By Tony Attwood
Following up on the Untold piece about chants over the weekend the Guardian quotes the “Three nil and you can’t get home” song from Sunday, and invites readers to send in their own versions of popular singing numbers from the terraces.
Of course it is written within the constitution of the Guardian that they can’t praise either the Gunners or the Gooners without slapping them down at the same time, especially where a long word that you might not have heard before is involved, so we have the obligatory “The Emirates is not known for its rambunctious atmosphere…”
Of course Stadium Wenger can be noisy – it all depends where you sit and what the game is. Sit in the club level and shout and it feels like you’ve made a faux pas at a funeral, while in much of the rest of the ground it’s noisy – although that is a bit of a sophisticated acoustics and architecture argument for a football journalist. But the reality is that if the ground becomes difficult to control then the police shut the whole thing down, and even wildly boisterous is tough to get to without risking ejection.
Anyway, leaving aside the sideswipe, not to mention 19th century Americanisms, it got me thinking, not just of the recent “He wants his own song” and “Oooooooooooospina” (a reversal of the shout that used to be given when opposition goalkeepers kicked the ball out in the 1960s), my favourite of all time was the 1991 night at Highbury when Arsenal playing Man U, having had two points deducted for a handbags and 30 paces non Rambunctious event at Old Trafford.
I’ve told the story before, so apologies if you recall it, but when a journalist not only uses the word Rambunctious but also uses it inappropriately, my ire is raised and I start to repeat myself.
It was, I think, the first and last punishment of its sort dished out by the league ever, and was of course singled out to be given to Arsenal who unacceptably looked like winning the league for the second time in three years, having rubbed Liverpool’s noses in it just 18 months earlier. You could hear the League’s cotton mill and mine owners growling about upstart cockneys without them having a clue what a cockney was (or what the inside of a cotton mill or a mine looked like).
Liverpool were playing late afternoon (for TV) and needed to win to keep their chances of the title alive. They didn’t and Arsenal were champions again while we celebrated in the pub.
Then, we poured into Highbury, and could hear but one song, going around the whole stadium at an incredible volume (which must have confused the journalists of the day what with it being a “library”). To the tune of “she’ll be coming round the mountain” we sang, “You can stick your fucking two points up your arse.” Over and over and over again.
Even more amusingly, ITV who were televising the game, turned down the crowd noise as befits a library, and the delicate nature of evening viewers of ITV, and the commentator said, “and you can hear the crowd already singing, ‘We are the champions’.” As if.
Beyond that old favourite, when we beat Tottenham through the Fabregas goal in which he nicked the ball from Tottenham as they kicked off after a goal a minute before half time, and whizzed through the whole team… and to the tune of the old Tottenham “when the spurs” song, we sang “Oh when the wheels, come off the bus, oh when the wheels come off the bus, I want to be in that number…”
Thinking of Tottenham (as one must when thinking of funny things) I loved the time when they were thinking of going to Stratford. Of course as we know, they couldn’t find the bus so never went, but after something like 98 years of their anger at Arsenal having the temerity of moving its ground by seven miles, we could sing “North London is ours, fuck off to Stratford, North London is ours”.
Or when the wonderful St Totteringham (or Totteridge) day comes around, to be able to sing, in the low solumn manner as befits such an occasion, “It’s happened again, it’s happened again, Tottenham Hotspur, it’s happened again.”
Ah such very simple pleasures.
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