By Walter Broeckx
After one of our earlier articles a new person commented for the first time and asked a question that got me wondering. For the sake of making it clear I will reprint his comment in full:
“When did this mass anti Arsenal start? I understand the Tiny Tots but the rest? I followed our wonderful team for over 70 years but have only really noticed it over the past 10 or so years. Please can somebody give me an answer. The only answer I can find is we have been so successful. It used to be so much fun as a child Young man and now a G/Grandfather; oh well that’s life for you.”
And by coincidence on the facebook page of my supporters club (well not mine but as being chairman I can use that expression I think?) I read a comment from a rather young man who found it “unacceptable that we hadn’t won the league in the last 10 years” Of course I don’t agree with that comment but it is somehow typical for a certain part of the fans.
And I think the question to our Old timer can be partly found in the remark from that young timer. Not the whole answer of course but still a big part. Not just because both mentioned the 10 year time span. Though it does play a big part.
With winning the league 10 years ago going unbeaten for the whole season Arsenal set out a marker. The first team to go the whole season unbeaten in over more than 100 years (and in those days the league was not as big as it was when Arsenal did it). Doing that in what was considered the best league in the world set a standard. I think anyone with a bit of common sense knew that to repeat this was going to be almost impossible. We just had witnessed history in front of our eyes. Be it in the stadium (those lucky b*st*rds) or in front of our TV we just had seen an amazing achievement.
Of course such a thing attracts people to Arsenal. That is just the way it goes. People want to mirror themselves in the success of their favourite team. So lots of people having not really a particular team to support at the time became Arsenal supporters. In itself there is nothing wrong with this. I became a supporter after having seen Arsenal lose their first ever match I went to see in London. But others will have joined a team that looked to be on top of the world at the time. And I still think that without the incredible events in match 50 we would have gone much longer and might have won another title the season after. Riley broke us at the time. But that is another thing and not of importance for the question.
Even though I still hope to relive it again I know it will be almost impossible to achieve another unbeaten season. But I had the luck to be part of it (from afar I admit) and I can imagine people who didn’t support us at the time want to feel the same. So they expect us to go another season unbeaten in the hope that they will be able to feel it as a supporter.
And then when such achievement becomes impossible (after losing a match) the negativity comes out. And those people who see their dream shattered suddenly want to vent their frustration. Why are they not allowed to be a supporter when we go a season unbeaten? Many others have lived the experience so they feel they have the right to also feel it. We could call this some form of jealousy.
On the why the negativity I think the Old timer, meant the negativity by the media. As Tony has pointed out on many occasions this has a lot to do with the start of Wenger’s Arsenal career and the way he showed the media that he would not let them mess with him.
I think lots of the reporters from those days still are around and would love to see him fall on the ground. So each time they can find something to have a go at him, they will take it. So each time we drop points, or lose a match they will do all they can to make it even worse than it is.
And when the two come together (fans who think they have to right to support a team that can go undefeated and media with an agenda) we get some form of hysteria we have noticed the last years whenever things don’t go our way.
So when did it start? When Wenger came to Arsenal it was the start of the media campaigning against him. But the sad thing is that ever since he gave us that amazing unbeaten season a part of the fans doesn’t accept any form of failure.
I often say that for them no matter what we win it never will be good enough any more. I usually look for the long picture when it comes to Arsenal and the club as a whole. And when it comes to match results I do the complete opposite. I always want us to win the next match. Did we win our last match, fine that was great. But the important thing is to win the next. That is the easy part.
But if we lose I feel sad and bad for a few moments but then I think: who do we play next? Ah, lets win that match and then I focus on that match more than on the last one. Because I can’t change history any more so why keep feeling bad about it.
So maybe for supporters it would be better to look backwards to find perspective but look forward to search for optimism. Saying we will never win anything again has been proven wrong last season. So no need to go down that way again. Just look forward to the next match and try to enjoy it when we win it.
- 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
Some other sites from the Untold team (there is a full list on the home page)