all enquiries to:

Monday 27 March 2006

Water, Water Everywhere..........!

It’s ridiculous to think that 15 million UK residents are facing water restrictions, including a £1000 fine for heinous hosepipe crimes and yet Saturday’s South coast encounter with Pompey was postponed because of a waterlogged pitch. Heaven only knows what the poor Kenyans must make of our dreadful profligacy, when their truly drought ridden country hasn’t seen decent rainfall in donkey’s years!

“Am I bovvered?” might’ve been Arsène’s response to Mike Riley’s final decision, following the ref’s 4.15pm pitch inspection. Three days prior to our biggest game of the season (so far?), I guess our manager might’ve been grateful to be able to afford his players an afternoon off.

Yet obviously Arsène hadn’t just endured a treacherous two hour trek to the coast, arriving in Portsmouth just in time to hear that the match had been called off and with nothing better to do than to turn the car around and head for home, just as the driving rain began to ease! As a result most travelling Gooners couldn’t appreciate Saturday’s utterly pointless and exhausting outing, from quite such a global perspective.

As ever the inconvenience for the long-suffering footie fan wasn’t a factor. We don’t rate any consideration because it’s taken as read that we’re all going to return to Fratton Park for the rearranged fixture, whenever it takes place. We were fully expecting to leapfrog Spurs into 4th place on Saturday. So the consensus of opinion amongst the miserable hordes heading back down the motorway to London, empty-handed, was that either the game should’ve gone ahead, or that they could’ve called it off a couple of hours earlier and saved us all from this pointless schlep.

Then again I’ve stood like a soggy sardine before, on the one open terrace behind the goal at that dilapidated dump, being drenched to the bone, while feeling as if all the home fans with a roof over their heads, were having a good giggle at the expense of us Gooners. However we sure laughed loudest on the afternoon of that fabulous FA Cup quarter final, right at the height of the Invincibles powers. We absolutely hammered Harry Redknapp’s side with the sort of stunning display which was well worth a soaking and which was particularly memorable for the good grace of the appreciative home fans who applauded Henry off the pitch.

Despite Fratton Park’s decrepit aura, it’s one of the Premiership's few remaining ‘proper’ old-fashioned football grounds. With its tight confines and rabid fans, atmosphere wise, I felt cheated on Saturday out of one of my favourite away trips (or worse still, there was all the aggro with none of the reward!)

Should we end up incinerating the Italians on Tuesday, it’ll be suggested that we reaped the benefits of a restful weekend. While in Turin, Del Piero limped off. Nedved was sent off and a ten man Juve dropped 2 points in a 1-1 draw with Roma.

Moreover it would’ve been nigh on impossible to play our passing game against Pompey with all the surface water and on such a heavy pitch. It could’ve proved a strength sapping mudbath, with a team desperate to maintain contact with the other bottom feeders and thereby avoid joining Sunderland as certain candidates for the calamitous chop. Hopefully Harry’s battle against the drop will be long since lost by the time we end up playing the rearranged match and his motley collection of mercenaries might not even have much pride left to play for.

You’ll know the answer by now, but on the other side of this coin is the possibility that the postponement could play straight into Juve’s hands. Professional footballers are distinct creatures of habit. The Gunners will have travelled down on Friday and begun their pre-match rituals, from the moment they awoke in some five star South coast gaffe. With it being a late kick-off, they’d have been kitted up and stretching limbs, long before Riley deemed the pitch unplayable.

After all this physical and mental preparation, but without the release of 90 minutes out on the park, they’ll have felt like overwound clock coils on their return trip to the capital and by the time they turn out for Tuesday’s extremely high profile encounter, they might be fit to burst with all this tension. We can but pray the effects are all positive!

Whatever the outcome, we’ll have a slightly altered perspective of the proof in this particular pudding, as our prime West Upper pitch has been allocated to UEFA’s sponsorship ‘partners’. The most annoying thing about such glamorous Champions League occasions is that these tickets often end up in the grubby hands of greedy touts, who’ll take genuine Gooners to the cleaners (some poor sod who flew in from Chicago for the Madrid match told me the CHEAPEST ticket he was offered was 700 quid!). While the remainder go to besuited, corporate types who often aren’t Gooners, or even footie fans in some cases.

Standing listening to the chatter amidst the throng queuing to see us play Real at Highbury, it was disappointing to think of all those Gooners who’d give their eye teeth to swap places with the sort of city gents who sounded like they’d be far more at home standing around their 4x4s, outside Twickers, swapping share tips whilst supping champers from their picnic hampers. It was sickening to think that some were really only there because Arsenal v Real Madrid was an event that one just had to have on ones sporting resume!

However I shouldn’t be moaning, as in return for being moved to an almost identical seat on the other side of the halfway line, we’ll get a refund cheque in a couple of months time. Consequently should you have noticed a section of Gooners on Tuesday night with broader grins than most, it will be those of us watching this veritable feast of European football for absolutely free!

Here’s hoping our smiles are even wider come the final whistle and it’s our current, rather than our former captain who’s had confirmation that his Champions League bread is buttered on it’s red & white side!

e-mail to:


Anonymous said...

2 hours in a coach, must be exhausted..

Bern said...

Don't mean to be pedantic (after last night. I'm far to overjoyed) but personally I find it very tiring when at the wheel of a car, with the amount of concentration required when hurling along the motorway in the driving rain, with the spray lashing the car from the lorries. Especially the section of the M3 where it goes down to two lanes.

Admittedly if I left a little earlier and didn't have to drive all the way at 100mph it might be far less strenuous, but sadly I'm not nearly organised enough to get my arse out the door in good time and so it can prove quite stressful when one takes one's life in ones own hands for the instant when the visibility is down to zero everytime you overtake a multi-wheeled vehicle.

Considering the coach departs almost from my doorstep, it would probably be a good idea. However in most cases I wouldn't have a cat in hell's chance of getting around to THOF for the early departure of the Gooner convoy as it usually leaves at the crack of dawn and even for relatively short journeys and late kick-offs, they tend to allow so many hours for every possible eventuality, that it makes for a much longer day than driving oneself