From souless bowl to fortress?

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From souless bowl to fortress?  Empty From souless bowl to fortress?

Post by Chris Chan on Tue Apr 10, 2012 8:59 am

Interesting piece by the one and only Daniel Keen. I think he makes a good point about how both the team and fans are raising their game.

http://www.fansonline.net/arsenal/article.php?id=687


26th of February 2012. 40 minutes gone in the first half. The fans have turned. The Wenger Out Brigade clearing their throats to boo the team off at half time. Groans following Theo Walcott's every poor touch, pass, cross, dribble.

It had been the story of our season. Fans, hurt by 7 seasons of failure. Fans frustrated with the highest ticket prices in Europe, supporting a team which sells its best players, only to replace them with cheap imitations. Fans who at the back end of last season, chanted 'Spend Some Money.' Fans, who, even if they were the minority, held up banners demanding Wenger Out.

The Emirates was not a nice place to come. The atmosphere is negative. the players looked scared to make a mistake. Was it too many JCL's who only knew success? Too many old boys who were frustrated at the ticket prices? Too many day trippers who really do not care? Or a mixture of them all. what was clear, with 40 minutes gone and 2-0 down against our local rivals, was that the players did not care, and the fans were not going to support them. To back them.

Fast forward 60 minutes. Theo Walcott was Man of the Match. Arsenal had won 5-2. 58,000 fans were on their feet singing and dancing (2,000 Spurs fans had done their usual magic trick of turning into seats) and the atmosphere was electric. The players high fived. They clapped the fans for 5 minutes. They thanked us. Thanked us for the backing we gave. We thanked them. Thanked them for carrying. Thanked them for creating, what, was in my opinion, the first great memory of this shiny new stadium. In the space of 60 minutes, something had changed.

8 days later, we hosted AC Milan. 4-0 down after the first leg. It was a lost cause. 2 weeks earlier, many a fan had said they would simply not turn up. That it was pointless. and many of those that were going, were to simply boo and hiss the team. Yet after the Spurs result and the comeback away to Liverpool, something was different. 60,000 fans turned up. Not to boo and criticise. Not to complain. But with one goal. To back the team to do the impossible. And how we nearly made that impossible possible. Despite the aggregate defeat, at the final whistle you would think we had won. Once more, the players showed they cared. Once more, the fans support did not waiver. The air in the Emirates was changing. And 12th man was growing.

The Emirates Stadium, 6 years old, had finally found its voice.

A lot is said about fans. That they can be the 12th man. That they can add an extra 10% to a performance. For the first 6 years at the new stadium, we had not been there for the players. Now whether this was a mixture of fans still getting used to their surroundings. Performances not motivating fans to get up and cheer. Too many corporate day trippers. I do not know. But for an opponent, coming to the Emirates was not something to be scared of. It was probably something opposition players actually enjoyed.

Now a lot of people will say 'a highly paid sportsman should not need the crowd to put in an extra 10%.' Well, having competed to a high standard of sport myself (swimming), I can tell you, there is one thing that you can not generate yourself, and that is the extra adrenaline that pumps through your body when you have the backing of the crowd. Now I have no proper science stuff to support this (I am sure someone reading this knows sports psychology and can prove what I say) but you only have to look at Olympic Games.

Teams in a home Olympics tend to win more medals. Teams playing at home in football win more games. Bowlers playing at home in cricket tend to bowl faster. Yes, there is the home comfort side of things, but the main reason is the adrenaline created with the home support backing you. IT gives you that extra bit of buzz to chase down a lost cause. It encourages you to chase an attacker the length of the pitch to put in a last ditch challenge. You want the standing ovation for battling in the midfield. For putting an opponent on the floor. The crowd backing you adds 10% to your performance.

Likewise, when the crowd does not back you, you become scared. A deer in the headlights. I was in Melbourne for the last Ashes. Boxing Day test match. A boxing day Ashes test match. The biggest day in the Australian sporting calendar. 100,000 fans. Imagine them cheering 'SIDDLE SIDDLE' as local boy Peter Siddle runs in to bowl. It adds a couple of extra miles an hour to him. Now imagine that the Australian side are up against it. All they can hear is 5,000 noisy Englishman. 95,000 silent Aussies. It drains them. They do not have that extra bit of drive. that is what I witness on Day One as England bowled out Australia for 98, before finishing the day on 157 for 0. The Australians did not want to be out there. They wanted to hide. Playing at home, when the home fans are not backing you, affects you as much negatively as the positive benefits you get when they do back you.

I fully understand that in football, we rely on the players to get us going as much as they rely on us to up their performance. A crunching challenge, a bit of handbags, a brilliant, but failed attempt on goal, these can get the crowd going. But also, the players showing they care. And before the Tottenham game, you felt they did not. After a poor result, they would run down the tunnel, leaving usually just Theo Walcott to thank the fans, despite the booing he got. but as the winter rolled on, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain joined him. The Kieran Gibbs. Three young Englishman. Then Sagna returned and he joined in a short clap thanking the home support. At the moment, other senior players, Van Persie, Rosicky, Arteta, realised they had a duty to thank the fans. They started to show that they cared.

And as they showed this, the support from the fans increased. We got louder. We backed the team.

Now fast forward to Sunday against Manchester City. The Emirates Stadium was rocking before kick off. I have never heard the players be cheered onto the field as loud for a Sunday afternoon game. The fans gave the players a message

WE BACK YOU

And then it was just up to the players to respond. Arteta, Rosicky & song in the middle never stopped running. Put themselves about. Threw themselves into every tackle. For every 50/50 they won, the crowd went wild. then they started to win 40/60s. Then 30/70s. The crowd were willing them on to want it. And they did. And they got it. We beat City because we were better then them. Because our players wanted it more. Because our fans wanted it more. Like I have never heard us as loud at the new stadium, I have never heard a quieter set of away fans. They were an embarrassment. Their only act of note was kindly sharing a beer with Wojciech Szczesny.

And like after that Spurs game. Like after the Milan game. The home fans stayed behind. Stayed behind to thank their heros. Very few left early. A standing ovation as the players refused to leave the field. Standing in the centre circle realising that is the feeling they want every week. They cared. We cared. The way Sagna pumped his chest at the final whistle. The way Rosicky was hitting the tunnel walls in excitement. Something has changed. The Emirates had become a fortress.

No longer were the players scared to play here. No longer were the fans a burden. We had come together, as one, players and fans, to show heart, to show balls, and make the stadium rock. The fans, since that Tottenham game, had become the 12th man. since that Spurs game, it is played 4, won 4, scored 9, conceded 1. Welcome to Fortress Arsenal.

The Emirates has changed. Is has become a fortress. The atmosphere now intimidates the opposition. The fans are backing the team, a team which is repaying with effort of 100% they now see worth of chasing back to put in a challenge. we show our appreciation. they show there's.

The bricks and mortar are the same, but the Emirates Stadium is starting to feel like home. Starting to create memories. Long may it continue.

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Post by Zaid Derweesh on Tue Apr 10, 2012 9:17 am

That was a brilliant read. I refuse to believe Keen wrote it, it's too well written, and too positive! Plus, he was a swimmer?


Back to the point, really good read!

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Post by Samritpal Singh on Tue Apr 10, 2012 10:42 am

Zaid Derweesh wrote:That was a brilliant read. I refuse to believe Keen wrote it, it's too well written, and too positive! Plus, he was a swimmer?


Back to the point, really good read!

He is a swimmer apparently. And his family used to teach Nico Yennaris swimming lessons.
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Post by DaveToffy on Tue Apr 10, 2012 12:30 pm

Good read. Interesting to hear that swimming part. I swam for 17 years so its always a nice surprise when you read that.
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Post by Subrat Koirala on Tue Apr 10, 2012 4:28 pm

Samritpal Singh wrote:
Zaid Derweesh wrote:That was a brilliant read. I refuse to believe Keen wrote it, it's too well written, and too positive! Plus, he was a swimmer?


Back to the point, really good read!

He is a swimmer apparently. And his family used to teach Nico Yennaris swimming lessons.
haha
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Post by Ashraf Peeran on Tue Apr 10, 2012 4:41 pm

That was a great read! I actually saw this yesterday because Piers Morgan had tweeted it!
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Post by Samritpal Singh on Tue Apr 10, 2012 9:50 pm

Subrat007 wrote:
Samritpal Singh wrote:
Zaid Derweesh wrote:That was a brilliant read. I refuse to believe Keen wrote it, it's too well written, and too positive! Plus, he was a swimmer?


Back to the point, really good read!

He is a swimmer apparently. And his family used to teach Nico Yennaris swimming lessons.
haha

Haha I didn't believe it at first when he said it, but the fucker kept saying it again and again.. I bought it.
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Post by Joey Schwab on Wed Apr 11, 2012 12:19 am

Zaid Derweesh wrote:That was a brilliant read. I refuse to believe Keen wrote it, it's too well written, and too positive! Plus, he was a swimmer?


Back to the point, really good read!

Haha, exactly what I thought upon reading it.

Nice sentiment - and I hope it becomes true, but one swallow doesn't make a summer. If we keep this up and really get a Chelsea-esque home run going then yes, I'd agree 100%. It does certainly seem like the fans are more firmly behind the team this season, which is great to see/hear
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Post by Vanig Bostanian on Wed Apr 11, 2012 4:07 am

No spelling mistakes? This isn't written by Keen.

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Post by Sami Rockfeller on Wed Apr 11, 2012 4:41 am

Van Roy Bostanian wrote:No spelling mistakes? This isn't written by Keen.

Look again.
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Post by kdunn on Wed Apr 11, 2012 5:13 am

I normally can not stand Keen and generally think his views outside of football are ignorant at best and down right stupid at worst, but that was beautifully written and gave me chills

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Post by Joey Schwab on Wed Apr 11, 2012 5:14 am

kdunn wrote:I normally can not stand Keen and generally think his views outside of football are ignorant at best and down right stupid at worst, but that was beautifully written and gave me chills

To be fair, I think 99% of his "views" ever posted on that facebook group were to wind people up
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Post by Vanig Bostanian on Wed Apr 11, 2012 6:20 am

One had to know when Keen was being serious and when not. When serious his thoughts are worth reading, when not, oh well.

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Post by Samritpal Singh on Wed Apr 11, 2012 11:04 am

Joey Schwab wrote:
kdunn wrote:I normally can not stand Keen and generally think his views outside of football are ignorant at best and down right stupid at worst, but that was beautifully written and gave me chills

To be fair, I think 99% of his "views" ever posted on that facebook group were to wind people up

Yeah most of the time he's taking the piss. But if you get to know the guy, he does speak a lot of sense.
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Post by kdunn on Wed Apr 11, 2012 11:25 pm

I am not gonna get into it, but I am not talking about the times when he was being a wind up merchant. And yes when talking about football he does make a lot of sense

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Post by Subrat Koirala on Thu Apr 12, 2012 1:50 am

yeah, Keen made sense when you got into talking with him seriously. but the funniest thing he ever told me was that he won the league in FM2007(i think) with Maldini as a striker.. haha
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