Football is often associated with masculinity and a drinking culture. by Alfie Culshaw
Well, Arsenal fans. Football has forever been portrayed as the sport in which, the hard, tough men would use as forum for ‘lad culture’. Get up early on Saturday, then down the pub for a few pre-match beers with your mates, all wearing the same Nike trainers, walk into the stadium drunk, mouthing abusive chants to the opposition, return to the pub after the game and down a few more pints before getting in a scruff with another fan in the streets. This is still the pattern of several fans match day experience up and down the country today. Take the England fans in Amsterdam in March; “get your tits out for the lads” they sang to the only woman present at that specific lock in the Red Light District. This is a perfect representation of the stereotypical football fan.
However, the arrival of Arsene Wenger at Arsenal in 1996 may have altered this forever, enlarging the football fan base, particularly in the UK. The Frenchman created a whole new variety of British football fans, establishing a community of the more intellectual and analytical kind within the game.
Like me for example. Although not an outright nerd, and certainly not part of the stereotypical type, I may not have been a football fan was it not for Arsene’s intervention in English football and culture. He made the game beautiful. He showed how eloquent football could be, combining this style of play with his class and mannerisms, he revolutionised English support, widening it to a larger audience, and introducing a whole new type of football fan to Britain. He opened the eyes of those who may not have previously been interested, those who would’ve rather induced their thoughts into Politics or Economics, but were presented to another form of social science in Football.
This ultimately meant that the game benefited substantially by the creation of a new breed of fan, one that would look at the game potentially in a different way, but with the same passion. It also may have reduced this masculinity within football, widening the sport to a greater female or homosexual fan base. Although football has always been a very inclusive sport, popular and available to enjoy amongst any class or ethnicity, Wenger increased this inclusiveness dramatically in this country.
Personally, having been born after Wenger was appointed manager of Arsenal Football Club, I am not to know whether I would’ve been a football fan with or without him. But, as I have eluded to previously, it is likely that I may not have been so devoted and enthralled by the game without his presence. So for as much as I have criticised him in the past few years, I will forever be grateful for this, more than the titles and success’ of his first ten years, as these occurred too early in my life to remember.
This is why Arsene Wenger changed football in this Country forever.