A post by @Swales1968
How many of the fifty five thousand Arsenal supporters that will be at the Emirates to watch the opening game of the season against Crystal Palace could be called “loyal supporters”? How many would turn up if Arsenal were in the position that West Ham or Aston Villa find themselves in season after season. Their main objective is to avoid relegation, a good cup run will treated as a second team try out and a hindrance at the expense of three points on a Saturday
So how many supporters would there be?
I started going to watch Arsenal in 1976. Attendances were good then at around thirty thousand, if memory serves me right. (If this figure is incorrect I am sorry)
In the early nineteen eighties regularly, there would be figures of sixteen to twenty thousand. On one snowy night just over fourteen thousand turned up. Yes the standard of football was poor, we were cheering when an Arsenal player had a shot, it didn’t matter that it missed, someone had a shot.
It was the period just after “Chippy Brady” went to Italy, and if you think the Dutch skunk RVP’s move to Manure was bad, it was no where near as bad as Frank Stapleton’s move in the same direction. This was the start of the bad feeling between the two clubs, reports at the time said that at the following Arsenal V Manure game at Highbury that the Arsenal board refused the normal hospitality given to opposition boards. I think this was just hearsay because the one thing that Arsenal have always been good at is to rise above such petty things (personally though, I would love to know it was true)
Anyway, I digress. Attendances? How many of those fifty five thousand would have turned up thirty years ago. Nowhere near the fifty-five to sixty thousand Arsenal get today. Expectations were lower, could Arsenal have a good cup run, could Arsenal qualify for the EUFA cup? Win the league; you’re having a laugh, not the league. It was the same level of expectation that a Spurs supporter has now.
Would the Arsenal fans standing on the old NorthBank and ClockEnd get at the players the way Eboue and Ramsey were got at by fans? NO, we laughed, please don’t get me wrong, we wanted to win, we wanted the best players. We were even happy for a game or two when Lee Chapman signed. (And for all those who think Wenger has signed the worst duds they really need to look up Mr Chapman’s career at Arsenal)
Of today’s supporters and their expectation from Arsenal, I think maybe ten to twenty thousand would be bothered to turn up if Arsenal were in the same situation as Aston Villa or West Ham. There would be more attending than fifteen thousand attending as younger fans that have no chance of getting tickets today would be able to attend.
The atmosphere would be better as these younger voices would get behind the team. The people attending would be going because they love “The Arsenal” and will go whatever position the club find themselves in.
The signs were there a couple of seasons back, attendance figures stopped being read out at the matches, people stopped attending matches even though they had already paid for their tickets and this was in a season when Arsenal finished forth(again)
This is what Arsene Wenger has done to the majority of the supporters, he has raised expectations. He has moved the club forward, a huge leap forward. And today’s supporters expect trophies, demand trophies, forth is seen as a failure without a trophy. That’s why I believe only around ten to fifteen thousand out of the fifty five thousand would be bothered to attend if Arsenal were in the same situation as Aston Villa. Fans only seem to be loyal if a trophy is on its way.
Yes, Yes, Yes, what about the eight seasons without a trophy, I can see the replies now. Look at my inbox hundreds of replies from fans saying “I stayed loyal during this period; I paid for my season ticket which went up when Arsenal wasn’t winning anything. It was a disgrace that it took that long to win something”.
During the eight seasons without winning a trophy, Arsenal have been playing Champions League Football, finished in the top four every season, they have not been relegated like West Ham they have not struggled season after season like Aston Villa have done on a very regular basis.
In the early eighties the fans’ expectations were a cup run and/or qualify for the lowest ranked European competition the EUFA cup. Clubs like Aston Villa or West Ham don’t even have these expectations in today’s league; their only aim is SURVIVAL
Under Wenger Arsenal have won trophies, qualified regularly for the Champions League and are now after a period of belt tightening and careful spending are spending again.
So the question I am asking is: –
WOULD YOU GO TO WATCH ARSENAL IF SURVIVAL WAS THE ONLY TARGET?