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.
- Woolwich Arsenal: The club that changed football – Arsenal’s early years
- Making the Arsenal – how the modern Arsenal was born in 1910
- The Crowd at Woolwich Arsenal FC: crowd behaviour at the early matches