It is finally here.
After 18 months without going to a game – having previously done home and away for 10 years – I am set to return to watching the Arsenal in a stadium tonight. And I am absolutely buzzing.
I am looking forward to meeting mates in the pub at 4pm, before heading down to the ground. I am looking forward to nodding to that guy whose name I don’t know but have said “alright” to for near enough a decade.
And I am looking forward to raising a beer and my voice to those no longer with us. Especially Danny Bailey. He will be missed by all.
Tonight it does not matter that Arsenal finished 8th last season. It does not matter that we have only added one first team player. What matters is fans are back in the ground. Doing what we love.
The fans that go week in, week out. Travel the country regardless of day or night. Fly to fair flung corners of Europe. They are the heart beat of the club. The fans who will still be there Premier League or League Two.
There has been a lot of negativity on Twitter in recent weeks with some “fans” saying that they will not support the club whilst Mikel Arteta and Edu are in charge. Spending all day crying about our transfer activity and saying they are not going to back us this season.
I feel sorry for these people as they do not know what it is like to be a real fan.
For them, football is something that they use for “banter” on social media. They do not really care about the club they supposedly “support”; they just use them to get attention.
It is more important that they get followers and RT’s than supporting their club.
They sit watching games on an illegal stream. Probably filming themselves or watching someone else film themselves. They turn their support on and off depending on a clubs success. Most will probably start supporting PSG this year.
These people get on the backs of players before they have even signed for us.
I have seen them tweet abuse at Aaron Ramsdale and Tammy Abraham and they have not even pulled on an Arsenal shirt.
I have been bought up that when Arsenal sign a player, you back them, give them a chance. Even if you did not want them.
In the early 90s, there would have been fans wondering why we bought David Seaman to replace fa favourite John Lukic. And I know in the late 90s fans were not happy that Ian Wright was cast aside for some teenage Frenchman. But Seaman and Anelka were backed. Embraced. Loved. And went on to contribute to our success.
I am glad that these “Anti-Fans” do not go to games.
They will claim that they are “boycotting” but in reality they are mostly 15-year-old kids, foreign fans or grown adults that have never gone. Can you really boycott something you never did?
There support will not be missed. Not by anyone who is going tonight and not by the club. They are merely just a number. They buy moody shirts, watch on those illegal streams, and do not contribute anything towards the club.
If you turn your support of a club off and on like a tap, you are no supporter.
Tonight will be brilliant as the away end will be filled with like minded fans. All on the terrace at an away game for the first time in 18 months. All just glad to be back at football.
I am buzzing for it.
Re foreign fans. You are right. I have seen a lot of them switch clubs three or four times in as many years. In my country Nigeria this is quite common but many of these fans only joined Arsenal because they were winning things. I chose Arsenal on a b/w TV while they they were struggling against Liverpool in the 1971 FA Cup before turning things round. I travelled to the UK as a law student in London and did the short shuttle down from Russell Square in the Terry Neil years when the FA Cup was the only solace and teams like Liverpool and Nottingham Forest duked it out. Can I forget the marathon games against Sheffield Wed and Liverpool on the way to Wembley, winning in Turin against Juventus and that night of pain in Valencia and by the way I lived in Woodgreen, in the territory of that other team. So yes a fair amount of foreign fans are plastic but not all COYG!