Being an Arsenal fan is a one-way love affair

The fan/club relationship and its consequences. Part One of Three, Setting the scene by Jon Fox

As adoring fans, we conduct what amounts to a lifelong love affair with our club. In our case my fortunate fellow tribelets, it is the mighty Arsenal Football Club. All true fans everywhere fall in love for life and the few club changelings are much scorned as fair-weather fans, or as I prefer to call them, not true fans at all.

We all understand the instinct to belong to our tribe and to defend our tribe from members of other tribes and to deride rival tribes. Non-threatening rivals are usually not much scorned, and we reserve our main loathing for our traditional rivals. We even sing about how “we hate Tottenham Hotspur; we hate Liverpool too ……” etc. And with many of us that is real hate; we actually wish harm on our worst rivals, Spuds Chelski, Man Ure. You will note how I wrote those names. Not exactly the way a fan of those clubs would describe their adored club. Quelle surprise! Who among you can honestly deny that you “would love it, simply love it” (as Kevin Keegan would say) if only those “scumbags” got relegated?

During the worst period of hooliganism from the 1970‘s onwards, the Neanderthals among us normal fans chose to physically try taking over the home end of rival clubs. This was worse at some grounds than others, and although we at Arsenal had our fair share of idiots, we were among the least deranged fans in London. Chelsea and West Ham, along with Millwall in Division Two were widely considered the most aggressive and frankly, thick in the head. I could of course claim that even supporting those clubs is amply proof of being thick, but I am far too sweet natured (ahem, cough, cough!) to ever say that!

However, the vast majority of fans chose to avoid trouble and managed to sidestep being over much caught up in hooliganism, though it was often a close call and you ran the gauntlet of physical hate when you attended away games. I had several close calls myself way back then when I used to travel on the supporters’ club coaches. Now as a man of senior years, I can scarcely believe I was so in love with Arsenal that I would l endanger my physical health to be actually there, home and especially away, to show my love for our team. Was I crazy then? Well yes definitely, and are we not all crazy in being fans of a club that – unless we have a season ticket, or the club has our email address – does not even know we exist!

You see my fellow Gooners, that act of being a fan is essentially a one-way love affair. We all love our club; to many of us it is our whole life and we are ecstatic or miserable, according to the latest result and performance. That is not a healthy and mature way to be, but it is our fate. That is the price we pay for the glorious madness of being in a one-way love affair. But, being in love, we willingly submit to our fate. It is an addiction, a glorious, healthy, yet also unhealthy addiction. And we would not change it for the world.

In this new technological age, we have social media and so we who are addicts – pretty much the lot of us on here – spend much of our valuable time discussing and arguing with our own tribe mates about our expectations for our club. The club, remember, that probably doesn’t know we even exist! Imagine if this were the way you conducted a love affair with a person you were devoted to, but who scarcely know you were even there. You would be thought unhinged or at least in for a rough time. But with our club, do we care? Of course not. We willingly suffer this masochistic love for our whole life.

And who do we blame when results go wrong! Why the ref, or such and such a player or the manager or the owner or just bad luck, VAR even, (there’s a welcome new twist to moan about and how we love to moan!). Two whinges equal one moan and two moans equal one rant. So, what do two rants equal then? Why, one perfectly normal but deeply infected football fan of course! Guilty as charged then your honour!

Can you think then of the one person we never blame, at least not publicly? Ourselves, of course. The truth is that we personally chose this state of masochistic bliss and no person other than perhaps our Dad, a relative or whoever first took us along to our tribe can truthfully be blamed. Is that fair comment my friends? I truly believe so…

In part two I will explore in more depth the addiction we all have to our club and where it is both healthy and deeply unhealthy. When taken historically, as we older fans will tend to do, there are far more healthy matters pertaining to being a fan of the mighty Arsenal FC than there are unhealthy ones. Til next time then, my fellow masochists, I pray you all stay safe and happy ranting!

PS. Whatever did we do before smartphones and social media came along!

Jon Fox

22 Comments

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  1. Declan says:

    Excellent read Jon and so very true. Looking forward to the next instalment as I too go back a few years!

  2. vz says:

    Everybody saying this year is Chelsea to deliver after what they spent. But what Arsenal doing is not one for future. We have front line avg 31yr old then xhaka 28, Elnheny 28, Luiz 31 other backline relatively younger. If we are not able to get result this yr our aging stars would have aged 1yr more n probably decrease in performance, n more difficult to get improved result. So is Arteta cannot bring us to top 4 this yr, it would get more difficult for him to achieve this feat, probably he might have to do this without our phenomenal striker. So for me this is do our die yr for Arteta n he should not get carried away with the fact this team is still work in progress.

    1. Tas says:

      vz
      we have a lot of young talent already broke through in to the team, in one or two years time our young guns will have huge experience and still be young so the future looks bright

  3. Highbury Hero says:

    It was a good read Mr Fox but I think you rushed to it after your embargo was lifted. Here is to hoping you will deliver in the remaining parts. I think you should take your time and deliver quality over quantity as you promised.

    1. jon fox says:

      Thank you for your important advice and I will naturally always do as YOU say!

      1. Highbury Hero says:

        I am a critic here Mr 🦊. Just as you are a critic to other’s articles you should expect and welcome with wide arms criticism of your articles as well. I don’t think I needed to point that to you.

        First the positive for your article is the subject matter. I am complementing you for coming up with something original not the usual comments bait articles we are used to see here.

        Now for the negatives:

        1. You try very hard to use difficult language. That is not a sign of a good writer. A good writer is the one who use easy language. Take Dan’s articles for example. Simple writing is an art that is easy on the eyes but very difficulty to master.

        2. You are using too long paragraphs. This I think is caused by your usage of difficulty language which makes you use too many words to explain what you are trying to convey. Why use many words when few would do? I hope for improvement on the next part.

        I have always wanted to read your article because your criticism of others have made the expectations very high, but you haven’t met those expectations (to me anyway) with your first one.

        1. jon fox says:

          HH, I SHOULD assume from the technical faults you find in my article that you actually know a thing or two about writing an article.

          My challenge to you, therefore (I hope “therefore” is not TOO long a word for you to understand!) is to write an article yourself for all to see and comment upon.

          We can THEN all see whether or not you even know the first thing about writing, let alone enough to criticise with any credence (not too long, “credence,” I trust , at least not for those who CAN write!)

          Alternatively, I could assume you are jealous of me and do not like me, because I constantly state the truth about your personal hero, OZIL, being the idle leech he actually is!

          BTW, this is very far from being “my first” article on here across thr many years I have been on this site , nor even the first of countless articles I have hd published in countless magazines!

          1. Highbury Hero says:

            I am not a writer Mr Fox but sure I will why not? As long as I find interesting subject. How hard can it be? It’s not like you are asking me to write a non fiction book.

            1. I already said to you many times before it’s not that I don’t like you, I neither like nor dislike you as my belief is that its not possible to do that with internet strangers. I don’t know a thing about you as you don’t know about me. Nonetheless as a regular commenter I find you interesting and sometimes entertaining.

            2. I am not a fan of Ozil per se. If anyone can be called my personal hero that would be the great Arsene only. I love the man. I will always be in defense of anyone who is a recipient of unjust abuses. I stood with Ozil just like I did with the great Arsene, just like I did with Mustafi and just like I did with Granit Xhaka. And I will continue doing so, as you should if you have any decency in you.

            1. jon fox says:

              HH, Good to hear that you have accepted my challenge and I hope you find an “interesting subject” while I am still alive and on here. It would be such a shame to miss your initial article. After all, “how hard can it be”!

              1. Highbury Hero says:

                😂😂😂😂

                To quote the great Arsene: Maybe I’ll have a good surprise for you!

                1. jon fox says:

                  HH, Yes, a good article will indeed be “a good surprise for me”. As a writer myself, I really hope you DO show writing ability, as writing well is a gift not given to many.

                  Being in theatre, my real heroes are those who CREATE, eg writers, designers, sculptors, costumiers, etc but mere interpreters, such as singers and actors, even though often gifted, are merely interpreters of works by others who actually WRITE(ie create) the play, musical or lyrics.

                  Footballers and managers can also be creators of great beauty and as such are also my heroes, provided they work to their FULLEST capacity. I am sure you can read between the lines of that final sentence!

  4. Daren Hubbard says:

    I will agree to disagree the manager and players will sometimes listen to fans especially if it helps at times fans influence decision making. Arteta listens to not just fans but the players too I am glad he got promoted for that reason and he was the manager from the start anyway. Fans are not one person or one mind we all think differently as for singing I try not to do that it will hurt people’s ears and may even break glass.

  5. ken1945 says:

    HH and JF, interesting debate from different ends of the spectrum.
    Enjoying the tete et tete but don’t get too personal is my advice.

    On to the article and enjoyed the reminiscing side of it.
    As you mention Jon, if one wanted/needed to find violence, it was very easy to do so AND get away with it… from what I can recall, arrests versus violence was minimal.

    In today’s world, that just isn’t possible within grounds, as we have witnessed these morons being identified very quickly via the stadiums security cameras.
    For me, this is a welcome advancement.

    As for the one way commitment Jon, I have to say, that is a choice you have made my friend is it not?
    You chose to give up your season ticket – you chose not to rejoin any of the s/t lists – you chise not to go to the Emirates – you chose not to spend your hard earned money on any merchandise… how can you blame anyone but yourself for feeling spurned?
    It’s like having a partner, expecting them to be at your beck and call, but doing nothing in return!!!

    My experience of our club, is one of respect towards it’s fan base and the willingness to help out with any problems.
    As an example : My grandson was in the midst of taking his three year university degree in physiotherapy and he just couldn’t spend the time, or afford, his season ticket.
    He explained this to the club and they agreed to hold his s/t in situ for one season and wished him all the best as he pursued his career – he is now a fully qualified physio and attends our games with his s/t still intact.

    The moral of the story Jon?
    A partnership is exactly what it says on the box and, when that happens, the bond is a lifetime commitment.

    Great article, well written of course, no need for a dictionary and I really look forward to the next two my friend.

    1. jon fox says:

      CHEERS Ken and I really appreciate your feedback, though I still definitely think it is almost entirely a one way relationship There are exceptions and someclubs make special efforts to woo their fans and treat them well. Watford has, historically, been a good example til recent times with the constant changes there.

      I realise our club does a lot for the local community and that is praiseworthy but that is not led from the very top, ie Kroenke but by certain altruistic individuals, in other words, ordinary normal and non filthy rich people.
      It is the loveof obscene money and egreed for more and still more that I so despise, The love of money , not money itself, is the root of all evil. Trumpism for example! How very often that true proverb is misquoted by those too lazy to think deeply about it.

      1. ken1945 says:

        I do hope you get more response from this Jon, it certainly deserves it from the content.
        I also love Highbury Heroes views as a “newer” Gooner, as it shows how age groups differ in their thoughts and opinions…but the REAL reason we argue and discuss, some times bitterly, is that we care about our club, no matter how old or how long we have been around – long may it continue!!!

        1. Highbury Hero says:

          The subject of the article is very deep and touched me personally. I remember passionately retiring from being a football fan with a vow never to watch a football game again not once but twice, out of my frustration due to the manner on which we were losing but here I am.

          The writing however is not what I expected. From the way he advertised himself I expected a masterful article to rival the greatest writers in history.

          I am in my early 30s now but have two decades under my belt of being an Arsenal fan. Started late 90s and became a serious fan in the early 2000s.

          1. jon fox says:

            HH, though I am disappointed at what I see as your peevish criticism and also coming from one who has no personal previous experience in writing.

            I do nevertheless sincerely hope that you indeed WILL start to write You can clearly state your thoughts and your regular posts are undertsndable and generlly of good grammatuical standard. You do therefore have a heaed start on some on here who would call themeselves writers and I genuinely wish you well.

            I would encourage you to start as soon as you possibly can. In my own life, I try to do things while the mood is positive and I find that that helps to get things done. Putting off til tomorrow, so to speak,(as I HAVE done countless times) often means they never get done. Good luck, HH!

            1. Highbury Hero says:

              I do hope that is a sincere advice and not a bait so you can have a field day chewing a writer and his article.

              Thank you I will try my best.

              1. jon fox says:

                Perfectly sincere. I am too honest to ever play mind games. If I say something in serious tone, you may be sure that I mean it! WRITE YOUR ARTICLE AND YOU WILL FIND OUT HOW SERIOUS I AM.

                I genuinely wish you well and do so with all who are brave enough to make a serous effort. I will not deride you but encourage you. Good luck!

  6. Trudeau says:

    Interesting read. Makes me wonder how one would describe our relationship with the players. One way? Fickle? Mutual? By in large I’d say one way. We boo players at the drop of a hat when they have a bad patch and are quick to slag off home grown young players when they go through growing pains. Maybe you’ve got that covered in part three – if do, looking forward your take.

  7. Sid says:

    Great article again,Mr. Fox. Always enjoy reading your articles.

  8. Tony B says:

    Thank you Jon, always a good read.I look forward to the next
    part.

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