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.
- WSL 2022-23 Arsenal v Everton – Match Preview
- Which Arsenal transfer tale is being repeated the most often?
- How much have Arsenal’s rivals spent on transfers in recent years?
- Why is it becoming so difficult to find a sponsor for new football stadium?
- Corruption flares up again in Italy, as Premier League figures don’t look too clever