On Saturday I eschewed nearly all of my pre-match rituals and we lost to the worst United team since the dawn of time (or sometime in the 1970s I think).
Why did I stop?
Well because for most of the season they haven’t worked and frankly I’d reached the point (it was Anderlecht at home I think) where I realized that apart from shouting and singing my support at matches I have NO influence over how Arsenal play. Ok ok I know I might have come to this conclusion earlier but I am only 51… (and in my heart I am still the that 15 year old that stood on the North Bank every other Saturday with my mates from school).
So this got me to thinking about these strange rituals and why we do them. I’m hoping you all do it (or am I really THAT weird?!) and will share yours with us on Untold in the comments.
So here are as many as mine as I can remember…
I will never wear anything new to a game, especially not anything Arsenal related (like a scarf) ; I have to break it in first. I have to get into the ground early enough to read the manager’s and captain’s programme notes before the game, and put on my Arsenal shirt (never before) and I always check my seat number after entering the turnstile (even though it hasn’t changed in three years).
On days when Arsenal are playing I always decorate my porridge and blueberries with a carefully crafted AFC crest formed from golden syrup. Tony and I almost always drive to Finchley Central and take the Northern line to Archway and walk down the Holloway Road, I like to enter the ground in the same way, past the Ché Guevara pub, under the railway bridge and up the steps to the right of the Media Centre.
Are you getting the picture?
In the past (before I could go every week) I used to sing the entire squad’s songs (or make them up if there wasn’t one) on my way to school/work. I can’t listen to Arsenal on the radio with anyone else and I can’t be interrupted. My dad did this once during one of those everlasting FA cup replays against Liverpool in the 70s, and Dalgleish (or Keegan I forget) scored. I’ve still never forgiven him (my dad not Kenny).
I don’t really enjoy watching Arsenal on TV and certainly not in company (even of other Arsenal fans – sorry Tony!) because I can’t relax. Recently Em (my much better and well balanced other half) and I went to Sunday dinner at some friends. It was the day of the Swansea game and I’d resolved not to watch, not to listen, not to check texts etc. But they put the game on. For me. On a MASSIVE television. It was agony. Sitting there not able to interact with the match, being licked by their two huge dogs, politely smiling at their observations on the game…
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Even as a youth I always stood on the same spot on the North Bank – I had to even if I couldn’t see much (I’ve never been more than a short arse), and likewise I don’t feel comfortable about changing my seat now. I get nervous if we don’t kick away from the North Bank in the first half (always have) and I prefer us to play in yellow away from home (not blue).
I am not religious – I don’t believe in god (or God if you prefer) but I cross my fingers when the opposition get a free kick/corner/penalty and touch my Thor’s hammer. I even bought Tony a hammer for luck (sorry again Tony!). I will admit to being superstitious – I salute magpies and make wishes on rainbows – but I am MUCH MORE superstitious about football.
But and enough is enough. Arsenal win lose of draw with or without my pathetic attempts to influence the gods of football. So it is time to stop my rituals and just try and enjoy Arsenal. After all, as my wise old chum Tony remarked as we left the Emirates after the United game, we pay a lot of money and expend a lot of time and energy going to see the Arsenal – it might as well be something that is enjoyable, otherwise why bother?
So M. Wenger, Bould, Gazidis, Wilshere, Özil, Flamini and company, it is down to you lot now. I will applaud, sing my heart out, shout at the ref and the opposition, stand through fair weather and foul, pay through the nose for my ticket, defend you to my friends and colleagues, and support you till I die…but from now on you can make your own luck.
Thank you for listening; please feel free to share your own experiences.
[The men in white coast have arrived now…that’s a really lovely jacket..but the sleeves are much too long…doctor…doctor.. I don’t like needles doc…DOC! I’m feeling sleeeepyy…]