When I lived in England I estimate that I watched over 800 games live at Highbury. Back in the early days the crowd consisted mainly of working class men hardened by the events of WW2 – typically they wore heavy leather soled boots and cheese cutter hats. At 3:00pm on Saturdays there was only thing on my family’s mind and that was, of course, going to watch and support the Arsenal.
People squeezed into the ground and pushed and shoved to get into their regular spots, ours was at the clock end and as many as 30 of our family were usually in attendance.
There was only one thing on our minds and that was to cheer on our side and barrack the referee for every perceived injustice. There was no separation of supporters so we intermingled with the away supporters; that only caused an issue when we were playing Tottenham – but even then there was rarely any serious trouble.
Very few supporters had any deep football knowledge of the game and it was rare to hear talk of things like – tactics, formations, transfers or club ownership. Instead the talk surrounded the game we had just watched and the player’s individual contributions. Media coverage was limited to newspapers, radio and early TV.
During the 60’s media coverage got more intense and fans began to read, hear and see more details about their own team and football in general. We began to see interviews with players and managers and heard about potential transfers and started to learn more about transfers and tactic’s – all of which was positive.
Fast forwarding to the current situation and we have intense 24/7 world wide instant media coverage and are inundated with the “expert” opinions of pundits who are usually ex players who dissect every aspect of the game. In order for these media outlets to survive and prosper they have to attract and grow audiences – one method they use is to pull in readers/viewers by creating self fulfilling headlines and show previews. This has both positive and negative consequences; some see through the thin veneer of fact and form their own opinions while others believe it as though it were the gospel.
While I have not set foot inside the Emirates stadium I’ve watched every single game on TV and as the years without winning either the PL or CL has grown so has the chorus of discontent. Our away supporters continue to be behind our team and show an amazing level of support, while our home fans are far less accepting and they make their negative feelings known.
My headline is intended to invite open dialogue on the positive or negative influence that our home support has on our players and therefore our results?