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Supporting Arsenal from afar, and six new rumours

By Walter Broeckx

Sometimes if I say that I am an Arsenal fan it makes people raise their eyebrows. How on earth do you become a follower of a team like Arsenal when you live in another country.  This is a question I also have often been asked by Englishman. Well to tell you the truth… I don’t know but it is something like falling in love.  Now falling in love is not the hard thing. To stay in love that’s the hard thing.

I must confess that in the early days, 1979 that was, it wasn’t easy to follow the Arsenal from another country. For young Gooners, all over the world now, it maybe a shock but in those days, there was no internet, no ceefax on the TV,  and in my country we didn’t have the BBC on our TV.

So in the beginning there just was the newspapers. On Monday morning I could read in the newspaper: Arsenal – West Ham 1-0. No clue who scored, how the game went, just one line in the newspaper to give you a good or a bad feeling.

After visiting London with my school in 1979 we had the luck that on our national broadcaster they showed the cup final live every year. And that year we won the 5 minutes final against Man who didn’t IOU that much at the time. I still remember the three of us: my brother, a school friend and me shouting and screaming when we got that 3rd goal. After the game we made our own lap of honour in my brother’s Mini cooper with our scarves outside the car in Antwerp. Jesus Christ this looks silly now….and so long ago.

And after that I had to do again  with the one-line in the newspapers for some time. And then we got lucky. Our government decided that all those antenna’s on the roofs of houses was disgusting and they decided to give us cable TV. And even more luck later when they put on the BBC on the cable. So along came Match of the Day with Jimmy Hill. You can laugh at it now but he was my favourite TV personality for years.

And from that day I really could see the Arsenal play on an almost weekly base. It was in short versions but what the heck I was sitting every Saturday in front of the TV, well past midnight, and enjoying the victories  and bemoaning  the defeats. And so the love and the passion grew every week. But then live took over and you know “married with children” took over and I still watched MOTD but the dream of visiting Highbury got buried under the daily and costly life.

After the Hillsborough disaster then the authorities decided that stadiums had to be all seating and it became almost impossible to visit Arsenal. To go to London you then had to fly or go by train, a boat and another train to get to London. It looked as if London was on another planet.

Then things turned around for the good. The internet came, the tunnel under the Channel came, the high speed train came and most of all… the Emirates came. From less than 40.000 up 60.000 seats this was our chance. Thanks to the internet we met other fans in Belgium and Holland and we found out that the Arsenal Benelux fanclub existed. So now we go the Emirates twice a year and when we are lucky with the draw we even can go in our own country to see our beloved Arsenal.

So here I am, a father of four almost adult children, who goes with his kids to the Arsenal, who watches every game on whatever media it is possible and I must say that the love has changed over the years.

From a one-line newspaper fan to a Gooner, I give myself the permission to call myself a Gooner, that follows the Arsenal day and night. Sometimes I wonder that it is getting an obsession. I can’t go to bed without checking if everything is all right in London and with the lads. I have to write an article every day for our site in the Benelux. I don’t have to but I really feel bad if I’m not able to do so.  I share the passion with my children and in our own little community we live upon the Arsenal waves. Loud shouting and laughter when we win and a very, very quiet funeral atmosphere when we lose.

Earlier this season I even found out that my wife, who has been hating football ever since I had my leg broken in an Eduardo style tackle when we had just met, and who almost never had looked at a game of football since that bad day had been watching the whole evening at the Standard – Arsenal game on TV.  When the game was over my brother send text messages to his wife and I said to my sons: “ well your mother is in bed for some time so we don’t want to wake her up”. You cannot imagine how warm it felt round the heart that when we came home we found a note that said: “Luckily WE turned it round after that poor start “. Well it seems even my wife is getting the Arsenal feeling. That is even a greater miracle than the comeback in Liège.

UNTOLD RUMOURS

Arsenal are about to buy eight new players.  The new thinking is that we are permanently without eight players and so that has to be factored in.   The current cropped list is Diaby, Eduardo, Gallas, Van Persie, Djourou, Arshavin, Gibbs, Merida.

The KGB in Fulham have got really fed up with A Cole and have sent their elite hit squad round to see him.   They were quite amazed that when they announced who they were he started playing with his mobile phone.  “These Inglish do strange things,” said Smashyr Facein.  Mr Cole is in the North Middlesex hospital.

The FA are terribly upset about Rustenburg where apparently the squad is to be based for the World Bankruptcy Cup.   The S African authorities were non-plussed by the complaints.  “We said we would build a training centre here,” they said.  “We never said we would do it on time.   Can’t you postpone and come a little later?”

Roberto Mancity has ordered Carlos Kickerball to return to Mancheser from Argentina and start playing again.  Carlos said in an email back, “Between you and me, only one is indispensable.”   Meanwhile Ronaldiddlybo has settled back into Brazilian life and has told Roberto that he is not returning ever, never, no, not even then.  And then he won’t.   The owner, Sheikh Yerbooty, is said to be ready to walk out on the club, calling everyone “pesky foreigners” while admitting that winning the league by buying lots of players is harder than he thought, but it is not his fault.

Contrary to popular belief Phil Brown did appear on Sky Goals on Sunday.  It was just that he was sitting on the floor talking to himself about Spitty’s defeat at West Ham.

Oh and Real Madrid have said to Lord Wenger that they would like him to manage the team, and he can bring Cesc with him if he likes.

Meanwhile, on the bench

Untold Arsenal invented rotational fouling

The England captain we signed from Kettering Town.

English football heads for disaster

Magritte and the Champions League

Why did Arsenal move to Highbury, and not somewhere else?

The Porto Free Kick – the Ref’s point of view

Arsenal in 1910 – the complete story in the most wonderful book about Arsenal ever written by anyone, ever, honest, I am not kidding you.

Untold Rumours (c) The Highly Unlikely Publishing Corp. 2010

23 comments to Supporting Arsenal from afar, and six new rumours

  • Thanks Walter for nice story, especially because its the one I would tell my self (if my English would let me). I am Arsenal fan since 84th and so I was lucky to soon run in to Satellite TV era.

    At time I started supporting Arsenal, we (former Yugoslavia) had quite good league, with teams who were playing important role in European Football. Partizan played Champions Cup finals, Red Star won it, Dinamo Zagreb won Fair Town Cup (cup which was before UEFA cup).
    But thanks to my uncle posted in London as diplomat, I fall in love with Arsenal.
    But funny story came in 1989 when I went in Military Academy. After few months, my “security officers” found that I am Arsenal supporter. What was quite suspicious for those old-fashion communists. So I had to be interrogated. To answer why I support capitalistic club, do I have contact with foreigners and why. Even my good old father had to be interrogated by security police because there were obviously something suspicious.

    Today we have Arsenal supporters club in Bosnia, and even have some sport celebrities as our members.
    But still D&G brigade (even our own Bosnian) tell me that I know nothing and I don’t want good to Arsenal supporting Wenger.

  • Goonercen

    Dear Sir,
    perhaps it is a little silly that those who are from another country other than england follow arsenal, however as an aussie(now living in the uk)growing up in sydney we never played football, we played league and rugby, my school was near the canterbury bulldogs rugby league club, the manager of the club at the time was also our pe teacher and therefore cast an eye on any young talent coming through,and yes some of my friends did indeed make the grade, and 1 went on to play for NSW, so football was never on the agenda, it wasn’t untill i saw marco van basten play in the euro’s that i became very interested in football, now we have in league some exceptional players with a ball but i never saw any 1 do what van basten did with a ball with only his feet! now that i had a strong interest in football, i needed a club to follow, but i couldn’t find 1 or there there wasn’t 1 that suited me! i watched a lot of italian serie a on tv, and liked the teams very much but they weren’t for me,so i turned my attention to then spanish and english scene, i didn’t like man u for 1 reason or another, same goes for liverpool and chelsea, then came the Arsenal, and although i liked the club philosophy and family background their way of playing did little to impress me, until mr wenger came to the club! its been 13 years now and i have been to see them live whenever i can, as you say its like falling in love, i waited for the right club like waiting for the right woman, and now even though we struggle at times, and its been hard to take (last few years) i am still very satisfied and still in love!

  • Some of use really don’t realise how lucky we are.

    My father would regularly listen to live football commentary on BBC worldservice on his shortwave radio —this was is Dominica circa 1980

    One of those matches happened to be Liverpool v Arsenal, I remember his excitement as it was the the 3rd replay —something I only understood many years later. What I did understand was his disappointment when his beloved Liverpool lost. Naturally I had to fall in love with the team that hurt my dad.

    Anyway keeping up with the progress of the Arsenal consisted solely of updates on BBC sports roundup 0745hr every morning hoping to catch a scoreline or even better a match report.

    That lasted until the 90s when cable tv to a hold in our country, back then we could get a lot of football, Dutch, German, Italian(the most popular at the time), and South American leagues, all this but no English football.

    Fortunately European competition was on offer and I got to see Arsenal on tv for the first time, a 1-0 win in the ’94 cup winners cup final. A year later I started my travels (working on ships) and football viewing was sparodic until 2003 when I moved to the UK and by some quirk of fate ended up living on Hornsey Road just a short walk from Ashburton Grove…

    I’ve heard people say that real fans are those who actually pay to go see the team should think again, I know people who would hand over 2 weeks wages to buy a replica top. People who wake up a 3 in the morning to watch a game. It’s easy to be loyal when you can easily take a train ride to a game, it takes a special kind of person to be a fan from afar.

  • 'holic

    Ronaldiddlybo

    Do we share an appreciation of Seasick Steve, as well as the Arsenal, Tony?

  • Indeed we do holic. In fact I am sure that when I wrote the preview to the Chelsea game in which most of the players were blues singers I included Seasick Steve in the line up.

    But there’s something else – I guess (never checked) that Bo Diddley named himself after the one string guitar – the Diddly Bow – which is what Steve plays and sings about on his last album.

    You are talking here to a man who has a recording of the original version of “I’m so glad”.

    (Sorry everyone else – this is gibberish if you don’t know about the Hellhound on My Trail, and everything that came from there. But you could always read “Making the Arsenal” in which the very first days of the blues have an impact on the story.)

  • And back to football for a moment….

    Although I was brought up in Devonshire Hill Lane (about 3 miles from Arsenal I guess) I have spent time a long way from the ground. Three years living in Devon where it was impossible to get even the afternoon commentaries on Radio 2 because of poor reception, and no trips to London as I had two small daughters…. and a year in Algiers – which happened to be the year of the first double. I found out we had beaten Tottenham by waiting for the news on short wave, and I watched the Cup Final in a friend’s flat – it was shown on Algerian TV.

  • tim

    Walter, another fine article. I think we all have stories about when we first fell in love with The Arsenal. Our club is clearly more than just a football club. Cheers!

  • ibbs

    Came to the UK frm ghana in 1990 when i was 10,and when they showed the replay of ‘IT’S UP FOR GRABS NOW..THOMAS! became a gooner4ever.

  • Johnny

    I always enjoy reading your articles mate, and this is another quality post. I`ve been going to the Arsenal since 1983 and my oldman has been going since 1957. I`ll tell you this I wish our ground was full of fans like you everyweek, rather than some of the wankers I have to sit beside. These people support our club financially, but thats about it. They sit in their seats moaning and slagging the players off and when you try to explain to them that they are lucky to be watching this Arsenal side, instead of some of the Arsenal teams of the past they just look at you with a blank expression. They think we should beat everyone 6-0 because they have been spoilt, some of them even question Wenger`s position without realizing he is the only reason they started following the club in the first place. Anyway its good to hear from you and your readers about how they came about supporting our great club. Keep up the good work. By the way thats a blindin story Armin, good on you Gooner.

  • SharkeySure

    Brilliant article Walter…as always.

    Armin, many thanks for your comment/post…very insightful, and a very good read.

    For other issues of politics and football, look out for a book by a guy called Simon Kuper, its called ‘Football Against the Enemy’ and its very very good.

  • manas, kolkata, india

    EPL matches are shown live in India from this millenium and I, being an ardent football lover, fell in love with Wenger’s Arsenal instantly. Since my childhood I have inherited supportership of local Kolkata club East Bengal and internationally Brazil. I know the history of Brazil football since Leonidas-Ademir-Friaka’s time. But since 2001-02, Arsenal has been my passion due to their unique brand of football. Now surprisingly I have found that among my relatives there are number of Arsenal fans. Long livec Arsenal.

  • Rhys Jaggar

    Nice column.

    Tony, maybe you can run some more like this one?

  • walter

    Armin, I must say that you comment-story leaves me speachless.
    As I have known a few people from former Yougoslavia (Serbs, Kroatians, Bosnians) I know that what you tell is the truth.
    Now for us over here it may look unbelievable but I know hat feeling something for something from the West (be it a football team or even a girl) was a rather dangerous thing to do.
    I have known a young man in the late 80ties who had fallen in love with a Belgian girl that had spent a hollidy in Yougoslavia. He has told me similar stories about interrogations by the police and interrogations of his parents and familie to find out it non of them was a spy or a traitor. It was only after doing his military services and long demanding the authorities permission to come to Belgium that he finally made it.

    Now I must say that for me you really are one of the best gooners in the world. Who from us can say that he has ever been interrogated by the police and the secret police. For Gods’ sake… this is a really amazing story Armin.

  • walter

    Johnny, next home game I will be in the Emirates so if you see some older person in block 123 supporting like a madman our Gunners and singing every song, it could be me. 😉 ..er.. singing may not be the right word if you know what I mean… LOL

    Really looking forward to it.

  • Agree with every word you say. We are after all of a similar ilk. Arsenal is getting bigger by the day here in India, & hopefully a day will soon come when a fellow Indian dons the holy ‘Red & White’ crest.

    Walter, I’m sure you’d remember a post we did on being a Gooner from foreign lands. Hope you liked it.

    http://blog.emiratesstadium.info/2009/11/arsenal-and-india-all-you-never-knew/

  • walter

    I sure remember it and I really liked it a lot.
    This is one of the things that makes me so glad to be a Gooner, the fact that there are all over the world so many people who feel like we do. And maybe there are people out there who hardly ever can see a live game even on TV like we, foreigners, did so many years ago.
    Hope they get the chance of making their dream of seeing the Arsenal life, once in their live, make come true.

  • Walter, for those working-class in Asia, an airticket will cost 2 to 3-month salary.
    Let’s hope more and more budget airlines will fly to UK with airticket costing less than 200 quids!!!..lol…

    But the Cybperspace and ‘free-to-air” site like myp2p helps a lot to boost Arsenal fanbase in Asia; especially with ManIOU and Liverpool haivgn elgions of fans in Asia.
    And CL Cup is extremely important for Arsenal as it tends to give Arsenal FC a wider exposure in Asia.

    In fact, Fabregas’ importance to Arsenal FC as an iconic and charismatic figure is greater than his contribution on the pitch. A scintillating World Cup 2010, globala cknowledgment that he is amognst the world’s greatest midfielders, we will ahve a talismanic global figure, recognizable anywhere on earth, whose image rights and commercial rights will earn him way way more that his “pipsqueak” salary at Arsenal.

    Looking around, his clean-cut image, his articulation in TV interview, he cna be the “next big thing” in Asia/America where like Beckham, his shirt-selling per annum maybe enough to pay off hsi annual salary!!!

    And if Arsenal tours North-East Asia and America in 2011 summer, definitely, legions of new Arsenal fans are created.

    I detested website that derided oversea visitors as “plastic muppets” and adapted a “holier-than-thou” attitude when I deliberately wrote a piece criticising Arsenal, Arsene Wenger, etc to stimulate discussion..ending up with hard-cored Arsenal fans telling moi to check into an asylum…blah. blah…

    Therefore, I am walking on tenterhook here, curbing my instinct to write a critique on Arsene Wenger and Arsenal or creating a controversial issue for serious discussion.

    Thinking of writing a piece on “Master Chef nuturing a fatted calf for predators to feast??” relating to his conservative financing policy at Arsenal FC.

    I always love English Football, staying in England in the mid-80s at Guildford, watching live that heart-breaking moment when John Barnes’ cross was just a tad too high for Lineker to head in the equaliser at World Cup 1986.

    I was attracted first to Arsene Wenger and the French Spine, and somewhat it grew on me and turned moi into an Arsenal fan.

    Loving it and can hardly wait for Le Professeur completed his job of building his 3rd and greatest team by 2010/11 season.

  • arsenor

    Nice story,read a lot here but dont post,but this story brought back many happy thoughts,the 79 final was one of my first memories.
    unlike yourself, i was born and raised in a small area of london called Manor House N4,the deviding line between the reds and the lillywhites.In 79 i was 7 we had just won the cup,didnt really know anything about football then,except my older brother went every week to see them,well i walked round the corner to Manor House after the game,the two pubs there(the top house and the Manor House)
    was going mental,and before i knew i was in the middle of it all,
    “singing no they never”everyone everywhere singing,holding me up,
    putting scarves on me giving me bottles of coke…it was a truely euphoric moment as i can remember.My mum was mad as”wad i`d bloody tell ya bout going round there by yourself”as i came walking through the door with memrobilia hanging from my neck and arms.She still wouldn`t let me go see a game till i was about 15(Dam the 80`s and hooligunism)that being West Ham i think when Liam Brady Turned out for the àmmers in one of his last performances.that first time to highbury truely was Feaver Pitch moment.Now i get to watch more Arsenal living in Norway with canal+than i did before when i was living in London.

  • Ashish

    Nice article Mr walter.
    Same as u i am not an English (quite younger to u) but A die heart fan of arsenal from India.
    We live every moment with arsenal.
    OVER THE WORLD WHEN WE WIN,
    END OF WORLD WHEN WE LOSS.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Another lovely article Walter ,keep them coming.I admire your passion for the club and your dedication in following them from afar.I also love to read Armin’s comments on this site.I would love to read more about it in some future post.How about it Armin?
    Malaysians on the whole are very passionate about their teams in the EPL.We
    are elated when our teams win and really down when things don’t go our way.
    For the last 12 years or so we have all the live games as well as the highlights -the present generation are really lucky.When I started following the Arsernal in 1971 ,we stayed up late to listen to the BBC’s World Service football round up[this consisted of the 2nd half commentary of the featured game followed by all the full time scores].
    Monday morning ‘s newspapers would have a full page of the scores ,latest news as well as the league tables of the 4 English and 2 Scottish division.We spent hours cutting out articles and maintaining our scrapbooks
    for future reference.
    Every Sunday we would get the highlights of the games played the previous month.All the football magazines would be at least a month old when we receive them.Now everything is just a click away.
    Sorry for the length – got carried away.

  • lp

    Nice post Walter.
    I have that same problems before as i live in Sydney, Australia. Before Cable tv and internet i only can rely on newspaper. i hope in the next couple of year i could visit emirate stadium and watching the guys playing live.
    You lucky that your wife follow Arsenal. With my missus, she was sick of hearing me talking about Arsenal..

  • critic

    nice emotional article, good to see finance taking the back seat.

  • SharkeySure

    Armin, please tell us more.

    Tony, Walter, please let Armin know how well his post has been received, and also ask if theres any chance of him expanding on it!

    Many thanks