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Why “We support our local team” is such a silly song and why I’m coming home to football

By Blacksheep

When I was a teenager I used to go to watch the Arsenal with a few mates from school (Christ’s College in Finchley). We’d meet up at the underground and take the northern line south, changing onto the Piccadilly to arrive at Arsenal about 30 minutes before the game.

From about 1977-81 Adrian, Tom, Mally and I did this most Saturdays and midweek too and in 1980 I went (on my own) to the West Ham final at Wembley. We used to stand on the North Bank, just to the right of the goal, about a third of the way back. It was noisy, we sang, and once in a while there was ‘a bit of trouble’ (as Frank Spencer might have said). Then we all did our ‘A’ level and went our separate ways, I drifted away from football as I discovered music instead. I became an ‘armchair’ supporter, rarely going to games anymore.

In 1986 I left London with my work and eventually I settled in Northamptonshire where I’ve lived ever since. In that time I always tried to get to half a dozen games if I could and the building of the Emirates certainly helped. For the past few years I’ve had a season ticket (back in the North Bank, and pretty close to where I stood at Highbury). One of the unexpected bonuses of my return to regular football watching has been my friendship with Tony Attwood and my association with Untold Arsenal.

We met because I posted a comment after an article Tony had written and he spotted that my email address placed me in his neck of the woods. We started car sharing and enjoying a glass or two before matches. In that time I’ve learned a lot more about Arsenal history, about Bob Dylan, and about science, and met some great people (like Walter and Andrew) and I’ve taught Tony how to dance*.

But now things have changed again in my life because I met someone near the start of 2015 and this relationship has blossomed with the result that she and I are getting married in September (hopefully during an Interlull, so I don’t miss any football!**). I’m also moving back to north London.

This has changed my football experience quite considerably. Instead of travelling with Tony I now leave New Southgate and take the train to Finsbury Park, getting off and walking to meet Tony at the pub we usually frequent, but now this takes me just half an hour. After the Citeh game I was back home before 10 instead of nearer midnight and able to unwind on the sofa with a (much needed) glass of wine.

More important to me than a shorter journey is the feeling I now get when I leave the ground and head along the Hornsey Road. I am going home with my fellow Gooners; going home to north London and back into my own neighbourhood. On Saturday the newly enriched Bournemouth supporters gave us a rendition of ‘we support our local team’. This has always annoyed me (I recall  Ipswich doing it a few seasons back). I have ALWAYS supported MY local team. I was born in Islington, Arsenal are my local team.

But now it has become ‘true’ again – l now live just 7 miles from the ground instead of nearer 70. Not that it should matter anyway; a Arsenal fan is a supporter wherever he or she lives and however many times they get to see the team play. But it still feels like I’ve come home, to London and to football.

Blacksheep

*ok little lie there, to see if he read this far 🙂   [Don’t try to be clever sunshine – Tony]

** only joking sweetheart!

———–

Two anniversaries from the early days…

  • 1 January 1908, A rule was introduced that transfer fees be limited to £350, but by and large the clubs ignored it,   Despite subsequent attempts by Henry Norris and others to introduce a limit that would be agreed and would hold no limit has ever been introduced.
  • 1 January 1910: Arsenal Reserves played a home game against West Ham in blue shirts.  Quite why it not known although it is possible that the shirts were borrowed.

As for today – we’ve just introduced the insult of the day – see the home page

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24 comments to Why “We support our local team” is such a silly song and why I’m coming home to football

  • serge

    I can see where the Bournemouth supporters are coming from, but they only have one choice.
    I started supporting Highgate Redwing ( at 8 years old ) before moving on to Finchley ( in the Athenian League ) and then had to decide between Spurs & Arsenal. Could have been either, but I have never regretted my choice.

  • Jambug

    Personally I think who you support is handed down from your dad/Parents more than where you live.

    Of course the majority of fans will be local, but as the Club grows and the fan base along with it the demographic will change.

    This will be down to natural migration and of course TV coverage.

    These smaller Clubs would give there eyeteeth to have a broader fan base and the affluence that that brings.

    Personally I welcome fans from all around the Globe, whether they attend, watch on TV, are rich or poor. The more people that want to enjoy, and invest in Arsenal the merrier as far as I’m concerned.

  • colario

    This reminds me of a phone in program when the caller and program presenter were talking about the mighty looserpool.

    Eventually the presenter said:

    ‘What’s the word on the street?’ Meaning the opinion of people living close to Liverpool’s ground.

    The caller replied (I quote word for word)
    ”I don’t know I live in Cornwall.”

    For non Uk readers, Cornwall is a county about 250 ks south of Liverpool.

    One piece of information you never hear about looserpool from the TV and radio football pundits is this:

    ‘Liverpool who haven’t won the league for 25 years……’

    If we win the league this year then next season the mantra will be:

    ‘Arsenal who have never won the Champions League……’

    Alternatively we will learn:

    ‘Arsenal may have won the league but that doesn’t count, its the Champion’s League is the one that matters. You are nothing unless you have won that.’

  • Alan Lee

    I was born in Muswell Hill and can claim Arsenal as my local team plus the fact that my Dad was a gunners fan left me no choice!
    Since moving from N 10 I have lived in Hertfordshire, Dorset and for the last 45 years in Australia. I am proud that I support my “local” team. My passion remains as strong as ever and I still exalt and suffer the ups and downs of our great club.
    When I started to watch Arsenal back in the fifties as a young boy, I must admit I found it hard to understand why thousands of Londoners supported (I use the word very loosely) Man Utd, Wolves, Blackpool and even Preston when they never been closer to the Midlands and the North than Watford!

  • Jambug

    colorio

    Steve Howard in the Scum today has already discredited it as a one horse race (us) because all the others are shit.

    If we don’t win it we will of embarrassingly ‘blown it’ apparently.

    No embarrassment or accusations of ‘blowing it’ attached to spending £100 plus, and still not winning it of course !!

  • Tai

    Hahaha…Blacksheep!

    Some of us support from over 3000 kilometres away…from Nigeria precisely. Never been to Highbury nor Emirates but the passion, the celebration of any Arsenal goal or victory never diminishes in importance.

    Supporting your local club is a privilege not even a choice. But when you show so much passion for a club you may never visit her grounds in a lifetime, you’re indeed a fan of football and not really drawn by sentiments or patriotism. And if you ask me I’m certain FIFA will be happier having such distant fans. However, while watching on televisions, we, Nigeria Arsenal fans, usually feel proud hearing Arsenal fans singing inside the arena, especially on away grounds.

    Happy New Year folks.

  • Jambug

    Typo: £100 MILLION plus I meant of course.

  • Blacksheep

    @jambug I’d agree with you of course that your parents affect whom you support. My grandfather was a steward at Arsenal and my dad took me before I was old enough to go on my own. TV plays a part too and seeing the ‘big clubs’ live attracts fans. Two of my friends’ children in Northants have just declared their love for the Arsenal (one of whose dad is a Newcastle fan).

    It’s a bit random I suppose and I wonder how many so called ‘local’ fans really are locals? And does it even matter when the players aren’t?

  • Brickfields Gunners

    A very nice article , Blacksheep , thanks . Like the others who live thousands of miles away , my love for the Arsenal will forever endure .
    Have been a fanatic since season 1971-73 , have never wavered in my support and never ever looked at another club in envy . And never chosen another favourite player ever since Charlie George left .
    And congratulations on your upcoming nuptials . I shall try to post some jokes about marriages at that time !

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Opps …. season 1971-1972 . Lost to Leeds 1-0 , in the FA Cup , so getting used to losing came early!
    As for my boys , they followed their school friends and the oldest became a Man Utd fan ; while the younger went for glory and chose Chelsea , who in truth give much pleasure in the discomfort and plenty of ammo to fire away!

  • Jambug

    Blacksheep

    Where the players are concerned it may even be more important, or if not ‘important’ then ’emotional’ to them, to know that fans come from places that they may see as there spiritual home.

    To them they may see such fans as ‘Local’?

    Football is such a Global entity know that this ‘Local’ thing is surely outdated.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    And why wait to post wife jokes ? So here goes – the new and improved model….

    A fifteen year old Amish boy and his father visited the city for the very first time. They wandered around, marveling at the different sights. Eventually they got to a mall. They were amazed by almost everything they saw, but they were especially amazed at two shiny, silver walls that could move apart and then slide back together again.

    The boy asked, “What is this Father?” The father (never having seen an elevator) responded, “Son, I have never seen anything like this in my life, I don’t know what it is.”

    While the boy and his father were watching with amazement, a fat old lady in a wheelchair rolled up to the moving walls and pressed a button. The walls opened, and the lady rolled between them into a small room. The walls closed, and the boy and his father watched the small numbers above the walls light up sequentially.

    They continued to watch until it reached the last number, and then the numbers began to light in the reverse order. Finally the walls opened up again and a gorgeous 24-year-old blond woman stepped out.

    The father, not taking his eyes off the young woman, said quietly to his son… “Junior, go get your Mother.”

  • nicky

    Blacksheep,
    A “something different” post which is a welcome change from those on pure football. More please.
    As my “ever loving” and I are about to celebrate 68 years of bliss, we wish your union in September will be similarly blessed. 😉

  • Jambug

    I second that nicky.

    Good luck Blacksheep to you and your intended and congratulations yourself nicky on reaching such an impressive milestone.

    I can only hope that myself and Mrs J can reach even half of that.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Congratulations Blacksheep, hope you have a great year and a very long and happy marriage.
    is she a Gooner? Does she understand Goonerdom? If the answer is yes to either, all well and good, if not, the odd separate interest does no harm either unless she supports someone unmentionable!

  • Pete

    Congrats Blacksheep!

    I grew up in North London and the FA Cup win in 1971 sealed the deal (Dad had no interest in football). Stood on the North Bank (initially in the centre, then on the right hand side and finally by the front right hand pillar) then carried on sitting in the new North Bank before sitting in the same place (to the left of the goal, Upper tier) at the new stadium.

    Also kept the faith during sojourns in Malaysia (as a youngster in 72/3 dependent on old newspapers for news of our chase of Liverpool) and in New Zealand more recently where I think I saw 16 successive League televised games (generally in the early hours) as the Invincibles strutted their stuff. Remember us beating Leicester in the early hours – on my birthday! Celebrating at 5am!

    Now back in Blighty with a season ticket…

  • Pete

    Suggestion triggered by Malaysian Gooner’s trip.

    Is there any interest in formally designating a pre-match meeting venue (presumably a pub) for any Untolders attending home matches? Could work for both regulars (e.g. Tony) and occasional visitors (e.g. Walter)…

  • Usama Zaka

    Pete,

    Piebury Corner is the most well known venue for match days at Arsenal. Well its not like I have been to London or anything, its just a quite famous place.

  • Pete

    Usama – There are many pubs in the vicinity of the ground… depends a lot on where you approach from. We all have our favourites – many associated with Highbury so not quite so geographically convenient now – but not insurmountable. Upper St, a longer walk, is similarly well-stocked.

    Some blogs and fanzines have run polls in the past. But happy to be guided by others – although fairly familiar with many having been a former local resident.

  • Gord

    Congratulations on finding someone Blacksheep!

    Pies. I went looking for “best pies in London”.

    Out of the first 10 compilations I ran across, 5 of them had Piebury Corner.

    I also ran across “The Worst Pies In London Lyrics”
    http://www.metrolyrics.com/the-worst-pies-in-london-lyrics-sweeney-todd.html?ModPagespeed=noscript

    I didn’t look too closely at the lyrics, but I don’t see how Walter would get Alexis Sanchez into that song. 🙂

  • Brickfields Gunners

    @nicky January 1, 2016 at 5:35 pm – Congrats ! Wish you and the missus many more years of wedded bliss and good health . Cheers !
    My wife and I will be celebrating our 25th year of marriage in the middle of the year . It does get easier doesn’t it ?

  • nicky

    @Brickfields G,
    Laughter is the key, my friend.
    That is why your amusing contributions to Untold are so valuable.
    Amid all the vagaries of life, the ability not to take ourselves too seriously is paramount. 😉

  • Brickfields Gunners

    @ nicky January 2, 2016 at 7:47 pm – I like to think so too , nicky . For the most part , I see the funny side of most things , and have given up that ,” Woe is me ! The skies are falling !” , out look to life of my youth !
    Well at least till she says ,” Lets see you make a joke (or wise ass comment ) about this !” , but , I would normally and sanely give it a pass ! Too many flying frying pans injuries to the head has made me see the light ( and stars , and various manners of floating images !) !

  • Rantetta

    Congrats Blacksheep.

    Nice article.