Matches To Remember: No. 10 Liverpool, Highbury, September 1984

A change of pace this morning, a look back to the past in an occasional series that will intersperse the international breaks to come. A brief post on a match – not decisive in a League Title or a Cup Final, they are covered in enough detail elsewhere. These are games that for whatever reason have stayed in the ACLF memory.

To kick off, a visit of Liverpool to Highbury in September 1984, a win that took Arsenal to the top of the table. This one, more than anything, was particularly enjoyable as at the time the part of the West Country in which I was living had a large Liverpool supporting contingent. How luxurious the journey home was as the post-match gloating kicked in. Hard to believe that £20 in those days was enough to get me to the game, a terrace ticket, a programme with enough to be fed and watered. Not hard to believe that the train fare took around half of that!

It was, I think, the first season of the Jumbotron screens at Highbury or their predecessors at least, although now I type it, I wonder if I am twelve months too early. The North Bank tea bar had been, ahem, modernised that summer. An antiquated concept now, the food has little improved. But if we so chose to do, we could walk in and have a beer on terraces. The beer has little improved as well.

Unfortunately, Brian Talbot’s brace which were decisive, have eluded efforts to be tracked down on the interweb. Anyone who has links to them, please pass them on for they were a couple of crackers.

Tony Woodcock’s has turned up, 1’15 into this video. It’s worth watch for that and a rare sighting of Vladimir Petrovic in an Arsenal shirt. The Premier League era would have loved him.

Looking back, little has changed in English football. As now, several teams could win the title. As then, many will drop away before a dominant side emerges. Liverpool were the predecessors of Manchester United, seemingly set to reign. Murkier waters laid ahead with the Heysel Tragedy nine months away.

This was a typical Arsenal team. Hard working with a smattering of flair and seemingly destined for silverware. Like many Arsenal teams before and after, they flattered to deceive. Despite topping the league, they faltered as the season’s ran from Autumn through to Spring. Ten defeats in 22 games seems vaguely familiar.  Even without a ban on English teams, Arsenal would have pushed qualifying for the UEFA Cup the following season. A 2-2 draw on the final day of the season meant that the team dropped from 5th to 7th.

Cup runs promised much and delivered even less. Oxford ended any interest in the League Cup with a 3-2 win at The Manor Ground. As a stadium, it left much to be desired. Indeed, calling it a stadium is an insult to the word but that is another story. The FA Cup? One of the upsets that Arsenal were on the wrong end of. York City. Arsenal fans helped to clear the pitch, we were thankful as it was a long way to go in deep midwinter.

Steve Williams conceded a penalty that Keith Houchen converted. It added £500k to Williams’ transfer fee and an embarassing start to his Arsenal career. Still, Houchen made up for it by scoring for Coventry in the 1987 Cup win over Tottenham.

’til Tomorrow.

Posted on October 11, 2011, in Arsenal, Football, Premier League, Premiership, Soccer and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 171 Comments.

  1. First?

  2. First! Thank you Yogi for the intriuging insight about an era when I wasn’t even born!

  3. Interesting post. Ten defeats in twenty-two games? I shudder to think what it would be like if that happened in the current media climate.

  4. Great memories – thanks YW. Certainly remember the pick-pocket headline.

  5. YW – You are the man! Brilliant article, you implied there shall be a series of these if I get you right, looking forward to them.

    1984 – It was a different league back then wasn’t it? Clough was still knocking around at Forest. We signed Viv Anderson that year too. I was 9 years young!!! The Spuds finished above us that year ARGHHH!!! You mentioned Heysel. It was because of that that Everton were not in Europe the following year even though they did the double, winning the league and the Cup Winner’s Cup. Didn’t they lose the FA Cup as well that year to Utd? With the one and only Andy Gray in their team too I think. York City went on to draw with Liverpool 1-1 in the next round only to be whacked 7-0 in the replay. Those lads must have had some parties! Stoke City had a grand total of 3 wins that season, surprise! surprise! we were one of them!! (some things we seem to be very consistent at).

    Brings back memories but as you mentioned not all good. I remember the Heysel disaster but I must confess more for the fall out of the European ban on English clubs then for the loss of life. Apologies for that. I also remember the Bradford City disaster that happened right before Heysel. Unfortunately, as is their wont, the FA never did learn their lessons from Bradford and we had Hillsboro a few years later. I know it was a fire at Bradford and not at Hillsboro but it was the overcrowding issue that they never dealt with until it was way too late for a lot of people. Bless them all.

    Not quite the game between ‘Pool and ourselves you were talking about but as i could not find the viea of Talbot’s goals either, maybe the following from the 1980 season will make up for it:

    “I remember those cup ties vividly,” said Fairclough, who scored in the first FA Cup semi-final replay at Villa Park.

    “But it was an incident before the matches which I probably remember most.

    “Before the first game Bob Paisley had delivered his team talk and told us ‘You’ll have to keep an eye out for the boy Osborne coming late on the scene.’

    “We all looked around at each other muttering ‘Osborne?’

    “Aye,” said Bob “Osborne. You know, the lad from Ipswich.”

    “There were a few more puzzled faces until someone whispered ‘He means Brian Talbot. He signed from Ipswich.’

    “Well that was a story he repeated before every one of the four semi-final ties – ‘Keep an eye out for the boy Osborne coming late on the scene.’

    “We all knew that he meant Talbot, and he was right. The man who came late on the scene to score the winner in the fourth game at Coventry was . . . Brian Talbot!”

  6. morning all, quite the scene it was back then. YW AND IRISH your memories are vivid. thanks for the trip back to the past. hard to know that there where some years when the TOTS finish above us in the table. lol.. have a great day all and happy jewish new year..
    UP THE GUNS!!!!!

  7. I started following The Arsenal not long after that date as well. Nice post YW.

    Interesting interview with Keown/DB10

  8. It was an interesting discussion yesterday, and I’m sorry to continue it because a trip down memory lane is always so welcome. The comments about Emirates support seemed to amount to: “not as bad as I thought it would be this year” and “quite good, especially some away games and big games” and “we can’t compare ourselves to Liverpool in this respect”, or “what can we do, the emirates is re-geared to higher income types who don’t cheer”, and “it’s always been a little like this”. The other thing is that posters are noticeably sensitive about this issue.

    My, my, these are sad comments indeed. The level of expectation on fans (that is crowds at games) is really very low, almost dire. My simple question is why, if it is true that support is worth a few points a season, is this not fully part of the club and its expectations? Players win some trophies sometimes. But only fans make a club great.

    Henristic and Luke’s comments that support only ever follows great players and performances is wrong on all counts. Did we not have the record breaking Invincibles less than a decade back? Did our worldwide support not grow probably tenfold%? Were we not regularly feted as the team playing the best football long after the Invincibles?

    As far as sports and teams, everything disproves an argument that support only follows success. Welsh rugby during the barren spells. Indian cricket before the little master. I remember this most amazing interview with umpire Dickie Bird (then visiting Zim) back in the 1980s; he was describing the atmosphere for an umpire when 90,000 Indian cricket fans, very knowledgeable on the whole, were following every ball. Japanese football. Italian football anytime, anywhere. Lower level clubs. Hull. Newcastle during their most barren spells. Zim cricket (we won our first test match in decade last month). African football everywhere. A thousand examples.

    In any case my point is deeper than crowds at games. The entire fanbase, in their different ways makes a club what it is. For all their success Chelsea cannot replicate Arsenal’s global fanbase, and it will take City a decade to come close. When fans go to matches, it is as well to remember that watching that very match in thousands of bars around the world are Arsenal fans cheering their heads off.

    It is a deeply controversial issue, but let me put it out there anyway. I often thought about why Adebayor had made that horrible gesture to Arsenal fans after he scored against us for the first time. It was an angry gesture. I often thought about whether Nasri, Denilson and Bendtner had been influenced by a perception that Arsenal fans didn’t like them, especially Nasri at the end. I sometimes wondered whether Cesc was just being polite when he said Arsenal fans are great. I wonder what Song and Eboue really made of their booing episodes. Both reacted admirably. There are others. I do imagine players know very well they have to earn fans respect, and at Arsenal it is harder.

  9. There was something about football in those times that the modern game has lost. The habits of the matchday prhaps as your post might suggest perhaps.

    Highbury with tickets at the office, a pint and a pie, the terrraces, the sheer shabbiness of it all on occasion. All gone now.

    The ‘product’ might be more refined and the stadia outstanding from a viewing perspective but… bring back my Saturdays of old..and my Highbury of course,

  10. Oh, sorry, one other thing. My last trip to Emirates was so exciting, and I don’t mean this in an ironic way. It cost me and my wife a bucket load. We drew with Liverpool. Cesc got injured. We dominated. Liverpool away support outsang the home crowd of perhaps 50,000-plus throughout. But I got to see my team!!!!!!!! Wow!! I cannot describe the joy.

  11. It seems to me the Board and management of Arsenal need to depart from corporate strategies sometimes, which are working quite well, and look firmly at atmosphere in the stadium, and present a plan of action that makes sense to the supporters. Perhaps this would be a better use of Q&A sessions than rather pointed questions only about the team.

  12. Consols – Yeah, I do agree. Also the players are now so far removed from the public/fans.

  13. Goonerandy

    Thats a lovely piece. Has put a massive smile on my face! What lads they are!!!

    This was interesting:

    Bergkamp: There was talk of Patrick going to Arsenal during the summer. I would’ve done everything possible to get him there. Just to get him in and around the dressing room. It would have brought so much to the team.

  14. ZimPaul, the club and fans groups have tried to do things to create an atmosphere in the stadium, but trying to engineer something that would best be a spontaneous thing hasn’t resulted in anything too successful. There is the red section in the current north bank/west stand corner, but it doesn’t generate a thundering noise by any stretch. There will be particular games where the atmosphere is electric, but for the majority it will be more subdued as the nature of the football fan changes.

  15. Luke – I know. I also liked the bit about Keown motivating the other players in the changing rooms. I really think that that is the type of thing we miss at the moment. Unfortunately that can’t be coached, you are either that type of person or you are not. Also the confidence to express yourself in that way also comes with age and expereince.

  16. mj_gunner | October 11, 2011 at 6:15 am
    “First! Thank you Yogi for the intriuging insight about an era when I wasn’t even born!”

    Good lord, I’m old…..

  17. Lovely article BTW the YW – was before my time this match, so it’s always enjoyable diving into games gone by…

  18. 25 is not too young as per ACLF standard eh, Henristic?

  19. GA – another great point was hearing about the preparation before games and DB10 struggling to beat the offside line in training.

    Making him a better player. Perhaps thats an issue with our set pieces – when we work on them in training, they are smooth, defensive organisation sound, and when we run through the motions, players know what todo.

    Transferring that into a matchday scenario where we face new, superior set piece units causes us too many issues.

  20. ZimP,
    I was talking about support for specific players, and even then I never mentioned or implied the word ‘success’. You just slipped that in now, to make your point look better 😉

    What I have said is that adulation for sports personalities e.g. Henry and Bergkamp follows incredible performances. It doesn’t come before. Talent helps, but only after the consistent application of that talent do we see the sort of hero worship received by stars like Maradona, Zidane, Tiger Woods, Tendulkar, Michael Jordan. So tell me where I’m wrong again?

    On your point about about whether our players leave because of fans. All I can say is, Arsenal fans are generally no worse or better than others. You only have to look at how other fans have treated their least favourite players. Heck, Manu fans terrorized rooney in HIS HOME over his dithering to sign a new contract last season. What has arsenal fans done to match that?

    However, I know it fits with your worldview to almost always look outside of the club’s management for any failings we have. It’s no surprise really that you’d embrace an idea that seeks to blame ‘others’ (fans in this case) for our players wanting to leave.That doesn’t make it cool though.

  21. MJ

    Nothing to do with how old you are, simply that others such as myself have advanced in years. 25? I can barely remember it. Not sure if that is age or just the amount of alcohol consumed at that point…


  22. If players were really bothered about fan resctions they almost certainly would not play in Spain or Italy. A bad performance their results in instant abuse. If Barca were getting spanked 8-2 by Madrid their fans would not have continued to support the players during the game make no mistake about that.

  23. And I really do contest this idea that support is worth a few points every season. Its one of those things people repeat often enough as fact, but where is the evidence?
    Talent, desire, discipline, officiating, and even luck. These things win games.

    But is there any correlation between support/atmosphere and success on the pitch? Do teams with more points on the board tend to have better atmosphere, or vice versa? Genuine question.

  24. Actually, everything, in terms of continuity anyway, before my mid thirties’ is a bit vague Yogi.

    Memories are odd. A few snatches of evenings and days remembered for no seeming reason against the development of a life, girlfriends, jobs, moves until I ‘settled down’. Since I maarried consolslel of course, every moment is as fresh as the smell of apples in the morning.

  25. You could argue Henristic that Stokes home fans can certainly sway games – however, if you watch Stoke aside from when we play it doesnt sell out, and thier fans for United or Chelsea are not up for it, because they dont believe they can win.

    I don’t think there is any correlation between home support and points, any thumping atmosphere should gear the players up, regardless of side.

  26. mj_gunner | October 11, 2011 at 10:03 am
    25 is not too young as per ACLF standard eh, Henristic?

    To be honest, I have no clue what the demographic is like on here, but I’m sure there is reasonable spread across agr groups.

  27. Luke
    Really? I would have thought Stoke to be the kind of place you got good atmosphere for every game. Not that it has helped them all that much considering the mancs have always beat them at the Brittania until this season.

    In anycase, my thinking was that their relatively good performances were due to the ‘robust’ tactics they employed, added to a fair amount of towelling talent?

  28. Confidence and quality of the players/team feeds into the stadium.

    Arsenal pre 2004 had it. If we conceded first (rarity), you just knew the lads would find a way back into the game. Even other sides knew it and thier fans. We’d equalise, and almost automatically the body language of the other side would be in acceptance of the inevitability of us taking the lead.

    That has turned now, in the sense even if we go 2-0 up, every side / set of fans will believe they can get back in the game. That has been created by the teams failings on the pitch. The team, not the fans, threw a 4 goal lead, the team, not the fans threw away 2 goal leads against Spurs, etc

    We as fans cant change that. That is the team. It is the teams ability, confidence, aura, dominace, performance and quality that instills the mental advantage over your rivals.

  29. henristic

    I should have been clearer. The Brittania, for our visit, operates at an extra 15% compared to that of the other big sides. Its because they smell blood. and rightly so, our EPL record there is appauling.

    But there style and tactics, as you correctly point out, is why they are hard to beat.

    No other side in the world would look to blame the fans for the players performing consistently below par.

  30. 1980-1986 were the dark ages in our history until GG came and saved us.Hankin Hawley Chapman Peter Nicholas!!!!Players coming for one last pay day.Gates regularly under 20,000.Losing to York Oxford and most embarassing Walsall at home(the end of Terry Nil-Nil).Don Howe playing Mariner in central midfield at home to Villa in a QF league cup. game.We lost of course.Finishing below the Spuds.Never looked like winning anything in those 6 years.GG’s first season a trophy

  31. Those were the days, when we treated like wild animals to be penned, with the occasional refreshment thrown in rather than a flock of consumers to be fleeced 🙂

    Good writing Yogi – I can smell the faint whiff of urine under the NorthBank even now

  32. Graham was a legend! The first Arsenal manager I grew up with.

    Football turned sour towards the end of his tenure, and he got the harsh end of the stick with the Jensen scam (everyone was doing it), but massive amounts of respect for him.

    It was his defensive organisation that forced its way into The Arsenal DNA. Much like Mourinho did to Chelsea.

  33. Its a romantic notion, that the force of the crowd’s support somehow gears their team on to victory. Like many other romantic stories, it probably did really happen that way once or twice. But that’s no reason to use it as some kind or standard or formulae, or as an excuse for poor/great performances.
    9.999 times our of 10, it probably makes no difference to match outcomes, even for sides like Liverpool, Newcastle, Stoke, or whichever other club has these fans that are so much better than ours.

  34. Yup, I think your right Henristic.

    This is top end elite sport. Perhaps if we were talking about players who have never been exposed to the big occasion, the fans could give them an extra 10% – like a decent FA Cup for Exeter / Crawley Town – sell outs for them, uncommon noise levels etc as they look for a place in the next round would, in my opinion, would have a positive impact on player performance – but no way to determine result.

    But thats just natural. If I got the call from Arsene to play on the weekend, I would be going WILD for 90 minutes and running my little socks off. That would only subside as it became the norm.

    I guess thats why fans always take kindly to a player like Tevez (sic), Rooney, and Chamakh pre Christmas 2010. Effort. Fans will always love a trier.

  35. YW & CBob – I am all smiles 🙂

  36. Consol,

    Have to agree with you. I miss Highbury more than anything else. The game had definitely lost something since those days..

    Even if we had a team as good as the Invincibles, I doubt that it would feel the same at the Emirates.

  37. Off topic, but can someone explain to me under what circumstances Wayne Rooney’s international sending off should be set to just 1 match? I was reading Skysports, and there is an article there where Bevington is banging on about the FA lobbying to enure Wayne gets just 1 match. It was mentioned, that due to Wayne saying all the right things after the match and apologising that that should be a show of his maturity and why he should not be further banned beyond the 1 match. Is this just not out and out favourism?

    I remember way back when Shearer went out of his way to stamp on a player on the sidelines, TV showed it was certainly deliberate but no action was taken then or after the game due to his status as England Captain.

    It is a sad day indeed when you see that the FA does truly has one set of rules for one group and another for the England team in general.

  38. Alex, I have not been to the Emirates but I was blessed with numerous visits to Highbury. I would assume that the real difference is due to the fact Highbury had a much for intimate fel due to the small size?

  39. Miami – The size is a factor I think. But Highbury had personality, where the Emirates really does not (yet).

  40. Miami, afaik, there isn’t a set penalty for sendings off in Euro matches, some comittee convenes and decides the length of the ban. The FA are merely trying to get their best as short a ban as possible, I’m sure anyone else would do the same. If it was a premier league game then it would be an automatic three-game ban. I think the ref said something to the effect that he walked off without arguing so that might help his cause to avoid a long ban. I suppose we’ll have to see what UEFA make of the ref’s report.

  41. For once we are in agreement AIC.

    Still, we cannot turn make time nor the tide of change.

    The first trophy there will be special.

  42. Luke and Henristic, I respectfully disagree with the idea that the support doesn’t make a difference. It’s obvious that the result of the game is decided by what the players do on the pitch, but I am convinced that the fans do have an influence. Consider how much better most teams’ results are at home compared to their results away. Yes, some of that can be put down to familiarity of routine and surroundings, but I would have to believe that having tens of thousands of people cheering people on is going to be somewhat helpful. Would home advantage mean as much if a match were played behind closed doors?

    “No other side in the world would look to blame the fans for the players performing consistently below par.”

    I don’t think anyone is looking to “blame the fans”. Speaking personally, I’m interested to hear what people think about how the fans can provide more support. I agree with Block4 (at 9:28) that the attempts to artificially create an atmosphere have, at best, had mixed results. The trick seems to be how can it be somewhat engineered without it feeling artificial. Not easy, certainly.

    The point made above about taking a lead and losing it is valid. You’re right that opposing teams’ fans do believe they can get back into the match. I think it might help The Arsenal if the home fans did not audibly and visibly demonstrate that they believe the same thing. Instead of groaning and swearing (which, if I’m being honest, is pretty tempting), it seems like it would be much more helpful to give the team our backing and show them that we believe that they are not going to blow it (even if inwardly, we fear they might). To put it another way, it must be pretty demotivating for the team to see that their own fans don’t believe they can succeed. I guess what I’m looking for is a little more blind faith!

  43. @consolsbob at 1:36pm | The first trophy there will be special.

    You said it. Grown men will cry! Perhaps as much in relief as in happiness!

  44. Great post Yogi:

    No one here in the US knew anything about or cared about European football back in that time so the history of the club is something I know much less about then most on the blog. Always love your posts that help me learn more about the history of the club.

    Must win game this weekend. If we can maintain our home form and take a some points from our travels we can still make 4th place. Fourth place for the last 6 years has gotten 68, 70, 72, 76, 68, 67 points. We still have 48 points to play for at home and 45 away from home. We need to get about 40 points at home and 25 on the road to reach 72 points which would probably give us 4th. Thats a tall order but it can be done if we get started quickly.

  45. Sports Illustrated magazine published an article with some extensive research on home field advantage and their conclusion was that it is almost completely related to a difference in how the match officials/umpires/referees call the games. They did analysis of strike zones in baseball and a measured a couple of different parameters in the other sports and they found that there was small but measurable difference that almost invariably favored the home team. They postulated some pyschological affect on the officials regarding favoritism to the home team. It was a couple of years ago so you might be able to find the article if you want to spend the time looking for it.

  46. Also to be taken into account is not the fans ability to rouse the team, but the teams to rouse the crowd. Sometimes somebody tracking back 60 yards and winning the ball with a committed challenge will bring about a cheer akin to a goal. At the very least the crowd demand (and appriciate) 100% effort.

    Is there any wonder that the crowd is dull watching some of our feeble attempts, or games when we have simply rolled over? It works both ways.

  47. The crowd excitement is a 2 way street. Last year we had a very talented team that on paper probably was the best and deepest team in the league. Unfortunately there was a feeling that the team was complacent. The crowd senses that and their performance was also indifferent. The talent level of this seasons team has dropped compared to the rest of the league but it feels like the team is working harder and at least I do not feel a sense of complacency. I think fans feel the same thing so they are cheering more for this group even though results are not great. I suspect that is part of the reason the fans are performing better this season. Everyone loves an underdog that always tries hard and they don’t feel as good about an underachieving overly talented team.

  48. YW – Really appreciate this article as it has led to a nice mood change on here as it has been pretty negative for a while. Nice to see that almost every posting has been a positive one. Am really looking forward to your next installment in the series.

    C’bob – “Memories are odd. A few snatches of evenings and days remembered for no seeming reason against the development of a life, girlfriends, jobs, moves until I ‘settled down’. Since I maarried consolslel of course, every moment is as fresh as the smell of apples in the morning.” i definitely smell something this morning but I do not think it is apples! 🙂

    I am enjoying the debate about how much influence the fans have on the teams performance. Personally I believe it does but I do agree with the point that the more accustomed to success and playing at the highest possible level a player is, then the less of an influence it becomes. Irish fans have a fantastic reputation at the likes of the world cup and Euros but that is because we know that every win should be treated like the last as we are simply along for the ride, with the full knowledge that we will most likely never win either tournament. We know we can get lucky and beat any team on the day but beating several teams in a row is pretty much beyond us but that is why we support the way we do. If it makes even a 1% difference to our lads on the pitch, then you can bet your ass we are going to sing ourselves hoarse!! I also believe a massive level of support can be somewhat intimidating to some teams/players, more so with the less experienced it must be said but that too can make a difference.

  49. That is why the invincbles side was so good. Supremely talented footballers at the top of their game with a massive work ethic. Same as Barca now; you would struggle to find a harder working team at last season than Barca.

    The last few years have seen us have talented footballers, who were not at the top of their game, and not without the work ethic to complement their talent. I honestly believe that this is why their is not as much affinity with the players, and also why the crowd have not seemingly been as supportive. You need to earn support as a player.

  50. Urgh:

    without = with
    their = there.


  51. Bill, your point about officials being more inclined to give home teams decisions has some validity I’m sure, which can definitely be influenced by the fans. On top of that, in last month’s Four Four Two there was an article about why home teams perform better. As Billy’s Boots has mentioned above there is also something to do with familiarity of routine and surroundings. However, in that article, some scientific-type stuff was in it (sorry, I’ve thrown out the magazine now, so I can’t look it up again) and there is a theory that the surroundings are acting on the subconcsious, in that players more instinctively know where they are on the field and all the relationships that apply to that, i.e. distance to goal, touchline, by-line etc without having to think about it at all. When I think about that it does make some sense to me.

    Obviously having much better players in every position than the opposition would make these points pretty much moot.

  52. Block 4:

    I am sure the home field advantage is multifactorial. Would make a great PHD thesis.

    Crowd psychology would also be an interesting subject for someone else who actually cares about that kind of stuff. Why is it that Liverpool fans have always been so energetic while Arsenal’s fans have always been average at best. Who knows.

  53. Billy’s boots,
    I think the home advantage we tend to see has way more to do with familiarity of environment than anything else. I can agree that home crowds might sway officials in the home teams favour, but clearly that depends on the kind of ref as not all of them are ‘homers’.

    A good way to know for sure is to see if playing in empty stadiums makes a difference to the ‘home advantage trend. I remember some of the teams in SeriaA had to do that a few years ago. I wonder how those results stack up in this context.

  54. If you think fans don’t influence both players and officials you are sadly mistaking they are the final piece in creating that air of superiority that we are lacked for years.

    But like has already been said is not something you can fabricate or synthesize.

    Can’t wait for the end of thwarting international break.

  55. Arsenal supporters dont seem to show pride in it’s past accomplishments, for one. Many behave as if Arsenal have never accomplished anything because we have not won for x amount of years.

    At this point, we are behaving as if Chelsea and City are bigger clubs than Arsenal. I am not sure but I doubt Pool supporters see it that way. They are proud of their club and many Arsenal supporters are looking for the players to “earn the support” instead of backing them from the start. What is that about even?

    Our players were on the cusp last season and when the players needed them most, they behaved awful. Did the team no earn the support by giving a good showing 2/3 of the season.

  56. “them” being the supporters.

  57. I found this this study on the Seria A issue:

    The conclusions were:

    …we find evidence that Italian referees change their behaviour significantly in games played without spectators. The evidence we provide is consistent with the idea that individuals are likely to change their behavior under influence of social pressure. We test a number of outcomes of home and away players and find no evidence for that they are affected differently by pressure from the spectators. This strongly suggests that it is the referee that changes his behavior in games without spectators rather than the players.

    Unfortunately they don’t give the match outcome stats, so one can’t easily tell how many home games were won or lost, etc. Perhaps there’s someone is motivated enough to go look it up on espn soccernet.

  58. For arguements sake, suppose we took two evenly matched teams and put them on a neutral ground, a field that neither had played on. In the stadium you have 90% of the supporters screaming at the top of their lungs for one of the two teams, what team would be seen to have the advantage and why?

  59. How can anyone think the fans dont have an effect.
    Trouble is ours seem to have an negative effect.So double whamy,no positive but plenty negative. excellent

    Luke from yesterday.In case you missed it :).

    pedantic george | October 10, 2011 at 5:52 pm
    “We have never made such a high profile signing since. Its funny, how our manager who single handley saw the impact a truely world class footballer has on your club failed to follow his predecessors example and sign another one.”

    Luke ,Arshavin was held in higher regard, when he signed ,than Dennis was.(Andrei was not coming off a two year slump)
    So you are chatting shit,again.

  60. Henristic, all they had to do was ask players to see if positive support helps or hinders. An away team may not have an issue with playing away but the home team feeds off of the support, the players say it all the time.

    Refs make decisions that can be easily followed, its not so easy with players. A confident player may have taken a shot, but instead pass when they feel the pressure from the support.

  61. Henristic @ 3:11:

    I think the sports Illustrated study made a similar point. If I remember correctly, the referee induced homefield advantage was decreased slightly in stadiums where the crowd was further away from the referees such as those parks that have a running track adding distance to the seperation of the crowd from the field. The energy of a crowd probably has some affect on a game. Most of the research seems to indicate that a small change in referee behavior is the biggest difference and players performance is not really changed measurably. Unfortunately we can’t control or change the psychology of the crowds at the Emirates. To each their own, but to me its counterproductive to worry about something we can’t control anyway, just takes away from the things we can.

  62. George, why am I chatting sh*t by saying that? I categorically don’t think signing Arshavin was in the ball park of Bergkamp.

    We signed Arshavin at his peak, so I can see why he was much revered – however, I’d say signing Nasri was a bigger coup – afterall, he was arguably the most sought after attacking midfielder of his generartion.

    Arshavin was a cusp of excellence – but he wasnt the international superstar that young Denis was when we signed him. The excitement around the Bergkamp signing was HUGE – but, I suppose you don’t remember that considering it was pre Wenger! 🙂

  63. Bill, worrying or controlling has nothing to do with it, it is about trying to make a change. If you dont speak up and about something you feels is important, you cannot change someones outlook on the matter. If other clubs have more positive support, there is no reason that Arsenal supporters cannot be the same. You never know, the discussions on this blog may start of revolution.

  64. Paul-N | October 11, 2011 at 3:05 pm “Arsenal supporters dont seem to show pride in it’s past accomplishments, for one. Many behave as if Arsenal have never accomplished anything because we have not won for x amount of years.

    At this point, we are behaving as if Chelsea and City are bigger clubs than Arsenal. I am not sure but I doubt Pool supporters see it that way. They are proud of their club and many Arsenal supporters are looking for the players to “earn the support” instead of backing them from the start. What is that about even?

    Our players were on the cusp last season and when the players needed them most, they behaved awful. Did the team no earn the support by giving a good showing 2/3 of the season.”

    I absolutely disagree entirely with all of that, especially the last paragraph. Half a stadium at Wembley was Arsenal, was it the support who made the mistake? It was unfortunate, but the backing was there. Even after that, in the home game against Barcelona where we won, the stadium was rocking. Were the fans, of which there would have been a bigger contingent at Old Trafford than for a league game, at fault for the failure to beat a Manchester United side which contained 8 or 9 defenders? Did the away fans at White Hart Lane piss away a one and then two goal lead? An insipid display at Bolton? We actually beat Man Utd at home, it must have been in spite of the supporters I suppose? No my friend, while the some of the fans have been getting angry, blaming the majority for the teams failings last season is well out of order.

    As for the rest of it, Arsenal fans know that we are a bigger club than Chelsea and Man City and it will always be that way until the have the history that we have. Highly unlikely to happen in my lifetime I would say.

  65. Arshavin and Bergkamp really should not be compared. Bergkamp was streets ahead of Arshavin.

    Arshavin was (still is to a point) a very good footballer when we signed him, and was our last “marquee” signing I suppose. Bergkamp was possibly the best footballer on the planey at one point, Arshavin has never been (and never will be) at that level.

  66. This fan impact stuff is getting massively over blown.

    Disgruntled fans existed in droves in pubs, clubs, blogs – but the actual stadium was fine, about par for Arsenal during the game.

    Obviously boo’s ran out at FT during the run in, which is pretty sick, but the professionalism and ability shown by the players for the final third of last season (and the majority of this season) is obviously below par.

    the fans have been great this season, but the players are still performing well below par, and making the same mistakes, as always. so it sort of refutes the sh*t fans make a sh*t team line that is the latest hiding place.

  67. Considering we had one of the best away records in the division last season, if not the best, that would suggest that playing in front of a load of moaner’s at the Emirates certainly had a negative effect….

    I’m with you Bob and AIC, Highbury was a special place, and I have had many discussions with people as to why I loved it so much more than the Emirates.

    For me, it was just the whole feel of the place, the memories – it used to make me smile with pride just to walk up to the ground from Finsbury Park.

    I don’t know about you guys, but I definately lost some of the cameraderie too – I sat with pretty much the same guys for 10 years + at Highbury, never to see them again at the Emirates…

    Not saying my new neighbours are bad, but we certainly don’t share the same history, so maybe that has had an effect too.

  68. If you dont speak up and about something you feels is important, you cannot change someones outlook on the matter.


    Best thing you have ever said Paul N.

  69. Paul N @ 3:50:

    “If other clubs have more positive support, there is no reason that Arsenal supporters cannot be the same. You never know, the discussions on this blog may start of revolution.”

    Knock yourself out. I hope it works.

    Any Detroit Tiger fans on the blog? ACLS is turning into a classic series. 2 great games so far. Last nights game probably one of the most exciting I have ever attended. I hope the Rangers can win in 5 but it would only be fair if this goes 6 or 7 games. Great stuff.

  70. Andy,

    Bergkamp was definately on a different level over the course of his career, but I would say at the point they both signed for Arsenal there was not that much difference.

    Arshavin had just lit up the Euro’s and played a major part in Zenit winning the UEFA Cup, and at the point Dennis signed he was perceived as a relative flop in Italy.

  71. Matt – It is hard to judge really. When AA signed it was yet another “flair player” for a club which prides itself on the style of football. When Bergkamp signed it was a bolt from the blue as at the time we were no more than a functional side, and he was a world renowned player. We didn’t sign that calibre of players in those days.

    His arrival at the club was a turning point in the clubs hsitory. Not quite as pivotal as Wenger’s arrival, but not far off.

    I still remeber the day it happened. Obvisouly there was no internet or the like, so the first I heard of it was when I glanced at the back page of the Sun. It was jaw dropping stuff.

  72. Paul,
    Its all well and good to want to make our atmosphere ‘better’. It would certainly make for a more enjoyable match day, and pergaps bragging rights. But say we get the best atmosphere in the world, what then? My point is that it will make no real difference to our chances of success on the pitch.
    I say this because there is no correlation that I know of between successful teams and 100% positive support. ZimP and others have in fact argued that non-performing teams can have great support too.
    Basically, I don’t think the nature of fans support has anything to do with our poor performances. Many, many other teams – including us – have had poor performances despite what you’d call great support.

  73. “Luke ,Arshavin was held in higher regard, when he signed ,than Dennis was.(Andrei was not coming off a two year slump)”

    I know he is not a patch on Dennis .FFS who is?
    But Andrei was held up as a better signing on the day he signed than Dennis was on the day he signed,
    Fuck me Andy try understanding what I say before you go off on one .
    Dennis Bergkamp turned out to be a better signing.
    Luke I was disproving your point.which I did .You choose to try to make it sound as if I was comparing the two on ability(you too Andy)

  74. Bergkamp was the second most expensive footballer in the world at the time, had won three European titles , a league title and a domestic cup – integral in all of them

    He was top scorer at Euro 92, in the team of the tournament and already won dutch footballer of the year twice.

    By 1995 he had 23 goals in 45 international apperances and was 26

    Inter was nothing but a blip for one of the planets finest footballers.

  75. Block4, first and foremost I didnt blame the support for us not winning anything. I blamed the support for not giving their all until the end of the season, seeing that Arsenal had done well for most of the season.

    The Barca game was rocking and we won the game but has it rocked the same way since that?

    The team still had a chance to win the PL and the support was not good, It was talked about plenty. Do you know when someone needs you most? it is when you are in the dumps.

    I hope so too Bill.

  76. Fair point’s Andy & Luke.

    No denying that Dennis had the bigger impact on the club overall though, Arguably the greatest player we have ever had.

  77. George, by saying Im chatting sh*t you didn’t disprove anything you did you? You just showed a different opinion. I won’t change my mind on this, so what have you disproved?

    As GA has said, signing Bergkamp was one of the most critical moments in our recent history.

  78. Dont get me wrong, I went WILD when we signed Arshavin….

    Perhaps its because he hasnt lived up to his billing that an objective view is not possible, whereas DB10 smashed it.

  79. Paul N @ 3:50:

    “Bill, worrying or controlling has nothing to do with it, it is about trying to make a change. If you dont speak up and about something you feels is important, you cannot change someones outlook on the matter.”

    I guess its a good thing that I whinge and complain and moan so much about all the stuff that I think we have been doing wrong. (little smiley face).

  80. Paul-N | October 11, 2011 at 4:22 pm. So what are you saying then if you’re not blaming the support for the poor end to the season? It was conincidental that the support was poor (an opinion I don’t share) and the team faltered? What was the point of your original comment?

  81. Luke .mate you said this

    ““We have never made such a high profile signing since. Its funny, how our manager who single handley saw the impact a truely world class footballer has on your club failed to follow his predecessors example and sign another one.”

    And that was not true.
    Are you serious?Do you think I don’t know how great Dennis was .He is the reason I support Arsenal.Not Wenger as you seem to want to think.

  82. Henristic, you and I dont know that it wouldnt have made a difference in the past with Arsenal but what we do know is that we came back to beat the best team in the world when the support was its best according to the players.

    Last season United won the PL with a dire away record. So you cannot say that there is no correlation. In any sport the team with the better players usually wins, but in the PL where every match is difficult, you need all the advantages you can get.

    My question stands. If you put 2 evenly matched teams on a nuetral pitch with one having overwhelming support, what team has the advantage?

    I have watched many games, in all sports, where when the fans start to get on their teams side,the team makes an extra push.

  83. If home fans influence refs, marginally, and refs influence the game, then home fans influence the game. In any event, it really is a stupid argument; home games are easier because of the entirety of the home advantage, you can’t break it up into pieces like an equation; the fact however is that home games are easier by a fairly big ratio, and some part of that is the influence of having more home fan support.

    The thing is, no one ever said management bears no blame because fans support is timid, the two are not mutually exclusive, both can be true.

    As I said, it is noticeable that Arsenal fans are a very touchy lot when you mention the quality of Arsenal’s crowd and other support versus other teams. The touchy conclusion from Luke and Henristic who whould re-read what they just said, is that “support has no bearing”, which is about the most stupid thing I’ve ever heard on ACLF. From a scientific perspective this could be disproved by one question: would a team that, theoretically, had zero support at all do as well as the same team with average support (say 3,000 at home)? The answer cannot be yes. Therefore, support has a bearing. If it has a bearing, even marginal, that must translate at some stage into points.

    I think Arsenal fanhood is touchy because it’s not very good, relative to other teams at this level, and relative to its own history, and no one knows what to do about it. Arsenal has an identity crisis of sorts.

    Perhaps it is a London thing. You’ll find that a high proportion of arguments/posts concern this very issue. One will say (I exaggerate for emphasis, but not by much) “So and so is the crappest player I’ve seen, he would barely make a championship side”. The other will say “No, he’s quite good if not very good, and he deserves our support just for wearing the shirt, give him that”. And the first will say “Deserves my support! What for? He’s supposed to be a professional, he’s paid 50 grand a week, and I pay for my ticket to watch this crap”. It’s a common theme; the highly paid professional does not deserve support unless he wins because of the fan’s sense of entitlement.

    For me it’s quite sad, because the emotional content of sport is a massive part of any game, that is club, team and supporters.

  84. that’s, um, 30,000 and “should”

  85. Paul ,you know you are right so why try to convince people who WANT to be negative.It would not be acceptable for negative fans to admit they are part of the problem .Now would it? That would mean they are not the superior fans they like to portray themselves as.

  86. George – Nobody is “going off on one” mate. I just think that DB10’s signing definatly had more wow factor than the AA one. Especially so, given the status of the club at the time. It was a huge signing for a club like Arsenal then. The signing of AA is one would would expect a club of our current stature to make.

  87. No block4, that is not what I meant. Up until this day, I still maintain that we shouldve won the PL last season. The players didnt get it done but to me there was no better team in the PL than Arsenal.

    My point is that the support gave up after some dissapointments when they shouldve kept it going. It was a difficult period for all, with some very unfortunate circustances (especially Barca)that knocked the confidence of the team very hard. This was the point that the support shouldve looked at how much team had done and how hard they had played and kept the emirates rocking to try to inspire them onto the PL title. Should it be anything less?

  88. Paul – “My question stands. If you put 2 evenly matched teams on a nuetral pitch with one having overwhelming support, what team has the advantage?”

    You still can’t say. It would depend on the mental attitude’s of the players. If the side without support had some steel about it they may well think “screw you lot, we will show you” and have the advantage over the supported team. It is not as black and white as you are trying to make out.

  89. Andy in a one off game its not as black and white,but as a general rule ,yes it is.

  90. Paul – “Up until this day, I still maintain that we shouldve won the PL last season. The players didnt get it done but to me there was no better team in the PL than Arsenal.”

    Seriously mate, that is delusional. Did you not watch our many collapses last year?

    And don’t come back with “yeah, but up to xx date we were in with a shout” as that hold no water. End of season point tally’s is what counts. And in the end, we were way off the pace.

  91. The fans may make a slight difference, or they may not. Either way, that is far from our most pressing concern. We need to start getting the basics right before we worry about the extra 1 & 2%.

    Anyway, off home.

    Laters. 🙂

  92. I have to agree with Paul – I think we should of won the league last season also.

  93. Here’s another thought. The real and tangible value of home support to a team comes when the team is doing badly, literally to raise them a couple of notches through a bad patch. When our team is doing well, I am personally a little more critical, as in they could do better, they must try harder. When underperforming I offer my unreserved support, thick and thin and all that. It’s the emotional side of team support. When the reasons seem quite plain as in an unsettled squad that has not once fielded the same team (I tend not to “blame”, it doesn’t help my cause much) that support trebles. That is my position. Aluta continua.

  94. Me too.we should have won it

  95. Good stuff there ZP. I am not sure why one would seek to minimize the Importance of supporters doing their job. It is of utmost importance, just ask the players any player of any sport.

    I watched The Karated Kid on Saturday (the new one), even he was inspired inspite of what seemed like a broken leg, or something like that. Do you need anymore proof Henristic?

  96. I do not think we should have won the league last season as we did not play well enough in too many games to warrant doing so. That being said however, we definitely should have won the Carling Cup and if we had won that who knows? But we did not deserve to win the legue last year, not with how we crashed and burned towards the end.

  97. One factor to also take into account is how spoilt we as fans have become.

    I am forever told by fan’s of so called ‘smaller’ clubs that our atmosphere sucks, and generally speaking I have to agree.

    There is no doubt that when the Emirates get’s going, as it does against Barca, Man U, Chelsea, Spurs etc. it is as good an atmosphere as anywhere in the country, but I think we have been so spoilt over the last 10 years we as fans now find it more difficult to get as excited when playing the likes of Bolton at home.

  98. Really GA?

    Slow down and read my comment again, because it is obvious that you are seeing something that isnt there.

  99. We didn’t deserve to win it – because we didn’t get more points than Utd. so fair play to them.

    But from the position we were at in March, and with the games we had left, had we played to our maximum, I think we would of won it.

  100. I remember when referees wore black and white.

    Very smart they looked as well.

  101. Zimpaul:

    Statistically there is clearly a home field advantage. However, would it improve Arsenals results if the crowd suddenly became more energetic and “liverpool like”. I doubt that it would make a significant difference. Improved crowds this season have not improved results. ManU home and away split last season was much more an aberation then the norm and I doubt their home crowds were suddenly better last year. I doubt that one to one correlation you are implying between crowd energy and team results is anywhere near as clear cut as you seem to think.

    All that said, it would be nice to see what happened if the Emirates crowd suddenly matched the energy of the greatest crowds in the world, but I doubt that 125 years of history will be changed anytime soon.

  102. GA @ 4:33
    Paul – “My question stands. If you put 2 evenly matched teams on a nuetral pitch with one having overwhelming support, what team has the advantage?”

    “You still can’t say. It would depend on the mental attitude’s of the players. If the side without support had some steel about it they may well think “screw you lot, we will show you” and have the advantage over the supported team. It is not as black and white as you are trying to make out.”

    Stop trying to complicate a simple question for crying out loud. If the blinkin teams are evenly matched, what one has an advantage, the one with support or the one without?

  103. C’bob – Now let’s be honest here mate, you remember when everything was in black and white. 🙂

  104. The positive we can take, is that it seems that our current hardships have caused the support to get behind the team a bit more. May it continue and grow. May we not settle, lets keep moaning, whinging right Bill? Ha!

  105. “The fans may make a slight difference, or they may not”. GoonerAndy you are falling into the same trap, “support has no bearing”. It is patently untrue that support has no bearing, or only slight bearing. It is ultimately the thing that defines a club, not the team per se (which changes through the years), not the management (ditto), but the fans.

    Anyway, I must go to, but I think we are talking of different things now. I am talking of the joy of team identity and support in an emotional sense, win or lose. I can’t help but conclude that such quality of support is a valuable asset to the team on the field also.

    You are attempting to seperate support from results, mainly by downplaying the value of support. Your logic then of necessity must flow up-river, the conclusion of which is: it is only results that define support. A hundred clubs below us, a thousand such in europe, tens of thousands worldwide, hundreds of thousands across different sports would think you are stark raving mad and living an illusion. Perhaps inception in this case, by our friends the media.

  106. The boss himself showing he has not lost his touch. Well until Pat Rice shows up and ruins it 🙂

  107. Agreed ZP.

    I remember some of the CL matches were we beat teams and the supporters kept singing and jumping as if they had won.
    Does support help teams win? that goes without saying, but what about the pure love for ones team that compels one to keep supporting? That is the most important aspect of it all.

  108. ZP – By the way – The amazing Liverpool atmosphere is a myth, nothing more.

    I have attended matches at Anfield many times over the years, and while it is impressive when the majority of the stadium sing ‘You will never walk alone’ prior to the match, the atmosphere is nothing special during.

    In fact, I have heard the away support out sing them on several occasions.

  109. While not wishing to prolong the debate on the effect of the fans support on their team, it does appear that there has been quite a lot of academic research carried out on this subject. Much of the research was carried out in the late 1990’s and might have been affected by the fact that many stadiums (or should that be stadia) were of the older, smaller grounds, terraces closer to the pitch, standing on the terraces, type of ground, like the old Highbury atmosphere that Cbob captured so well.

    “Based on the latest evidence, Nevill and Holder (1999, p. 221) concluded that, “crowd factors appeared to be the most dominant cause of the home advantage”.

    Standing on the Norf Bank in the ‘60s and ‘70s was certainly atmospheric, to say the least, but even I would have to admit that it paled somewhat compared to the old Spion Kop and Stretford End. You can’t tell me that playing in front of 30,000 baying Kopites was not a little intimidating? And the Arsenal “chants” (‘We are the Norf Bank’) were not quite in the same league of many of the humorous efforts sung by those cheeky little Scousers.

    And a quick look at Wikipedia recognizes the effect too:
    “The term “twelfth man” is commonly used in association football to refer to the fans and occasionally to the manager. European powerhouses Bayern Munich, S.S. Lazio, FC Red Star and Fenerbahçe S.K. have officially retired the number 12 to the fans. Stockport County fans are registered as official members of their squad with the number 12. Portsmouth F.C. has also retired its number 12 shirt, and lists the club’s supporters, “Pompey Fans”, as player number 12 on the squad list printed in home match programmes, while Plymouth Argyle have theirs registered to the Green Army (the nickname for their fans). Number 12 is also reserved for the fans at CSKA Moscow and Zenit Saint Petersburg in Russia and Grimsby Town from England as well as Odense Boldklub, also known as OB, in Denmark. Feyenoord and PSV Eindhoven from the Netherlands have also a retired number 12. Dynamo Dresden in Germany also keeps number 12 for their fans, as well as the official team anthem being “We are the 12th man”. The Hibs 12th Man is “Powered by Hibs Fans” followers of the Scottish Premier League club Hibernian F.C.. Set up in June 2010, by the support, the Hibs 12th Man has the official backing of the Club. Aberdeen F.C. supporters commonly display a large banner in the shape of a football shirt with the text “Red Army 12” in place of a player’s name and number. The fans of the Northern Ireland national football team and Derry City are referred to as the twelfth man as well. In the League of Ireland Shamrock Rovers F.C. retired the number 12 jersey in recognition of the fans who took over the club in 2005. Cork City F.C., Clube Atlético Mineiro and Clube de Regatas do Flamengo also retired the number 12 for the fans. The most vociferous fans of Boca Juniors in Argentina are known as “La Doce” or “The Twelfth.” On 18 September 2004, U.S. Lecce, an Italian team currently playing in Serie A, retired the number 12 to the fans, which was handed to them by the former captain Cristian Ledesma. They symbolically represent a 12th Man in the field. In the beginning of 2009/2010 season, Happy Valley AA introduced the club’s mascot, a panda, on squad list as the fan club captain wearing the number 12 jersey. “
    Academic sources:

    “The influence of crowd noise and experience upon refereeing decisions in football”

    Click to access Nevill10.pdf

    “The second leg home advantage: Evidence from European football cup competitions”

  110. It’s a sad day – Yogi has me in moderation :-((

  111. Finally!! Well done YW, well done 🙂

  112. MDGunne let that be a lesson to you

    Irish,there is a difference between “should”have won and “deserved”to have won.
    I certainly don’t think we “deserved ” anything .

  113. Thanks for the home SUPPORT, Irish and George, you certainly made a difference!

  114. You’re right ZP, we seem to be talking about different things. Especially when you say this “I am talking of the joy of team identity and support in an emotional sense, win or lose.” I don’t think Arsenal has a problem there. Evidence? Cue our away fans singing like maniacs whilst been thrashed 8-2 by the Mancs. I love this about our support this season. It gave me great pleasure to see our boys supported like that. Conversely if they had booed in that match, I would have been disappointed, as I was in pre-season and in some games last season. But some of you would probably be blaming the defeat on those boos. That’s just wrong.

    Which brings me to what what I disagree with, i.e. this part of your statement: “I can’t help but conclude that such quality of support is a valuable asset to the team on the field also.”
    Me thinks this is a largely romantic notion, as my previous posts have shown. Quality support is good for bragging rights, and for a great “match day experience”. But there is no evidence you have shown that points to its meaningfulness on the pitch.

  115. Thank you for that Matt @ 5.23. Hope you’re reading George?

  116. Paul N,
    To answer your hypthetical question; if teams are evenly matched quality wise on a neutral ground, then the team that wins will be more likely determined by such factors as luck (e.g. a deflected goal), tactics, or simply whoever turns it up on the day.
    Its not at all clear that the latter point has anything to with which team has the more support.

  117. I remember that Pool game like it was yesterday. Was right behind Woodcock`s howitzer into the North Bank goal. Plus it was on MOTD as well, which was a massive bonus in those days – especially if you`d missed half the match stood behind a large permed coiffured bonce. Great memories.

    Although the Arshavin signing was exciting it`s not up there with Bergkamp for me. That really did come out of the blue.

    Others that stand out are Ball, Macdonald, Nicholas (Chaz not Peter) & Jimmy Carter who I honestly thought had gone back to peanut farming.

  118. @Henristic

    Good research – thank you! That’s an interesting paper (though not too reader-friendly!). As ZimPaul states (at 4:36pm), if the support influences the referee, and the referee influences the outcome, then it’s a reasonable conclusion that the support – indirectly – influences the outcome.

    @Bill at 3:41pm and @Paul-N at 3:50pm

    To each their own, but to me its counterproductive to worry about something we can’t control anyway, just takes away from the things we can.

    Bill, I see your point, but, like Paul-N, it seems to me that this is one of the few areas that we do actually have some control over. If nothing else, wouldn’t it be nice to be proud of the support, rather than have to apologise for it!

    @Bill at 4:27pm LOL

    @ZimPaul at 4:36pm and @Matt at 4:53pm

    Good posts. Yes, I do think that there is something in the “London effect”. I have been to Stamford Bridge a number of times, and although the stadium is a bit like going back in time (and not necessarily in a good way!), the support is very good. A lot of that, I imagine, comes from what Matt describes (at 4:05pm), the shared history, over a longer period of time than we have had at the Emirates. On the other hand, they struggle to fill the place for less glamorous matches. It is not uncommon for entertainers to find London crowds unresponsive, with their “OK, impress me” attitude. I imagine we suffer from a bit of that, too.

    @Bill at 4:58pm

    All that said, it would be nice to see what happened if the Emirates crowd suddenly matched the energy of the greatest crowds in the world, but I doubt that 125 years of history will be changed anytime soon.

    Yes and, sadly, yes.

  119. Well done indeed Yogi. Moderating the false pasty maker.

    You do need to spread your net to include Irishgray though. He abused me earlier on the basis of my age.

  120. Billy’s Boots
    Good research – thank you! That’s an interesting paper (though not too reader-friendly!). As ZimPaul states (at 4:36pm), if the support influences the referee, and the referee influences the outcome, then it’s a reasonable conclusion that the support – indirectly – influences the outcome.

    My issue with that logic flow is that there is no correlation in real life that bears out the conclusion. The link between ‘home advantage’ and quality of support is not at all clear given that there are other more plausible factors. On the other hand the most successful teams rarely have the best support around (note how long Mourinho kept his unbeaten-at-home record, even at Chelsea, yet no one accuses them of having inspirational support). I can’t think of a team that performs above its station due to its support. I could be wrong of course.

    Bill, I see your point, but, like Paul-N, it seems to me that this is one of the few areas that we do actually have some control over. If nothing else, wouldn’t it be nice to be proud of the support, rather than have to apologise for it!

    Well said!

  121. consolsbob | October 11, 2011 at 7:06 pm
    Well done indeed Yogi. Moderating the false pasty maker.
    You are both raining on my parade today. I was about to launch a new pasty line – The All American Essex Cheese Pasty (four types of cheese, American, Cheddar, Swiss and Pepper Jack, topped with Velveeta cheese, then a stick of string cheese on top and the outside liberally covered with spray cheese.

  122. Limestonegunner

    The best reason to have more vocal, unrelenting and interesting (good, witty songs/banners) support at home is that it makes the experience more enjoyable. So does having great and talented players demonstrating skill and a form of exciting attacking football that leads to thrilling victories. But, when there is a rocking stadium you feel connected to the club, players and the rest of the supporters in a special event–it is so much more fun to be a part of such a collective experience that you create together in comparison to sitting and watching passively. It is the difference between having fun and being entertained.

    Whether positive home support has an effect on players’ performance on the pitch is obviously debatable even if intuitively it seems quite certain. The research both Bill and Henristic dug up shows that it isn’t easy to make the romantic case that positive cheering, clapping, and singing has a discernible effect on how well the players play. We’d like to think so but the studies show something different, regardless of what players say and conventional sporting culture has decided is true.

    What it does show is that results are affected because match officials, referees, umpires and so on are affected in the crucial judgments they make which help influence the outcomes of matches. What isn’t clear is what kind of home support affects these match officials. Some commenters here, who do seem to have a penchant for directing blame and ire at other supporters, are only talking about the negative effect of negative or poor support on players and positive effect of positive support. This is a simplistic formula because the real effect is on the referees and it isn’t clear that positive support for the players, as opposed to dramatic, loud, and hostile reactions to calls against the home side is what influences the referees. I’d like more information on how influence or intimidation of referees works. If we understood that, then our sense of the relationship between support and results would be more refined and we could devise our support strategies accordingly. Perhaps it is much more important to bray like wild dogs every time the ref gives a decision, especially ones requiring a big judgment call, against Arsenal at the Emirates? Perhaps the match officials should be harassed and hounded from the stands as they go off the pitch for halftime. Perhaps linesman need to be continually and vocally addressed and urged not to call offsides on our attackers and exhorted to call offsides on theirs when we employ our offside trap. And so on.

    The last thing as an Arsenal fan I would pay attention to is the views about how poor our support is from a fan of a lower table or smaller club. The last thing you want is to become used to a small club mentality as a supporter of a massive club with a huge supporter base and glorious history. Their ethics and standards for support are interested in justifying and sustaining themselves emotionally in a condition that is quite difficult–never having all that much from a sporting perspective to feel proud about other than straightforward values of effort, discipline and courage against the odds in their players’ performances. What they can feel great about is their own culture of support that doesn’t depend on flair and skilled play, great star players, or lots of victories and trophies. This is all terribly admirable and creates genuine fun as opposed to entertainment. They are what makes their club special (especially to themselves). But, our condition and its challenges are obviously different at this stage in our history as a club. While it is always good to reconnect with the basic values of supporting, their views on us as supporters are not relevant and I wouldn’t allow their judgment on us–we are superior to you as supporters even though your team is superior to ours–to overly influence our sense of things. If we become a consistent mid-table side or worse, then our supporter culture will eventually have to adapt and rebalance itself to accommodate to those realities. That hasn’t happened yet and hopefully we will always be a big club in one of the world’s great cities with a regular chance at competing and succeeding at the top level of the game.

  123. Henristic,

    Question: if players come out and say that being supported helps and has helped them dig a little deeper to get the result, what would you say to those players?

    It is ridiculous to discount the words of those who actually play the game and have felt the effects of being supported.

    What you actually discount is people being human. More often than not, people perform better in a positive atmosphere. Those who are cheered on have an advantage over those who are not.

    Also, I never said who would win, as you are correct, many things can happen however I would put my money on it that most times the team with the support would win the match.

  124. C’bob – I refute your allegation as to me being an “agist”, rather I see you as a wise and experienced individual. With the emphasis being on experience, which in turn leads to wisdom. What’s that you say? Enough boot-licking? Yes quite.

    MD – You seem to have lost 1 of these –> ” ) ” just trying to be helpful 🙂

  125. Limestonegunner

    I want to say that I don’t think being abusive to officials is admirable behaviour that I’d like to encourage, btw! I am just talking about the argument that says strong vocal support gives better results on the pitch needs to take things properly into account. Using the opportunity of a big crowd pulling in the same direction and providing a sense (if false) anonymity (kind of like what happens on the internet!) is no justification for acting like a foul-mouthed jerk in my book!

  126. Limestonegunner

    Players say a lot of things about football that don’t always stand up. I believe that they may genuinely feel that they play better, which is something to take seriously, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that they actually do play better. Perception and reality of participants can sometimes be different. If there is research that suggests that the effect is actually elsewhere, it should raise questions. We don’t have to dismiss the players’ perceptions out of hand but they shouldn’t also be taken as gospel if there is countervailing evidence too.

  127. Well, that’s fair enough then Irish. At least you show some repect.

    MD, on the other hand, is just marketing coronaries. To think I gave him my grannie’s recipe as well. It could have been so different. An entire continent onverted from the dark side. American cheese? Really!?

  128. Oh, and isn’t it obvious that a stadium full of noise and enthusiasm is going to be a weapon for any home side?

    Bollocks to the research, as interesting as it may be.

  129. @Henristic at 7:11pm

    The link between ‘home advantage’ and quality of support is not at all clear given that there are other more plausible factors.

    I agree! 🙂


    Yes, having attended the 8-2 at OT, I can attest that positive support is much more enjoyable!

  130. Limestonegunner

    Cbob, a weapon for whom? and against whom? is what is at issue in considering the research. In considering what makes it better for supporters, it is obvious that noise and enthusiasm is fun. That should be enough–why must it be a weapon? It seems for some it is mostly a useful weapon to wield against other supporters.

  131. Limestone, I have watched games with my own eyes and seen how games change when the support gets behind the team. If players tell you that the support helped them to dig deeper and keep fighting how on earth can you say that that isnt so?

    Yes the words of the players should be taken as gospel becuase they are the ones who are playing the game and can feel the shift in momentum or that energy that they recieve from the support.

  132. Limestonegunner

    And there is no question that Arsenal have suffered disproportionately from bad refereeing decisions. They don’t even out over the whole season as people say. The analysis others have posted in the past shows we would have finished second last year and the update suggested that we would have lost the league on goal difference alone.

    So, how to influence the referees through the home support? That seems a crucial question for the supporters who would like to see better results. For those who would like to enjoy a better atmosphere the issues may overlap to some extent and might diverge from the question of getting better home results.

  133. C’bob – Why thank you good sir 🙂 As for MD ruining your Grannies recipe, did you really expect anything different? And yes “American” cheese is just that, cheese. Nothing special about it except that it is not that good. Explains why he needed a recipe in the first place.

    YW – Nice to see your moderation thingy is working fine 🙂

    Now I am off to the airport and then Seattle for a few days, followed by a couple of days in San Francisco. With some much deserved drinking and fine dining thrown in, if i do say so myself. 🙂

  134. Limestone, support during the game is not and cannot be separate from what the team is trying to accomplish in the match. You may not win and you sing anyhow but the supporters are trying to urge the team onto victory.
    So when Arsenal supporters say “COME ON ARSENAL”, what are they trying to accomplish?

  135. Intellectually I am sure that you you may be correct.

    It’s certainly fun, and that should be enough. I do believe that it must make a difference though if the crowd support your every move – loudly.

  136. That’s for Limestone.

  137. The Sports Illustrated article I referenced was in the Jan 17 2011 edition if anyone cares to look at it.

  138. Limestonegunner

    Paul-N, we see lots of things with our own eyes, yet there are such things as optical illusions. I do take seriously what players say; however, there is a difference between perception and reality. By what standards and on what basis do players make the assertion that the strong, positive support helped them win the game? It is what they feel, which is important, but not the sole criterion for judging something. Perhaps that energy and momentum shifted because although things were going against the team and the support was at a low ebb a player dug deep and found a bit more in himself to make a great play that got the crowd excited which in turn lifted the player in feeling the recognition for his effort. Motivation and causality is a lot more complex and potentially sophisticated than the equation you are making. That is their feeling and there is probably something to it, but if there is evidence that there are other more important causes that can be measured or demonstrated, you would want to take that seriously as well. What I don’t see in your responses is any attempt to take that evidence seriously or think analytically about it.

    It is possible to have faith and still subscribe to the reality based world, is it not? There is clearly some complex dynamic between performers and audience in every field of culture. Who is denying that? The question specific to sports is that the referees are possibly a greater factor and that the relationship between player and supporter (performer and audience) is mediated by many more dynamic factors created by competition with opponents and regulated by referees than say a theatrical or musical performance that follows a script or score. Musicians and actors performing live always also talk about the relationship with the audience too, so it is a genuine dimension of the experience. But there is more going on that might have a more important effect. And it also may have to do with home support, but just not in the straightforward positive support equals positive results equation you are suggesting. That may be useful for decrying other supporters who seem to be positive enough by your lights, but that shouldn’t be mistaken for a simple and unassailably true statement, particularly if you are going to ignore other evidence.

  139. “MDGunner | October 11, 2011 at 5:56 pm
    Thanks for the home SUPPORT, Irish and George, you certainly made a difference!”

    Ha HA funny as.

  140. Limestonegunner

    who seem NOT to be positive enough

  141. “It is possible to have faith and still subscribe to the reality based world, is it not?”

    what do you mean?

  142. Anyway, in dealing with the refs, ZP made that point to which I agreed to already.

  143. Limestonegunner

    Well, Cbob, I do tend to feel and believe that it must make some difference to urge on our players. I don’t know if shouting at them for their mistakes or groaning impairs them but I tend to feel that if they are giving their all it makes for a better environment for everyone (them and us) to try to restrain our disappointments and keep pressing forward. Who really knows whether it helps? I don’t. I am distinguishing between what I feel and what I know or understand.

    But I do think that the suggestion that referees are intimidated and make the biggest difference in home results quite important. If the reason we are exhorting one another to be more positive and vocal in our support is that it achieves better results we should understand what those results seem really to depend on.

    It doesn’t really behoove anyone, it seems to me, to dismiss the value of home support (especially if it can affect referees and help the team–question is still how this happens) or to assume that not being positive enough is a big factor in the underperformance of the team.

  144. Limestonegunner

    Paul-N, no you didn’t get the point I made about refs. ZP just said if results improve it doesn’t matter the reason–refs or players. I pointed out that it actually might matter quite a lot because we don’t know what it is that affects the referees. At a lot of places where we assume there is good support, it could be that they aren’t necessarily positively supporting the players but are intimidating the refs by booing their bad decisions very loudly and so on. If you don’t know the cause you cannot just characterize the evidence as supporting your view that positive support is what creates this effect. It would turn the question from the need to support the players to the need to influence the ref–and those might not be exactly the same thing.

  145. Irish – that Cbob is nothing more than a clone/transplant of Pop Larkin from Kent.

    As for home support, I seem to remember a certain bunch of Geordies getting behind their team when they were losing 4-2 and perhaps influencing a few decisions of the referee.

    But what do I know, I’m in moderation 😦

    Never mind free AA, free MD

  146. I am not decrying anyone though am I Limestone? I am talking about what I think could help the team do better going forward, with that, I agree and or may disagree with some. I have read an article that states that home support does influence players, so even the so called “evidence” is not conclusive.

  147. If the support doesnt get behind the team, will they influence the ref though? The support isnt going to stay silent and then the ref makes a bad call and then all of a sudden they get all boisterous. So no, it is not about trying to influence the ref it is about getting behind the team. Influencing the ref is a by product as far as I see it.

  148. Limestonegunner

    If you want to make an ethical argument for positive support of players at the home stadium, I am quite sympathetic. In other words, it might be the right thing to do to make the experience better for supporters, it reinforces values that are good and we should subscribe to, it combats the vicious culture of abuse that is common in today’s society and so on. Like I said above, I don’t think being in a big crowd at a sporting event is really license to say or do abusive, hostile, vulgar things. I wouldn’t want my three year old son thinking that it is right to go off on a foul mouthed tirade of abuse at a player or ref just because we felt frustrated by their play or decisions. I admit that I have sworn at a ref, but I regretted it right afterwards and have tried to restrain myself (sometimes unsuccessfully) on other occasions.

    There are other burdens if the argument is that it would give us 6 to 8 points as some have alleged, or more precisely that it really affects the players’ performances (and thus our results).

    Paul-N, as far as faith and reality-based–I am saying we may feel strongly and even believe in some way that is emotional and not necessarily logical that being positive is good and helps the players; but that is different from knowing it, understanding why, and trying to defend the practice or even make a case for why others should subscribe to the same feeling and adjust their attitudes/behaviours accordingly. To go beyond what we subjectively may feel, do we not have to have recourse to some evidence and analysis others who initially feel differently could be persuaded to take seriously? That is at least taking some account of the difference between our own perceptions or others’ perceptions and what we can substantiate or at least discuss as reality.

    Okay, this is getting unnecessarily abstract and philosophical. Basta. Got to run.

  149. Well, LG has made most of my points more eloquently than I could ever hope to do.

    Its all boils down this: energy from the crowd is a good thing, for very reasons mentioned by LG, Billy’s boots, Cbob and even Zimpaul. There is arguably no downside, and there might even possibly be some intangible benefits.
    What I don’t like is when people point to our relatively poor atmosphere as one of the reasons for the poor performances on the pitch. Such an argument makes no sense, no matter how much some may want to believe it.
    Put the blame of poor performance where it lies – the players, the coach, the management all the way dup to the owners. These are the people who control what happens on the pitch. NOT the fans.

  150. Limestonegunner

    Henristic, I’d only add that the refs also have an appreciable effect, though that is not something that Arsenal can control (unless we crack the mystery of how they are influenced/intimidated–hence the value of distinguishing this from some amorphous “positive home support”!!!!!) and sometimes overemphasized (fair enough, we are biased in favor of the Arsenal) above other relevant factors.

  151. Sweden beating the Holland!

  152. Paul-N | October 11, 2011 at 8:26 pm
    “If the support doesnt get behind the team, will they influence the ref though? The support isnt going to stay silent and then the ref makes a bad call and then all of a sudden they get all boisterous. So no, it is not about trying to influence the ref it is about getting behind the team. Influencing the ref is a by product as far as I see it.”

    But ‘getting behind the team’, by itself doesn’t mean much on the pitch. That study I linked to showed that player’s performances where not affected by playing home or away.
    It looks like most now agree that the likeliest route by which energy from a home crowd could affect a result is that the ref might be influenced enough to significantly change the outcome of the game, with a decision in favour of the home team . But even this is an incredibly tenuous connection, as Limestone has explained.

  153. Indeed LG,
    Refs could well have an effect, albeit harder to predict/control.
    I liked your idea for influencing the refs and share your concerns about the ethics of resorting to abuse. Perhaps boos would suffice?
    I suppose the hard bit will be implementation – how to get the word to enough matchday fans. This is perhaps the sort of thing AST and their ilk should be focusing their energies on (if they aren’t already)

  154. Henristic, I have never discussed what is more of less, what i have said is that people do better in positive surroundings and support does help players. That has been my claim all day.

    You cannot discount when players say that the support encouraged them and they got a second wind, etc. What Limestone is saying in essence is that the players dont even know their own experiences. The problem with this is that you cannot quantify it, so you cannot research it fully. What we do have is that home field advantage exists and that there is more than one factor.

    I am done with this now.

  155. Billy’s Boots

    @ Henristic

    I think we can agree that home support influences referees (even if we don’t understand what specific behaviour does it), as the study you mentioned showed. If the players say they prefer positive backing (rather than the Emirates groan BRF mentioned last night), if the fans prefer it (well, some of them anyway ;)), and if it helps to sway a few decisions our way, why would anyone object? As you say, the hard part will be the implementation.

    There are many things about the Arsenal about which we can be proud. Why shouldn’t our support (consistently) be one of them? It was fantastic last year against Barcelona and this year away against Man Utd. Wouldn’t it be nice if it were like that more often?

    Yes, it is probably a job for the AST. In any case, it’s been an interesting debate today. Thank you, all.

    @ Paul “I am done with this now”


  156. Billy’s Boots

    @ Henristic at 8:33

    Sorry, I missed that post. Yes, well said.

  157. I guess the bottom line is that we all want to see great fan support at the games and a energetic noisy stadium. How much it will help is debatable but it certainly can’t hurt. Now if we could figure out how the club can make that happen then we will really be on to something.

  158. Great post Yogi, I was at that game, Talbot scored a sublime free kick in at the clock end! – If memory serves correct he had scored an almost identical one on the Wednesday before against newcastle in a 2-0 win.

    At that stage of the season we were purring, I seem to recall it petered out after a 2-1 home defeat to the sp*ds on New years Day

    The jumbotrons were introduced the season before…1983/84 season

    Great days and great football, going to a football match then had such an edge to it, not like the sanatised version we get now!

    Happy days

  159. ‘Cause I’d rather stay here
    With all the madmen
    Than perish with the sadmen roaming free

    This moderation is getting to me, and George is M.I.A.

  160. @MDG, u sure u are in mod? how come we can see your posts?

  161. I am frightened of getting sin binned MD.
    Keeping a low profile ,don’t you know

  162. @TS ahh but can you see the offending post @ 5.26?

  163. ivanputthepricesup

    I went to that infamous freezing day defeat at York all those years ago when Steve Williams gave away a needless last minute penalty.
    One of my best friends saw Kenny Sansom at a party a few months later and asked him what the players said to Williams when they got back in the dressing room and Ken said they didn’t get the chance because Williams got back and stood in the middle of the room and turned around with his fist in the air to every player and said “the first one to say anything gets it”.
    Apparently the room went quiet and not one player said a thing. Can’t think Frank McLintock would have sat there and taken that, he would have been in Williams face big time.

  164. MD

    Patience and you shall be released. Next time, don’t put 2 links in the same comment!!!!


  165. Lovely video, Paul-N.

    A bit unfair, “in essence.” That wasn’t what I was saying, you know.

  166. Btw, YW, enjoyed very much the post and look forward to the continuing series.

  167. Free, free at last! Not that anyone will read it now. I’m off to post on that “other” Arsenal blog.
    (only joking)

%d bloggers like this: