I scratch my head trying to rationalize the changing moods of football fans around the world. In my youth your football team and its players were god-like figures who were held in the highest esteem.
We kids were in total awe of the players, our imaginations were stimulated by the few occasions we saw our teams on TV. Most of the families in our area were too poor to spend their hard-earned money on going to a game of football, so all we had were our scrap books which were full of black and white pictures cut from the Sunday newspapers. Each week we would cut out the latest standings and pin them up in the kitchen, and we’d spend hours figuring out where we were most likely to finish – which was usually around mid table.
When my Grandfather took me to my first game at 10 years old, I was already a seasoned supporter but getting inside Highbury changed my life and meant that I simply had to see every game, but with no money I had to be very resourceful, and I was, rarely missing a game despite getting severely scuffed knees, torn trousers and chased by stewards.
The managers were talked about with reverence and we always wondered how they could be so smart and wondered where they gained the knowledge to run a football team. Names like Herbert Chapman, George Allison and Tom Whittaker were spoken about in awe during our family discussions; their accomplishments were debated and the comparisons created much banter, most good natured, but not always.
From Tom Whittaker’s last League trophy in 1952/53 we went through an awful period of only winning 3 trophies in the next 36 seasons – until George Graham won the League title in 1988/89. It was during that period that our managers and teams came under a lot closer scrutiny and strong “anti” opinions started to form.
Team finances were never discussed, after all, we were not clever enough to understand them and it was none of our business anyway. About the only time the amount of money spent came to light was when a transfer figure was revealed. Nobody knew or even cared about team finances – that was always considered to be only the club’s business and usually it was kept under wraps. I cannot ever remember one single discussion with my family, friends or other supporters that revolved around finances.
Talking about transfers the only time we knew about them was when they were announced. There was seldom media talk about potential transfers during the season – and transfer windows never existed, players came and went at any time during the season. We were always envious of some of the wonderful teams that came to Highbury and of their great players, frequently wishing that we had been fortunate enough to have those players at Arsenal, but that was the club’s business and not ours. You see our business was to support – and that is what we were good at so we stuck to it.
So what has happened to supporters?
Today it would appear that every Arsenal supporter is an “expert” on everything and they have earned imaginary degrees in every subject pertaining to football. These are known as “Red Top” degrees, and are earned firstly by being able to read and secondly by believing everything you read.
We originate from groups of hunters and gatherers
Gatherers believe that we will only be sustainable by building a solid foundation and saving some of the yield from a good harvest in anticipation of periods where there may only be a good yield in 3 of 36 seasons.
Hunters believe that they should always have a great catch and so they save nothing for the possibility of future needs and therefore they suffer greatly during the periods when there isn’t a “Trophy Catch” to brag about.
Wow GN5, you could have lit the fuse to a very wide discussion on the merits/pitfalls of media/info access/manipulation
I love the new era of more decentralized open-source information, but, it has to be used carefully.
In this sense, football fans have way more info available, whether they like it or not, but when I said “used carefully” what I really mean is don’t let it cloud or ruin your enjoyment of Arsenal and football
ie….filters deployed 🙂
I thought it was Chas at first and wondered how has he come up with yet another idea for a post but no I was wrong. I like the new angle.
‘Red Top degrees’ I hadn’t heard of that before, makes sense though.
Personally I think I preferred it how things used to be when supporters just turned up on a Saturday grateful there was a game on.
I preferred the Hill-Woods when they were just some names who appeared on Club documentation. Much better than when they appeared at AGMs and proved how out of touch they really were. One advantage of Kroenke buying out Usmanov will be getting rid of AGMs. Thankfully the AST will sink back into obscurity.
I also preferred it when fans didn’t video themselves while watching games, thereby achieving a hideous kind of 21st century ‘celeb’ notoriety by monetising criticising the Club. Much better when fans only knew of other fans because they owned the loudest voice(s) on the North Bank.
I also know that I’m very much part of the “Information Age” but sometimes despair at how it’s used to manipulate and control people in ways unimaginable in previous times.
GN5 – a pleasure to read!
A “Gatherer” with “Hunter” tendencies ( belief we will always win somehow!) And the hunter comes as a consequence of two totally different men – GG and AW.
That statistic of three trophies in 36 years is a phenomenal one and should be quoted to all who introduce themselves as ” Arsenal to the core. Supported them all my life. I’m 34″. Coincides with much of my supporting history and takes me back to all those years of queuing up at turnstiles; getting the Evening News and Evening Standard at five o’clock from the local shop for our Dad and seeing us halfway up the table as usual; lost Finals.
That’s why the Fairs Cup and Double stand out so vividly, of course.
I do pine for some of the old things – the usual. Proper tackling, players with heart and soul, referees who were not seen or heard, David Coleman not Alan Smith. But generally, although I may have mellowed about many things in life with age, my greatest joy is none of the passion, partisanship, rose coloured spectacles about footie and The Arse has changed one iota.
Thanks guy’s I wrote that post several years back and never did anything with it, thanks for the embellishments Chas.
I’m obviously the oldest among our small group but having been involved in the technology industry for over 30 years I’m fully aware of the pro’s and con’s of life before and after any forms of advanced communication and social media.
From a house in Highbury with no electricity or internal running water in the 40’s to a current day modern condo with all of the up to date amenities I’ve also experienced the before and after on a very personal basis.
In a nutshell my heart remains in the 40’s but my head is now in the 2000’s
Hahaha, the press/social media has been full of ‘Wenger to Bayern Munich’ stories this morning because the German club announced an emergency press conference at 12 today.
It turns out they just wanted to have a go at the press for slanderous criticism of the poor Bayern players because they’ve only won 4 of their first 7 games.
This is 21st century press/media reporting at its finest.
I have a feeling that he will be announced as the manager of the German national team on Jan 1st.
Rocky Rocastle, a black panther of a player, with a true Arsenal heart. A true loss to the World.
When I was looking for a photo of the old turnstiles at Highbury, I couldn’t find one.
In the end I took a still from this. It’s always worth another look.
Chas I just sent you a couple of emails.
Fascinating stuff GN5
The balance between humility and unprofessional smarty arseness is a delicate one that I believe I have mastered.
For example, the other day I visited my local chemist Mr Shah to enquire about a new hair loss treatment that recently appeared on the BBC . “Yes Mr Shah, its a sort of drug thingy that treats people with pains in there joints, apparently a load of people who don’t like working get it, but now its been proven to give you a Tom Cruise hairline and a fat Giro cheque. Have you heard about it?”
Looking a bit perplexed he asked whether I could elaborate. “i will try but I don’t know much. Apparently it has a regenerative effect on the mitochondrial cells within the bulbous stem of the hair follicle. Under close and studied observation, the new cells quickly convert to a mesenchymal state inducing a an almost embryonic neogenesis effect.It also adds a fiver a week to your dole payment. But i know nothing Mr Shah, and believe that Manuel from FawltyTowers may be my father?”
The next time I walked int Shahs he quickly scurried to the back and let his daughter deal with me. An obvious sign of humble respect.
Football is no different to any other profession. The unprofessional always has an opinion, which from experience usually fails to see the broader picture.
A football example is an encounter I had with our record appearance holder David O’Leary. it was just after we had beaten QPR away. “David, you played really well and thanks for your great service” he thanked me for the compliment and I then added.”The only problem is that your positional play when we have the ball is flawed, leaving us exposed to swift counter attacks during transition. Your probably responsible for Steve Walford having a crap career”
it was i then discovered that O’Leary.had a very short and uncalled for temper and in later years as manager of Leeds noticed a similar rage when questioned about positional play, or anything else for that matter.
Yes, we must be humble in our football critique. We are after all only amateurs. indeed, in the latest book I am writing “Arsenes flawed tactical approach” I explain how Arsene got his strategy horribly wrong and how I know nothing about it.
Terry you are just priceless and AA misses your unique sense of humour. Thanks for giving me yet another reason to laugh out loud.
Love it that Dick’s footballing hero is a Real Societal player called “Ufarte”. Surely someone told him!!? His nickname was “little devil”, but probably not for that reason!!
Panned by the critics, good reason to go and see “Bohemian Rhapsody” next week. The story of one of the greatest groups of all time led by one of the greatest rock icons. Certainly the best group I ever saw live.
excellent gn5, thank you
That was a GREAT read!
Thank you for taking the time to find that gem and polish it up for us amateurs.
Got some years in as a fan, not even close to GN5, and never got to experience those raw feelings as a child by attending a game, but have watched from afar in the states as futbol has always been a second, third and fourth class citizen. And yet, I only had to endure over a little over a decade of the misery following the Arsenal through the 33 years of just being a fan. On this side of the world, I can understand those feeling those as I am a Lions fan by association to my better half.
Again, thoughtful and insightful for all to read regardless of generation, as it provides a clear and contextualized lens into the 40’s and beyond.