The lost weekend: a retrospective

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The Lost Weekend

Directed by                            Arsene Wenger

Produced by                          Arsenal Football Players

Screenplay by                       Everygooner

Story by                                 Don Birnam

Starring                                Ray Milland & Jane Wyman

Running time                        95 Minutes

Release date                         November 20th 2010

By Paul Fowler

I sit and write this because I need to. Arsenal have just been beaten at home, yet again, and to make matters far worse; they have been beaten by Tottenham. My son has just phoned me in a state of shock and absolute misery, and my 21 year old grandson, who went to the match on my ticket, ironically as a birthday present, is slowly making his miserable way up the motorway to Nottingham. Like all Arsenal fans, and I suppose, football fans everywhere, he is discovering the true delight of the long, lost, journey home. At this moment I am drowning in a quagmire of anger, resentment, self-pity, incredulity, and sadness. In short, as my grandson so eloquently put it in his recriminatory text, I’m gutted.

I sit and write this because it’s cathartic. I have no idea as to where it’s going, but it’s going there anyway. I feel like Ray Milland in the 1945 Billy Wilder film ‘The Lost Weekend’; a story which recounts the life of an alcoholic New York writer, Don Birnam, and, in particular, a weekend which is lost because of an alcoholic binge. I am not drunk – yet – but my whole 50 year football life of supporting Arsenal has been littered with such weekends, except, of course, in 2004. Wilder’s film ends with his ‘hero’ not drinking his glass of whisky and looking out over New York and wondering how many other people are in the same position as himself. I, similarly, now look out through this computer screen and wonder how many gooners both far and near are feeling the way I am now.

I’m lucky; I’m semi-retired. I no longer have to run the gauntlet at work on Monday with the usual gibes, taunts and sneers that many of you will suffer. It still hurts me, for example, to recall the lost European Cup Winners Cup Final and Nayim’s ridiculous lob. I arrived at work around 7.30 the next morning to find an expanded cartoon stuck to my office door. The cartoon depicted Wenger in the background giving his half-time talk to the players and warning them about hopeful lobs from the half-way line, while Seaman was standing in the foreground, having a piss in the toilet!

As we all know, there are several ways of coping with this provocation: anger or violence with your ‘colleagues’; anger with Wenger; anger with the players; grudging agreement with the view that they deserved what they got; a refusal to read the national papers; a refusal to watch any football on TV; a reassuring self-lie that ‘there’s always another game’ and so on. I’ve just described my Sunday.

But what about Wenger and his players? At least they can do something about it! We can’t! When I was a 15 year old playing for Harrow Schools District side in the London Gill Trophy we lost 13-1 away to East London Schools one shameful Saturday morning. What made it worse was that we had hardly ever lost any matches since primary school, and indeed, later that season, we lost 3-1 to Hastings Schools in the latter stages of the English Schools Shield, which was quite remarkable for a district with such a small number of schools. As I recall, we had three players on QPR’s books, 2 on Chelsea’s, 3 on Fulham’s, and 1 illiterate (I’m sorry) on Tottenham’s. We were absolutely awful and we didn’t try, or seem to care, as the goals went in and the humiliation mountain grew and grew. The pain was exacerbated by the fact that we had scored first, thus invoking the well known football law that elation/desolation is inversely proportionate to the timing, sequence and grouping of goals both for and against. As an illustration, imagine, God forbid, that your team is three goals down to your hated rivals but they manage to claw two back. Now imagine the impossible; that your team is two nil up against your hated rivals and somehow manages to lose 3-2. With the first result you are angry and upset but you are proud that they gave it a go. With the second, you want to kill someone, even though the score is the same.

I digress; back to happier days at school. Two weeks later, in a parallel competition, the two same sides met at Harrow and we won 4-1. I particularly enjoyed the revenge, scoring two goals and outplaying Paul Went, the future Leyton Orient and Fulham centre half, whom I would play against at a later date in the South East Counties league. So we changed it; why can’t Arsenal??

Like me, you probably get very angry with the fact that you will have to face the crap at work on Monday but the players and Wenger won’t have to. After all, apart from the backroom staff, the only people they will see are each other and, presumably, they don’t berate each other about their respective performances. I would feel much better if they did. I would feel much better if the first thing someone said, for example, would be: ‘For fucks sake, Laurent, how did you miss that?’

I know from personal experience at QPR all those years ago that football clubs are not the wonderful places that many fans think they are. After all, for the players, it is where they work, and as such, it is the place which often becomes boring and the place which has people working there whom they simply don’t like.

I well remember, as a skinny 16 year old, stepping into the dressing room bath after Thursday night training at Loftus/Ellersie Road. For the record, I have nearly drowned twice in my life: the first when I was seven at Wealdstone Swimming Pool when some tosser pushed me in to the deep end after enquiring as to whether I could swim; the second, in the aforesaid bath, when Frank Sibley took exception to Bobby Finch calling him a see you next Tuesday, and the ensuing tsunami took us all by surprise. Incidentally, Rodney Marsh was not there at the time. But their disagreement was personal; it wasn’t about the football they had played in training. Of course, such disagreements spill over into the football like Les Allen’s alleged racist spat with Mark Lazarus and subsequent mutual non-passing, when I was at QPR, but such travesties, thankfully, would never happen at multi-cultural Arsenal – strong characters notwithstanding.

At times like this I recall Stan Barstow’s children’s novel ‘Joby’. It gives me some comfort to know that I did nothing wrong this morning. When the ten year old Joby discovers that his ‘Mom’ is to have a mastectomy and that his dad is having a flattered-old-man’s-touch-and-giggle with his (Joby’s) female young cousin, he, Joby, that is, closes his eyes and walks to the end of the road, aiming not to tread on any paving stones with cracks in them. This walk, if successful, would guarantee his mum’s recovery and his parents’ marriage which it does by the end of the book. I want you all to know, in the light of this, that I did nothing wrong this morning, but there is some gooner out there, reading this, who obviously did! We need to know who and what it was. I made sure I shaved before I cleaned my teeth, and I made sure I was not in the shower longer than 3 minutes. I also did not put any clothes on which could be associated with Arsenal, because I was not going to the game, and to do so, would have been catastrophic. It worked for Joby, so why not for me?

Superstition and football have always gone hand in hand. I never used to believe this until we won the double in 1971. I was working at Kodak at the time and that particular season, strangely enough, I always enjoyed going to work on a Monday, or any other day, come to that. I was working the afternoon shift, on the evening we won the league with a Ray Kennedy header at White Shite Lane. I vividly recall the radio commentary and the euphoria, as I shifted heavy cans of photographic emulsion in the dark cold store. Four days later, I was due to work the early shift from 7am to 11am. I was going to Wembley straight after work and looking forward to it, especially as I had missed the league win on the Tuesday. My foreman, Jack Denning, was a volcano of a man – a rather big Teddy Boy with Robert Newton bulging eyes, blood red lava skin, full to the brim with latent menace waiting to erupt – and he told me on the Friday, that he would come with me because he had acquired a ticket. Jack was a Fulham supporter.

When we finished work, Jack and I got changed out of our boiler suits and kitted up. I wore an Arsenal top; he wore a Fulham shirt. We hurried down to the Queens Head in Wealdstone and started drinking. I don’t know where the bloke came from, but a friend of Jack’s appeared and joined us. I remember thinking that I had somehow got myself caught up in a Kray’s tea party, and I did my best not to drink too much, and I also kept an eye on the time because it would take us 25 minutes or so to reach Wembley Central and walk to the ground. The two of them were pissed, drinking Double Diamond and rum and blacks. By 1.30, I was begging them to drink up. Jack’s mate then leant across the bar and said: ‘Don’t worry, son. You’ll win today. Take this fucking coin and fucking shut up’. The coin was a ‘lucky farthing’ which even then was scarce.

We got the train to Wembley, walked to the ground, and, to my utter amazement, Jack’s friend said goodbye and then walked off like Laurie Lee in the direction of Wembley High Street Station and the North Circular. To this day, I wonder where he was going and why he had joined up with us in the pub. Jack and I had tickets for different sections of the stadium but those of you old enough to remember, will recall that once in, if you could get your hands on the stub of a ticket for a particular section, you would be able to enter it. We duly separated at the stadium perimeter but met outside my enclosure, once we were in. I went in and stood in a space which was subsequently taken up by a very large gooner. Jack, very pissed, wanted to stand with me, so I asked the large man if he would lend me his ticket stub. At first he said no; he quite rightly told me that he had waited a long time for this and the ticket was his golden souvenir. I offered him £5 for the stub but he refused it. He then – and I am not surprised – extended the gooner hand of friendship and gave me the stub, trusting me to return it – which I did.

The match rolled on as you know until during extra time from behind the goal we watched Charlie George score and lie down like a poser. Jack managed to pick me up after the large gooner had leapt onto my shoulders and crumpled me into the concrete. The triumphant return journey to Headstone Lane was indeed triumphant. Jack and I drank in several pubs in Wembley before boarding the Bakerloo train home. We ended up in a Benskin’s pub in Hatch End together with several Liverpool supporters who were drowning their sorrows before starting that long lost route home. I vaguely remember Big Jack chanting ‘Everton, Everton’, and rather lewdly suggesting that the barmaid straddle the Watney’s Red Barrel pump on the bar. At around 11.30, Jack and I, having searched diligently and unsuccessfully for Reggie Kray’s lucky farthing, bid each other good night, several times, and eventually staggered off on our separate paths. It took me 45 minutes or so to cover the few hundred metres to my home. I remember screeching out a rendition of The Shadows’ Apache – Bruce Welch lived a few doors down, and it was also an impromptu tribute to Jack – and eventually opening the front door of our semi. In the living room, sat my best friend, his fiancée, and Jane Wyman. They had been waiting for me to go out for a pre-arranged meal since 7.30. My mum, who was going to babysit my daughter and my son, had long since deserted the ship.

I stared back.

‘We won.’

Cast adrift downstairs, I drank whisky all night to celebrate the victory. I can’t remember the Sunday at all but I do remember that just before I slipped into unconsciousness, I caught a frightening glimpse of the football future for all of us, gooners and non-believers alike. A mouse appeared out of a crack in the wall and a bat carrying a lucky farthing was flying around the living room, hovering.

From one lost weekend to another.

Paul Fowler

Alias: Don Birnam

20th November, 2010.


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44 Replies to “The lost weekend: a retrospective”

  1. Oh my God, Paul I am absolutly speechless.
    What a great article. A real masterpiece.
    Just what many of us needed I think. Thanks.

  2. What a great way to start the day – thanks Paul, brilliantly written, at times I felt I was there with you.

  3. Thanks Paul, really really thanks…
    Best thing could be found to be read, while I am hiding from outside world, cutting my self from all possible sources, including even tv or internet. Wake me after we beat Braga 🙂

  4. Thanks Paul, great stuff. I have many shared memories with you (except the heavy drinking and the being good at football)!
    As I said yesterday – which was picked up today – sh*t happens and, sometimes our reaction to it is the same as when good things happen. It took my wife (of 34 years now) quite a long time to understand that my mood when coming back from Highbury was the same if we’d won or lost. I was just totally drained of emotion.
    The following day (and, yes, going to work on Monday) were the times when the lasting emotion kicked in.
    It’s still a battle, as Walter pointed out, to understand how the result of a 90 minute game can be effected by a split second decision or tiny mistake.
    Somrtimes it’s in your favour and somrtimes it’s not.
    Football eh!

  5. Wenger is a poor tactician period. You are a big shame having broken all the negative records at Arsenal in the last few season. Your highly rated forwards like Van Persie and Bendtner chose the time of the derby to sprout nonsense and I have not seen any meaningful action against them from you. These two players should not be playing for Arsenal as they do not have the right mentality anymore. Together with Denilson and Vela they occupy a wage bill that can be used for a decent attacker and a deefensive mid fielder. Three occasions you have had to reach the summit of the EPL this season and three of the occasions you have blown away because you over pamper sub optimal players with bloated ego. Redknapp disciplined Pavlychenko and the rest when they messed up but not you, the good father, the charitable giver, the pROF, the need I say more? Thank you for making nonsense of the nearly GBP1000 worth of sourvenirs I bought at the Amoury on Thursday to distribute to people back home in Nigeria when we must have beaten hell out of Spuds. Thank you Mr. Wenger, thank you.

  6. This article is once again sugarcoating the cracks.
    How many more seasons before the dictator is thrown to the hounds?

  7. Well mate I am really really sorry for all souvenir’s you bought, please leave us mail here and I believe we can somehow found money and pay you it back, and you may wait again till we beat them to buy it again. Or you may, as well, take some Chelsea and Manure ones and switch them depending of results. If you cant live with defeats, don’t be supporter, because there is no team which didn’t lose game. Oh crap, there is.. which one? Arsenal.
    Yes Arsenal but they didn’t have this bloody French for manager..
    Oh crap yes they did….

  8. @dreamz

    I’ve an idea for you – this week you can be a Tottenham supporter and next week maybe a Chelsea fan… maybe if Arsenal win something this season you can be an Arsenal fan for a week or so – you should buy 3-4 different teams shirts and wear the one of the team that is winning at the time – that way you will always be happy and with glory on your side.

    By the way – ‘sugarcoating the cracks’ – that doesn’t even make any sense.

  9. Amrin – mate you are wasting your time here. You have to be pro wenger here or you get banned but I support the idea of letting the board, the manager and the players know the depth of frustration and anger amongst the fans but I would modify your idea. I cannot see fans willing to pay for tickets and not bother to show up, especially in this climate, so I would prefer the idea of a mass protest either before the game or after the game. It is unreasonable to expect fans who might only get to a few games a season to pass up the chance to attend a game so any demonstration would have to consider that point.
    Personally I would rather organise a demonstration outside the ground pre game with fans refusing to go in for the first ten minutes of the game or something like that. Maybe some fans groups could hand out fliers to fans at the turnstyles asking them to refuse to purchase any beverages or food in the ground for 1 match ?
    One thing I am sure about is that things should not be allowed to continue as they are. There is no ambition from the board to lift the club back up to a higher level as long as the dollars are rolling in and therefore no pressure on wenger to buck up his ideas which of course filters down to the players who are under no pressure to succeed. We as fans shouldn’t be expected to continue to shell out big money without having the right to question things. Is there any other type of business in the world where the customers opinions are so blatantly ignored and disregarded ? Bren yet again points out our current league position and how close we are to the chanvs and mancs but for me that is only looking at half the story – we as a club should surely set our own standards and should be responsible for at least meeting those standards on a consistent basis. If we then do meet those standards but should fall short of winning the trophies then we can at least say that we have done all that we can do but right now the board, the manager and the players cannot say that and I dont think that is acceptable

  10. @Dreamz hope some tottenham fans make your day really really miserable. hope you get tauted and abused at work or at school allday. That you througly deserve. Dreamz people like you dont deserve to win, they deserve to loose. So thank you for brightening my day. Atlest this loss has repayed your attitude. Idiots like you should not be allowed to support this team.
    You vent your anger at AW i vent my anger at you and the rest of the poo fans. Thank you for giving this loss a face to smash at. Atlest i can sit here with a smile on my face knowing you have a miserable day. knowing you hurt and knowing you cant do anything about it.

  11. Dreamz, being first now doesn’t mean anything when you are not first come May. Two seasons ago our ‘dictator’ was leading the league until march and still we lost it. So it means nothing now.

  12. oh dreamz, again, hope someone really makes you feel miserable today. it warms my heart to know our worst fans suffer as much as you do today.

  13. Walter you state the obvious. My point is how many more dramatic defeats before we are kicked out of the title race? Man U will take this laegue by storm with all their players coming back. And chelsea when they have their players back you will see the difference. And we are left with arsenal – who more or less had everyone back and still managed to self destruct. Need some experience in this team

  14. @dreamz

    That’s a really good idea, you should go and organise a demonstration and hand out leaflets on match day. If I were you I would go away right now and organise that very thing.

    Be sure to come back afterwards and tell us all what a great success it was!

  15. Dreamz for someone who is banned from this blog you leave awfully long comments. And the word ‘awfully’ was carefully chosen

  16. Yeah Dreamz I think you are right. We should be setting some standards.

    Let us start with the players who have played on saturday. As they are useless we should take them to the Tower of London and lock them up before we hang them on the highest tree you can find in London. That would be setting some new standards. That will teach them.

    And the manager will undergo the same as he is of course responsible for every bad mistake a player makes. he should have killed the players himself before coming out on the field.
    Maybe our next manager should be given a machine gun so when a player makes a mistake he can be shot at sight. Maybe Dreamz could be our new manager as he knows a lot more than all of us know including Wenger. Send your CV and the number of bullets required to Arsenal, I would suggest.

    Yeah, let us use this set of standards in the future. Never mind the laws that say you cannot kill anyone. We dreamz our own rules.

    I suggest you organise your protest your self a bit, mate. I will keep supporting my players even if they turn out to be human beings after a game and have made mistakes.

  17. I sow too many turnovers in my life to judge things in November. This game in title race mean nothing, or almost nothing. This is only big hit to our vanity and pride, in long term relations it mean nothing.

    Chelsea players who were on pitch against Sunderland and B’ham were 80% of their average squad, and holes are filled with players who on market worth same as those who were missing.
    On the other side, Manure is without idea, missing only Rooney, who will never be fully fit again, as you know it was not his form problem. And yes they miss Gigs, but how much he really play when fit?

    I am proud to be Gooner with or without this defeat. I know its easier to me as I don’t have to see ugly faces of “other ones”. But I also know they needed 17 years to beat us, and how many managers to change. Meanwhile we are still on top, we are in title race, and still they can only dream to be like us.

  18. The people that you so blindly follow, the man that once a legend is long gone. All we have now is a pathetic French c**t who should fuck off and do us all a favour.This is the last straw for me, the way I felt after the match, and the way I feel now has not changed. I have supported Arsenal a very long time and have been going to watch my beloved gunners for nearly 20 years.Never have I felt so bad in so many ways. The players he picks I have no admiration for apart from Nasri. Lets be honest he is the only player in the whole fucking team we love right now. Cesc is going so I don’t give a fuck about him anymore.Wonger will do nothing to change anything nor will he strengthen the team to build morale and motivation. He talks the same utter bollox every week about maturity, well if you signed a mature player you will get maturity. The difference in signing a world class player is obvious; ask those counts down the road.Wonger has lost the plot, I don’t think he is capabale of managing us and I don’t think he has the brain or the heart for it anymore. He is stuck in his ways and doesn’t understand the modern game. I have had so much heart break because of Wonger and I am sick of it. Trips to Wigan away I thought no way could be as bad and that at least I have suffered that so nothing can really beat it. Then we loose to the scum, first time since 1993.This is why that man who is our so called Manager is a c**t. He doesn’t deserve praise just because of what he used to do. I had a great month in September smashed a company target. Doing shit in October and November. this means I get called into my Boss for a bollocking

  19. Dreamz, I really think you should look for help. This is not healthy.
    Or maybe you could go to some other blogs wher they will adore you as their hero and where you can talk with people who think the same. Maybe it helps.

  20. Walter smart reply
    it is far easier to slate those of us who want shot of wenger by making it out to be simply cos we aint winning any trophies. Try looking at the quality of players he has earning, and I use that word lightly, mega money playing for our club nowadays. Try tooking at a continued lack of passion and commitment from these same players as apathy reigns supreme in the team. Try looking at the continued lack of proper investment in the team as wenger persists with some sub-standard and some basically shit players represent our club on a regular basis. Try watching one of the worst tactical minds in the history of the game getting continually outfoxed by the most average managers around and watch him when his tactical response comes in the form of much arm waving on the sidelines Try watching all those tough northern teams bully wengers team of pussies as he still refuses to buy the type of players that will soon put an end to this shite. Try listening to wenger continually defend his players, proclaim them as world beaters and blame the referee/dirty opposition/linesmen/cosmic forces for any and every embarrassing result we get

  21. Yes you are right comparing those things with life and job, just tell me is it shit to be third in league, 2 points behind leader? If you consider it as helpless situation and our reputation in danger, I agree with you…
    But before we call anyone on responsibility we have to know what someones tasks were and how much was done. So I ll repeat my self, apart from this bloody defeat, job is done more than successful, 2 points behind leader, step from second round in CL, beating most expensive squad in world at their home ground investing not even 10% of what they did…
    Considering it mate, I have no clue what you talking about

  22. First, a word of apology to the author. I thought it was a brilliant piece, and deserved a far better response than that which has happened above.

    Dreamz said “This article is once again sugarcoating the cracks.
    How many more seasons before the dictator is thrown to the hounds?” and that was it – after that this writer’s contribution had nothing much to do with the article. The writer Dreamz did however add that one gets banned if one is not pro-Wenger on this site, and quite obviously this morning that is not true.

    The argument that one could have been supporting Arsenal for many years but found this to be the worst moment is one that I don’t understand, since quite how one could find this situation with us being two points off the lead in the EPL, and with this depth of squad and variety of play worse than what I witnessed in the Rioch year, or indeed worse than in parts of the Graham era when we were not winning trophies, seems hard to understand. Indeed to Dreemz I would say, if you wish to explore that, please write an article comparing the Rioch era with this season.

    But for now, I would say, I would like any further comments to return to the article which I feel the Dreemz comments have taken us away from and onto the idea of a protest etc. Dreemz has not been banned, as he prophesised, but is now in moderation, so that I can check first if future comments are relevant to the post (a simple courtesy I feel). And the offer to Dreemz and anyone else who is anti-Wenger is still there. Send in a coherent piece in which opinions are backed up by some evidence (rather than throw away lines about feeling the worst ever after a lifetime of support) and I will publish it.

  23. I think we all got carried away a bit by Dreamz. And I must say that indeed the article from Paul deserved a better comment section.

    I think it summed very brillantly the possible ups and downs of being a Gooner (or any other team in fact).
    So once again I thank Paul for giving a broader view on things in a football fans live.

    I just hope your wife is one of the forgiving ones. 😉 I think I could have slept on the couch that night if not on the floor. 😉

  24. Quite right – appologies to the author… it’s just that I hired a decorator once who sugarcoated the cracks and I didn’t notice until the following summer when the ants came in and … well – it’s just a raw nerve for me.


  25. Paul. Sorry I got here late before all the crap and off topic comments from Dreamz and the necessary counter attacks. Took the gilt off the really good gingerbread!
    Your ’71 cup final memory was similar to mine. Having managed to get into the spuds and thus already on an enormous high, the cup final was just bliss…and it did demand a nectar or six. Result well pissed by the time I got home with parents waiting to take me to a “win or lose” party at a local club. My old lady was a tee-totaller but she realised that the only way to get any sense out of me was “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.” She got motherless…probably took no more than 2 G&Ts…and needed carrying home! What a Sunday morning. Thanks mate. Brought back some great memories.

  26. Thank you so much Paul for helping me lift myself up (since saturday…) – i’m still not totally up, still having uncontrolled convulsions when I think of the horror… but thanks ! It was one of the best reads in the past year.

    BTW my week begins on Sunday, so guess what, the gauntlet hits you one day earlier… 🙁

  27. I’ll proudly take this Arsenal with all it’s highs and lows, wins and losses, it’s players and it’s stadium… Over any other club in the world. I don’t care where we stand in the table, which player made a mess, or… I love the gunners unconditionally.

    All those who can’t stomach the lows, I will buy your season ticket any time!

  28. i hate the doomers as well. that being said, i seriously think we need to purchase a proper defensive midfielder and put denilson on notice that jogging back on counters is unacceptable. Also, we need to part company with RVP. 10-15 games a season, however spectacular, won’t do. get bendtner more playing time and maybe (hopefully!) have one substantial 20-26 year old world class striker acquired in May, or January, God willing. As for Cesc, well, hopefully Affelay keeps the Catalans in pig’s shit for one more season, and we sell him for big bucks in 2012. So frustrating. Wenger has a lot to think about, but to you fellows suggesting we part ways, consider his: there is no way Samir Nasri, Aaron Ramsey, hopefully Eden Hazard etc and all the other young talent chooses Arsenal over any other substantial Champions League team without the promise of improving under the tutelage of Arsene Wenger. My hope is that he eventually steps back as the coach and becomes a senior head of youth development, or something, but i fear his pride may regard this as a demotion. anyway, just my two cents.

    thanks again to the author for a poignant and reflective summation of the feelinngs many of us experienced this dreadful weekend.

  29. Paul, what a great piece. I have finally returned to the world after blockading myself from all forms of media.This is the first football related article I have read or saw since 3pm on Saturday. I started watching Saturdays game with my son (on tv of course as we live in Ireland)and at half time the 12yr old have a mission to complete on his PS3. Needless to say my screams of joy were shot down like red baloons one by one as the tinies drew level, and as if to spare me the ultimate misery and heart break, my tv kindly lost receiption before the 3rd goal was scored. It will take a win against Braga to bring any kind of sensation to my soul. I died a little as I watched the team I love surrender in their magnificent palace.

  30. The result was gutting of course and no cause for laughing. However, the reaction amongst the cyber-cretins has been predictably hilarious. They call for Wenger’s head and none stop to consider the ridiculousness of what they are saying and why. What has he done that is so terrible? He lost the home derby and that hasn’t happened for 17 years, they say. So sack him, they grunt. But he hasn’t been the manager for 17 years and that means he has never lost one before. Ever! That means his fantastic record in this fixture is the very reason you are quite so gutted by the loss and are subsequently calling for the very same man’s head! See? Ridiculous when spelled out isn’t it? Huh? They mumble, puzzled.

  31. @armin and @ casual observer,

    dreamz may be off the top but that does not necessary mean that he is doing a flip-flop. Wenger after 2 away wins proclaimed that the players exuded ‘maturity’, but after the derby loss, he was demanding ‘maturity’ from the players. So how is dreamz’s reaction different from Wenger?

    Calm down guys… The title is wide open and it is getting to be the most exciting and unpredictable league we have seen in a long while… and not least we are in good positions on all 4 competitions (well, FA cup has not started but I assume we are amongst the forerunners)

  32. Last year around this time we were 8 points behind the leader. This time 2 points. So what is the trouble? we even fell to 11 points behind the leaders at the start of december. And in January we were on top for a moment. As long as we are in touching distance with the leaders nothing is lost and even an 8 points gap could be closed last year in one month.

    The league has changed a lot since a few seasons and it will take less points to become champions even more in the future. This isn’t the Scottish PL or La Liga in Spain where you only have 2 clubs that rule everything.

    No the EPL is a league where any team can beat any team on the day. And this results in more defeats then we were used to.

  33. hello
    I have not posted for a while.
    I would just like to point out that when seaman was lobbed, Wenger certainly wasn’t the manager. the cartoon you speak of was obviously either made up or mis-remembered.

    The problem with this website is that the emphasis is too much on the literary.

    Tony, you and your writers have to come down from your semi-educated perch and understand (like all the post-structuralists from Barthes to Derrida right up to Baudrillard) that there is no inherent merit to your writing. Your articles and the articles in the Sun are of equal value.

    You would be the first to pounce on basic a mistake like the one in this article as evidence of bad journalism.

  34. @Zebidiah

    Also, with regards to there being ‘too much emphasis on the literary’ – there are several regular articles that are based on facts figures and stats – rather than opinion, human interest or entertainment. What, I feel, this site does well is avoid the spectacular, you mention Baudrillard and articles being of equal value (etc) – I would argue that you example (‘The Sun’) as an entity purporting to give ‘news’ is become something of a hyper-reality in that it is transcendeding the narrative – especially in regards to ‘sports news’ and absolutely in terms of Arsenal football club.
    The merit in these pages is an attempt to ground this media bombardment and give something of a contrary perspective to a fanbase that is losing its way from the reality of the game they support and into the definition that post-modern society and sports journalism is giving them… it doesn’t always hit the mark, I’ll grant you, but it is in the right direction.
    Personally I feel that football is balancing on a knife edge between the needs of a legitimate competition and a business – if you think that there is no greater merit in one of those needs over the other then you cease to become a fan of football (and this rather removes you point of view from the context entirely).
    Tell me – how would a post-structuralist support a football club exactly? I reckon there’s an article in that…

  35. Well said A Casual Observer! Spot on comment and response to Zebidiah’s nonsense. I must also commend you for being able to comprehend and clarify Zebidiah’s comment, who unlike you seems to be unable to grasp the aim of firstly, Untold Arsenal as a whole (well everyone is entitled to an opinion I suppose!), and secondly to the above article. For the record Zebidiah as “A Casual Observer” so clearly informs you – Untold Arsenal has a broad range and sweep of articles and to my mind, and I am not a post-structuralist by the way, and I certainly do not adhere to what I believe is your definition of post-structuralism, and by this I mean a variety of post-modernism defined by its reaction against structuralism in Arsenal sorry France, derived from the view that words mean what they do through their relations with each other rather than their relationship to an extra-linguistic reality. For the record (and if you had spotted it), the above author actually leaves an additional comment later on apologizing for the wenger oversight/mistake in relation to the story of the cartoon (which certainly isn’t made up, as I clearly remember it myself, albeit it was a number of years ago!). You were perhaps merely echoing Nietzsche’s hostility to the reduction of human phenomena to law like generalizations, much like the newspaper (and I use this term loosely) you obviously hold in such high regard. In light of you distaste for anything literary, I can only ask if you are indeed semi-literate? And if so, then may I suggest you stick to the aforementioned tabloid.

  36. Flashman. You are a fool who with the help of wikipedia and google has thrown out some buzz-words to make yourself feel better and all clever no doubt.awww bless.

    The problem is that this website has some notion of grandeur, of viewing itself as “better” than the sun and le grove.

    Your comment about my being semi-literate and therefore having to stick to the Sun is proof in point that the writers and readership of this website on the whole believe themselves to be superior.

    The post-structuralists would see this notion of applying such reductive terms of superiority/inferiority to writing as absurd. A limerick and a kafka novel are as important and as meaningful as each other. Untold arsenal depends on the sun and le-grove for its very existence.. its points can only exist when in relation to its external counterpoints.

    Football and its support rests firmly in the semiotic register…(bodyily expression,chants,songs)the drivel that is spouted here is firmly in the symbolic…where these notions of superior/inferior are formed.

    now flashman off you go to wikipedia for your rebuttal.

  37. Thank goodness we have well educated people like you Zeb whom Tony and Untold Arsenal do not have to rely on unlike The Sun. Your chosen pseudonym conveys your modesty unless it is your real name. No, surely not; it can’t be, not old testament and knowing about wiki…sorry you’ve lost me. I think you are Joseph K, and we know what happened to him don’t we? Look it up on wiki…sorry, again. Gregor…sorry. Just checked wiki – send me to the penal colony. There once was a man called Zebidiah whose ego was very much higher; he thought he was it and wrote so much shit a gooner said that Zeb is dire! Do you think The Sun would like this awful pun, Zebedee? Now go away (Fu**k off) you ridiculous tw*t.

  38. ha ha we see your true colours.vulgar little man.full of vulgarity. embrace it.

    I have a kafka story for you that you wont be able to wikipedia “A message from the emporer” of course since you only speak english you will have to read in translation.if you can read anything that is not explained for you by wikipedia that is.

    I will not go away until hypocritical people like you are put firmly in their place.

    tell e what is the place for vulgar little men like you? perhaps we should have a machine inscribe the words fuck off you twat into your chest as you are executed…but you’ll have to check in the penal colony again in google do get the refrerence since you havent read it much less understood it.

  39. Since you know everything about me, and with such certainty, why don’t you write my reply to you? If you want me to spell check it for difficult words like’emperor’, I will. And because I am not a polyglot like you, Zebedee, from now on would you write in English, please. A few capital letters might help as well! Good use of the word anaphora by the way, by the way! Be gone, Zebedee, you false prophet.

  40. Why do I have a feeling that thingz are getting out of control in this website nowadayz…? Its not that I’m feeling insecure but damn it, its like a goddamn kids nursery here…! Slowly there’s no arguments about Arsenal nor the related article but more childish war-of-words between so-called Untold faithfuls… Grow up people… ‘Dreamz’ and ‘Zebidiah’, obviously, you are not wanted here, not because the rest of us hate you, but your disrespectful and oblivious comments which bring no sense or benefit for anyone… We accept fair criticism but not cheap abuse… Why dont you people go and fly kites instead…? Its dreamy and sky-high…

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