A guest post this morning, Chipping Norton’s finest bass player, author and tunesmith, Steww takes the reins. Yeah, it’s him ———————————————————————————–>
There was a recent tweet, widely quoted, from an ex pro, possibly an old England centre forward, I’m a little hazy on exactly who, they all blur into one after a while. Anyhoo the point is whomsoever he was he was passing comment on the fact that a player had decided to leave his current employees and move to Liverpool. Not a particularly fascinating piece of information, and hardly ground breaking during the transfer window. And not I hear you cry in any way relevant or interesting on A Cultured Left Foot, a blog dedicated to all things Arsenal. Well, allow me to amplify, to elucidate if you will. The relevance to this blog is that the comment concluded with the suggestion that the player had chosen Liverpool instead of Arsenal and that this proved beyond reasonable doubt that winning trophies – any trophies – was far more important when it came to signing players than, well, than not winning trophies.
It’s hard to know where to start when dismantling the creaking structure of this poor pundit’s logic, it is however immediately and blindingly obvious that the entire false dichotomy is based upon the baseless. A house of cards built on a folding table in an earthquake. Firstly he couldn’t know that the player in question had actually signed for Liverpool because in the days which followed and up to the time of writing he still hasn’t signed for them. Secondly he (the pundit) couldn’t know that he (the player) had been sat toying with a coin saying to himself, “Arsenal heads, Liverpool tails”. No-one could possibly know all of the teams which may or may not have been interested in signing him, and that’s before we get to the breathtaking presumption that any of us can know someone else’s thought process.
No, this was a classic piece of punditry and was put out there for one simple reason, viz, to point out to an information hungry world that Arsenal didn’t win any trophies (again) last time around and Liverpool did. I happen to have a few Liverpool supporting friends. They are to a man and woman entirely lacking in the boorish , overbearing, Sky editorial parroting ignorance which makes it impossible for me to talk to the few Man U followers I know. The keyboard player in my band is a Pompey fan. We had no problem finding common ground last season. In fact he hated Redknapp far more than I did, and with good reason. I conducted a highly unscientific straw poll among this selection of cup winners. Simple question, would you swap any of your trophies over the last few seasons for Arsenal’s top four finish? And you know what? They didn’t even hesitate. There was absolutely no doubt in their minds that Arsenal had, in the last few years, been far more successful than either of their clubs. In fact one even went on to say that Champions League football and financial stability was infinitely preferable to a Coca Cola or Rumbelow’s or Milk Cup, or whatever it is now.
And yet despite this there are still so many of our own fans, people who purport to support the club who disagree. They somehow contrive to look at last season’s league table, and without apparently taking any kind of artificial stimulants, and despite seeing Liverpool languishing five places beneath us, eighteen points behind us with a goal difference eighteen goals worse than us, they think that somehow the Scousers had a better season than us. Personally I feel there is a connection between the risible punditry referred to above and these shamefully inadequate ideas. “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.” rings as true today as when that nice Mr Goebbels first coined it. I happen to think Liverpool are better than us in one regard; as Billy sang, they don’t buy the Sun. Apart from that it isn’t up for discussion, the table never lies.
I was thinking about the team from Anfield not just because of all the transfer tattle involving both clubs recently but because they were playing up North the other night. Up North to me in any event – if of course you live in, say, Totegan on the Scottish North Coast, Hearts play about 280 miles away and are probably considered shandy drinking southern handbags. I watched a little bit of their match before other commitments dragged me away and I couldn’t help comparing the atmosphere of a European Champions League night at the Ems with, and I mean no disrespect to the good burghers of Tynecastle, a Europa League qualification play-off first leg in Edinburgh. Of course it’s true that the event lacked any passion for me, I had no axe to grind with either team, but even so there really was no comparison. Every now and again it is good for us to look away from our red and white painted navels , turn down the wireless and fold up the evening paper, and use our own eyes and ears, work with our own perceptions. We need to actually look and see where the eighty nine teams that finished below us really are and get a real sense of our achievements. There are some big spending clubs, many clubs with long and proud histories, and many who have never and may never achieve any measure of greatness, all of whom would give their eye teeth to play at the level we play at year in year out.
And we take it for granted.
Now there is one hugely important point I wish to make. None of us who believe we have achieved and done so at the highest level despite the lack of trophies are happy with the status quo. Seriously. Don’t be fooled into thinking that I or any other of the ‘uber fans’ and AKBs that frequent ACLF actually go to bed clutching a copy of the league table and read out the 89 names in a feverish mantra of denial every night. No. We want to win stuff just as much as the next miserable git who thinks Liverpool have beaten us to a signature, won the race, pipped us at the post, as if there was some kind of parallel competition under way and we just lost points. No, people like us actually throw things around the room when our new centre forward misses the best chance of the match against Sunderland just like you do. We also scream and shout at the TV or laptop when the team patiently pass it out of defence as the final seconds tick down and we also feel that sick twist in our guts at the sight of any of the financially doped teams in the open topped bus with their tin pots and champagne. The difference is that while regretting what hasn’t, we don’t belittle what has been achieved, we don’t believe it helps to make endless negative comparisons and win lose or draw we believe in staying strong, drawing on each other for support in the dark times and believing, always believing.
Why not join us? The results will be what they will be anyway, but it’s a whole lot more fun to stay positive, be part of a community of like minded supporters and go through the inevitable ups and downs of the season with a smile on your face. Even if it stretches to a grimace occasionally.