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Amazingly I’ve never been arrested at a football match, but I did get annoyed with the Daily Telegraph

By Tony Attwood

And thus here I am in Norfolk, a diminutive and rather flat state separated from England by language, and its vision of life, the universe, and reality.  Although never given formal independence from the UK, the fact that no member of the government has been here since the days of Edward and Confessor has left the local folk to evolve a life of their own.  Not to mention their own language.

So we strolled to the local pub, beside the North Sea with its limitless off shore wind farms briefly glimpsed between the mists, and partook of a very pleasant Sunday lunch, during which I read the only national paper available at the local newsagent: The Sunday Telegraph.

And thus it was I was able to read the absolute contempt in which Arsenal fans are held by the paper.

With just one day left in the January transfer window, (they tell us) Gunners across London are on tenterhooks as they anxiously wait to see if their club will make any last-minute deals.

Now this is mindless gibberish on several accounts.  Vast numbers of Arsenal fans, indeed vast numbers of Arsenal season ticket holders, do not live in London.   People like me who were born and brought up near Highbury, but for whom life has taken us on a trip around the multiverse.  We can still be season ticket holders attending most matches, spending a fortune on travel, and still utterly devoted to the club BUT WE DONT ACTUALLY LIVE IN LONDON you stupid idiots writing in the Telegraph.  And we are not on tenterhooks, whatever they are.

(A tenterhook is, according to Google, a hook used to fasten cloth on a drying frame.  Make of that what you will.)

Anyway, today they tell us that “Ahead of the end of the transfer window, Youtube pranksters Woody and Kleiny have mercilessly preyed on the insecurity of Arsenal fans by posing as a new player, Fernando Wwirst, aka ‘Transfer Window.’

Ah, so we are insecure.   Unlike the writers of the Telegraph who are utterly secure, is that it?  What basis, I want to know, does the Telegraph have for being able to tell my level of security or insecurity?  Are they personality telepaths who can look at my mind (a murky place if ever there was one) and tell me exactly what I am thinking and worrying about?   What of their endless anxiety that the great hordes of migrants are about to rush from Calais to England and wipe out all traces of Englishisity?

Secure, I think not.  Telepaths, I think not.  Because what is on my mind is the utter gibberish that the Telegraph publishes.  Here is what they publish today…

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Fernando arrived at the Emirates complete with shades, baseball cap and a WAG in-tow as fans did their best to get a glimpse of the new mystery signing.   Excited Gooners flocked to their false Messiah, requesting photos and posing for selfies with the prankster. One fan even hailed Wwirst for his ‘searing pace,’ and predicted his arrival at the Emirates would ‘signal the end for Theo Walcott.’

Really?  How many?   Three?   Four?

The people who write this tripe are, in my own personal view, and of course it is just my view having travelled to Norfolk and engaged in a rather fine seaside late luncheon complete with a (shared) bottle of Merlot, idiots.

Best move on to something else.

Despite the efforts of the Telegraph, arrests at football matches have fallen and have reached their lowest level on record – although you probably will not read about it elsewhere, as football arrest figures only really seem to grab attention when they go up.

Statistics released by the Home Office show that the 2014-15 season there was an 18% decrease in arrests on the previous season (the previous record low).   Public disorder (34%) and alcohol-related (22%) made up the majority of them.

Which tells us once again that the key issue – ticket touting – was not being targeted at all.

However Melanie Cooke at Football Law Associates has said, “We have noticed an increase in fans arrested for the first time being prosecuted in cases where they would have been eligible for a caution or out-of-court disposal had it had not been football-related.”  So it includes being arrested with a match ticket in your pocket travelling home hours after a match? Yep, it is enough to deem it football-related.

Now I have been on a train home from a game, and had a load of hearty roughs shouting and chanting in the carriage.  Unpleasant, and it stopped me focussing on reading whatever book I am halfway through but hardly a criminal offence.  But someone reports them, the guard calls the police, they think “football” and the oiks are yanked off the train and charged.  A football offence.

Some crimes, (such as having alcohol on a coach travelling to a game, drinking alcohol in sight of the pitch or being drunk entering a stadium) are football specific. They don’t exist in the UK other walks of life.  Fans are not only open to the regular sneering of the Telegraph but are criminalised because of they support a football team.

The police in England ask for football banning orders as a matter of first option irrespective of the offence or previous convictions. Even if you have no criminal history and end up before the courts following a football-related arrest we are hearing that the police will almost always ask the court to consider a football banning order application regardless of the risk you pose.

If you get a banning order you have to surrender your passport and/or report to a police station either side of a game involving England or Wales or if your club happens to be playing in Europe. This is not just if you do travel abroad, it hits everyone.   Ah, the land of the free.

Meanwhile being in Norfolk reminds me that Norwich confirmed they are investigating videos that show their goalkeeper John Ruddy in a scuffle while on a night out.  What they are not doing is investigating the clear and obvious TV footage that shows that their ground is dangerous to players because of the proximity of the TV cameras to the pitch.

I asked a local copper today what he would do if a visiting player falls down into the pits dug around the ground to house TV cameras.  “Arrest him for drunkenness,” was the reply.

Actually I made the last bit up, but quite a few of the bits before that are true.


Two anniversaries

  • 31 January 1893: Stephen Dunn born.  As a goalkeeper he played 44 times for Arsenal – but also played as a full back when his sprained wrist meant he couldn’t play in his normal position, but needed to fill in because of injuries elsewhere.
  • 31 January 1919: “The Sportsman” reported details of Tottenham’s letter to league clubs admitting that there were no league rules for deciding on how the league should be expanded next season.  This letter is a definitive element in showing there was no conspiracy to demote Tottenham and promote Arsenal.

The Untold Books

Untold Arsenal has published four books, with a fifth coming shortly.

The latest is Arsenal: The Long Sleep 1953-1970 with an introduction by Bob Wilson.   Details of this and our other titles can be found Arsenal Books on this site.

20 comments to Amazingly I’ve never been arrested at a football match, but I did get annoyed with the Daily Telegraph

  • colario

    Its Hull again ! At home

  • Gord

    Wonderful, Akpom and Hayden will get to pay us a visit. Dumb rules probably say that they cannot play for Hull in that game.

  • sammy the snake

    Good draw!

  • Gord

    I’m surprised at you Tony. Untold has been complaining about circumstances all balancing out in the end, and you didn’t take advantage of your current location.

    One way that concept of balancing out can be phrased, is that it “all comes out in the wash”. And there you are, right on the banks of The Wash.

    But for it to “all come out in The WQash”, doesn’t it have to come down one of the four rivers that feeds The Wash? Which is it: Witham, Welland, Nene or the Great Ouse?

  • John

    Tony and Walter, with all the many articles on this site about how the referees are conspiring to stop us winning the premier league surely its time to look at the dodgy FA and BBC draws over the last 3 years .
    In the 3 years we have had to endure in 2014-
    Tottenham Hotspur (h)
    4th Coventry City (h)
    5th Liverpool (h)
    6th Everton (h)
    SF Wigan Athletic (n)
    In 2015-
    Hull City (h)
    4th Brighton & Hove Albion (a)
    5th Middlesbrough (h)
    QF Manchester United (a)
    SF Reading (n)
    And in 2016-Sunderland (h)
    Burnley (h)
    Hull (h)
    Do the powers that be want us to win the Fa Cup but not the Premier League?????

  • Ukesox

    Perhaps you could also look at the current evaluation of “stoppage time”. Todays game MK Dons V Chelsea game… added on time after 90 minutes was a further minimum of +1. This following 6 second half substitutions, 2 goals including 1 Penalty & an incident when medical staff had to come onto the pitch to attend to Willian.
    With the score at 1:5 in Chelseas favour stoppage time was not going to be a game changer, but clearly the officials just make it up. Hardly fitting in a professional game. Maybe this “evens itself out too”!!!

  • Jambug

    And it was always thus.

    A mildly amusing story from back in the day, circa 1980.

    We where playing West Ham I believe it was, at Highbury. Alas the memory fails me so I cant be certain.

    I think it had to be West Ham because there ‘mob’ had ‘taken’ a good portion of the North Bank, as they often did.

    Anyway, whoever it was they where getting a right going over. 20 minutes or so gone and in goes the 2nd goal. All hell brakes loose.

    I’m just jumping up and down like an idiot, as you do, when this hand grabs me by the collar and hauls me off down the front and on to the pitch side. I’m marched arm up the back, round the pitch, past the dug out, towards the Clockend ‘pen’ where all the ‘hooligans’ where incarcerated.

    During the walk of shame around the ground I’m vigorously protesting my innocence. ‘I’ve done nuffin govna, nuffin, honest’. Not only where my protestations falling on deaf ears but he seemed to be highly amused by my fruitless wailing.

    Eventually he stopped walking, and chuckling away, turned me round to face the now distant North Bank, with arm still high up my back, and said:

    “Son, if only you could of behaved yourself like your mates, you wouldn’t be in this mess now would you?”

    We where greeted with the sight of the entire North Bank in one big pitch battle. It was pandemonium.

    And honestly I had done no more than jump in the air with joy.

    The copper was beside himself. Ha Bloody ha !!

    I since found out that there basic instruction was: When fighting brakes out, kick one out !

    It was no matter who it was, guilty or innocent, just look like your dealing with it.

    The real hard nuts where left to get on with it. The Old Bill where too smart to get mixed up with that lot.

    On a more serious note the fact is we are still paying for those days, and it was bad. Stadiums wrecked. Trains wrecked. City Centres wrecked. PEOPLE wrecked.

    It was bad.

    Thatcher, understandably given some events, demonised football fans and despite all efforts to turn it around I’m afraid shedding that tag is proving harder than might reasonably of been expected.

  • Pat

    Great story, Jambug! ‘When fighting breaks out, kick one out.’

  • para

    “Gunners across London are on tenterhooks” ?
    Suppose they meant “hung out to dry” eh? 🙂

  • WalterBroeckx

    I couldn’t give a shit about the transfer window at all. Apart if some last minute exceptional player becomes available who is really top class we are not really in the need of anyone.
    Iwobi looks to be stepping up, Chambers played an excellent match, players coming back… only a Messi or Ronaldo might add something extra to this team.

  • Pat

    With nine changes, we were still able to put a team on the pitch on Saturday made up mainly of experienced first team players. The others – Iwobi and Elneny – played like experienced first team players. There’s no need, even no space for more.

  • Usama Zaka


    Looks like Wenger read your mind or you read Wenger’s mind 😀 This is what Wenger said today.

    Wenger on more business before deadline: “99% no, but if Messi knocks on my door at ten to six I won’t tell him to go back to Barcelona.”

  • Quickerthanper

    Looks like a nice and entertaining article on the first glance (I suspect more than one bottle Merlot might have been finished in the course of writing it ???), however coming to think of it, Dear Mr Attwood, you seem to be using the same strategies you are criticising the Daily T. for just on different subjects.

    I am annoyed as each and every Arsenal fan about the old stereotypes the Daily T. considers worth recycling: we will not win anything, because our team has no spine, therefore we are in need of new player, but Arsene is sitting on the money, not clever enough to do business in the modern market, whereas we supporters wetting ourselves in anxiety or fainting in frustration – you can go back to beginning – because we are not winning anything. Untrue, inaccurate and a boring load o crap.

    This would have made interesting enough reading for me without using the well played cliches about Norfolk (although I accept that they might be of course more popular here than anti arsenal bias…)

    I have heard that the pile of Daily M and Daily T. on the counter of the local shops is left for the locals to take away for free to use as wrapping for their fish and it is only the “foreigners” who pay with their money for it.
    But that is propably just another stereotype, but perhaps we can agree this to be the most useful thing you could do with these papers anyway.

  • Jambug

    I find the transfer window odd.

    I think it is hyperbole at it’s worse. The media getting all wet and premature over what? Football Clubs spending obscene amounts of money whilst the foundations on which they stand are more corrupt than your average politicians expenses claim.

    But here’s the rub.

    I cant help having a peep, even though like Walter, I couldn’t give a shit.

    I cant help having a sneaking wish that we do actually buy someone, even though we are packed to the gills with talent already.

    I cant help feeling a tinge of jealousy when I hear x y or z have just bought ANOTHER player, even though I know that history suggests it’s another £20 Million pissed up the wall.

    I cant help but feel a tad deflated when at 5 minutes to zero hour x y and z are closing in, but Wenger’s gone home.

    It’s irrational. It’s madness. So why?

    Is it just human nature to always want shinny new toys even though the old ones are still great?

    Is it just human nature to feel bad if you feel left out?

    Either way, as much as I want to ignore it. As much as I think it’s a load of old b****cks, I just know I’ll be taking a sneaky peak, and worse, hoping against hope that we do indeed sign Mesi.

  • porter

    In East Anglia the greatest use for the broadsheets is to light the log burner , whilst we sit clasping our pints of locally brewed ale in our 6 fingered mitts. Still what would the world be like without stereotypes ? after all those from certain midland parts seem to have a strange affinity to “Ducks “. We have them on the broads they use them as a term of endearment I believe and the further north you go the thicker the accent makes the population quite unintelligible except of course in the far North east where the English language departed many years ago.

  • John

    It amazes me that some people ,mainly on this site don’t want arsenal to sign anymore players and that there’s only a couple of players in the world who could improve us. This is crazy. Just when we thought our injuries were coming to an end Rosicky suffers another injury probably keeping him out for the season and Jack has had a setback. You can never have enough quality players and competition for players is vital for success. I just hope our season doesn’t go tits up like so many times before because we’d rather have a health bank balance than a great squad.

  • Pat

    Jack has not had a setback. Arsene Wenger just said so.

  • Jambug

    And as Mrs Jambug says it’s like Christmas morning.

    No matter if you are the richest guy in the World, and you already have everything your heart could desire, would you still not feel a little sad if you where the only one without a present to open?

    You don’t need it.

    you don’t even want it.

    You haven’t got anywhere to put it.

    But, there’s no denying the thrill of unwrapping a shiny new present.

    That is just human nature I suppose.

  • Jerry

    Stop trying to discredit the Arsenal team. I believe Wenger even talked about potential transfers saying that the club is at or very close to the 25 man limit so no one will be brought in unless someone is sold or loaned out.

    In regards to your comments acting like the FA is gifting Arsenal the FA Cup, you should compared that to other clubs. If any club was gifted the FA Cup the last 3 years by the FA and BBC it was Manchester United:
    Swansea (H- PL)

    Yeovil (A- League 1)
    Cambridge (A- League 2) replay at H
    Preston (A- League 1)
    Arsenal (H- PL)

    Sheff United (H- League 1)
    Derby (A- Championship)
    Shrewsbury (A- League)

    They played a total of 2 PL teams in all those years and lost both of those games!

  • Menace

    Oh Jerry – how could you show up Johns underware with the Man U logo. 😉