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Upstairs, Downstairs

Jag läste nyligen ett väldigt intressant bidrag på den utmärkta Football League-bloggen ”The 72”.

Bloggen funderade på hur fotbollen såsom den spelas i The Football League uppfattas av supportrar till lag i Premier League. Särskilt de bättre lagen och då kanske framför allt de som gjort sig kända för vacker och teknisk fotboll.

Så bloggen publicerade då en text av Julian Harris, Arsenalsupporter och initiativtagare till bloggen Gingers for Limpar. Han besökte nyligen Selhurst Park för att bevittna matchen mellan Crystal Palace och The Football Leagues just nu bästa lag, QPR.

Jag tyckte det var fantastisk läsning och jag klipper därför in texten här som lördagsläsning för er.

Jag klipper också in några kommentarer på texten som jag tycker var bra eller på något vis var talande för ”den andra sidans” perspektiv.

Varför gör jag då det?

Till att börja med tycker jag det ger en spännande kontrast mellan olika fotbollskulturer på olika nivåer av engelsk fotboll, och mellan fotboll på vad vi kan kalla global respektive lokal nivå.

Därtill manifesterar det på sätt och vis kulturimperialismen inom den moderna fotbollen där ett tämligen ensidigt skönhetsideal hyllas och andra former och spelsätt avfärdas som anti-fotboll.

Fotboll som konsumtion, inte supporterskap.

Jag tycker också det illustrerar fotbollssupportrars relativa värdegrund.

Jag betvivlar nämligen att Harris uppfattning om hur fotboll ska spelas var densamma i dennes ungdom när Arsenal – vars spelstil då långt mycket mer påminde om exempelvis QPR:s spelstil nu – bestod av spelare om Merson, Adams och Wright. Eller att den skulle vara densamma om han höll på t ex Bolton.

Det är en uppfattning som framför allt beror på vilket lag man håller på till skillnad från genuint estetiska principer.

Detta sagt så finns där ändå en beskrivning av den engelska fotbollssynen som kan förklara varför engelska spelare, engelska lag och det engelska landslaget får så svårt när de möter tekniskt och ibland taktiskt mer utvecklat kontinentalt motstånd.

Artikeln och dess kommentarer visar hur som helst på att den engelska fotbollen är bredare än enbart fotbollen så som den spelas av de fem-sex bästa lagen i Premier League.

Min ambition med bloggen är att spegla den flersidigheten då det är något som berikar den engelska fotbollen och ger den sin unika särprägel. Alla kanske inte gillar det (bevisligen), men det är deras förlust.



I am a traitor. Let me explain why.

Born in Camberwell, schooled in Dulwich, I was raised south of the Thames, roving around salubrious and exotic parts such as Norwood, Penge and Beckenham. As much of a Saaaf London beginning to life as one could feasibly imagine.

My first ever experience of live football occurred, predictably, at Selhurst Park. Crystal Palace 0 Nottingham Forest 0, about 20 years ago. Us kids were allowed in a standing zone alongside the pitch, from where we gazed at its luminous, flood-lit green, and marvelled at the mud being flicked into the air by Gary Crosby’s studs as he sprinted along the touchline.

In spite of the lack of goals, it was a fantastical, romantic beginning. It was the first time I ever heard the booming, threatening male chorus of “the referee’s a wanker”; a song which my mate’s dad, displaying a bizarrely liberal attitude for a middle-class, married Asian doctor, actively encouraged us to sing in the car on the way home.

During that era Crystal Palace reached the FA Cup final, and a late spring blossom of red and blue ribbons decorated cars and houses as far as my little eyes could see. The optimism was electric, especially for a football-obsessed boy without the experience of decades of disappointment and drudgery. The dream was on, and everyone was part of it.

So, naturally, I started supporting Crystal Palace, right?

Wrong. I was already an Arsenal fan, and I still am.

Why? I don’t really know. I can’t remember the exact moment I chose Arsenal, and I’m wary of people who claim to have found their team from a sudden epiphany now stamped into their memory. Is that really how it happens? You may as well ask “when did you first want to slide your hand up a girl’s thigh?” I don’t know. It was more of a gradual thing, a developing interest.

Admittedly, snubbing Palace was not a big deal. Most kids at school “supported” Everton or Liverpool, but while they grew up to lack any real association with their supposed clubs (or, in some cases, later swapped them for more local teams) I at least supported a London side.

The capital, like the world, was becoming a smaller place with increased technology and wealth. A bus to Brixton, tube to Highbury Corner, and for under a tenner I’d be in the East Stand watching Merson, Wright, Adams. Two weeks after my A Level exams I moved all my teenage paraphernalia into a dingy bedsit in N5, and my defection was complete. I had crossed the divide. Swapped sides – physically, tribally, emotionally, like Ayn Rand’s migration from Soviet Russia to Freedom USA. Kind of.

Such is the gap between my Islington home and that of Crystal Palace that it took almost two hours to get to the strange, rainy outpost where a group of us had decided to watch the home game against QPR. Arriving a couple of minutes late, we stormed into a heaving, raucous away section, with hundreds of the thousands of QPR fans standing and bellowing.

A wonderful start, and most impressive as we fought through to our seats next to my mate’s QPR-supporting brother-in-law and nephew. We were with an Irish friend of ours who, like a man possessed, had flown over that morning just to see his boys in hoops. Don’t ask me why he supports QPR. No idea. Maybe something to do with sliding hands up nice Irish girls’ thighs.

The atmosphere was traditional and impressive, yet also reminiscent of the culture in the top flight – booming away support facing off a single block of loud home support. The Palace block next to the away fans was extremely loud (with a drum and everything) but the rest of the ground seemed dreary, with notable splodges of empty seats.

At half time the concourse was crammed full of fag-puffing West Londoners, casually ignoring the Draconian anti-smoking laws to the same degree that they’d dismissed the anti-standing regulations. Top stuff.

On the pitch, meanwhile, things had been less impressive. The last time I watched a game from the Arthur Wait stand was around 1995 for Wimbledon v Arsenal. The quality of football in this game was roughly on par with the Sunday league style hoof-fest that I witnessed back then.

First observation: Adel Taarabt looks fat, and certainly runs as reluctantly as a fat man. Moodily lumbering on the left wing, there was no evidence of the “frightening” talent than ‘Arry Redknapp had claimed to see in him. The only frightening thing about him was a lingering concern that he’d fall on a ball-boy.

Soon he swapped positions with supposed hitman Jamie Mackie, who had displayed the proverbial first touch of a rapist when presented with two early chances. And a particularly bad, clumsy rapist, at that. Such indelicacies went largely unnoticed, however, as the average first touch in this game went so far that you half suspected that it was a pass. A pass to the other team, of course.

As the drizzle drenched all around, the players indulged in classic kick-and-rush, with the shiny turf offering unlimited opportunities to slide in on the frequently loose ball, drawing cheers from the crowd. QPR increasing looked to the wings, pursuing the classic cross-and-head tactic in an effort to take the lead.

Palace, meanwhile, were just as bad yet far less organised. It took 40 minutes before I could figure out what formation they were playing – an apparent attempt at a 4-3-3, yet with a collection of youngsters who clearly haven’t understood how it works.

If it had worked, Palace could have dominated the centre of the pitch, but instead most of the loose balls fell to ex-Palace man Shaun Derry, QPR’s “veteran” midfielder who looks like he’s 50 and plays like he’s 65. Is this really the midfield quality that it takes to top England’s second division? Shaun Derry? Really?

The mediocre nature of QPR’s play was staggering, given their rapid ascent this season. “What exactly are they good at?” I enquired to my colleagues, and received no more than shrugs. Then suddenly through the drizzle came elucidation – an Edgar Davids back-pass was weighed down by the rain and pounced on by Mackie and Taarabt to make it 1-0 to QPR.

“That’s why we’re top of the league” boasted the away fans – and they were right. They’re top of the league because that is how bad the other teams are. Tragically, the same fans were soon singing “Ole!” when their team completed five – yes, FIVE – passes to feet. I counted. And they weren’t singing it ironically, either.

As the game went on and Palace exerted more pressure, my mate’s brother-in-law repeatedly shouted “KEEP THE BALL!” at his hooped representatives, seemingly unaware that this team are entirely incapable of and indifferent towards possession football.

He was right, at least, that this is what they should have done, and they paid the price for their lack of sophistication when Palace equalised with a nice bit of trickery from Zaha (presumably an American version of Saha … sorry) and a pull-back for Cadogan to score.

Quietly, I welcomed the goal – Palace under George Burley are at least trying to play good football with young players, and 1-1 seemed the least they deserved.

But QPR, for all their faults, have the steely determination of a Neil Warnock side and it wasn’t a huge surprise when target-man Helguson beat the not-very-tall Speroni to a hoofed-in cross and sent those around me into delirium.

Fair enough, fighting spirit is important, and QPR play to their strengths. But when the whistle blew I couldn’t help chuckling at the chorus of “we’re by far the finest team the world has ever seen.”

Sorry, QPR, but you’re really not. On that display, you’re not even in the top thousand.



[“Read this expecting some well written, insightful analysis. How much more refreshing it would have sounded if this Arsenal fan had been able to offer something even half way positive. Instead he just came across as patronising, smug and superior, like some Victorian aristocrat paying a visit to the peasants in the village.”]


[“What a fascinating article. A pretty good demo of why I couldn’t really care less if QPR are promoted or not, because the Premier League is eating itself. It’s a place where fans have somehow become snobs (football fans that are snobs! WTF is going on?) and only pretty, passing football is worth watching.

I love football at just about every level – boring World Cup games, park games, especially QPR games and I love to watch Arsenal and Barcelona. But what a sad f***ing place it would be if everyone played like Arsenal.

This detached view shows the gulf that now exists between the FL and the PL. QPR used to have a motto – ‘Real Fans, Real Football’, and that fits us again this season. OK, we’re not playing glorious passing football, but the players work very hard, try their best and get results. That’s pretty much all that 99% of football fans and their teams can hope for. So we’re happy. So what?”]


[“OK the gap between the top of the prem and the top of the “second tier” is probably huge but I suspect that apart from the Champions League boys the gulf between the top Championship sides like QPR is not very wide at all.”]



»   Wayne Rooneys ankelskada är allvarligare än förväntat och han beräknas vara borta längre än de först beräknade tre veckorna – vissa spekulerar i att han kommer vara borta hela hösten.

» Liverpools nye delägare John W. Henry har förnekat rapporter att Liverpools trupp kommer försvagas genom att spelare säljs i januari – spekulationer de beskriver som ”destructive and unwarranted”.


Rory Smith på Telegraph gör en härligt elak analogi av några av Man Utds lovande spelare med andra spelare i klubbens moderna historia.




Och inför dagens match mellan Blackburn och Chelsea – ett intressant porträtt i Daily Mail av Blackburns unge försvarare Phil Jones som debuterade i samma möte förra säsongen:



Londonderby, of sorts, idag mellan Arsenal och West Ham. Det är ju inte ett av de stora derbyna så klart, men det kan väl ändå motivera lite godmodig humor inför matchen.

[”What do you call a West Ham fan in a suit? – The accused.”]

[“How did you enjoy your visit to Israel? – It was great! Well, did you visit the Wailing Wall? – Yes, but I couldn’t get anywhere near it for all the Arsenal supporters.”]

Ah, supporterkarikatyr när den är som allra bäst!

Be Champions!!

Publicerad 2010-10-29 kl 21:45

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