I’ve got the right hump, me. Does that surprise you? Probably not those that really know me, and I know that is not too many of you. Although of course lots of people who come here think they know me! I’m old school Arsenal, according to those who would like us all to fit into their view of things. Humour the old git.
In all of my years following the Arsenal there have been factions who simply existed to suit some misguided view of the world. We were never a united group of supporters. In the late sixties and early seventies nobody took liberties in the North Bank so there would be regular ‘disagreements’ between North and South London mobs. All in good fun of course!
As the seventies developed we had the back falling out with the middle, and the Clock End splitting out altogether. The toffs in the East and West Upper didn’t understand us, and weren’t ‘proper’ supporters anyway!
We travelled in large numbers to away games unhindered by the restrictions that exist today. Before the all-ticket game became the norm we would jump on cheap (often free if you were crafty!) trains to follow the Arsenal up and down the country. Those that went every week fell out with those that only went now and again. ‘You’re not real fans, are ya!’
We have a history of not liking each other, us Arsenal supporters. So I am surprised in a world where old misconceptions and prejudices have become a thing of the past that we still find ever more ways to classify each other and drive a wedge between like-minded people.
Those classifications are to the fore as the fallout from Saturday continues to dominate all things ‘Arsenal’. On the web, on the radio, in the press, there is allocation of ‘blame’ for those that first cheered, then jeered, Emmanuel Eboue as he departed the action at the Grove.
I don’t want to open up yet another front for the warring factions to discuss what happened then. It’s been done to death. Let it go, for goodness sake. I do want to take issue with those who are quick to blame the extra twenty thousand who now fill the Grove compared to the days we were at Highbury. I am upset with those who conversely argue it is the fault of those who have been going a long time and cannot accept change. Bollocks to you all!
It was apparent on Saturday to anybody who actually talked to others face to face that people who have been going for years were booing. Teenagers who haven’t seen us struggle before were booing. Some who love Arsene Wenger were booing, and those who think I would be wounded by being called an ‘Arsene Knows Best’ were booing.
Those in the latter category should know that thirty years ago Tottenham fans thought they could humiliate Arsenal supporters by calling them ‘Gooners’. What wags they were. We wore that label with pride, just as today I would happily cry I am an ‘Arsene Knows Best’.
You are entitled to your opinions, and I will argue your right to a point of view that does not coincide with mine. I have no divine right to be right. Your determination to attempt to abuse the bulk of this great clubs support is a problem for me though. What gives you the right to criticise the huge numbers who will forever be grateful for what Arsene Wenger has achieved at this club WE all follow?
It is the pigeon-holing of Arsenal supporters into neat parcels that suits your view of the world that is wrong. Through various online mediums I have made just as many friends as I did on the trains years ago. Old and young alike have earned my trust. I have met people from all over the world for whom the old ‘North and South London’ arguments would have been a mystery.
Some of the young ones think Arsene is the best thing that has ever happened to this club, and some of the old-hands will explain logically why they are not taken with him and the third version of ‘Wengerball’. Some think Emmanuel Eboue is the worst thing that ever happened to football, and others value his contribution as a squad player.
One thing I share with those people with whom I choose to spend my matchday experience is that closed minds and blind prejudices are not involved. People who I value, friends I consider to be level-headed and rational people do not necessarily share my view of Saturday’s events, or of what is happening at the Grove these days generally.
I can argue my case and listen to their counter-arguments all day. What pisses me off though are those who would attempt to ridicule supposedly fellow-Arsenal supporters on the basis that they did or didn’t watch the team ‘when we were shit’, or that they do or don’t think that Arsene Wenger is the greatest thing since sliced bread, or that they can or cannot afford to go and watch the side in the flesh every week.
I am so mad with those who would describe Arsenal supporters in derogatory terms, but nowhere near as mad as I am with the so-called Arsenal supporters who are responsible for fuelling this. Anyone from South of the river fancy a ruck?
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