Sunday, 8 May 2011
AS ARSENAL LOSE AGAIN - I AM BEGINNING TO DOUBT MY SANITY
The football season is thankfully nearly over but what concerns me most is that there will be another one along very soon. It is a time for reflection and for the first time I am starting to doubt my sanity by bothering to get enthused as I anxiously await the next game.
I gave up watching England ages ago ... although I did try to become enthused during the World Cup but now it looks like Arsenal are going to be devoid of my support because I simply find them too frustrating to watch. I have been an ardent supporter of the Gunners for as long as I can remember. I went to my first game in 1958 when they beat West Bromwich Albion at Highbury 4-3. That day, Jackie Henderson scored twice for Arsenal, David Herd once and WBA put the other through their own net. After that I didn't get to Highbury again until 1963-64 when my mate John Cochrane and I became old enough to go on our own. Previously my cousin Harry had taken me to Spurs but I was angry when, at the age of 11 my mother would not let me go to see them play Moscow Torpedo because it was a school night. Then, during the amazing 'double' season of 1960-61 I went with another cousin, Pete, and his mates during the days when we would need to queue at the schoolboys' entrance. However, my support for Arsenal never left me as I watched them suffer in the mid positions of the old First Division league table. On the night that Arsenal won the League Championship, ironically at Tottenham as the first stage of their 1970-71 'double' - I was unable to get in the ground and spent the evening with a girlfriend moping in a coffee bar in Tottenham High Road.
My greatest memory was when Arsenal beat Anderlecht of Belgium 3-0 at Highbury on 28 April 1970 to win the Inter City Fairs Cup Final after losing away from home 1-3. It was my late flat mate Roi's birthday and we had the best seats in the main stand high up above the half way line. George Graham was 'strolling' and played brilliantly that night. And then ... he became manager, making a tremendous success by playing boring football and Arsenal went from strength to strength.
The Wenger years have been more memorable ... so many successes, so many truly great players ... we were on a high but could never quite reach the heights of Ferguson's Manchester United. But from the glorious years the last six seasons have been torment as things never quite worked out. The European Cup ... European Championship ... call it what you like, has eluded Wenger and I doubt he will ever win it. But worse ... Wenger has started to whinge and whine ... to blame everyone but himself for a lack of results. I have loved what Arsene has done for Arsenal ... he has given so much including an amazing stadium ... but even I am having self-doubts over whether his day has come to bid a fond farewell.
Today, after starting with promise, Arsenal failed to deliver, losing 1-3 at Stoke in a miserable game that fell away and Arsenal showed so little real commitment. This has been the story for much of this season - a failure to deliver - especially when it most matters. It was another of the hat full of games Arsenal should have been capable of walking but instead threw away. It was a disappointment for the loyal fans and with the financial clout that Arsenal Football Club has, we deserve better.
As supporters we have been spoilt. We have had the best of most things ... but not quite everything. Unfortunately there are too many players wearing the Arsenal short that do not deserve this privilege, and it is time their numbers were counted.
Maybe next year will be better!