just as we opened up the debate on why England do so badly in international tournaments (written four years before the last world cup).   It was a piece that was re-run in the Telegraph in August 2013.   Several papers have used the statistics since, and I rather like that.

We certainly did introduce phrases like “rotational fouling” and rotational time-wasting” way back in January 2008, phrases which although are not part of everyday speech are now occasionally to be found.  I’ve heard them on Sky’s saturday night football show (the least edited for acceptable commentary of all the football programmes) a month or so back and remember Mr Wenger using “rotational fouling” once soon after.  (He also once mentioned in a Guardian interview the “organisation that charts referee mistakes”.  OK it might have been nice if he had given out the URL, but still…)

Mostly of course it is not about making changes per se, but about opening up the debates.  and trying to suggest that there is something beyond what the simplistic phone-in programmes and journalist coverage in the press deal out, that ought to be considered.

And I would argue that this is the success that Walter has had – bringing awareness of the PGMO to the fore and getting recognition, of its existence and its failures into the English national press.

We’ve had far less success getting the media to recognise that football clubs are being used for money laundering, and the way phantom and vapour transfers work, and they’ve been very lackadaisical with FFP (where our predictions were vilified by fans of the accused clubs, but rather remarkably accurate in the end).

Now moving on, earlier this month I commented on how the Telegraph suprised me with a piece about the failure of referees to act in certain situations.   This followed a series of articles in that paper which started with its piece on the rise of the robo-refs, which looked like it was cobbled together from a PGMO press release.   (The history of our to-and-fro with the paper is here)

But now take a look at this… once more in the rapidly changing Telegraph.  I can assure you, you would not have seen anything remotely like this three years ago…

Raheem Sterling and Jonjo Shelvey somehow both escaped without punishment for two apparently obvious red card offences during Liverpool’s crushing 4-1 win over Swansea at Anfield.

Even more remarkably, the two separate incidents both took place in full of Andre Marriner and his officials, and yet they declined to act in either case.

Let me be clear before the aaa jump in (oh and the name for the Anti-Arsenal Arsenal is another Untold creation), I’m not saying Untold caused the Telegraph to change their tune.   I do think however it is just possible that we have helped along a changing view in the media of referee decisions.

What we have by and large done is taken the debate away from the pathetic “it all evens out in the end” to a more serious consideration of utterly atrocious refereeing decisions, and how and why they can happen.  Just like we’ve helped (along with a few other blogs) to show that blogging can be more than REVEALED: Arsenal make bid for ex-Liverpool star.

But I fully admit our main objective of getting the press to ask “why a referee could get it so wrong” and “why the PGMO continue to put out their impossible-to-believe statistics”  and “why do we have so few refs when having more would be an ideal way to reduce the risk of match fixing?” is still a long way from fruition.

However I do see things moving very slowly in the right direction.  Especially as the Telegraph went on to quote Jamie Carragher claiming Shelvey was guilty of equally ill-disciplined episodes “two to three times a week” in training during their time together at Liverpool.

Now Carragher is not altogether an untainted witness, having been guilty of the atrocious action in January 2002 when he threw a coin at fans inside Highbury (another incident Untold refuses to forget).   As I have noted before, the fan who threw the coin at him was a total moron, and hopefully was banned for life, but Carragher’s response was worse, given that throwing a coin at a crowd is much more likely to cause serious head damage than throwing a coin at a man in a field.   He got a three match ban.  We remember that shameful episode even if no one else does.

So we’ve campaigned on referees, the secretive PGMO, the way the media set the agenda, the appalling uselessness of the FA, coaching, phantom and vapour transfers, the truth about Arsenal pricing of seats for matches, the desire of the media to trivialise, match fixing – especially with the evolution of Type III match fixing, the way the media has betrayed football fans by presenting its warped image of the games, financial doping, Man City and its disengagement with FFP, and money laundering via football.  Not a bad agenda for one little blog run by half a dozen enthusiasts and (thankfully) a range of advertisers.  (Incidentally I’d never be so crass as to say “please support our advertisers” but if there genuinely is something you are interested in, and you click on the advert, Untold gets a fraction of a penny towards the costs of running the site.   But only if you are really interested in the product).

But here is something else you might not be fully aware of.

We’ve created the anniversary files which now contain getting on for 5000 dates, with more and more of them having links to articles and a short two or three line exposition of the issue.  We publish them each day on Untold’s home page, and the full files are on the AISA Arsenal History Society site which we also run (but whose total number of articles is not included in Untold’s 5000).  As a result of that work we also got a series in the club programme too.

Of course there are mistakes and missing information in the anniversary files, but each week we alter or add about 100 of the articles and I’m personally really knocked out by that research.  There have been other books of Arsenal dates before but nothing quite on this scale.  Just have a look at the anniversaries on the home page of Untold – I hope you’ll be impressed.

And we got our reward when Puma launched its new kit with a video that focussed on the book “Making the Arsenal” which I wrote in 2010.  To get that recognition was, I admit, something else.

So what else?   We’ve kept an eye on Barcelona (who desperately want to be pushed out of the news by the Barcelona loving media) and kept on predicting that they were going to come unstuck over the child trafficking via their boarding school – even when we were constantly attacked for doing so.  And Real Madrid with their land exchange with the local council.

And overall we’ve ranged from the desperate (Egypt, Qatar, Fifa) to the silly and the funny.

So what do people say?   Well some very nice things, combined with the inevitable, “I used to read you every day but after this article I’m stopping” (we get that a lot), and (of late) being told that because we don’t publish everyone’s comments we are no different from Islamic State, North Korea and one or two other choice regimes.

And still there are people who think that throwing in abuse is a recipe for getting published on Untold.  Actually guys it isn’t.  But I can see why you might get confused.

Or rather, no I can’t.

And yet there has been more.  We’ve really worked on the issue of injuries from doing a week by week analysis of the leading clubs for one season, to taking on the assertions that our injuries are the fault of the training methods or the ground (thanks Walter for your latest analysis on that).

Blacksheep and I had a season of trotting off to watch local non-league football, in support of Untold’s constant campaign to get proper funding for grassroots football and to remove the FA from any involvement.

We’ve tried like mad to explain why Arsenal had to scale back its buying while building the Emirates, and of course we have supported Arsene Wenger.

But perhaps best of all, for me, I had a meeting with Ivan Gazidis and said, “What you really ought to do is put up a load of statues around the Emirates – start with Chapman, and work on from there.”   And rather wonderfully for me (because it gave me a feeling that I have done something for Arsenal) he has always acknowledged that it was my idea.

Walter and his team ran the Referee Decisions web site for a year which produced amazing data about how Premier League matches are refereed, and he and I both played in a tournament at the Emirates – which is where the picture on the top of the home page comes from.

So there we are, 5000 articles and lots of fun – at least for us.

I must thank with all my heart everyone who has helped get Untold to Edition 5000.  Walter oversees all the referee issues, takes over when I’m away, and is, of course, always working in his third language.  Andrew Crawshaw and Don McMahon have expanded our referee coverage and I am so grateful for their regular contributions on refereeing.  Plus of course Blacksheep, not just for his articles but also for the chats we have driving from Northants to the game, many of which rambling chats have helped refocus and reconsider what Untold does.  Plus of course everyone else who has written for or to Untold.

And all that is before I even consider Billy the dog and Bulldog Drummond.  What is it with dogs and Untold?

If you have been, thank you for reading.


54 Replies to “This is the 5000th edition of Untold. What have we achieved?”

  1. Congratulations, please never stop what your doing and I look forward to reading you everyday!! Keep up the grand work.

  2. Congratulations , Tony on this great milestone . May there be a million more ! I do believe that you really are making a difference in the perception of most of us that feed at the Untold trough !
    ” But that is a dream – I don’t sit here thinking that anyone in particular is waiting to hear the latest from Untold…. ” Well , mark me done as one who does wait to hear the latest Untold ! I don’t read any other sites, blogs or newspapers ( other than the one off links provided by the AKBs here.).
    J’ AMORE UNTOLD ARSENAL , JE SIUS UN AKB ! ( Pardoning my French , of course !)

  3. Although not being able to make too much comment over the last few months I have continued to read, bothe articles and readers comments and whilst I disagree with many I think it’s importnat that differing views are out there ias it opens up the debate

    Has Untold achieved anything in football circles? Possibly but then again possibly not but irrespective keep campaign keep the debate going

    Happy 5000th and well done Tony & Walter for I have no idea how you find the time to write articles , keep the site going and go about normal day to day activities

  4. Congratulations to all contributors and of course the authors of this unique Arsenal site; may it long continue to enlighten those who are seemingly unaware and simultaneously re-inforse the feelings of those who had suspicions of “goings on” in world football and in particular matters relating to our GREAT club!!


  5. Tony , guys , someone sent this to me just this morning and was thinking of posting it on UA and feel that it is apt here and now . Thank you mine host !

    Physiology of taste.


    I. The universe would be nothing were it not for life and all that lives must be fed.

    II. Animals fill themselves; man eats. The man of mind alone knows how to eat.

    III. The destiny of nations depends on the manner in which they are fed.

    IV. Tell me what kind of food you eat, and I will tell you what kind of man you are.

    V. The Creator, when he obliges man to eat, invites him to do so by appetite, and rewards him by pleasure.

    VI. Gourmandise is an act of our judgment, in obedience to which, we grant a preference to things which are agreeable, over those which nave not that quality.

    VII. The pleasure of the table belongs to all ages, to all conditions, to all countries, and to all aeras; it mingles with all other pleasures, and remains at last to console us for their departure.

    VIII. The table is the only place where one does not suffer, from ennui during the first hour.

    IX. The discovery of a new dish confers more happiness on humanity, than the discovery of a new star.

    X. Those persons who suffer from indigestion, or who become drunk, are utterly ignorant of the true principles of eating and drinking.

    XI. The order of food is from the most substantial to the lightest.

    XII. The order of drinking is from the mildest to the most foamy and perfumed.

    XIII. To say that we should not change our drinks is a heresy; the tongue becomes saturated, and after the third glass yields but an obtuse sensation.

    XIV. A dessert without cheese is like a beautiful woman who has lost an eye.

    XV. A cook may be taught, but a man who can roast, is born with the faculty.

    XVI. The most indispensable quality of a good cook is promptness. It should also be that of the guests.

    XVII. To wait too long for a dilatory guest, shows disrespect to those who are punctual.

    XVIII. He who receives friends and pays no attention to the repast prepared for them, is not fit to have friends.

    XIX. The mistress of the house should always be certain that the coffee be excellent; the master that his liquors be of the first quality.

    XX. To invite a person to your house is to take charge of his happiness as long as he be beneath your roof.

  6. Many congratulations on your 5,000 edition of the Untold Arsenal!!

    Great work Tony and team. Truly, you have established yourselves as an institution in the Arsenal. Here’s to many more great editions to come.

  7. Fair play to you sir, I don’t always read untold, nor any other site come to think of it, but I have read some excellent insight and food for thought material on here. keep up the good work, it’s much appreciated even though one or two of the sycophants who comment are vomit inducing, they try to speak for the you and the site and it’s as clear as day you don’t need anyone to speak for you. Many thanks Tony, I share the love for that team we call the Arsenal.

  8. The real meaning of enlightenment is to gaze with undimmed eyes on all darkness.
    Nikos Kazantzakis

  9. I sometimes wonder whether, within the “feeding of the 5000”, including the reviews of referees, Untold has unwittingly spawned and now fuelled an anti-Arsenal attitude by match officials.
    That is not to say that the site should change its stance of course, but it could be the reason why our ball carriers get kicked to death with impunity.

  10. ” The first step toward getting what you want is having the courage to get rid of what you don’t .”

  11. Congratulations!
    I hadn’t realised how influential you’d been during this period.
    You coined “rotational fouling”.. a big plus for that, not so much for the AAA acronym or the house comic.

  12. Congratulations to you all. I came across this site a few yrs ago through bbc regarding the interview that was done by Walter. Still blown away by the research and the faith. Well-done. We have great discussion arguments verbal fight and all that but in the end its just for 1 purpose, that Arsenal play well and do well on and off the field. Congratulations once again and looking for more great articles, discussions arguments verbal fights all that fun. Thank you untold.

  13. This is the best site for accurate, balanced and informed coverage of Arsenal, but is also valuable in its critical coverage of wider football politics, in questioning dubious practice in governance, finance, and in exposing corrupt refereeing.

    Congratulations and please continue.

  14. ” You ego would have you judge yourself and others when you are having negative experiences .
    But in truth , every moment is here to help you grow , heal and align with a higher level of consciousness .”

  15. Rotational fouling was coined and widely spoken about at Highbury in 2005 after several Man U players butchered Jose Reyes at old trafford, but well done for carrying the message further into the public sphere, and for the relentless attack on the standard of refereeing and lack of transparency of the PGMOL

  16. Congratulations,to,all at Untold, a significant milestone, and some notable achievements and legacies . Hope the media are starting to shift!

  17. Kudos to you Tony, Walter, Blacksheep and others who have contributed to make this milestone a reality.

    Although I have not agrees 100% on all the view and articles written on this blog, I dare to say that this is a blog with a difference. Some of the articles written here have helped to change my perception on Arsenal, Football and life.

    This blog truly gives a different view to the norm with a better analytical meaning on issues relating to Arsenal and Football hence living true to its name UNTOLD-STORY.

    Because I am in Nigeria (a country of over 100 million football loving fans who follow the EPL more than our own Premier League), I do not understand all the issues with regards to the English FA. However, I appreciate and enjoy them and other articles such as that last one on Rugby (Nigeria is not a rugby country)

    You guys should keep up the good work and never allow aaa or pessimists or insults from ignorant fans deter the wonderful job you are doing. Cheers!

  18. Guys, fantastic job. I believe this is my first time commenting but trust me, I’ve been reading Untold for 3 years or thereabouts now.
    Thanks for the handwork you put into your articles and analysis.
    It’s great to see fans of The Arsenal do stuff that transcends just talking about the club and engender actual change in the game as a whole.
    Here’s to another 5,000!
    God bless you!

  19. Hooray, congratulations Untold, I always saw consistent bias against arsenal after moving to the emirates to the point when I just couldn’t understand why everyone else around saw nothing wrong. That was before I came to this site. Great work guys……
    I hope Ozil caps the day with a brace

  20. What a great achievement 5000 reasons to enjoy views of, from & to football. Well done Tony & Walter. Well done introducing new terms & working toward a cleaner football game. Wishing you success in everything that will allow Arsenal a fair chance of success in the Beautiful Game.

  21. Congratulations on reaching such a magnificent milestone.

    Wonderful work.

    In accordance with the ethos of UA and it’s founders, whenever I post I always try to base my views on facts, and to back my opinions with statistics, when at all possible. I know from experience that this is not always possible, and when it is can take many hours of research.

    With that in mind the amount of time and effort that must be invested in the Refereeing reviews and articles is simply mind blowing.

    Keep up the good work and I will raise a glass to the next 5000.

  22. Congratulations to UA, Tony, Walter, other Contributors and faithful Arsenal fans on the 5000th! And here is to another 5000.

    Guys, let’s beat MBoro blue black in celebration.

  23. Congratulations to UA, Tony, Walter, other Contributors and faithful Arsenal fans on the 5000th! And here is to another 5000.

    Guys, let’s beat MBrough blue black in celebration.

  24. Thank you, thank you, thank you! As you can see by my name, I’ve been an Arsenal supporter for quite some time. UNTOLD ARSENAL is by far the BEST source for club information. I wish you had started 40 years ago. I no longer have to scour the internet (and before that, a foreign press kiosk) to get accurate coverage. I can’t express my appreciation. So once again, a humble thank you!

  25. Congratulations Untold, 5000 and still going strong.

    This is a unique site built around open discussion, the examination of what is wrong with the refereeing and supporting the club and manager. Not too many blogs actually do those three things.

    With competent reviewers and good authors the site on the whole attracts sensible contributors, good debates and some excellent ideas. (We do get some idiots, trolls and aaaa from time to time, but that is part of human existence unfortunately.)

    The result is that between most/many of the contributors a sense of camaraderie has developed – an excellent result – complimenting the main purpose of the site – to get the refs to ensure there is fair play on the pitch.

    Well done Tony, Walter et al – here’s to the next 5000!!

  26. What Ranty said.
    Thanks to all contributers, the team who produced the reviews, Andrew for the previews and everyone else too.

  27. It seems only a few days ago when I wrote the article celebrating 2500 articles. And here we are at 5000….. amazing. Really is amazing.
    Next to celebrate will be Untold existing 10 years 😉

  28. Congratulations to Tony and Walter particularly but also to all writers and those who comment. You have created a breath of fresh air and sanity in what can often be a fevered and unbalanced world of football. It would help me personally if Tony could cease and desist from political comment except that very strictly pertinent to the governance of football.

    Tiny winge over and so carry on to the big 10,000. You deserve all the praise you get.

  29. Thanks to everyone on Untold for bring some sanity to my football day it’s great to come to a site that those who have an opinion have to back it with facts.
    I always liked the saying just because you have an opinion doesn’t make it right.

  30. Tony,Walter and the gang…….it has been a privilege to be part of the UA family and community while writing about things I love (The Arsenal,officiating and Football) to such a generally receptive audience on UA. Even the aaa make my day with their asinine and ignorant comments, which only serves to provide a backdrop for the erudite and rational bloggers and writers that support the Arsenal.
    Here’s to another million or so articles………..afterall UA is the widest read Arsenal website on the net!

  31. Congratulations guys on a brilliant product. Untold genuinely enhances the experience of supporting the mighty Arsenal. It’s got me through some heartbreaking defeats and made the great results feel even better. For many of us who love Arsenal from abroad, the chance to engage with other like minded, passionate fans is brilliant. Untold makes this possible by providing the analysis, the insights, the first hand experiences of those lucky enough to attend Les Ems regularly and by just being a cool place for real Gooners to hang out.
    There are people here who I don’t know from Adam, will probably never meet or even talk to, yet they feel like friends because we share a love of something special, Arsenal.
    Tony, Walter and the team at Untold , thank you so much for making this so. Keep up the good work, please. And every best wish to you all for the next 5000.

  32. congrats guys, and long may it continue, even when (if?) all what is wrong with football but untold is resolved

  33. To
    Tony,Walter & the Untold Team

    Congratulations on your 5000 article, a truly tremendous achievement this Is a wonderful site to visit and occasionally comment. The very best of luck for the future.

  34. What is to be achieved?

    Graham Poll did not take the “shut up” payout, and has been presenting his opinion for years. Lately, Keith Hacket (who had the PGMO job before Mike Riley 😈 ) has been talking in the press. And another referee that I get mixed up with Hackett (Mark Halsey).

    Occassionally one of these people say something which “exposes” them: “he did not get kicked hard enough for it to be called”, or similar.

    Poll, Hacket, Halsey and others: it is not your job or responsibility to determine how much contact beyond what FIFA has specified should be allowed. Yes, you are allowed to give your opinion saying what you allowed. But in terms of educating the public, you all get a huge FAIL. Your opinion is not FIFA/IFAB law or rulings. Don’t just tell people what you would accept, tell them what the law requires.

  35. Congrats to Tony, Walter and all the rest for a fantastic product. This is the one blog I read without fail. Please keep it coming and I hope to be able to start contributing articles again before too long.

  36. Injuries are something of concern. Breaking article at the BBC. A Tottenham youth player who suffered a cardiac arrest (heart attack), and consequently suffered brain damage, has won an award against Tottenham.

    Damages are to be decided next week. You can read how big they are.

    Gord Albertan (a person from Alberta, Canada)

  37. A belated, but still heartfelt thank you Untold. There are many blogs out there who passed a similar kind of milestone and haven’t had nearly a tenth of the impact you had. May it long continue!

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