I could start by explaining how I became an Arsenal fan. But it does not really matter how you come to love the club. All that really matter is that you do.
In the past it was a simple matter, you supported your local club, your hometown team. If you lived in a large city you might get the choice of teams which may include some teams in the top division. But in reality your choice would have been made before you were even born. Your team was your father’s team, as it was his father’s. Generations lived in the same catchment area and supported the same team.
But things have changed dramatically in the Premiership era. There are many contributing factors like mobility of labour, the breakup of local communities. But more so it was the arrival of saturation coverage compliments of Sky, which changed the landscape. All of a sudden it was possible to follow a team from afar. You could watch a team and become attached, without ever seeing a live game; without visiting the area where the team is based; without even visiting the country where they play.
Now the old fans, the local fans, they were born into the club, like being born into a family. They were, and indeed are, stuck with the hand they were dealt, like it or not. Of course this fan was fairly happy no matter what his team achieved, because unless you live within walking distance of say, Anfield, your expectations were fixed around the level your local club had always been in the habit of delivering. Usually, not a lot. This was normal, you went to watch with your mates and just enjoyed the football and the camaraderie.
New fans have chosen their team. Fallen in love with it, sort of married it. But although you may be deeply passionate about your chosen “remote” club, it throws up some previously unknown problems. Likely, most new fans were attracted to their new remote club because it was achieving a high level of success. If the club becomes less successful, then the new fan might feel a sense of disappointment. They likely expected the success to continue and feel a sense of entitlement because they bought into the success. And they want it back. Pronto.
So now they are frustrated. What can they do? It is a bit late to change club, they are fans now, in love, in a committed relationship. They can’t go to the pub and have a moan up, because no one cares about their team, or at least very few do.
OK, here is my point now.
So there I am in Blackburn and I want to talk football but who do I talk too? I don’t know one other person in the area who supports Arsenal. None of my real life friends could care less. All I have is myself. And that is company I have never liked.
So I go on-line.
I start reading some blogs and choose to comment on the ones whose tone most suits my mood and opinions. I start putting the club to rights. Then I came across “A Cultured Left Foot” . Jackpot. A whole load of people who seem to have the same values as me.
Start posting. More posting. Endless posting it must have seemed to many. Then something wonderful happened. People start talking back. Some agreeing, some not so much, but relationships are being formed. Friends are being made and some adversaries too.
But I now have “mates” to banter with. To take the mickey out of ,or be taken the mickey of by. There are people to educate me on the history of the club, there are many who know much more about the game than me to help me understand the dynamics of the team, tactics and formations. And those who are so passionate that I am infected by it, even more than before.
Sadly, the tone on ACLF changed and I no longer fitted in. So along with some of its regulars I started this blog, around about the same time I took to twitter in a big way. The blog.and twitter, gives me what the old type fan always had. A community, friendships and an outlet for frustrations. Indeed, a feeling of involvement that was previously lacking.
So I suppose what I am saying is that in the modern world of remote fans, blogs and other social networking is a very important part of feeling part of something bigger. In our case that is The Arsenal in all its majesty.
P.S. This was an update on an article I wrote some four years ago.