I have often said to anyone listening – and to a few who probably were not – that there is a certain magical element to football rarely encountered in other sporting environments. Although I follow various sports and enjoy all manner of different cultural (and less-than-cultural) pursuits, there really is nothing like football for its combination of excitement, intrigue, glamour, history or sporting endeavour. And that’s just a small and somewhat incomplete summary of the attractions of something that has at different times been called ‘The Beautiful Game”.
Whilst many of us have mixed feelings about the march of technology and social media in particular, this too has also worked to add to football’s magical mix. There are countless numbers of football followers who ONLY know each other through the pages of social media, be it blogs, Twitter, Facebook and the rest. Many have subsequently met up at matches as a result of online encounters. Whilst it’s usually great to get together with like-minded supporters, the main magic has in fact already occurred as technology has effectively done the hard part and made the introductions.
Whilst I can’t speak for all blogs, here at PA we have many more readers and visitors to the site than actually contribute by way of written comment. I think this is likely true of most blogs. Whilst there may be many different reasons for a disinclination to ‘join in’, sometimes it’s something as basic as the language barrier.
I myself – and I know there are many like me – have always marveled at our overseas support and the latest bit of football magic appeared recently during the sellout games in the East as local Arsenal fans flocked to the games in Indonesia, Vietnam and Japan in their tens of thousands. A little surreal? Perhaps. Unexpected? Not totally! But absolutely welcome. It also got me thinking just how many follow the club from abroad and what it must be like to do so, possibly knowing that you may never make it to the Emirates in person. For those fans, the blogs and Twitter are key sporting lifelines that create connections between those close in mind and attitude even though they may be many miles away.
By chance, I was again contacted last week by a hugely passionate and touchingly sincere Arsenal supporter from India. What follows is the word-for-word exchange I had with one I’m proud to introduce as my friend, Nidheesh. I wanted to share one overseas supporter’s experience of football – of supporting Arsenal specifically – as he expressed it via his online conversation with me a few days ago via the Direct Messaging facility of Twitter.
Nidheesh is a reader of many blogs but has previously steered clear of making comments (despite my earlier attempts at encouragement) on account of what he feels is his insufficiently strong grasp of English. I hope Nidheesh will feel ready to share his views and thoughts in the near-future but for now, he has kindly agreed to allow me to reproduce his comments here from our recent exchange. His words appear in italics with my replies following in plain text; each paragraph represents a new Direct Message:
Hi Andrew, hope u r fine… I cant help myself but ask u that, do u believe what some people here saying Cesc has become a Gunner again?
AA: Hi Nidheesh – I honestly don’t know but some who know much more than I seem to think Cesc may be returning. Have to wait and see I guess!
Thx for the reply Andrew. I am literally praying everyday for all pieces to fall in the right place come the end 🙂
AA: The foundations run deep and all our structures stand straight and tall; I’m sure we’re going to be just fine. Enjoy these times – exciting!
England is miles away from me. I may not see any of the players with my naked eyes. I wont be evn able to fly to London in my life ever…
But still I feel some telepathic kind of strng affinity for this club. I consider Arsene as a senior member of my family with admiration
Believ me when we score a decisive goal and when Arsene smiles wholeheartedly, I too is smiling inside… I am exsttic to see Arsene happy
All my glory hunting plastic club supporters used to mock me nd make fun of our miserly approach. Earlier I tried to convince them our sitn [situation]
But now I tell them, “Ya u ppl are right , wht to do?”, Bt inside I am laughing wid a feeling that says “You guys will never know this love”
When I saw the pic of all Arsenal boys sitting in frnt of the Hanoi Pagoda, I feel them as my own. I remembered what Dennis said
U don’t support a football club for its titles or tradition. U support them because u find yourselves in some corner of it.
Andrew, Sorry if I have went overboard, But lack of my English skills prevents me from expressing my love for The Arsenal to the fullest.
AA: Nidheesh – you have expressed yourself perfectly! For most of my life I lived too far from Arsenal’s stadium, never thought I’d see them
AA: for myself but eventually, after years and years, I finally got there and now I’m lucky enough to have a season ticket. So I understand you!
AA: Are you in India? What is your first language if you don’t mind me asking? How do you get to watch the games on TV?
Please ask anything Andrew, I feel honoured to have company of a match attending gooner. Yes, I am from India, from South India.
Actually, Kerala, my first language is Malayalam. We get to watch Arsenal on TV.. The premier league matches (3pm) kickoffs usually comes<<<
<<at 8.30 pm here, and the champions league matches comes at around 1.:15am.. I think we are getting the American commentary hre by Tony Gale
AA: Ah, you have to suffer for your devotion! Well the evening kick offs mean most don’t get home much before midnight which is late for those
AA: working the next day. Also, bitterly cold in winter! But all worth it. Hopefully you WILL make it over here one day, don’t give up hope. A
Never felt like a suffering at all, I am working in a post Office which starts around 8.30 am. So I can’t stay all night till 1 am for >>
ECL matches, I go to bed at around 10 pm with alarm set on 1 am, But even my biological clock has understood the occasion and wakes me up
a minute or 2 before the alarm goes, I read somewhere that if u have a strong desire to accomplish something, ur subconscious conspires u to
[make] it happen
Let me go further ahead on the story, I am an Engineering graduate, but working in public sector wich demands lesser skills, in fact
the prospect of watching the match at The Grove alone makes me motivated to achve a job that rewards me better and make life bit more [adventurous]
I remember one of ur comments elsewhere, about u getting ur father in law(was it) to watch Arsenal for the first time.. Do you remember>>>
<<the phrase u coined??? The magic wich turns a 70 year man to a 7 year old boy… 🙂
Nidheesh can be found on Twitter @Nidsenal