Written by Red Arse
I am a fan! Like many Arsenal fans I call myself, with a great deal of pride, a ‘Gooner’. This clearly identifies me as a fan of the greatest footie club in the world. I bet you do too.
But here is the thing. Although the behaviour, the thought processes and the values of many who also call themselves Gooners chimes very closely with my own ideals, there are many others who seem to have decidedly different views of what constitutes a real fan. We cannot all be called fans, can we?
So, let’s see; who is the real fan?
Excitedly approaching the Emirates on a match day, with the noise of the crowd and, the occasional whiff of sweaty mankind, combined with the oniony smell of greasy hotdogs, you quickly become immersed in an environment recognisable to all fans from childhood.
At the game, when we take our allotted seats, we are immediately aware there are strong visual signals that all fans are indeed not the same.
Over there, behind the goal, are a group of shirtless wonders proudly flashing their six packs, or fat bellies, depending on your view point, while they drink copious quantities of beer and laugh with their mates. Next to them are men and women of indeterminate age, solid, experienced, proudly wearing their club scarves, hats and shirts, the love of their team shining out of their eyes. These are out and out fans, who attend games come rain or shine, are always enthusiastic, always willing to sing and chant and always encourage their team, come what may. The life of any club!
Over to their right are some very respectable looking young guys braying like donkeys over some indecipherable private joke, who probably only attend games once in a blue moon courtesy of a business contact. Perhaps fans of convenience?
Just a couple of rows behind them is sitting a rather harassed looking father trying to calm a couple of young munchkins with painted faces, smartly bedecked in club shirts, who are busily slurping Cokes and jumping on and off their seats. These are the fans of the future, already exposed to the opiate of Goonerdom!
Over to the left, again, there is a bevy of young women, faces aglow, scarves worn jauntily around their necks, chatting animatedly to their beaux, and giggling their denials of lust for the players’ thighs, or nether regions. These are the breeders of the young fans of the future.
Higher up in the stands are the alumni, students out to enjoy themselves, with their club scarves, and bobble hats perched precariously on their mops of hair. Perpetually fidgeting, yelling and bursting with animal spirits, they never remain still and unceasingly shout out their support throughout the game, while loudly deriding the opposition with scatological glee as well as assuring the referee he has no father! These will be the senior fans of the future.
Then over there, in the plush areas are the ‘respectable’, prawn sandwich fans in their smart suits, sipping wine and laughing like hyenas at some indecipherable private joke. These fans are here to be entertained and remain seated at all times, while politely clapping any goal attempt but, of course, never indulging in the common man’s singing or chanting. Fans? Well, their dosh is important to the financial stability of the club, so let it go!
For me, my love and support of the club is unconditional, and I have probably been many of these different types of fan as I grew from an awestruck child to manhood.
What type of fan are you? In truth, I don’t suppose it matters. We all love the Arsenal!
Perhaps the following sums up what being a fan means to us!
A young man was watching football. He noticed an empty seat in front of him. It was a better seat than his, so at half-time he went down to the empty seat. He asked the old man sitting next to it “Is it okay if I sit here?”
“No problem”, said the old man. “It was my wife’s seat, but she’s dead. We’ve been to every home match together for 40 years, and we always had these two seats.”
A tear rolled slowly down the old man’s cheek.
“Don’t you have a friend, or someone from your family, who’d come and sit with you?” The young man asked, gently.
The old man wiped his eyes and said, “Yes, but not today. They are all at my wife’s funeral.”
Reference:: Sikh Philosophy Network http://www.sikhphilosophy.net/showthread.php?t=22838