Arsenal Fans Are The Best!
We are The Arsenal, a club closely associated with classy attitudes, financial prudence and for famously decent, well behaved fans. Right?
Well, yes, in the modern era, that is essentially true, although for a relatively short time in the 1960s and 1970s we, as fans, along with the fans of nearly every other club, were swept up in the general social malaise and unrest of that era, which resulted in feral gangs who gloried in ‘unusual’ gang names and tried to terrorise the fans of other clubs.
But that was just a blip, would you not agree?
Maybe, but were you also aware that the Woolwich Arsenal were the first English League club to have their collar felt, and have their ground closed for extreme naughtiness by their fans?
This happened in the late 19th Century for a period of 6 weeks in the 1894/95 season.
It happened as a result of the Arsenal fans taking it into their heads to thump a rubbish referee after a bad tempered, violent home game against Burton Wanderers.
They believed that the referee was an incompetent, cheating pillock, although some of us might not accept that that was really a sufficient excuse to beat up the fellow, because if this vigilante attitude extended into the current era we would be exhausted with all the rigorous physical exercise involved in administering corporal punishment to every miscreant official who officiated at the Emirates, but anyway, regardless of that, it was sufficient excuse for our naughty forebears to mete out their version of justice.
The original draconian sentence proposed, as a result of this kangaroo justice, was that the Arsenal ground would be closed for the rest of that season, but a short time later, cooler minds prevailed, no doubt with a little ‘nudge nudge’ skulduggery, and that sentence was reduced, after furtive negotiations with the FA, to a relatively minor 6 weeks suspension.
The FA having set a precedent, though, then proceeded to play fast and loose with their ‘justice’ system, and after another referee bashing incident, this time by the fans of Wolverhampton Wanderers, the following season, resulted in only a teensy weensy 2 week suspension.
Surely, this was a fore runner and a clear and early example of the rough and summary justice handed out to the mighty Arsenal. Five months reduced to 6 weeks, for us, but only two weeks for Wolves. Hissssss!!
Around the same time there were sporadic ‘engagements’ between Arsenal and Spuds fans, which became somewhat ritualised and led to a lot of bad blood, which even, astonishingly, led to an ex-Arsenal player, who had been transferred to the Spuds brutally punching out the lights of an innocent Gooner who was allegedly subjecting him to “foul and insulting language”! Ahh, diddums!!
It seems to have been the custom and the ‘right’ of disgruntled Arsenal fans to verbally abuse all and sundry, the referees; the away team; the away fans; the police and also their own Arsenal team, if they were deemed to have played poorly.
Of course the social and working demography of the time was very different from today, with the majority of the population working a sould destroying five and a half day week, so their precious ‘week end ‘ meant they wanted to let off steam, while also enjoying themselves, supporting their beloved club.
Part of that enjoyment was seen as their entitlement to dish it out, having paid their precious, hard earned entrance money, and yelling at and abusing anything and anyone at the ground was par for the course.
Home team players who were seen as playing rubbish, did not have to suffer the vitriol of the modern day internet, but because the fans had an intense sense of belonging to their local club and community, any player who let themselves down by missing a ‘tap in’ or letting in a soft goal, or left the club for another club, or in any other way screwed up, were subjected to extremely volatile and painfully humiliating abuse, on the premise that they were unforgivably also letting down their local club and community.
Yes, but perfectly understandable, and all the players understood and accepted this behaviour as a fact of life.
By contrast, the rather demure and civilized expressions of disappointment and betrayal aimed at Brave Sir Robin pales into insignificance by comparison.
Our forefathers were honest, hard working, decent men, but you messed with them at your peril.
It was from those modest origins that the classy, decent, special way our club is currently perceived came about.
Long may it last.
Up The Arse!
Written by Red Arse