Do not speak, do not move
Via our esteemed official website:
Important fan information - Emirates Stadium
Posted on 26 September 2014 - 12:00
Following extensive discussions with the Metropolitan Police and Local Authority, it has been necessary for Arsenal to review licensing arrangements throughout the Emirates Stadium ahead of this weekend's fixture.
As part of this review, Arsenal officials have informed us that they are unable to sell alcohol to our supporters in the away section.
Whilst we understand this may disappoint supporters, we ask that you do arrive early as we have been advised that ticket checks and searching procedures could delay entry as kick-off approaches.
It's happened again.
I know what you might be thinking. It doesn't matter. It's two hours. Supporters travelling into Mordor can get there early, avoid the Orcs, drink a bit more in the pub if they wish to drown their sorrows before the event so that they don't need to catch up with doing so during and after it. Considering the time of the kick-off, this is logical police control to make sure the aftermath is a well-behaved exercise in accompanying the away support away from the swamp and back towards breathable air via the tubes and transport links.
However, what of the match-day experience?
We've had to endure the misery of television owning when games are played to appease the cycle of consumption that sees our club and others feed off the fans whilst accepting the wealth of Sky Sports. All-day drinking punctured by two hours probably won't make that much of a difference, but it's there to sober up the guilty before proven innocent Spurs fans.
Am I over-reacting?
Yes, I guess.
It depends on how you're reading my words.
I'm not going to the game. I'm in exile for most these days. I can have a drink at home. This is still part of my life and I can only look on with complete disdain and pray that when I'm able to frequent games on a regular basis, there is some hope left for me to hold onto.
We are continuously told how to behave. Sure, some need reminding, but it's the above and beyond stuff that grates. What we can and can't say and how the experience so many 'consumers' pay hundreds of pounds for should be lived. This is no longer a detachment of real life when going to a game. It no longer feels like an escapism. Not to get side-tracked, but I appreciate a lot of that has to do with our general comfort in this modern world. The game is modelled for everyone now - kids, families. So, yes, I can ease off a little with over-dramatising club announcements like this because in actuality many won't care as they prefer the more safe environment football offers. Although kids and families won't be frequenting the away end at the Emirates.
The minority still have a voice. And perhaps it should be a majority but many are busy being held down, whilst enduring eye-drops and forced to watch fluffy mascots sell you merchandise on a big screen.
Football has always had that nervous, dangerous energy to it. There's a reason for that. It's because we're all sat in our regulated concrete jungle and told we can't swing from the trees. I'm not asking for the freedom to riot. Football grounds would be a far better place if the politics of entertainment and consumerism didn't suffocate the life out of everything around the ninety minutes people actually pay to watch. These days those ninety minutes aren't even that entertaining. Exactly what are we paying for again?
Does anyone care to mention that football arrests are at their lowest on record? Is it because of the control forced on us or are supporters finding a middle ground where they can still enjoy their love of the game and the occasion without acting like a complete law-breaking lout?
If I've got this completely wrong and this is everything to do with the behaviour of some supporters ripping out chairs and acting aggressively (or reacting to millionaire footballers inciting them) - sorry to break it to you all - but they don't need alcohol to fuel their hatred for all things red and white. Not condoning it but let's not pretend the home support do not have an element that have been happy to do the same when visiting us.
We are a decade away from an Al Fresco stand, with waiter service and sun umbrellas. Customers accessing their table using the Passbook app on their iPads whilst enjoying fibre optic wireless.
This is a small thing to rant about but add up all the small things and you're left facing something too big to move out of the way.
Is this about the rivalry? The likelihood of supporters behaving less civilised than they normally would? Damage limitation based on past indiscretions? Is this simply down to the police and Spurs wishing to minimise cost of replacing broken seats and smashed up toilets? We're not the first to be banned, we won't be the last. The more it happens the easier it is to keep doing it until it becomes standard policy.
Perhaps the reason is nothing more than the home fans wishing to be left in peace whilst they participate with wine tasting events and knitting sessions. Or maybe I'm just ignoring the fact that we still can't be trusted - regardless of the colour of our replica shirts.