I took advantage of this almost football-less fortnight by taking a restorative sojourn to remote parts. A land of bloodthirsty traditions, majestic, sweeping plains, strange, aggressive, short, primitive natives with weird, guttural voices.
Dear reader, I have been in Yorkshire. How do you know if you’re talking to a Yorkshireman? Because they will tell you within twelve seconds of meeting you. Lots of them live in London, and seem to spend most of their time telling Londoners how wonderful their county is. This has been an exceptionally refreshing visit as they do not have a decent football team between them, so any discussion of the state of Arsenal’s fortunes which is veering toward the mocking can be ended by asking precisely how the teams from “God’s Own County” are currently faring.
The answer is: Not well. Despite their having the oldest Association Football team in the world with Sheffield FC, and laying claim to the codification of the modern game with the splendidly named Ebenezer Cobb Morley, who wrote The Laws of the Game, they are generally Not Very Good at Football, and their County does not contain Chelsea or Tottenham, both of whom are supreme irritants this season, and they despise both Manchester clubs with a passion.
So all in all, a most welcome break, and our party were not short of convivial public houses upon whose flat magic lantern screens we were able to watch the matches against the Abu Dhabi Vulgarians and the Criminals of West Ham.
The faithful may have been forgiven for heading into this match with as much joy as a Pals Battalion waiting for their Captain’s whistle at dawn in the First World War such has been the appalling form of the chaps leading up to the match. Sir Chips Keswick, our disappointing but valiant Chairman who moonlights as a minor P.G. Wodehouse character, was disappointingly asked by a television reporter for his disappointing views on whether the disappointing Mr. Windsor should stay or go, following what will be known as The Disappointing Season, or perhaps The Season When St Totteringham Went Missing.
Sir Chips went to Eton, and is therefore both a terrible batsman and a bit of a cad. He is also a member of White’s gentleman’s club in St. James’s, and we all know they are a gang of poltroons. And so it was that Sir Chips underlined the fact that even if you’re an ex Director of the Bank of England and married to the daughter of the 16th Earl of Dalhousie you can still come across as an extraordinary arse when it comes to football.
“Football is a very uncertain game. You can’t win ‘em all,” said Sir Chips, who appears to have had media training from one Mr. Michael Owen. You’ll recall Sir Chips’s superb monstering of the manager back in 2014, when he said “We back him when he has a plan. We stay quiet when he doesn’t.” One wonders whether he currently has a plan for The Day of Tottenham Reckoning, when Arsenal enter The Fifth Dimension, in which we are subjected to taunts from the general direction of Middlesex on a Thursday evening. If we are lucky.
It is always pleasing to take points off a team so artificially confected as Manchester City. They are the offspring of Chelsea, and as such are responsible for the moral decay of the English game. They are curs, common swindlers in fur coats, and should be rounded up in a field in Stockport and bombed. However, in these politically correct times the mass murder of 60,000 muppets is considered cruelty against animals and that course of action is unavailable to us. We have to play them at football instead.
A typically open and entertaining match ensued, with Arsenal coming from behind twice, with goals from Fenton and Masterson almost at the last with a splendid noggin-bobbler. It was only a shame our Number 16 wasn’t playing, as I had looked forward to “The defender’s Holding, the goalkeeper’s Willy,” and I pray that those two play in the same match soon. Short of the aforesaid mass bombing, or an actual win, a draw was a fair enough result.
Wednesday saw the fixture that reminds residents of Islington to make sure their doors and windows are locked tight shut, and that they have the twelve gauge loaded and t the ready; the annual visit of the criminal underclass of the East End. Happily they were despatched back to the clutches of Madam Cholera with a trio of lovely goals from Mr. Orwell, Fenton and the Brigadier, hoisting us up to the dizzy heights of fifth. Which is the new fourth. Second is the new fifth, and first is the new sixth. Third is the new eighth. Is that clear? Good.
Monday brings a tricky South London Derby agin a revived Crystal Palace coached by none other than the Premier League’s very own Laptev Walrus, Mr. Samuel Allardyce. Expect a hilarious combination of rotational fouling and drum-tight defensive discipline.