Sorry, but I’ll have to pass

One of the joys of watching Arsenal Women is their passing and possession game, the smooth transition from the back, to midfield and to the forwards, not forgetting the accuracy of long passes from deep when Leah Williamson is in the side. Even with tight marking and opponents on their heels, they retain control, the ball is shielded and laid off, skidding across the turf to a teammate. It’s a style I’ve enjoyed and has been successful over many years, marred only by Chelsea’s arrival in town.

And I’d been looking forward to taking my season ticket to Borehamwood for the Women’s Super League match against West Ham on Sunday. I’ve long argued that the home of the Arsenal is N5, that we are one club and for one of its first XIs playing in a National League stadium does not befit the club’s status, nor that of the women’s team. Ground sharing is not the Arsenal way. (OK, we did it during the Second World War, but that was somewhat different!) Yet, I’ve grown fond of Meadow Park, the intimacy of the smaller stadium, the ease of access, switching from seated to standing at half time, the friendly welcome from the Lunch Box crew. The change of snack providers and the new restrictions on where you can sit or stand has tarnished this somewhat, but even so, I wanted to be there for West Ham.

Trouble is, the fixture planners have made it a double header, men’s first, women’s after, but in different stadia, sixteen miles apart and an hour’s drive away – seventy minutes by public transport. And that’s not allowing for leaving the Emirates and queues on roads and at stations. Late, lamented Maria Petri once told me she did the reverse, taking a taxi from Borehamwood to Ashburton Grove and she still had to leave the women’s game early and arrived late for the men’s. So, what chance seeing all the 2pm kick-off against Nottingham Forest and arriving at Borehamwood to see all the match against West Ham? None I’d wager.

Then there’s something I’d never considered before. Overload. I can normally be guaranteed to want to watch any match, whether it’s on a recreation ground, in a cage at a sports’ centre or in a lower league. But I found last week, watching the men labour against PSV before going to the WCL match against Zurich, I was left drained and exhausted. It was great to see Jordan Nobbs back and performing well, and to see Lina Hirtig’s first goals for the club. Surely they should have provided me with the antidote to an anodyne performance from the men. Instead, two consecutive matches and three hours of football left me oversaturated, numbed almost. The rule that more is less seemed to apply.

I would hope that somehow, someday, the authorities will coordinate men’s and women’s games, so these almost clashes don’t occur. But with TV companies involved and fans not anywhere near their first priorities. I’m not holding my breath.

So, reluctantly, one of my season tickets will go unused.  I am in an unusual position in that I live almost on the doorstep of the Emirates. And I have been supporting the men and visiting Highbury since before the Beatles.

Which means, for this weekend, I’m sorry to say that, for Arsenal Women against West Ham Women, I’ll have to pass.

Author: Richard Smith

I'm a writer and storyteller and for much if my life produced sponsored films and commercials. Subjects were as varied as bananas in Cameroon, oil from the North Sea, fighting organised crime and caring for older people. Their aim was always to make a positive difference, but, worryingly, two commercials I worked on featured in a British Library exhibition, ‘Propaganda’.

One thought on “Sorry, but I’ll have to pass”

  1. I enjoyed the read Richard👍
    I think AFC have really awoken to the huge potential for pushing the “one club”
    philosophy and backing AWFC to be a significant asset rather than a financial liability.
    The migration of more AWFC games to Emirates will inevitably mean the loss of the rather quaint and nostalgic feel of Meadow Park. Personally, I love the ease of access to MP (20 mile/ 20 minutes drive down A1, easy parking) and a £50 concessionary reserved seat season ticket for 13 games is not to be sneezed at.
    So for me its a no brainer. I’ll be at Meadow Park this evening.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: