A couple of weeks ago, we were approached by members of the club to ask fans for suggestions for "Members' Day" with a view to making it more interactive for the fans. The suggestions we had from you guys were pretty spot on and practical and we were delighted to submit to the club. When the day came, the suggestions put forward were considered and rejected for several reasons and below, we'll provide those reasons to you:
"House fans in the lower tier" – this was a great idea as we'd be closer to the players and get a better feel of how the training sessions work as we'd be within earshot of the players and Arsene Wenger. We couldn't do this because in order to get the safety certification, the stairwells had to be fully utilised which meant all fans had to walk upstairs to the upper tier.
The rest of the suggestions listed below were great in theory but were rejected ultimately by Mr Wenger as he wanted it to be a "spectated training session" without outside interference. We think this is totally understandable as we enter the crucial stage of pre season preparations and training regimes cannot be sacrificed at the expense of fan entertainment:
"Have a sprint race between Walcott, Rosicky and others to determine who the fastest player is"
"Invite several fans to take penalties against Almunia or Poom"
"Have an autograph session where players sign merchandise or programmes"
These ideas were in keeping with the club's request of ideas for a more interactive Members' Day but couldn't happen because it wasn't in keeping with the manager's wishes. With hindsight, it would have been better if the club had branded it "Training Day" or something to indicate there was to be no input from the fans. It's another example of lack of communication within a large organisation and, although we didn't get the results we wanted, it's a lesson we've learned and will bear in mind for the future.
Saturday 22nd. July 2006 will be remembered as the day the first game was played at our new stadium. Fittingly, it was Dennis Bergkamp's testimonial and will be one of the many reasons the man will go down in Arsenal folklore. We had The Rocket before kick off (as we will have for every game this season) and entertained close to 200 fans there. We organised a raffle for Bob Wilson's charity and Dennis' wife asked our AFC liaison what he could do to contribute when someone bravely suggested he could buy the pub a round of drinks to say thanks for buying the raffle tickets, arranging DB10 Day against West Brom and for attending his testimonial. Unbelievably, he agreed and bought everyone at The Rocket a drink. A true gentleman in a game which has been taken over by wideboys and corporations. Are you watching Ashley Cole?
Two years ago, four members of REDaction met at the Chandos in Covent Garden to discuss a simple idea whereby like-minded Arsenal fans could sit/stand together and get behind The Arsenal for every home match without getting looked at like they'd just stepped off a space ship. No Tarquins, suits, sidahhhhners or corporates allowed! The idea of our own area of Highbury was the REDsection and so we set out a strategy for practically implementing the idea. This required a hell of a lot of administration and co-operation with the club who agreed to participate in any way they could.
Two years, hundreds of man hours and thousands of emails later, the permanent REDsection was born as blocks 5 and 6 (the north west lower corner) of the new stadium. We had over 150 Gold, 300 Silver and 300 Red Arsenal members registered all eager to be part of the experience and no longer have to endure the looks…..those looks….from the Johnny-Come-Latelys and instead make a positive contribution to the game. We asked the Reservations Centre staff to sell 200 Gold seats to our Gold members in blocks 5 and 6 while reserving the remaining seats for match day registrars. Last week, after countless ignored messages and emails, we were told by the club that the whole section had been sold to Gold members and our Silver and Red members would, of course, not be eligible for seating in those seats. Needless to say, we felt very angry and frustrated by the club's lack of co-operation on this as all we needed from them was to meet us 10% of the way with admin while we worked hard maintaining spreadsheets, answering emails and writing articles. We were even more shocked that, instead of holding up a hand and admitting fault, we received a politician-style spinned reply to the effect that we hadn't actually asked for match day seats to be reserved which infuriated us more. Disappointing but…..we weren't surprised!
We're now working with the club to negotiate a resolution. We may now have a second REDsection situated in the opposite corner of the ground in the south east lower tier. Nothing's been confirmed yet but this would be the most common sense solution to a problem created by the club themselves. There would be no extra privileges for members above those of normal members and the only difference would be to congregate REDsection registrars so we can add some intimidation and not be mugged off at every home game. We'll keep you posted on progress.
After eight months of work, we can inform you all of a website with the most comprehensive and up to date Arsenal songs, our back catalogue of articles, the ultimate gallery, an indispensable pub guide featuring over 30 pubs around the stadium, an away game guide, a nostalgia section and lots more. Due to be completed in late August but online now. Check it out at www.redaction.org.uk. We're convinced that nothing like this has been done for ANY football club and once rolling, it will be one of the best football websites out there but don't take our word for it – have a look for yourself.
Holloway Road will be busier than ever before. We've taken control of the world famous Rocket (166-220 Holloway Rd) on match days and can offer drinks promos and exclusive events! Free entry for AFC members and supporters club members. Facilities include 3-for-2 beer promotions, live Sky Sports on the big screen's, Arsenal DVD's on screens, in house food, live music and DJs, one off events for all fans, comfortable sofas, pool tables, an outside drinking terrace and more.
Please feel free to e-mail us, as ever, at firstname.lastname@example.org
Victoria Concordia Crescit,
The REDaction Team.