Arsenal Gentleman’s Weekly Review, 22 October

Greetings to you from a slightly subdued Arsenal Gentleman.

A strange miasma descended upon me this Tuesdayer last. I was in attendance at The Ashburton Grove Palace of Wonder, to watch an Arsenal team who had recently solved Fermat’s Last Theroem, cured world hunger and kept a poorhouse full of paupers warm in the scarlet glow of their genius – just by parking the team coach outside.

As the Undertaker’s Assistant blew the steel mouse, I turned my head to one of the electric leviathan noticeboards, where the sum total of Arsenal’s goals had not matched or exceeded those scored by Borussia Dartford, who were to be our next victims, cheerfully offering themselves up to the elegant slaughter. I’ll be seen to with a porpoise if Arsenal hadn’t only gone and lost a game of football. We pray that we shall triumph in the south London derby this weekend agin helmless Crystal Palace; we should not feel sympathy toward them, even though it looks very much like the ghastly Mr. Pulis, and his ‘Babe Ruth’ style colonial baseball headgear will be making his way toward that unlovely corner of our capital.


On to more agreeable thoughts. No matter how many times I ask the butler to replay the film of that almost supernaturally elegant and audacious goal against the East Anglia Young Farmers’ XI last week, it does not begin to pall. Rather, its wonder increases. A delicious footballing soup of training, natural talent, self expression, geometery, lightning quick thought and a soupcon of improvisation.

The goal was of course a prime example of ‘Tickety-Tackety’, a long-lost style of fast passing football developed by Herbert Chapman. Players were encouraged to move into space in a series of parallelograms. This had the welcome side benefit of allowing some of the more cushioned of the Arsenal squad to take a well-earned breather during the phase of play. Against Huddersfield Town in 1932, the most relentless passage of Tickety-Tackety occurred, with over 2,000 passes executed in strict parallelograms, the ball slowly making progress up the pitch. The Glove Butler Moss passed the ball to Bob John, and then to Herbie Roberts, up to Hulme, to Lambert, to James and eventually, some 42 minutes later, pinging into the opposition’s goal, in the manner of our young French wizard’s effort.

George ‘Tickety’ Hopkins, for ‘tis he for whom the move is named was a turnstile attendant at Highbury in the twenties. He would use his foot pedal to release the turnstiles in the Clock End up to 20,000 times in an afternoon. It was traditional to say “Tickety” on your way in, as you handed in your matchday ticket, to which Hopkins would reply “Tackety”. The cry was taken up during matches when Chapman’s Arsenal would crawl down the pitch, creating four-sided plane rectilinear figures with opposite sides parallel. “Tickety-Tackety, Tickety-Tackety, Tickety-Tackety, Tickety-Tackety, Too!” we’d cry. It was the Poznan of its day.


Ladies, excuse the ribald language. Yet I feel strong words are needed as we approach The Devil’s Month. In the theology of Arsenal, November is the penance we pay for the sins of Mr. Adams’ drink driving, Mr. Graham’s financial creativity, Mr. Merson’s voracious appetite for jazz salt & the nags, Peter Storey and his jump house and so on. In what looks like something of an embuggerance of a month, we face Portrait Rodgers and his Tee-Shirts, Borussia Dartford (away), The Salford Redskins (away) and Marseille. That should be a revealing set of match-ups. We hope that the mastery of Orwe11 and the steel of Matthew Flame will prevail.





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