Originally posted on Goonersphere.
The Oxford English dictionary defines the word ‘supporter’ as; “a person who is actively interested in and wishes success for a particular sports team.”
That is one definition of a possible two, but the other surrounds politics and that is one subject that should never be mixed with football.
So, to qualify as a supporter in every sense of the word, you must wish success for your chosen team, and show an active interest in said team.
In turn, that is why Arsenal has such a large volume of support. With every occurrance documented and beamed to all corners of the globe, interested parties can view as much Arsenal-related content as their hearts desire.
And yet, the sniping and vehement arguments which attempt to pigeonhole people into handy categories goes on – regardless of how the team is performing.
The level of vitriol and general negativity that hangs menacingly in every nook and cranny of social media has not dissipated, despite the object of our affections performing well on the pitch. The fanbase is well and truly fractured, and this is symptomatic of the era we live in.
There is an entitlement, that we should be contending thanks to the bulging bank accounts of the club. The matchday revenue of the club is the largest in Europe, and this is seen as a ticket that automatically gives us a right to win the majority of games.
Much like the excellent Arseblog article recently mentions, when did supporting the club become about victory at all costs? When did we lose sight of the journey?
We cannot simply enjoy Arsenal winning and keeping pace at the top of the league. Even though this is exactly what we had wished for at the beginning of the season. I’ve seen some truly preposterous tweets and entries that scrape the barrel of incredulity recently, as the sources for such idiocy try in vain to find a negative which they can pick at like an infected wound.
The supposed bad form of players. Arsene Wenger’s selections. The fact we didn’t go on to score more goals after hammering three past Chelsea in the first half – which apparently shows a lack of a killer instinct.
These people are the antithesis of a supporter. They antagonise with the hope of luring you into a futile war of words, but this is their raison d’etre. They don’t want to be shown the path of enlightenment. They just want to rile you and get a reaction.
They are not supporters, in any sense of the word. The word itself though, could do with another definition to add to the two existing variations.
Any fan who has had to alter their daily routine to catch a match. Anyone who has had their entire day ruined by a loss, or alternatively had a fantastic day thanks to a win. That qualifies as supporting the club.
Does a season ticket holder pull rank over any other fan? Does someone from Manilla miss out on being a Gooner because he has to stream a game? Does someone who pumps money into the club coffers quantify as a fan more than anyone else?
No, to put it plainly. Twitter may be a sharp double-edged sword, but it has also enabled me to peer into people’s lives and see how dedicated they are to the team. Some have to set their alarm at an ungodly hour just to view highlights of the game. They then go through their regular day-to-day routine with a couple of hours sleep. They have ruined their day just to watch The Arsenal. That is dedication.
The ones who don’t have the luxury of visiting The Emirates and seeing a live game, they go to some extreme measures to keep up with events. We take for granted the proximity of the club, and the continuous flurry of news from all sources. Those who are less fortunate are hungrier for even the tiniest drop of Arsenal news, and more often than not, have tooled up on the history of Arsenal. Knowledge is power, and if you know your Sir Chips Keswick from your Sir Henry Norris then that is also proof that you carry the club with you, wherever you are.
There is no hierarchy, there are no levels of support. Of course, the away fans who travel to all points of the UK and Europe – and pay a princely sum to do so – have a deep affinity with the club. Don’t all of us though?
Ask yourself this: When Arsenal lose a game, how long does it take for your mood to lighten? How long do you wait before you brave social media again? Do you grasp for positives or flagellate yourself with negativity?
If you do any of the above, then you are a Gooner, and don’t let anyone tell you differently. We win together and lose together. In an ideal world, anyway.
Enjoy the ride. It could be worse, you could support a team which are never in contention for trophies.