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Loving a football club is like falling in love

By Walter Broeckx

I have on a few occasions suggested that choosing a football club is the same thing as choosing a wife. You fall in love with it/her and even sometimes the reasons are not really understandable. Some people may not think she is beautiful but for the man who chooses his wife he sees what nobody else sees.

I chose Arsenal when I saw them loose my first game at Highbury. But still I picked the ugly duck and not the then beautiful swan.  Why? I don”t know, it just happened to me. I even picked the wrong colours as Wolves (the visitors that day) played in the same colours as my local club did.  So colour wise I should have been more attracted by them. But still I picked the Arsenal.

In fact the Arsenal colours where the colours of our biggest rival club in those days. So I should have felt an aversion for that team playing in red and white. And yet I did felt it was Arsenal that I should support. So it is very much like falling in love with a woman.

Some are attracted by blond woman and then suddenly find themselves in love with a black haired woman. Some like tall woman and suddenly fall for a short woman. Why? Well they don’t know, it just happens.

So it also happened to me. In 1979 I fell in love with Arsenal. And the same year I fell in love with the girl who is still my wife. My wife knows that I have a long lasting relationship with Arsenal and has accepted it.  I really wouldn’t think she would accept any other form of relationship and couldn’t really blame her.

But she knows I love Arsenal an her and that those are the two big loves of my life. And my children of course but that is another form of love.

Now the thing is that after all those years I still love my wife (and Arsenal) and that I am still very happy that we met and got married (same goes for Arsenal).

Some people will nod in agreement when I say that being married to a woman is not always a fairytale. Over the years we had arguments, disagreements on different things (Arsenal amongst them in fact). There were times that it looked as if our love was slowly disappearing. There were moments when her bad things overshadowed her good things. And there were moments when my bad things overshadowed whatever good things I have in me but that not really are that visible for myself. There were moments that  I doubted that our love would last. And if there are people out there who haven’t had those feelings in their married life I think they might have forgotten something or they are lucky. Very lucky. Very very very very lucky.

Now when faced with such a moment there are two things you can do.  You can stick with her because you still love her.  You can stick with her because you know that behind that temporary bad temper you see there is that great side of here. There is that side of her that cares for you and still wants to make you happy. Even if it isn’t obvious at that moment. There were times when things were said that cut me like a knife. And I have said terrible things that must have broken her heart.

So what is the connection with football you may ask yourself? Well there is the fact that I fell in love with a football club. And that by doing this I started a life long relationship with this club. After the first loss I was lucky to see Arsenal pick up a trophy as they won the FA cup in the 5 minute final later that year.

And then Arsenal was like a marriage. Good seasons and bad seasons. Big disappointments and great joy. It was like in a marriage: in good times and in bad times. I’ve stayed with the club in the bad times and have witnessed the good times. I am ready to accept bad times. Because, well, I know that one day Arsenal will give me more good times. When? Well that is not important in fact. I know we will have good days(seasons) again. That is part of it.

Do I want them now? Yes of course I would want them now. But as we are talking about marriage I could say that a win is like having great sex with your partner.  Would I want to have it with here every day? Of course. I would like Arsenal to win each game they play but well that isn’t possible.  I know this and I can accept it.

In good and in bad I have stayed with my wife. In good and in bad I will stay with my Arsenal. And scoring (you can take that in more than one meaning) is not that important. What is important for me is to look beside me and see my wife. Even when he have an argument I can sometimes think in my head that I love her. The same can happen when we lose a game. Even during the most painful defeat I can say to myself: no matter what, I just love this club.

But what if my wife made me unhappy for 24 hours a day? For 7 days a week. Each day of each month. If she would make me unhappy each day of my life…..then I would leave her. I don’t want to be unhappy each day of my life. I want to be happy with her. I want to share a laugh. I want to see a smile and I want to smile. But if she really would make me unhappy all the time it would be better for me and for her to end our marriage.

So if the football club you love makes you unhappy all of the time then I wonder what the point is of keeping that relationship going. People can divorce form their wives and this takes a few legal steps to achieve. But divorcing from your football club is the simplest thing in the world. You just shut them out and that’s it. You just don’t put on  the TV when they are on. You just stop going to the stadium. You just stop it. As you could stop with your wife.

Why do you want to feel unhappy every day of your live when your football club is around? I don’t think it is worth it. Nobody deserves to be unhappy every day of their live. Live is too short to let it be ruined be it by your wife or by your football club that you love(d).

My lesson is that you just should try to enjoy it. Don’t be too unhappy about each and everything in life. Don’t worry, be happy. Even after the darkest night the sun will come up in the morning.

——————————–

The books…

The sites…

31 comments to Loving a football club is like falling in love

  • avatar Sime

    Beautiful piece! Go Gooners!

  • avatar Gerry Lennon

    Too true, Walter. I ‘clicked’ about 20 years later, when they needed the win away at Liverpool … although it was not ‘consummated’ until much later.

  • avatar The font

    Although my life runs parallel to your blog it may be hard for some of the younger fans to grasp the concept

  • avatar Ram

    Awesome writeup… something the hate mongers on myles palmers site and le-grove should read, but not sure if they would understand the crux of your article…

  • avatar Asif

    Lovely piece Walter…straight from the heart! I too think that my partner and Arsenal are the two biggest loves of my life and no matter what happens personally to me I wish the best for them always.

    (In fact there is a corelation – whenver my girlfriend is ticked off at me…Arsenal tend to do badly! So I always try to keep her happy…moreso on matchdays :-))

  • avatar Pete

    And the Gooner these days. Read an article on Monreal – which was objective and generally positive (as it should have been). The first 10 or so comments somehow diverted from the point of the article to slag off Wenger/the club. When someone politely pointed this out he too was jumped on. What is the point? Why so much negativity?

    My personal feeling is that things are coming together and we are turning a corner this season. I think we have a realistic chance of 3rd – but even if we finish 5th, 6th or lower it is not the end of the world!

  • avatar Brickfields Gunners

    Thanks for this Walter,it got me speechlees for a while. What comes from the heart goes to the heart .
    May both your loves keep you happy and contented.

    “And what is better than wisedoom (wisdom)? Woman. And what is better than a good woman? Nothing.”
    Geoffrey Chaucer ( 1343 – 1400 ).
    Cheers !
    Have to log out now – its 5 pm !

  • avatar The font

    My mate who is big gooner his wife left him for a man. U fan he pointed out she would not like living in manchester she said I agree but I will like living in surrey

  • avatar nicky

    A nice thought, Walter, to associate the love of Arsenal with a marriage.
    In my book though, the real love of our great Club comes from those fans who live in the far flung parts of the Commonwealth as well as foreign lands, who have never seen and will never see their heroes play and who follow them via the newspapers, magazines, possibly satellite TV and word of mouth. These fans talk amongst themselves as though members of our team are personal friends and they are masters of statistics and biographies.
    These then are the true supporters whose daily lives are coloured by the latest news from the Mother Country about the scores, injuries and transfers affecting Arsenal FC.
    Those of you reading this, who regularly watch the team in the flesh, have no idea how lucky you are compared to fans overseas, many of whom would regard a visit to the Emirates,
    just to stand outside, as being the pilgrimage of a lifetime.
    Count your blessings, you season ticketholders, you may not believe it but you are the most fortunate of folk.

  • avatar jax

    Love a football club? Been there done that but now wouldn’t waste my affections on something that isn’t even aware of my existence other than as a statistic in a membership or season ticket scheme…..and not even that any more. They’ll always have my support but never my love. Love your family, car, dog (if it takes your fancy). But a football team? Meh!!

  • avatar Georgaki-Pyrovolitis

    Steady on Walter and co…It’s just football…entertainment…wives/partners are much more than that….

  • avatar Sharpshooter

    Yeah, being an Arsenal fan it’s like being married… But we shouldn’t forget there are a lot of people who abuse their wives.

  • avatar steve

    @Pete gave up on the Gooner last year the afcforum gives a better balanced view with some good discussions

    http://www.afcforum.co.uk/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=4404

    hope you dont mind the plug Walter, I do plug this site on there :-)

  • avatar Adam

    Yep, can definately see the comparisons.

    Little or no comunication at times.

    Won’t perform when frosty.

    Puts up a juvenile defence.

    Yep, can definately see the comparisons.

  • avatar highamsparkgunner

    Hi good afternoon
    a bit of topic
    but i am looking for tickets for the away leg of the Bayern Munich . There are 5 of us going and we have everything booked but unfortunately no tickets as allocation sold out
    straightaway to the first qualified group of fans.
    I would really appreciate if there are any spares going ?
    If so i am on twitter as highamspkgunner –
    thanks for reading
    Dan

  • @Walter good piece. If you look in the archives i have been telling all who want to hear that if you feel like you don’t want the team fuck off i mean its just simple.
    Its not like a divorce where you need to sign this and that.My wife was manure but she saw that i loved Arsenal and the only she would make me happy was to be on my side.29years in marriage and still counting but we do have ups and downs but we still love each other.One problem though my kids one is a Liverpool and the other is a manure talk of the devil.

  • avatar Gooner S

    In these times of recession and expense to see a football game, not just Arsenal but any game, just try to enjoy it and the players on view from both sides.

    I learnt that lesson after Michael Owen mugged us at Cardiff. It was a cracking day with the wrong result but I thought to myself then that I wouldn’t let it spoil my day. It took me years to work that out.

    Not to say that the odd expleative doesn’t get uttered during a game, or that I don’t get dissapointed after a poor result but it’s more fleeting now.

    @Walter To carry on your analogy. I wonder how many Arsenal fans married for looks :-)

  • avatar Gord

    WRT Arsenal.com redesign

    If there was a need to change things to work with smart phones and other small display devices, I think it would have been better to do so through a URL under arsenal.com. Such as http://www.arsenal.com/mobile.

    But, to visit that website today, I find I have horizontal scrolling present, which I detest. Maybe the website will grow on me. It is significantly different than the old design. I would not say it is an improvement.

    It doesn’t change how I feel about the team.

  • avatar bob

    “Don’t worry, be happy.”
    Walter,
    (This from bob, not Bob, as you well know.)
    If you had copyrighted that expression, you would have had a hit song years ago. But sometimes, and to many people with open eyes, it is whistling past the graveyard. There are current problems to call problems in order to correct them, as they should have been. And to say so, from the heart, is also love. (As you practice, regularly, with your ref reviews.)

  • avatar WalterBroeckx

    Kampala, how unlucky can you get… it must have been while breast feeding that she passed that on I think….

  • avatar Arsenal1Again

    People thought it was funny my wife only got sex when Arsenal won. Foruears she told people going is not going home on days when Arsenal lost.

    For some people Walter, football is entertainment, exciting, a hobby, a pack mentality thing, just a game or a way to fit in. For me, it has been my life and an obsession. It is borderline OCD and to this day Arsenal is the most likely thing somebody will mention when having not seen me for a long while. I am always associated with Arsenal and I waste no time to rib people when their teams lose. As for my wife I have not spoke to her for 3 years, whereas I could not go a week without seeing my Arsenal. I watch archive games when there are no matches but I do not get a photo out of my wife. My wife used to say I love Arsenal more than her and I said, “I know.” I was never allowed to forget those words so I guess Walter my wife saw Arsenal as another woman. I will divorce her when I get round to it but I will be Arsenal if we drop 3 divisions, there will always be Arsenal. I moan about Wenger like I would the boss of my wife if the results of her behaviour at home made me unhappy, so there is another comparison. Knowing we became Arsenal fans the same year is an eyebrow raiser, though I was Eleven years old then.

  • avatar A. Stewart

    “Now when faced with such a moment there are two things you can do. You can stick with her because you still love her. You can stick with her because you know that behind that temporary bad temper you see there is that great side of here.”

    Actually everyone who is married or has fallen in love knows that decisions cannot often be over-simplified into two choices such as either stick with her because of this or that, marriage/love like love for football club is often and necessarily complicated and complex.

    “And then Arsenal was like a marriage. Good seasons and bad seasons. Big disappointments and great joy. It was like in a marriage: in good times and in bad times. I’ve stayed with the club in the bad times and have witnessed the good times. I am ready to accept bad times. Because, well, I know that one day Arsenal will give me more good times.”

    Sorry there is little correlation there with marriage/love.. If things go sour in marriage/love good times are not necessarily “one day” on the horizon again, like the cyclical nature of football (hence high divorce rates). Anyway, with regards to accepting the bad times, and I’ll add “blindly” doing so just because of “faith” in the good times coming again, doesn’t mean that someone who isn’t willing to accept the bad times without complaint loves the club any less than you do. Ironically, this in the context of love/marriage this is more analogous to an abused wife accepting her abuse in blind hope and faith that she’ll be treated well again at some point, and whether you agree with them or not, some real genuine Arsenal fans feel that the club no longer cares for them in the genuine manner they once felt it did, but many would rather label them as blasphemous than rather be compassionate with their grievances.

    “But what if my wife made me unhappy for 24 hours a day? For 7 days a week. Each day of each month. If she would make me unhappy each day of my life…..then I would leave her. I don’t want to be unhappy each day of my life. I want to be happy with her. I want to share a laugh. I want to see a smile and I want to smile. But if she really would make me unhappy all the time it would be better for me and for her to end our marriage. So if the football club you love makes you unhappy all of the time then I wonder what the point is of keeping that relationship going.”

    You unknowingly contradict yourself here with this analogy. Because on one hand you accept the cyclical nature of football, and most fans do too, in that there will be ups and down, periods of good and periods of bad, such is the nature of the game and if not sport in general (especially for the richer teams like us who will have more ups and successes relevant to their wealth). Thus even if you (falsely) perceive that these fans are unhappy all the time, so why don’t they just end the relationship, it’s betrayed by your previous musing that there will be ups and downs, and father betrayed by (as previously pointed out) the incorrectly making it analogous to “accepting” bad times in marriage/love because one day good times may/will come again (if that’s how it works in your relationship that’s really good), which modern society proves often is not so (hence high divorce rates).

    “But divorcing from your football club is the simplest thing in the world. You just shut them out and that’s it. You just don’t put on the TV when they are on. You just stop going to the stadium. You just stop it. As you could stop with your wife.”

    I think you let yourself down with this here to be honest, and it points to a lack of awareness of as I mentioned before the necessary complexities in a relationship with a football club, that you can’t seem to appreciate in your black or white contextual arguments. Moreover there is a huge separation between the CLUB and those running the club (its current policies and its transients), just the nature and definition of the transients (owners, players, managers) is often precisely what makes a fan who is unhappy with them still very in-love with the permanent institution, because at some point they have to change, have always changed, and regularly change over the course of a lifetime while the club, that is, the permanent institution REMAINS!

    “Why do you want to feel unhappy every day of your live when your football club is around? I don’t think it is worth it.”

    Pretty condescending and patronizing, I’d bet most people who have a “moan” at the current situation of a football club they support, are otherwise happy in many areas of their life.

    Anyway, as opposed to marriage/love a more apt analogy with regards to supporting a club is that in supporting a Country:

    In that you can love your country unconditionally patriotically, and disagree with those currently running it, their policies, their governance and their various staff. Moreover like most of the world’s citizenry, not “spending 30 years in government” doesn’t in anyway make them feel that their opinion is any less credible or genuinely motivated out of love for their country in the way they feel best. Which is pretty much the point of this exercise, being divisive and painting anyone with opposing views as being AAA.

    A poetic post no doubt, but misplaced in my view.

  • avatar Rufusstan

    I definitely agree that the relationship we hold with Arsenal is as deep as something like marriage. I’d even go as far as saying its more a penguin than human connection– Most of us mating for life.

    Where I differ is in the idea of falling in love. For me at least, my connection came at an even more fundamental level, to the point that I would not even call it a choice.

    To give you an idea of what I mean, some factors in my connection to Arsenal:

    One of my earliest memories was lying in my cousin’s bedroom, studying his poster of the ’71 double side, trying to memorize them all. Another is going to Highbury with a bunch of Uncles and my cousin, sometime before my 10th birthday. On my Father’s side of my family, he is the only one who does not support Arsenal, On my mother’s side, they all support Arsenal, stretching back 4 generations. I remember watching the ’79 cup final in a room full of my relatives, all going nuts as Brady’s pass slotted through to Sunderland, and well, you know the rest.

    I was going to say I had been indoctrinated; as if I had grown up in a cult. That is probably going too far. Its more like as a kid, if your parents are Jewish, or Muslim then so are you.

    In any event, I cannot say when I became an Arsenal fan, because I cannot remember not being one. By the time I was old enough to even make a choice; it was far too late. I suppose I was lucky that for me it was Arsenal, and even during the 80’s there was no thought of change; by then they were my team.

    It is funny. We always wonder how on earth there are Spurs fans but Considering my history, there but for the grace of God………I’d like to think I could have seen the error and come to the light side; but who knows.

  • avatar Brickfields Gunners

    @ Nicky – Thanks for the kind sentiments about us who are afar but still worship the Arsenal without reservations( or expectations) of any kind .
    Some may think us crazy especially as we don’t seem to care for the local fare !
    How could we as it was badly tainted and poisoned and I for one would not be at all suprised if the ongoing match-fixing invstigation implicates my countrymen .
    It’s happened before in a mass scale and in all probablity happening now .

  • avatar Brickfields Gunners

    A big LIKE to the comments of @ The font , @ Asif and especially to @ Arsenal 1 Again .
    As the games are played usually around 11pm (or later)here,
    part of my pre-match “warm up” includes ‘a bit of slap and tickle” with the wife in the afternoon ,so that even if Arsenal were to lose ,at least I’d received some joy earlier !
    Being somewhat superstitious ,for the last few years ,I’ve stop watching the CL games which are shown live here so as not to jinx the team – as in the games that I had watched earlier ,Arsenal lost or drew .But sex was a prerequisite for a good outcome !
    Which brings me to CL 2006 – I followed the above without fail, and lo and behold – we were in the final!On the night of the final , my mind being preoccupied and apprehensive , and she not being in the mood ,well , let us say it was not a good performance !
    To compound this ,I did the unthinkable and watched the game ! And we all know what transpired !
    I still follow it to this day ,and if we were to lose , then you ‘d know for sure that the Brickfields Gunners didn’t get any that night !
    Ahh ! The things I do for the Arsenal !

  • avatar Persian gunner

    Very nice article Walter :)

  • avatar Walter

    Ah f*ck Brickfields, you lost us the CL final :) ;)

  • avatar Brickfields Gunners

    It still hurts – my short cumings ,sorry comings !
    Don’t worry Walter , this year I’ve stocked up on suppliments, have started training to get into shape and kick some Bayern ass !
    Oh ,and I’m getting her flowers and candy on CL nights !

  • avatar nicky

    @Rufusstan,
    Just a minor correction to your 7.53 am yesterday.
    Brady made a sublime pass out to Graham Rix on the left wing, whose pinpoint cross was met by Alan Sutherland.

  • avatar Rufusstan

    @Nicky Aaaah crap. Its not only the eyes that go as you get older.

    If I an truly honest. the only memories that have stuck about that moment are that sweeping ball, and then pandemonium.

    Along with the look on my Cousin’s face when he rushed back into the room. :) — Convinced we were headed into extra time, he decided he couldn’t hold on any longer and had slipped out to the toilet.

  • avatar nicky

    @Rufusstan,
    Our late son and I watched the game on TV with Cindy our boxer bitch at our feet. As Alan swept in the Rix cross, we both let out a scream of delight causing Cindy to wet herself for a second.
    On the return home of the Mem, there was much tongue pie to deal with.