By Tony Attwood
In the discussion columns this week there was a question to me, along the lines, “What happens to Untold Arsenal, when Mr Wenger retires or resigns or is kicked out?”
And linked to it was the secondary question, what happens to me, as an Arsenal supporter?
Arsenal, as I have said so many times, has been in my blood for almost 60 years so not supporting Arsenal would seem a strange thing to do. Although there have been times when I have been annoyed and angry with Arsenal.
The Billy Wright era was an awful experience – and an endless reminder that Arsenal had once been great but were no longer in that position. The end of the Bertie Mee era was awful – with gems like Brady in the team we spent time bottom of the league.
I suppose the only consolation in some periods of Arsenal awfulness was that Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United made fleeting visits to the second division – and we didn’t. Which is why we are now edging towards an utterly extraordinary 100 years since we were elected to the first division in 1919.
But I have had problems with Arsenal even when doing comparatively well. The Rioch season was mind numbingly awful to me, the way he had the team playing was just not what I wanted to see, and I met his dismissal with happiness only tempered by the fact that I had never heard of Mr Wenger.
So what will happen when Mr Wenger goes? I guess I will carry on supporting Arsenal as now – and Untold will carry on as now. Unless of course we do something utterly stupid (in my opinion of course).
And what could be stupid or immoral enough to have me close down Untold and not renew the season ticket?
It is hard to say, but here’s a few things that would have me thinking very seriously indeed:
a) the sort of financial support deal that Notts County, Leeds United, Birmingham City, Portsmouth, Rangers and the like have gone in for of late. Money that may or most probably may not exist, coming from people who may or may not be that rich, and absolutely no transparency and quite possibly a load of crookedness en route.
b) The appointment of Harry Redknapp as manager – or come to that the appointment of the current manager of Newcastle. Jose Mourinho I could take, whereas Benitez would have me edging out.
c) The decision to try and rival Chelsea, Man City and the rest in transfers. All that will happen is that instead of offering £30m for a player we would offer £40m and Man City would offer £50m and so on. Unless we were, like Man City, so wallowing in money that it would just make no odds what we paid, we would always lose out. £100m for a player plus £30m a year for six years. Yup – quite possibly, but it is obscene and I don’t want to be part of that.
d) Outright support for Fifa, Uefa and the FA being expressed by the board.
e) Support for the club from the press. I always remember that after the conclusion of the Unbeaten Season when I just stood there at the end of the Leicester match, tears streaming down my face, just endlessly applauding the team for the greatest footballing feat I had ever witnessed, the next day the Guardian (or was it the Observer, I can’t remember) ran a piece about how Arsenal weren’t that good really and calling it an unbeaten season was an insult to Preston North End. If the press came out and supported Arsenal, then I would start getting seriously concerned.
f) Ground sharing with Tottenham, Leyton Orient or West Ham. No, no, no, never. No matter what.
g) The board paying themselves dividends.
h) The removal of the statue of Herbert Chapman.
i) Sacking Mr Wenger.
j) The achievement of actually managing to serve a cappuccino that roughly tastes like it. It is not that I wouldn’t be happy, it is just that I would be so bemused I don’t think I would be able to take it.
I am sure there are more, but its nearly time to go back to work, so I will leave it there. But yes, there are some reasons why I would pull out of my support for Arsenal. But not that many.
As for Untold, who knows. We’ll take that issue when it happens.
- Woolwich Arsenal: The club that changed football – Arsenal’s early years
- Making the Arsenal – how the modern Arsenal was born in 1910
- “The Crowd at Woolwich Arsenal”: crowd behaviour at the early matches