Who’s that team they call the Arsenal?

4
Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Dom Le Roy

For the die-hard north London Spurs’ fan, the above name conjures up a myriad of emotions.
Let’s be honest here, like teams in blue in Manchester, Liverpool, and to a lesser extent, Bristol, we have all lived in the shadow of a large, red oppressor for far too long to be funny. Personally, I hail from an era when the two north London behemoths were of similar size and fortune, only for a [now castigated] Frenchman to arrive and turn our respective styles on their heads. Believe me, that has hurt over the years; deeply; a period in our history which I never thought would ever end. Now, and in light of the current reversal of power between the two, it is difficult to write objectively without the spectre of Wright, Vieira, Henry and co. reminding of all of the recurring nightmares of our recent past. But I will. And I’ll enjoy the long-awaited exorcism.

It was written in to nineties’ and noughties’ history that ‘The Woolwich Nomads’ regularly finished 25-30 points clear of their local rivals, a two or three goal reverse at Highbury, then, very nearly a diplomatic result. It was also a time when we, the ex-flamboyant ones, were attracting some of the most hapless and hopeless players ever seen in a lilywhite shirt, some so bad I still can’t believe our scouts saw anything in them. Those were times when the mere thought of Tottenham Hotspur in Europe, let alone on a regular basis, would have been met with a barrage of laughter; laughter that has recently been returned back down the Seven Sisters Road after a twenty-year wait for the Tottenham faithful. And faithful we have remained, where other fans may well have flaked away.

From an outsider’s perspective, Arsenal are a club living a civil War. Worse still, they are suffering from an overwhelming percentage of ‘new’ fans; those who jumped aboard the SS Arsenal when football ‘launched’ in 1992; those perfectly depicted on the now defunct ‘Fast Show’, and when the team were successful. ‘New’ fan has different expectations to the old die-hards. ‘New’ fan has been convinced that winning is everything and that nothing else matters. ‘New’ fan dives in front of an ArsenalFanTV microphone whenever opportunity presents itself. ‘New’ fan tells me to my face that Man. United are his ‘real’ rivals – until his teams’ demise, when he wants to be my enemy again!

I have loved football since I could walk, a true obsessive. My own connection with the game was via playing, watching, consuming every nuance and snippet of news, minus a devotion to FIFA games, or boasting that I was a better person for supporting a team that won everything in sight. Now, I have media ‘experts’ telling me to change my connection with a game that has been my life; that winning is paramount; that when my team is not winning, I am a lesser person. This is why people simply cannot take their team losing anymore. Thanks for the wisdom, Mr Durham. I’ll try to learn the lesson from on high while you try your frantic best to morph in to a watered down version of Howard Stern. I’ll carry on supporting, travelling, meeting with mates, while you spread the omni-present anger and frustration that sells your show!

Yet perspective is needed. Arsenal’s demise is to a ‘lowly’ sixth place, whereas Spurs’ slipped down to ‘mid-table obscurity’, and even the old Second Division! In essence, Arsenal, for twenty-odd years at least, have been weaned on a long-term, ridiculous expectation, which is now biting them firmly on their extensive, expensive backsides. Logically, no team has ever dominated football for longer than a handful of years, but the latest red recruits seem to see success as their birthright, whereas West Ham, Tottenham, even Chelsea fans have more of a hold on reality, all having visited football’s graveyard. Meanwhile, I am almost wallowing in their moans, groans and irrationalities as much as enjoying the wizardry being created at my beloved Lane by Merlinio Pochettino. I shouldn’t, but I just can’t help myself. 

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4 COMMENTS

  1. You have made some interesting points & taken a swipe at ‘Modern’fans which is fair enough.
    However there has always been a natural pecking order in football & the fans of the BIGGEST teams will always have higher expectations. Man U, Liverpool & Arsenal will always be the biggest teams on their manor so the fans rightly or not will always expect more. Spurs are a good club & are doing great at the moment but will never be the biggest club in North London. Rivalry in modern football has tended to be forged by competition rather than by geography. Spurs have not really competed on the pitch for the best part of 20 years with Arsenal so its only natural they were not seen as Major Rivals. Bit like saying Espanyol are Barcas main rivals.

    • yeah becausd barca celebrate st Espanyolday!! your man is bang on. Woolwich call us deluded but the irony is they themselves are deluded in the fact that for years they actually believed they could challenge for the title. Even after hearing the professor state that 4th… yes 4th is as good as a trophy. Have they enjoyed the last 10 years? Wenger has.

  2. Willothfc.I agree the last 10 years have not been the best for Arsenal but it appears that THFC & its fans really cannot crow. They havent finished above them for what 20yrs :0.Ok they will FINALLY this year Yippetty doo but it looks like Chelsea have won the league. But even if they did big deal,Leicester won it last year.Arsenal have won the top division what 13 times Spurs only 2 so even if they win a few more times they will still lag behind by some margin. Same in the FA Cup You may think Arsenal fans are petty celebrating finishing above spurs for 20 years but its really just a bit of banter. How about this for pettiness? Spurs building a 61000 seater stadium to try & ‘appear’ bigger than Arsenal.It is frankly laughable & shows the mindset. Pochettino is an excellent manager & levy has done a very good but job but can you really see Spurs being above Arsenal for years to come? Its fine to enjoy your time in the sun, fair play! Spurs as said will never be as big as Arsenal & although most Tottenham fans deep down know & accept it. I just think that it really gets under their skin.

    • Genuine thank for your response Mr. Scarlett, but you’ve more or less displayed the entire gamut of bitterness, and what I call the ner-ner-ner-ner tone of a typical modern day gooner.
      Were Spurs, or Chelsea, anyone, to win the CL, the PL, the FA Cup, The Grand National and The Boat Race for the next 20 years, you’d still give me a history lesson about how Arsenal are better… Believe me, that’s all I’m hearing from you boys right now, so I know we’ve got you rattled..
      Spurs sat on their hands under the heinous, wasted years of Sugar, and now that they are finally showing ambition, you cannot wait to crab them. Yes, we WILL enjoy our days in the sun. In fact, over the next few years I hope to be diagnosed with first degrees burns from the gathering together of such an exciting and together squad. If anything is getting under anyone’s skin right now it’s seeing yourselves in sixth place, with your team a disparate collection of mercenary nomads, and even your fans fighting each other in an embarrassing display of petulance that you wouldn’t want to see in your child..
      At the end of the day, it’s ONLY football, but in recent times I’ve witnessed a distinct lack of honesty, logic and wit from your end of the Seven Sisters Road. That’s why I often quote all of the rest of us in London. We’ve collectively had time to learn the word humility as you guys cleared up. Now it’s someone else’s turn…

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