If there is one question I’ve been asked more times than “Are you really an Arab?” (When overheard speaking Arabic), it’s “why do you support Arsenal?”
I usually answer that wit “I just do”. But that’s because the real answer is a bit ridiculous and the explanation is too protracted: In a nutshell, I liked the logo on FIFA 2005. This commitment that has lasted over a decade is all a result of liking the design of a logo of a team on a video game. I didn’t really understand who was what in the game, how you actually played and most importantly. I realize that at the time they were one of the best teams in said game. None of that mattered to me, I simply liked the logo. Not sure how many of you have made life decisions like this one, but in hindsight, a 10 year old picking the logo that has a cannon on a crest doesn’t sound terrible.
I should preface this by saying I’ve always been a contrarian, even as a kid. When everyone supported Brazil, I supported England (And later on, Germany, because not even English people support England anymore, they’re mainly observers who like to torture themselves). When everyone liked Barcelona and Real Madrid, I liked Arsenal. On a side note: I spent a decade trying to figure out why I was treated as an outcast in social groups, and as I write this I realized it’s just who I’m: I have hipster genes apparently.
I didn’t know anyone on the team. I didn’t see them play live until 2 years later. Which coincidentally was a defeat to Chelsea in the league cup final; it should have been a sign back then that it’d be in everyone’s best interest if I supported a different team.
I didn’t actually start to watch most games until 4 or 5 years ago when I had the means to do so. I’ve only met one or two other people who support the club in Palestine, and that’s as recent as only about 2 years ago, one of whom was by total coincidence at the gym.
But here I’m, 10 years later, terrified about a game involving 2 teams from a country I’m not from, playing for local bragging rights which don’t really concern me.
I’m writing this about an hour before the North London Derby, one of the biggest games of our season. So by the time your read this, chances are I’m either a horrible mess or completely ecstatic for the rest of the day.
I love this club. I hate this club.
At this point, it’s a part of my life. And it’s so entrenched that I don’t have to watch every game or spend every hour of the day reading every article written about them to show that I care. Even if I’m just reading the scores of a game we lost, I would get frustrated by the result or if it’s a game we won I’d be very pleased even though I didn’t actually bother to watch the game; at most I’ve seen the goals or the highlights. You can usually gauge my mood on certain days by looking up Arsenal’s result.
I should stress that I don’t believe in the “like a second family” logic because if that was the case I’d have several second families for everything I like. Arsenal isn’t a “second family” and I actively despise the majority of Arsenal fans (Pretty much every fan of a club realizes that most of their fanbase is a bunch of asshats and trolls). And yet, I know that whenever I see a random guy on the street wearing the red and white shirt (or that horrible purple monstrosity from few years ago), I get the chills.
Life would be so much easier without Arsenal. We’re not always winning games, we haven’t been the best team in England since before I started supporting the team and we’re the definition of the statement “The hope that kills you”. But that’s what makes supporting them worth while: to enjoy success, to truly enjoy it, you have to taste failure (And god knows we’ve done our bit in that department). A life without Arsenal would be dull, now that I think about it. It’s like the old adage says: It’s better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all. And for me, that love has come in the form of a football club in north London.
Now, after all this heartfelt talk, you know what would be fantastic? If they boys end up giving Spurs a right ol’ spanking. But you never know with this team.
Edit: The game ended 1-1, alright I guess.