I started this blog as ‘Praise be the KitKat’. How quickly things can change.
I was inspired when I ate a KitKat at half time at an Arsenal match. The team was on a bad run – the three games before the KitKat had been three consecutive defeats. But with KitKats, the season was turned around, and a long unbeaten run began. There could be no doubting the power of those four chocolate fingers. After all, it’s happened before as I do have form.
My first encounter with the magic of the KitKat at halftime was at the start of the 2003-4 season, and as I repeated it, game after game, the team matched me with wins and draws, never losing, going on to become ‘the Invincibles’, undefeated during an entire Premier League campaign.
The one match they did lose was an FA Cup semi-final, played at Villa Park. Walking from my car to the ground I couldn’t find a confectioner- or at least one that was open for the early kick-off. It meant, as I entered the ground, I knew the result was predestined, defeat was inevitable. And so it came to pass.
But for the rest of the season, KitKats blessed the team and they lost not a single game. (For purists, who will argue Arsenal lost matches in the European Champions’ League, that doesn’t count. It’s obvious the power of the KitKat won’t stretch beyond English competitions. Or the League Cup, for that matter.) The following season, the KitKat’s energy drained away, finally extinguished by Wayne Rooney. But I was going to have to give it up anyway. Too many KitKats meant I was at risk of becoming obese.
Miraculously, thirty-two years earlier, there had been a similar sweet arbiter of success. In the 1970/71 season, it was a fresh cream cake that wove its magic spell over the team. I bought one before a match (a cream meringue, if I recall correctly) to consume after, and Arsenal went on to win the domestic double of League and FA Cup. (Dave and Ansil Collins were top of the UK singles charts, in case you don’t remember!)
The one match where the shop had sold out before I reached it resulted in a 5-0 drubbing at Stoke. Otherwise, it was unprecedented success for the club, and I had no doubt what was causing it. Who knows what heights might have reached if I’d continued. But the shop stopped selling cream cakes and an Eccles cake didn’t have the same efficacy.
And so to this season. I was religious in keeping the KitKat buying routine once the team started winning, the result being an undefeated run. And even when it came to a crushing end at Liverpool, I didn’t doubt the KitKat. I put it down to my wife, who’d bought one for me as a helpful gesture, rather than leaving me to buy my own. I returned to the proper routine for the next match and the result was a victory, so my faith was restored. I knew that it was the change of routine that had broken the spell.
Except, now I know differently. In the two matches since, the results have gone against the KitKat. My faith seems to have been misplaced. It didn’t ensure success after all. I should have realised.
Next match, I’m buying a Lion Bar.
A version of this post also appears on aisa.org