By Walter Broeckx
When we look outside then we see a dark world. War everywhere. Killing of people going on everywhere. Terrorists using and misusing every word in any book to justify their evil acts. Pointing at they began to make sure that it will never stop.
I know that as we grow up we have a phase in which we cannot yet put forward any sensible argument and thus we cry as kids to our parents or to whoever had us under their guidance: “but it was him who did it first.”
For the moment it seems that the whole world is stuck in that infantile status. I have never harmed a person in a physical way and don’t intend ever to do so, so I am hoping you can leave me alone, and keep me away from your childish but oh so deadly behaviour.
With all that is going on in the world, one would think that people will look at football and put it where it supposed to be: in the more fun part of our daily life. It is a sport in which young man who are paid way too much show their skills. I enjoy the skill, the movement on the pitch, the dribbles, the passing of the ball through the tiniest of spaces,…. And I enjoy that as much as I dislike the cheating, diving, kicking and shoving that is against the laws of the game. And yes I can get worked up about those activities, but most of the time I just love the beautiful game.
The beautiful game is something that has kept me in awe for the last 50 years or so (my god that long….) and it still is my favourite sport. Despite Fifa, Uefa, and other crooks whose name have the letters FA in it in English. A magical touch from one of the star players and I forget about all that hangs around football.
So for me it is about enjoyment and also about learning about life. At my age I know I will not get everything I ever dreamed off. A big castle-like house (my ordinary house is my castle though), a big fancy sport car, …. No it will remain a dream. But that is how things go for most people. We all have our dreams but we all also have our disappointments as things don’t work out as we thought they would.
And that is where I think that football is so important in learning that lesson. When I played (apart from one year where we won the championship and I was the top scorer of my team – and I did that that twice in fact) I very quickly got used to losing matches. My father told me that losing is part of life and I had better get used to it. First learn how to lose and then learn how to win is what he told me. My wise father.
So I learned how to lose. In football and in my own career. But also as a supporter. I supported my local club the third biggest club in the city of Antwerp and blimey by doing so I learned how defeat tastes. A club that once played at the top in Belgium but got relegated through four divisions plus one division for not balancing the books. I learned how to swallow it all. It tasted like shit but so can life. Just swallow and get on with it. Not much I can and could do about it.
So when in 1979 I became an Arsenal supporter from afar I didn’t know what to expect. I quickly found out that losing is part of the game too at Arsenal. But not as bad as it was with my local team. So in a way supporting Arsenal was easier than supporting my local team. Apart from some gruesome seasons where we avoided relegation a few weeks before the end of the season it was golden seasons followed by some mediocre seasons.
Then came the Wenger era. And since then… well I think some of us forgot to learn that things don’t always go as you want them to go. Not even for Arsenal.
Yes I would have loved us to win a few more titles in the last few seasons. But I would give my arm for the finishes that Arsenal had in the last 12 years if my local team had been able to produce the same results. So from my personal point of view I can easily see the difference between having nice results and having very mediocre results. I would have given my other arm for my local team to finish second last season. But alas it was somewhere mid-table. Wining against the champions and taking four out of six points and then get humiliated by the team sitting at the bottom of the league the next week.
Maybe because of all this I don’t feel entitled to anything when it comes to Arsenal. I hope we will win every competition we start in but then again… losing is part of football and only one team can win it in the end.
Mind you I feel gutted when we lose a match or go out of a competition. But that is something that belongs to sport in general. You feel down for a few minutes/hours/days and then you realise: life goes on. Tomorrow is another day. Next season is already waiting.
But when you see the hate pouring out I really cannot fathom it. I really cannot understand it. Have they lost all sense of perspective? Wishing people to die?? Really??? Yes they do. In today’s sad world where too many people all over the world are being killed….
Arsenal losing a match of football is not the end of the world. There are worse things out there that are really bad. I swallow it and hope for the next match to be better.
As I hope that maybe one day all people will grow up and realise that nothing in the world is worth killing another person for. Or wishing him harm. Not his colour, not his religion, not his job status, not his… whatever. And certainly not football.
It is time for us to wake up out of this craziness we are seeing. Time to become human again and act like humans. Good humans. The thing that is hidden inside everyone of us. But alas some don’t want to let that part overtake. It’s a shame really because in the end we will all die and once that moment is there we might regret that we have wasted our lives on moaning and wishing for all those bad things to happen to other persons.
And as long as that moment hasn’t arrived for me (and I hope it will stay away for a long, long time) I will just do what I love to do: support my clubs and enjoy every win and take each defeat on the chin and move on. I just want to enjoy whatever life brings to me.