I support Arsenal. I am not about to treat them as a restaurant.

By Tony Attwood

A comment from Stefan Melzak really set me pondering, and although I replied to it I thought I would add a few further views.

Stefan Melzak wrote

“According to your logic, if you went into a reputable restaurant, ordered a steak and received a plate of burnt gristle, you would not complain, but would actually return to the restaurant and continue paying for bad food. In your world complaining to the proprietor of the restaurant would only demoralise the poor chef and make his cooking worse.”

It’s a strange philosophy, it really is, because leaving aside whether that is a fair representation of my “logic” (and I am not sure I gave an indication of my “logic” in the article) it seems to me to engage in a notion of support that I simply do think should go by the name of “support”.  If that’s not clear give me a moment and I’ll try to explain.

In life in capitalist countries one can be a consumer if one wishes, and in so doing, have a certain amount of choice.  Choice of which restaurant you go to, which film you watch, and if you are lucky which employer you work for.  Or indeed the choice of becoming an employer oneself.

But when it comes to football clubs, does one have that choice?  Does one read a set of reviews concerning the various clubs on offer and say, “oh I think I will support that club?”   Well yes, I guess some people do, hence the upsurge in Man City support.

But football should not be the equivalent of choosing a restaurant.  I have within walking distance of my house two restaurants.  One I won’t go to because I really don’t like the quality of everything from the food to the gents toilet, the other is not my favourite but if we both want to have a drink, we’ll walk there and have a meal.  But if we want a quality meal out, no, we’ll choose one of half a dozen other restaurants.  We have to drive, but we take it in turns as to who can have some wine with the meal.   And yes, if I got a rotten meal, I’d complain.

Now is football like this?  Well, for me, no.  And not for any of the friends I either go to the games with, or meet at the matches.   We are Arsenal because that is our heritage.  It is part of who we are.

I am Arsenal because my parents and all my grandparents were Arsenal.   We lived about the same distance from both Tottenham and Arsenal, when I was a child so there was nothing in it in terms of proximity.  No, I followed the family and my dad took me to games.  I could no more change to support another club that fly in the air.

Yes I support the local teams in the areas I have lived as I’ve moved around in my life.  Corby Town, Torquay United, Poole Town, Guernsey.   But that is a reflection of my view that one should try and support the local lower league club, because without the smaller clubs football as a whole would die.

But I could never say I was a customer of any of these clubs, because I don’t have a choice.  It is emotion pure and simple.  I committed to Arsenal aged 7 and I am still here 63 years later supporting my club and my team.

If I were a customer and Arsenal served up bad fare (as in the equivalent of the analogy given by Stefan) I would complain, and taking the analogy of the restaurant further, I would go elsewhere.

But I can’t.  I am Arsenal.   Just like I can’t give up my support for Torquay United, which arose from my three years of living in south Devon, and the fact that the last matches I went to with my father before he passed away, were at Torquay.   Torquay are in a hell of a bad state just now, but I don’t switch allegiance and support Exeter or Plymouth.  Of course not.

Likewise Guernsey.  I support them because part of my family heritage is Guernsey, and I’ve even travelled across the country to watch them play away games in the south of England.  Because it is part of who I am and where I came from.

Football isn’t a consumer activity.  It is, at least in my world, and the world my friends exist in, a passion for a club and it continued through the near relegation seasons with Bertie Mee in charge.

So what should one do when things don’t go well?   For me the answer is, carry on supporting the club and everyone who pulls on an Arsenal shirt.  To do otherwise is to treat your football club as a restaurant, and I am not going to do that.   We might moan a bit in the pub between each other, but basically we support the club.  We don’t do “Wenger out” things at matches.  We don’t just go when things are going well.

We are Arsenal.  That is what support is all about.

28 Replies to “I support Arsenal. I am not about to treat them as a restaurant.”

  1. Tony,

    right on. You’ve made the difference between spectator and fan very clear. The fan goes to the game having his hearth on his sleev, the spectator goes to the game having his money in his hand.

    In our days of constant ‘evaluating’, the spectator will do as he does when he travels on AirBnb : there was dust behind the toilet that is not used in the third basement, or there was noise from the wind or the rain….the fan will carry one, regularly, an emotion or set of emotions, the addition thereof making for fond memories and keeping him a fan : a wonder goal, a beautiful pass, even a loss or whatever. The fan lives the games. The spectator, well he just watches and selfies….

  2. You miss the point of the reason why people are boycotting the club. It’s because the club does not listen to the fans views and the only way they will understand is to hit them financially/ symbolically by not attending. You may not value the AST personally but how many times do they and others say they want a new manager and get ignored. The only other way to vote is with your feet. I do however appreciate that you can’t bring yourself to just as long as you don’t mock those that do

  3. I agree whole heartedly with you.

    I have supported arsenal for nearly as long as you and feel the same.

    I rarely go to games but still have the club in my heart.

    To consider changing would be like changing my head because I don’t like the way it looks or it thinks.

    I am prepared to complain to myself or with like minded supporters but never to 3rd parties as, by doing so, I am betraying the team I support.

    I am often unhappy at what I see or what may happen but I think I am old enough to know that there is more to life than continued success on the putch.

  4. Its difficult for me to reconcile the passion and the effort by those who want change at the club with the notion that they are not proper fans or supporters.

    It would be easier for these people to simply support another club if they weren’t proper fans. In my view they are every bit the supporter of the club as any of us they just want a change of leadership and are doing there best to get it. (The boycotts and booing are really stupid but they have little other avenue of effective communication)

    To support the club and Wenger do not have to go hand in hand and neither does not supporting Wenger and supporting the club. This division amongst fans is destroying the club more than anything else. The performances speak volumes

  5. hear hear hear.
    Support is what I do. Not a happy season, certainly away from home but I still want to see every second of every match that I can see.

  6. In today’s commercial football ticket money is important but no longer a club’s biggest income.

    Therefore not attending matches is not as important to club as it might have been in the past. The club can afford to miss you.

    Drawing in as much TV money and commercial money as possible are now a club’s priority.

    Being a supporter means ‘club’ not ‘team’. not ‘winning all the time’ not ‘the manager’ not ‘player/s’ ‘not stadium’

    To re phrase the the GG phrase of some the players of his day ‘win, draw or lose, were’r on the booze.’

    Win, draw, or lose Arsenal the club I infuse.

  7. Off topic, slightly, Arsenal Womentwo nil up here at Borehamwood against Reading. Kim Little with the first, a delightful curler to the top corner and Dominique Janssen with the second following a Nobbs corner

    Any of you who can get to a Women’s match really ought to. Good football, great atmosphere and completely family friendly.

  8. One comparision i made to some aaa was that supporting Arsenal is similar to raising a kid as you dont disown them if they do not live up to your expectation but would continue encouraging (supporting) them. Or compare them to some kid further down the road if they got good grades or rich parents got them this and that and i got called a troll for it…..

  9. So the argument is: the club dont listen to the fans! How many fans exactly are we talking about? Looking to the attendace figures at the Emirates, i think we can still estimate an everage of about 70% full (of cause it is not what one idealy want, but we are in a little bit of a war here are’nt we?) If so, it seem to me it is more a case (as everywhere all over the world) of the silent majority vrs the rousey minority. And oh – dont believe any and every poll to readily. We all know how polls can be minupilated. Lets stick to the Emirates, where the truth is for everyone to see. You don’t survive for 20 years at a club if you are not good, very, very good. Lets support our manager and our Arsenal team. Lets end this negative spiral that influence us all and rob our team from self-confidence and vigour.

  10. @GS I totally agree with you. I’ve listened to lots of fans AKB/WOB and I get the impression we all support the club, we just go about it differently.
    AKBs might be of the opinion that to support the club means to stand by it’s management no matter what they do (indeed there are Wenger lovers who would feel obliged to support him if he committed mass murder, because they feel that’s what support means).
    The WOBs on the other hand may feel that If management is not held accountable then the prestige &future of the club is in jeopardy.
    These are divergent viewpoints, stooping to insults (which happens on both sides) only shows us up as immature and unable to deal with views that don’t align with ours

  11. Final score at Borehamwood – Arsenal 3 Reading 1. An unstoppable volley by Fara Williams for Reading and a great goal fromDanielle Van de Donk restoring our two goal advantage.

    In other matches, wins for both Chelsea and City and a first point for Yeovil but no goal as they drew 0 – 0.

    If we carry on winning we are still on course to overtake City for second place in the League but we also need Chelsea to lose s match before we can finish champions.

  12. @Ben, where I come from in addition to support &encouragement, we discipline kids when they go astray too

  13. Agree to a degree. I also got into Arsenal because of my father but ill be honest…i didnt really bother when we had the drunk clobbers. I mean like who would watch that unless they were fans of the club? Getting lobbed in the dying seconds of a final? The cannons? Get out of here. But what got me obsessed (to the point i changed countries and profession to be close to this team) was the subconcious agreement between me and mr Wenger that yes this is how football should be played and this is how football clubs shoul dbe managed. With its philosophy. Its identiy. Its infrastructure. i get into lots of trouble some times with fellow arsenal fans insisting on class and all that an i laugh. What class? The tuesday club? merson? good player but class? please. For me and i dont care what others think/say the class Arsenal enjoys is the class of Wenger. Serious, meticulous, professional to the core. But also with the philosophical/wise understanding that its football in the end of the day and were not operating open heart surgeries on babies. Yes we will be absolutely professional as face for the club but we wont betray the game and employ scope to achieve our cause. He said once: ‘ trophies are the fruition of your labour/work. trophies are the reward for your good work. not a purpose’. And when you see/hear Bergkamp talking you get it. Its the philosophy of football and how to do things that magnetised people from all over the world. The only catch as Ptrick said is that he trusts these litle shits way too much. To the point where they damage him. internal and external. His methods are proven and tested and when applied by world class footballers who are responsible men his football breaks records. It is when you are faed with the current generation of facebook and selfie and being multimiullionaires before achieveing anything in their profession…..you need tough bastards in the dressing room for that or else you become a bit of a caricature like pep mou klopp.. This manager has done unbelievable for a club like Arsenal. You would have hoped that the fans would carry the team in times of need but unfortunately we are showing what a small club we really are…..’fans’….

  14. “(indeed there are Wenger lovers who would feel obliged to support him if he committed mass murder, because they feel that’s what support means).”

    “These are divergent viewpoints, stooping to insults (which happens on both sides) only shows us up as immature and unable to deal with views that don’t align with ours…”

    Touché king. Quite the self-hoisting petard. Well-done mon auto-inconscient frere!


  15. I typically compare watching Arsenal to watching a film. If it is good great! If not, I will be disappointed but will not shout abuse at the directors. Also I cannot count how many movies I did not appreciate when I was younger but do now. Art is always difficult to appreciate. The Mona Lisa was not even considered good by critics of the time. Neither was A Space Odyssey 2001 or Blade Runner, but many would consider these to be classics today.
    Success is relative and I can accept different levels of success, because the nuances and circumstance are what determine success. If one understands the circumstance and nuance, one might appreciate the art itself. The circumstances around the Mona Lisa (dramatic disappearance and recovery) is what fueled its modern appreciation. Similarly we appreciate Van Gogh’s art in the context of his demons. Maybe someday more will learn to appreciate Wenger’s art. And of course like any artist there are peaks and valleys, the circumstances dictate that. And don’t be silly, ingesting ‘bad’ art, unlike ingesting bad food, cannot make you sick, so they are not comparable. With all the good will in the world, you are welcome to find the art that fits your taste.

  16. I am an Arsenal fan and will always be a gooner.Yes i do get very frustrated at the way the team is performing.Sometimes breathtaking and at othertimes outright bad.I also feel that Wenger and the board are largely responsible for the current state at the club.Maybe less attendance at the matches might prompt decisive action that is long overdue.We are fans and we want our club to do well and just maybe this will shake up things and we can move ahead triumphantly

  17. I think Mr Wenger is still the best man for the Job only that he has been unlucky for the past few seasons where by he loses his first team key players to injuries plus poor evaluation of the strength of the rival teams which leads him to sign players under pressure after losing the first match.

  18. Hunter
    There are some people who are quite nostalgic about the ‘drunk clobbers’, myself included. The GG teams of mostly locally recruited youngsters (repeat ‘locally recruited youngsters’) won six trophies in five years playing exciting attacking football. This was a team folk could actually identify with. Can you do that now?
    Sure it all went downhill after that, but no more so than the current team.
    I’m proud of ALL Arsenal teams (even the losing ones) throughout my life supporting them and never was a wagon jumper.

  19. Not sure I fully agree with the some of Tony’s argument but it does explain the logic behind many of the articles on here.
    It’s very very unusual for supporters at any club not reaching past high levels not to have a moan about how their club is run .
    For years supporters had no idea about theirs or indeed other clubs finances, or structure they simply didn’t care nor were they in possession of any real information about how a club was funded, how much the players were paid or how the chairman, which was more often than not a benefactor, gained their fortune. Success was just about all that matterered and as has been widely accepted a successful football club really did create a feel good factor in the local community that was particularly relevant in industrial communities where production noticeably improved if the local football club was doing well if they weren’t the chant was often heard “ sack the board”
    This site is unique in many ways some very good but some not so.
    It seems to me that many have written Arsenal a blank cheque and that suggests if you don’t appear to level or often it seem accept criticism of the manager,the club or indeed team meaning you have no where else to go but to level blame elsewhere be it the FA, FIFA, PGMOL other clubs etc.
    The irony is when you solutions to all what is perceived to be the ills of football are introduced many hang their hats on that solution from FFP to CAS and at some point VAR they really won’t make a vast difference to Arsenal’s fortunes that really has to be through change.
    Football clubs particularly in the PL aren’t those local clubs of the past they are commercial monsters and whilst you could argue that supporters of old werent and probably never will be customers their numbers are dwarfed by worldwide followers of a club who realistically aren’t supporters in the historical sense they are followers and indeed customers
    I often wonder what would happen if Kronke either started to plough money into Arsenalor indeed he sold his shares to your Russian
    On another site I read Untold was compared to the good old three monkeys. Harsh maybe but do they have a point?

  20. Some fine words of advice –

    God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
    -Reinhold Niebuhr

    If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.
    -Maya Angelou

  21. Mike T, I think the 3 monkeys comparison is unreasonable, as I have said many times before. The clue is in the name “Untold” – I set the site up 10 years ago because I felt that a certain point of view was not being represented in the mass media or the blogs of the day, and I wanted to cover that alternative point of view.

    I’ve never wavered from that position. This site is constantly accused of being unbalanced, and yet it has never claimed to be balanced.

    If I set up a newspaper to counter what I consider the outrages committed by the Daily Mail, I wouldn’t give equal credence to them as to my views, since they would never do that.

    It is the same when we are accused of saying that refereeing in the PL is fixed and there is conspiracy against Arsenal – again which those of us who write regularly for the site do not profess.

    Having published over 8000 articles of course someone might find a few pieces to counteract my point, but even if that is so (and I don’t remember all 8000 articles even though I’ve read them all, and edited 99% of them) all I can say is that I don’t believe that, nor do I think do my fellow writers. Just like I am not trying to be balanced. The clue is always in the name.

  22. The issue is much deeper than the ability of the manager. It is, as always, about money.
    For years and years, fans paid very high ticket prices and were forced to suffer the indignity of our best players being sold each Summer to balance the books. All the while, Stan watched his investment grow. The share price grew really dramatically – why? Because the debt was paid down with money that should have been invested in the club.
    Stan could have given us an interest free loan easily – but share price would be affected. So we sold world class players and replaced them with younger ones. We invented the “socialist wage structure” to mask our obvious wage ceiling.
    By the time we got back on our feet, the financial landscape had changed. Ticket prices do not matter any more and if we were really honest, we would admit that the move to the Emirates was unnecessary. We could have stayed at Highbury, kept our best players and would be in a much better position now.
    The only person who benefited from our move to Emirates was Stan Kroenke.

    p.s. our away form has been relegation standard for months. And AW has admitted to signing secret contracts in the past to appease lenders. Dishonest and disloyal. There are ample reasons to believe he should go. There are reasonable, rational arguments on both sides.

  23. I wish all the “fans” who keep bleating about voting with their feet would bloody well do it. Go and get your ego boosted somewhere else and leave the rest of us alone. I’m a support thus I “support”. I’m not a glory hunter so I don’t moan when I don’t get it.

    @ King

    I see you’re now espousing the value of “disciplining kids when they go astray”. I also see that you haven’t had the decency to apologise for your blatantly false accusation on the previous article. So teaching kids doesn’t run to the concept of apologising for accusing someone wrongly then?

  24. @GM
    Are you sure king has refused to reply/apologize? Knowing UA, he might just have been banned.
    If you ask me, like king I’d be sceptical that there is an “unknown man city fan” that called CAS a kangaroo court. We have heard Tony talk about CAS and clubs almost every week for so long, expecting man city to be found guilty, we never heard of “mr man city fan who thinks CAS is a kangaroo court”. CAS rules in favor of man city, and suddenly we hear of mr kangaroo court man city fan. Well, I take that information with more than a pinch of salt. Sounds like a cunning way of calling CAS names, and not being responsible

  25. king replying to Gooner Mickey in defense of king who may or may not have been banned. Leon/PTO/Whateverelse, is that you? I always thought you were a plant. Hydra more like.

  26. The issue here is that some fans think they own the club. The reality is that shareholders own the club & yet they can only vote without victory against Stan. That still does not mean that you can change the manager or the size of the ball because you think it is not big enough.

    The game is what it is & the only thing that we supporters can do is support. We do not have to buy shirts or tickets or anything that makes Stan money. We can support by watching online or on TV. What we do have is an opportunity to vent our spleen at anyone who will listen to our opinion.

    My advice is support the team, club & manager until Stan makes a change. There is an alternative – buy Stan out and do whatever takes your fancy.

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