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What makes a good supporter? After yesterday’s comments on this site, it is time to find out

Good Supporters?

By Paul Fowler

A few months ago I made a conscious decision never ever to post any opinions on football blogs again. Being a fervent gooner, and apparently currently undergoing the phenomenon that is trophy-cold-turkey – which if you believe the press, is a football condition only experienced by Arsenal fans – I naturally took exception to a statement posted by a Chelsea fan on the Guardian Football site at the end of last season, that agreed with the theme of a David Lacey article that Arsenal should forget about playing ‘good football’ and concentrate on playing ‘winning football’ instead.

Bristling with indignation at Lacey’s barely hidden thesis that ‘winning football’ is ipso facto ‘good football’, I proceeded to lecture the Chelsea supporter about fundamental tenets of philosophy and warned him about the crime of the ‘is ought shift’. He ignored my tuition and failed to see the non-sequitor of his argument; he stated that the object of playing football was to win games and that if a team won more games than any others, like Chelsea had, then clearly they were playing ‘gooder’ football than anyone else!

No matter how much I remonstrated and demonstrated that one cannot justify value judgements, i.e. ‘good’ football, on matters of fact, i.e. Chelsea having won more games, he would have none of it. I even suggested, much to my own personal discomfort, that it is quite possible that Chelsea could have played ‘good’ football as well as winning football during the season but the former claim was a matter of individual opinion unlike the latter which was factual and not open to debate.

As always, the blog exchange deteriorated into insult and abuse – and I suspect he is still paying a private detective to find me – when a timely intervention by my wife brought me back from the brink of insanity and a 12 hour night shift at the computer face.

She simply said, and I have to believe it was without any irony whatsoever, that my Chelsea sophist was only acting like any ‘good’ supporter would, out of loyalty to his club.  If her assertion is correct – and as far as I know she has never been wrong about anything – then it’s about time we as supporters of football, whether it is good, bad, indifferent, or winning football, stepped back from our tribal allegiances and considered objectively what traits do indeed characterise ‘good’ football supporters.

It’s a cold autumn night in the mid-sixties at Ellersie Road, mistakenly known as Loftus Road, in Shepherds Bush. I am playing in midfield for QPR in a South East Counties floodlit match against Charlton or Leyton Orient, I can’t remember which. There was no Elvis for us as we ran on to the pitch, only the tinny, 2-year-out-of-date, echo of ‘Hermann’s Hermits’ evidently being into something good.

There were probably a hundred odd ‘good’ supporters watching us from the gloom of the steeply rising terraces. I can’t remember the score at the time but I do recall that it was the second half and we were attacking the ‘General Smutts’ end and defending the ‘Springboks’ end.  My extended family lived on the White City Estate and my Nan had worked in both these pubs at some time, hence the geographical precision.

I remember breaking into the penalty area with only the keeper to beat and shooting. It wasn’t that powerful, I must admit, and certainly would not have hurt the keeper’s fingers as he pushed the ball around the post, if, indeed, he even felt it. I ran to pick up the ball to take the corner and as I did so, this ‘good’ QPR supporter – an old bloke in a raincoat – leant over the wall and hissed into my impressionable 16 year-old ear: “You shitbag!”

As I walked to the corner flag, a mess of emotions, I could hear him repeating several times his assessment of my qualities as a player, and each time he voiced it for all to hear, the London accent became harsher, the shit became more pronounced and elongated, and the bag more clipped and scornful.

If you have ever read ‘Billy Liar’ you will no doubt recall Billy’s hilarious repetition of his undertaker boss Shadrack’s name, beginning with ‘Shadrack, Shaadrack, Shaaadrack and eventually ending with the climactic ‘Shadder, Shadder, Shadders!!’

This scene from ‘Billy Liar’, ironically set in the firm’s toilet, more than adequately conveys the rhetorical skills of my ‘good supporter’ admirer, who presumably was dedicated to helping Rangers attain success whatever the level and whoever the player. Of course, ‘shit sticks’ and, as a result, I do not really believe he was a role model ‘good’ supporter.

But when mulling over the qualities of ‘good supporters’, it is crucial to be wary of stereotyping, and perhaps, more significantly, collective stereotyping. How many times do I hear footballers using adjectives for adverbs but to state categoric that all footballers omit the ‘ly’ would be foolish? Similar –sorry – similarly, not all Newcastle fans are fat, take their shirts off, and cheer throw-ins! Not all Chelsea fans are fat, bald-headed, aggressive men prone to some racist chanting. Not all Birmingham and Leeds supporters are trouble-making thugs, and there are, I am sure, some Millwall fans who are actually quite well liked.

Of course, stereotypes often do reflect both positive and negative truths but we must not allow prejudice or unthinking classification to influence our thoughts about what constitutes a ‘good supporter’.

I am mindful the recent six goal rout– sorry ‘win’ – by Arsenal against Blackpool at the Emirates. A gentleman to the right of me, high up in what is now called the North Bank, opined that Blackpool were excellent supporters. There they were, their team six nil down, being completely outplayed with five minutes left, and, yet, they, the supporters that is, were still singing their hearts out! Bless them! I hope they enjoyed their day out!

I am certain, however, that perversely, their collective enthusiastic support for their outclassed team will have only served to have exacerbated the emotional guilt and rampant soul searching almost already certainly felt by the Blackpool players, given the nature of the mismatch and the number of goals conceded, to a degree which far exceeds the confusion I experienced at the derogatory ‘shitbag’ tossed in my direction all those years before.

How would I have felt if the hundred or so QPR faithful had risen as one at the sight of my feeble effort, punched the air, exhorted my name fanatically to the West London skies, and queued for my autograph late after the game? What on earth would I have said to them? I shudder to think. No, my fellow gooner in the North Bank, you were what I term ‘fangoed’ – all that bright orange affected your judgment about the present and the future. Like Gary Lineker et al, he no doubt believes that a vacated seat at three nil reflects a poor supporter.

I admit the Blackpool fans were impressively noisy, given that they did not have much to shout about and, comparatively speaking, there were not that many of them within the sixty thousand strong crowd. Perhaps, noise generation is the principal key to identifying ‘good supporters’? The decibel quotient pro rata is easily measured and calculated and could be recorded in fans’ league tables.

Where fans are level in decibels and numbers based on a handicap system similar to that found in golf, the rank order could be determined by such factors as ‘variety of songs’, ‘witty chants’ and ‘sentimental value-added’. Such criteria – especially ‘sentimentality’ – may well rid our grounds of crude ditties such as ‘who’s the wanker in the black/green etc?’ and encourage a new football anthology of ‘You’ll never walk alone’ anthems.

An ambitious development of this would be the introduction of an expert panel of X factor type judges which could analyse and vote on the singing of each club’s fans by focusing on tone, unison, meaningful lyrics and general singing quality. Imagine a final featuring Man City’s ‘Blue Moon’ and Millwall’s ‘No one likes us’! Breathtaking!

The spin-offs are mouth watering. The Welsh believing that they would win more FA cups; an improved rendition of ‘Abide with me’ at the cup final; operatic singing of the National Anthem at Wembley finals; and increased respect at Wembley with England supporters not booing foreign anthems and England players, especially John Terry, actually singing rather than miming ‘God Save the Queen’. Fabio Capello and Stuart Pearce could set the example for supporters and players alike by learning the language and actually singing the anthem in English.

The above flight of fancy takes me no nearer, I fear, to what defines ‘good’ football supporters! Fans, by their very nature, are self-delusional and extremely opinionated. I don’t know this (although I’m sure I’m right) but I suppose they always have been and always will be. But, once more, I have to be wary of stereotyping.

It seems to me that one stereotypical ideal of the ‘good’ supporter arises from the working-class origins of the game – a sort of cross between Charlie George, Wayne Rooney and Alf Tupper. At the other end of the spectrum, both football and class, we find the stereotypical ideal of the officer and the gentleman – a cross between Bertie Mee, Alf Ramsey and ‘the can’t think of his name England’ supporter who always dressed in St. George colours and a stupid big hat, and could be found at all major international sporting events 40 years ago, symbolising the Corinthian spirit of the true football supporter.

I suspect that most fans fall somewhere between the two extremes, and leaving aside the ‘risk supporters’ or hooligans, each club has a majority of ‘good’ fans however we define them. For me, though the answer can only be discovered through anecdote.

I begin the ending of my topic with the Arsenal Bolton game last season. Arsenal needed to win to head the table albeit temporarily. We gooners were shocked when Arsenal went one nil down early in the game and mortified when it became two a few minutes later. The disappointment was palpable; you could almost taste it as you surveyed the stricken faces around you to mix metaphors.

Then, suddenly, from behind me there arose out of the angry, hurt, silence one of the strangest sounds I have ever heard at a football match, or, indeed, anywhere. I can only surmise that the strangulated, succession of disgusting images and obscenities was the issue of internal warfare of gargantuan proportions. The gooner’s ejaculations were so shocking that, in spite of our upset at the score, we lesser gooners started to laugh out loud.

I mention the episode because it identifies the true strength of feeling to which the passionate fan – if that is not tautological – is subjected to, and his helplessness in the face of it. I am certain that ostensibly, at least, given the evidence of their ‘always look on the bright side of life’ chorus, the Blackpool fans did not experience this. It could be argued, I admit, that strength of feeling is inversely proportionate to expectation, and that because not even the most optimistic Blackpool fan really believed that they would win, the resulting emotion in defeat was less disappointing, hence the singing.

I cannot accept this and this is why. In the early 1980s, I took my then young son, who was miraculously born loving Arsenal, to see Wealdstone v Boston United in a mid week Gola league (conference) match. Wealdstone had defeated Boston in the Gola cup final at Wembley the previous season, and I suggested that we take my stepfather, a Wealdstone and Bury supporter, who lived in Harrow, to the ever-missed Lower Mead ground at the back of the Dominion Cinema.

The crowd was quite reasonable although the weather was cold and typical of late November. The match was remarkable; not because Wealdstone won 8-0, but because they scored a hat-trick of penalties – something I have only witnessed the once. At the end of the game as the crowd began to disperse and the Boston players trudged shamefully towards the stand and the comforting bosom of the dressing room, a single Boston fan, possibly the only one at the match, or, certainly still inside the ground, lent across the advertising hoardings and berated the Boston players with the following tirade, reminiscent of Basil Fawlty’s attack on his broken down Mini:

‘You bastards, you fucking useless bastards. It took me six fucking hours to drive down here. I nearly crashed twice because of the snow. I took a day off work and lost a day’s wages to come and watch you load of shite and you can’t even make the effort to fight back. You make me sick. Look at you. Going for a nice shower! What about me? You make me sick. I’ve now got to drive back up the motorway and be up for work at 6 in the morning. Well, that’s it. No more, I’m finished. I’ve had enough. That’s it.’

His voice tailed off and he sunk back, as we, the Wealdstone fans, and he, stood in silence, while some of the Boston players had actually stopped walking. All of a sudden, the Boston fan leapt up to the hoarding again and screamed: ‘And I’d fucking well better see an improvement at Telford on Saturday!’

The Wealdstone fans applauded.

Passion; love; sacrifice; prejudice; anger; faith; amnesia; loyalty; hope; and the greatest of them all; forgiveness.

——————————–

Re-read Wenger Out! by Walter Broeckx

Other visions of Arsenal’s history

Arsenal Worldwide

Untold Arsenal Index


47 comments to What makes a good supporter? After yesterday’s comments on this site, it is time to find out

  • GoonerForLife

    Best ever article i have read till. Thanks a lot Paul.

  • walter

    I must say Mr. Paul Fowler that for the moment I cannot find the words to praise you for this great article.
    And like you use the word “forgiveness” and say it is maybe the most important of them all I must agree with you.

    As a supporter we have to accept that all our players are human beings and that they can make mistakes. I truly believe that no player makes a mistake just for fun. And I can be dissapointed when a player makes a mistake but this is part of the game. But a true supporter will forgive his player his mistake and get back behind him the next game.

    Any player that is puttin on our shirt will get my support, wether I like him or not doesn’t matter. If he made a mistake or not, we just should get behind him/them.

  • Obi Naija Gunner

    Great piece.
    A true fan ALWAYS forgives – the team, if not individual players!

  • jeff

    nice article 🙂 fans love the club, nuff said

  • mark quinn grootboom

    i firstly would like to thank everyone who make this site what it is. Im a south african living in cape town and working in namibia and have been supporting our lord wenger since 1999. Man u won the treble and i thought it best to choose a team. I looked at the log and decided it was either arsenal or aston villa and arsenal edged it by alphabetic order. 10 years on and i cant see myself without my beloved arsenal. Im hoping to visit the emirates in 2014 the year of my 30th and also pay homage to highbury if possible. Im looking forward to the new season. This article inspired me to make my first post and JUST WANT EVERYONE TO KNOW THAT I SUPPORT ARSENAL FC WHENEVER HOWEVER AND WHEREVER!

  • Mahesh

    Please accept my congratulations, Mr. Fowler! This is an exceptional article. Additionally, I learned a few phrases (ipso facto, non sequitur). Truly great article! I hope to read you again in near future. Thumbs up, again!

  • Jonny

    Wenger is a victim of his own success. The years of Arsenal being the only team to really challenge Man Utd’s hegemony during the Premiership years (culminating in the Invincibles) brought unrealistic expectations for the future.

    The move to a new stadium brought comparatively greater thrift in the transfer market coupled with obscene escalation in transfer prices and wages through financial doping. Our success fell as Chelsea bought the league and at the same time our move to a new stadium brought higher ticket prices.

    Some fans feel cheated because they fail to see how the landscape changed or perhaps because they don’t understand that the levels of success we enjoyed under Wenger were somewhat extraordinary.

    Some are just dicks who think Wenger is too cheap and think that we too can ‘buy’ success.

    Regardless I am utterly sick of hearing Wenger referred to as a ‘retard’ or as ‘senile’. Morons abound, but that really is inexcusable.

  • A Casual Observer

    Quality.

  • blooper

    Now the window shut all dead, what…

    This comment has been deleted for the simple reason that it has nothing to do with the article. I try to be flexible about this, but this commentary was so far outside the article’s coverage, and given that several other articles on the site cover the topic, and are still live, it just seemed to me an insult to the writer to ignore everything he had written and just go somewhere else. Tony

  • blooper

    I know people follow

    Again, this piece has nothing to do with the article, and so has been deleted. Tony

  • symonh

    The guy in the ‘John Bull’ outfit at the England games was called Ken Baily. He died in 1993. Besides being the unofficial cheerleader for our country, he also carried the Olympic torch in the 1948 games. Having grown up in Bournemouth, I met Ken many times as he was a tireless champion for children’s charities in the area. A true English gent.

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/obituary-ken-baily-1467167.html

  • critic

    gr8est!!!

  • A Casual Observer

    @blooper

    THERE’S ONLY ONE ARSENÉ WENGER! ALMUNIA, ALMUNIA – ARSENAL’S, ARSENAL’S NUMBER 1!

  • gooner80

    To me supporting arsenal is like being in love with a woman, after the butterflies are gone sometimes we take them for granted. Sometimes we can have arguments and dislike their actions but we know they are the one for me.

    The difference stops there because I can fallout of love but no matter how bad it gets YOU never leave your team they have a place in your heart, if Arsenal were in the conference I would still support them and TBH whether we play attractive football or boring football I will support them, whether Aw or fat sam is in charge I will always support arsenal.

    It can take me weeks to get over a bad defeat the 2006 champions league final took about a year to get over that one. I think some fans just misplace their passion sometimes and like with any relationship when there is problems or so called problems finger pointing starts as there is always someone to blame. I think also what fans find more frustrating is that we know the players are talented and they should be winning things over the past 5 years we have been so close so many times the 2006 champions league final, the carling cup final in the league twice at birmingham, I have even seen AW get pissed last year he was alot more angry because he knows what he has got in his hands IMO it is just a matter of time

  • Gooneraside

    Excellent article, Mr. Fowler.

    And what a surprise to hear that there’s a Chelsea fan who believes that there is such a word as “gooder”. Still, I suspect he feels the need to “disrespect” or “diss” (which are not verbs) The Arsenal after all the years spent in our shadow.

    Our fans should show the way by supporting the club regardless of individual performances and become true AKBTMs (Arsene knows better than me’s).

  • indian_gunner

    @Paul Fowler! hats off to you.A superb piece ..Sir, if i may ask?What is that you do for a living?what you have written is more than just an article,and no matter what i am trying all i am managin now is phew!wow!..

  • La Shiz

    That brought tears to my eyes. Almost.

  • Chowdhury

    Wow, I am simply speechless. It was such well written. Wow…

  • Chowdhury

    You are a class act Mr. Fowler.
    I wait eagerly for your next article. We are fortunate to have a fellow gooner who can write up such an article.
    God Bless You.

  • Can I add my personal thanks to Paul for this article, and add that the moment I read it, I thought this was one of the best pieces we have ever published on Untold.

    I am so glad that readers are agreeing, and I would say that from the moment I first read the piece I asked Paul if he would consider writing more for us.

    More than anything else it puts all the arguments about the anti-Arsenal Arsenal into such a broad context. Supporting a club is such a confusing and emotional affair, and through this article we get a far deeper insight than normal into this strange and bizarre activity that we all engage in.

    Thank you Paul. Give us more.

  • Chowdhury

    I totally agree with “Indian_Gunner”. This is not just another article, its more than that. It embeds passion in such a way that it touches you. I know i have said it already, but I’ll say it again, WOW!!!

  • Gf60

    Lovely article Paul. Thanks. I wonder how many times I’ve felt like that Boston supporter?
    Just one question: you say “not all Newcastle fans are fat, take their shirts off, and cheer throw-ins! Not all Chelsea fans are fat, bald-headed, aggressive men prone to some racist chanting. Not all Birmingham and Leeds supporters are trouble-making thugs…
    Are you sure about that? 😮

  • Gooner Gal

    Brillant article. Also I have to say Arsenal do have top quality away game supporters and overseas fans that could rival that Portsmouth guy.

  • TommieGun

    Great piece ! Thanks a lot Paul, for a great great read, which also shows that it IS ok to be angry at your team – sometimes – but it’s the true fan who forgives in the end.

  • Terence McGovern

    Superb article!
    This is one of those days where I avoid the rest of the blogosphere so as not to get into escalating duels with assorted intelligence-vacumns who deem fit to vomit their malcontentment into print.

    thank you for the tonic.

  • walter

    Once again thanks to this article Tony’s blog is such a beacon of light in the dark world on the Arsenal internet today.
    I did my usual morning tour and the way some act is really really out of order.
    I don’t think there hasn’t been a mass murderer out there rotting in hell that hasn’t been named and linked with Wenger today.

    And when I read their comments I really think that they never could get near to understanding the article that Paul has given us.

  • IndianGooner

    One of the best articles I’ve read on ‘Supporters’. Hoping for lot more such articles from you, Paul.

  • CBK

    A fantastic article, thanks for writing it Paul and thanks Tony for publishing it. The comment by Jonny (September 1st, 2010 at 9:18 am) is absolutly spot on too and he is yet another Arsenal supporter who recognises the real world and how great Arsene Wenger has been and will continue to be for Arsenal.

  • Richard B

    Well said sir – you speak for many of us. I wish I’d written that (always the best praise!)

  • RedGooner

    I didnt read this to be honest and

    Editor’s note – the piece that followed was by no means an anti-Wenger piece, but it strikes me that since I have started editing out comments that are all about goalkeepers and the transfer window, I really out to keep doing it, so this one has gone, because it is not relevant to the post.

    My view is that the article on the site is worthy of serious consideration and comment, and we shouldn’t be sidelined. Commentaries about the transfer window are welcomed under the previous article.

  • RedGooner

    Just took the time to read this and laughed….. I guess the moto is football drives us all a little over the edge at times 🙂 makes you wonder what some Arsenal fans have to moan about ! well done.

  • Paul C.

    It is always interesating, year after year, to see how the fans of newly promoted clubs are treated by the media. If they are fans of “big” clubs, then they are not allowed to act as Blackpool’s did. Can you imagine what the media would say if Newcastle fans acted the way Blackpool’s did? But for those plucky, small, “once in a lifetime”, newly promoted clubs their fans are allowed to laugh and sing even when losing 6-0. “We better enjoy it while we can” is their motto.

    Sometimes I wish Arsenal fans still had that sense of wonder about our appearances in the Champions League. Look at all the press given to Tottenham’s qualification and the celebrations at WHL. And yet, here at Arsenal, many greet YET ANOTHER year of playing Champions League with something akin to “well, we’d better f****n’ do better than last year, eh?”.

    And while other fans can only dream of a single year (or maybe two or three in Liverpools case) in which they break into the top-4, here at Arsenal there is little credit given when for the umpteenth time in row, we finish in the top-4. Even in years when we had ZERO money to spend and had to cut wages, it was an insult for many fans that we were ONLY in the top-4.

    Ah, for that sweet innocence displayed by the Blackpool supporters.

  • rusty

    Mr. Fowler,

    Although you say that you will “never ever to post any opinions on football blogs again”, I hope that you will make an exception for pieces like this, at sites like Untold. This was a great piece of writing, and I hope you’ll stick around.

  • Fem Dee

    I join the rest to salute your masterpiece.
    You have helped immensely to direct my attention to the common ground between AKB supporters as those of us that subscribe to Untold viewpoint and the AAA or the D&G as we tend to call those on the other side.
    Since we both come back match after match, season after season, could it be that the only difference between AKB and AAA is that we exhibit opposite temperaments in our “forgiveness”: One rants and expect the worst; the other appreciates and hopes for the best?
    Once again, much respect, Paul F; your article would have done any literary magazine proud.

  • taeryn

    What a fantastic article. You’ve hit the proverbial nail, Mr. Fowler.

  • Limestonegunner

    This was indeed a lovely article. However, it is surprising that it is published on Untold Arsenal to praise by its readers and its editor. The article demonstrates that there are a number of ways to be a good supporter and that above all forgiveness, not absolute faith in the performance and abilities of one’s players or unquestioning acceptance of the decisions of the club and its manager, but a loyalty that comes after everything else is the ultimate mark of a fan. On this blog and many others, those who do raise criticisms of the club are so often depreciated as not real supporters. And it seems to be the philosophy of this blog not refuse to question the club or manager and polemicize against the “anti-Arsenal” Arsenal supporters. It is almost the raison d’etre of the blog. I think it is still a wonderful place to read quite intelligent writing about Arsenal and football, but that aspect doesn’t appeal to me. This is why it is so surprising to see such enthusiasm here for an article that takes a much more ecumenical and complex view of being a supporter.

    Then again it is heartening as well, so I would expect to see less bashing of other Arsenal supporters or intolerance for views that may question our club’s approach occasionally, show different expectations for our club’s success, or express discontent and despair when we don’t achieve it.

  • DC

    Superbly crafted piece Mr Fowler! Wonderful anecdotes that beautifully highlight the reality of fanatism – sometimes illogical and highly painful yet so compulsive and addictive! Schadenfreude can certainly be a wonderful thing!

  • drvics (mumbai gooner)

    Simply beautiful.

  • indian_gunner

    @ Limestonegunner : well, as a fan there as only certain things that will deem you AAA ,atleast on this blog and that is not being critical or demanding more from the team, tell me who doesn’t?For eons man has wanted more and more out of everything.But there somewhere you got to draw a line.. callin almunia flapumunia and asking for his head and saying wenger should be sacked because he dint splurge and/or buy whom think we needed to buy is DEFINITELY ANTI-ARSENAL ARSENAL,
    p.s : If you look at what guys say at le grove and just arsenal, if that is not AAA then god alone help you

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Well done Mr.Fowler ,will be looking foward to further posts from you .Take a bow ! Arsenal forever !

  • “On this blog and many others, those who do raise criticisms of the club are so often depreciated as not real supporters.”

    I am sorry if that is true, and as editor, I try not to make it so.

    But there is a problem in that much of the strong criticism of Arsenal that we get here tends to just be in the form of making a statement and then accepting it as a truth, rather than arguing it through, citing evidence and so forth.

    It is that which is a problem for me, although I would admit that I would be disinclined to take an anti-Wenger piece as a guest article, on the grounds that there are so many other sites that are more closely aligned editorially to such a position.

  • duduspace

    Great Article Mr. Fowler. You can’t be a fan without being emotional about your club. I went to Blackburn to watch the game and sat in the home end so I couldn’t jump for joy each time we scored.

    My mate and I sat next to this female blackburn supporter and I could relate to every emotion she went through, her shouts of “Get into them” everytime we had the ball still rings in my ears and I shared a bit of her pain after we won.

    The interesting thing though is that she still found it in her to clap off her team even though she kicked off when the clock was running down and they couldn’t apply any pressure, the one thing I can’t understand about the AAA is what their objective exactly is, can it be possible that some people can’t actually see anything good in Arsenal? If you really can’t see any good in your club, I wonder then why you support it.

    Are people really that masochistic?

  • Limestonegunner

    Tony, I appreciate the response. There aren’t as many forums for a reasoned piece from a contributor that raises such issues–I suppose the Online Gooner is open publishing a range of viewpoints.
    What I have found tiresome is the polarization of Arsenal supporters into hostile camps taking such extreme positions. Rather, the apparent polarization produced by those on these extreme positions by labeling others polemically and in exaggerated, caricaturing fashion. In fact, most Arsenal fans seem to subscribe to views of the club far less clear and ideological. Most fans really adore and appreciate Wenger and think overall the team is quite strong, but many have some concerns about the performance of the club and are losing patience with the enduring of persistent weaknesses in our play. For example, there has been a real consensus for the last couple of seasons that our defense has been frail and our excellent attacking not so penetrating against the best sides, that we would be improved as a team with the addition of a goalkeeper and some experienced quality to deepen and strengthen the squad at one or two other positions. So most Arsenal fans seem disappointed more hasn’t been done last summer and this but still hopeful about our chances (we’ve made a decent start, after all) and supportive of the team we have. It’s possible to really support our club while having a number of different views about a host of issues and a set of conflicting emotions as we follow our team through the course of the season. If supporters express some of these dissenting ideas and emotions, it should hardly, as this article poignantly illustrates, call one’s credentials as a supporter into question. Unfortunately, it has become commonplace for a cultish devotion either to venting vituperative abuse at the players and manager or at other supporters who are not so ideologically unquestioning in their belief that all is absolutely perfect at Arsenal. We are creating false villains–every Arsenal supporter wants the team to play great football and win the PL and CL. Beyond that we have a lot to discuss and to learn from one another through dialogue and debate.

  • Limestonegunner

    btw, I really like this site and learn a great deal from the intelligent articles you publish. I’m particularly happy about the Arsenal worldwide initiative and the historical work, for which you have been deservedly congratulated by so many. But I can also enjoy and benefit a great deal from the variety of views expressed at some of the sites that are routinely condemned here.

  • Paul C.

    Limestone – I dont think there are many here who object to criticism of the club, or manager, or players in particular. Many of us criticize often. If we drop points we MUST criticize and discover where fault lies and where improvements can be made.

    What many of us object to is (1) a lack of understanding of our clubs situation in the past 5 years (i.e. the stadium being built, the debt, and the requirement of the club to shed wages and control costs), (2) criticism that goes over into insults, (3) despondency and harsh criticsm even when the team is winning, to the point where it can often seem as though the people would prefer if the team dropped points just so their point could be proved, and finally (4) criticism that is made without thought or fact as Tony has pointed out already.

    By all means critique the team. Be dissapointed/angry when we draw or lose. Say “so and so had a bad game” or “the team defended poorly”. All of us do that. But then accept that the past is the past and move forward, supporting the team for the next match and wishing we do better. And avoid personal insults.
    And avoid the same old tired “we should spend more money” garbage, since most of the people here, by their very nature, do not think that spending more money is the answer, as we will NEVER be able to compete with City or Chelsea for financial might so why even try?

  • J J Riley

    Great stuff minus the symbiosis re Wayne Tupper et al which puts chips at the nucleus of football existence. Now eaten off a hookers belly instead of a NofW wrapping exclaiming the Sharon Tate murder! Oh happy days when it was a shilling into the schoolboys to watch pre-Zulu army take the north bank ….. Michael Caine – imperial mod ….

  • J J Riley

    Great stuff Mr Fowler!