By Sir Hardly Anyone.
“The Gunners are in desperate need of defensive reinforcements after struggling at the back last season,” announced the man from the Daily Star while starting his first pint of the morning, reflecting (if that is the right word) on the Koscielny saga. Ah well, if only they had taken a moment to look at the league tables they would have seen that was wrong. We struggled at the back away from home, but at home we had a solid defence with not too much wrong at all. Untold keeps telling them, but do they listen?
But bloggers and the newspaper writers never allow the facts to get in the way of a good story, so I thought I would take a quick trip down to the Toppled Bollard where drunks and layabouts create what they hope will pass for news about Arsenal, and dream up their headlines.
Now the Bollard, as you may know, is the riverside haunt of lazy journalists from across the UK, based in Docklands, where sin stalks naked through the dark alleys and only might is right.
The man from TalkSprout was there scribbling his headline, “Southampton star prefers move to Man United over Arsenal and Leicester.” A bit feeble I thought – how did Leicester get in there?
Moving along the bar I heard the man from The Spout Review spouting, ” Unai Emery told Arsenal need to sell 30-year-old.”
“Who told him?” I asked, and he moved away sheepishly.
Meanwhile the man from the Daily Star seemed to be behaving like a bulldog who had been refused cake and I leaned across to see what he was scribbling. “Arsenal scrap transfer plans involving two players after pre-season drama” it said.
“Did they?” I asked, and he looked at me in a curious sort of way, suggesting no one had ever asked him before if anything he wrote was true.
The gent from HITC meanwhile looked to my eye a little like a bereaved tapeworm, as he shouted down the blower “Kevin Campbell doesn’t think Arsenal player would move to Crystal Palace”. “Who told you that?” I asked and he gave me a most curious look.
But then seeing that I was present a correspondent looking to get an article on Arseblog made a sound partly of an escape from a gas pipe and partly of a sheep calling to its young as the truck from the slaughter house approached the field. “Koscielny is in the wrong, and Arsenal have a real mess on their hands,” he whispered into his mouthpiece, edging into the furthest corner.
Moving on the man from TalkSprout was arguing with the bar man. “How much gin did you put in that last treble?” he demanded. The barman looked up in surprise. “A liberal tumblerful, sir, he replied.
“Would that be a normal dose for an adult defeatist, do you think?” asked the man from TalkSprout as he typed “Barcelona ace joins ‘Almost Arsenal’ club as he reveals plan to join Gunners.”
“What on earth does that mean?” I asked, looking over his shoulder. He worked hard to focus on me but eventually gave up, deciding this was the time for a quick rest on the floor.
Next at the bar was the entity who creates tales for the Express newspapers. He recognised me.
“What you don’t understand,” he pronounced before I had uttered a word, “is that there are two ways of writing football commentary for the press. One is mine, making a sort of musical comedy without the music and ignoring real life altogether; the other is going right deep down into life and not caring a damn… I don’t think football supporters want the real world.
“So you are using the former method?” I asked. He nodded. “So what is today’s story?”
“Arsenal wanted new signing to play alongside Laurent Koscielny next season,” he said, “And don’t ask me if it is true. Of course it isn’t. I know it, you know it, and the drunken sots lying on the floor know it. But football supporters don’t want to know the truth.
We turned as the man from FootballFanCast came alongside. “What’s you headline? we asked.
“Let him go; sell him for peanuts; some Arsenal fans want to see legend go this summer,” he replied.
“I’m glad to see you saying ‘some Arsenal fans’.”
“It was only because you kept on going on and on about it, and the news accumulators started taking note of you. How do you get them to do that?” I smiled knowingly.
The man from HITC joined us, and we all asked him how he was leading his Arsenal news. “Gary Lineker’s sarcastic take on controversial Arsenal situation,” he said with a smirk, rather akin to someone who thinks he has just said something funny. The man from FootballFanCast squared up to the man from HITC who suddenly appeared to be rather white and shaken, rather like a dry martini. We left him alone.
I addressed the bar, raising my voice above the hubbub.
“Is anyone mentioning Piers Morgan today?” I shouted.
The man from the Star timidly raised his hand. We all demanded to know his headline. “Piers Morgan slams ‘utterly disgraceful’ Arsenal ace – ‘Get rid of him immediately’,” he pronounced, taking cover. The ambulance arrived in a trice. This is, after all the Toppled Bollard. They know what to expect.
“Has anyone got anything positive to say about Arsenal?” I demanded.
There was silence in the room. Eventually the office junior, sent over by the Times, raised his hand fearfully. His demeanour was rather like that of one who, taking a short cut across the M25 on his way to work has just caught a juggernaut making its way to Dover before the blockade starts, in the small of the back. “I’m sorry sir,” he said, “I don’t understand. I thought being positive was illegal.”
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