Written by RedArse
I fell to musing, in a slough of despondency, after the desperately disappointing results of the recent past, and wondered; why do I feel so desolate, so full of despair?
What was the cause of this aching void in my mind, and in my body, where the act of breathing, of existing from minute to minute was such a struggle? How could simple adverse results; shattering defeats, for my beloved team, Arsenal, cause me such extreme anguish?
I suppose it had its origins many years ago, back in my childhood, when, and I can be precise here, I first heard the word, the fascinatingly military sounding name, “Arsenal”. It was while sitting on my father’s shoulders at my very first visit to watch a game.
He had told me he was going to a match, and asked if I would like to go? I knew nothing about football, indeed, I had never heard of such a thing, but I would go anywhere with my dad, just to be with him. Little did I know that would be the beginning of a lifelong love affair with a club, a team who were to so dominate my very existence?
Ironically, the match he took me to was not played at Highbury, but the pre-Bates Stamford Bridge, to see something called a derby between someone called Chelsea and his arsenal. Young, I may have been, but I knew that word, arsenal. It was a place where guns, ammunition, and weapons of all sorts were made and stored. Oh yes, I was going to like my dad’s arsenal; it was every boy’s dream come true.
The old Stamford Bridge was a huge sprawling, open aired amphitheatre which was desperately in need of renovation, and we seemed miles from what was known as a pitch. Puzzled, and a little confused, surrounded by legions of people, I asked my dad where the arsenal was. At that moment there erupted around us a crescendo of sound, and there in the distance, what seemed to be little men, poured out onto the pitch in a tumultuous wave of red and white, and my dad yelled to me, over the cacophony, “there they are”, and gesticulated delightedly towards them.
My eyes opened wide in amazed comprehension that these were, in fact, the Arsenal, so beloved of my father, and who in turn would become the delight of my life.
Over the many years since then, the increasingly glorious victories, and great feats of derring do were to become the stuff of my footballing dreams. None of the vainglorious nonsense spouted by fans of other clubs, following their empty, meaningless wins, could stop me strutting around as proud as a peacock that I was a gooner and a follower of the greatest team the world had ever seen! It says so in the song even!
What cannot be denied is that those dreams, as a child, were occasionally suffused by both pain and ecstasy almost beyond my ability to bear them. A catharsis so intense, that the experience of Arsenal losing a game left me hopeless, helpless and near to tears, whereas the sterling victories achieved an euphoria impossible to describe.
There then lay the roots of my current misery, the counterbalance to the exquisite sense of well being when we win. No amount of alcohol, in my later years, could ever quench the pain of Arsenal losing.
Many gooners, I am sure, can identify with these sentiments, which helps explain the gloom evident in the Arsenal blogs of late. So let me leave you with this crumb of comfort.
Over the years, every Arsenal setback has been more than matched by a thrilling win, and the emptiness of losing has swiftly been consigned to the dustbin of history.
I would love to hear your own stories of how you treat those two imposters, defeat and victory, because whichever of them are currently in the ascendancy, our love of Arsenal will over-ride all.
We will always be Gunners!