Memoirs Of A North Bank Sage


He’s been watching from the North Bank for more than 50 years; read the latest memoirs of a North Bank sage on throughout the season. And probably during the summer too!

On Arsenal’s current situation…

I was watching Sky Sports News the other day, just before the end of the transfer window, and they were making it seem like this was the worst time ever to be an Arsenal supporter. Trust me, it’s not. Football existed long before Sky Sports did [Ed. - ironically, and inadvertently, this North Bank sage was the star of Sky's latest Premier League TV ad - pictured above] and, for the most part, it was far worse than it is now. There were times in the relatively recent past when we finished mid-table playing average Football with average players. I want us to start winning things again but six years out of 125 – or the 50-odd years I’ve been going – is basically nothing.

On the trophy drought…

I want us to win something but I want it for Wenger and some of the players more than anything else. I want to see Sagna, Van Persie, Song and Wilshere rewarded. I’ve seen us win so much in my time and to be fair it can be a bit of an anticlimax. Once you’ve done it it’s almost instantly in the past. I just want the players to have that pressure off their shoulders and to vindicate Wenger.

On high profile departures…

It’s disappointing in a way because Cesc and Nasri were both quality players but, as a lifelong Arsenal fan, it annoys me the way they treated the club. Nasri is clearly the worst of the pair of them because he’s only motivated by money and I can’t stomach that. If you’re earning £50k a week and you’ve been offered a rise to about £100k at a club where you’re settled and the fans love you, why do you need any more? When he signed for City he said Arsenal fans needed to show some loyalty. I think that’s bit rich coming from him.

Cesc is slightly different because he’s going home but even then, he didn’t mind coming to London as a kid when he didn’t see a clear path into the Barca set up. I know he wants to play for his local side but I just wish a few more players would try to make a name for themselves and win things under their own steam rather than jumping ship and walking into clubs who will win things anyway. Both of them are going to join teams who will win things whatever so the success isn’t really anything to do with them, it’s just a fast track to medals. I want players who want to win for Arsenal, not players who just want medals for the sake of medals.

On modern Footballers…

You can’t help but think they are all greedy and none of them care like they used to but come to think of it, things haven’t changed that much. I will always remember going up to Molineux for a midweek game in the 70’s sometime. We got beat 3-0 and we were awful. We were on our way home, in the pissing rain stuck in traffic and just as we started moving the Arsenal team coach drove past. I vividly remember all the players eating Prawn Cocktails and drinking and laughing. It made me sick. Even then they didn’t seem to know what it meant to us.

You can say that modern players are all pampered and out of touch but it’s nothing new. I got to know Peter Nicholas a few years ago through a kids Football team and he said that playing for Arsenal meant you basically didn’t even have to wipe your own arse! Being a professional means you are pampered and mollycoddled and it’s nothing new.

On the new signings…

I’m quite excited really. I’m glad we got Mertesacker, he’s dominant and has looked good when I’ve seen him for Germany. People went on about Cahill and he’s a decent player but you can’t compare their experience. For me, Cahill is a skilful defender but that’s not exactly what we need at the moment. I honestly don’t think he’s better than Djourou or Koscielny. He’s brave enough but it’s not as if he runs a really tight defence at Bolton is it? He’d be decent to sign in the future but not now and not for £17m.

I don’t know much about Santos or Park but I’ll trust Arsene on those. Obviously, I know Arteta and have always rated him since his Rangers days. He’s skilful, a great passer and he’s got a spiteful streak that I think most good players have. Bergkamp had it for example. As for Benayoun, he’s a Premiership player who will give us another option and a bit more depth. I’ve always liked him since he scored that goal for West Ham that kept Spurs out of the Champions League.

I think it’s good that we’ve now got a few older heads and a few leaders. I think Mertesacker was captain at Werder and Arteta was at Everton wasn’t he? I know Park and Yossi captain international sides. Rambo is already Welsh captain so we’ve got a few players who might take responsibility now.

On the Swansea game…

I hate the international break so I just want to get back to Arsenal and see the new players. Swansea are a decent side, I watched them a bit last year, but we should have too much. I’m hoping for a good performance and to build a bit of confidence. As always, I’d like an early goal to calm the nerves. I don’t know who the ref is yet but I’m sure he’ll try and be the main attraction [Ed. - it's Stuart Atwell - phantom goal anybody? - so yes Ken!]. Every week I look at the back of the programme and see the ref’s name and groan “Not him”. I don’t really know what I’m expecting to see when I check the programme each week, all refs are as bad as each other!