Darren’s New Year Special Season Diary – BELIEVE in 2015
Ok, it may be a little late for a New Year’s Special, but as you will probably have people wishing you a happy new year until mid-February I think we can let that slide, don’t you?
January – What a fucking depressing time of year that is.
Non-stop eating and being socially acceptable to drink alcohol for breakfast seem like a distant memory, there’s only those chocolates in the blue wrapper left in the Quality Street tin, the kids have discarded most of the presents you put so much effort into buying and are now back at school, after spending the last few days of the holidays driving you potty, and you can’t walk more than two feet in London without walking on a bit of Christmas tree.
The only thing left to look forward to in the near future is a cold month of abject poverty, with dinners consisting of whatever you’ve not used throughout the year from the freezer and some questionable looking tinned goo that you never knew you had in the back of the cupboard, while you wait for Decembers credit card bill to arrive.
New Year, New Me? Fuck right off.
As if that isn’t bad enough, from the very first minute of the New Year we have the transfer window to deal with.
Oh yes, the smell of chestnuts roasting on an open fire has been replaced by bullshit spewing from an ITK’s keyboard.
You would think they (and we) would learn by now wouldn’t you?
Transfer Window Tips of the Week
The most important tip I can give you on dealing with the transfer window is that you don’t actually have to deal with it at all – IGNORE EVERYTHING.
It’s not just Agent Wanksock tweeting from his mum’s house during his masturbation breaks from battling 50 year old virgins on World of Warcraft either.
Everyone’s at it.
Just because it comes from a tabloid or “credible” looking source doesn’t give it any substance.
A general rule of thumb is simply this; if it looks like bullshit and smells like bullshit – it is bullshit.
The second most important rule is to not to get sucked in so deep that before you know it you’ve asked for “a CB and a beast DM pleeeeeeease!” when ordering your lunch, at which point you are asked to leave the premises.
Unless it’s McDonald’s, where they’ll just ask if you want regular or large…..
Anyway, no New Year Special worth its salt would be complete without a review of the previous year would it?
2014 – The Good, The Bad and The BOLACS
The Good – The Year We Won The FA Cup
I think we all know that there were a few low points last year, but given time to reflect, I’m pretty sure that almost every Arsenal fans overriding Arsenal memory of 2014 will be of the year that famous 9,000 year trophy drought was finally put to bed when we lifted the FA Cup.
If it isn’t, then I think you are doing this football thing all wrong, personally, but there you go.
Anyway, here are my end of year awards. Or something.
Highlight of 2014
1 – The Arsenal winning the FA Cup
2 – The Arsenal FA Cup winners’ parade
3 – The Arsenal winning the FA Cup, followed The Arsenal FA Cup winners’ parade the following day.
Best of the rest: FA Cup quarter final vs Everton, Liverpool in the fifth round, Spurs in the third round.
Yeah, unsurprisingly I’ve gone for a full house of FA Cup-ness here.
The Arsenal winning the FA Cup was obviously the event of 2014, but I felt the parade the next day had to be up there too, as it really was a personal highlight of the year, even more so due to the fact that I am fortunate enough that it took place almost on my doorstep.
I won’t go over it all again, you can read my account of the day here
As for the best of the rest; The Everton game is right up there for me as the realisation in the second half that we were going to Wembley, albeit only for the semi-final at the time, made the possibility of an end to that trophy drought seem very real.
Same with the Liverpool game; nobody, including everybody that I drank with before the game, gave us a chance after being tonked the week before and stories of Giroud dipping his wick emerging the night before. (Tabloids breaking a story like that about an Arsenal player, the night before we were playing Liverpool, who’d have thunk it?)
The atmosphere was one of the best I experienced at the Emirates towards the end of that Liverpool game, and I’m told the same about the Spurs game, which there’s a good chance I’d have had further up the list if I’d been able to attend the game.
Most Important Goal of 2014
1 – Per Mertesacker vs Wigan, FA Cup semi final
2 – Aaron Ramsey vs Hull City, FA Cup final
3 – Santi Cazorla vs Hull City, FA Cup final
Best of the rest; Laurent Koscielny vs Hull City, FA Cup final, Mikel Arteta’s penalty vs Everton.
For a team that supposedly don’t play good football any more we scored some pretty tasty goals last year, in my opinion.
So rather than go all Match of the Day on you, I thought I would pick what I felt were the most important goals instead.
In truth, there is very little to choose from those three goals and the order changes every time I think about it.
I’ve chosen Per’s as number one here as we were teetering dangerously on the brink in that semi-final, and the atmosphere among the Arsenal fans in Wembley was beginning to turn uncomfortably hostile.
That was a massive, massive moment, and one that Wigan never recovered from, in my opinion.
Likewise, Santi’s stunning free-kick just before half time was obviously a huge turning point in the final, and the third choice – Aaron’s winner – a huge moment in Arsenal’s history, the one that will go down in the record books as the goal that won Arsenal the FA Cup.
For the best of the rest, obviously Kos’ equaliser in the final speaks for itself, but another big ‘un for me was Mikel Arteta showing bollocks the size of water melons with that re-taken penalty against Everton in the quarters.
The Bad – Labels and Pigeonholes
The downside if 2014 was the realisation towards the latter part of it that the Arsenal fanbase is divided in such a way that I’m not sure it’ll ever be completely undivided again.
I can live with that, I’ve come to accept it as there are a lot of factors involved that nobody can do anything about.
It’s like the couple who should split up but won’t as they actually enjoy arguing with each other to the point that it’s become a way of life.
You can’t force people to change.
In fact, I think one of the major factors for the continued divide is an unwillingness to accept our differences.
I mean, it seems that so many are so keen to label and pigeonhole absolutely everything these days.
You disagree with someone criticising – you’re a deluded AKB.
You criticise anyone or anything in any way – you’re a WOB.
Etc, etc, etc………
Yes, these are actual humans who actually want to categorise and label other actual humans.
This might surprise you, but I actually know people who are unlabelable. (Not sure if that’s a real word, but it does the job.)
Yep. There are people I know who will simply support the manager while he’s there, then support the next bloke when he’s gone.
There are also a growing number of people on either side of the fence that are pissed off with the whole “labelling” thing, and rightly so.
I mean, if you really want to label yourself as King of the WOB or Arsene’s Personal Fluffer then go ahead, there are support groups out there for everything nowadays, and I hope you get the help you need.
Anyway, just for all you labellers out there, let’s label the unlabelable……
So, somewhere in-between Arsene Knows Best and the Wenger Out Brigade, we have those who are Bored of Labelling and Constant Sniping or BOLACS as they shall now be known.
The perfect acronym for when you are asked this fucking question;
“Are you Wenger In or Wenger Out?”
Actually, fuck it, while we’re at it let’s not just label everyone and everything, let’s segregate the whole fucking lot , just to show WOBBY the Old Skool EIE WOB and Arsene’s Ring Tickler how fucking stupid it all is.
Divide the Emirates & Conquer
Segregation is the key word here; we’ll divide the ground up into groups and keep them away from each other, as well as keeping them content.
The Old Skool Quadrant
There will be initial complaints about the use of the word “quadrant”, but upon entry to the ground, which is achieved by going through the old Highbury turnstiles, with new membership cards made as replicas of the old Junior Gunner ones, this will all be forgotten.
Banners are allowed, but must be held up back to front, so as not to offend anyone.
The concourse is decked out with Highbury memorabilia, and there’s a bloke walking up and down the aisles selling “PEEEANUUUTS!”
The Extreme Quadrant
This will be separated into two sections:
The Negative Ultras Section
People arrive here early to flip their lids over what the team might be, then flip them a bit more once the team is announced and such and such is starting and so and so is only on the bench.
You’re 8-0 up against Chelsea with a minute left until half time they score from a corner. Every cunt in this area spends the rest of the second half critiquing zonal marking.
Then Giroud misses a chance to put us 9-1 up and gets called a big French fanny.
It goes on like that, you get the gist….
Positive Ultras Section
The opposite of the Negative Ultras, everyone here arrives early to discuss the positives in Calum Chambers starting his 900th game of the season. On the left wing.
Not a bad word is allowed to be uttered here, and it won’t.
The concourse is awash with “Keep calm and …..” posters, and those poncey motivational ones you find on office walls.
Giroud’s stunning 89th minute consolation against Chelsea, pulling the score back to 1 – 8, sends everyone home optimistic that we aren’t far off approaching top form.
The Flip Flop Section
This is housed between the positive and negative ultras sections, and is actually in two sections, separated by a fence. Fans start off on the fence, and are allowed to move between sections depending on how the game is going.
At times this will look like a 20,000 person conga line, which will piss all over that Poznan crap, at least.
I’ll hold my hands up and admit the flip-flopper is one label I don’t mind at all and, to be honest, every person in this part of the ground gets on my fucking tits.
The Tourist Quadrant
A special area reserved for those that have the gall to spend thousands of pounds to travel from overseas to the Emirates to watch The Arsenal play, possibly for the only time in their lives.
How dare they? They’re ruining the game for us locals innit?
Selfie sticks, iPads and even foam Arsenal cowboy hats are allowed here.
In fact, if it’s up to me, you can do what the hell you like here. I salute you.
You enter this part of the ground through The Armoury, obviously, with Gunnersaurus waiting just beyond the turnstiles for a photo opportunity, which you can then purchase on the way back out through The Armoury after the game if you wish.
That’s a fair share of the fans covered.
“But what about those that don’t fall under any of these categories?”
I hear you ask.
Well, they can go wherever they like.
Happy New Year
Up The Arsenal
Islington born and bred, Arsenal through and through. Supported the Gunners for all of my 46 years (so far!) through thick and thin.
Clickbait: Life as a Modern Football Fan – released 2019
Currently working on my next book – Over Land and Sea (and Lockdown), Arsenal 20/21 – A Diary of a Season – due for release Summer 2021.
I will back the club I have in my blood to the hilt and I don’t care what you think about that. UTA.
AGAINST MODERN FOOTBALL.