Funny stories, amusing tales, total cobblers, African Cup

Shock Horror.

Arsène Wenger used to sell cigarettes in his younger days.

That has been presented as a new revelation in some of the papers, but really is a tale he’s told before – Mr Wenger likes to emphasise the fact that he came from a fairly basic background with no special privileges.

And yes he used to smoke – the great amazing incredible picture of him smoking that has circulated is nothing particularly new either.

He was born in 1949, so he grew up in a world where smoking was normal, where you saw cigarettes everywhere, where they were advertised on TV….

Gilbert Gress’ picture of him at Strasbourg is enough to tell us what a different world this was…

Is that really our Arsene?  Apparently so.

Actually no, I can’t believe it.

Arsene Wenger’s father Alphonse ran a car spare-parts business in Strasbourg, and with Arsene’s mum Louise ran La Croix d’Or – a cafe/bar.

So he was surrounded by smoke.  And as he said recently, “The other day I was on French television, they showed me on the bench smoking a cigarette. I didn’t even think it was me!” As he said, it was to relieve the stress.

So the press has made the smoking incidents of Jack Wilshere and Szczesny a BIG THING.  Which tells you pretty much all you need to know about what is happening in football at the moment.

There should be a lot (it is transfer door time after all) but not much that is being foretold is real, because something around 98% of the transfer rumours run on the blogs and in the papers will be shown to be untrue come the moment when journalists once more find it is impossible to work out an alternative phrase to “the transfer window slammed shut”.

And then, they will carry on with rumours about more and more and more transfers that are not on, and won’t happen.

Now in any sort of moderately sane society this would stop people from getting really worked up about transfer rumours, but not in English football.  Just take a look at Goonernews and you’ll see rumour after rumour after…

There will be a little pause tomorrow for the game, and then off we go again.

What’s interesting, to me, if no one else, is that in the midst of all this, a handful of Manchester C fans find it quite inexplicable that a web site which carries the banner “Football news from an Arsenal perspective” might carry a Manchester C story.  They seem to get so angry at the fact that we dare to comment on the wider world of football.

I wonder what it is about Manchester C that has made this happen.  I mean, when we do articles about anyone else (from Tottenham to Rangers) we get comments from fans of those clubs, but although there is some abuse because we are Arsenal supporters, there are also some positive comments about what we’ve said.  With Manchester C (and to a certain degree with Liverpool) we get sheer anger that we have actually commented.

Odd that.

Here’s another one.  Normally at this time of year (or maybe every other year) I get worked up about the Africa Cup of Nations and all the players we will lose.  But not this year.  This year the Africa Cup is running at the same time as the Asia Cup and we seem clear all round.  Here are some of the clubs that will be affected.

African Cup

  • Nabil Bentaleb (Tottenham)
  • Youssouf Mulumbu (West Bromwich Albion)
  • Yannick Bolasie (Crystal Palace)
  • Jeff Schlupp (Leicester)
  • Christian Atsu (Everton)
  • Kolo Touré (Liverpool)
  • Yaya Touré (Manchester City)
  • Cheick Tioté (Newcastle)
  • Wilfried Bony (Swansea)
  • Cheikhou Kouyaté (West Ham)
  • Papiss Cissé (Newcastle)
  • Mame Biram Diouf (Stoke)
  • Emmanuel Mayuka  (Southampton)

Asian Cup

  • Jason Davidson (West Brom)
  • Mile Jedinak (Crystal Palace)
  • Chris Herd (Aston Villa)
  • Maya Yoshida (Southampton)
  • Ki Sung-yueng (Swansea)

Rather a relief.  Just as we are getting our players back we don’t really want to lose them again.

Anyway, moving on, as I said above, only 2% of transfer stories are true.  So here is a list.  One, at most might be true.  But which one?

Arsenal and Manchester United are considering a move for Surez (even though Barcelona can’t actually buy anyone because their youth academy has been shown to be based on illegal deals).

Arsenal have had a £5m bid for Dinamo Zagreb midfielder Marcelo Brozovic rejected

Krystian Bielik has confirmed he’s accepted a transfer to Arsenal, and is just waiting on the club to agree a fee with Legia Warsaw.

Arsenal are still thinking about buying Petr Cech

Arsenal are preparing an incredible £64m move for Real Madrid star Isco.  Mr Wenger has denied this, but what does he know?

Arsenal are still “ready to fight” with Tottenham in order to buy Morgan Schneiderlin.

Arsenal have put in a bid for Winston Reid

Real Sociedad managed by David Moyes are ready to buy Joel Campbell at Real Sociedad.

Loic Perrin has confirmed he has been contacted by Arsenal – (which if it didn’t go through the club would be illegal of course)

Manchester United and Arsenal are “battling it out” etc etc for Ayoze Perez of Newcastle

Remi Garde, Arsenal’s old boy, is on the short list for the Newcastle manager’s job.

Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City are getting ready to buy Mario Mandzukic.

Arsenal are interested in Lewis Cook of Leeds, but Leeds have offered him a new contract.

That’s 13 rumours.  If we can find another 37  then on the basis of the 2% is true theory, we’ll have got one of them right.  Any suggestions?

Here’s another

Borussia Dortmund are offering German midfielder Ilkay Gundogan a contract ultimatum – take it or go to Arsenal.





37 Replies to “Funny stories, amusing tales, total cobblers, African Cup”

  1. England ‘s Mike Riley to take over from Massimo Busacca as Head of FIFA Refereeing Department , in recognition of his many disservices to the game .
    Herr Septic Bladder ,who will soon be winning another term as FIFA boss ,wants a man who he can trust to do the right thing by him , often referred in football as ,’same old , same old’.
    UA will be seeing an outpouring of joyous celebration and Tony is expected to declare a holiday the world over for all AKBs !
    WOO HOO , HOO !

  2. “So the press has made the smoking incidents of Jack Wilshere and Szczesny a BIG THING. Which tells you pretty much all you need to know about what is happening in football at the moment”

    Jack Wilshere smoking in the company of his friends, off the field during his R &R is not much of a story , other than perhaps the player not taking his own health too seriously , but the Szczesny smoking incident is a serious breach of player conduct and should be seen as such even by the staunchest supporters of the player and the club alike.

  3. Tom

    I believe with Wilshere, there was a picture which showed surroundings different from Arsenal. What do we actually know about this Szczesny incident? What does AW know about that incident? The only think I know, is that there were a lot of stories published about something. When these stories started, the press needed to put forward some reason for Arsenal to be getting rid of Szczesny, because Szczesny was not going to be in goal for the FA Cup game against Hull. Just about anyone who knew anything about Arsenal in the beginning of September could have told you it was very likely that Ospina would be starting the games against Hull.

  4. Gord

    True, we don’t have the details but what we do have is enough.
    We have Arsene Wenger admitting the incident taking place, Szczesny apologizing, and the player getting fined for his breach of conduct.

    What the press does or doesn’t do with these facts is irrelevant as far as I’m concerned.

    The fact is Szczesny had a poor performance against Southampton and by lighting one up while still on Arsenal duty, he has open himself up to further scrutiny. Whether he did this in the showers or on the toilet or in the back of the dressing room is of no importance.

    However, if Szczesny did smoke while in the shower , that would explain some of his decision making during the Southampton game 🙂

  5. Tom

    The apparent fact that we do not know exactly what happened, and that Wenger has taken what he believes is sufficient action, isn’t enough. You want to take him out to the parking lot and shoot him. Can’t do it on the training grounds, there are too many body guards there at this time.

    Well, good luck with that.

    And I have no idea how him smoking after the game has any influence on what he did in the game.

    Does this have something to do with that binary pulsar system which gives Earth a peak every 160 years or so? It is apparently warping time a little, maybe it warped time around Szczesny that day.

  6. I always remember a piece written (I think in the Sunday Times) shortly after out Fairs Cup win in 1970 that drew attention to the facy that Peter Simpson (one of my all time favourite players) used to have a cigarette at half time in the changing room while the manager was talking to the players.
    Others have done the same since then. Times have changed indeed.

  7. Not much doing on the transfer front when the main stories being circulated, involve cigarettes and who smoked them.

  8. Gord
    I don’t know where you got the impression I didn’t approve of Arsene Wenger’s handling of the situation( I do).

    The parking lot shooting bit is just bizarre.

    Nor did I say Szczesny should be punished further by being dropped for the Stoke game, for example.

    I do believe however, unlike the author of this article, that the Szczesny incident is a legitimately story.
    I know this site prides itself on supporting the players and the manager but I don’t believe this makes the issue of Szczesny’s breach of conduct something outside of realm of discussing it.

    Suarez’s biting incidents were covered at nauseam by the press and this site as well( six articles or so by this very site), but when an Arsenal player
    does something detrimental to the club , it’s somehow out of bounds or in bad taste to discuss ( Giroud little hotel room mishap).

    As for the part that smoking while in the shower might explain Szczesny’s decision making during the game, I don’t think it requires further explanation for most people. I suggest you try it and see how it works out 🙂

  9. Now that the confusion is cleared….. That Szczesny did light a cigarette in the locker room and not the shower, the fine seems adequate.

    I would’ve fined him the seasons wage for even thinking of lighting a cigarette in the shower. Can’t tolerate the utter disregard he has shown for science. 🙂

    But that has to be the stupidest thing he’d ever done. IF hez actually done that.

  10. Tom

    If you approved of the situation, why bring it up?

    Nicotine is an effective poison. To self-medicate with such a poison is dumb. To expose one’s self to the smoke from a smoldering fire, typically results in tar being deposited on the lungs, which is nominally self-induced pneumonia. But the tar problem is generic to any smoke from a smoldering fire. Is this any different than eating the charred flesh from animals heated over coal or charcoal flame? Different set of organic compounds, some are still thought to be harmful. Inhaling combustion products from coal (low grades especially) and hydrocarbon fuels isn’t thought to be very good either.

    I think the biggest problem with tobacco, is that phosphorus is an effective fertilizer, and many of the phosphorus fertilizers happen to contain radium. The daughter product of radium decay is the nobel gas, radon. Radon can adsorb on the surface, and when radon decays into polonium, can get re-incorporated into the plant material. Toboacco happens to be a plant which will take up radium if it is in the soil, so the daughters of radium gets into the plant material by two different routes. The daughters close to radon all tend to be short lived, so things quickly cascade and decay to the point where Pb-210 (20 years) is what remains in the plant material. There is not enough Pb-210 to act as a chemical poison, but the problem for most people is that the smoke from tobacco will give rise to Po-210 in the lungs, which at some point decays to Pb-206 (stable). That particular decay gives rise to a great deal of the cancer risk of smoking. Depending on the study, it may even be most of the cancer risk.

    Smoking (anything) is giving one’s self self-induced pneumonia, which is dumb. Smoking tobacco, makes us take in nicotine. No, people shouldn’t be smoking things. Which probably includes not spending time inside smokehouses for meat and vegetables, standing in smoke to avoid mosquitos, being around brushpiles being burned to clear land, and other things. Where I live, we occassionally see large forest fires poison the air with smoke for huge distances.

  11. Gord
    “If you approved of the situation, why bring it up?”

    I didn’t.

    The author of this article did and I just commented on it.

  12. More “news” about Benik Afobe. The story has changed that Arsenal are wanting to sell Benik Afobe to a different Championship club, and that he is currently getting a medical at this other club.

    Which would seem to suggest, that AW has decided that Benik Afobe is surplus to requirements. Which is not something I had run across.

    There is not even a hint of any of this on

  13. ManCity get a tie, and Crystal Palace beat the spuds! Too bad Newcastle couldn’t take points off Mourinho.


  14. Unlucky day for Benik Afobe.

    He didn’t make the trip to Crawley, for whatever reason. Crawley only had a single goalkeeper on the roster, and he got hurt at 39 minutes (dislocated finger). Crawley puts a big striker in net, who had never played in goal. And darned if he doesn’t get Man of the Match (for his first time). There was talk of Benik scoring 30 this season. He mighyt have been able to get there today, if he had of been playing for MK Dons.

    Still nothing at

  15. Gord, thanks for being the media watch.Always good to see what you find.Cheers!

  16. More transfer dumbness. Apparently, Arsenal was nice enough to tell the Daily Mail about Two of its top secret meetings this next week. Probably gave them a printout of the agenda for the meeting, and a copy of all the background documentation needed.

    Sorry, I am not going to read fiction.

  17. Gord what I find amusing is how and who caught szczsney smoking? No pics. Where did it come from?

  18. Va Cong

    I didn’t follow/read any of the Szczesny smoking articles. I just seen the snippets Google News provides.

    I don’t know if there were any pictures. If there were pictures, then AW has far bigger fish to fry than Szczesny for making a dumb decision.

    I haven’t smoked, and I think it is dumb to smoke. There are lots of comparable ways to get the same tar problem as smoking. Smoking tobacco specifically includes nicotine. It is addictive, and it is a poison. Smoking marijuana (hemp) has a different compound (THC). Is it as addictive as nicotine? Is it as poisonous as nicotine? I don’t care to research this, as I don’t smoke, and the only drugs I do are ethyl alcohol, tumeric, capsaicin, ginger, garlic, …. Looking briefly into the marijuana literature, there are all kinds of plants they will smoke.

    But, if the only thing Szczesny did was smoke something, it is most likely the only person he may have harmed is himself. And as near as I can tel, AW has things firmly under control. He knows it happened, and he has dealt with it. And none of us fans needs to take a gun to the next game we watch Arsenal playing in person, so that we can shoot Szczesny because he smoked a cigarette. (For years now, my Mom has pointed out the problem with fixing many aspects of behavior, by saying we can’t shoot them. And it is effective. We have to deal with it, not kill them.)

    Steve Bruce (and others) touched on the more serious problem of Ched Evans. And football needs to resolve this issue, not just for rape, but for many problems where one person who has rights, feels that someone else doesn’t have rights.

  19. @Gord: Garlic, turmeric and ginger are spices that are commonly added to Indian cuisine and dare I say to many other cusines too. And isn’t capsacin a component of chillies? Why do you say they are drugs though? I mean… I’ve eaten all that all my life – and don’t think I’m addicted to them.

  20. We all love Szcezsny’s semi-arrogant self-confidence and his rather unique sense of humour BUT there are two things that concern me about this entire incident:

    1)Why is he smoking at all? Don’t athletes know the consequences of tobacco and pulmonary issues?
    2)Why does he think that he is different from the rest of the players? Whether he smoked in the shower or in the dressing room or while playing in goal(:)), is irrelevant….he clearly broke a key rule and this attitude of ignoring rules is not a good sign!

    That said, he got caught, he got punished and he hopefully is chastised enough to straighten up and fly right….if not we have an excellent alternative in Ospina. By the way comparing the PIG’s flaws with those of Suarez is both disingenuous and ridiculous! The Pole broke a club rule, Suarez flouted common human decency and societal norms….vast difference and vastly different consequences for Football.

  21. Yes, capsaicin (and one of its relatives dyhydro capsaicin) are what makes chilies hot.

    The active ingredient in tumeric (curcumen) is thought to be an anti-cancer compound. The active ingredient in ginger probably dilates blood vessels (but I am not getting my hands on the compound name in question), especially in the skin. Hence they are both drugs. It is not a requirement that they be addictive to be drugs, but rather that they have well defined and positively observed effects.

    But, there are many drugs that doctors would prescribe, that if the patient is a heavy consumer of prepared mustard or curries, or of ginger, that they need to talk to the patient about.

    The prototypical problem is a component of grapefruit, being antagonistic to some drugs. But there are many copmonents of the diet which can help or hinder drugs we get from doctors.

  22. Ginger may be most active through the following 3 related compounds: gingerol, shogaol, and zingerone

    Szczesny’s father is reported to be considering taking legal action against Southampton FC for ‘invading ‘ the privacy of his son in their locker room and showers by the football club .
    This was after CCTV video clips were uploaded on the internet , showing clearly the very visibly and distraught Arsenal goalkeeper , who had “a shocker ‘ of a game , sobbing while puffing away in the away changing rooms.
    The very powerful British Tobacco Lobby is aiding him with its legal team in formulating this ‘first of its kind’ testing the waters case.
    They view this as a serious breech of one’s own privates and will ‘see’ the club in court.
    They claim that whatever a man does in the showers is private and they refer to that old and oft quoted famous Las Vegas adage , ” What happens in the showers , remains in the showers !”
    Arsenal FC in the meanwhile are ( of course !)holding a ‘watching brief ‘ !

    ( Watching brief – )

  24. Okay thanks Gord. I thought you meant that we shouldn’t consume them else would get addicted.

  25. I don’t know how things get so complicated. So Chez was smoking with his gloves on in the shower so that his fingers didn’t get wet. Perfectly sane thing to do :). He said he didn’t inhale as the shampoo was running down his face.

    However, Gord has proved that Chez’s problem was ginger as the sho goal 🙂 had an effect in the Saints game.

    Lets just win & not Stoke the fire. Girooooooud! is back & hopefully has resigned his nodding aquaintances with opponents to the past while ensuring his close friendship with the ball. It’s an early game in India 5.00 o’clock, so a nice chilled beer & vada pao (pungent nibble in bred). :):) cheers!

  26. @Brickfields Gunners

    My, my, is this really the state of the worlds children on facebook?
    Vin Diesel, Bruce Willis?

    Two negatives don’t make a positive, one negative just reinforces the other, at least in the speaker’s thoughts.

  27. My worry is that schz probably had cigarets on him, otherwise how did he get it in a locker room. May be he’s a regular?

  28. It doesnt make any sense does it??….If Szczesny was fined, must be for something else. And Mr Wenger is clever enough to use this media created smoke screen as a veil.

    Sometimes media do help ARSENAL 🙂

  29. Damn! got that time wrong – 1.30 plus 5.30(time difference makes it 7 pm. So the beer has to be drunk earlier & whisky soda for the game!! All these considerations as one lives the life! I suppose Chez or Jack would plump for a beedi (Indian low cost -hand rolled tied with string- smoke). Must be better for health than the manufactured cigarettes with chemicals to help the tobacco burn.

    COYG looking forward to the boys plaing in the Arsene Wenger Stadium!! :).

  30. BTW the Palace v Spuds game showed yet another brilliant crow decision in the penalty given. It was an ‘assumed’ contact. This is Law 18 in the PGMO Laws of the Game: The official will give, when uncertain, an ‘assumed’ contact to ensure fair continuity of the game. If it occurs near the penalty area it will suffice for PGMO purposes to give a penalty. This will ensure PGMO statistics remain at 95% correct & fulfill the rule I’m right all the time even when I’m wrong, I’m right.

  31. We hear a bit about the singing. The Guardian is running a thread about “What are the wittiest chants you have heard at a football match?”. The reason being:

    Three-nil and you can’t get home, three-nil and you can’t get home.

    I picked out some I thought notable. Maybe people can add? If we get some good ones, and the Guardian is still taking submissions, perhaps someone could contribute them back?

    When Blackpool came to Brighton “You’ve only got one pier”

    Many moons ago, Man City having a less than pleasant time languishing in the lower leagues are entertaining Sheffield Utd, whose fans strike up with “We hate Wednesday, we hate Wednesday”. To which the Man City fans responded with “We hate Saturday, we hate Saturday”

    Arsenal vs Middlesbrough at Highbury, Carling Cup 2004, 5:3 scoreline and after Joseph Desire Job scored for ‘Boro, the chant of “There’s only one Job on Teeside” came from the away end. Absolutely hilarious and meta indictment of Thatcher’s devastating policies on the North East (or just hilarious).

    The other one was when Efe Sodje was playing for (I think) Luton. Luton then signed one of his brothers. When he made his debut as a substitute, it was: “He ain’t Efe, he’s his brother”.

    Someone, can’t remember who, sung at Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink; ‘you’re just a fat Eddie Murphy!’ He was seen to be chuckling at this which was nice.

    Wycombe v Plymouth with 5 minutes to go comes a tannoy announcement. ‘We’re sorry to tell home fans that one of the two buses going back to town has broken down’ Argyle fans sing: ‘One bus, you’ve only got one bus.’ A few minutes later comes the next announcement. ‘We’re pleased to say the bus has been fixed and two buses will go back to town. Argyle fans chant: ‘We want three’. You had to be there.

    Norwich fans at Old Trafford a few years ago when Man Utd fans were wearing the yellow and green scarves. “We’ve come for our scarves,we’re Norwich City we’ve come for our scarves.

    Back in Delia’s “Where are you? Let’s be having you!” season in the prem, Chelsea were the visitors to Carrow road and sang, to the tune of La Donna e Mobile:

    “We’ve got Abramovich, you’ve got a crazy bitch.”

    To which we quickly replied to the same tune:

    “We’ve got a super cook, you’ve got a Russian crook.”

    They had to laugh.

    Also at Anfield, when the cat invaded the pitch a while ago, some guys near me chanted “you only purr when you’re winning”

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