I have a dream…. of an ever greater and more glorious Arsenal

I have a dream.

By Paul Blythe (With obvious apologies)

Fourteen years ago, a great Frenchman, in whose symbolic shadow we stand, signed the first of his many contracts. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Arsenal Fans who had been seared in the flames of the withering injustice of tedious football. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of captivity.

But many, many years later, we must face the tragic fact that the true fan is still not free. The life of the Arsenal Fan is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. Fourteen long years later, the Arsenal Fan lives on a lonely island of relative poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. Fourteen years later, the Arsenal Fan is still languishing in the corners of English media society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So dear reader we have come here to Untold Arsenal today to give voice to an appalling condition.

In a sense we have come to our virtual, spiritual Highbury homeland to cash a cheque. When the architects of our mighty game wrote the magnificent words of our footballing constitution, rules and the declaration of referee’s independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every Arsenal Fan was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all players would be guaranteed the inalienable rights of fairness, safety, and the pursuit of sporting happiness.

It is obvious today that the Football Association has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of sporting purity are concerned. Instead of honouring this sacred obligation, the Football Association has given the average Arsenal Fan a bouncing cheque which has come back marked “insufficient funds.” But we refuse to believe that the bank of footballing justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this great sport. So we have come to re-present this cheque, a cheque that will give us upon demand, the riches of fairness and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot of Untold Arsenal, to remind Football Association of the fierce urgency of now.

This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of marginalisation to the sunlit path of sporting justice. Now is the time to open the doors of opportunity to all of football’s children. Now is the time to lift our sport from the quick sands of injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood.

It would be fatal for the Football Association to overlook the urgency of the moment and to underestimate the determination of the Arsenal faithful. This chilling Winter of the Arsenal Fan’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating Spring of freedom and equality. Two thousand and ten is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Arsenal Fan’s needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the Football Association returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquillity in the Emirates until the Arsenal Fan is granted his justifiable rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our sport until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my fellow fans that stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical or verbal violence, or enter the grove of infighting and back biting. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with righteous resistance. The marvellous new militancy which has engulfed the Arsenal community must not lead us to distrust of all footballing people, for many of our footballing brothers, as evidenced by their reading of this today, will have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny and their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.

And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of Untold Arsenal, “When will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of sporting battle, injured by the talentless, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of sporting justice. We cannot be satisfied as long as the player’s basic mobility is from a smaller injury to a larger career threatening one. We can never be satisfied as long as an Arsenal Fan in London will not be heard and an Arsenal Fan in Cape Town believes he has nothing for which to speak out for. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like the waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

I am not unmindful that some readers have come here out of great trials and tribulations of their own. Some have come fresh from narrow cells and strict confines of anti-football. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of player brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering and rotational fouling. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.

Go back to Stoke, go back to Sheffield, go back to Bolton, go back to Blackburn, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.

I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in Arsene Wenger’s dream.

I have a dream that one day this footballing nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day on the slag heaps of Sunderland the sons of former leg-breakers and the sons of Gooners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Citeh, a desert state, sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my team will one day play in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their passport but by the content of their footballing character.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day the state of Blackburn, whose manager’s lips are presently dripping with the words of interposition and nullification, will be transformed into a situation where Gooners  will be able to join hands with their Northern cousins and walk together as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Wengerball shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith with which I return home, to the Emirates. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope.

With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our national game into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.

With this faith we will be able to work together, to play together, to struggle together, to go to the bar together, to stand up for fairness together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day when all of football’s children will be able to sing with a new meaning, “My club, ’tis of thee, sweet field of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my player’s tried, land of the true fan’s pride, from every mountainside,

And if true football is to be a sport, this must become true.

So let freedom ring from the prodigious hillsides of Stoke!

Let freedom ring from the hospitals of Sheffield!

Let freedom ring from the valleys of Charlton!

Let freedom ring from the snow capped Rockies of Rocastle!

Let freedom ring from under the stones of Notlob!

But not only that; let freedom ring from the Brokeback Mountains of Sunderland!

Let freedom ring from tiny hills of Tottenham!

Let freedom ring from every molehill of Manchester!

From every mountainside, weir side, riverside, let freedom ring.

When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every club in every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of football’s children, black men and white men, Spuds and Gooners, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual,

“Free at last! Free at last! Thank Arsene Almighty, we are free at last!”

Paul Blythe

It is not a case of where Liverpool will finish in the league, but whether they will survive at all.

Almunia: it’s been a really tough year

Win two free tickets for the match at club level plus all the food you can throw a stick at (Actually I don’t think that is quite right – I mean why would you throw a stick at food – Ed?)

29 Replies to “I have a dream…. of an ever greater and more glorious Arsenal”

  1. excellent article mate. How long did it take you, because the “I have a dream” speech is very long. Had to memorize that in grade school during Martin Luther King day ceremony.

  2. If you do not understand this George, let me offer you a helping hand. The writer is writing to express his desire for fairness in football. Fairness in tackles and fairness by officials who officiate at games and the FA that apply the rules. Until fairness prevail, then the beauty of football is tarnished.

  3. I’ve got to say, I’m a big fan of Arsenal, think Wenger’s doing a great job, read a fair amount of articles on this website and am not the most stupid person on the planet. But that was a load of tosh. Speak sense man and get your head out of your arse. Much appreciated, thanks. Tristan x

  4. It was loooong, but the point stands – Paul I stand with you mate this is the message I try to convey every time I enter some daft argument with Legrowl 🙂

    Football is football, it will never change – just the Sky manipulated league. In the streets of England, kids still kick a ball around with the same spirit as they are doing it for love not money. Just the other day I was down the courts near my house with two friends, and the local kids were there as always in good spirit reminding me what Arsenal stands for.

    Indicatively, there were many shirts Chelsea and United coloured – kids who do nothing but hog the ball and constantly stepover the ball 🙂 hehe I enjoy watching that almost as much as the single Arsenal shirted midfielder who creates pretty much every goal that is scored from inside the 18yard line!

    Wenger is to Arsenal and football, what that one kid is to the kickaround …. The creative force behind the enjoyment the others feel; the instigator of good play, and the target of many a bad tackle.

    He has all the excuses too which is just as telling, everytime I he loses the ball I see him gingerly pointing to his eye!

    Fantastic article once again, even if it did take me three goes to finish reading! Keep up the good work mate 🙂 Perhaps it is my own desire to read your conclusion that feeds my impatience…

  5. Dear Tony, Walter, and all who have articles printed on this site, Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    Paul Blythe: This is a wonderful article. Thank YOU, too.

    Having read today’s Young Guns article, and then read through the comments, I felt compelled to write a note to them myself. I clicked on “submit” and my computer said summat about: Sod off unless you have “Javascript”. So I gave up. Below is what I wrote. It’s a poor man’s version, perhaps, of what you’ve written (bearing in mind that the article I responded to was to do with Woji Szczeney’s ‘push for a first team place’. As you will see, I couldn’t (and didn’t) put it better, myself:

    The way I see it is thus: After a summer of so many people criticising our players, especially – goalkeepers, and in view of the fact that at the start of 09/10 season our top 2 keepers were injured, it must’ve been difficult for the Arsenal management to say, We’re going to loan out ‘this keeper or that’, at the start of this season. We started 09/10 with Mannone looking brilliant – for a couple of matches, then, the inexperience told. The ‘noise’ was amazing.
    Some Arsenal fans have little idea about “building” when it comes to our players. This is despite the year on year improvements we’ve witnessed from players that’ve previously been slagged off. Someone said on a post today, that Diaby (and players like him) are/were No Good). Both Diaby and Song, in my opinion, were good though inexperienced players when they started for Arsenal. I watched Diaby at Sunderland. He was bossing the game. Then Dan Smith …. you know the rest. I watched Song at Charlton. Again, I thought, Wow. Even Fabianski looked good a couple of seasons ago. The fact is, just as in ‘real life’, people, footballers, make mistakes. (I still can’t believe it when an Arsenal player makes a bad pass). It’s as though nobody ever makes a mistake, whether in life or in football. Just as it is in life, we have to pick ourselves up and do better, next time/next half/next game. No one became great – or even competent – without making mistakes.
    Scott Carson, Ben Foster, Paul Robinson and Chris ?? – at Wigan, all looked brilliant when they were younger. Now????
    So, back to the keepers: It seems to me that none of the keepers we’ve been linked with have performed better than Almunia – indeed, they’ve been worse. I doubt that any Premier L. keepers have had anything like the vitriol handed to ours – directed at themselves. Almunia’s been through torture during last season. (death of mother-in-law). At 30+, this isn’t easy to take. Imagine possible tragedies experienced by younger players. It doesn’t bear thinking about, and yet it could happen. For younger players “tragedy” doesn’t have to be about their relatives passing. No, for them, being left out of the team could be a tragedy, at least in their own minds. I’m very exited about Woji (sorry ’bout spelling) and I have no idea what will happen to him in relation to The Arsenal. However, I’ve noted that there’s a certain “intelligence” about most young Aresnal players. It’s perhaps expressed as ‘I know I’m gonna be great and that I’m already pretty good, but, I love playing for Aresnal and I’ll grow with this team and give my all”.
    We’ve seen youngsters who simply don’t ‘buy it’. Pennant, Flamini, Merida, Diarra and my ‘favourite’, Bently, do not seem to fit into this mould. Maybe they think, “I’m too good to be hanging around The Arsenal. Remember, these young men get loads of dosh. In getting all that dosh, not to mention – an amazing “schooling” from Arsenal. The club can work out whether they’re going to fit into the Arsenal way. (The Meedja have to invent negative stories about Arsenal players, apart from, say, Pennant’s and Bentley’s drink-driving).
    (In case you haven’t seen it, take a look at the after-match intervies with Jack W and Sammi N. “Arsenalist” has a link) There you will see just 2 of the fine young men that have been brought up in the Arsenal way. JW: “That’s what you expect when you play for Arsenal” – answering a question about Totty cutting him down at every chance. There’s an undoubted “spirit” about our players. I guess I’m asking all Arsenal fans to think about this Spirit – before slagging off our players. Eboue didn’t ‘come good’ because our fans booed him off the park. He had – on that day – a bad game. Eboue’s personality, and “Arsenal-ness” is what allowed him to recover (and become a fan favourite), though he was always a ‘useful’ player, in my opinion.
    The other reason I’d ask fans to moderate their comments is that the ‘negative vibes’ REALLY do not help. They don’t help the team – and they don’t help YOU. Trust me! The young players will get better. They’ll also make mistakes (as older players do too). They’ll also struggle when they’re bereaved, injured, or out of form. We won’t always know what’s happened to them. (I read above that Walcott was useless for 4 years. Tosh! Walcott’s spent a lot of time injured, sometimes because of his shoulder, and most times – because other players smash him up – and remember; an Arsenal player almost has to be dead before a foul’s given against the opposition.
    Think positively – Arsenal fans. It’ll really help us get to the promised land.

  6. I love it.
    Not often you see prose on a blog but it could only happen here eh.
    What I like the best is that those who criticise the article (George)would only end up reinforcing the author’s point.

  7. Well I am myself a lover of our great language, so whilst the article is long winded – actually when you pass the apathy barrier and actually try to get into it …. It is written brilliantly 🙂 I have a habit after reading an article to think of how (if I had produced it personally) I could have improved it second time around … and to be honest with you;

    I also have much to say and many words to describe, so if I had written this article, the only thing I think I would have done is include either a few pictures to break up the text; or conversely just left bigger gaps between each paragraph and fragmented it a bit more.

    The actual content is great it just LOOKS like hard work before you start…

  8. Probably would be wise for the author to remember, that whilst he obviously can boast a very sharp command of English and a breath taking vocabulary (and fair play to him too because this is rare) … that most people can’t really appreciate the effort he has gone to, and the emotion driving the article.

    After all they just want to comment and communicate – the article is just the vehicle for their own opinions

  9. I just stopped when I read “the Arsenal Fan lives on a lonely island of relative poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity”. After that I couldnt go on.

    I consider that we Arsenal fans live on a lonely island of magnificent prosperity, not amidst poverty.

    Sorry, just my opinion.

  10. Relative poverty suggests to me that he is comparing us to our great rivals Utd Chelsea and Lpool, who with the exception of Chelsea are on the way down ….

    Of course when it comes to ethics, footballing brilliance, talented young players and a manager who continually performs miracles throughout Europe and puts up with totally unfair media hate and rough treatment from the FA, refs and even other managers perhaps we are the richest club in that respect.

  11. And no need to apologise mate 🙂 I can’t talk without sounding like I am telling people off!! Haha that is the downfal of my own brand of prose I think!!

    Lol your opinion is every bit as valid as anybody elses my friend as you may already know – just because I am a waffler and like the challenge a long wordy article presents doesn’t mean to say a direct 100 word piece can’t be just as good!

    Infact I am hoping to write something for this blog myself, I am setting myself up for massive critique here aren’t I?

    Lol oh God …. What have I did???? 😀

  12. Ha ha, if you do an article with facts, figures, statistics, and other information then you will get a big thumbs-up from me. That is my type of article!!!!!!!!! I am a statistics junkie!!!!

  13. Even though large tracts of Europe and many old and famous States have fallen or may fall into the grip of the Chav and all the odious apparatus of Manc rule, we shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our manor, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the the bridges of Stamford, we shall fight on the grounds of Lancashire, we shall fight on the Camps of Catalonia, we shall fight in the curvas of Milan, we shall fight on the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the Grove. We shall never surrender.

    And so, my fellow Gooners: Ask not what winning the Premiership and the Champions League can do for you, ask what you can do to win the Premiership and the Champions League.

    Yes we can, yes we can.

  14. How about “Yes we can” Change it, Instead of “I have a dream” well written if not a tad long winded 🙂

  15. The sentiment is fine but the Martin Luther King Jr adaptation is a bit rich. Some funny lines though. Anyway, it’s all about playing football as it should be played and Arsenal does it well. The tough part is convincing and converting the brutes and thugs. Oh yeah, and the refs too.

  16. well i really hope against hope that things will get better but seriously the way the ‘big teams’ are protected, its such a shame. shawcross is still a hero amongst a lot of choke city fans.. realy pity

  17. I’m sorry, are you saying that Niall Quinn and Ellis Short are secretly bonking each other??!!

  18. Thanks… in the main

    I didnt think 1500 words was too long, but I guess in today’s instant world, maybe it is.
    But I figured I had messed enough with Martin Luther King’s famous speech, so to cut it would have added insult to injury.
    What I do like though is seeing angles seen by others that I miss in the writing.
    But I still stand by the sentiments…

  19. Thanks Paul, ur articles re always great, but don’t u think d word ‘Almighty’ should b reserved for d LORD GOD only?

  20. I suppossed we live on an island of poverty surrounded by a sea of prosperity if the local currency is of fairness received compared to ur title rivals and relative treatment by the media.

  21. Niles what are you going on about?? Not everybody is a die hard Christian you know! Almighty is just a word it has nothing to do with God.

    It’s got nothing to do with football but I actually find the religious stuff creeping in really really offensive, please for the sake of my sanity keep all that stuff personal.

    There is absolutely nothing wrong with saying Almighty before any other word apart from our rival teams name, because that WOULD be blaspheming regardless of Gods or religions!

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