Empty seats and boredom; But I still love The Arsenal

Once again I sat there on Sunday with empty seats around me.

This may be optimistic but I’m hoping this is the dawn of a new era. It’s not just us that are struggling to get people through the door, most PL clubs have seen a decline. Watching Match of the Day on a Saturday night, the Premier Leaguye is awash with empty seats – even Champions-to-be Manchester City rarely feel their ground.

Maybe football is just no longer as fashionable as it was?

Whilst I like to think it’s a protest against the regime, I don’t really think it is….it’s more symptomatic of people generally being fed up and have lost the appetite for the game. Being priced out, the kick off times, owners and players who do not care about the team.

I love an empty ground. It always has the feel of the old days, you can sit with your friends, moan, laugh and when it’s really dire talk about random stuff.

Let’s face it, at Arsenal, the football doesn’t get you on your feet these days. The ground was never designed to be conducive to having that electric atmosphere – cooperate hospitality took precedence. There is a boredom that has over taken the apathy.  I’ve even seen less half and half scarves – less tourist fans.

For me, much of the season has been hard work. My anger has most definitely decreased, that happens eventually with all oppressive regimes….it just becomes the norm.

I’m constantly at conflict with myself as to how to do my bit to make change happen. I protest, I shout, I give out stickers and I even have a wonderful Wenger Out rosette.  I won’t give up the fight.

But, I find it very hard to stay away. It’s been my life for so many years, decades in fact, so I feel that I have more to lose than the regime do. I will never agree with those who say “if you go to games you are accepting the situation”. No. I go to games because I love The Arsenal.

My son who is 15 has this season got the bug!

He wants to go to every game and is starting to make his own memories. I’m one of the lucky people who stand with my Dad and son…..3 generations of people who love The Arsenal. That’s why I can’t give it up. I would rather be there with people who are like me (just as fed up!) than be at home with all that suppressed anger.

Last week one of our friends who followed us died aged 53.

He would have loved Sunday. Crap game. 3 goals. Taking this piss out of one of the most disliked clubs in the league.

It has crossed my mind all season if I’ve finally come to the end. If the love and reasons for going was drying up. But him dying has made my mind up. Win lose or draw, we always had something to talk about, we had a bond that only those who know, know.

Giving up The Arsenal is the easy bit, giving up the bond and friendships will really hurt.  My Dad and I would never have met Mark if it wasn’t for The Arsenal.

We met him on the train with his little brother. Different people. Different backgrounds. A shared love for The Arsenal. A friendship made over 30 years that was concreted travelling to away games for hours and hours in a car.

European away games and drunken afternoons at home games, which inevitably ended with someone having a fight or a missed train home. Great days.

The results does not really matter much now. Making and sharing memories is what is important.  I’ve had a fair amount of criticism for apparently ‘feeding the regime’, but I am only as guilty as those who stay away as a protest, pay for sky and still watch us.

It is our club. I say it all the time. We must not let these parasites have more power than they already have. They don’t want us there. They want us to be replaced by the people who will buy in the shops and eat overpriced burritos in the ground.

I get why people have had enough, I get why some stay away. But we have a few games left. Come back, sing and shout for change and make memories with like minded people. It’s time to reclaim our Club.

Always in our thoughts Mark Huddy Hudson 18th December 1964 – 25th March 2018, thank you for the memories which will never be replaced.

*JD*

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