About Me

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Hammersmith, London, United Kingdom
I'm a director of Maidenhead United Football Club. For ten seasons one of my roles at the club was to produce the match programme. The aim of this blog was to write football related articles for publication in the match programme. In particular I like to write about the representation of football in popular culture, specifically music, film/TV and literature. I also write about matches I attend which generally feature Maidenhead United.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

One Song

A solid performance from Arsenal to complete the amazing feat of becoming the only English club to qualify for the knockout stages of the Champions League with one group match still to play. I wonder what the odds were against this happening before Arsenal took the pitch in the Dortmund away game? Since then the new signings have started to blend, particularly the midfield triumvirate of Arteta, Song and Ramsey who were instrumental in Wednesday night's win. Arteta has found a new role for himself as anchorman following years of being the playmaker at Everton, Ramsey was spraying passes all over the final third whilst Song seems to be recapturing his form of a year or so with his admirable attribute of winning the ball whilst staying on his feet.
Going into the game as the top German team Dortmund had a strong start. Shinji Kajawa provided the biggest threat, playing in the hole behind striker Robert Lewandowski, and inspiring a couple of attacks that split the Arsenal defence open. Any chance of being impressed by highly rated winger Mario Gotze was lost when he went off injured midway through the first half but he does look like the small tricky attacking wide player that Arsene Wenger tends to favour. With Thomas Vermaelen and Mats Hummels in control in either defence the first half ended goalless with no clue to the final result.
Half time presented an opportunity to reflect on the huge German support which had been giving the rare opportunity of some upper tier seating to compliment the usual lower tier away section, the first time I had seen this at either the old or new ground. There were also pockets of support all over the Clock End keen to join in with the Wagnerian choir that looked like a hive of bees in their yellow and black striped hats. Many bloggers pay homage to the German fanschau of choreographed singing and hand clapping/waving but I can't help seeing it as narcissistic, a group activity convened to say look at me rather than to reflect the main event on the pitch. For me the crowd should respond to events on the pitch noise levels reaching a crescendo as either team attacks or an incident takes place. Add in the organised march from station to ground (which resulted in a rare command for the away support to remain behind) and you have a phenomenon of people seeking identity regardless of the football.With Dortmund's financial woes over the last decade giving a cautionary tale to those seeing the German game as some kind of model to aspire, my view is that you have a football culture that is interesting to observe but not one I would want to inhabit.
The braying teutonic voices surrounding me were silenced soon after the start of the second half when Song's inspirational run and cross was finished at the far post Van Persie. As those in red jumped up in celebration the Clock End must have looked a strange sight with small groups of glum looking Germans sitting in between bouncing Gooners. A second similar goal at the far post must have given rise to Schadenfreude in the Arsenal ranks as these are the sort of strikes that Arsenal succumb to all to often. The German's last minute consolation gave the scoreline a more accurate reflection of the game and left Arsene Wenger the liberty of being able to send a weakened squad to Greece in a fortnight's time.

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