Jul 20th, 2011 by 'holic
For a final appreciation of what has gone before, and the acknowledgement that there is more than one viewpoint on the year just passed, I am again indebted to Bergkamp the Man for his latest submission. Whilst others, me included, are emerging from a dark time of doubt and frustration, this man has remained a beacon of positivity. We acknowlege that in the closing weeks of last season all was not rose-tinted in our world. Perspective requires we acknowledge the plus points, as well as the failings.
The flames have disappeared, the glow has left the ashes, the last embers black, discarded. The sun has long since set over a dark horizon. Empty glasses on an empty bar, containing only the stains of the last game’s Guinness froth, still odorous from tobacco burned pungently through a deep red hue, just before the barman switched out the lights on the last chorus of “spend SOME fucking money” faded from Arsenal’s cognoscenti.
No better time then, when passion has dissipated, when school’s out for the summer, when leather is hitting willow and Holic’s Burner is hitting nothing straight, for some quiet reflection on the season just gone down. Described by some as a cataclysm, sufficient to stop the very earth rotating on its axis, a great pox of a plague on a swarm of marauding locusts sufficient to strip Emirates proud green grass bare and instill a rancid biblical pestilence throughout the Wenger dynasty for centuries to come.
Was it really that bad?
Brilliant sunshine, Mexican waves and a challenged little lad who hugged me for 90 minutes is my first memory of the twelve games I made it to. Frimpong shone, making Gatuso the Snarling Dog look more like Roland Rat. Kos strolled and Chamakh impressed. My little neighbour chortled as Arsenal thumped Milan and we booed Flamini together – just for fun. Celtic on the following day – another win – but early signs of the defensive issues that would trouble us later and bring down bile, pestilence and rat vomit in floods.
Then the real stuff started with a Spanish goal-keeping howler in the very first game at Liverpool. Preppie Rainer, under pressure from Chamakh threw a beauty into the back of his own net. Manuel looked on smugly. Eighteen goals in our next four games as the handbrake was left in the garage. Then, off to Sunderland -no problems there surely? A Rosicky penalty miss (Nasri was on the field!) and a 95 minute after-closing-time equalizer did us for two points.
We scored 24 times in our next nine games, nearly three per game. I made it to two. 5-1 versus Shaktar was the kind of mid-week outing only available at The Emirates. Passion, pathos and a great goal, applauded loudly, by the opposing centre-forward, one Mr Eduardo. The West Brom game saw Arsenal turn out in black and white stripes for the first half and manage to go 3-0 up before the team in red decided to wake up and score two. That stung.
We got lucky in December. Manuel got croop and Wojciech began the 20-year Szczensy dynasty against the Deeply Indebted at their place. “They only scored because the ball bounced off Park’s head” he famously quipped of the only goal to beat him. Magic! That same month saw my Boxing Day highlight game as Arsenal in full flood, playing as only The Gunners can play, ripped Chelsea to shreds and sealed it inside sixty minutes.
NINE games in January and we won all of the important ones – we would have beaten Shitty for the second time in the season but for their woeful bus parking. “How many millionaires does it take to pack Man Shitty’s goalmouth?” To this point, we’d been the dog’s bollocks. I’d enjoyed every moment live, streamed or Foxed.
February. The results kept rolling our way – but two moments of madness, self inflicted, caused wounds to the psyche that would prove difficult to erase with a single aspirin. This was the month of Diaby’s red mist and the 4-4 reverse that was Dowd facilitated by two non-penalties. It was also the month in which Arsenal took pity on Birmingham when Kos and Schezzer decided to play panto swipeball resulting in 49 year Ogbafemi scoring the winner in a cup final that should easily have been ours. I was there. I really enjoyed the day. Great curry afterwards. But best of all – it was the month we thumped Barcelona with two beauties from Robin and Russia’s finest haircut.
March made me madder than a March Mad Hatter. Not because we drew with Sunderland to howls of home fan boos (despite a perfectly good goal disallowed and a rugby tackle that for some reason wasn’t a penalty). The thing that made me maddest was the Swiss Cuckoo Clock Builder who sent Robin off at the Nou Camp – which spoiled an otherwise perfect week in Barcelona – and rocked our foundations badly.
We suffered from the B’s in April and lost stupid points against Blackburn and Bolton then suffered the curse of the goal that wasn’t off-side at Sh*te Hart Lane just after Eboue had been suckered into conceding a 98th minute penalty versus King Kenute, the kipper buyer and his boys.
May started with one Welsh Wizard scoring against the Deeply Indebted – well done, Rambo – and scoring with his brother’s wife – NOT so well done Giggs. And then the gas escaped from the Pride of London Champagne that I’d been saving to toast our League win. Pity that.
For me it was a season of superb entertainment. Arsenal served up some of the very best fare available in Europe. We were second top scorers but sadly conceded more than three others. Sure, I got frustrated, kicked the furniture, kicked the cat and even kicked the budgie on one occasion (sorry Joey – that wing WILL grow back).
Would I have wanted to buy success like Chelski (er, what success was that?) or Man Shitty? Or even win playing as ugly as Manure? NO WAY. Believe it or not, I don’t go because I crave silver. I really don’t care. I go because I love everything about my team in red – from The Chip Inn Fish Bar in Holloway Rd, to beers at The Tollie and most importantly – the most entertaining young squad on the planet.
I can’t wait to start all over again. I’ll be there next Saturday against Boca – when Cesc leads Robin, Jack, Aaron, The Verminator and the bunch of new boys AW will have bought by then, out on to The Emirates emerald green. I WILL enjoy the weeks ahead. If we win something – well, that will be icing on another very fine cake.
I hope you can and will enjoy too. As always, the man with the funny Fife accent and Crail Golf bunnet will be buying beers for Goonerholics with time to put the world and The Arsenal to right over something wee and wet. See you all at the Tollie. Come on you Gunners!
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