“No one is bigger than the club.”
I was asked a simple and fair question on twitter some time ago by Andy Wood @yorkshiregunner .
“Tell me George, will you still support Arsenal when Arsene leaves?”
(As people continue to misquote my reply here again is the blog I wrote about it)
Now I understand that it was a snide question, a loaded question, designed to suggest that Arsene was more important to me than the club. I knew that before I answered with this:
Not for 100% sure. It would be hard to think I won’t. But I could stop. It’s like a marriage for me, not a family. If you follow?”
This of course was immediately interpreted to mean: “I will stop supporting if Arsene leaves.” Just as I had anticipated!
People then started screaming that one’s support for the club should be unconditional. “ARSENAL TILL I DIE!!”
And all the other soundbites people use.
Then they saw fit to state the obvious with gems like:
No shit Sherlock, I had missed that.
As the Twitter exchange continued, I tried to explain that I could not guarantee always supporting the club, because if it changed into something different to that I was in love with, it would no longer be my club.
This concept seemed beyond the comprehension of a few, and some claimed that NOTHING could make them withdraw their support. Ever.
There’s an irony here, in case you hadn’t already spotted it …
So I came up with the most outrageous scenario I could think of, just to test their ‘position’ and asked if they would still support the club if the following occurred:
The club is bought by the English Defence League and all our players are sold, only white heterosexuals are allowed to play for the club. Do you still support?
Almost every right thinking person would say:
“No, it’s a stupid scenario, but no.“
My point being that ALL support is conditional. It’s just the conditions that are required to be met are different, and they vary from person to person.
What some people fail to understand is that “the club” means different things to different people.
My definition of “the club” includes the playing style, its class, history and integrity. The manager, board and players are a large part of that. The whole ethos of the club is what I regard “the club” to be.
Someone told me that “the club” to him was the badge, and that is what he supported. He didn’t mention whether the badge in question was cotton or man-made, so I reserved my judgement on him.
But, nonetheless, for him, the definition of the club was different.
My main point in all of this is that regardless of your personal definition of what the club – or anything you have fallen in love with – is, if that thing you fell in love with, changes to the degree where they or it becomes something or someone you would never have originally fallen for, then it is ENTIRELY possible to fall back out of love.
And this patently includes, even, one’s own chosen football club.
Now, if you are happy to support a club, fuelled by petro-dollars, managed by a hoof-ball specialist or filled with players like Barton, Suarez, Terry, Savage, Cole and Rooney – then great. But I would find it hard to continue that support, ultimately, even if that club was my beloved Arsenal.
It would be a gradual deterioration of the relationship between me and the club, but given the perfect (and frankly unlikely) storm, I COULD stop supporting.
There has been a lot of “I want my Arsenal back” going around in recent times.
Well, I personally want to keep THIS one.
These people that claim to ‘want their Arsenal back’ are effectively saying this current Arsenal is not “their” club.
Effectively, they’ve withdrawn their support already.
This is evidenced by their relentless attacks on the club and it’s staff – on Twitter, in blogs, on radio phone-ins etc. Those individuals who have given up their season ticket have clearly withdrawn their support. They are, as a result, no longer proper pucka Gooners are they?
The anger evident in their remarks is quite possibly driven by the pain they are feeling from losing their love for the club.
Well, maybe they ARE still Gooners.But they have simply come to a point where their support has been withdrawn. Do they watch on TV instead? Or has that been given up too? Have they stopped reading the papers? Do they no longer talk about Arsenal?
If they are still Gooners, it’s clear that bit-by-bit they are losing – or have lost – their love for the club as the conditions that led them to support in the first place are no longer seemingly evident.
For THEM, at least.
Now people can say that they are better fans than me because they have supported longer, spent more money, attended more games, live in the area of the ground or because nothing could stop them supporting. I won’t argue.
I certainly won’t care what they think either.Because they can claim all day long that they are the ‘real’ supporters of the club. But the reality, actually, is that they are drifting away from the club with every attack they launch.
Finally someone said:
“Morals in football are bollocks.“
To which I replied:
“Morals are only ever bollocks to those without them.“
I however ,am the last person to judge people on their morals.That does not mean they are any less important.