Tag Archives: support

Choosing Arsenal and our Scottish ties

People support their team for a myriad of reasons, but if polled, the most popular reason fans choose their team is because of family tradition.

Which doesn’t make it a choice for most.

I’m jealous of those who have their support passed down to them like an intangible family heirloom. It runs through the family and is simply expected that the new generation will follow the same course. It means that the values and beliefs of the club from bygone eras will continue to live on in a way.

I found my club calling while I was in Scotland. It was the tail-end of the George Graham tenure, our football wasn’t exactly vibrant and a title challenge didn’t look remotely close – but as a cup team? That incarnation of Arsenal could rise above the ignominy of their league position and give any team in the land a game.

I didn’t enjoy football prior to the last two seasons of Graham’s reign. I regularly had Rangers games spoonfed to me on terrestrial TV and they were my Scottish team – but I didn’t have that fire in my belly to watch them, to lend my support, to spend inordinate amounts of money on merchandise and to go to Ibrox to watch them in the flesh.

When I began to follow Arsenal though, I would hoover up anything about them. Football magazines with posters. Collectibles (remember Pogs?) newspaper cutouts, Match of the Day – anything I would consume with voracity. On the rare occasion that an Arsenal game was televised? I was there on the edge of my seat.

Supporting Arsenal when they weren’t a fashionable team – while in Scotland – presented a few objections from pals at school. They would regularly scrawl on my Arsenal pencilcase, colouring it blue or green – or questioning why I didn’t follow Man United if I wanted to support an English team.

It wasn’t that simple. You know as well as I do that when you become a fan, it’s not as if you can sever ties. The bond (should) be unbreakable. So I weathered the abuse and jokes.

I’m quite proud now to say I’m a Scottish Gooner. And looking at the club’s history, my nation is intrinsically linked to the club.

First and foremost, Arsenal wouldn’t exist without a certain Scotsman.

David Danskin, the man behind the original idea to form the club.


George Graham, Frank McLintock, Alex James, David Herd, Bob Wilson, Jimmy Logie, Eddie Kelly, Willie Young, Charlie Nicholas. These men were fine representatives for the club and upheld the Arsenal Way. It further strengthens my love for the club and my pride as a Scotsman.

There has been a dearth of Scotsmen wearing our red and white in recent years however. Young Charlie Gilmour was our last and before that it was a big gap. This is easy to explain – the quality of Scottish players didn’t exactly enamour top clubs to chase after their services…

But now, we have Kieran Tierney. The left-back started his Gunners career with injury, but now we are starting to see what the fuss was about. His darting runs down the flank are far from simply fast. They are pre-meditated and perfectly timed to coincide with the attack. His delivery is probably among the best at the club from out wide – and he has certainly destroyed any notion of struggling to jump the gap between the uncompetitive SPL and the Premier League.

Tierney is another link, another thread interwoven in the story between Arsenal and Scotland.

Arsenal Unveil New Signing

It may also help to strengthen our fanbase north of the border too.

Fans nowadays have an array of different mediums to consume football and it is easier than ever to forge the bond between fan and club. But the allure of glory is still very strong for kids, which is why there is a healthy contingent of City, Liverpool and Chelsea fans across the UK and beyond.

Hopefully though, Arsenal will be chosen by just as many by those kids who don’t have heritage to fall back on when choosing their club. Hopefully they will turn on the TV and the first match they devour greedily will be our boys on the pitch, scoring goals for fun and giving us all heart problems when they defend.

If these kids like excitement and unpredictability – there really is only one club in the running.


This Is The Voice We Need

Some saw it as a shameful publicity act, aligned with certain Arsenal social media-affiliated names that use airtime to push their own celebrity agenda.

But the #WeCareDoYou movement was done with the club firmly in mind.

It was almost holistic. How could we as fans band together and make those who run the club, see that the direction the club is going in is filled with peril and needs a course correction to amend the alarming slide we seem to be in?

The powerhouses of Arsenal Twitter joined forces. Those that push articles on a daily/weekly basis. Crucial parts of the fanbase that circulate the Arsenal message worldwide, essentially the ripples on the water of football news.

The message was clear and avoided the inarticulate chuntering that has followed previous ‘protests.’ It pleaded with those involved with Stan Kroenke that this model of ownership has done nothing to align itself with the manifesto that was used when Stan was in the throes of purchasing all shares of Arsenal FC.

That manifesto said that they were in it to make Arsenal a European giant, a perennial contender.

Now, just like the #WeCareDoYou message states, we are further away from that than ever.

We are about to embark on our third successive Europa League campaign.

We are a huge gulf away from competing for our own domestic title, never mind battling with the big guns for the Champions League trophy.

This is far removed from what we were promised when we moved to The Emirates. This is in stark contrast to the painting that KSE Holdings showed us – a supposed vision of our future under the Kroenke’s stewardship.

Do we have a right to voice our displeasure? Damn right we do, and the #WeCareDoYou movement made their first step in the most erudite way. It garnered such a  response with their fellow fans that it prompted Josh Kroenke to issue a statement on behalf of the ownership.


This statement made promises again, one surrounding expensive signings. The use of the word ‘expensive’ was the wrong choice, as it peeled back the veil a little on the attitudes of the sterile Kroenke clan. They think that we just want them to spend money. They think we want them to shake fistfuls of currency at the club in a glib manner, just as long as the cash is flowing.

Wrong. We want our club to compete in the transfer market, but we don’t want to be over-reliant on the Americans, nor any other. We just want what was promised to us, and what is justified for a club on our scale.

A scale that will soon start to shrink in terms of modern football powerhouses.

The #WeCareDoYou statement said that further steps would be taken should this abject approach continue, as we skate blithely toward ignominy. It is quite infuriating as we see our rivals go out and throw their weight around, and we continue to avoid strengthening to such a degree that weaknesses in the team remain even when they stare us all blankly in the face.

We want an ownership who cares, much like the hashtag infers. We want to be ushered into this new generation we all envisioned with an enthusiasm, rather than the coasting nature that we have all been privy to.

Even in our biggest matches, we see hide nor hair of Kroenke. We seem to be a mere trophy on the walls of Kroenke’s office, ignoring us as he plays with his precious LA Rams. His collection of sports teams is quite extensive, but most currently tread water. It is quite terrifying how we seem to be circling the drain to obscurity in the last few years, much like they did too.

The Denver Nuggets, Colorado Avalanche, Colorado Rapids and a few more are currently in his pocket. These clubs, LA Rams aside, have not been near a trophy for quite some time.

We are dealing well with the loss of the lucrative Champions League revenue, but when our rivals are proactively strengthening their teams whenever weakness is perceived, it then sees us lag behind even more, rather than aiming to catch up.

The #WeCareDoYou movement is a shout from the fans that we aren’t happy with the current direction we are facing in. Instead of craning our neck to look up, we are staring flatly across at a hard-baked desert, with nothing of note on the horizon, just the shimmer of a promise – a mirage.

This is more than a hashtag, it is a chance for us to unite for once instead of being divided over the trivial. We all represent The Arsenal and this banner we are now flying could well make an impact on the ideals of Kroenke and co, if the first step is anything to go by.

Let us all make this voice louder than any before it. The manner in which this hashtagged group made their first move is the right one, and together we can make leaps and bounds in the new direction that we want to.

In Sickness and Health, We’re Still All Gooners

Supporting a club is intrinsically linked to matters of the heart.

We take joy from victory, and we mire ourselves in misery when things take a turn for the worst on the pitch.

This season has been a particularly tough one for us Gooners, as our Premier League campaign has hit the skids as soon as it started – we’ve never been further away from bidding for a first title since 2004.

This season is by far the worst under Arsene Wenger, and has seemingly been the watershed moment for the majority as it is unavoidably clear that in order to move forward, we require a change in direction to shake us from the reverie we seem to be in. That change is now happening this summer.

Another change this season though, has seen another alarming rise in negativity.

There seems to be far more people who take what appears to be glee from defeat, as each demoralising defeat pushes Wenger one step closer to a corner he cannot escape. We have a large portion of so-called fans, that rear their heads whenever we lose, and use it as a catalyst to push their hate-filled agenda against Wenger.

The bottom line is clear – and always has been for Gooners.

A defeat is not to be sought, and anyone who enjoys the opportunities that come from us losing, is surely supporting the wrong club.

We enjoy it when our rivals lose, especially now that tottenham seem to be enjoying their moment in the sun. When they, United, Chelsea and Liverpool lose, it is always a positive, and normally allows us to either catch up, or in recent seasons, overhaul them for a superior position. So for one of our own to what can only be described as ‘revelling in’ it when we are beaten?

That is not supporting your club.

The vitriol aimed at Wenger has been disgraceful at times. Yes, the Frenchman seemed too stubborn to recognise that this is the time to go, and his enduring stay could well end up being a detriment to our season, and beyond. But the names and words involved have been horrible, and have no place directed at our own manager.

The very reason you are so disappointed, is the high standards you now expect. Those same standards have been instilled by Wenger. Without him, then you wouldn’t be as hurt, or angry.

Criticism is just, and some of the fare served up thus far has been dire, and deserved booing, as well as calling Wenger out on some decisions. His failure to address certain long-term issues have been a massive reason why we’re playing catch-up with the rest.

He doesn’t deserve hatred though.

Anger? Of course, and if you can’t separate the two, then you may have missed a year or two of education. It is quite easy to express displeasure without wishing harm on someone, or calling them hateful names.

Wenger has had his chips at Arsenal, and a better suited man is being lined up to come in, but Arsene should always have our respect. Even the most outspoken of our critics can see that. Lee Dixon and Ian Wright have spoken of our malaise and how Wenger needs to go, but notice the omissions of shocking language, and the need to pour scorn on the man himself.

Wenger’s results haven’t been good enough, but the man himself doesn’t warrant anyone destroying him. His capacity to do the job, perhaps, but not of himself. He has always carried himself with the utmost dignity, such is the Arsenal Way, and even in the face of some terrible results and fierce questions from the press, he has always done everything with class.

We could learn a thing or two from that approach.

It is his time to go, and at the end of the season we will face the decision to replace him. Until he goes, we judge what happens on the pitch. So let him know if things weren’t good enough, but refrain from verbally attacking him, either with keyboard or voice. It isn’t how Arsenal conducts itself.

It is hard to avoid how bad we’ve been, and he knows more than anyone how bad we’ve been. Just because he stops short of laying into his players, doesn’t mean he is oblivious to it. Picking out positives where he can is his way of maintaining what semblance of confidence he can for his players, who need that in order to play better.

Plus, if fans are stopping short of doing the same, it doesn’t mean we are crazy Wenger fanboys. We all pretty much recognise this is the end, it doesn’t mean we aren’t a little nostalgic, and even a little sad.

We want better just like the outspoken people do.

Let us unite behind the team until the time comes. Heaven knows, our team could do with the support.

The Ties That Bind Us

Published in Goonersphere.

The once vibrant setting had lost its colour, and now the stark greys dominated his eyeline. Listless noises filtered to his ears, but he paid no heed.

Hands stuffed in pockets to shield from the unforgiving wind that buffeted around his surroundings, his body language was not solely due to the harsh weather though.

He had been warned by his friends that this was a destructive relationship, that it had been doomed for years. Blindness goes hand in hand gleefully with love though, and he had blundered on, ignorant of the perilous path he was taking.

He had invested his life into this hazardous duopoly, and the scars had begun to show. The hurt that currently enveloped him had transformed recently from the all-encompassing misery of years gone by, into something akin to the numbness you receive at the dentist. 

Were they aware of the pain they had caused? Why did he continue to plough on when on the horizon was the very real threat of sorrow? 

He lifted his head and sighed. 

It hadn’t been all bad. The very nature of his bind was down to the memories which he clasped to him. The adoration he exuded toward his beloved had bloomed in the perfect storm. Technicolour snapshots of happier times was the matinee which played through his mind when his brain sought escapism, and it normally was the ideal medicine which he was always keen to sup from.

Right now though, in the aftermath of another blowup, another stumble in the relationship, the montage of bliss did nothing to avert his mind from the darkest of clouds which would soon overrule all in his mind. 

The rocky terrain which his faith in their liaison now sat on was down to the series of moments his partner had disappointed him. They say it is the hope that kills you, and he had hoped it would change, but the destructive behavioural pattern had shown no sign of changing, until recently.

He had puffed his chest out and goaded the very friends who had denounced his affections. A few weeks ago, the relationship had been in the rudest of health. It appeared to the majority, even his doubting pals, that the habitual mistakes that had blighted their friends partner had been erased. 

That seemed so long ago as he stood in the same spot he had done for the past half an hour. He had ruminated on every second of the latest calamity, and as painful as it was, it had also served as an awakening. 

The fact that he would go into work and be the butt of the jokes, and be castigated for never learning, and how every weekend carried the ominous threat of ruination. It was the epitome of being a supporter.

The very word means ‘to support.’ Through the good times he had enjoyed, it was easy to declare your love for your chosen team. It was in recent years though, that had defined exactly what it meant to be a fan, a Gooner. If he even entertained the idea of cutting the ties which linked him and the club every time they struggled, then the ties weren’t strong enough to begin with.

He had angry thoughts and things he would like to change about the dynamic of the team, but he would never, ever stop supporting the club. 

They may be the root cause of many a lost weekend, arguments and pain, but when you choose a club, it is for life. There are some who wish ill on the very club they claim they support, but isn’t that an oxymoron, he pondered?

He could never even begin to think of hoping for a bad result, it just didn’t fit. He would go on and continue in the same vein of the last twenty or so years. He would look forward to next week and a victory.

A lady in a hi-viz jacket approached him, and said that the stadium was closing. He nodded and made his way down the concrete stairs. 

Next week may conceal another bout of anguish, but it also held the very tangible possibility of redemption, and the moment the ball hits the net from an Arsenal player – those seconds that your stomach lurches into your throat and you lose all sensibilities as you bounce around like a loon – were what makes these instances of gloom worth it.

He left the stadium with a little bit of hope again. 

Thank You Bradley Lowery

Football as a form of entertainment is being watered down in this modern generation.

In its purest form, we revel in the artistry that unfolds in front of us. We throw ourselves into the tribalism of it all, our fires stoked by the accelerant of competition. We all place men who wear the same colours as we do on a well-polished plinth, with every heralded touch and decisive goal they are raised yet higher to the heavens.

Yet, the sport is now caught in a maelstrom of sporting pestilence, supping away at the vitality of the game. Every game brings with it a noxious cloud of contentious decisions and professionals involved in dubious gamesmanship. Every form of media is emblazoned with reminders of the greed and corruption that takes place across the footballing globe.

Then there is the ridiculous sums of money that course through the veins of the sport. Obscene wads of currency bandied around for everything from players to corporate logos plastered on every visible surface.

It is enough to make you lament the state of what we once adored. The core of the game, the very reason we still tune in and pump our time and money into football is still present, but it is covered in a thick film which is difficult to remove from our fingers, never mind forget.

There are moments though, which are seared in our memory. They are the underpinnings of our passion, they are what forged our permanent fascination.

The inspiring story of Bradley Lowery is one of these – and we owe him a huge debt of gratitude.

The tragically short life of this heroic little boy should not be remembered for the battles that he waged head on with neuroblastoma, not that they should be belittled. Every procedure, every day he suffered, he was face to face with an enemy that would have any of us on our knees. Bradley was an absolute warrior and his bravery was there for all to see.

It was his absolute joy at every minute of football that he watched. Camera’s may or may not have tastelessly fixated upon Bradley when he was in the stands or in an Executive Box, but his eyes told a different story to the signs of battle he beared.

They were illuminated by football, by his heroes.

He typified that wonder which we have all forgotten. The players from our past which all reside in a special nook in our memories, our own heroes. Bradley looked to the Sunderland players and despite their woes on the pitch – they were all he wanted, all he wanted to be. For this slice of time, there was no pain. He was with his heroes.

When Bradley was mascot for Sunderland, for England. When he led out the teams, his beaming face was the reminder we all needed that while there may be ills debilitating football, there may be times we forget why we are infatuated with twenty two men chasing a ball on grass, Bradley’s spirit is exactly what we need to summon, if that superhuman feat is possible for the rest of us.

We all fell in love with Bradley, all our tribes united under just one banner – the admiration and respect for a six year old who just wanted to watch his beloved Sunderland. This coming together of fans is testament to Bradley.

This little man has served as a wake up call – his strength in the face of such overwhelming adversity was a big dose of reality, and a huge inspiration.

But it was his love for the game, evident even to his last days, that serves as perhaps the most potent of smelling salts to us all. We can summon him in our mind’s eye when we are beleaguered by the detractors of pure football, and we can also do the same for any trouble which plants itself in our path.

Bradley Lowery was the biggest fan, and the strongest person I have known.

Thank you Bradley, you are my hero.

The Junior Gunners Membership Warning

Posted originally on Goonersphere.

Young Freddie was six, and had one wish for his seventh birthday.

His dad had named him after a famous footballer, but Freddie had so far resisted all attempts to start following football. He was too busy playing with his friends and all that came with being a kid. Football was something some of his friends did, but it hadn’t grabbed him.

Until now.

Watching his dad, his hero, watching Arsenal on TV, had drawn him in, and he sat down to watch what the fuss was about, and that was it. He was hooked.

That was five months ago and since then, it was all about Arsenal. For his birthday, he wanted nothing more than to become a fully-fledged Junior Gunner. He wanted to be a part of the club and carry around his membership card to show his mates. 

On the morning of his birthday, he had excitedly ripped open all of his presents, but the last one, inconspicuous in its size, held his wish inside.

After he had frantically ripped the Arsenal wrapping paper, the membership box came into his view. Emblazoned on the front was an assembly of the current players, sprinkled with a few past greats that he had yet to become aware of. His dad would amend that soon enough. 

First things first though, he wanted to open the box. He wanted to see his name on the membership card. He wanted a Gunnersaurus to be his bedtime companion. Freddie opened the box and sitting on the top of the contents he so desired, was a sheet of A4 paper. It had words on and looked important, so his first reaction was to give it to his dad.

Freddie’s dad took the sheet and let his eyes skim over the words, and before Freddie could get his hands on the contents inside the box, his dad stopped him and said, “I’ve got to read this to you son. Before you get too attached.”

Dear Junior Gunner,

We at Arsenal Football Club are delighted that you have chosen this wonderful team to support. Arsenal have been entertaining their fans since 1886, and you are the next step in what promises to be an exciting and amazing step into the future.

Being a Gooner is not just a choice you make. It is a decision that stands with you for the rest of your life. It will define certain things you do and say, and will shape the relationships you build along the way. No matter where you go, you will carry the cannon with you.

This is why this warning is included in every Junior Gunners Membership pack. We have struggled to match the success of seasons past, and in spells in our history we have done so too. Football is not just trophies and glory. When you choose a club to support, you tie yourself to the good times and the bad.

You will have some days ruined when we lose. Your mood will darken and lighten at the kick of a ball. You will be at the mercy of your team and the results they earn.  There will be moments that you will never forget, and times when you wish you could forget. You must make this decision with all of this in mind.

You offer your support to this team even in the toughest of times, that is the nature of a supporter. This first step of becoming a member of the club means that you are a Gooner for life. This is a massive commitment.

Dear new supporter, you have some fantastic memories waiting for you in the future. We at Arsenal will be with you every step of the way. We value your support.

Freddie sat looking at his dad, with his new Arsenal scarf wrapped around his neck.

He had already made his choice. 

Arsenal – A New Religion?

A religion is defined as ‘ a particular system of faith or worship ‘ and ‘ a pursuit or interest followed with great devotion ‘.

After missing yet another game due to work commitments, I decided to ask if I could finish a little earlier. When asked the reason why I should be allowed to scrimp on the amount of life I give to the company who pays my mortgage, apparently ” so I can catch the second half of the Arsenal game ” does not amount to a sufficient excuse. I was scoffed at and I fulfilled my responsibility with a scowl on my face.

At every viable opportunity, I took my phone and followed our beloved team the best way I knew how – through Twitter. Whilst there are better filtered avenues through which I could funnel my adoration, Twitter is by far the most prompt. I can only imagine how many of us – via social engagements or work – have been glued to the screen of your fruit-based smartphone ( others are available ) as your thumb performs actions which make it resemble a skin-toned blur – all to refresh a page in which text is the sole proprietor of your respective joy or pain.

Continue reading Arsenal – A New Religion?