Another day, another Twitter storm about that Catalan bloke. It drives me nuts. Almost as much as people moaning about the fact that Twitter is all about that Catalan bloke. A contradiction? You bet I am.
Over the course of the past season I got swept along with the highs of the 2013 part of it. The opening day aside, which would become a reference point later in the season, we played with a mixture of pragmatism interspersed with occasional genius and deservedly swept to the top of the table.
In 2013 life was good. Aaron Ramsey had suddenly turned from an ugly and seriously abused duckling into a true footballing swan. It was as if the arrival of Mesut Ozil had rung alarm bells in him. “I have to start performing or I won’t get a game.” Perform he, and Ozil did.
The false highs of that opening half of the season would make what followed in the new year far worse. There was a warning eleven days before Christmas. A crazy 3-6 reverse at Middle Eastlands but we could have just as well nicked it 6-5, and so we carried on with a clean sheet at home to Chelsea, followed by eight wins and a draw in League and Cup. It was a blip, a freak, surely?
Then we went to Anfield and shipped five, and although we got revenge in the FA Cup for that mauling there followed defeats at home to Bayern and away to Stoke that sounded real alarm bells. Not the strongest of trees in the face of an impending storm I was bending with the wind. Increasingly I reminded me of Victor Meldrew, irritated with the disaffected and yet certainly understanding some of the opinions of discontent, when sensibly and rationally expressed.
Shorn of Ramsey, Ozil, and Walcott we seemed one dimensional, lacking in any kind of spark. My pessimism gene unleashed pints of whatever chemical it is that hits the ‘pissed off’ button. When Chelsea, then disappointingly Everton, mauled us and ended any realistic title aspirations I reached a very personal nadir.
I don’t mind admitting to all now, though only two people at the time, that I was seriously considering my options at the end of the season. The fun had gone out of it. Going to a game dreading the atmosphere, wondering if it was going to erupt into physical rather than verbal furore. There may have been a time when the prospect of a little brouhaha might have added to the excitement of the day, but those days are happily in the past.
The closing weeks prompted some reconsideration. An FA Cup semi-final win for us, and defeat for Manchester City provided more than a good opportunity at ending the ‘no trophy in x years’ bollocks. Ramsey and Ozil returned. Five wins on the bounce secured a Champions League qualifier. Meldrew was slowly being exorcised.
After the last home game the neighbour persuaded me to sign up for one more year in one of the best seats in the house. Defeat against Hull at Wembley may have swung me back the other way but thankfully I will never know. That day at Wembley will not be forgotten.
These days the football experience, for me anyway, is as much about the social side as the football. A truly diverse and fabulous group of people make the Tollington the pub of choice on matchdays. The community draws you in, adds to the richness of the experience. We celebrate the highs and furiously debate the lows, share pints and laughs aplenty.
A couple of our finest shared Cup Final day with me, for which I will always be grateful. The day started with fine dining and good wine, and ended with a silver pot being paraded by a team that deserved to emerge from a crazy nine months, nine years even, with something.
Yet even at the point at which we should have been at our most delirious the fact that I had chosen to dine in a Pinner restaurant rather than glug pints in a packed pub led one twat with whom I am not acquainted to dismiss me as a typical plastic, or some such soubriquet. I doubt his Dad enjoyed jaunts to places like Istanbul, Leipzig, and Belgrade for the love of the club and an education in street-wise in different times.
So it’s all about you, I hear you say, and yes it is. That’s because there is no news and I can’t stand the reiteration of entrenched views on social media sites, and less still the expression of frustration at those repetitious spats to which I add. I have come full circle. It’s summer, get out and enjoy the garden, the pub garden, the rivers, the green fields, Do something, anything, and share that with me on Twitter. I really couldn’t give a fig about that Catalan bloke right now. Ta muchly.