By Walter Broeckx
As a non local Londoner I am different from local Gooners. Not in my support for Arsenal but in the way I look at the rivalry with the fans in white.
I do admit that when talking with other fans from other clubs you get a general feeling about the club in particular. So I do have a few supporters from other clubs in the PL that I talk with on a regular basic. I have a second hand Chelsea fan that sent my son a text message when Özil opened the score against Everton in December saying: come on, and now on your way to the title. I said ‘second hand’ as he is in no way as fanatical about Chelsea as I am about Arsenal.
It’s just that one of his best friends at work is an Englishman who supports Chelsea and so he became a bit supportive. But he has a bit of a soft spot for Arsenal down deep inside.
I know a West Ham supporter whom I have great conversations with and who would love to see the back of Fat Sam. When I told him earlier this season when West Ham had a bad spell and things looked bleak, that I wouldn’t mind them staying up, he replied that he could completely understand me as that would give Arsenal at least 6 points each season.
And so I do have on occasion some talks with Tottenham supporters in Belgium. Some of my referee friends support Tottenham. The only reason being that this was one of the few clubs they could travel to see in general and buy a ticket before the match. Something that has been impossible at Arsenal for… well… since Wenger?
When Arsenal does well and I go to the training sessions and I wear an Arsenal shirt or something red they grumble at me in the way friends do. And when by accident I put a white shirt on to train they ask me if I swapped teams. And then I reply saying that I wanted to feel how it feels to wear a losers colour. All rather kind and amusing.
I can understand that however when you live in London you look at it differently. When you live in each other’s back garden you can get wound up more than I do at my occasional meetings with other supporters – and mostly not in person. So maybe there will be much more hatred between Arsenal supporters and Tottenham supporters than I can imagine.
But from being a Gooner for more than 30 years now I have learned about most of what is important for Arsenal and for our supporters. And being above the neighbours is important. I know it isn’t a real trophy in the silverware version. But it just is very important. And I admit that whenever I look at the league table and when Tottenham is in front of us I feel unhappy about it. I try to skip that name. However looking at a league table with Arsenal in front of Tottenham is a table I can look at for hours. And since that is mostly the case and has been over the last 19 years I always stare at them. And think: That is your place. This is where you belong. In our shadow.
In a way I feel a bit for Tottenham supporters. I don’t hate them, as apart from their team choice they seem ok, the ones I know are. But each year the media tell them what a fabulous team they have, what an amazing smart person they have as their manager (for half a season usually) and what a smart man that Mr. Levy is. And how well they have spent the f*cking money.
Last summer was no different. They bought this, they bought that, they bought left, they bought right, they bought up and down… £100m, the Bale out money was spent and now it would all happen.
The media was dead sure that not only Arsenal would drop out of the top 4 places (still not 100% sure to stay there but close) and Tottenham would get in front of us. I think most thought that we were going to end up where Manchester United will be ending this season.
And yet for the 19th time in a row since Wenger took over Arsenal has done better than Tottenham. Just imagine for a frightening moment that you happened to be a Tottenham supporter. Just imagine how this must feel. Year in, year out being told you will beat them this time and then at the end or even before the end of the season you find yourself looking up at Arsenal once again.
And even when having to work with no budget and with our hands tied behind our back we still managed to finish above them. How frustrating that must be?
And yet we have a part of our own supporters who will never stop moaning and grumbling about Arsenal and their failures. They feel nothing when we secure 4th place. While all the time during the season shouting that if we drop out of CL football the manager has to be sacked. If it isn’t important then why would we have to sack him if we finished 5th or 6th? Either it is important to finish in the top 4 or it isn’t.
Those successive top 4 finishes are also something rather amazing. I know mathematically it isn’t over yet but we have things in our own hands and we just must finish the job. Some see it as no achievement at all. While other teams and their supporters would give an arm and a leg to even be in 4th place just for one season. And we…or some of our fans… shrug it off as if it is nothing.
I don’t want to give too much credit to journalists. I think you know I don’t like most of them but to finish this article I would like to use the words of John Cross from the Mirror this time. As for once I can agree with the things he wrote after our win against Newcastle: “And Arsenal fans would do well to remember many clubs would see consistency as a mark of success rather than frustration.”
I agree with you on this, Mr. Cross. Finishing above Tottenham each season, getting in the top 4 and in the CL each season. Nobody has done better in England than Arsenal over the last 17 years/19 years. Even in the last “barren years”.
And one final note. In the last 3 seasons it was always Koscielny who scored a vital goal on the day we could celebrate St. Totteringhamsday. I think this deserves a special mention for Sir Laurent of St. Totteringham. Wel done Kos!
- 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