Which Arsenal Fans Are Best?

By Daniel Cowan
In Arsenal
Jul 29th, 2014

Hello fine people. I would say good morning but it might not be morning where you are and that’s the deliberate segue I wrote to lead me on to the topic of this post.

I’m not going to go into names or finger pointing because it’s not just one person that does this but in the year 2014 how does location hold any relevance to the validity of people’s opinions on Arsenal Football Club to certain supporters?

We live in a global society and Arsenal is a global brand. Dismissing the opinions of others, however asinine or incorrect, based on where they live or come from is just pure elitism – and elitism has no place in modern football.

Football is an inclusive game and is not the property of one class set or nationality.

Some of the most astute followers of football I know come from the US yet 10 years ago, and in some cases even today, some people would dismiss the opinion of a “Yank” because “they don’t know what football is”. Do these erudite, articulate and passionate Arsenal fans deserve to have the relevancy of their opinion reduced to the country they reside in and then dismissed? Intelligent human beings know the answer to this… f*ck, even my cat knows the answer to this and she lies outside the bathroom door every effing night and cries in pain when I accidentally step on her despite knowing it’s happened every night for the past 7 years.

And usually found with location elitism is ticket elitism, it’s the sports spectator equivalent of “Do you even lift, Bro?”. Is the opinion of a 20 year old season ticket holder who inherited their seat from a family member and has been going every week for the past year more relevant than that of a 60 year old who has never owned a season ticket but has been watching football, and specifically Arsenal, for 50 years?

Being a “local” Arsenal supporter is a not just a genetic coincidence it is often a passion of indoctrination. Coincidence and circumstance dictated where you where born and the environment in which you grew up in. Being born into a middle-class family in North London instead of a struggling agricultural one in the Philippines is luck – it doesn’t make you better, but most people know that.

Growing up an Arsenal supporter in North London, and in cases all over the world, is often as a result of indoctrination. I was indoctrinated as an Arsenal supporter and I will indoctrinate my son as an Arsenal supporter and he will love Arsenal as I do – if he knows what is good for him – just as my father passed on his love for Arsenal to his sons.

Indoctrination into Arsenal fanship is akin to being “born” a Gooner. Like many religions, your “faith” was chosen for you before you were born.

There is an oft misquoted proverb that I think is quite apt for this topic; “Blood is thicker than water”.

The proverb in full is “The blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb.”, which means the relationships we choose to form are stronger than those we are born with.

I’m not suggesting that Gooners who had no family affiliation with the club but still chose to become supporters are better than those who are born into Arsenal families. The whole point of this article is to express my disdain for any form of supporter elitism.

What I am trying to say with that proverb is these people chose to become Arsenal supporters, they chose to love the club, to follow them through thick and thin and nine trophyless years. They were not indoctrinated from birth. They are often not entirely surrounded by other supporters – in fact, many Nigerian and Ghanaian Gooners will attest to the fact they are often the only or one of the only Gooners down the local sports bar and are surrounded by Chelsea and Man U fans. Still they support.

They are physically not able to attend games but their opinions are less valid and their support reduced to “buying a few tops”. No, I do not accept that. Their passion burns as bright as any season ticket holders.

I did not choose to become a Gooner, that was chosen for me, but I like to think that I still would be a Gooner if I had the choice. People who are not born into Arsenal families or are not “local” found something to love and cherish for their entire lives in our wonderful club and some cretinous clowns would diminish that because they don’t have an N5 postcode.

If someone is chatting rubbish about Arsenal Football Club then it is completely within your rights to challenge them on their opinion but you don’t have to bring location or access to tickets into it. Some of the most idiotic people I have had the misfortune of communicating with about Arsenal have been season ticket holders and some of the smartest have never been to a game and vice versa. There are intelligent people and morons in all walks of life but discriminating and stereotyping never made someone less of what they are. It just makes the discriminator look like a punk.

There are communities of Arsenal supporters all over the globe – as demonstrated by the incredible amount of officially recognised supporter clubs out there – and within each of those communities there will be someone whose opinion you don’t like. If they are an idiot, tell them they are an idiot but please don’t mention their location or ask how many games they’ve been to because that just makes you look like a c*nt.

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About "" - 509 Posts

I am a South London born Gooner now living in Leigh-On-Sea, Essex. I'm a husband, daddy, podcaster, trainer enthusiast and aspiring author. My work is my passion and for that I will always be grateful. Here is where I write my thoughts and views on Arsenal Football Club, the greatest team the world has ever seen.

11 Responses to “Which Arsenal Fans Are Best?”

  1. Jane Cavendish says:

    Fantastic blog, Daniel. I agree with everything you say and it’s a pity that this sort of refutation still needs to be made from time to time. The lack of respect for other peoples’ opinions or points of view (not just based on geography although sadly, that’s often a big part of it) is far too widespread. Perhaps the nature of twitter and its tendency towards the adversarial even encourages this sort of attitude.

    However, I think it’s important to make one point. There is a difference between watching a game live and on television. It doesn’t make the person at the stadium a better fan or confers on them an intrinsically more valid opinion (as you say, there are plenty of Season Ticket holders who are idiots) but they do see a different game. I don’t think it’s controversial to suggest this.

    Television is good at some things, less so at others. It’s good at detail, the micro stuff – did he really dive or trip over the outstretched leg? – but less good at seeing the overall picture. You don’t get to see the whole pitch and hence the “shape” of a team – how does the right back move when the left-sided forward is running into the channel? – and the camera lens distorts perspective and distance. Pretty much every person I know who’s been to their first live top-level game has come away afterwards exclaiming, “I never knew it was so fast!” So far, so obvious, but one other factor which I think is equally important but less remarked upon is the fact that the camera always follows the ball. Consequently, it is mostly centre-frame as a visual fixed point of reference and the twenty-two players orbit around the ball on the screen. The fan at the match has a different, more static perspective, framed on the players with the ball as a moving variable within it.

    What does this mean for the average fan watching in the stadium or on TV? I think probably the most underestimated quality of a player is his positional sense. It’s what separates the great from the good and from the merely average. Finding that extra metre of space as a forward or being able to deny it as a defender is absolute gold-dust. In my experience, this has been the biggest difference in perception when meeting friends in the pub who’ve watched the same game on TV as we have just watched at the ground, even when they’re maybe Red or Silver members who go regularly to other games. It’s much more difficult to build up a picture of which player’s movement was good and which was bad, partly because on TV you just don’t have enough evidence to make a judgement. It’s especially true for defenders and defensive midfielders, for whom 90% of the job is already to be in the right place at the right time by the time the ball (and the TV camera) arrives in your vicinity, like a chess player planning a move a dozen moves ahead.

    Perhaps this is where some of the friction arises. Fans who can’t attend games for whatever reason resent being talked down to by those who do as often it’s an easy ad hominem to make (“you don’t go to games!”) rather than discuss the substance of someone else’s different opinion. As you said, attending the game doesn’t make you a better, more intelligent or loyal fan, only a lucky one.

    Personally, whilst I never believe I have any monopoly on the truth – watching football is always about opinion and interpretation, after all – I remain acutely conscious of how lucky I am to have the opportunities that I do and wish that everyone could have the same.

    • Daniel Cowan says:

      You just won the internet.

    • _TommyGooner says:

      Great comment, wanted to offer an opinion to stick up for the ticket holders without coming across like a ‘snobby game goer’ and this comment did it perfectly.
      Ultimately though, I love anyone who wears the shirt, player, st holder, indian market worker, #COYG

    • Daniel Cowan says:

      I should probably clarify that I’m not having a go at ticket holders. 95% are fantastic and just support the team but there are those that use their good fortune to diminishing or degrade the support of others and it’s sad.

      I totally understand the “you see a different game” point of view because you see a different “product” in other visual arts as well. Like the cinema; watching a film in the cinema is a different experience to watching the DVD at home. It’s the same film but for one reason or another you see things you wouldn’t normally see.
      Does that make one fan of the film better than the other? Of course not and that’s my general point.
      I’ve seen STHs have really positive debates with people without being condescending. For example, someone who doesn’t go to games was slating Mertesacker and the STH said “have you ever watched him in person?”. The reply was “at a game? No. Why?”. The STH said “next time you go, just watch him closely for 10 minutes and then tell me what you think because what you see at the stadium isn’t always what you see on TV”. They argued back and forth for about 10 minutes with one accusing the other of elitism and finally the STH said “I couldn’t give a monkeys if you went every week or not at all. Gooners are Gooners to me but I won’t have you tell me Per is shit until you’ve seen him love because his best work is done out of view of the ball.”
      A few weeks later the other guy got back on contact and said he had watched PM and the STH was right and apologised.
      Sadly, those types of interactions aren’t commonplace and often it’s “you don’t go so your opinion is worthless”. It’s due to the fact any moron can use the internet and the cold truth that online it’s the bigots that talk most and loudest.

    • ThunderMundt says:

      This is a brilliant comment.

      Without wishing to start a debate, I just wanted to expand your argument to the classic Ozil argument. You perfectly summed-up why I believe so many people consistently under-rate Ozil. For me, his strongest asset and what makes him an absolute top notch player is his ridiculous ability to ALWAYS be open.

      I liked him before I was finally able to see a match in-person at the Emirates this past season, but seeing him without the limited scope of a TV camera was a completely different experience and was an absolute pleasure to watch.

    • Daniel Cowan says:

      Haha, ThunderMundt! I love the name. Totally agree with you and Jane on this. Although I would say it is “easier” to appreciate a player at the stadium because it is “easier” to follow them than on TV. However, it is not impossible to follow a player for a decent enough time across the match on TV to understand the nuances of his contribution. Harder than in person but not impossible.

  2. Akash Deep says:

    Hello Daniel. Excellent piece of writing. I completely agree with each and every line of what you mention. Like Miss Jane expressed above, going to a game and watching on television are two very different things. I’ve never been to Arsenal. But I do go for my local team’s matches, once in a while and I’ve spotted things not seen on television, which most often is the off the ball running and reading of the game that players execute. But coming to the actual point here. I’ve been personally ridiculed for not being an N5 local. But it’s never affected me. The most important aspect is support and the club has my unquestionable support in all its endeavours. I’ve had the privilege of meeting people who have been to Arsenal and ones who plan to be there soon. I’ve come across people with idiotic opinions from both sides. And I don’t think it has anything to do with your geographical existence. As long as Arsenal continue on their quest to global super club status I’m completely fine with all forms of opinion. Not that many would change my view point on the subject. Peace.

  3. William Steve K. says:

    Thank you Daniel for taking your time to write about this. I totally agree with you,no one should feel more “Gooner” than other Arsenal fans. Thanks Jane for your comment as well. Cheers !!!

  4. @CannonChest says:

    Great post.

    I grew up in a family that doesn’t like football and didn’t have Sky TV. The only link I had was that my grandad avidly watched MOTD and cheered the Arsenal on throughout the highlights, so my earliest memories of watching football were as an Arsenal fan, and an estranged gooner godfather that sent me Asrenal mugs every year. When my grandad passed away I was more an arsenal fan than I was a football fan, and because I was frankly a terrible player and a bit overweight in my early teens, I only started to really follow football closely when I was about 15 and we got Sky.

    Now at this point it is worth pointing out that whilst I was a big AFC fan, with the kit, the bedspread etc, I didn’t know a thing about football other than what was learned through LMA manager, PES and the back page of the Sun. I didn’t know why Henry and Pires were so great, I just knew I loved them and that whatever they did worked.

    As years have passed I like to think of myself as much more informed on the game, how to play it (shed the tubby teen weight!) and the internet has given me access to all sorts of resources to better understand the game. I have been able to attend a fair few games and watch the mighty Gunners religiously.

    Anyway, the point of my ramble is this: You can be born in N5, you can have a ST for years, you can spend thousands of pounds on your football club and you may have had a funny vine with Jenks himself, but that doesn’t necessarily make you any better informed than anyone who is less fortunate than you are.

    Well done, you were born a gooner and have grown up a gooner with your gooner family and gooner mates. I wasn’t so fortunate, but by god that doesn’t make me less informed or deserving of an opinion.

    Plus I had a fish called Mikel.


  5. david menezes says:

    Daniel , fantastic read. I was dismayed when i realised that often some gooners would dismiss arsenal fans that are not from the UK were being treated differently.I am not English but i do support Arsenal more than anything else. My son is also a gooner and he has already committed to making his son a gooner as well, my son is twelve.

    We all know who you are referring to ( legrove ) and i stopped following him on twitter when i realised exactly what his thoughts are about my type. This wont stop me from flying over to the Uk to try and get to a match with my son and God willing i try to every year. So in saying this i probably spend more money on tickets and airfare because of a passion i have. All my shirts are only bought from the club store and nowhere else.

    But thank you for sticking up for us “outsiders” , nice to know that you and others dont discriminate because of my geographical existence.


  6. Dave Newsam says:

    great post and absolutely the most intelligent and thought provoking reply i have ever read. Good post Dan and thank you Jane for an even better reply.

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