Having been sent a press copy of Darren’s book, I sat down to enjoy it with a cup of tea.

A mixture of incisive comment, irreverent jokes and a passion for Arsenal.

Almost immediately you are taken by this erudite comment –

Football is supposed to be an escape from reality, a chance to lose yourself for a while and forget about the day-to-day stress life throws at you… now we have 24/7 social media saturation, and sometimes football is something you want to escape from, rather than escape to!

Which shows both an understanding of the real role of football in a fan’s life, and how pernicious social media is in distorting this great game to the ordinary supporter.

It’s almost as if he should have called it Modern football is rubbish.

two major pluses – the overall description of aspects of football such as how much do Afc have in transfer budget – p.166 and how a figure it comes about to be authoritatively stated in twitter to be £40 million. As the transfer window rolled out this proved to be the nonsense predicted by Dazzer.


On Maradonna being sent off for hand ball had VAR been around in 1986, in the infamous hand of god Game:

His second goal of the game – one that is known as one of the best goals in World Cup history (but is actually one of the world’s best players running past players including Steve Hodge and Terry Fenwick), would never have happened.

Placing the calibre of England’s defenders facing the Argies.


On one of the seemingly endless Arsenal baiting ‘stars’ of Talksport:

This week it was the turn of the almost perfectly named Jason Cundy.

Which whilst understated and could almost be missed is such a great line.



For me, the only way VAR can really work, is if it is actually magic.

Which on the face of it seems like a cop out, but is actually a well reasoned argument which you’ll have to buy the book to read. However the way VAR has been set up by the authorities is worthy of interjecting with view. The way it is used appears random  – “the men in the office behind the screens” seems like a sporting throwback to the era of the beer and sandwiches closed door political negotiations of the 1960s and 70s. It doesn’t appear to have any discernible process, other than a pointy head in a studio telling the referee they’ve seen something in the match, and they will tell the referee all about it, as he’s obviously missed it.

Not only does this spoilt the spectacle for the fan at the game with seemingly arbitrary reviews, but also diminishes the role of the referee on the ground. Compare this to the rugby and cricket and NFL use of the system which assists the officials, and is designed to not over ride their decisions unless demonstrably incorrect.

The real issue with this system is it has the possibility of being easier for betting groups to ‘get at’ the officials who are hidden from scrutiny behind the screen, and it may actually be more subject to iffy unexplained decisions over time if not checked with different protocols.

I think the technician officials looking at the game on TV should only be called upon if requested by the referee for an obvious issue, or as requested the managers. This would re-introduce the concept of the decisions made in the ground, not miles away in an unknown studio.

Aside from the obvious referee’s request for a check on such issues as a penalty, corner or foul, it would work better if the only time VAR could be used was if it was also requested by the managers. Within this each team had 2 options to call on the screens each half.

It will be magic if the authorities utilise VAR as a complement to existing rules, not a way to continually introduce different parameters into the game to suit their agendas.

Only element I would have liked to have seen in the book was a wider portfolio of Darren’s own Clickbait from Twitter. These are generally set ups where he posts the most ridiculous scenario complete with a made up comment by a writer with a double entendre name and sits back to see who gets caught on his fishing rod. While it does include the classic and atypical tweet of an Emirates player statue to be made by famous artist Ana Linjection, I would have loved to have relived .


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Copies of our books Royal Arsenal – Champions of the South and Arsenal: The Complete Record 1886-2018 are still available from the publishers.

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