FA bring game into disrepute, BBC try to reinvent community

By Tony Attwood

A little while back Arsenal Supporters Trust allied itself with the equivalent groups at Chelsea, Tottenham and Liverpool to write to the FA about the importance of maintaining the rule that says 15% of tickets for FA Cup matches be reserved for away supporters.

In Arsenal’s case this means 9,000 tickets, and undoubtedly Arsenal offered Hull 9,000 tickets for the game.  I say “undoubtedly” because there were no safety concerns for this game, as there were last season with matches against Liverpool and Everton (because of the flares and mass refusal to co-operate with stewards), and Tottenham (where we witnessed the throwing of objects at ambulance workers by Tottenham fans), so 9,000 it would have been.

And Hull I suspect could have brought that number had the match been played on saturday at 3pm.  I mean, even Coventry managed it last year.

As it was they brought the lowest number of fans for a cup game ever seen at the Emirates.  Indeed the lowest number of away supporters ever save, I think, for Wigan in a league game.   Even Man C with their infamous “Where will it all end?” protest (now long since abandoned) brought more supporters for their league game.

The beneficiaries were the Arsenal fans who were able to take up most of the unwanted seats and occupied the whole of the Clock End, but still a huge section of seating in one corner was left empty as the little group in yellow and black spread out found themselves with three or four spare seats per person.

It was a ludicrous situation – and all caused by playing the game on a Sunday night.   Indeed even in my days of regular trips to away games I think I would have baulked at that sort of journey in January at that time on a Sunday.  It was ludicrous.

As a result of the decision of the FA to rent out a match for a Sunday evening, the atmosphere of the match was reduced, and the validity of the FA Cup once more brought into disrepute.  Even though we are the cup holders, it really didn’t seem to matter much.

Even the press found it hard to think of anything new to say.  Criticising the FA seems out of bounds (remember how the press just repeated the FA line when Sport England cut its funding to the FA in despair at the Associations chronic inability to organise anything at all to do with grass roots football), so they dug up the old stuff and hoped for the best.

David Hytner in the Guardian was so lost for anything new to say he said of Alexis, “Where would Arsenal be without him?”   Err, David, I think we’ve heard that before.  And before.  And before.  And before.

But there are a few new things that can be said.   Theo is back – ring rusty to be sure, but back.  Give him a few games, and he’ll be fine.  Mesut Özil, Aaron Ramsey and Danny Welbeck all very close to a return, for Arsenal.  Olivier Giroud’s holiday is now over and he’ll be in the squad for next weekend.  Koscielny had a further chance to rest his Achilles and so his fitness should be improved.  Rosicky is looking great.

But here’s a few more positives to counter the rampant negativity that is engendered by the press and their puppies in the aaa.

Ooooooooooospina is a very competent back up goalkeeper, just as Fabianski was.   And we are starting to few a few very interesting youngsters coming through.

Bellerin we have talked about so much he already seems like a regular part of the squad.   Zelalem was on the bench, and although not used, nothing is going to stop his emergence.

Coquelin has come back from a difficult year abroad and after being pulled back from loan is looking an ok squad player.  Akpom is clearly rated by Mr Wenger and he is certainly developing fast from when Blacksheep and I saw him play for Coventry last season. Maitland-Miles is also clearly in favour and being nurtured.   These are all positive signs.

As for Campbell, there was a difference of views in the car on the way back to the Midlands, Blacksheep being more impressed than I, but I’ll bow to his judgement.

But what of those who couldn’t make it and watched it on the BBC?

Obviously we were at the match so didn’t see the game on TV, but on the way back Ian (another of our happy band  that make the trip from the east mids, but who is unable to make so many matches because of family commitments) texted to say (and I quote his text in full – with his permission of course)

“BBC coverage was awful.  Lost count of the time they were showing the crowd, managers, subs training, the clock, or just about anything other than the game.  Had a minute of Arsene when he put his coat on just to see if he would struggle with is zip.  Another minute looking at Hull fans talking about how long it would take them to get home.  All the time the ball was in play.”

Their aim, I guess, was to try to reconstruct the old BBC coverage of cup finals in the days when there was no football on TV other than the final and England matches.   They did this thing which cast football folk as being funny little people who do funny things like travel across the country and (in the old days) wave rattles, wear scarves and have toothless grins.  Fat ladies from the north were also one of their favourites to have in shot.

It was all a part of the rich pattern of happy communities that made up our jolly country.  The trouble is of course that all that was destroyed long ago, mostly through the coming of Margaret Thatcher.

Her infamous statement, “….too many people have been given to understand that if they have a problem, it’s the government’s job to cope with it: ‘I have a problem, I’ll get a grant.’ ‘I’m homeless, the government must house me.’ They’re casting their problem on society. And, you know, there is no such thing as society.”

It launched our era in which everyone is supposed to look after themselves, not be part of the community or the country.  The view is that when an individual is out of work and cannot feed his/her family, that is because he has chosen to be unemployed and feckless.

I think that is appalling (as you’ll obviously be aware if you’ve read much Untold) but I’m not trying to convince you of the validity of my beliefs – rather just point out that the old image of happy communities is just irrelevant these days.  We don’t have them any more.

As I say I didn’t see the BBC coverage, being at the game, but I’ve witnessed it so many times, I know exactly what Ian is saying.  But Ian’s comment made me think of the sadness of the Arsenal’s own situation.   We have, on occasions, been a community of our own.  Arsenal against the FA with their kowtowing to Fifa, Arsenal aganst the broadcasters and the press with their years and years of pro-Merseyside commentary, Arsenal against the League (when they lunatically arbitrarily removed two points from the club, but Graham’s team still went on and won the league by a mile)…

We were the Arsenal in those days and we took on Thatcher (uniting with other clubs to stop her insane “membership only” scheme for entrance to grounds), the media (by starting up the fanzines), and the FA, and the League, with our songs.

Now it is all fractured, and sometimes it seems like it is up to Untold and a handful of other blogs to keep the old banner of real support no matter what, flying.

So, as bickering and in-fighting has become the norm, a couple of days back Podolski was supposed to have “stormed out” of training at Arsenal.  He issued a statement denying it.  Now Blacksheep texts me to say that the rumour is that Sczcz and Wenger have had a flaming round.   Even when there is no fractiousness, there are rumours of fractiousness.  So it goes.

But still, maybe they’ll let us play our fourth round tie on a saturday at 3pm.

Classic Untold

The psychology of supporting

War and Peace off

Untold Index



38 Replies to “FA bring game into disrepute, BBC try to reinvent community”

  1. I agree completely with what Ian said about the images shown on TV. On more than one occasion you could see the managers (both) watching the ball in play and still the camera kept on focussing on Wenger or Bruce. Making me shout and swear at the TV : “just show me the bloody ball” but then in Dutch as I was watching my own sports channel and they speak Dutch on it. 😉

    Yes, it was terrible and the director who decided which images that would be shown clearly didn’t understand his job properly.

  2. @Tony thanks for the piece,for me i was on bein sport and Andy Cole and another lumpen where talking how we have failed to kill of hull,as we have a vulnerable defense and i was wondering how such a magwampa can talk like that when it took manure to the 89th minute to kill off Yoevil have you heard me well yoevil but Hull is a premiership team which went to Euro last year.
    Just wondering how insane are some individuals,as always we are going to get another top team in the draws and our friends will be getting the more lesser teams but what is interesting those so called lesser teams kick them out.

  3. I agree the BBC coverage was awfull, and the commentary was even worse – I even messaged a friend and said it made Michael Owen sound good. Comments like – “I am surprised Mertesaker started because of his form”.
    Also what a daft time to have the match on – I only managed the first 25 minutes as had to go off to church for evening service

  4. The radio commentary on the bleeb was even more irrelevant.
    They don’t appear to be describing the football, which is strange. Motson was talking about anything but the match in the build up to both goals, and he’s supposed to be one of the better plundits? Did he also take his inspirtation from Partdrige (i think it was the other way around 😉 )? How is the listener meant to know what has happened, what is the point in listening if they don’t describe the play but simply give their ‘opinion’ on anything but the football on the pitch?

    Watched some highlights, looked like a promising game from the Arsenal. We could be in for a treat when Sanchez, Chamberlain, Walcott & Welbeck fed by Ozil, Rozza and Cazorla are all firing and fit (touch wood!).

  5. An error to listen to the bleeb whilst working. Next time I’ll go through the extra hassle of booting up the Arsenal site player. At least they talk about the match…! (No I’m not on the payroll, but if they’d like to give me a commission…)

  6. Well watching on BC didn’t make a difference, all they talked about was Ince will be a good player, they have a depleted squad say whos missing… but they look good they will get an equalizer! Nothing about the whos kicking the ball to whom etc.

  7. zooms into Wenger then Bruce then some Hull fans then a cup of tea and a pigeon flying!

  8. I watched a stream from the States. The commentary was by two Americans. They did speak about the game most of the time.

    There was (naturally I thought) great interest in Zelam. We did get some objective reporting of what was happening on the pitch.

    The camera did sweep to Arsene putting on coat with the comment ‘Lets hope the zip works.’

    The camera didn’t wait to find out as it switched back to the game. Next shot of Arsene was to see his reaction to a foul.

    The English have a lot to learn from American commentators.

    As for Mrs Thatcher I could not agree with more.
    It is said that ‘a nation gets what it deserves.’ Are we really that bad that we deserved her!

  9. 3 o’clock Saturday unlikely. Football has sold it’s soul to the media and they pay the money and call the tune. We supporters that travel are being ostracised we are an irrelevance.I am a lone traveler about 140 miles from London , driving alone is expensive and on games with silly o’clock kick off times public transport is a nightmare. I did sympathise with the Hull supporters that might have used the rail system , in all probability they would be looking at 12 – 14 hour round trips which would mean home at about 1.00 am before work the next day. Some years ago I remember a game against Newcastle I think , that went into extra time and the away support had to leave before the end to get the last train .Football supporting is an expensive habit and I can’t blame people that choose to stay home when it’s on the box. i have to confess my seat was empty last night sometimes it’s just not worth the hassle.

  10. I watched the game on BBC and am now reminded of the irrelevant camera work from time to time.
    But those who criticise must not forget that millions world-wide have only the TV by which to watch their heroes. Camera blips and poor commentary are minor irritants and are barely noticed, believe me.

  11. I always record the games, so I can watch them later to get a different perspective. Hence why I view other blogs but do not contribute. Know they enemy. I didnt go yesterday as I had a family birthday but I watched the game on the BBC. It was terrible. Johnathan Pearce kept repeating how Hull would only need one chance as we cant defend and I was surprised Keown stayed silent. He also went on endlessly about Hulls injuries & how they had a weakened team. It was repeated endlessly. To be fair to keown he did make several comments to combat the negativity of Pearce. But as Ian said, the producer was more interested in Wenger doing up his zip & making sarcy comments. They don’t like him and just want to ridicule him. Hull were unable to penetrate and at times the inter play between our midfield and forwards was breathtaking. Keown mentioned it a few times but Pearch wasn’t interested in trying to understand football. Much like the journalists who write utter garbage daily. Instead of ridiuling Wenger, perhaps they could consider Chelseas enormous number of loan signings to navigate FFP or tehy fact Man City have been fined for cheating & have also fiddled FFP with the Lampard deal. No, its all about Wengers coat and the 9 years without a trophy while sitting in a 60,000 seater stadium.

    After the game a tweet emerged from a fellow middle aged fan that said a blog writer (we all know the one) had just tweeted “a good 3 points’ to all his followers. (Apparantly he had also written an article yesterday that said Aston Villa were more advanced than Arsenal). At this stage, I decided that the only way you will ever get a real reflection of the game is to go to the Emirates and watch it. The armchair experts are being led up the garden path and being brainwashed by commentators, pundits, journalists – and those who peddle an certain narrative.

    If you want to judge a performance while sitting at home, turn off the sound and witch off your phone/tablet/laptop. Allow your own mind to make your decisons, not some imbecile following an agenda.

    Shame the BBC seem more interested in making fun out of Wenger and his coat, than all the other problems they have like Saville and Elm House and all the tax payers money they waste for their own political ends.

  12. I thought it was amusing that the BBC commentators spent 20 sec talking about our injury list and 20 mins talking about “poor hull’s” injury list.

  13. Kev :- I made the point the other day that match goers see things differently to those that watch on T.V. .It’s a more panoramic view of the game where you can see movement , covering , running off the ball. The Television coverage is predominately following the ball and an area surrounding it in close proximity. This is why opinions on players frequently differ between the two camps and also why one of your bugbears persists regarding refereeing . Firstly MOTD is sanitised and motivated by their own agenda and 9 times out of 10 anything contentious is avoided by shots of managers, the crowd or a plane flying overhead or just cut out.

  14. Anyone else want Rosicky to start more often as he and The Ox seem to be the only midfielders who regularly turn and run at the opposition.

    I love the fact that when Rosicky passes, it is usually the start of a fast 1-2 move and not just a hot potato sideways pass to keep possession.

  15. Kudos to Rocisky, a professional who lived a clean life and enjoying football at his age while entertaining us. His energy, hunger and enthusiasm is contiguous and inspiring to all of us. And the fans got what they want, a beast DM in Coquelin.

  16. Will . Rosicky uses the ball very intelligently and always shows a desire to get it forward . His inclusion always makes us a more attacking side. As long as he isn’t over played hopefully he will not pick up another injury as I always think we are more dangerous when he is available either to start or come into things later in the game.

  17. Michael don’t get ahead of yourself with Coquelin . It will take a few more games to see if the promise is fulfilled.

  18. I was reading two different commentaries yesterday. They both devoted time to Arsene Wengers’ jacket. They were both looking for the opportunity to ridicule him.

  19. Tony i would be obliged if you could point me in the direction of information about thatcher’s membership scheme as i really only remeber her as the milk snatcher as it was a bit before my time

    would be much obliged

  20. Interesting to hear Graham Poll criticising Mike Riley so openly on Talk Sport this afternoon. Possible power struggle ?

  21. @will
    Who would not love to see Rosicky start more often.? He is gem of a player.Always tactical and full of energy

    Mozart at Arsenal

  22. And, you know, there is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women, and there are families. And no government can do anything except through people, and people must look to themselves first. It’s our duty to look after ourselves and then, also to look after our neighbour. People have got the entitlements too much in mind, without the obligations. There’s no such thing as entitlement, unless someone has first met an obligation.

    The full statement seems fair to me. I personally don’t agree that its the governments responsibility to create communities, it’s each & every individuals! To blame Thatcher or any politician is passing the buck.

    In many ways , Arsene Wenger divides the arsenal fanbase in the same way that thatcher divided the nation. I see many similarities in the traits & arguments from either side of the debate. After all, isn’t Arsene Wengers philosophy (which was the driving force behind the new stadium project, & the way he manages the team), based in taking responsibility for ourselves and funding our own future, rather than looking to a sugar daddy patriarchal type figure with centralised control to direct the club ? These type of statements are echoed in the way he expects the staff of the club to act & behave toward their duties. Seems to me that in this area of philosophy Arsene sympathises with Thatchers viewpoint.

  23. jacob

    Because of Heysel and Hillsborough, the Football Spectator Act of 1989 for a National Membership Card, was an attempt to stop the wreckers of the stadia.

    Despite the gist of Tony’s bile, Mrs Thatcher was not a member of any of the hooligan football supporters (?) sub-cultures of the 70’s and 80’s. Mrs Thatcher, was long retired before Mike Reilly become head of the PGMO(L).

    Tony, time to stop blaming Mrs T?

  24. It looks like we are away to Brighton and Hove Albion in the next round of the FA Cup. They are currently just outside the relegation zone of the Championship, in 21st place. None of our players are on loan there. It shouldn’t be a long trip to Brighton in East Sussex. In May 2011, they moved to Falmer Stadium. Capacity is 30,750.

  25. Did someone really just compare Wenger to Thatcher? Christ! The aaa may give him some stick, but i think thats one of the most insulting things ive heard said about him haha.

  26. Jammy J
    I’m not part of the so called ‘aaa’ and have always supported Wenger & his philosiphy. I was making an observation & I don’t see where the insult is ? Do you not agree in the statement if so why?

  27. Oh no the Seaweed! Mandy will you be going?
    Jammy J, thats nothing certain sites refer to AW as Hitler.Sad.

  28. The insult was you comparing him to Thatcher. I dont want to get into a argument about politics on a Arsenal blog, because i know to some people that would be taken as a compliment, but to me; i absolutely despised that women (ding-dong the witch is dead ect), so in my eyes its a insult.

    @Kenneth – You cant be serious, thats ridiculous! Is this on LG? Ive never actually ventured over there myself, but it cant be worse than JustArsenal, can it? Most the people on that website are serious brain-dead morons. They actually believe any transfer rumour they read and then write a article about it (and then later go on to curse Wenger for not following through with it) so thats the type of people im on about here haha.

  29. Good points about ‘there’s no such thing as society’ Tony.

    Anyway, where I was sitting on Sunday we had our own little community. I always sit in different places because I’m a red member and buy what’s available but I reckon this seat was the best yet. Three young men never stopped singing and chanting and guess what, they even sang ‘One Arsene Wenger’ several times. I also liked that they sang ‘Is there a fire drill?’ to Arsenal fans who were leaving early.

    More of that, I say!

  30. I am not sure Wenger relied on Mrs.Thatcher as a role model in expounding and implementing his self-sufficiency model at the Arsenal. Rather, his model of self-reliance also allows for supporting his ¨constituents¨ in need, as does the Club’s. Apparently AFC are active in helping former players who have ended up on the short end of life, or so I am told and their charity involvement is very active as well. Mrs. Thatcher ensured that many people ended up on the short end of life, just like the Republicans in the US who seek to disenfranchise millions who they consider as unworthy of aid so their rich buddies can get richer.
    Tony…..when did we drop ¨the¨ from the Arsenal name?
    I watched the game on the Arsenal website and what impressed me the most was how quick Rosicky,Campbell, Walcott, Cazorla and Alexis are together. Any team trying to defend cannot possibly do so all the time against the killer through passes and perfectly timed defense-splitting balls that LeCoq, Rosicky, Cazorla and occasionally alexis manage. Once we have Ozil and Ramsey back and Giroud being available, we should see some really fantastic Wengerball. Had Walcott been just a second more adept, he could have had at least 2 gorgeous goals. If Welbeck ever develops his finishing abilities, we’ll be enjoying a scoring renaissance like we haven’t seen since the Invincibles.

  31. Mrs Thatcher milk snatcher; seller of the family jewels (not hers but the nations). The most evil of her ‘social legacies’ – Care in the community. She sold of hospital real estate to her cronies & brought mentally challenged (mad) people on to the streets. Robbed the Miners & society of colliery bands. It was & still is a sad state of affairs.

    Jammy J & all of you who hated the bitch, I am with you.

    The BBC presentation was broadcast to most overseas TV suppliers & it was pathetic. The reference to the Hull fans was condescending & rude. The Zip on Wengers coat is apparently big news. That is my licence fee those dopes are wasting. The BBC has dropped its standards & has lost its international standing.

  32. Menace, too bloody right mate, Thatchers children in love with Uncle Mouriniho and Peter Wood and kacking on anyone for sensationalism and ambitions sake.Oddest and saddest of all was Blair and Brown destroying the Labour Party.Thatchers sons too,finishing off what she started.
    Snatch knew exactly what she was doing by plying the “no society line”, she knew well its a paradox :individuals that make up a society.Ironically neither side can handle it too much( I was on the end of a bollocking from a reporter form the Morning Star abou this years ago(yawn).
    After the win in 87, a whole generation of people switched off. At least Chomsky still rattles a few cages.
    Perhaps too late now.

  33. Actually although Blair and Brown finished the job such luminaries as Robinson , Scanlon , Gormley, Murray and of course Scargill even Jack Jones destroyed Labour from within. Thatcher drew them in , they wanted power for the unions and a bit like Herbert Chapman with his tactics , drew them in and destroyed them.

  34. It’s hard to see what else the miners could have done in 1984. Their industry was under severe threat; it was either fight or give in. At least they fought. As someone once said, if you fight you may lose. If you don’t fight, you definitely have lost.

    Thatcher and her backers were willing to sacrifice the entire base of British industry, or what was left of it, to destroy the organization of the workers. They are now making their money in other ways. How long this will last, however, is another matter.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *