Reading in the library: watching the EFL cup from the posh seats

By Blacksheep

On Tuesday night I went to watch the Arsenal play Reading in the Football League Cup (the cup that is officially so uninspiring it hasn’t attracted a sponsor this season).

I was out of the country when Arsenal beat Robin Hood Athletic away and what with the hectic schedule of work and domestic bliss I kind of forgot to take much notice of the next round tie. So I didn’t get round to booking my own seat for the Reading game. By the time I tried to they had sold it and so I had to go on general sale with the hoi polloi.

This was ok though as I thought I’d get a seat upstairs near where Tony sits (not, at that time, knowing that TA wasn’t planning on attending this fixture). No matter, I purchased a £20 seat in block 110 upper tier, row 7. I was in line with the six yard line, able to view my ST space from above. Sorted.

So on Tuesday night, having worked from home for a change, I made my leisurely way to the Emirates on my tod (Tony, did I mention, choosing to sit this one out in his splendid pile in the East Midlands). I got to the ground at 7.15 ridiculously  early it turned out, and made my way upstairs.

Tony must be very fit from all that jiving because it kills me climbing the stairs to upper tier. Anyway, I took my seat and observed proceedings.

This game was billed as a ‘Junior Gunners Take-over’. Which meant that they had selected a handful of young fans to do the jobs necessary to make ‘matchday’ happen. So there was a young girl organising things (with a clipboard), a lad on the pitch with the ground staff, someone laying out the kit, a social media youth…well you get the idea. But the star of the show was Dan.

Dan was an 8 year old who had been selected to do the match day presenter’s role. Now this is Nigel who I can never really hear in the North Bank lower. But Dan could be heard upstairs, downstairs and probably in Aleppo.  I kid you not, this young man will go far. He ace’d his role and showed us that if he was overwhelmed by holding a mike in front of 50,000 (more or less) people, he certainly wasn’t going to show it.

Go Dan go!

I liked the fact that the Junior Gunners Takeover seemed to extend to the first team; this was quite a young looking squad. Gibbs was captain, and the Ox was the most senior (in terms of games played) but there were places for Maitland-Niles, Emie Martinez, and Willocks (on the bench at least).

If I can return to Tony’s article of a few days ago I’d like to complain LOUDLY about crowd behaviour. It was pretty quiet. But then it wasn’t a great game and Reading were awful. Really poor and never really a threat. Their fans were even worse. I hardly heard a peep out of them all game and not a whisper before the 44th minute.

and they had nearly ALL OF THE CLOCK END ffs.

But I would direct my main ire at the home fans in the upper tier. Is it really too difficult to get in on time? a few minutes after KO might be unavoidable given transport problems and the renewed security, but TWENTY MINUTES LATE? Really?

But once in many people contented themselves with taking ‘selfies’, filming THE ENTIRE MATCH, standing up to express their hatred of Tottenham (the only time they ‘sang’ anything), or leaving early for HT or TEN MINUTES before the end of the game. Next time please go and watch someone or something else and leave us to our football.

The game was hardly sold out if the rows of empty seats was anything to go by. I’d estimate 50k tops. But still there were touts outside the tube. How does that work? Surely you could have got a legitimate ticket from the box office? And why is no one doing anything about these touts?

To return to the youthful theme I was flanked by two young fans – one at least on his first visit. Behind me a sage young 10 year old offered a running commentary on the game. He passed comment on Arsene’s team selection, the formation, the necessary of switching the play more quickly, and a range of other things. This mini expert sounded like he’d be coming to the Arsenal for 30 plus years, not 1 or 2.

On my right was quite a different youth. Aged maybe 8 (like Dan the man) he simply shouted ‘SHOOT!’ at every opportunity (not unlike many grown men who stand near me in the NBL to be honest). But most of the time this made no reference to the game at all. So he called SHOOT when a player was just over the halfway line; or by the corner flag; or when they didn’t have the ball! He has lots to learn.

But at least these two (and many of the other JGs there) were involved and engaged, they participated rather than turning up late and leaving early, giving sweet FA in terms of ‘support’. What a waste of their time and money.

So, to the game (in brief because I’m sure Walter covered it better than me).

The view from the upper tier is AMAZING much better than from my usual seat. I could see Gibbs getting left for dead because of poor positioning on occasion. Or Maitland-Niles trying just too hard to impress with a couple of flicks that gave away possession. Overall he did very well, just a tad casual at time.

Perez should have scored and needs to be more ruthless and selfish but his movement is great. Ollie was unlucky not to score with what was almost his first touch (el Habsi saved brilliantly). Jenkinson did well but perhaps not as well as some seem to think he did. He did make an amazing recovery, running back from the halfway line to execute a saving tackle in the box. But he had gone down too easily for me, and stayed down hoping for the foul (or for the ref to stop play) when  getting up straight away would have possibly stopped a rare Reading attack.

Ox took his goals very well but we should have had FIVE at least. Iwobi was guilty of a terrible miscue. But it didn’t matter in the end, we won.

For me the stand out performance was Rob Holding’s. He was steadfast at the back, better than Gabriel in my opinion and on several occasions he took control and carried the ball out of his own half, driving  the team forward. Like Arseblog I will not get too excited about a young player till he’s played a few more games but he looks like a real find. Tony Adams with ball skills maybe. Maybe.

So in the end I enjoyed my night out but not as much as games with Mr A. The upper tier was interesting but its not as much fun as the rowdy atmosphere of the north bank. One day I might gravitate to the ‘posh seats’ but not just yet. For now I’ll continue to suffer the relative discomfort of the cheap seats.


Recent tales from Untold 

Wenger ponders whether Yaya Sanogo will ever really be good enough for Arsenal. 

Empty seats at the Ems? You should try the Tax Payers’ Stadium!

Alisher Usmanov makes his move – and it is not the one predicted.

Why 26 October is such a special day in the history of football, and of Arsenal (and the Royal Family)

10 things we learned from Arsenal v Reading.

League Cup: Arsenal – Reading 2-0, The Ox with a brace

Arsenal vs The Spectacles. The teams and other stuff.

All the young dudes – but which one is this year’s breakthrough kid?

The gross incompetence of England’s football authorities exposed, once again


12 Replies to “Reading in the library: watching the EFL cup from the posh seats”

  1. Blacksheep my dear fella-me-lad, if I’d known my companionship meant that much to you I wouldn’t have given the chauffeur the night orf.

    But you’ll recall the journey to and fro along the M1 from your days of living in Northampton, and four home games in 14 days, was really a bit too much.

    However I don’t think you had the normal season ticket holders up there. In the upper reaches we certainly don’t shout “shoot” and the arriving late and leaving early is nowhere near the level you describe. As for singing the “Stand up” song, no we don’t do that.

    In short I am sorry you didn’t get to experience the normal sedate atmosphere the higher level. We are known to shout, but normally only on agreed occasions, such as when the score gets above five in our favour.

  2. Blacksheep sorry I missed you, I was also in block 110 third row but somewhat to your left. My normal seat is in 114 towards the other 18 yard a box. Most seats were taken with ‘visitors’ albeit many from other parts of the ground. As you say the view is great but many of the regulars are relatively restrained. I regularly get told off for being too loud!

    The club make serious efforts in the League Cup to encourage new and young supporters to attend with their policy of junior (and OAP) seats at &5 downstairs and £10 upstairs and that is a valuable effort on their part.

    Yes the game was a bit flat at times and we could easily have won by more. A bit like the game at the weekend, the accuracy of the final ball was lacking but for a group of players who wouldn’t have played together very much it was an honest performance and we were rarely in any serious trouble.

    Looking forward to Southampton in the quarter final.


  3. I actually liked the crowd being with every move of Arsenal, cheering and clapping when a move came off, and Ohhh-ing when not.

    Every little move that kept Arsenal out of trouble was cheered.

    Mind you i only heard this over stream.

  4. I went on Tuesday night (Block 113, Tier 29) with my daughter for only the second time and must say I agree entirely the comments about the late arrivals and leavers at half/full time, it can’t be to hard to arrive as asked early! Anyway she thoroughly enjoyed the experience and she even asked for an Arsenal scarf, now I have 2 Gooners in the house.

    My first visit was years ago when we played Liverpool and drew 1-1, unfortunately for me I had participated in a few bevvies and didn’t really appreciate the magnificence of our stadium, this time, sober I really enjoyed the whole thing so much more – It’s inspirational!!

    I always wonder when watching TV why people leave early – now I know, after the match the Arsenal tube station to leave was totally overrun with ques taking over an hour before reaching the platform, I understand now that’s why the mass exodus! Is Holloway Road station better?

    I fully intend to attend again in the future – hopefully taking the wife to convert her!!

    Would I arrive early again – definitely

    Would I leave early – NEVER – Even if it did mean a 4 1/2 hour journey home.

    PS Made it to Highbury a few times in the 80’s and the view I had then (once) was behind a post (not the goal post either!)

  5. Quite an interesting post Blacksheep, which would have been enhanced by a short catering report.
    If you arrived at 7.15, Reading were poor and we should have 4 or 5, surely you needed some sustenance? 😉

  6. A super Post, Blacksheep, and created some really interesting responses.

    I could say “I never reached the heights’ but that is many layered, so I will restrict it to ‘I have never been so high in the Emirates’ but your observation of a mixture of late arrivals and early leavers would probably have bugged me, as at 6’7” and 19 stone I have a lot oaf luggage to keep hefting up for such unsporting supporters – so I guess it is just as well I am a lower tier aficionado. 😀

  7. Downside of the Reading game is the apparent 6 week lay off for Lucas. Caused by a thug who just came on, raked his archilles and wasn’t even booked by the referee. This is starting to REALLY bug me. It wasn’t accidental, it was just thuggery. Ignored or missed by the officials. Why can’t we have reciprocal lay offs for players who deliberately set about hurting an opponent?

    I know we are no angels, but we are probably hardest done to by PGMO in respect of lay-offs caused by unpunished foul play.

  8. Somerset Gooner
    I think Holloway Road Station still closes match days for H&S reasons (only lifts and narrow spiral staircase). The best bet is a fifteen minute walk to Caledonian Road station which will be completely empty or jump on any bus going South and use Angel or Camden Town Stations. As you say, Arsenal (and also Highbury) station is packed out.

  9. Thanks so much for the advice Leon, it was exit only on Tuesday. I’ll try and get to Caledonian Road next time.

    BTW I usually arrive via the M4 and park at Hounslow East and tube all the way to the ground. Do you think it would be better going to the Arnos Road area?

    Also Norman14 completely agree that thug came on and took out Lucas before he’d even touched the ball, I thought I’d imagined that as the ref did nothing!!

  10. Great article and good responses. I also suspect you didn’t have the normal season ticket holders around you. I give a bit more leeway to folk so obviously visiting for the first time, there are queues going in as they stop at the stewards to find where their seats are and are so excited at the view and experience they have to get their photos. I have to admit to doing so on my first visit. The regulars know how long it takes and most (but not all -grr) do get in before kick off.

    It can very rather civilised but the occasional verse or two does escape our lips before we get worn out and we have been known to get rather excited.

    As for standing – only when we score or more likely when we have to let someone in or out (grr again).

    I wonder how you found half time catering?

    If I can I try to get there more than 45 min before kick off as there is the pie and pint for £5 offer which is remarkable value. I don’t know why it doesn’t extend to pie and cup of tea – this does mean if I get the good lady a pie I have to deal with both pints which can help the singing but require a dash downstairs at half time.

  11. Thanks for the review

    The young girl with the clipboard organising everything was my 8 year old daughter

    She previously had the opportunity to walk out on the pitch with the players for the Arsenal v Milan Legends matched and high fived Arsene Wenger on live national TV. A future Untold aficionado in the making I think

  12. If she is truly an Untold afficinado in the making, then she hopefully used her clipboard to monitor the referee and note all the blatant acts off anti-Arsenal bias that he no doubt showed.

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