Theo Walcott, Arsenal’s unsung hero of 2012-13: Gunnerstown Blog

He can be infuriating at times but the pros far outweigh the cons. It’s one of our areas of support that drives me nuts, we slag off the likes of Emmanuel Adebayor, Samir Nasri and Robin van Persie for leaving, yet when players commit their future to our club we never really give them any praise for doing so, we elect to ram their salary down their throat if EVERY ball isn’t inch perfect. Since when did football work like that? The notion that Theo wasn’t trying because he now had his new salary was just flat out ridiculous.

Very well said.

I am amazed at how little appreciation Theo gets from our fans. There are other players who have been painted with the ‘inconsistent’ brush who get a lot more love from fans.


Sing when you’re winning….

This comes from a comment on the Guardian website on the match between my team, Arsenal, and Man City.

A famous line of banter especially thrown against nouveau-riche clubs like Man City, is “Where were you when you were shit”.. because many of the fans of Man City and Chelsea and the ilk have been drawn in recently. The wins follow the money, always, in sport.

Here’s a rebuttal. And a fair one, I suppose.

Was disappointed to hear Arsenal fans come out with the pathetic “where were you when you were sh**t?” chant. Why are so many away fans who come to the Etihad so ignorant?

The one thing you can never accuse City fans of is being fair weather fans. Almost 30k a game in the 3rd division, huge away support at York, Grimsby, Gillingham, Wrexham etc, as bad as it got the fans never deserted them. First season at the Etihad 2003-04 average attendance 46,834. Pearce drove it down to 40,000 with his infamous 10 goals in 19 home games season but every other season its been above 42,000. There are few if any more loyal fans in the country so please stop this ridiculous chant that only highlights your ignorance.

Here’s as an Arsenal fan. Cheers.



Jaxx B’s TV Hero – John Dykes

This post is based on the theme of  the excellent column by Johnny/Al on Football365.

You hear about the plastic fans from Shanghai, from Singapore and Bangalore. You know about the Premier League clubs selling scarves and jerseys in Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Pakistan; and making shedloads of money out of it. You see Blackburn being owned by Indians, and QPR by a Singaporean. You toe the official line of feeling miserable that the soul of your club is lost; and that your football league is now cargo to be peddled across TV screens in Asia. And possibly, secretly, you also are happy for the money the the premier league generates out of it, and that it can attract top talent across the globe, talent which pre-EPL (and EPL is the term here, not the Premier League), would have been travelling to Italy or Spain or France.

How did it happen, this Asian miracle? Ladies and Gentlemen, I point you to the one person who’s probably had more of a hand than anyone else in making it possible. John Dykes, formerly of Essex, now of Singapore. Clear, precise, with a thorough understanding of the game and a knack for making the nuances of the game easy for the viewers, he is quite brilliant. And is a very big reason for so many people in Asia to get interested in football in the first place. And the team he has assembled is just as excellent, with Steve McMahon (who seems perennially on the verge of violent explosion after a poor Liverpool performance), Gerry Armstrong (why isn’t he seen more often?), Shebby Singh (who seems to have got better and better in front of our eyes), Jason Dasey, Paul Masefield and my favourite, Jamie Reeves. But this is not as much the quality of the commentary as much as the cultural revolution that Dykes and his band of merry men have brought about. Asia’s never been really big on football earlier, and the test was manifold – they had to get people to the TV screens by explaining the game to the first-times, keep it interesting and fun for the regular but not passionate follower so that they stay on, and yet keep it intelligent enough for the discerning or the passionate. Looking back, I think they (with Dykes as the main man), did very well indeed.

We, in this part of South-East Asia, adore your football, your clubs, your players, your managers, your grounds, your gossip and your tabloids. But in the studios, we’d rather have our own. Step forward John Dykes. Thank you for giving us the EPL.

PS: Yes, you are allowed to call us plastic, but then love has many shades, doesn’t it? Not every love story has to be Romeo and Juliet. Our love for the club we support probably isn’t exactly the Geordie boy’s and girl’s love for Newcastle, but it’s still love.

I am a plastic fan. This is my defense. Our defense.

I am what you call a plastic fan. Of Arsenal. And Barcelona. I am from Bangalore, India, and here’s my defense. And that of the millions that you ridicule every day.
I love the game. Having been initiated into football via the magical skills of Diego Madarona in ’86, I cannot think of life without the game. I have played the game at a reasonable level, and still try to manage a game every weekend. Not very different from you, am I?
I have an Indian club I love, Mohun Bagan AC. I don’t stay in my city of origin, Kolkata (Mohun Bagan is from that city), anymore, so I don’t get to go to the stadium too many times anymore (Bangalore to Kolkata is 2000 miles, yes, that was 2000 miles), I used to be a regular. I wept after a defeat, especially to our eternal rivals, East Bengal FC. I was jubilant after wins. I still am, watching the matches on TV. I am what you call a normal football fan, I love my club.
Just like you love Huddersfield. Just like you love Bradford, just like you love Derby.
But I also love the game itself. And I am honest enough to accept that Mohun Bagan, or East Bengal, or Dempo, or Mahindra Utd. , don’t really provide that kind of football. That does not make me love my club any less, that just makes me want to get a chance to watch and enjoy better football too.
And therefore came the Premiership. And therefore came the Primera Liga. I love how well they play the game I love in your country. And in Spain. There is the television, and I don’t miss a match.
I am watching the league from 1998 (that is about the time when the Premier League started being aired regularly in Indian TV, thank you Star Sports / ESPN), I was 18 then. Tony Adams is my hero, and Dennis Bergkamp is only second to Diego Maradona in the God-stakes, in my book. I HATE Luis Figo, he’s the real Judas. I am jubilant when Arsenal wins, I am dejected when Arsenal loses. I follow every match, I follow the post-season, and just like you, I wanted us to have a holding midfielder too. And no, I didn’t want Alonso, I wanted Toulalan. Ah, wishes… I am a fan.
And yes, I have been to your stadia (not to the Emirates or Highbury, sadly. Never stayed in England long enough to manage that yet), and I know that the tears that you cry when your club loses will never be the same as my sadness at an Arsenal defeat. But I know the tears, I have cried them after a Bagan loss.
But does it mean that our sadness at an Arsenal defeat counts for nothing? We came to the premiership looking for great football, we found a club we would like to follow, and we followed the club. And devoted we have been, for the last ten years. And yes we don’t have perspective; they started showing the Premier League on TV only ten years ago. I thought we did the best we could as fans. Where did we go wrong?
I thought it was the universal game.
– Godof86 (don’t ever say ‘third world’ again without knowing what the word originates from), Arsenal, Barcelona and Mohun Bagan.

Of gods and demi-gods; and angels and demons…

Ah, Indian cricket fans!

Ah, us Indian cricket fans! We don’t watch cricket, we indeed pray at the altar of the gods of cricket… cricket is our raison d’etre; and all this, while we find it impossible to make a rational argument on the game at any point in time.

We aren’t ignorant about the game, mind you. We know the scientific machinations behind bowling the doosra and the reverse swinging yorker, we appreciate the difference between setting the 6-3 versus the 7-2 field, and our analysis of non-Indian players and matches where India is not involved, is well nigh as precise as you can find it out of any general mass of people.

The confusion’s only when we discuss our own. And that is when our logical reasons (reasonably precise and accurate otherwise) go haywire in the face of a full-frontal attack by our cliques and cabals and me-and-my-tribe instincts. We don’t remain base cricket fans anymore, appreciating and analyzing the game like we tend to do so well otherwise. We become men (and women) of religion, be that religion that of Sachin-god, or Very-Very-Special-Laxman-god, or the Namma-Rahul-god or the immaculately named Bangalir-Gourob-Sourav-god.

And we are pulled from different directions, the primary one indeed being from the country-within-country that we belong to. So the Bihar-country boy and the Tamilnadu-country boy will not see eye-to-eye in discussions over who the greater god is among Dhoni-god and Karthik-god, and merits a place in the pantheon that is the team. And of course Sachin-god is the biggest god of them all, but does the Jat-country boy take kindly to Sehwag-god being any lesser?

And then there is continental pride, whereby the East-continent rises up in fury at any indignation, perceived or otherwise, at the great Sourav-god. Or the old very-Very-Special-god being vilified by the north-continent for keeping their devoted Yuvraj-god out of the pantheon, and the vice-versa by the south-continent for a perceived Damocles’ Sword perennially hanging on the Very-Very-Special-god’s head, even though he has played nearly a hundred tests now. (I’m not kidding about the Damocles’-sword quote, I have actually read it in some reputed newspapers and forms of Internet media).

Really, I remember in college, when I was discussing the merits and demerits of including L Balaji in the team, a classmate, visibly in disagreement with me over my perceived slight of his beloved Balaji-god, tried to end the debate by suggesting that ‘Ganguly is a bastard anyway’, knowing that I, indeed, have my base at Bengal-country***.

Oh and then there are those other invisible strings…

  • The genteel gentleman cannot appreciate the modern cut-throat no-quarters-given version of cricket that is perpetrated by the teams under Sourav-god and Rahul-god, and would suggest repeatedly how the gentleman’s game is not what it used to be. (Even the ‘How dare he make the white man wait’ ideas have been bandied about).
  • The old-timer has his own gods, whereby Kumble-god (if I weren’t a cricketing atheist, I would have prayed to him ##) is never given the credit he so deserves, because there are, in his mind and heart, already Prasanna-god and Chandra-god and Venkat-god and Bedi-god. So they call him a glorified medium pacer, completely disregarding whatever logic would have suggested otherwise.
  • The polished gentleman (and lady) cannot appreciate the bucolic allure of a Sehwag-god or the heartland vibrancy of a Dhoni-god, like he/she couldn’t the unpolished charms of one Kapil-god.
  • Why, there can even be, say for example, my evil boss (or say my ex-girlfriend) is an Andhra-country person, so I will berate the Very-Very-Special-god come whatever may (who, of course, is the Not-THAT-Special-god to the rest of the country).

And yes, I did hear your question. And I was indeed trying to dodge it all this while. Who do I support in the Ranji trophy? Sly fella, you, no? Well put. So here’s the answer. Bengal. Karnataka. Delhi. In that order.


*** What could I have answered? Well, having no definite locational root apart from that of language, the affront did not affect me. So I mentioned that I haven’t ever had the good fortune of meeting Ganguly or his parents and discussed this specific case of parenthood. Has he?

## As for Kumble-god, I will agree that (apart from his being so worshippable) my worshipping would have had some basis to my tribal heritage; he indeed is a senior alumnus from my college.

On being an Indian fan of Arsenal and Barcelona….

I am a fan of Arsenal. And I am a fan of Barcelona. and having been initiated into football via the magical skills of Diego Madarona in ’86 (weren’t you asking who/what is the godof86?)… I share the Eduardo Galleano – certified love for Joga Bonito. Having played the game at some level, I understand and appreciate a great defensive performance by say, Alessandro Nesta, and that is beautiful football for me too…. I love expressive, free-flowing football, and during the time I started watching the European game in all seriousness, the most beautiful, attacking and free-flowing football, in my opinion was played by Arsenal and Barcelona.

So I was, and remain a fan of Arsenal. And a fan of Barcelona.

And I have been in London for about a day in total, mostly in transit. And I have never been to Barcelona, though I would love to be in both of the places. Camp Nou would be fabulous, I know. And so would be the Emirates. I will like to visit the shopping mall which is in place instead of Highbury, and feel sad for I could never have been there to the stadium.

And then someone at Football365 screams abuse at fans like us, from distant India and Singapore and Hong Kong, for showering our support to clubs with whom we do not share locational or cultural synergies. And they call our ilk fair-weather fans and glory-hunters.

My real team will always be Mohun Bagan Athletic Club, in West Bengal, India. And yes, if you ask me, I go to the stadium to watch Mohun Bagan whenever I can, whenever the travails of holding down a job allows me to. A victory in the Indian National Football League can gladden the heart like nothing else. Like all other Mohun Bagan fans, the pain of defeat, especially to those bangladeshi refugees of East Bengal Sporting Club, can be at times just way too hard to bear. 

Yet, do understand that the football I get to see, supporting Mohun Bagan, is not really top drawer. But I really like the game! And European football is available on TV all the time (not the Championship, though)… so I naturally watch all the games I can, and due my preference for skillful, free-flowing football, I support Arsenal and Barcelona. And thus I have been supporting both the clubs for the last ten or so years.

And yes, if you ask me, a loss to Spurs (thankfully, that’s extremely rare) does not affect me so much that I feel for a while that this life is not worth living. Neither a loss to Real. They do affect me to quite an extent though. I do feel gutted after a defeat…. but yes, the pain you, North London / Catalunya dweller are dealing with might be more than that I face. And do realise, I know the feeling. I feel the same when Mohun Bagan loses to East Bengal. Or even to Mohammedan Sporting, rare as it might be though. Is that reason enough to spew venom at us? Really, when we started supporting Arsenal / Barca, we had no clue that we have to justify our support some day.

Look, I would love for Mohun Bagan to play football of such a level that there are fans of us in the farthest reaches of the world, but that is not to be. And you, dear north London / Catalunya dweller, would feel the same have you been in my position. And more fans would mean more money, and more money would mean better players in our team, and thereby more trophies. wouldn’t you like your team to win? As of now, as a Mohun Bagan man, I have to live with the limited glory of coming in the top 4 of the Indian National League after long last, and as a Gooner / Cule, I would like them to win the Premiership / La Liga, and meet in the finals of the Champion’s League. Well it’s happened once, and not too long ago…. I watched the match with friends, and I wore a Barca kit in the first half, and an Arsenal kit in the second.