Away Day Grumbles

The first game of the season is always one of the most eagerly anticipated. The three month summer sabbatical seems to get longer every year.

The would be great for away days

As it did last season, our first game this year gave us a trip up North. I’ve never driven up to Newcastle before, and was pleasantly surprised. As I now live in Hertfordshire, and not far from the A1, it was possibly the easiest drive (if not the shortest) there is. We left mine at eight in the morning and made such good time we were booked into our hotel and having the first beer of the day by one o’clock.

Although our discussions about the forthcoming season were not all optimistic and rosy, the clean start a new season gives you made for a relatively positive atmosphere. I won’t deny that a lions share of the conversation was taken up by talk of who we need to sign, especially following the previous day’s inevitable news that our captain was on to pastures new (or old, depending on what camp you sit in). If I had a pound for every time someone mentioned the names Cahill or Mata, next year’s season ticket would be sorted!

We made our way into the centre of town, which is also a stone’s throw away from the ground. As we made our way into the Gates centre, and the Lloyds bar that sits inside, there was a good atmosphere between the home & away supporters. Many Arsenal fans mixed with the Geordie’s, and there was not a slightest hint of trouble, which is just as it should be!

With an hour or so to go until kick off, we made our way round the corner & up to St James’ Park. After a quick burger we went to our allocated gate, and were greeted by a smiling steward. ‘Friendly place’ I thought to myself. I soon realised he obviously knew what we were about endure!

Anyone bring some binoculars?

Now I’m a fairly fit bloke, but I must admit that I was blowing a bit when I got up to the top of those stairs. It was amusing, however, watching (fully recovered and beer in hand) some of the less fit Gooners get to the top and look like St Johns’ Ambulance may be needed.

As kick-off approached, and the singing continued, it was obvious there was one main target for the venom of the Gooners, and that is a certain Mr Nasri…

‘Fuck of Nas-er-i’ to the tune of last season song was a favourite. As he has alluded to, these songs were also audible during the game. I must admit, I didn’t really join in the anti-Samir demonstration. Not because I didn’t necessarily agree with my fellow Arsenal fans, but I just don’t think it creates a particularly positive atmosphere. Don’t get me wrong I’m not some tree-hugging hippy who thinks everyone should be friends, but there’s enough bad feeling within the Arsenal family at the moment without directing abuse at current (if not committed) members of the playing squad.

Not Big Dave

There were, more surprisingly, a few people who tried vent their vocal frustration at Cesc Fabregas too, but not so many were keen to join in that one.

I won’t go into the match detail itself as Paul has already summed that up more than adequately. What I will say though, is I don’t think the ‘Spend Some Fucking Money’ chant is particularly beneficial. I understand that fans feel that we need to be heard, and Wenger needs to be put under pressure, but it is essentially a direct insult to the team on the pitch. When it was first heard at the end of last season at Fulham, I felt the fans were justified to send a message to Wenger to ponder over the summer. Although he hasn’t done the sort of business that we all wanted (so far), having the club/manager berated from the opening game of the season (from their own fans) put’s a massive amount of pressure on the team.

Not all mental

After the game, eventually Gooner chins were released from their chests, and we got on with enjoying what the locals had to offer. I have always found the Geordie nation to be a friendly bunch, and this trip did nothing to alter that view. They don’t deserve that weasel Barton!

The drive home was a good as the drive there, and I pulled up outside my house just as Stoke and Chelsea kicked off……. Good timing!

Get behind the Gooners

I’m a bit concerned at what the atmosphere might be like at the Emirates tonight. Normally, even when the home fans are disgruntled, the away support really gets behind the team. I’m not saying that didn’t happen on Saturday, but there were plenty of grumbles. Enough to suggest we need to start well tonight.

Thanks for reading.

Dave

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