Why being at a football match makes it all so very different

By Tony Attwood

Just having a quick scout around the interblogwebnet thing this morning I found this little gem on a Liverpolo site

“The shot that led to Granit Xhaka’s goal had a xG of 0.02. Which means that it had a one in 50 chance of going in. One. In. Fifty. And instead of catching it, Mignolet decided to punch it into his own net, earning him an Opta approved “Error leading to Goal”.”

Yep, it was like that.  That comment captured the moment.  It was that extraordinary.  It was Xhaka.  But, in my view, not many commentaries after a match do manage to get the essence of the game into a few words.

I have often thought that people who don’t go to matches but only watch them on TV don’t really get what’s going on, and that I think is a great shame for them.

Because I have, in a modest way, got to know the guys who sit either side of me at the Ems a little bit, we share a lot of chat, despair and explosions of happiness between ourselves during the game, and this becomes part of the event.  Because I travel to and from the ground with Blacksheep we chatter about what we expect, and what we then found, and overall we become part of the match.

This is all part of the experience, and it is an experience which makes the games so different from watching them on TV, even on TV with friends in a pub.  It can on occasion be completely insane and manic.

And all this experience seems to lead me to a world that is so utterly different from the world inhabited by the bloggetta writers who appear, as far as I can tell, not only not to have been there, but not to have been to any games.

And I don’t just mean they haven’t been to Arsenal matches – but rather their writing suggests to me that they don’t even go to support their local team.  Which is a shame for them because being there, whether it is Arsenal or (for me in the years when I couldn’t go to see Arsenal) Poole Town, or Bournemouth and Boscombe Athletic, or Torquay United or Rushden and Diamonds or Brighton and Hove Albion.  Yes I’ve moved around a lot in my time, and sometimes a lack of money, sometimes family responsibilities, sometimes work requirements all made it impossible to go and watch a game, but I did it when I could, and shared the local passion.  I went to watch games because being there does gives you an utterly different perspective on football.

Of course the newspaper journalists are there, although in a detached “we are journalists” and “we have our own special box” and “look at those silly little fans getting all excited” sort of way.  As a result of their isolation, they don’t get it either.

Last night was a great experience.  Painful at times but overwhelmingly exciting at others.  I suppose if you think that grown men jumping up and down with their arms around each other shouting their heads off is too demeaning for you to enjoy, then of course you won’t go to any match and won’t support your local team either.  But if that is the case you are, like journalists, missing out on the sheer fun, horror, enjoyment, and despair of being a football supporter and being there.

Hence we get headlines like these this morning, which in most cases must have been written by people who absolutely not only were not there, but appear not to go to matches at all.  And yet their opinions are pumped out to us hour after hour, trying to tilt the judgement of other people who were not there.

Just look at these headlines this morning.

Alexis Sanchez shook hands on new Arsenal contract before this match made him change his mind CaughtOffside 

That one is just so unlikely as to be bonkers – as if a player is actually going to do this, especially when surrounded by agents and managers..

Sanchez frustration growing, Ozil’s contract pressure and Wenger’s transfer necessity – Arsenal … Football.London

Really?  Can you define exactly what is going on and what is needed from just one match?

Maitland-Niles deserves more Arsenal recognition for handling Salah and Coutinho Daily and Sunday Express 
Anyone talking to the fellow supporters I meet at games will know that the rating of Maitland Niles among the fans is extremely high.  “More recognition”?  He is seen as a player who is growing into one of the best.

Clueless Arsenal Somehow Draw 3-3 With Liverpool Ever Arsenal

“Ever Arsenal”? and the headline is “clueless”???????  No, this was football. This is what happens.  OK it doesn’t happen when you go out and buy all the best players on the market like PSG, Man C or Bayern, but it happens in the rest of the world.

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp: Mesut Ozil was good for five minutes in Arsenal draw Daily Star 

I’ve no idea if Clopp said this but it was certainly not the way those people near me saw it.  “Clueless” is nonsense.  I read through the “report” and that quote isn’t in it, so that doesn’t help either.

Alex Iwobi the player we don’t need, but have Pain in the Arsenal 

Iwobi is still growing and developing and evolving as a player.  Anyone who went to watch a side regularly would know how players change and develop, especially at his age.

‘Hopeless’, ‘Needs to go’ – Arsenal fans react to to star’s poor display v Liverpool FootballFanCast.com  That piece is about Cech.  Which Arsenal fans?  How many fans?  None around me focused on that.  We were too tied up in the game.

I left home about 2pm yesterday and got back at about 0030 this morning.  It was worth it even though we let in three goals.  My suggestion is, if you can’t get to Arsenal matches, still follow, still support but (if you don’t already) also go and watch games elsewhere.  Just to ensure you don’t believe the gibberish the bloggettas and the journalists write.

22 Replies to “Why being at a football match makes it all so very different”

  1. I can’t get to the game, which is why I don’t comment on a game. I am in full agreement with you. You need to be at the game to have some idea of what is happening, especially in these days ignorant rants that are published as factual news.

    Occasionally TV can provide you with an image that being there unless you were in front of the play and close to it you do not see.

    In the match against manure Ozil on the right wing some 20-30 meters from the goal line sent over a pass that dropped just a meter in front of the goal line. The Arsenal player on the left ‘ball watched’ instead of collecting it. The ball went out for a goal kick.

    The camera showed the look of disgust -annoyance- anger on Ozil’s face.

    May be its play like that, that is causing Ozil to think of plying his trade elsewhere. I hope he stays.

  2. Taking up the Christmas wish of Dr. Brookfields of Singapore here is a Christmas question for you, two in fact.

    What does Donald duck the issue Trump want the poor to keep?

    Answer: Their distance.

    Where does Donald duck the issue Trump want the poor to live?
    Answer: Sing a poor!

    Good rest you rich gentlemen, let nothing you dismay.

    For Donald Trump your saviour is sending the poor away.

    Oh! Tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy.

    For the rich on this Christmas Day

    Then there is Mr Riley of match 5 0

    An early Christmas present to Manure’s MacRednose.

    For Arsenal he has in store more and more 0s and 0s and 0s.

    We wish for him in this New Year the Law of England him expose.

    So we come to Arsene. The manager ‘who knows’

    The creator of football, that flows and flows and flows.

    Managers come and managers go but ‘Arsene knows’.

    Sadly age will one day say that he goes.

    As to when, well only ‘Arsene knows.’

    To him our best wishes for Christmas goes.

    And to you all who see and know I share a wish with you.

    That is, in 2018 Riley goes.

    Happy Christmas every one.

  3. Tony,

    I fully agree with you. Som eof my fondest childhood memories were at the local hockey club, going there with my father, then school freidns.
    Were they worldchamps ? no.
    Were they national champs ? hell no

    Btu then, among all poor, lame, matches, there was this jewel of a game. The one with a full moon above (no rooftop) and minus 10 degrees Celsius and they won 6-0, the other one under nonstop snow where from a 0-5 deficit with 10 minutes to go the game ended up tied 30 seconds before the end…and so on. An can remeber them all. And I love the rememberance. Upsets, comebacks, rollercoasters, losses, yet the one thing was be togetherness of all these people, then chants, the screams, the bonding. And to an extent I envy people who were there in Wembley ’14 and ’17 or who witnessed the Germany-Brasil 2014 game.

    As it happens I went to see an NFL game a few years ago. The one with what is not labelled the ‘holy catch’. Even from across the field we ‘knew’ we had witnessed a special moment, the replays confirmed it and now it if NFL lore…and being there, witnessing the crowd’s reaction – incredulity and then a roar like a juet taking off was just incredible. No picture, no words can convey that.

    The essence of being a ‘supporter’ is there. What is there tu support in a 1 billion pound team ? They are bought/signed, paid, expected to win and need no one. I mean at that price and the crowd needs to supports them ? Gimme a break !

  4. Granit Xhaka’s long range shot drive against Liverpool yesterday at the Ems was spectcular to watch. Using my generator to have light as the PHCN public power was off, I watched the match live on my TV set on SuperSport 3 here in my house in Zaria town Nigeria and not at the Emirayes Stadium. But does that makes me a less important Gooner for my not knowing what had happened in the Stadium since I didn’t watch the match live at the Ems?

    If I must say this and I have to say it since it’s within my rights as an Arsenal supporter for life to say it. I’ll say the Gunners disappointed me yesterday’s night for their indisciplined defending for their not holding fort tightly in the game to deny the Reds from breached it after they have twice regaining the initiatives in the game by coming from the dead to equalised and took the lead in the game.

    Had the Gunners held fort tightly as required to not momentarily switched off in the game to relax after Oezil had given us a 3-2 lead scoreline in the match, Arsenal would have been 4th in the table to Liverpool 5th as I believe we all know.

    Now, after playing 19 games which is halfway mark into their PL season campaign, Arsenal are on 34 points out of the 57 on offer to us for cillection dropping 23. To reach the 75 points that we secured last season that saw us fell by one point behind Liverpool in the table and missed out of the UCL position, Arsenal will need to collect 41 points in the 2nd half of this season’s campaign. But going by the ways the Gunners have been droppoing points here and there this season in the PL, can the Gunners cillect up to 41 points having seen them collected only 34 in the first half of this season? Well, any result in football they say is possible.

    Arsenal will have to step it up extraordinarily in their game in the 2nd half of the season to collect the maximum 57 points on offer and not drop any to have a 19 game winning run to ganner a total of 91 points in their PL season campaign and see what has happened in the final table at the end of the season.

    Arsenal still have 4 big games left to play this season which they MUST win all, then win all other difficult games against some tough opposition teams and the 57 points will be ours.

  5. I’m really not sure what the point of this article is. Football fans, journos, blog writers, pundits, ex players etc will always gossip. It’s part of the game. They gossip about all clubs, and Arsenal more than others. There are two reasons for this:

    1) Arsenal are a big club. Be flattered.

    2) In case you haven’t noticed, our two star players who are worth approximately £100 million are running down their contracts and have not yet signed new deals. This is a somewhat absurd situation for arsenal to find themselves in and is the gossip equivalent of a five course meal in a michelin starred restaurant. It’s quality gossip, a whole narrative even.

    As far as last night’s game goes, I am not a fan of that kind of Arsenal performance. It was exciting, yes, but for most of the match we played like a bunch of school boys.

  6. What you are saying is That your preference is the best and only way of doing something. In this case watching a football game.

  7. @alexanderhendry Interesting comments but I lean a bit toward the positive/c’est la vie side. We are a big club so the gossipers say outrageous things to garner clicks on their sites…I agree.

    It is absurd that our top two stars seem to be playing down their contracts however I am not ready to blame anyone. I do not know the reason this is happening but am fairly confident that our management are dealing with it.

    As for our performance for the first half I would suggest that neither the supporters nor the players want to see a repeat. However, in my opinion, these things happen and it ignores the performance of Liverpool. They deserve some credit. In my conversations with supporters of smaller clubs, one thing that they always bring up is that we, the Arsenal supporters, are arrogant in that we always look at our performances or blame the referee, without consideration of the effects of their performance… no matter that we or the refs might have had bad days…they do have a point.

  8. Two problems Max. One is, no I’m not saying that. Two, arguing against a person’s point of view, whether you have understood it or not, by writing a single word, it a singularly ineffective way of pointing across a point of view.

  9. I treasure and cannot wait for the few and far between games that I can attend these days. Among the several reasons for my enjoyment is being able to escape from the annoying TV replays, from several angles, of every single incident, whether worth repeating or not. When actually at a match, I can decide whether I want to see any replay on the stadium big screen, or stay watching what’s happening on the pitch. Seriously, I’d pay Sky extra for a ‘no action replays please’ button!

  10. As usual, this article is nothing but deflection. No analysis of another disastrous performance from Arsenal and Wenger’s fatal inability to instil anything resembling confidence or tactical awareness into his players. He seriously needs to get out the club, because it’s balancing on a cliff edge at the moment with all these unsigned contracts and tedious mistakes defensive that will clearly never end as long as he does nothing to address them on the training ground.

  11. Alexander Henry wasn’t blaming our management for the contract issue, infact even if he were blaming them, that would be irrelevant. What is relevant is that that is the current situation, irrespective of who’s fault, it’s a genuine topic for discussion

  12. GoingGoingGooner

    On gossip, I have no idea why Untold make such a fuss about it. It’s all harmless title tattle that 90% of arsenal fans take with a pinch of salt- more like a truck load sometimes. Also, now and again there are a few grains of truth in all of it.
    What it is not part of, is some kind of clandestine plot designed to disrupt Arsenal fc.

    Regarding the contracts, I really wish that I was ‘fairly confident that our management are dealing with it’, but I can’t see any sense in Arsenal allowing this situation to materialise. Also, I do not see any positive way out of it.
    The whole thing seems bonkers to me.
    The club has gone from penny pincher to profligate in one year.

  13. Nice one Charles , well done.

    ‘ Being in the Christmas spirit ;
    a proper response does merit .

    My best wishes of joy and happinesses,
    to the Untold faithful and of heavenly bliss .

    As for Riley and PIGMOB for their crappiness,
    the mistletoe is in the rear for you to kiss !’

    With that pleasant thought –
    A Merry Christmas to all!

  14. Can you get some evidence to back up your theory that NO ONE other than you and Blacksheep (sic) understand football. Going to a few home games hardly qualifies you as a super supporter. And then there is Walter thinking all the hard work I put in at the Belgium branch and then get slagged off like this.

  15. I really do wish people would stop suggesting that the club has either deliberately allowed Sanchez and Ozil’s contracts to run down or that they were negligent about it either.

    Seeing that none of us know what has happened and never will know, to suggest that with so much certainty and then use it as a rod to hit AW and the club is ludicrous.

    It takes 2 to tango and it takes 2 to make a contract.

    A player has the right not to enter into a contract with anyone and it is clear that that is what is happening to our club, and by all accounts many others as well.

    There is a limit to how much a club can offer or what terms a club can afford.

    If these players do not want to stay, then no matter what they are offered they will not sign on the dotted line.

    The better players will always have the upper hand.

    I did not watch the game, live or on TV, as I am an orthodox Jew.

    I also admit to going to very few games, although I have been 3 times this season, courtesy of a friend’s spare season ticket.

    I agree, however, that it is a different world to actually be there, which I appreciate very much when I do go.

    The atmosphere makes a lot of difference.

    I saw the report in the Times this morning from Henry Winter.

    Quite clearly, he was favouring Liverpool in his comments, as did the reporter who give the points for all the players. I have seen these numbers before, and when they relate to matches I have seen, they have hardly been what I would have given.

    For my part, if I am going to see a biased report, I would rather see it on a friendly blog than a paper all of whose reporters have been unfriendly to us for years now.

  16. Isn’t it a fact that the majority of posters on here live outside the UK? Seems a bit cruel to imply that they can’t have the insights privileged season holders like you have. Is anyone who is absent from a game and dares to comment on it a ” false witness”? Are their opinions invalid?

    Who cares what the media write? I suppose after the stupidity of the British public over Brexit it’s easy to believe the media have a malevolent influence but this is football were numerous stances adopted by various media outlets change nearly every 24 hours. Opinions cling to football, facts rarely stick.

  17. Rupert: an occasional analysis done of the IP addresses of posters suggests that the majority are in the UK. But my point was not that people who do not go to Arsenal should not comment. Rather I was making the point that if one can’t go to Arsenal (as I noted that I could not for much of my life) one should still go to football matches, because without that one’s vision of football is mediated by the media, and I don’t think the media is presenting the game in a helpful way.

  18. I’m surprised so many are in the UK, many seemed to be commenting as if they were based abroad.

    The media rarely present anything in a helpful way. I guess you think the media get on Arsenal’s back but is that so surprising? Arsenal don’t really progress, they just stand still and everyone seems happy with that. I can’t ever remember in all my years of supporting Arsenal, since 1971, a more lacklustre approach to ambition. I expect you’ll disagree. And I do accept that there seem to be tentative changes behind the scenes but I wonder will anything really change. I suppose I regard Arsenal as a stagnant force and I’d love to see them vital again, at least in challenging for the league. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the cup successes and I’d love Arsenal to win the Europa League, something I think we’re capable of.

    As for going to games it’s hard to justify the high prices of attending most Arsenal games. I sometimes watch Oxford, not this weekend thankfully, because you get a different atmosphere and you feel really close to the game, being literally feet from the players. Sadly I haven’t had such fulfilling experiences at the Ems.

  19. Rupert your going to Oxford, or indeed any other ground is what I am trying to talk about. In my very personal opinion, people who never go to a professional game (whatever the level whatever the club) only get their view of what football is through the media, and that is a wholly false impression – again in my view.

    And I don’t mind the media getting on Arsenal’s back, what I write about is the highly selective way in which football news is revealed, and how certain issues are rarely if ever covered, even when they are fundamental to the running of the game.

    In terms of the high prices – I agree they are high, but you might find something in this morning’s article of interest in that regard.

  20. When I first went to Highbury it was a shilling into the schoolboys and half a crown for the north bank. Had my firdt season ticket when Arsene turned up which was 300 quid a go. Have not a clue what it is now and really have lost interest in the PL and even lower divisions as I spend my time watching county football on the south coast almost every week. Cost is a fiver with programme and coffee and the play is of a very watchable level. My local team are facing relegation to tier 10 and still I watch and enjoy the experience.

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