The Thomas Vermaelen Ronseal Interview and Singing to Giroud
Part 1 – The Giroud Shame
I do hope you enjoyed the “insider scoop” that was my blog from yesterdays FA Cup Press Day. I think anyone who was witness to my Twitter account yesterday could testify that my excitement was secreting from every word.
Thank you all who followed my account on the back of my befuddled meanderings, I pray that you haven’t got your hopes aimed towards revelations of this extent every week. Mostly you’ll get a sporadic blog and expletive-ridden musings regarding what Mikel Arteta uses on his hair (I’m going for egg). I digress. Thank you all.
I aim to titillate our eyes with breathtaking divulgences and cloak and dagger activities that go on behind the scenes at our beloved club. I’ll aim for it, but seeing as I don’t work for a newspaper that demands sensationalism regardless of situation, I’ll make you a deal. I’m going to type the interviews word for word. VERBATIM. No out of context comments. No unintended double entendres. Just exactly what they said. Just like Ronseal. Sound good? If not, well, I still have to inform you of the tail end of my day……
After the interviews, which, to set the scene had taken place in the same Press room that we had been in most of the day and by this time the temperature had risen exponentially, due to being unable to open the windows due to sound interference (damn you to Tottenham, natural wildlife). I had shorn myself of my suit jacket and had rolled up my shirt-sleeves, revealing my popeye-esque forearms. I noticed that no-one else had copied my carefree style. Probably because none of them were of Scottish descent and melted when the temperature approached 10 degrees, but hey-ho, it’s good to be different.
Back to the hot-box. We had waited a while for the players to turn up and the mood had darkened considerably within the ranks. The rag writers were attempting the type of banter that is meant to exhibit them as everyday LADZ but at the same time sharper than Jodie Marsh’s nose. I had achieved another dream of mine in the same day so I was in a deep reverie. Not particularly thinking much, not in my happy place either. I was IN my happy place. Once the last player had left the hotbed of questioning, the hacks, journos, TV tech guys and assistants all started to pack up. Some just made a beeline for the door, some, like Henry Winter and John Cross, sat down with some paltry snack food and got to work on their laptops. One of the bloggers had left before the interviews had taken place so that left three of us. A lovely gent called Dave who is the brains behind @Gunnerholic and the indomitable Tim who is @LittleDutchVA. I had talked sparingly on Twitter to Tim on a number of Arsenal related topics and had no cause for complaint. I was aware that due to his high follower count that he does face vilification on a regular basis but I found him to be a knowledgeable chap with a dry sense of humour.
Once we realised that this was the nadir of our wonderful day, we made our way to the smoking area which is just outside reception. I had offered to give Tim a lift back to the station as he had to walk the last two miles to get to the training Ground. Yeah, I know, I’m a real giver (steady!). I had also offered the same lift to the Lady with the Cojones as she faced the same arduous trek across many roads and roundabouts with hazardous or no pavement. Hero. As I was having a last drag on my cigarette the chiselled jawline and frankly floopy haircut that is Olivier Giroud started to walk towards me. He was approaching fast, too fast for my mind to think of anything memorable.
Quick, you useless grey lump, regurgitate a witty anecdote, puke up a funny, screw it, sing La Marseillaise, anything but just standing prone with a fag in your mouth like an ugly extra from a 1970’s sitcom. What did my cerebral centre give me? What wonderful offering did it send 1st class to my mouth in this epic moment of my life? Bearing in mind now Olivier Giroud was now two feet away. Tim had opted for the silent approach, which in hindsight was the best option, but I never liked silence. It’s never been an ally to me.
My brain made me do it. I started to sing Ollies’ song. Yes, the Giroud version of Hey Jude. The anthem that reverberates around all grounds we play, home or away. The problem was though, that at this precise moment, the overstuffed filing cabinet that is my brain decided to have a POETS Day (Piss Off Early Tomorrows Saturday for those not au fait with stupid acronyms ). My normally crystal clear falsetto descended into a monotone drone that would put dolphins off their meal. It was out of time, it was out of tune, I was out of my freaking mind with panic.
Luckily enough I forgot the Superpower that all people of French descent possess. The ability to move a part of their torso or face minutely to express their quizzical approach. The Gallic shrug, the raise of an eyebrow. Giroud went for a slightly elevated eyebrow and rapidly left the scene, probably on the phone to his security team as he ran. Once my soul had finished dying, I apologised to Tim and explained my nature and compulsion to which he was more than understanding. We all jumped in the Jokmobile and made our way to the station. End of our day. The memories will last however.
Part 2 – The Interview
I feel I must apologise. Looking back on the day, the best photo opps were during the interviews but seeing as my phone was laying belly up used as a recorder no less than a foot away from said player, I couldn’t interrupt the interview and say “Hey, Tommy, let’s drop the questions for a sec and take a selfie?”. I did, however, get every sound that emanated from the Verminators various apertures.
Thomas walked in and I made a beeline for the desk with my phone in hand. I snuck in a quick “Hi Thomas”, to which he replied “Hi”. The best word from a Belgian I’ve ever had. I left my phone on record, making sure he saw that it was housed in an Arsenal case. Oh yes, it’s all in the details. If we’re going to be bestest friends, then I can’t skimp on the small things. I scurried back to my chair and the peppering began…
Q – How’s the fitness for Saturday?
TV5 – I’m doing well at the moment, I’ve got two days left to make Saturday and hopefully I will.
Q – Nearly everybody is fit, it’s going to be a difficult team selection, can you put into words what it would mean to lead out the team at Wembley?
TV5 – Yeah, everybody knows the Cup Final is special, erm, everybody wants to play in Finals as a player, so, for me also it would be something special to be out there.
Q – How much of this getting over this 9 year wait for a trophy at Arsenal a mental thing?
TV5 – Yeah, we know there has been a lot of talking about the, not winning trophies for a long time and for us it would be important, the final, to win there.
Q – Do you think winning on Saturday can act as a catalyst and Arsenal can kick on and challenge even better for the title and other trophies?
TV5 – Yeah, hopefully, it would give us a massive boost anyway if we could win it and for the next few years as well. There is loads of potential in this team, a lot of good players, so, it would give them confidence for the following years. (Talking about the team separately, giving THEM confidence in the FUTURE. Make of that what you will)
Q – You’ve not been a regular in the team this season, is it something you’re going to have to consider over the summer, your future here?
TV5 – No, I mean, It’s not important, my future here at the moment, I mean, we’re in front of an FA Cup Final, my focus is there and my future isn’t important at the moment. ( The press guy from Arsenal positively bristled at this question. )
Q – Have you spoken to the Manager about your….
TV5 – It’s not about that, my future is not important. (Had enough of that did The Verminator. Straight in.)
Q – Thomas, the statistic about 9 years without a trophy is of course associated with Arsene Wenger, is there a determination amongst the players to win this for him?
TV5 – Erm, yeah, for everybody, you do it for him, for the players, erm, for the fans, When I said there’s been a lot of talk about us not winning for a long time and er, yeah, we are doing it all together, the whole club and we’re doing it for him as well.
Q – Have the players spoken this week about what happened in the League Cup Final in 2011 against Brum, the fact you were such heavy favourites that day, are you cautious of that this time around about not being complacent?
TV5 – Err, no, we actually don’t think about it. Every Final is something special, something different and of course that happened, that was the past and er, we have to make sure that doesn’t happen again. (You’re damn right Tommy, about 100000 Gooners will suffer cardiac arrest if it does)
Q – What do you make of Hull, I mean, you obviously beat them comfortably in the League, not long ago, has that given you confidence ahead of this match or…..
TV5 – I wouldn’t say comfortable, because if you look at the 1st half we played, they made it quite difficult, they battled a lot, long balls and uh, so it wasn’t easy for us in the 1st half and after we scored our 1st goal it was much easier. Hull is a good team, they have a great manager and er, what I said, the Final is always something special so it doesn’t mean we are going to win easily.
Q – Thomas, were there any particular Hull players that stood out for you in the 2 games that you should face Saturday?
TV5 – Yeah, if you look at the players they have, they have individually of course some quality, they bought some new strikers in the winter but I heard they can’t play. They, er, have some good players in midfield with Livermore, Huddlestone, so, they have some individual quality, er, they can make it difficult.
Q – Thomas, how big a boost is it having Jack Wilshere back, he’s out on the training ground this morning, he’s having a laugh with the players, what’s it like just having him back amongst you?
TV5 – Yeah, everybody knows he’s a quality player for us and he can give us a massive boost towards the end of the season and towards the final now. He’s been struggling with some injuries lately, but when he’s in the team he always gives something extra, his creativity, he’s very strong on the ball, so, I think as a team we are very happy he’s back.
Q – Obviously alongside Aaron Ramsey who scored the wonder goal last week, have you been giving him some stick about that?
TV5 – Err, I mean he’s been so important for us, he’s been unlucky, he’s been injured for such a long time, er, after the winter. With the goals he’s scored this season, he has a big engine, he can run a lot. So he’s been so important for us.
Q – And obviously looking to the summer, it’ll be massive with the World Cup, y’know, to cap it with an FA Cup win, then onto bigger things in the summer?
TV5 – Yeah, I mean it’s always nice to go into a World Cup, or for some players a holiday, with a cup, so, we know what we have to do on Saturday.
Q – Thomas, you missed Arsenal’s last Cup Final in 2011 through injury. Can you talk about how difficult that period was for you, to have to sit on the sidelines while they were going for major honours?
TV5 – Yeah, I mean, the whole time was difficult for me, to be out for such a long time but, it has been a while as well, but er, missing big games like Finals is never easy, to be honest, so…. ( Thomas is going isn’t he…. )
Q – Were you at Wembley that day?
TV5 – I was at Wembley, I was in the stands.
Q – What did you make of that game?
TV5 – That was a long time ago, of course it was a very disappointing result, y’know, everybody knows that and er, well I say we can’t think about that, on Saturday it’s a different game again, a lot of changes have gone on in the team, a lot of players, a lot of players left so, we have to make sure that doesn’t happen again.
Q – On a personal note, does missing that game make you more determined to be involved on Saturday?
TV5 – Yeah, of course, I try my best to, to try to be fit for Saturday.
Q – Thomas, can I ask you, a lot of people watched the FA Cup as a child, did you and can you remember one match in particular?
TV5 – Hmm, it’s difficult because where I grew up in Belgium we couldn’t watch the FA Cup final so… I’ve watched back some finals that Arsenal have played lately, I’ve seen some images of that, but for me it’s difficult to remember a lot of Cup Finals.
Q –What does the FA Cup mean to the team in the dressing room?
TV5 – I mean it’s very important for us, er, it’s a big thing, you know, in England, winning the FA Cup, er, it would be amazing, so for the team it’s so important, they’re very ambitious and hungry to win on Saturday.
Q – It was a very tight encounter at times in the Semi-final. The fans seemed to…their mood changed quickly, it became quite oppressive. Have you got a message for the fans to keep supporting you whatever the situation?
TV5 – I mean, uh, the fans have been amazing for us the whole season, as well in Wembley, I’m sure and confident they will be there again on Saturday. I’ve heard there will be a massive screen at The Emirates, thousands of people, so er, we’re thankful for the support & very happy we have such great fans.
Q – The pressure was considerable on the team. Arsenal looked like they could miss out on qualification for the CL and that would put you on the back foot, does that mean the pressure won’t be as great should Arsenal be on the back foot again as you’ve proven you can come back?
TV5 – There will always be pressure for a Cup Final and uh, the players are used to playing under pressure because if you play for a Club like Arsenal, you need to win every single game, er, people expect that, so, on Saturday it wouldn’t be different, so, the pressure will be there to win.
At this point, the English speaking questions had concluded and Flemish speaking had started (You’ll need a hankie if you attempt it…..ha!). I tried in vain to interpret what was being said, pick important tit-bits out amongst the Flem-ish, but to no avail. After 2 or 3 questions, Thomas had fulfilled his media obligations and exited the room.
Two other interviews took place but I really can’t face typing them out. I’ve given the recordings to @FindingCotton, I have no idea if they will be able to be put up, but I’m sure they will give everyone a heads up.
Interview in full: Thomas Vermaelen
What a day. I won’t forget it. It was the best consolation prize to missing out on Cup Final Tickets there ever has been. I sincerely hope you enjoy Part 2 of my blog, if you lapped up my prose like a cat with milk laced with catnip, then give me a follow and I’ll inundate you with my garbage.
Thanks once more to @DaveSeager66 and @FindingCotton for their help and support.