A guest post from an Irish Gooner, who has supported The Arsenal through thick and thin since 1972. We all have different stories. Sometimes it is important to hear what unites us, rather than what divides us. Enjoy.
I just saw you are inviting Arsenal fans to submit a blog to your site. I am a Dublin based Arsenal supporter and have followed my club since 1972.
I grew up in rural Ireland with no hereditary or geographical ties to Arsenal but after watching them lose to Leeds United in the 1972 FA Cup Final on black and white TV a love was born, and although it was severely tested on many occasions has never died.
I suppose the first thing that made Arsenal stand out above other clubs for me was the shirts. Grey with white sleeves on my TV but so unique even then. Supporting Arsenal in rural Ireland wasn’t easy , most of my friends supported Leeds or Liverpool at the time. Oddly when you look at the Irish support for English clubs now, back then Manchester United hadn’t a massive support in my generation. The previous generations had a stronger United support, borne out of the Munich air tragedy and the death of Irish man Liam Whelan in the disaster. Also, United were not particularly successful in the early- to mid- seventies unlike Leeds or Liverpool.
Arsenal were not successful at all on the pitch from 1971 until 1979, in the intervening years there were serious flirtations with relegation. So why stick with Arsenal?. I was only a child and subsequently a young teenager. It wouldn’t have been earth shattering to jump ship and change team. Rather than do that I educated myself about Arsenal. The majesty and tradition of the club, the history and the Marble Halls. I learned that I didn’t support Arsenal, rather I supported “The Arsenal”
Supporting a club takes on a similar role as being married. You suffer the slings and arrows, the good and the bad and the indifferent. You hate and you love and do both in a way that defies logic. You pick yourself up and believe again in bad times, you imagine that time can be beaten in the good days, you believe it will never end.
Of course it ends and in time it begins again. In between those times you stay loyal to your club. It is too easy not to, too easy to jump onto a faster moving bandwagon.
Now 45 years after Allan Clarke broke hearts at Wembley my love still burns bright. It is not a love without its frustrations but it is unconditional. By unconditional I mean I don’t demand success but I do crave competitiveness. I have been to Highbury, The Emirates, Anfield, Bolton , Wigan, Wembley, Cardiff and places between to support my club.
The current malaise is killing the club I love. The”civil war” between fans hurts as much as the relegation battles of the mid seventies and the dreary dross of the early eighties.
My own belief , which I hold passionately, is that Arsenal FC are guilty of a dereliction of duty and care to our club. Sadly I believe that the manager is part of that dereliction. Arsene Wenger is a man I revered but now I hold him as responsible as the owner and the board for the fact Arsenal have become noncompetitive. In my opinion Arsene Wenger became obsessed with the new wealth at Chelsea and saying “we cannot compete” became “we don’t try to compete”. It was a comfort-zone.
I fully support the right of fans to protest against the regime. I find it unfair that the protesters are dismissed as not being real Arsenal supporters. Equally I support the rights of those who still back the manager to do so.
For me if there is not change at at least managerial level then the staleness continues. Change needs to go above the manager level . ideally the owner would sell to someone who cares and understands what Arsenal FC means to us supporters. That is unlikely to happen as long as Arsenal is an asset to him.
I accept my view is not shared by all but it is something I care deeply about.
You can follow and interact with Gerry @gerrythompson47