From: email@example.com (Garry Archer) Subject: Sick as an Arsenal parrot. Date: May 11, 1995 I have to say it -- I was severely disappointed by the result of the European Cup Winners Cup last night -- and I don't even support Arsenal!!! I was rooting for Arsenal as a British team against Real Zaragosa from Spain in the Final of one of Europe's premier cup competitions. Nothing wrong with that. Tottenham Hotspur fans, historically and fervently opposed to the Arse, were probably supporting the Spanish team though. I see a few have posted already. It was made somewhat easier for them to have an ex-Spurs player, Nayim, playing for Real. They must have been Real happy at the end, and how it ended -- pun intended ;-) The Arse came out looking pretty good, I thought, but then some nasty tackles from behind took care of that. Come on ref, get yer bloody book out! Real began to settle and move forward as the first half progressed. Arsenal had lost their tempo. Some wild tackling was going on -- mostly from Real, and especially from behind. Arse weren't completely blameless, but some of the Real tackles looked horrific. The referee proved to be pretty useless on this point. One of his linesmen was pretty useless too. Stick that bloody flag up will yer?!!! The second half was even more entertaining. Real pressed the Arse very hard for at least the first 10 - 15 minutes. But the callous fouling was still going on and the book was still firmly in the referee's pocket. I just couldn't understand it... I was beginning to wonder if the referee wasn't in Real's pocket! By now I was screaming at the missus. I just couldn't understand why she couldn't do anything about it! Real, despite having the best of Arsenal at the time, scored out of nowhere on a cracking shot [from Esnaider] that left Seaman standing like a statue as the ball bent away from him into the inside side netting. Oh oh. Arsenal were playing fairly well, but not that well and Real were starting to look really good, except for their tackling. I saw Ian Wright's legs whipped right from under him. Surely a red card? I saw a ball kicked away deliberately -- automatic yellow card according to FIFA. I saw Arse players kicked and punched several times. I saw Arse players held in the penalty box as they went for the ball on at least two occasions, and a trip went completely unnoticed -- penalties anywhere else in the world except in the Parc des Princes last night. Arsenal almost gave away a penalty -- it was an attempt to get the ball at least, and probably why the defender got away with it -- then he hand-balled it as he rolled around! Was the referee that blind? Even the ESPN commentators couldn't understand it. I yelled at my missus that this was one of the worst refereeing jobs I've seen in a long time. She agreed, probably to shut me up! As I said, one of his linesmen was no better. There was one time when one Real player was five yards or more offside and another was just beyond being level. The flag stayed down and after Arsenal got the ball away Donkey Adams was screaming across the pitch for the linesman to stick his flag up motioning with his hand like he was pulling on a really large plonker. After all the poor noncalls, Arsenal deserved something, and not long after Real's goal they scored an equiliser. It looked like Harston touched it but Wright did all the celebrating. And that's about all Wright did do. In all the games for Arsenal, and particularly for England, I have seen Ian Wright play he has not done anything to impress me. Yet his goalscoring statistics suggest otherwise. Real and Arsenal went at each other, up and down the pitch, for the entire match and this was great to see. But oh, what an ending. "Its going to penalties", I told my missus in the 120th minute. "Did you account for that when you taped it?" she asked. Of course I did. Zaragosa played well enough to win -- I think they had the edge in the end, but Arsenal had played well enough to take it to penalties -- despite having to play against the 12th man too -- the bloody useless referee. Arsenal's not my team, but I had felt tense throughout the match. I wanted a British team to win the cup again. I was pondering the debate about settling these big matches with penalties when something quite unexpected happened. On the halfway line with mere seconds to go, Arsenal tried to keep the ball wide to their left -- and ex-Spurs Nayim intercepted the ball, looked up, looked down and just simply hoofed it. The ball went up and began to drop -- and then with horror I realised that the camera showed Seaman desperately back-peddling and diving backwards, his fingertips barely deflecting the ball, falling into the back of the net with the ball falling behind him. I was dumbfounded and sat motionless as the Spaniards celebrated. There was no time to get it back -- the match would end seconds after the restart. I just couldn't believe it. I feel for Arsenal fans everywhere. That was a horrible way to lose a game -- even if Real may have deserved it. The questions now will be was Seaman at fault and did Nayim intend the "shot"? Firstly, the action was at the half-way line. Like any other goalkeeper Seaman was roaming the top of his box while the ball was so far away. He was probably expecting a cross behind his defence and wanted to be there early to either narrow the angle or to be close at hand should a defender have won the ball and pushed it back to him. Secondly, I believe Nayim meant to do what he did. It was a hopeful lob, but he tried it and it worked. He _must_ have seen Seaman way off his line and couldn't have seen any of his team mates to pass it to -- knowing time was at the end. He skied it -- it was the only way to put distance on the ball. It was perfectly kicked and all credit to him. In a 100 tries I doubt the trajectory would have been as perfect as it was to just beat Seaman and make it under the crossbar and to be perfectly angled (it could easily have gone wide as over or even make it that close to goal). Well done Real, but a hearty commiserations to the Arse. The referee should be flogged though. I'd have to go back to the tape and do a real count (I won't) but Real deserved at least a dozen yellow cards and a couple of red ones. Arsenal could have been yellow carded a few times too. Arsenal should have had three penalties, Real could have had one, maybe -- depending on if you thought the defender got the man before the ball. I didn't think so.