On a Thursday the feeling would start….. the nerves, the anticipation, the hatred. Friday, is about making the arrangements, what pub, what train, what time. Saturday comes and we jump out of bed, it’s never a struggle, and we pace until we leave the house. It could only mean one thing…. London derby!
The result means everything, it’s about pride, it’s about status and it’s about pecking order. It’s not 3 points, it’s everything. Form goes out of the window, it’s about two teams fighting with everything they have and usually comes down to a bit of luck on the day.
Well, that’s how it used to be.
Now, its all a bit more respectful. I don’t like that.
I sat on the train yesterday after waking at 4am and not being able to sleep. Nerves, felt sick, not confident but the hope was still there. I listened to a couple of blokes on the train who were also on their way to Wembley, they were Tottenham fans, and were talking about how great it is to sit with 80,000 Tottenham fans every other week. They felt the club was going in the right direction with a new fan base and how magnificent it was that they are getting so many new fans.
At first I got some satisfaction as thinking ‘You have no idea just what is ahead of you when you move into your new ground’ then I started to feel a bit deflated. Is this what it’s become. Success now is about how many people you get through your gates? How many people will buy the over priced crap lager and how many people wear the shirt?
When I got to Wembley we walked up to the ground with them. What’s that all about? Where was the atmosphere outside the ground? Where was the nervousness? It’s all gone. To be honest I felt exactly the same at their place last year. The atmosphere was flat, they stood outside their pubs tapping their toes to Chas n Dave, drinking out of their plastic glasses and looked menacing, but actually they weren’t. The hatred is starting to die. Exactly the same can be said at The Emirates, it’s all very gentlemanly.
Silly kick off times don’t help but our fan base, as has theirs, has been diluted with a new passive hardcore.
Our form this year, along with a split fan base isn’t conducive for a good day out. Half hearted attempts at songs, sitting in arenas rather than football grounds all contributes to a pleasant day out. But I don’t want a pleasant day out. I want a day of emotion and elation, I would even take anger rather than the acceptance that has become my new best friend.
I sat with 3 people to my right yesterday wearing half and half scarves. Half and half scarves for that game in the away end. Unbelievable. Shocking. Disgraceful.
I also saw loads of them wearing them, more of them than our lot to be honest. Where have our London derbies gone? How did they end up like this?
Rewind to a few weeks back and the semi final against Chelsea. A league cup semi final and for many fans it was an option game. Most hardcore and regulars chose not to go. I went in my usual seat which is littered with old clockenders with a history to be faced with a bunch of new faces. Now I have some respect for these fans who will come to any game they can get a ticket for, that I have no problem with. But, I sat watching a London derby semi final! I’ve never sat for a semi final in my life! Within 5 minutes I was told to sit down by someone who I’ve never seen before. Two kids in front of me wearing their scarves and really up for watching their first semi final stood on their chairs. Great I thought, maybe we do have a new generation coming through. Shouting abuse and making the odd wanker sign and they were ready for their love affair with our club to take hold. No, they were told to sit down, they sat down for the rest of he game and applauded politely at the end like all the others.
My opinion is there are a few reasons for this sudden change, the main one being so many proper Arsenal have had enough and stay away now. They keep their season tickets and away scheme members as an insurance policy but they then sell them on to these people who want to visit an arena and want to wear a half and half scarf. There is no singing because they don’t know the songs, there is no hatred because they haven’t had the experiences…..and sadly, they never will.
I get people wanting to stay away, totally understand that, trust me, I am very very close to also calling it a day myself. But, we have to keep fighting. I keep hearing that people will come back when Wenger has gone but I feel scared that there won’t be a club to come back to. You will come into the ground and hate it because it’s being allowed to be taken over by people who want a pleasant day out. People who wear half and half scarves and people who want to sit down for a semi final against Chelsea.
My message to the half and half scarf brigade, don’t fu**ing do it, don’t buy them for your kids as they won’t thank you, don’t come into an Arsenal away end looking like a dick.
Be Arsenal, stand, sing, and fight against the oppression.