All the people you would really prefer not to sit next to at Arsenal

by Michael Fisher and Tony Attwood

There is this supporter. She is, well, different. She inhabited Highbury, and she is now in residence at the Ems. She is there at every game. She has her own seat and such is her presence that some people edge away. Others have signed a petition to have her removed, or at least to get her to shut her up.

She is known as Mad Maria of Malta. Undoubtedly a very nice lady in real life, but she has a habit. She is a one woman choir with her own chants. Chants that no one else ever takes up, but which she delivers game after game.

“Hello hello. “We are the Arsenal girls” and so forth.

Michael: “She inhabits club level, she is very irritating but apparently seems to live for it. Many, who have been given the Club ticket for a match are reluctant to go again. But at least she gives shouts of encouragement – she never utters a negative word.

“She used to sit towards the back of the East Upper , Clock End side. where she would crank up the “Commmme ooon yoooou Gunnerrrrss” like a female cockerel every 10 minutes or so & generally got applauded for it.”

Tony: “Except by the occasional Silver Member who found him/herself sitting immediately in front of her.”

Michael: “The bloke who sat next to me, was apparently a solicitor involved with ‘Fat Stan’ Flashman, had to have someone to hate. 1st it was Hartson – he said 1…2….3 etc counting the number of touches to control the ball, then it was Merson, then Parlour & Dixon ‘you can’t get anywhere with a 56-86 year old full back’ (age dependent presumably on performance) & finally inexplicably DB10 – ‘lost it’!! I think they must all have been giving his misses a good ‘seeing to’. In quieter conversations during the game he actually knew his football.”

Tony: “Curiously, my friend Roger, with whom I went to Arsenal for countless years, also had a thing about Parlour and Dixon. Our season tickets were a few seats apart so we couldn’t chat through the matches, but at half time and at the end we’d be straight into the match analysis. I always thought both were good players, but they had to have had a stunning game before I would even tentatively dare say, ‘I thought Dixon was ok today…’ and even then Roger would find a fault. ‘He must look great in training for Graham to keep playing him’, was a common complaint. After Dixon scored that stunning own goal (against Coventry I think) I knew I would never win the argument.”

Michael: “One bloke had a running battle with a chap in front of us, who happened to be a baker. The baker wasn’t too kind on the younger players, who were all useless, so the retort was ‘how were your fist buns ?’.

The baker was also not too pleased that, even though we might be 4-0 up playing scintillating football, we did not score with headers. He was at full volume, as usual, at a corner “well who’s going to head it then??” when Freddie (I think) nodded one in simultaneously.”

Tony: “Half way through last season, we found ourselves immediately in front of a guy who had three phrases he used in rotation: “Too short Arsenal!” was one, then there was, “Second ball!” and then finally “Where’s the movement Arsenal?” I was bemused at first – the guy was saying it in a voice that we could hear, but he wasn’t shouting it at the players – it was just there to irritate us, and the guys next to him. And it had nothing at all to do with the play. At one stage Bendtner did one of those 40 yard passes that he worked on through last season, and it was picked up by Van Persie, and the daft bugger said, “Too short!” because that was next in the rotation. I’ve got my own back on him however – I’ve created a supporter in the book I’ve been writing (‘Making the Arsenal’) who does this all the way through the game.”

Michael: “A classic from GGs early days came towards the end of a run of 10 straight wins. Bloke behind me said to his neighbour “playing well aren’t we?” The reply was “but we ain’t bought no one !!” Also, from my own lips & 1/2 a dozen of my friend when claiming a handball – “he took the laces off it, ref !!” or when a ‘keeper is hopelessly beaten but the ball just goes over – “well left Manuel !!”

Tony: “Reminds me of a guy who sat alongside me when I had a season ticket in the West, who would say, “Stop running bloody rings around them and score a fucking goal.”

Michael: “You mentioned worst seasons recently. One of the worst periods was towards the end of Terry Neill’s reign. A particularly poor game, against Notts County, was memorable for 2 reasons. 1st a bloke died (presumed bored to death) a few rows behind me, then we managed to get a latish winner. I jumped up & accidentally knocked the bloke in front’s hat off. He went berserk & nearly attacked me. It calmed down and he put his hat back on. The next game he had to take it off, for some reason, & I realised that he had purchased a very poor toupee.”

Tony: “Years back I went to Forest v Arsenal but couldn’t get a ticket at the Arsenal end, so bought one in the main stand among the Forest supporters. Tried really hard not to let my commitments show, and when Forest scored, although I didn’t jump up, I sat there and clapped dutifully. When Ian Wright equalised I did the same, rather stupidly saying to the man next to me by way of explanation, “got to admit it was a clever goal”. He went spare, put his face within a millimeter of mine and screamed at me. After about five minutes he pulled away, but shouted at me all through the rest of the game. As the final whistle went he turned to me, put out his hand for a shake, and said, “well played, no hard feelings mate.”

Any more thoughts anyone?

Want to read the piece again? Try Team Talk in half an hour.

19 Replies to “All the people you would really prefer not to sit next to at Arsenal”

  1. Ha ha very good.

    A group of us went to the Nou Camp when we played Barcelona in ’99. I had to pretend to be the son of a Barca member to get into the Stadium on a guest ticket. It only took 2 goes despite me being a foot taller than the guy and not looking remotely like him.

    Anyway the seat was great, right behind the goal in the bottom tier. The guy next to me was about 60, and reminded me of Don Corleone in the Godfather. All the way through the match he puffed away on a cuban cigar, and spoke to (at) me for the whole game. Great game, lovely bloke, we left the stadium the best of friends. Only thing was I didn’t understand a word he said all night!

  2. Excellent article, it’s very impressive work. Nice to get some inside stories of the fans in the stadium, having never been to an Arsenal home game myself, or a game in England at all, for that matter. The contrast in fans of different countries always amazes me. Again, superb post, Tony.

  3. The last example you give reminds me of the time I made the mistake of going to Ashton Gate (anyone remember Bristol City in Div 1?) and stood at the East End where the boot boys congregated. While I didn’t celebrate any of our goals I did leap into the air, a lone voice in a sea of people pretending not to have seen Norman ‘Bites Yer Legs’ Hunter hack Liam Brady down just yards in front of them. “Penalty” I screamed, then slowly subsided and tried to melt into the crowd.
    I always favoured Rovers over City anyway.

  4. How about at our unfortunate last game against Chelsea some git shouting “Close him down!…Close Him Down!!…CLOSE HIM DOWN!!!” for the whole 90 mins, every time an opposing player got the ball, even the goalie. In retrospect, should have kept my mouth shut.

  5. just read an article from sky regarding melo.


    To copy once might just be a slip, but twice????

  6. Some on here said they prefer AFC to remain


    naughty naughty – came from Team Talk

  7. Great stuff Tony.

    A memory I have is of an away cup tie, at Shrewsbury, in the late 1960s. These games were never easy, it was a tight game, a draw I think. In those days both sets of supporters mingled together & the ground was packed.

    Throughout the game (even before it I suspect) one Shrewsbury fan had it in for Ian Ure, our very blond, talented but very error prone Scottish CB. It was – “Ure’s the man- dirty bastard” or “get the f###ker off, ref!!”. I finally turned round & saw that the Ure hater was about 75. Not only that but he was sporting a “dog collar”. I assume he was a vicar from somewhere in Shropshire.

  8. Back at Highbury I spent the last few years in the East Upper, at the North Bank End.
    The annoying fan was probably me as I tried to get songs going which disturbed most of the more elderly fans (and there were loads of them up there) who wanted to watch the game in peace and quiet.
    At one game someone shouted at me to shut up, and I shouted something back.
    Finally the guy behind me had had enough. He tapped me on the shoulder and said, “I’ve been coming here since the war, you know.” I think it was his way of saying be quiet.

    On Maria, I have never sat next to her, but have, of course, heard her vocal support. Good luck to you, Maria. If only more of our fans had your passion.

  9. Perry Groves, warming up along the touchline, near the corner of the North Bank. Crowd shout out: “Perry!” He continues with his warm up, ignoring the cries of support. Crowd: “Oi Perry! Give us a wave!” He steadfastly ignores the crowd, concentrating on his groin stretches. Crowd: :C’mon Perry etc…..”
    Eventually Perry turns to the North Bank and obediently smiles and waves. At which point 2,000 fans shout “W**ker” accompanied by 2,000 hand gestures!

  10. Andy, while we all of us enjoy debating the pros and cons of transfers, we do operate a topic based blog here, and the topic today was all the people you would prefer not to sit next to – a sort of light-hearted certainly non serious weekend meander.

    It is disrespectful to readers and followers of the blog to drop comments about other issues into the middle of this. The last 14 other topics are still open for you to comment there.

    One other point: you write as if you believe what the papers and Sky are saying. On what possible basis can you draw such a conclusion that they are reporting something truthful? How do you know what Wenger and the team are up to behind the scenes?

    If you genuinely do believe what the media says about Arsenal, I am not sure you are going to find much sustenance for your ideas here.

    But look, why not tell us about someone who you sat next to one time at Arsenal and who was a pain in the arse. Maybe someone who copied what the guy next to him said? A sort of terrace equivalent of Team Talk.

    Go on, tell us. It won’t hurt.

  11. Andy528 – I refer you to my comment earlier in the week as to why we do not need Usmanov.

  12. There is a bloke the row behind me, a few seats to the left, who shouts “shoot” ALL the time. it drives me mad, he even does it when we have the ball in our own half and facing backwards. The worst bit is he thinks it is really funny and starts giggling at his kids, who thankfully all think he is a twit it seems, as if he has just done something really clever. This has been going on for 2 years.

    There is a man and his boy who sit behind my Nan, they just talk through the whole game and the kid tells the old man everything he ever read last week in ‘world soccer’. For 3 years now, since he broke into the first team, they have been singing this silly song that just involves saying ‘clichy’s getting better la la la’ over and over again. Even my Nan huffs and grumbles about how he has been brilliant for 2 years now and why dont they just shut up.

    The guy in the wheel-chair behind block 4 who throws out a steady stream of invective every time walcott touches the ball. Stewards should really have a word, but i guess it would look bad. I dont sit in teh disabled enclosure often, but i cant wait for next time, see what he thinks about theo now.

  13. As along time reader and fan of arsenal am sceptical that this window will not be used wisely by wenger and the board sighting monetary issues as the reason. This summer will undoubtedly pressurize wenger, a poor job come august will to increase the call for a change, as the past is still fresh?

  14. and staying on the topic – the strangest people i have sat next to are well there is too many to re-call – there was one fella who couldn’t stop swering from the kick off then there was one blole who told me to watch his seat while he comes back from a whizz but he never did and the other joker is the nutty professor we have at the helm ha ha ah

  15. mason,

    off topic again.However according to the official website a new 5 year deal at 80K a week is going to be concluded this week.

    Personally,i would wait until it is in black and white.

  16. Hands down, the person I would not like to sit next to at an Arsenal match would be Anthony Kastrinakis, the reporter from The Sun. I’m not a violent person by nature, but I think I would be sorely tempted to punch Mr Kastrinakas in the groin. Hard. Twice.

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