We fans, being fallible humans, can be quite horrible at times. We can equally at times be most generous and open-hearted. There may well be a few “saints” on here who are incapable of being horrible, but in general, as those who have long attended matches know very well, when passions are high, tempers follow on as night follows day. Why do we care so much then? It is because we are in love; in love with Arsenal FC, and no less passionately either than if we had met a person who was to become our soul mate for life. AFC is our soulmate for life. And if someone or something threatens the health and happiness of your soulmate, what do you do, as a fallible human? Why you turn on them and as best you can, you “sort them out”.
Thankfully, we cannot sort out players in fisticuffs and were we able to try, we would mostly come off the worse for wear. But now that we have the weapon of social media we use it mercilessly, and I am as guilty as anyone and worse than most! But this horrible behaviour usually begins very early in life, when we are thwarted in our hopes and dreams. We mostly “hate” those clubs of whom we are jealous -hough some, like the Spuds, cannot possibly fall into this category and the thought is ridiculous. Though we do not generally admit that jealousy, even to ourselves. That would be to show us our own horrible side, so then we band together with others who think as we do, to attack the common enemy, be that Man Utd, Spuds, Chelsea or various players, mostly from opponents but also on occasions from our own team, who we think are not cutting the mustard.
In my long years as a fan I remember many of our own players who were boo boys, and whom we blamed for bad results. Alan Skirton, Ian Ure, John Sammels, and even a very young John Radford, whilst he was still about 17/18 all from the 1960’s. David Price and Terry Mancini – though Mancini later became a cult hero, despite being “not much cop” – were both prominent n the 70s; Gus Caesar and for a short while even Perry Groves from the 80’s. El Pel, the ginger nut from Colchester, turned it all around though, on that glorious day at Wembley when he laid on the winning goal for “Saint” Charlie Nicholas against Liverpool in the League Cup Final.
My personal ‘bete noire’ during the George Graham era was David Hillier, who largely openly expressed escaped mass wrath, as he was still young. George Graham himself when he played for us was known as ‘Stroller’, in other words he was not a workaholic, to put it mildly, but as he was a talented striker, he largely escaped being much booed, though some let him know he was a lazy “****” (insert your own expletive here!)
Under Arsene Wenger, a number of players were not much liked, almost all defenders unsurprisingly, and the hot headed Eboue was one who I remember being the butt of our crowds anger, plus several of our long list of inferior centre backs were heavily criticised, but not widely booed on the field. Most recently of all, Xhaka angered the crowd and came off worst, when the stadium turned on him in a storm of boos. Such as Squillacci, Stepanovs, Silvestre, Santos, Senderos, and more recently Mustafi and Sokratis have been much pilloried on social media, myself prominently among the protaginists.
A certain world cup winning German also much divides opinion, though any open booing of him when playing has been very muted, if heard at all. Many still laud him on here and thus “when passions are high, tempers follow on as surely….” etc.
It proves we care, and while we care and while we can all behave – or most of us anyway – like horrible nine year olds at times, then football is safe and loved, no matter how awful the great changes that will surely come to football in the wake of the coronavirus may hit us all. KEEP THE PASSION, NO MATTER WHAT! It proves we are alive, and that we still love our lifelong soulmate, even though she or he (as appropriate) is now 134 years old and in rude health, overall…
Stay home and stay safe my friends.