this is an open letter in the manner of those nasty round robins from
slightly smug relatives overseas; you know, where they think you give a
toss that they have a new car and that Helen is getting engaged to Brad,
who went to Yale, and now works for IBM; but they don't actually give
even half of a toss about you really; not enough that they would write
to you personally.
I know it's a bit risky singling out one group of football supporters in
their entirety for a tirade (and that's whats coming folks, an
avalanche, please ring a bell and warn someone). And I also know we're
all supposed to love you. For good reasons we keep a warm space in our
chests for the claret and blue. The East End really was bombed, Alf
Garnett wasn't actually being serious, and we feel quite strongly about
not using unlicensed mini-cabs. And you are like plucky little brothers
who we're quite proud of. And you seem to really hate Spurs (which is
such an overwhelming sign of good character that it ought to be a
tick-box option on dating websites).
But I for one won't be carrying on with the old West Ham/Arsenal love-in
any more. Sorry chaps and chapesses. So you caught us in a very bad
week. What's with the rubbing it in, eh? The second most surprising
thing last week was that one or two of you know how to use photoshop.
But the sheer volume of shadenfreude beaming in to my inbox, and
doubtless those of other Gooners, was Surprising Thing Number One by a
good 3 lengths. Since when didst THOU, tiny flea, stand and mock the
horse that thou hast bitten?
Seems some Hammers are merrily burning bridges behind them at the
moment. Maybe not you, the recipient of this missive, but a fair few.
Well, I've lost it. My rag, I mean. It's gone. Some fucker's got my rag.
Next time you play us don't expect any kind of ovation from me when the
announcer tells us all to "welcome our guests from East London..." (By
the way, you would normally hear me applaud, as well, because everyone
here is so fucking quiet, right?)
Before you protest that I should untwist my red and white knickers
because it's just a wind up', and you still respect us', and you
really, really hate Chelsea'... Well, with Chelsea, what's to like?
Seriously. Saying "I hate Chelsea" is the same as saying "I like to
breath air": it's not a badge of honour, it's a common denominator.
Alright you hate Spurs too. Actually, the present Spurs I have some
grudging admiration for because they are almost an England B team and
it's a world cup year.
'Twould be churlish not to doff one's cap on
Seven Sisters road and say well done Jol for making us forget what a
pile of old sh!te Lilleshall turned out to be.
I've always had a soft spot for West Ham (and Charlton too, everyone
likes Charlton...in fact Charlton fans would never fill your email
intray with smart-arse remarks; they'd be after you instead to attend a
charity match to help erect a special seating area at the Valley for
blind first world war veteran ex-footballers with alzheimers... and
they'd lay on a coach for the day, gratis).
Teddy the Tosser aside, you've got a team that looks a bit like an old
Arsenal team - mainly southern boys with lots of pace, not the best
passers in the world, but they like to get forward and they take their
chances well, and they just have a winning mentality and a good team
spirit and just a sprinkling of grisly old pro's to help the kids out.
Just like the days when I started supporting Arsenal. And, naturally,
you're a renowned retirement home for old Gooners, as well. Disliking
West Ham on those terms would be like withholding Nutty's pension money
at the Post office counter.
For instance, Reo-coker is the sort of player we used to buy and should
be buying still (and keeping Bentley and a few more of the English
academy. Starting to sound like a cab driver here, but don't worry, your
As for respecting Arsenal and just being glad to beat such a great team
(which is the excuse I've heard when I mentioned that you seem to've
come on a bit Pete Tong since your win at THOF), well you're too late.
Our new kids aren't yet household names who make a mockery of defences,
so you'll get no change for your stake there. And our old boys haven't
quite cut the mustard this season (Henry aside). They now look beatable
running on to the pitch; not after 70 minutes when they've run out of
ideas. So there's little for anyone to have to RESPECT out there in an
Arsenal shirt right now. You have to earn it, baby and (to paraphrase
Morrissey and Manure fans), we just haven't, yet.
Anyway, with any family, outsiders are throwing stones from far too far
away to break any windows. You should see what it's like at point blank
range. You may have thought you put a good twist on the knife, but we
were up to our wrists in it by then. Gooners have been a benign and
blessed bunch for many years and we'd eat Sheringhams shit before we'd
paint a bedsheet with 'Wenger Out' on it.
Most fans moan, we don't. But
when we do, though, it's internecine strife on a grand scale with shit
flying everywhere. The Jacob's and the Esau's are measuring arm hairs in
the tent and it can only lead to war unless someone intervenes.
personally, wheen it comes to Arsenal, I'm usually chirpier than a
budgerigar with a large hard-on, but I actually have some of my own wood
for the fire at the moment.
I hate dissing players, but Sol Campbell let his team mates and us fans
down badly. If he was anyone else's player, he'd not have a bib or a
parking spot at training today, let alone some flipping relationship
councillor that Arsenal have probably forked out for.
We'd also never carry a player. We never have before - not even Merson
and Adams, pissed from the night before. They still grafted so hard
that, if you've ever been to work with a hangover and got nothing done
of note that day, the very shame of watching them sweat out the booze
chasing a wayward clearance down to the corner flag made you bleed shame
out of both your ears. And they probably shared the man of the match
bottle of bubbly, which inevitably started them off again on the next
But Girl-berto is just getting a free ride. I no
longer accept this is a Languorous Brazilian Maestro' we are paying to
watch. If I saw those words on a postcard in a phone box, I'd know
straigt away I wasn't really looking at a 'GENUINE PHOTO' - with him
it's the same thing; less than the sum of his parts. When he was out
with back pain for much of last season we really missed him. Now he's
back in, we miss him even more.
Ashley Cole is allowed to go to tribunals about his astronomical
contract and is not told to sit down and fucking shut up as he would
have been in the GG era. Any player we have who is any good is now
tapped up by the newspapers before even the agents have sniffed around
them. Some newspaper men really have it in for us because they are
MAKING exclusives. OK, more fool us for having players so easily swayed
by the stinky winds of the rumour monger. But your Arsenal career is
like getting Goldman Sachs on your CV now. Even the toilet cleaners at
Goldmans will get a trading desk anywhere else.
Talking of transfers, Theo Walcott is a fucking miracle, because we
can't get near quality players normaally before the blue chequebook
comes out and they swan off to join Roman's legionaries. But when we
could have bought, we didn't. And that's much worse. I'd rather buy a
few who don't work out, just to chivvy up the encumbents, than keep my
powder dry only to realise, with the Apache's bearing down on the
wagons, that it had leaked out of my pocket. Mighty Arsenal? We haven't
had a settled line up in 18 months, really. In fact, I challenge you to
name the starting 11 against Bolton. I can't.
What with selling Paddy (when he didn't want to go, we now find out),
Ashley out with a wallet injury, shit-loads of debt on the new stadium
(yet to be remaned The White Elephant Bowl but give the Evening Standard
time), Thierry not signed up yet, and these iffy "redcurrant'
look-great-with-jeans shirts that are starting not to feel like
look-like-a-Gooner shirts...it all makes my conservative, softly-softly,
don't rock the boat, little Arsenal ticker do star jumps.
The respect people have for Arsenal is a finite commodity in serious
danger of being squandered. Edelman is spending goodwill, right now,
like a New Jersey hooker in Macey's with a stolen credit card. We don't
rile easily, but when we do we make enough rile to put traditional rile
makers to forming unions. The ticket prices for Ashburton are
disgraceful. Ashley Cole can't understand why people don't sing his name
anymore? Well, quite apart from not remembering what he looks like,
he's practically pulling fivers out of our pockets.
The stadium is over
budget, yes, and it's an expensive project, yes, but I didn't realise
you needed me to mortgage my own property to enable you to build yours!
Anyway, that's all real estate. The core of the club is still the 11 men
on the field and if they go alright we can manage the rest on instinct
(the same one you say you have) which is..."They're Arsenal, they do
things the proper way". Our worst run of results in the Wenger era isn't
really all that bad, but we have standards you just wouldn't believe...
The team don't look like Arsenal at the moment. Funny shirts, kids from
the reserves, unknown quantities. It'll take some time before we feel
like it's settled down.
Any pain gooners are feeling is actually
self-induced. We actually know it won't be like this for very long.
But you really haven't helped. I know you're not meant to either, but
all the same...you know. 6 wins and that Pardew (who looks a bit CID, I
reckon) who you thought was cack, is now verging on manager of the
month. let's see if he cracks aa smile when he's ranked up alongside
Danny Wilson, Alan Ball and Brian Little on that illustrious trophy. And
Bobby Zamora, who was a swapsie for your darling Jermaine, is starting
to pay you back big style. That great oaf you were yelling at all last
season, called Marlon Harewood, is now centre forward de nos jours.
Repka is gone and you have another Ferdinand (avec le 'aircut d'imbecile
that is his family trademark) at the back, so you can actually risk
breathing out when the ball comes down your end.
But big fucking deal.You know that we're better than you. And that we
always will be. Little brother may have won a school prize, but if he
grins a bit too much at supper, he'll still get a wedgie when the lights
You are storing up some credit in the Bank of Defeat for the day
when we actually recover from our malaise, probably sitting in some very
unfamiliar seats, looking at a pitch that someone tells us is the new
altar of our new temple, and we start playing a bit of football on
it...lucky for you you'll probably still be in the Premiership to enjoy