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Be a real supporter, get behind them

By Walter Broeckx

The wise lessons I learned from “De Croc”

I must apologize because I have to start with talking about someone who isn’t related to Arsenal at first sight but someone who has told me some interesting things that many Arsenal fans should listen to or take notice of. So to start this article I must explain who “De Croc” is. As I live in another country I have supported in my childhood days my local team, still do from a distance. In those days I was a supporter of my local team who played half of the time in the First division (what is the EPL in England) but half of the time we went down, to only come back the next year or so. So it was mostly a rollercoaster ride with a sad finish at times but also with the fun of becoming champions the next season or gaining promotion.

And as a kid I had the luck to be living close to one of the last legends we have had in our team: De Croc. De Croc was the nickname he got and he was one of those players who only knew one team in his life: as a player and as a supporter. He was a few years older than I and he lived around the corner. All his career he stayed a semi-professional player. He was a plumber and had a company together with his father and it was not unusual that at 3 pm he came off the roof of a house to go to the stadium and to play a game in the evening.

De Croc was a boy from the neighbourhood, always had time for a chat, very down to earth. In those days I was helping our supporters club with their own magazine by writing articles and doing interviews of players. So I had the luck and the chance to speak with first class players and could ask them a lot of questions. I was between 14 and 18 years old at that time, just to give you an idea. Now come to think of it, I’m still doing what I did as a kid….

Anyway I have spoken on many occasions with De Croc when I was waiting at the bus stop and he came to get his morning newspaper and you could always ask him questions and he would answer it. I also did an interview once with him for the magazine. And I learned how a player is looking at things. So once the question was asked: Do you hear what people shout at you and does it influence you?

And this is what he told about it: “When we play away from home at Anderlecht, Bruges or Standard Liège as a player you feel the hostile atmosphere. But for me this was something that made me more determined. I wanted to spoil it for them. (Editor note: It mostly didn’t work out that way to be honest) Some players were affected by this but I loved it every second.”

And about the own fans he said: “When the fans are getting behind the team it really gives you wings. At times in a game you almost feel sick from the running you have done and you want to slow down but then the fans shout the team forward and you just want to please the fans and you forget the upcoming cramps in your leg, you forget that you hardly can breath anymore, you just keep running. It is inspiring and it is something that makes you work harder, run faster, dig deeper.”

But about the years when it was all doom and gloom, when we finished at a relegation place he had this to say: “When the stadium is rather empty it becomes painful at times. If there are a lot of fans there is so much noise that you cannot hear what individual fans shout or say. You here the noise of the crowd and that’s it. But when there are not many fans, and when you play not at your best, when you are struggling you sometimes hear nothing. You only hear silence as if the fans are just waiting for bad things to happen. They know you will screw up at some time in the match, as it happened all these times before. And then you can also hear what the individual fan is shouting. And when your own fans are shouting at you or at a team mate: ‘you useless piece of sh*t’ or even worse insulting things, you hear this and it hurts. Nothing is more worse for a player than having your own fans having a go at you. It cuts like a knife and hurts. And there have been times that I wanted to come off the field during the game and speak to such a fan and ask him to support us and not to tear us further down. When you are giving it all on the field and they call you names, you just wonder at times why you are doing it and for whom.”

So this is one of the reasons why I cannot stand it when people boo or insult our own players. It will never help them. And I know that when one fan in the Emirates calls one of our players a piece of sh*t, this player will not hear him. As there is too much noise in the stadium.

But now the shouting at your own players is not done in an empty Emirates. Now it is done at the internet stage. Where people keep on insulting our players and our manager. And let us just forget the manager. But concentrate on the players. The players are young, they all have the technology available that we have. They will surf on the internet and who knows which sites they visit. Just imagine one moment being an Arsenal player and coming on to some sites where you see your own supporters abusing you, calling you names, telling you that you are worthless, telling you should be given away, and so on….

Doing all those things on the internet is the modern equivalent of what “De Croc” has told me about hearing the individual fan shouting and pulling you down on the playing field. It will not help a player. It only undermines his confidence. So I will not throw abusive words to my own players as I know it will not help them in anyway. If you don’t like a player or even if you think you know more than the manager and think a certain player is not good enough, fine. But just say things like: Well I would play with player X instead of player Z, as I think that X is better against a defending team. You don’t just have to shout X = sh*t. Just imagine being X and have to read it every day on the internet. Yeah you could imagine that it would make you feel good.

And I don’t want to say that from now on you must adore each player we have and you must like them all. No, I also have my favourite players in the team. I also have players I rate higher than others. But De Croc taught me that bringing your own players down will not help that player at all. And this is one of the reasons my blood is boiling when I see our own fans having a go at our own players. Just get behind your team who ever the manager has chosen to play for us in our colours. Just support your own players and let us save the abuse to players from other teams.

De Croc taught me that players do need to know and to feel that the supporters are behind them, so lets just be real supporters and get behind our players, all of them, as long as they have our shirt on.

____________________________

What would we do if Wenger would leave?

The past will come alive in the future over here

More of the same

27 comments to Be a real supporter, get behind them

  • skwam

    as i always say, its not the player at fault, but the guy who thinks the player is good that should be questioned. i know you believe that all that wenger does is right, but im afraid many a fan does not…i still pay my hard earned paltry NHS wages to watch some well overpayed under achieving arsenal players. it hurts! but once they are on that pitch, i will support them with my life. but on the net if they ever need someone to tell them that they are not as great as their wages suggest or the pampering the manager gives them, i will be that person…..but i NEVER insult, but definitely criticise….Fabianski thinks he is ready to be Aesenals number one, thats the delusion some Arsenal players must be reminded of….coz I see little reason for the boy to try and improve if he thinks he is now that good.

  • Diaminedave

    Well said Walter

  • Diaminedave

    Skwam – I pity you if that is the way your mind works that you think that fabianski or any Arsenal player thinks they are good enough.
    Seems a very cynical view of the world
    My bet is that they all think they are good but can get better.

  • gerald arunga odero

    good one tonny i just wish i could be able to afford funds to come to emirates and show some fans what supporting the team means……

  • Richard B

    Amongst the most negative fans that I know there seems to be a common thread of pessimism in general. They don’t seem to speak about their jobs or their life in general in very optimistic terms – and their ‘support’ of the football club seems to just follow the same pattern. They are, by nature, drains rather than radiators.
    It seems strange to me that people don’t look for the good rather than the bad – what’s the point of getting emotionally involved in something as ultimately unimportant as football if it’s not to cheer yourself up and take your mind off far more important (and potentially far less pleasant) things?
    If negativity comes naturally to you why not focus it on the opposition? Isn’t that what they’re there for?

  • indian_gunner

    Walter,
    superb post.Could not agree more with you but the thing is has anybody wondered why the AAA do what they do? they like arsenal after all and claim to be supporters.This is what i think, am speaking for loads of indian fans that i see and talk to. They think winning trophies is importannt and we are way behind.Abusing a player is a not justified thought but think of a 20 year old indian kid whose friends are all chelshit or manu supporters and he is constantly the butt of their jokes all the time.. so what does he do? he’s been a fan for a long time, so he cant go against arsenal..All he can do is blame the manager and the players.

    its really really sad but its happening, though i don’t agree with and support arsenal through thick and thin some kids can’t. that is where all these blogs come about from is my guess.Would you blame them totally for it?

  • Good to be a GOONAH!!

    The negativity around the club is driven by the media. Sly Sports, BBC hotsp*r and the like. Last night’s coverage of sp*rs disastrous CL qualification was heavily biased once more.

    The problem is that supporters buy into the nonsense peddled by the likes of John Cross and co.

  • Arsenal1Again

    Yet another Walter post themed ‘How to support Arsenal’. Look mate, who gives a fig about what Arsenal fans are doing or saying, when they’re saying it or why. Arsenal Supporters are people who put money into the club. People who buy tickets, people who buy merchandise from the club, people who subscribe to the services provided by the club. These Walter are the people who keep pay the wages of the Manager and the players, these are the people who the players hear, these are the people who matter. Look at the improvement of Eboue since we booed him, who would want him to leave now? Whether we cheer the team, boo the team, or just barrack the opposing fans, we’re supporters who’ve injected our cash into the club. It’s the place of other supporters in the ground to vocally reprimand fellow supporters and that’s how it’s done, not on a blog mate. I could have saved money by getting my kid’s replica shirts from the local High Street but that wouldn’t put money into my football club. It also taught by example because my kids now buy my Grandchildren their Arsenal clobber from the club only – albeit from their online shop featured on the official website. I’ve found all your posts interesting Walter, even this one about De Croc, but it needs to be said that you’re starting to sound preachy about how the club should be supported.

  • Another great article from Untold’. Even being an amateur footballer, and a poor one at that, I know how your performance can be completely undermined when you don’t feel the faith of those around you.

  • Arsefactor

    Emotion and passion has its ups and downs and isn’t always rational.
    I believe negativity has its place too.
    Eboue is a much improved player now than he was.
    Some would put this down to him pulling his socks up after the negative reaction he was receiving from the fans.
    Almunia has come out saying he wants to work hard to get the fans singing his name.
    As unlikely as that is to happen, it is still a good attitude and wouldn’t be the case if we just always sang every players name regardless of their performances.
    I just feel that sometimes a player needs a wake up call but i’m not advocating abuse or insults.

  • Bonnie Maina

    I know its only one game but I have a feeling that Kosielny will be as big a hit as Vermaelen was last year. When you read about what Redknapp did with Portsmouth’s finances or O’Neal at Villa, then you realize realize how fortunate we have been to have Wenger at the helm during the transition from Highbury to the Emirates. IN ARSENE WE TRUST!!

  • skwam

    if you guys dont see the fabianski clangers im well impressed by your naivety. its not about what the press says, or wat issues i have in my job…negative or not. but if you see a champions league or premiership winning keeper in fabianski based on his perfomances i have to admit we have totally different oipnions of the game that i must rest my case as we cant find common ground for debate. yes, if the guy goes on loan to improve then is drafted in the future, fine. but a goal keeper is one area of the pitch no team can afford the player making a capla mistakes every match. if you watched fabregas end of last season from the terraces, i saw a guy that was VERY disappointed about the side he captains and i believe his desire to leave has a lot to do with the fact that there is no strengthening of the side where strengthening is needed. its not all players that are ready to play at the top early on in the carrier, and its that strengthening in obviously weak position that often leaves the likes of me wondering why we are surprised we let in simple goals so often

  • jeeryy

    Walter whilst I slightly agree with your points about not booing ur own players I think thehre comes a time when the manager must decide when a player is certainly not going to cut it out @ afc. If we buy a new keeper what happens when he also has to keep covering every inch of the box because our defenders are to small and poorly positioned for set pieces? Are we then going to vilify Schwarzer or Given or whoever we buy? Has anyone at point noticed that our keepers are forced to make stupid runs and punches because we have absolutely no height and defensive capabilities against corners in particular. Little wonder Almunia insists on having players on the posts for everything. I have been looking at this for a long time now and I am really starting to see that our keepers are not protected in certain areas of the game in particular set pieces. Having watched a bit of football in my time and especially Arsenal we have for a long time before the last few seasons had god height and protection in the box. Many crosses etc hardly ever made it to the box on a short ball forcing players to hit a long corner or free kick which always comes with more issues. Looking back on Almunia’s performances we tend to forget the many many great saves, penalty saves etc that he has given us but of course we are only famous for our errors I guess. I am not sure that having the best GK in the world would cure Arsenal’s problems at the rear rather would just divert what could be the real issue onto another player to blame. For me the answer is to get some height on the front post and in the centre. Now you may remember we used to put Adebayor on the front post and he was forever heading balls away therefore averting much of the problem, now we have Diaby who for some reason plants himself in the middle of the box every time. Is it any coincidence that since we have lost the height we seem to be worse at the back, is this really the keepers fault? I feel that we may be avoiding a problem rather than dealing with it by purely blaming keepers.

  • Good article.However you must also take into consideration that fans are frustrated when obvious weak areas are not addressed by the manager and it seems the views of the fans are not taken seriously by the board or the manager.Atleast Acknowledge the fans concern once in a while and this negative attitude towards arsenal players will change.The fans have been frustrated for along time for lack of silverware and that is why they view almost all players including AW negatively.In all this i blame him ,Aw,because he had not acted quickly to rectify weak areas in the team. Who doesn’t know including our weak opponents e.g blacburn ,that we have a fragile defence and unstable GK? Untill we mix our young players with old experience players am sorry there is no silverware in the foreseable future.

  • wen_detta

    come on guys..that guy has been given several chances when almunia got injured last season..if only 1 high profile mistake i can accept..but it seems not..you talk about motivation and be supportive all the time until season over and we still here argue about our GK..loan him out just for a test..see if he’s good as you all have said..this epl not something to try..we need to determine..when you guys wanna learn???this type of thinking is getting nowhere..have you ever play football with your fully heart and scored but later on lost due to GK error..perform during practice but not during real match?? mentality is not there..too focus but not focus at all..damn i can be a better GK..

    you guys compare him with Eboue?? he became awful after AW put him on the winger role..which is he not very familiar yet..i really pity arsenal fan..i wonder if they had football knowledge or they just a fan..

  • walter

    Another thing I could have written in the article is that I even can understand that in the heat of the game you can shout at your own player. yes, it’s human. It’s something that can happen.

    But when we are on the internet we are just sitting at home or at work, there is not a game on, no extra pressure, no tension and then in such a moment still insulting a player is a thing I cannot stand. To insult your own player then is making me think that you in fact hate the player.

    Just my opinion.

  • I know after reading my comments many of my fellow gooners will say that fans like me r negative , go and follow other club and stuff like that , i have got a question for all you so called “faithful” fans that to see your club stagnate and management objectives totally unclear and still we fans should blindly chant IN ARSENE WE TRUST and stuff like that ,is this has to b done to b called as a true fan,NO SIR! we all know that now wenger himself is unsure what he is doing , all these years he focused on youth and suddenly he comes out and says that to win bpl u need experience so this means that all this time his aim was not to win it.and moreover he has started giving excuses for not winning anything b4 even a game has been played at emirates , he says that its not a debacle if arsenal dont win trophy bcoz arsenal spent nothng and man city spends 100 m $ , what kind stupidity and stubborness is that , now i have started to doubt wenger as i think all that success he had previously was down to team build by previous managers who were at arsenal and it was not a total and exclusive effort of mr.Wenger , and if any of us fans or arsenal players, wenger or anyone associated with arsenal football club is happy ,satisfied to see arsenal living in medicorcity (in relation to our expectations) then screw you!!!!!

  • Ham

    So we swap Nasri for Nani, Deneilson for Anderson, Diaby for Mikel, Almunia for Reina??????? When you see the Spuds get their butts wiped by The Young Boys then one can tell that we’ve quality players. The Arsenal 4 ever!

  • FEDDA

    @Loveya. Kinda bias comment. The youth project has barely started. Yes, you need experience to win the PL, but we have a good mix of youngsters and experienced players. If you seriously believe that Wenger’s aim was to not win the PL for 6 years, then you couldn’t be more wrong. As for the Man City vs Arsenal money comment, he simply stated that all the pressure is on Arsenal that spent £8 million and City who spent £100 million only need 4th to be a success. Calling Wenger stubborn is one thing, but stupid? He’s a freakin’ genious 🙂

  • @indian_gunner
    August 18th, 2010 at 9:30 am

    BHAI u r from where , i am from delhi and ur call that all unlimited arsenal indian supporters here in india wanting arsenal to win trophies r shallow is absurd , ok going by ur logic if u love something ‘ truly’ than it is totally wrong to wish progress for that entity , its one thing to appreciate a process of progress which was being undertaken by mr. wenger but 6yrs is more than enuf to judge it has been a total faliure( unless process was meant to keep arsenal in hinges of champions league) so i ask u ,if u observe that something is wrong with ur loved one would u sit and love and get behind it without demanding and wishing change( note – i dont want wenger to go) , for e.g if ur brother loves to eat chicken but suddenly he gets sick due to developement of allergy towards chicken then what u do , u dont encourage ur brother to eat chicken more ( as u love him and he loves eating chicken) u try to change his habit and change the process.ARSENAL 4 EVER AND EVER !!!

  • FinnGooner

    First Great blog as usual.
    I have noticed that lot of those fans who are really negative for a player saying he is S*T usually either ignores completely a player when he has good match or goes and find something to complain from that match in other words NEVER have anything positive to say about the player. Which I think is wrong. Of course you should be able to say when player is not that good but there is also the way you say it. I think even when you are critizing a player from your team you should do it with respect (booing or saying he is Sh*t is disrespectful).

  • FinnGun

    @arsenal1again
    why do you keep talking about how much money you’ve spent on Arsenal? You sound more like a disgruntled consumer than a supporter.

    @loveya
    Wenger’s crimes:
    – World class training ground
    – World class stadium
    – World class academy
    – 2 doubles
    – 1 unbeaten season
    – 3 league titles
    – 4 FA Cups
    – 13 consecutive seasons in champions league
    – 3 1st places, 6 2nd places, 2 3rd places, 2 4th places
    – Champions league runner up, 1 semi, 2 quarter finals
    – Fantastic football

  • Gf60

    Wouldn’t it be great a)if we could know which players responded to the stick and which to the carrot? And then b)to be able to synchronize the crowd to simultaneously shout either “Andrey, you’re bloody lazy!” or “Andrey, you can do so much better than that” ….depending into which group AA, for one, falls. 50 000 odd fans co-ordinated? Now that’s a real dream.

  • Dark Prince

    Completely agree with Arsefactor and Arsenal1again.

    Each fan has his chance for his voice to be heard. Be it the emirates stadium or the internet. I believe that even wenger has scolded our players at some point. Best example is last year’s visit to anfield when Wenger got angry as hell with the performances of our players at half time. And what did we get after that?? We got a spectacular performance from our boys. I think every player should be shown the support by his own performance. If any player deserves to be booed then he should be. Bcoz it wil make him better.

  • Arsenal1Again

    @FinnGun Simply because supporting the club includes financial support – putting money into the club. It’s relevant to the topic. When you’ve done that you have contributed to the overall machine and you’ve earnt the right to stand there and scream at a player who isn’t making an effort. Many spectators who’ve maybe had a shirt bought from a High St for their birthday and a ticket to watch the game is hardly what I call a supporter. My point is exactly what I said above, a real supporter would not buy club merchandise in the High St.

  • Paul N

    There is a great hypocrisy with the negative supporters that they dont get.

    The same people that were saying song was crap and that he should be sold are the same folk saying he is one of the best DM’s in the world now?!

    Now, how can that be defended rationally?

    Paying my money gives me no right to abuse someone. If you dont like the fact that they are overpaid and dont give enough effort, dont go to the games and give them your money, simple. Swearing at them is a self serving, poor alternative.

    ARSENAL!!

    Blessings!

  • Paul N

    Arsenal1Again, how does one qualify what a supporter is?

    I wouldnt qualify someone a supporter who goes around swearing at the player whom they assume are not trying hard enough.

    If you want your voice to be heard email Arsenal directly, send them letters or give them a call.