Sometimes it’s nice to go back and have a little look at nostalgia. So having a read on the official website this morning and reading the details of the ‘Men Against Boys’ article on the site (in reference to Anfield 89) was a lovely way to spend the first five minutes of my day at home by my desk. The article is here if you want to read.
I never got to experience that emotion as it happened in 89. I was six going on seven, my parents weren’t in to football (Dad was a golfer and didn’t have too much time for football) and so I didn’t even start playing until I reached seven, by which time I was only just picking a team to support. All of my mates supported Arsenal because all of their dads supported Arsenal and at seven-years-old you just want to fit in, so I got my mum to buy me a fake Arsenal kit with a sew on badge from North Weald Market. It was a changing point in my life of course, because the obsession grew exponentially from there, but in 89 I didn’t really know what was happening and I don’t think it was until the mid 90s that I properly started to realise the gravity of what that team achieved. BY then, of course, we’d won the league in 91, the domestic cup double in 93, the Cup Winners Cup in 94, so winning was a ‘thing’ that Arsenal did. But I speak to so many Arsenal fans who talk about the 87 League Cup as the catalyst, then the 89 League title as the next evolution, but at that age and even when we were winning things in the 90s, I just didn’t understand it.
I do now. Before that 87 League Cup win Arsenal hadn’t won anything for eight years. Then before that it was the 71 double, which was another eight years. If you were a fan born in the mid sixties – let’s just say 66 like my ol’ mate Mr Seager – you got to 21 years-old and you’d witnessed an FA Cup and League double, before the League Cup. That was it. By the time I was 21 my team had won the league three times, the League Cup once, the FA Cup four times. That’s an average of a trophy every odd year. A tremendous record. And despite the fact that we’ve tanked pretty hard and the football hasn’t been great in the last four or five years, I’ve still seen my team win two FA Cups. That’s with a declining Arsenal side.
Football is about the here and now, I know that, I understand that. But it’s also about the memories and for me when I go to a pub with my mates on a match day, it’s also about remembering the good times too. Talking about great goals is fantastic, but talking about great goals that win you titles smashes it in to the park. As you can tell, reading that Anfield 89 article has brought about a bit of nostalgia for me and whilst I didn’t experience it live and in the flesh, I’m proud that my club could make that little part of history and that I can share it with all of those people who were part of that experience. That means I can share in other parts of Arsenal history too. And so can you. It doesn’t matter if you started supporting Arsenal in 2002, or whenever, go and watch those old videos of the 91 season, or the 93 cup finals, and if you’re a true Arsenal fan you’ll get just as excited, happy and proud that you are part of the Arsenal family. That’s what it’s all about; those shared experiences that we can relive together.
That collective memory we can all share in and take pleasure in is also why sometimes I have to roll my eyes when I see people arguing online. I often think “are we not cut from the same cloth?” and it’s why unless somebody else is really abusive, I’ll always respect their opinion. Arsenal fans don’t always see things the same. I know a few people who, for them, the time with Arteta is over and they want a new guy in. I’m not there yet. I am still holding on to everything that change will come under him and I am desperate for it to happen. I know most Arsenal fans are. In fact, ALL Arsenal fans are, otherwise you’re not really a fan at all, if you don’t want Arsenal to win. But Some people just have a little more faith – call it blind or over-optimistic if you will – than others and that’s fine. We all experience The Arsenal in different ways. Just don’t resort to abuse online or getting in to arguments/discussions that can’t end in “ok, fair enough, that’s your opinion”.
My wife said to me yesterday “when you see somebody in an Arsenal shirt walking along the street, do you immediately think he is your mate or ‘one of us”? and without hesitating I said “absolutely”. We went running on Sunday together and a guy was wearing the home kit from two seasons ago. I wasn’t wearing any colours and so just passed him by, but if I was wearing anything Arsenal related, there would have been a nod and maybe a smile. That’s because we’re of the same clan. We speak the same football language. There is a natural affinity with that person. That guy could have had a whole host of traits I dislike. They could be a person who if they weren’t wearing an Arsenal shirt I just wouldn’t get on with. But with that cannon on their chest we have a natural affinity and I know there is at least one topic that would bring us together.
That’s the power of football and that’s the power of being an Arsenal fan. It’s painful at times – a lot lately! – but it is who we are, what we’re got, and what defines us.
Catch you tomorrow with a match preview of the Wimbledon game and some thoughts on line up, etc.
Have a good one.