Before I began blogging and entered into the Arsenal family on twitter to promote my work, I think it would be safe to say I was either naive to the passion for our great club around the world, or perhaps just unaware. As my writing and ‘1nildown2oneup’ grew in popularity I have been very fortunate to meet and engage with, in the cyber sense, so many knowledgeable and fanatical goners from all over the globe. Back in January I wrote a piece all about the passion of the huge Gunner community in Nigeria and this nation is an absolute hotbed for our club and the tour is the very least these fans deserve. I would love to be in Lagos to witness the scenes in August.
Over the summer I intend via my site to explore this passion for Arsenal from across the continents but today I am kicking off relatively close to home with Norway. The reason I am beginning there is at the request of a good friend to ‘1nildown2oneup’ Anders Bernsten @BernstenAnders.
You can consider this post and joint effort between me and Anders and the bulk of the blog is an impassioned plea from him to his fellow Gooners but first I wanted to look at the background into Arsenal for Anders and in Norway in General.
As a scene setter first however let me remind any of you who are later 30’s or above and perhaps introduce those younger to the passion of Norwegians for their football. The following was voted the Number 1 piece of sports commentary of ALL time by the Guardian newspaper. It is of course the summary at the end of the epic world cup qualifier in Oslo when Norway and beaten England for the first time in their history
”Lord Nelson! Lord Beaverbrook! Sir Winston Churchill! Sir Anthony Eden! Clement Attlee! Henry Cooper! Lady Diana! Maggie Thatcher – can you hear me, Maggie Thatcher! Your boys took one hell of a beating! Your boys took one hell of a beating!’ Bjorge Lillelien on Norwegian TV”
As the Guardian described it:
Lillelien’s gloriously over-the-top response to Norway’s unlikely victory over Ron Greenwood’s side marked the high watermark of football commentary as social commentary. Passionate, uninhibited and a bit weird, football fans everywhere from Scotland to Argentina knew exactly what he was saying: that there is no pleasure as sweet as beating England at their own game.
You read the text now witness the passion first hand
If you have stopped laughing I think we have established the passion for football in Norway but why Arsenal?
Well the reality is that we are only the third best supported team in Norway and this is most likely due to the fact that since the Premier league truly took off Arsenal have still yet to have a Norwegian star. Whereas the 2 top sides, which also happen to be the two most successful English sides in Europe, Man U and Liverpool, have both had multiple Norwegian talents.
According to Anders, English football has been live on TV over there since the 1970’s when Liverpool were in their pomp and the facts are that Man United have 43,000 paying members of their Norwegian Supporters Club and Liverpool 36,00 is not a surprise when you combine their success, with Norwegians playing a part in that success. For Manchester United the main man of course has been Ole Gunnar Solskjaer but also Henning Berg and Ronny Johnsen. For Liverpool there have also been several over the years including John Arne Riise, Stig Inge Björnebye, Vegard Heggem and Øyvind Leonhardsen.
Of course if Arsenal follow up their reported interest in Kenneth Udjus as a replacement for Almunia and Fabianski and to push our current No.1 keeper this could help.
Our new back up keeper from Norway?
Anders tells me that there are 6300 paid up members of the Arsenal Supporters Club in Norway and he says that the popularity of our club in his country increased during the Wenger years. He estimates there could be anywhere between 30 to 50 thousand Gooners in Norway. What we also have in the capital Oslo that Liverpool and United don’t have is our own pub. It is called the Highbury Pub and is a must visit for any Gooner that find themselves in the city.
Check it out: http://highbury.no/?page_id=14
Anders had been following Arsenal closely since the late 1980’s and like me sometimes feels that the achievements of the early George Graham years are forgotten by too many Gunners. However today he is firmly focussed on the here and now as you read on his support for our current crop of players and his passion for them to succeed under Wenger will shine through. It is this squad that he believes can take the support of Arsenal in Norway to the next level.
So why Arsenal Anders?
”Me and my older brother started to support Arsenal in the 88/89 season because we wanted to annoy our neighbors who were great supporters of Liverpool. The end of the season withthe Thomas goal at Anfield made everything perfect. Since then, me and The Arsenal have been an endless love story.”
First great side you remember clearly?
“The first team I really remember well is in fact the almost invincible champions from the 90/91 season. I turned 10 years old that season. That year was also the first time I cried because of Arsenal. The 1-2 defeat at the Bridge, sad day. Fucking Kerry Dixon!”
Favourite Players from that team?
“My favourites in the team were many, but the very best were; Tony Adams, David Seaman, Dixon, Anders Limpar, Rocastle, Smith and Merson. But if I have to choose just one it was Anders Limpar.”
Can you watch all the games live in Norway?
“Yes, and thank god for that! I’m actually able to see all the games of every PL side if I wish to. But because of family duties I only watch the Arsenal games plu one or two others every round. Sometimes I have to record the Arsenal games and watch them after my son is in bed. Those days are difficult because I turn off my mobile and avoid TV and internet all day. All that fuss just to keep the thrill. Hehe.. I know I take Arsenal and football way to seriously. In fact Arsenal is my biggest weakness!”
So you know the passion of the country and you now know the man so over to Anders…..
I want to believe by Anders Bernsten…..
Twitter is so full of negativity regarding the AFC and it irritates me. People seem to forget that we actually moved forward in the 2011/2012 season.
I strongly believe we can win trophies next season. Why? Because we are finally on the verge of getting back a proper winner mentality, a real spine and good team spirit as it was in previous trophy wining teams.
For me, there has been a clear progress in the team effort in the 11/12 season compared to 10/11. Some laziness and arrogance still hangs around in the air and that takes time to change. Unfortunately it has become a part of our culture in recent years. But now we are heading in the right direction.
Last season Fabregas had his mind on Barcelona and did not have his heart set to Arsenal. Nasri isn’t and will never be a team player. Arshavin looked miserable and seemed like he would rather not be on the pitch. Clichy was lacking focus to often etc…In seasons before that we had moaners like Gallas and egos like Adebayor. Both great footballers but they lost their heads and became bigger than the club. This also goes for players like Flamini and Hleb for instance. It doesn’t take to many players in a team with the wrong attitude to lower the standard and develop a bad culture in the group. It takes time to get back a winning culture, but I can see clear progress in this current squad.
This season the players always gave 100% and that’s all I ask of them. The poor performances this year was due to bad quality and lack of focus with certain players, and that is easier to fix than the poor attitude shown the last few seasons by certain players such as mentioned above.
A lot of our bad results this year can also be put down to the lack of squad depth and pure bad luck regarding injuries to all are full backs at the same time for instance.
Why do I have such a strong belief in this team and their chances of winning trophies next year? Why wouldn’t I? Just look at this set of players who all have a genuine winning mentality and you can see that they truly love playing football and especially for Arsenal.
Clearly loves our club and bosses his area with such great confidence. His a great shoot stopper, is amazing on 1 to 1, is good coming for crosses. I can see him becoming one of the greatest keepers in the world.
Do I really need to say anything about why he is a winner and a great player? The goal against Tottenham sums him up perfectly for me.
And to think that some of you guys give Wenger stick for not buying proper defenders! Koscielny is just one of many examples that Wenger buys players and not names. When this guy plays I get goosebumps because you can see that he means it all the way. What a player!
Loves the club and plays with his heart outside of the kit. For me his nickname, The Verminator, sums him up.
Our BFG in defence. Calm, smart and has this German winning mentality that’s great to have in your team. For me he and Vermalen will fight head to head about playing alongside the Boss.
He is from Brazil for god sake! He is a proper footballer, loves the game and can easily play in midfield as well as left back.
Arsenal lad and has potential to become a great left back. You can not fault his spirit and work rate. When he gets some more consistency to his game, we have the future left back for England on our hands.
One for the future, but it is easy to se that this guy support Arsenal. He has great potential and I feel perfectly comfortable with playing him against the “lesser” teams in the league. Good for rotation. Jenkinson and Coquelin is enough cover for Sagna on right back.
One of (if not the best) signing in the PL last season. A true professional and always give us 100%. A great player as well and our statistics without him in the team speaks for itself, one game won without him playing.
Lovely player, great engine, captain for his country, makes the ball flow with pace all the time. Look up Dave’s tribute to him a few days ago.
God do I love that guy! I used to watch all the reserve/youth team games on Arsenal TV, just to watch him play. He truly has it all to become one of the greatest players in the world, enough said.
Not sure about Song yet to be honest. There can be no doubt that he is a very good player, his stats from this season shows that. But for me he is one of the players who still lack focus and doesn’t always track back like he mean it. You can se that he still has some of that old carelessness in him and to often try to do the wrong passes when he just should do like Arteta and play the easy pass. This of course only applies to the risky passes in our own half. He can take as many chances whit his passing as he like in the oppositions half, and that’s why he has so many great assists this year.
If he works with his attitude and discipline, Song can easily be part of our spine in midfield.
I believe he can be our next big thing. Good work rate, skills and passes like a playmaker and grit like Vieira.
He clearly gives everything when he plays and you got to give him credit for that. Has potential to be a skilful and hard midfielder, but for me he has a long way to go. Maybe a year out on loan would do him good. I’m sad to say tough because I actually rate him as a player. Just feel he needs to start doing things easier when his on the ball. He has some great runs without the ball to but him in good scoring positions, so maybe we should consider giving him the old Ljungberg role out on the right side of our midfield?
He will come good, believe me! He showed us he can be a good player in the first half of the season and he always track back and work for the team.
He has talent and he has it in him to work hard fore the time. For me he should play up front in 442. Not sure if I should put him in my list of players with winning mentality and potential to be part of the spine, but something tells me this guy eventually will surprise us all.
Well, I don’t need to convince you about him. The kid has no fear at all in his game. Love him!
He has been perfect as captain for us. Works hard for the team, is respected in the group, sticks up for his teammates and is one of the best forwards in the world. Pleas keep him.
He is German, do I need to say more? Look at his stats for club and country and that speaks for itself.
This is the players I feel we can build a proper team around and they all have wining mentality and quality to compete with the best. Add two or three players to this group plus mix it with our youth players and we have a title winning team. And on top of that I have a funny feeling Steve Bould can help us find back to the good old Arsenal team spirit and discipline in defence.
And finally the biggest winner of them all; Arsene Wenger! You can see he is a winner in the way it hurts him to loose. He breathes and lives for our club and he will get us back on winning ways again.
Until next time thanks to Anders and thanks for reading
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