The Friday Fanzone Q&A with Arseblog
PUBLISHED: 08:32 10 March 2017
For this week’s Friday Fanzone we have none other than the legendary Arseblog. Read on for more...
Tell us a little about yourself.
I run a website called Arseblog, which started in 2002 and has just celebrated its 15th birthday. There’s a bit more to me than that but I guess that’s what’s most relevant to this piece.
What made you start Arseblog?
It was initially something of a web design project, having something to constantly update was a way of practising my design skills, and there’s always something to write about with regard to football and Arsenal. It soon became clear I was much better at writing that designing, and it just continued along from there.
How did you become an Arsenal fan?
I was born in London to Irish parents in the early 70s, and I spent the first 10 years of my life in England. We were always brought up as Irish, so I think the fact that as I got into football Arsenal was a club replete with Irish players was the key factor. I don’t remember making a conscious decision to support, but I’m guessing the likes of Liam Brady, David O’Leary, Frank Stapleton, John Devine, and the Northern Irish men like Pat Rice, Sammy Nelson and Pat Jennings were a big part of what brought to me be an Arsenal fan.
Years supporting the club?
The first game I really remember, bar stuff on Match of the Day, is the 1979 FA Cup final, so that’s almost 40 years now. Blimey.
Arsene Wenger. Discuss:
I don’t know that there’s a lot to discuss really. I have a tremendous amount of respect and admiration for him, he gave me the best football team I ever saw in the Invincibles and I think he’s been a fantastic manager for Arsenal, but it’s hard to escape the conclusion that it’s gone stale now. I think Arsenal need a new manager this summer, and while I have some reservations about the ability of the board to deal with his departure as well as they should, the football requires something new and fresh.
Do you think social media has made the game better or worse for fans?
There’s no question that there are elements of social media that are unsavoury, but it’s worth remembering that you can make what you want of it. You choose to follow people, you choose to interact or engage with people, and you can do the opposite. It staggers me that there are people who seem to spend all day, every day arguing on Twitter, I don’t know where they get the time or the energy to be honest, but it’s not difficult to separate yourself from that.
I think there are positives. Football is not parochial anymore, Arsenal have fans all over the world, and social media allows them to feel connected to the club in ways they wouldn’t have before. And when it comes to Arseblog it’s a great way to interact with people who read the site and listen to our podcasts and so on. Some people can be rude, but all you can do is ignore them. Most just want to chat and talk about the Arsenal and the club we all have in common.
One thing you would change about the club?
The ownership. I realise that football has moved into the realms of big business, and we see billionaires and oligarchs everywhere, but I don’t think it’s healthy that one man – Stan Kroenke – owns most of the shares, especially when he doesn’t seem to care very much about Arsenal other than as part of his investment portfolio.
It’d be great if the shareholdings were more diverse, and the people that owned them were driven, ambitious Arsenal fans.
What makes you proud to be a Gooner?
That unbeaten season is really something very special. Perhaps at the time, because of how good that team was, we didn’t really stop to enjoy it as much as we might have. Now that all this time has passed, and we see how much of an achievement it was, it really is a unique thing for this football club.
Next statue outside would be?
Whoever scores the winner in a Champions League final for us. It might be a while before that statue is built, in fairness.
Shamrock Rovers v Arsenal, in Dublin, some time in the early-mid 80s. My first ever chance of seeing Arsenal in the flesh. I was so excited to see us.
Favourite game and why?
It’s so hard to say, but given the impact it had on me and how indelible the memories of the game are, the 1979 FA Cup final.
Worst game and why?
Losing the Champions League final was awful, but there was something amazing about being in the stadium in Paris that night and standing proud post-game with all the other Arsenal fans. There have been plenty of bad ones down the years, but one that sticks in the memory is that 2-2 against Birmingham when Eduardo had his leg broken and we conceded that late penalty. I really think that had a profoundly negative effect on our psyche, even to this day.
Favourite player and why?
Liam Brady was my first hero, but I barely saw him in an Arsenal shirt, so Robert Pires. He was just an amazing footballer, brilliant finisher, tougher than people gave him credit for, and cool as anything too.
Worst player and why?
Mikael Silvestre - why?!
The Tollington for beers with friends, I think we sometimes forget how much a part of football the social aspect is. The game is central, but before and after, and whatever happens during the 90 minutes, you have your mates around and that always makes it fun.
Best thing about Highbury?
How green the grass was when you came out for an evening game.
Best thing about Emirates?
The views are fantastic from anywhere, but it’s still missing that certain something to make it really feel like a fortress. I wonder if it will ever have it. Perhaps safe-standing might be the thing to revitalise the atmosphere in the Premier League.
Biggest scrape as a fan?
I stay out of trouble! But I lived in Barcelona in 2006 so the day after the final in Paris I had to get a train back home. I think I was the only Arsenal fan on a train full of celebrating Barcelona fans. I wore my Arsenal shirt back, and because I had headphones in I couldn’t really hear the songs they were singing directly at me. They were really annoying though.
Fourth place trophy or FA Cup – can’t say both
FA Cup, it’s an actual trophy.
Favourite win over Spurs
That 5-4 was bananas back in 2005, I think, but I loved the one a few years back where we scored twice in about a minute. Maybe van Persie with the first then Fabregas straight from *their* kick off. It happened so quickly we’d barely celebrated the first goal before we were jumping around for the second.
Prediction for the rest of the season
I wish I knew. This team is almost impossible to predict at the moment. If history repeats, we’ll have a reasonable run of form, and finish top four, but the fixtures look a bit daunting at the moment. Would love to see us win the cup again, what a fantastic way that would be for Arsene Wenger to say goodbye – with a trophy.
All time Arsenal XI
Seaman, Dixon, Bould, Adams, Winterburn, Rocastle, Vieira, Fabregas, Pires, Bergkamp, Henry
Follow Arseblog on Twitter @arseblog. Visit the website at arseblog.com and the news platform at news.arseblog.com.