The most dire anti-Arsenal football journalism we’ve seen

By Tony Attwood

The headline on the Daily Mirror’s website was worrying in the extreme:

Former Arsenal striker convicted of stalking ex-girlfriend and mother of his son

Stalking is a frightening and generally terrifying experience, and it is quite right that any man who stalks a woman – or worse stalks an ex, her mother and his son, deserves to be reported to the law, so the matter can be quickly sorted out and the individual restrained.

And so yes, it is a newsworthy story which the Mirror chose to run, including reporting that Stokes has now been banned from entering his ex-wife’s street and given a four-year non-harassment order stopping him from contacting her or her mother.  The footballer can only have contact with Miss Scott if she initiates it to discuss childcare arrangements.

But then, in order to get a lot of people to read the story the Mirror didn’t leave it at that.  Because it ran the whole piece under the headline “Former Arsenal striker convicted of stalking ex-girlfriend and mother of his son.”

And undoubtedly it was the opening three words, “Former Arsenal striker” which took this story to the top of the charts in terms of page views.

Now you may be forgiven for not remembering Stokes, because he only played a few minutes of football for Arsenal.  Yes he was on our books but his total involvement seems to be as a sub at the very end of a league cup match.  So again the question is, is the headline “Former Arsenal striker…” reasonable?

Before coming to Arsenal Stokes played for Kilnamanagh, Esker Celtic FC, Cherry Orchard FC and Shelbourne and did indeed play for Arsenal reserves.   And yes as we’ve just noted, and to be absolutely technically correct, he did play in the Arsenal League Cup game against Sunderland in 2005, by coming on in the 88th minute.

So he really did have just five minutes of fame, but after that he was loaned to Falkirk, and there he stayed until 2006. It was a successful loan with Stokes getting 16 goals in 18 games but despite this Arsenal decided to get rid of him.  I don’t know why, but in footballing terms it seems a strange decision, so maybe there was something else they didn’t like – but to be quite clear, I have no information on this at all.  However that is the decision that was taken and Stokes went to Sunderland for £2m.  A reasonable price for a man with 16 goals in 18.

But maybe there is a clue as to why Arsenal did not want to stay with him comes with what happened at Sunderland.  He played 36 games and scored… just three goals.  Not what the young man’s early days had suggested.  And worse was to come because Sunderland quickly loaned him out to Sheffield United (12 games, no goals) and Crystal Palace (13 games and one goal).

He did eventually get his form back at Hibernian and Celtic, but in the English league (he had a later spell at Blackburn) he simply couldn’t turn on the goals.  And eventually he went abroad playing in Greece (no goals in four with Apollon Smyrni), Azerbaijan (a more successful 11 goals in 23 last year) and most recently Adana Demirspor in Turkey (figures for this season not available).

So 11 clubs, of whom the one they pick is Arsenal, for whom he played around five minutes.  I am not even sure if he touched the ball.

But here’s another thing if one is looking for the right phrase to slip into the headline “Former striker convicted of stalking ex-girlfriend and mother of his son.”

How about “Former Ireland striker convicted of stalking ex-girlfriend and mother of his son” – because the player has nine full caps for Ireland.  Plus one for Ireland “B” and 10 for Ireland’s under 21s.  At least that would have been closer to giving a fair impression of who we are talking about.

Of course the Mirror’s approach is one of cynical manipulation.  Technically yes he played for five minutes for Arsenal, but that is not the point.  The point is a scurrilous way to get readership while simultaneously doing what the Mirror always likes to do: blackening the name of Arsenal and sowing discontent by suggesting that Arsenal employ undesirables.

As they tend to say down the pub these days, “Watch out, there’s a journalist about”.



11 Replies to “The most dire anti-Arsenal football journalism we’ve seen”

  1. As I said to James who linked to this piece of journalistic dog shite in an earlier article, if people can’t see that this constant casting of Arsenal in a negative light is a deliberate attempt by the media to antagonise and disrupt our fan base and undermine us as a club in general, then they must be blind.

  2. OT: Journalism “accuracy”

    There are many headlines this morning, saying that (Belgian) police had arrested 2 people in a corruption and money laundering investigation. Most of these articles would seem to have an English source. For example, the snippets of many media outlets is exactly the same as that from the BBC.

    MARCA’s version of the story is that 7 people have been arrested. Two of the people arrested were described as a player agent (Henrotay?) in Monaco and his assistant based in Liege, Belgium.

    The Times (in their snippet) add that a house in London was searched. Perhaps the Times article mentions how this house relates to the arrests? Sorry, I don’t read The Times.

    Birmingham Live adds that this story is not connected to the Belgian corruption story of 1 year ago which seen 57 police raids (and is presumably ongoing).

    The Mirror says that 7 raids took place in this investigation and 2 people were arrested.

    FourFourTwo is currently running an article on the 10 highest international scorers of all time. The article does not say that they are only considering men. The 10 scorers listed are all men, and Christiano Ronaldo is listed at second (93).

    But the truth is that the two highest scorers in international football are Abby Wambach (184) of the USA and Christine Sinclair (182) of Canada.

  3. I have to be honest, I clicked the M****r’s “Former Arsenal Striker” story against my better judgement…..but hey its the international break and we have to stomach headlines like “How Wenger almost Signed Messi and Rolando” or “How Fabregas snubbed Real Madrid” …..etc… So why not just read some “Actual news” for a change or so I thought.

    I checked out at least four other blogs that carried the story using the Ex-Arsenal Striker headline, amazingly none of them could publish a picture of the bloke in an Arsenal shirt….. well that’s because there just isn’t any picture of Stokes the “Arsenal star” muscling away defenders or hitting the back of the net. The only clear picture of him at Arsenal is from a 2005 reserve game wearing an 02 sponsored shirt looking more like a lost kid than a stalker, that would hardly do the story justice.

    Instead the M****r have pictures of him hacking down people and lifting trophies in Scotland while still referring to him as “ex-Arsenal Star”.

  4. Tony’s point is entirely valid……he was such an unknown and a unworthwhile player to AFC that he never really got a sniff at first team Football in the League and ended up playing elsewhere his entire ¨career¨. He also sounds like a bit of a wanker and tosser in his family relationships. Best forgotten and ignored…..the media can have a go but what can you expect of the Anti-Arsenal, pseudo-journalists?

  5. Well Tony it is time to get useful English into your headlines.

    ‘Bent Mirror reflecting untrue images’.

    You could add ‘to lonely viewer’.

  6. A university creative writing class was asked to write a concise essay containing these four elements: religion, royalty, sex and mystery.

    The prize-winning essay read, “My God,” said the Queen, “I’m pregnant. I wonder whose it is?”

    Apparently , in the UK , for the papers to sell you now have to add ‘Arsenal’ in the mix !

    So the new story may sound like this : ” Dear god , why do Arsenal continue to royally fuck themselves by not buying players as suggested by those ex-Man Utd pundits ?”

  7. Tony,
    There is another way to look at the story you wrote on. Is the headline true or false? From what has been said about the footballer – it is true – although for a very minuscule period. Such that it may not have been reckoned as valid for say someone like Thierry Henry. The newspaper has exercised its editorial prerogative to cast a headline according to their in-house policy.

    That editorial policy is not obvious but can be inferred from previous trends and that is to knock Arsenal Football Club as often as they can so as to create ill-affection towards AFC to generate traffic to their website. To the newspaper it is fair game, to us it is not. All we can do is continue to call them out as often as they play their silly pranks.

    Keep at it until they can strive towards more balance and fairness in their reporting of AFC related news.

  8. OT: VAR accuracy

    ESPN (possibly others?) has an article about 😈 Mike Riley admitting VAR has made some mistakes this season:

    Bournemouth vs. Manchester City
    Leicester vs. Bournemouth
    Newcastle vs. Watford
    West Ham vs. Norwich

    and possibly

    Aston Villa a goal at Crystal Palace

    I would imagine come the end of the season, Arsenal will be an outlier in terms of VAR treatment in at least one manner.

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