Monday, April 21, 2008

Saturday And Football, Like Fish And Chips

... or something. On Saturday, I managed to borrow a pair of season tickets to see the legendary Arsenal Football Club, aka the Gunners, at their fairly new park in North London. From our old flat in Highgate, I could walk to the main drag, turn left and see the top of Emirates Stadium, but inside it's a little more fun. Saturday's game was against Reading, a club that might get dragged into a little bit of a relegation battle (in European sporting leagues, the bottom two or three teams in any league get bumped down to the next level and the top two or three from the league below get to move up. It spares the awful spectacle of teams trying to lose to improve their draft position that you see in such leagues as the NBA as moving down a league has financial consequences).

I invited a friend whose knowledge of football is fairly encyclopedic. He is a Crystal Palace fan and could recall the scores of the last four times Palace ventured to Arsenal's old stadium (all losses for Palace). Among other things, I could crack a joke about a pub called "The Herbert Chapman" on Holloway Road and he was able to tell me which titles Arsenal won under Chapman (the years helpfully listed inside the stadium).

This photo will join millions of other lousy photos of football matches published online (you can click on it for better detail--Arsenal are in red, Reading in blue, and Arsenal is on the attack in this photo). One thing to note: If you look at the far end of the stadium, you might just be able to make out a line of orange-clad stewards. To the right of them are Arsenal fans, to the left are Reading fans. Football fans do not tend to play well together.

My friend, the Palace fan, said after the game, "I'd forgotten how good football can be." Indeed, Arsenal were in the hunt for four titles this year, although at this late stage in the season are out of all four. They did win this one, however, 2-0.

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Anonymous Andrew said...

The beer! You forgot to mention the beer!

12:47 PM  
Blogger Smitty Werbenmanjensen said...

Yes, I forgot to mention that you can't drink a beer in the stands. I don't know if that's by law or by practice to prevent yobbishness, but you gotta leave the stands if you want to drink a beer.

The beer was good.

4:11 PM  
Blogger Middle Kid said...

I've tried to watch soccer, but it's more boring than even baseball, as far as I'm concerned. The fact that you can't drink a beer while you watch makes soccer even less desirable as a spectator sport.

4:49 PM  
Anonymous Andrew said...

No Smitty, you missed the point. There was beer. There was beer all day (apart from ninety minutes but there was beer halfway through that). There would have been more beer if we hadn't already decided by 5pm that we'd had too much beer.
But there was plenty of beer.
Come horse racing with us next weekend to see how much we like to mix sport and drink.

7:37 PM  
Blogger oldest kid said...

MK, How can you say it's boring! The guys are always moving, and they are wearing nice shorts. This is as opposed to American football where you don't have a clue what the players look like, and they only move a little every few minutes.

11:39 PM  
Blogger Middle Kid said...

I say it's boring and I'm sticking to it. To be honest, I find it hard to come up with a sporting event that isn't boring to watch. That's not to say that it's boring to play. And, certainly, beer eases the pain.

4:18 PM  

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