The first Arsenal Halloween Special
“The Bitches of Chiswick/All you need is luck (or some piss in the corner flags.)”
It’s a freezing cold night at the end of October, the first truly cold night, one of those where the cold enters you and really announces that winter is well and truly here. It’s dark, very dark. There’s a wind, papers and leaves fly around the pavements in mini-cyclones, yet there isn’t a sound. A full moon shines its beam on the street in front of you, guiding you, it seems you can almost see a hand holding it like a torch. Barney’s the only person on the street. It’s Tuesday night, Barneys just come from the Arsenal v Chelsea match, the inevitable and predictable defeat of our weakened side. It’s late, so everyone is inside wrapped up snug as a bug with their friends and families enjoying the quality football highlights on the TV. All apart from the Tottenham Hotspur fans of course, they’re doing late night shopping as they watch their shitty level of football on Thursdays.
Barney sits at his usual bus stop. It’s been a nightmare trying to get home in the aftermath of the storms the day previously, but he doesn’t mind the delay, as he has his notepad and pen with him, he can do some scribbling. He’s been researching as he’s trying to write his 1st blog for one of the big sites, something like “The Arsenal Blog – I will always be write” (I think I know the one).
Barney expected to lose the Chelsea game that night, not just because of the weakened look of the team, but because it was that time of the year. It was approaching Halloween, when the wheel normally fall off Arsenal’s seasons, especially of late, or more to the point, since we’ve moved to The Ems. This is what he was trying to research for his debut blog. He was trying to figure out how bad Novembers have been, how bad they were before we move, and how could it be that I keeps happening this way. He was in fear that the Dortmund game a week previously hadn’t started Arsenals November a little bit earlier than normal, as with tough fixtures to come things were balanced right on the edge.
He opens his notepad, to pages of squiggles and red flick’s, asterisk, stars and league tables and ‘+’ and ‘-‘ columns, doodles and stats…. Like these ones:
Remember, Remember the Month of November
Arsenal’s points-per-game traditionally drops to its lowest in November – 1.336 over the previous 10 seasons – compared to 1.81 in August, 2.08 in September, 1.96 in October and 1.9 in November.
It was the month where Robin Van Persie suffered a five-month injury layoff in a meaningless international friendly between the Netherlands and Italy
In the 2008/09 campaign, Arsenal lost away to Stoke City thanks to missiles by their pelter-in-chief, Rory Delap. Arsenal then recorded a bore draw against Fenerbahce before a 2-1 win over Manchester United. Shortly after the elation of defeating the defending champions, Arsenal secured back-to-back defeats against Aston Villa and Manchester City before ending the month on a high with a 2-1 victory against Chelsea. [Mixed bag – actually beatsome big teams ]
09/10 – losses to Sunderland and Chelsea.
10/11 – loses to Shakhtar Donetsk, an Andy Carroll driven Newcastle, and another embarrassing defeat to Braga left us close to elimination in Champions League…
“Feck this…I’m depressed enough”, Barney thinks to himself, slamming the notepad shut. There’s a loud echo of the book closing and a black cat scurries over a bin knocking the lid off, and scaring the beejango’s out of him. “But there must be something in it? There must be a reason? How can so many seasons start so brightly, but come crashing back to earth so quickly with the onset of winter and/or Halloween? Can it be linked? Is it psychological?”…………………. AAAAAAAARRRRRGGGHHHHH !!!!! he feels like screaming, so frustrating.
Barney pockets the book before he throws it at a wall in frustration, looks up at the street around him, and notices for the first time that there’s a huge old house/castle on a hill behind a large old creaky gate all covered by overgrown briars and bushes. It’s the house where Alexander Hleb used to live, he imported the materials from Belarus and Transylvania (the one where Dracula comes from, not the little bunny’s), to help him feel at home. There are dim lights on in several rooms, more like the flickering lights of candles than the strong glow of modern electric bulbs. A sliver of an odd looking smoke rises from the monstrously large chimney, but strangely on such a windy night the smoke barely changes direction and just slowly rises straight upwards, like a fart floating out of one of The Bisto Kids. Very strange indeed, spooky really, intriguing definitely, his teenage horror movie/Colombo mode kicks in (must approach scary house, on really cold spooky night, to investigate, knowing that nothing but bad shit can happen to him…. But fuck it, boys will be boys).
As he rose from the bus stop seat he notices two dark figures entering the rusty gates, they look familiar, famous almost, but he can’t put his finger on who they are. One is carrying a bag from The Armoury, overflowing with Kit and accessories and goodies. The other has a bag with lots of weird looking stuff sticking out of the top and sides, like small nests, and skeleton parts. This bag also seems to be moving around a lot by itself and making noise as if there’s an animal/pet inside it. He freezes. Slowly, sits back down, as silently as he can. They hadn’t noticed him. The only thing that Barney moved over the next few minutes were his eyes. He watched the two figures make their way up the long driveway, and then slink close to the perimeter wall of the house, until they reached the door. ~KNOCK KNOCK~ He could hear the huge knocker from where he was. Nothing happened, for nearly a minute, then the door opened and they were greeted to a “You Raaaaang” type greeting. “Gentlemen! great that you could make it. Welcome to the 9th Covenant of The Real Gunners Movement.” (or the CTRGM. Not very catchy, but heh ! every other BSM, AKB, WOB, etc. acronym had been taken)
“Wait a minute! I know him.”
“Yes! Yes! It’s Stewart Houston, Jaysus he hasn’t aged too well.”
The two Gentlemen remove their coats, or more like cloaks, and he manages to get a look at them before the door shuts fully.
“Alan fucking Hansen, what’s he up to going in there.”
“Wait a minute, Ray Wilkins too. What’s going on in that house? It must be a football after party, I’m going in, Feck it, don’t care how spooky the place looks.” He jumps off the bus stop seat, grabs the notepad from his pocket, and rips his notes out, curls them in a ball and fires them at a bin nearby. He missed. The notebook will now be an autograph album, “this place must be full of footballing VIP’s”.
Barney scales the wall, dashes across the lawn and makes it to a large window without being noticed. He’s shocked by what he sees when he gets there. The curtains are barely closed, they obviously think they don’t need them, because of their high walls and gates, etc. There’s a huge banquet table in a dining room that’s the size of a school gym. Central in it is a cauldron, bubbling away, and the table is assembled around it. Around the walls there are voodoo type effigies of Arsene Wenger, and The Emirates stadium and players past and present. Also photo’s of the same but all with big black ‘X’s through them or with red paint or blood splashed across them.
Around the tables are Houston, Hansen and Wilkins, but also plenty of former Arsenal players, and loads of media men of both TV and paper. Samuel, Holt and Winter, The Greek from the Sun, and the usual heads from the paper print. Then there’s the former players, too many to go through really, but spearheaded, quite literally by Stewart Robson (spanner headed more like ). “What the fuck is going on, here?” Robson picks up a Wenger doll, raises a glass, makes a toast, and proceeds to throw it into the bubbling cauldron. There’s a huge cheer from all in the room, the clink of glasses and the slaps on backs, and a roar of “your days are numbered at last muahahahaha” from someone in the room. There’s an awful stench, probably from the bubbling cauldron, but also possibly from the fat head-banded one or from Robson himself, or just the fact that this much media gathered in one place is bound to rustle up a stench.
From behind him, Barney here’s the gates open and a shiny jeep approaches. He has to jump behind a bush so as not to be seen. “That was close”. There’s a weird platform built onto the side of the jeep with a large SKY camera on it, pointing into the driver’s window, but there’s no cameraman – strange, very strange. As the jeep door opens, it makes more sense. It’s none only than Harry Redknapp. He enters the house, then into the main hall. The whole room bow to their knees, all apart from Hansen, Robson and Jamie Redknapp (the fucker would only rip those tight arsed pants of his anyway). So it appears, Harry is some form of leader, but that the other three also have some serious power in the cult or covenant or whatever indeed this was. Harry reaches to get a bottle of scotch, and lower it down in one, then starts dancing and stripping off. He proceeds to lie in the corner, and falls asleep, and the room continues cackling.
(Harry in self-induced scotch coma)
Barney nearly vomited in his own mouth.
Over the next hour or two, Barney finally realises that he has just stumbled upon the reasons behind Arsenals abysmal record in November. It’s the Covenant. They stay in hiding while Arsenal do well at the starts of the season’s, plotting, scheming and potion creating. They then use their evil magic to put spells on us. They’ve cursed our stadium, they’ve cursed our players. Injuring the ones they despise, and only getting the ones they like banned. They take away all our luck. They fix it so we get the Anthony Taylors refereeing our games, and that balls heading into bottom corners take a bad bounce, strike a post and roll perfectly out to the opposing right back, who then starts the break that leads to a goal. They add time at the end of our games, allowing just enough time for teams to conjure up an equaliser or even a winner, and then immediately finish the games so we don’t have a chance to hit back. They’ve spells for draining confidence, for spreading infections thru the squad, even for breaking Arsene’s zip.
It’s crazy, all before his eyes, he watches these so called football men dismantle his team’s league title before his own eyes. (Well they already do that in public on a weekly basis). They mix Hansen’s blood, (which actually comes from a tap that attach’s to the vein in his head just below the hairline) and some of John Lukic’s hair (supplied by Harry Redknapp for a small fee/Don’t know where he gets it/wheeler dealer), a photo of our keeper and finally a typed Gary Lineker joke, all into the cauldron, and that means whoever’s photo goes into the pot will have a month of clangers, it’s as simple and as scary as that.
All this, just so they don’t have to speak well of us. All this just to get back at Wenger because he’s either let them go, or didn’t employ them after they’ve left the club. Scary stuff, really scary, Barney feels numb.
Then two unidentified men come very close to the window where he’s peering in. They are having a quiet private conversation. One man asks the other if he has any Jamie Redknapp spunk going cheap. “???????”. They talk for a while longer. It seems that the one thing that can stop the covenant is Gary Neville. (Bear with me). His positivity and compliments can stun them, melt them, turn them to dust or kill them, similar to a stake through the heart, an upside down crucifix or a silver bullet in old scary stories. Just like Neville is their Kryptonite, there is always an antidote. In this case it’s Jamie Redknapp’s spunk. JR is the only one of the covenant who can sit on a panel or even in a room with Neville and not melt into a blob that looks like a young Harry.
Just like before, the only place to get their hands on Jamie’s spunk is off Harry, who of course charges crazy extortionate prices for it, and seeing as half these cretins can barely get a story printed in a newspaper, their funds are low.
Barney can take no more. He removes his autograph book, takes out his pen, and finally scribbles down the reasons for Arsenals abysmal Halloween’s and Novembers. His autograph book is a notepad once again. He puts it back in his pocket, leaves his hands in there with it, and slumps off to the bus stop, totally disappointed with the sport he used to love, muttering to himself
“Remember, remember, the month of November………me bollix…..”
Barney was lucky to avoid being seen, and so are we really. Now we know, we’ve been cursed, hexed, we have a gypsy’s curse, whatever we want to call it. Well it is Halloween after all, and Halloween began in Ireland – fact. To ward off the evil spirits and curses we used to put Jack O’ Lantern’s made from turnips, none of your big fancy arsed pumpkins in our hovels in our windows to protect our house. Now we need a form of Jack O’ Lantern for The Ems, something to look over us, something all hallowed. I think at this stage everyone may be thinking of the solution all at once – “GET DENNIS’ STATUE UP NOW – BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE!”. We’ll have Herbert minding one side, Tony the other, Thierry sniping another, we just need The Holy One to oversee the operations and fight off these evil feckers.
In other cases like Man City’s, where it was believed they had a gypsies curse on the stadium as they built it over a travellers halting site. The only way to break the spell was to piss in the corner segments. Well it’s seemed to have worked for them (well, along with the GDP of a small nation spent on players). So gather up the heroes, let them drink, and we’ll piss our way out of this together.
We’ll need Dennis’ Dong, Tony’s Tiddler, Ljungberg’s Langer, and Pat Rice’s Piddler. Sol’s big Salami, Wenger’s Whopper, Dixon’s Dangler, we’ll soak the flags proper. Santi’s sausage, Wiltord’s Widget and Kanu’s Kahuna, and of course we’ll need Bobby(‘s) P (literally). I say “it’s worth a go”. Sure!, the stadium might smell a bit for a while, but it’ll be worth it, if it works, plus opposition will rush their corner’s to get out of there quickly. Why not? Use everything within the rules to try to win.
Finally, my take on the big supporters/atmosphere debate. It’s definitely changed since we were made to make stadiums all seated. But the last time I checked it just said the stadiums must have seats, it doesn’t say that people can’t stand up. So I was looking for a solution to this, alas I didn’t find one, but I did find the ideal seats for when Stoke come to town.
Have a great, safe Halloween. Let’s hope we can break our Hex, starting on Saturday. As some other eejit used to say – “Don’t have nightmares”.
Keep the faith. #UTA.
I’m a 37 yr old Irish Gunner, and have been for 27-28 years now….
(Really 20, but trapped in a 37 yr olds body)..
Answer to ‘Woody’, as normally when ‘John’ is used, it means I’m in trouble for something..
I took my time deciding, didn’t follow the mainstream, and definitely chose wisely…
I let the club choose me, and didn’t let other people’s views or successes choose my club for me..
Seen the good times, the great times and the bad and really bad…
And strangely, enjoyed all of them, as you can only relish the good and great after you taste the bad…
Thats why I try to keep on the level-headed side of things, when things don’t go our way,
as it’ll make the successes all the sweeter when they arrive…
… and they WILL arrive…