I am an Arsenal supporter. I feel most of the time that this is a good thing, but it can also be bad for things like my blood pressure and my sense of humanity because you see, in order to be an Arsenal supporter you need to have a fair bit of hatred in you, some of which should be reserved for yourself. I’d say about 5% self-hatred, 95% Tottenham-hatred is a good split for any worthwhile Gooner. It’s not all about hatred though, so don’t get the wrong idea. This is, in fact, a love story.
I became an Arsenal supporter through some rather contrived and confusing means. I’d imagine for most people it begins with parental indoctrination. Fathers in and around North London tell their offspring that if they support another team they’ll meet their end with the spin cycle in the washing machine, which I think is pretty reasonable. I didn’t get to experience this introduction to my club (or a father for that matter). Unfortunately this meant I missed out on a lot. Michael Thomas, Tony Adams, Ian Wright. These were names I’d never hear, legends with exploits I’d have never known about if the series of fortunate events leading to my Arsenal discovery hadn’t happened.
To get right down to it, I’ve got video games nature to blame. I could say it was fate and in a way I think it was, but that’s lazy story telling. Anyway, in or around 2002, my best friend (a soccer player) purchased FIFA 2002, the video game, for Playstation 2. It somehow made its way into our rotation of Super Smash Bros. and whatever shooting game was popular at that point, I think because he was very persistent. Anyway, I was utter shite at the game, but I’d play just to make him happy, and the team I used for some reason or another was Arsenal. Despite losing most of the time, I would score some goals here and there. They were mostly scored by some guy named Thierry Henry. I can remember being so perplexed when the announcers kept calling him “on-ree”. What a weird fucking way to pronounce that name.
Well On-Ree scored goals for me, but FIFA didn’t stick in our rotation for very long, and my interest in Arsenal was put in the dark once more. An ocean away from me they battled on pitches, claimed victories, and earned the title of invincible while I remained totally unaware. Those proud warriors in red and white marched on without me. But it wouldn’t always be that way.
2006 was my senior year of high school, and also a World Cup year. My best friend, previously mentioned, was rather hyped. The World Cup wasn’t even on my radar, but because of my proximity to him, I started to see some video coverage leading up to the event. YouTube was just getting big at the time, and sure enough there were a myriad of football videos. The Joga Bonita videos starring Eric Cantona were particularly impressive. I loved the music in the Ronaldo vs. Zlatan one, and of course the brilliance of the Brazil video is something anyone anywhere can admire. But what’s this? Is that Thierry Henry? That name sounded familiar to me. And that was the link. I recognized On-Ree instantly as my goal-scorer. Turns out, not only could the guy score goals in FIFA, but he could do pretty much anything. I checked out more of his videos. Turns out, there was a fuckin’ truckload of them. The more I watched, the more I was hooked. I didn’t know it, but Thierry was slowly luring me into the web of Arsenal. I was becoming enamored. The beauty, the power, the pace, the speed, the joy when goals were scored. What had I been missing all these years? I made a decision, on a whim. Most of the best decisions come that way. I would support Thierry On-Ree in all of his endeavors. Suddenly I was pumped for the World Cup, where I’d be supporting France. And of course I’d have to support his club team as well. It only made sense, after all I’d used them in FIFA hadn’t I?
Before the World Cup, there was Paris. The 2006 UEFA Champions League final. Some would say that it’s rather ironic that my baptism as an Arsenal supporter came with this match, I’m sure. Others were say I’m fortunate. I feel more pain going back and watching that match now than I did at the time. I simply couldn’t grasp the magnitude back then. It was my first match as a supporter and I just didn’t know how to react yet. I sang “I’ve got soul, but I’m not Sol Campbell!” when our goal was scored and indeed I thought I was really clever. I was disappointed when Barca equalized and took the lead, but my pain could not match the faces on the television. The traveling Gooners were crushed, and I had no way of knowing that their pained expressions would be on my face soon enough.
This was the last match of the European season, but fortunately I had the World Cup to look forward to, and it was a great one. I honestly can’t give the 2006 World Cup enough credit as far as cultivating the football fan in me. It was such a great tournament from top to bottom with great goals and Zinedine Zidane being on full display. What a footballer. It’s a shame he never made it to the Premier League, but I count myself rather fortunate to have at least been able to experience how great he was for at least a few games. The tournament gave me everything I could’ve asked for. Great goals, dramatics, and Cristiano Ronaldo breaking down in tears. In the end, France didn’t win and I was upset but the important thing happening was that I got hooked. Football had caught me in its embrace and there was no escaping. Not that I’d ever want to.
In the Fall of 06, another Premier League season was beginning and I could not watch any of it. I was beginning my freshman year of college and frankly getting wasted and having unprotected sex were a lot higher on the agenda than Arsenal, but I did my best. I took a break from a group project to sit in the computer lab following the updater as it told me that Adebayor had scored last-minute to defeat Manchester United. I kept up with our League Cup encounter with Tottenham, unfortunately missing out on the “Two nil and you fucked it up” craze. And I was very fortunate to catch the highlights of Henry’s header against United at the Emirates. But it was still rather frustrating.
Enter SopCast. I discovered the program during our Champions League campaign. I was in Michigan with my girlfriend at the time celebrating her birthday, and someone linked me to our match with PSV on SopCast. It was incredible, being able to watch Arsenal live even though they weren’t on TV! I still get incredibly angry thinking about the needless free kick Hleb gave away that led to Alex’s goal which knocked us out, but being able to watch Arsenal whenever possible was a huge plus. I started watching whenever I could, even though it involved waking up really early sometimes. I caught our match at White Heart Lane that year, and Jermaine Jenas equalized for them late on. I still wasn’t a full fledged Gooner, but my hatred for that lot was beginning to fester. I didn’t understand quite yet what it was to hate Tottenham Hotspur but I knew right then that seeing them happy was unpleasant. I didn’t want it to ever happen.
Anyway, that season ended and I was still in my infancy as an Arsenal supporter. Things in my life were completely out of hand. As I’d said earlier, I was more focused on pussy and alcohol than I was on grades and homework, and that showed to the tune of a GPA nearing 0. My mother all but kicked me out, and our strained relationship meant I needed a change. I decided to move with my girlfriend to her place in Michigan. Fresh start, new chapter, new life. I’d be leaving behind a multitude of things like my friends and job, but this would test my mettle as a human, something that needed to be done for a long time.
There was one thing that I couldn’t leave behind in my six hour journey from PA to Michigan. Arsenal. No, Arsenal stuck with me, and I was sure I’d have Arsenal to look forward to even if there was nothing else. Over the course of that summer I discovered arseblog.com and that made following our transfer market dealings even easier. Discovering Arseblog has been fantastic, but our transfer dealings that summer were not.
This was the summer we sold Thierry Henry to Barcelona, the team that had defeated us in my first match as an Arsenal supporter. Why? How could this happen? The man who’d inspired me to become a Gooner was leaving for another team? ‘Henry to Barca’ headlines had dominated all news that summer and the sinking feeling of despair grew and grew. At first I dismissed it as lunacy, but as time went on more and more people felt the truth in it I had to accept it. I’ve never felt more despair as an Arsenal fan. Here I was, out in Michigan by myself with no friends, no family and now no Thierry Henry. The world had basically fucking ended, and my budding interest in football had been dealt a vicious blow. How could I recover?
Over to you, Arsenal.
The 2007/2008 season was it. If I was even a little bit on the fence about Arsenal, this was what wiped out any doubt. We were going into the season without our talisman, with the team supposedly in a transition period. No one was expecting anything out of us that season, least of all for us to improve upon our fourth place finish of the previous year. And to top it all off, in the very first minute of the new season Jens Lehmann fucked up in incredible fashion, letting David Healy put Fulham up 1-0. I remember sitting there dumbfounded, as I was laughed at by a Spurs fan, thinking that this was it. This was what life without Henry would be like. Oh, was I in for it.
In the final ten minutes, after a frustrating amount of futility in front of goal, we were given a penalty which Van Persie scored, and then Hleb scored us a late winner, my first as an Arsenal fan. The euphoria of running around the house on that early August morning, punching the air and stifling shouts as my girlfriend and her mother slept—how had I gone my whole life without experiencing that?
That season would have so much euphoria to offer up. What can I remember? Where was I for these moments, sitting in a small computer room watching a stream and talking with Gooners on the sopcast forums. I remember being snowed in one Sunday morning as we battled Chelsea at the Emirates. William Gallas scored just before halftime and the lads ground out a tough 1-0 victory, which nearly led to fisticuffs between Cesc Fabregas and Ashley Cole. I can remember staying up all night so that I didn’t miss the home match against Manchester United, going behind twice and equalizing at the death, with Cesc shouting “FUCK OFF!” at Rio Ferdinand. I can remember Adebayor’s brilliance against Spurs (and all season). I can remember that scintillating demolition of Slavia Prague. I can remember banter with my Italian friend long before the fateful draw with his Rosoneri, and I can certainly remember the phone call after Cesc’s stunner put them out of their misery. Walcott’s run. Bendtner’s header after just coming on. What else?
I can remember one morning in late October when my girlfriend wanted me to come on a double date with her to Frankenmuth, which is apparently a paradise in the Fall. Of course, we had a date at Anfield that morning, so I turned her down. This I think was the beginning of the end of my relationship with her. Sadly, I wasn’t about to cheat on Arsenal with her and I was rewarded with an amazing game that was rounded off with our undefeated record to start the campaign still intact as Fabregas equalized late on. I can remember being within moments of going 8 points clear at the top of the table with only weeks to go…
But I can also remember Eduardo’s broken leg. The penalty conceded moments after Walcott’s run. The thrashing at United’s hand in the FA Cup and the subsequent ‘title decider’ at Old Trafford. Head in hands, I sat and watched as they celebrated, and our lads resigned themselves to second (and eventually) third best. A few days after that match a youtube video cropped up on arsebog of the traveling Gooners remaining at Old Trafford long after the match had ended, to show their love to the effort we’d given that season. All at once I saw what it meant to support this great club. You got to share the euphoria, and you also got to bear the heartbreak with your fellow supporters. That video meant everything to me, and I still go back to it every so often and get chills.
The season ended in disappointing fashion, but the good thing is that my induction was complete. I was now fully part of the club, and I started soaking up as much of it as possible. I began learning the songs, purchasing jerseys, and finding out about its history. Somehow, this wasn’t enough, and I started imagining what it might be like to experience some of that euphoria live and in the flesh. This was but a pipe dream. At that time, I was still in Michigan working as a shift manager at KFC. I can remember being completely fed up with my direction in life. My relationship had ended, I had nothing out there. I can remember at the beginning of the next season, heading into work at 8 in the morning. The sun was shining outside, but it was shining on everyone else who was out enjoying their Saturday, while I was missing my Arsenal (who were in the process of an embarrassing loss at Fulham). I thought about being there, being where my team were and getting to be a part of it, whether we were beating Tottenham or losing 1-0 to Fulham. That’s when I made my decision.
That Saturday morning was a turning point that sent me down the path I’m on now. I can remember the phone call that night with my mom, telling her I was coming home, that I was going to go back to school. That would be phase one of a multi-part plan and I didn’t know how long it would take but I was determined to somehow get myself to an Arsenal match. Within a few months I was headed back home to middle-of-nowhere Pennsylvania and enrolled part-time at a Community College to try and get my academic shit together. I had to haul my GPA up from a literal 0.50 to something respectable before I could even think of trying to study abroad.
That season was frustrating as hell. There were certainly high points, like our run to the Champions League semi-final, Arshavin’s four goals at Anfield and Nasri’s double salvo to give us the win against United at home. But we were well out of the title race early on. Slip ups like the one against Fulham were frequent, and being honest we were never ever going to beat Ronaldo’s United in the Champions League. As disparaging as young Gibbsy’s slip was, we were the far inferior team at that point and we’d have lost to Barcelona in the final anyway.
At the Community College I did well enough so that my University would take me back the following year, and I was well on my way, but England was still just a pipe dream. Arsenal lost Adebayor to his absurd greed and ego, and had been paid handsomely for his transfer to City, but we were still a very dangerous team. I managed to get my best friend, previously mentioned, hooked on the team as well, which was brilliant because I finally had someone in my own social circle to enjoy Gooner-talk with. His first match over was our trip to Old Trafford, the Diaby own-goal game. Arshavin had scored a first half belter to put us 1-0 up (sssshh) and we had United massively on the back-foot before conceding an absurd penalty to Rooney, and then Diaby pulled off a brilliant header into his own net. Few losses have frustrated me more, because we’d looked to have scored a late equalizer only to have it pulled back for offside.
That season was heartbreaking but incredibly exciting. Arsenal did their damndest to stay in the title race as long as they could, while trying to give me cardiac arrest. I can remember Bendtner’s late winner against Hull (fuck off Phil Brown) and I can remember his header to beat Wolves on a day where I refused to leave the game to go into work. When I arrived ten minutes late I simply told them there was an Arsenal match that I had to see the end of. For some reason my boss didn’t think that was a reasonable answer. Odd, yeah?
By this point Cesc Fabregas had firmly taken Thierry Henry’s place in my heart, and in the hearts of most Gooners. His majestic passing was tops in the league, and his pure and utter desire to see Arsenal succeed was made into legendary status at home to Barcelona in the Champions League. 2-0 down, we battled to 2-1(Get in Theo!) and late on Puyol committed an absurd foul in the box to gift us a penalty. Up steps El Capitan to bury the ball in the back of Valdes’ net despite suffering from a goddamn BROKEN LEG. He hobbled back up the pitch, and hobbled around for the remaining five minutes. With a broken LEG. The way we fought back, with Cesc’s refusal to go down even though he’d banjaxed himself was awe inspiring. The captain and team never quit, and my god did I love it. I didn’t so much love the return leg at the Nou Camp, but I figure the less said about that the better.
I was tearing it up in school at that point. Two nearly 4.0 semesters were reeled off in succession and I’d begun asking around about how to Study Abroad. It apparently wasn’t that complicated of a process, but it was fucking expensive as everything is. I worked hard at my job and in my classes, keeping my nose pressed down to the grindstone with a solid goal in sight. Sometimes it was tough to go to school for 18 credit hours, then spend 30 hours in the restaurant over the weekend but for fuck’s sake if Cesc could score a penalty with a broken leg I could do anything.
That season ended with us coming up empty handed once again, and then a nightmare started to recur. ‘Fabregas to Barca’ began to crop up during the summer. ‘Not again’ was all I could think. Surely he wouldn’t abandon us? It seemed Arsenal’s position was quite resolute (for the time being) but I think we all had a lingering, sinking feeling in our hearts that our captain would soon be El Ex Captain.
Fortunately it wasn’t going to be that summer. He was sticking around, despite our lack of further investment in the squad (another recurring theme), and was ready to will us on that season. That season presented some highs and lows as well. Probably the highest and lowest point I’ve ever experienced as a fan. Let’s start off with the low.
I’d performed in a showing of our school’s theatre production of ARMS AND THE MAN and gone to the cast party right after, getting relatively intoxicated and staying out well into the night with my cast mates (one of whom was a Spurs fan). The North London Derby loomed at 7:45 that morning. Dragging my hungover carcass out of bed that morning was perhaps one of the toughest things I’ve ever done, but I was quite hopeful that I’d be rewarded. Sure enough, we took the lead through a brilliant Nasri goal, and then Chamakh finished off a fine passing move. Those cunts were hapless. 2-0 to the Arsenal at halftime and it should’ve been more. For some reason I was really upset that Chamakh hadn’t made it 3 with his glorious opportunity right before the half, but surely we’d go out and hammer them in the second half, what was I worried about?
Well I was right to worry. Twitchy made changes in the second half and we completed one of the worst collapses in North London Derby history. Bale scored to make it 2-1. Then for some reason Future El Ex Capitan handballed a freekick in the box. Van Der Vaart buried the resulting penalty and it was 2-2. We were all shitting ourselves. Cesc had a great chance to make it 3-2, but of course Gomes pulled off a great save to deny him and then, the unthinkable happened. Younes Kaboul rose highest to meet a free kick that was drifted into our box, and his header went past an outstretched Fabianski. That lot in the away end of our stadium went mental before hammering us with their own rendition of our ‘Two-Nil and you fucked it up’ chant. It was not yet 10 in the morning where I was at, and though I still had to perform that night I slammed several shots of Southern Comfort after the final whistle. Never had I been more upset with an Arsenal performance. How had that been allowed to happen, in our stadium against that team? I was utterly disgusted and it made it even worse having to go into perform alongside the Spurs fan friend of mine who greeted me with a hearty ‘Two-Nil and you fucked it up’ as soon as I stepped out of my car. Fucking atrocious, that’s what it was. Absurd.
That season had its ups and downs like most of the others, but I find that match to be basically what defined the season and if it weren’t for its counterpart at the other end of the spectrum I would probably want to banish the whole thing from memory.
They had beaten us in the Champions League last year. Sure, we’d drew 2-2 at the Emirates but Lionel Messi provided a Playstation-esque performance at the Nou Camp to utterly rip us to shreds. They had taken my hero away from us years before, and they were threatening to do so once again. So when FC Barcelona came into the Emirates for a rematch of the previous year I was both terrified and enthralled. Terrified of the prospect of getting shellacked again, but enthralled at the idea of potentially beating them. I didn’t know what to think about the match. Both teams were in pretty solid form going in, from what I remember but with Barca you could always get ripped to shreds by their little Argentine. Arsene Wenger was adamant that we could play with them and beat them, but not many people seem to listen to him these days for whatever reason. I had class during the match, but I set it up to DVR and my best friend was coming over as soon as I was done. We were all prepped and ready, and I’d managed to avoid spoilers (phone was shut off) while class was going on. I’ve never raced from school to home quicker than I did on that day. I slid into the driveway and sprinted up the steps. My friend was there, waiting, and I pushed play on my DVR.
What followed is simply put the greatest experience I’ve ever had as a sports fan. By now I hope it’s clear that my growth as a legitimate Arsenal fan was nearly complete. I could be devastated for a week by a poor result, and put on cloud nine by a great one. This, this was truly majestic. Both teams started well, their offenses clicking. I remember them having some early pressure, and we had a fantastic early opportunity when Cesc chipped the ball over their defense for a Van Persie effort that I think Valdes saved. We battled with those cunts. For all the talk of them being the best in the world, we matched them tit for tat. We’d soak up their pressure thanks to the marvelous work from our defense (Koscielny you hero) and then break at them. Wilshere, Fabregas and Nasri in the mid-field worked together brilliantly. Of course they scored first. Good work between Messi and David Villa saw the latter break through our offside trap and then coolly slide the ball under Szczesny’s legs. Even at 1-0 down it didn’t feel hopeless. Even as the second half dragged on, it didn’t feel hopeless. We were always dangerous, and finally it paid off. Arshavin dished it back to Clichy, who clipped it over the defense with perfect timing. Van Persie let it run, I was positive he would send the ball across the middle to an on-rushing Bendtner but BOOM! Near post, fuck off Valdes. Arsenal were level! Then it got frenetic.
All hell on both ends, both teams pressing for a winner. Messi hit one into the side-netting when it seemed certain he’d score. They were denied a penalty. Then it happened. Messi was stripped of the ball on the edge of our area by Koscielny. Koscielny outletted the ball I think to Bendtner, who dished it to Wilshere whose one-touch pass was magnificent to Fabregas. The Captain turned and found Nasri with a beautiful outside of the foot pass to set him free down the right. Barcelona were scrambling to get back as Nasri took the ball into their box. He cut it back, looked up, and then played a tantalizing ball on the ground across their box. It missed the defender’s foot by inches and then, delirium. I can remember the announcer screaming “ARSHAVIN!!!!” before absolutely losing my mind. My best friend and I ran about the house, shrieking, screaming in pure unbridled joy. It was utter euphoria. The goal, brilliant. The timing, perfect. The opposition, beaten at their own game. The manager, vindicated. I cannot remember anything in my entire life as a sports fan coming close to that moment for me. I’d watched a few of my American teams win their respective championships the year before, but that just didn’t measure up to beating the ‘Best Team In The World’ by outplaying them on the football pitch. The Emirates rained down “Still got Cesc Fabregas! Still got Cesc Fabregas” at the away support just before final whistle. A truly incredible day for Arsenal Football Club and its fans.
We deserved something that year. We deserved to end our trophy drought and potentially kick on and claim our first Premier League title since the Invincibles or potentially win the Champions League for the first time in our history. But I’ve heard a good saying that is rather well-learned, especially as an Arsenal supporter. “Deserve has got nothing to do with it.”
What followed our triumph over Barcelona was a nightmarish collapse. An error cost us the League Cup in the dying moments against Birmingham. A dire performance in the return leg was compounded with an undeserved sending off and yet we still only just missed out on beating Barcelona at the Nou Camp. And a team featuring seven defenders attacked better than we did at Old Trafford eliminating us from the FA Cup. Over the course of about two weeks we were knocked out of three competitions, and to make matters worse in our next Premier League match we could only muster a draw at West Brom that left us five points adrift in the race for the title.
It was such a sucker punch after the euphoria of beating Barcelona, and Wenger couldn’t lift the team after it. We faded away in the Premier League, too. A season where we could have “done the quadruple” left us with absolutely nothing. It’s tough to really describe how I felt afterward. The fans at the final match of the season alternated between singing “We love you Arsenal, we do!” and “Spend some fucking money.” This indicates to me that they were trying to convey a sense of utter frustration while maintaining that they’d love the club no matter what. I can’t say I argue with the sentiment. Then more than ever we deserved something to lift our melancholy spirits. Once again, deserve’s got nothing to do with it.
That off-season was another nightmare. The Cesc Fabregas saga kicked on in earnest. Will he or won’t he? That was the question of the summer as the Boss grasped at every straw available in an effort to keep his want-away captain. Meanwhile, emerging star Samir Nasri, with only a year remaining on his contract, inched closer toward the exit in whichever direction featured the most money. In retrospect the biggest problem with the way the club handled that off-season wasn’t losing our two best players, it was the manner in which the situations were handled. There was a distinct refusal to accept reality from Arsenal, which might indeed have stemmed from Arsene Wenger’s refusal to believe that two players he’d essentially allowed to flourish were turning against him in such a manner. Regardless, both situations should have been sorted much earlier. Samir Nasri started the next season for us in a match against Liverpool before being sold, and the financial windfall of both players couldn’t be invested back into the team until the transfer window was nearly over and we’d already been blown to pieces at Old Trafford.
It was fucking awful. But we don’t give up. Once again, a scene of defiance from the travelling Gooners at Old Trafford was inspiring. Despite our worst defeat in (some amount of time), the Arsenal fans remained in full voice even after the final whistle. New captain Robin Van Persie dragged the lads over to show appreciation after the final whistle even though I’m certain all of them wanted nothing more than to hit the showers and get far, far away from Manchester.
That season, last season, turned around and ended up becoming one of my favorites. Probably second only to that fabled 07/08 campaign that I so fondly remember. A truly ‘us against the world’ mentality developed and it helped foster a total revival in the second half of the season that I loved. The never say die attitude running through the entire team from the captain down to the reserves was inspiring and I can say with full confidence that I earned my stripes as an Arsenal supporter. I say this because in May, I was in Japan. It was a sort of dream come true field trip through my university. For two and a half weeks 8 other students and myself traveled around the country and took in all the culture. The final match of the season, the 3rd place decider, took place at 1 AM over in Japan. I had spent the entire day traveling around Kyoto on very little sleep, and we were staying in a hotel. I couldn’t access a stream and I did not have a laptop, so I dragged my tired carcass down to the lobby where I paid 100 yen per ten minutes to access their computers so that I could read Arseblog’s match updater for two hours.
The rest of my group might have been enjoying their sleep, but tired as I was, there was no questioning my joy when Blogs wrote that full-time had passed. 3-2, we were third. Sp*rs had blown a 13 point gap (mind it, bitches) on us and we were guaranteed Champions League qualification. I stepped out of the computer room in that Kyoto hotel and slumped into the elevator up to my room with a smile on my face. Sleep came instantly as I flopped down onto my bed that night, and despite the searing heat as I dragged my exhausted carcass around Nara the following day, I was still the happiest kid in the group.
I might have earned my stripes by then, but there was still one thing I was missing: Being at a match to support the Arsenal live and in person. My four year endeavor had come to a head that February. I’d done the research and ticked all of the pre-requisites, putting in my application to study abroad in London. It was a fucking incredibly long process, and I can recall being completely unable to pay attention to class one Friday as I feverishly checked my phone to see if I’d been accepted or not. The news came in as I was sat in a computer lab typing something up, and I promptly shouted “I’M GOING TO LONDOONNNNNN!” It was the culmination of four years of hard work to turn my life around and it felt just as good as any of our late winners (except maybe Arshavin’s).
Reflecting on where I was and where I’ve made it to is nice. It’s vindicating. I sit here writing this on a Friday night. That is important because Arsenal play tomorrow at the Emirates against Southampton. It’s a pretty important match because we’ve got a very difficult schedule coming up featuring tough matches with City and Chelsea, but what’s even more important is that I will be there.
From scoring goals with a pixelated Thierry Henry to watching the lads on the pitch against Southampton at Emirates Stadium, this is how far I will have come as an Arsenal fan. I’ve watched them in high definition, on tiny SopCast streams, in Pennsylvania, in Michigan, and in Japan. But now, finally I will get to watch them live from the terrace. Hopefully I’ll be able to convey my sense of appreciation to the team as I cheer them on, to somehow show them how much I thank them for spurring me to turn my life around.
A lot of people have given me confused looks when I’ve told them why I came to London. The concept of travelling halfway across the world just for a sports team seems strange. Certainly London has more to offer and I will enjoy a lot during my three month adventure, but as I step into that stadium and finally take my seat to look at that field and support that team, I know that nothing else will be able to compare, and nothing will be able to take that moment away from me.