Written by Squid Boy on Tuesday, 03 July 2012 09:59
Prologue: the idea for this blog sprung from a discussion with @hahostolze, who writes for this very website, and A-list Twitterati @DarrenArsenal1. If you’re on Twitter, go follow them.
Discussing the idiosyncrasies between “local” and “foreign” Arsenal fans on Twitter is dangerous. One loose word or misconstrued statement and BAM! you’re accused of being disrespectful towards a certain set of supporters.
That’s not to say such disrespect does not exist. I’ve seen numerous instances of a demeaning attitude from those who live nearer the Club to those further afield. But there is also a healthy respect from many.
Ever since I joined Twitter in the summer of 2010, I’ve had the distinct pleasure of connecting with thousands of Gooners from across the globe. Their passion for The Arsenal is no less than those who are fortunate enough to attend games. Having to wake up at stupid o’clock to watch us play is dedication to the cause. I have become friends with many such people worldwide, ranging from North America to the Far East, and I admire them greatly.
I’ve also taken huge satisfaction in accompanying a few “foreign” fans to their first Emirates matches. To lucky “locals” like myself, the journey from Arsenal tube station to the stadium is nothing more than a 5min walk. But watching someone do that for the first time – seeing their eyes light up as they fulfil a lifelong dream – is a humbling experience.
Irrespective of where we’re from, we all love the Club equally. There’s no doubting that.
But what about the opposite of love? What about hate? Which rival clubs do we hate more? Does location play a part in determining this?
I have long pondered this question. It came to a head during last season’s Champions League semi-final between Chelsea and Barcelona. My Twitter timeline was a split between those wanting Barca to lose and those wanting Chelsea to lose. Being a Londoner, I sat firmly in the latter camp. I could not stand the thought of Chelsea being the first club from the capital to lift the European Cup. It sickened me.
I’m sure it sickened others too. Except their hatred for Barca overshadowed this. At first I could not comprehend it. But then I thought deeper.
To “foreign” fans, the game largely exists via the media. Livestreaming matches, interacting with fellow and rival fans on Twitter and Facebook, reading blogs and communities. The online aspect of fandom outweighs the physical aspect of it, simply because you don’t come across as many fellow football fans in reality as you do on the Web. So someone living abroad may be more susceptible to Barca’s gloating fans or the press fawning over Messi, Xavi and co.
Exhibit A: “Cule tears are the sweetest” – North American fan following Barca’s elimination by Chelsea
That’s not to say all “foreign” fans preferred a Chelsea win, nor that all “local” fans wanted Barca to win. For the sake of simplicity, I am generalising here. Globalisation of the game and the Internet revolution of the past few decades also means that the sentiment in Exhibit A is increasingly prevalent for more localised fans.
However, being closer to the action means you are more likely to have traditional rivalries ingrained in you from friends or family; from your own experiences of rival fans at matches; or from interactions with them in everyday life (such as the workplace or school).
Exhibit B: “Dammit! Those Chavs are gonna be even more smug now with their Pride of London rubbish.” – London fan following Chelsea’s elimination of Barca
However, is there another factor at play? Is your hatred of a particular team based more on when you started supporting Arsenal, irrespective of your location? For instance, which sides were the Club’s biggest enemies during your formative years as a Gooner, and have you carried that ill-feeling throughout your years as a fan?
To find out more from you, I’ve set up a short survey. It comprises three simple questions:
1. Where are you from?
2. When did you start supporting Arsenal?
3. Which three teams do you hate the most?
I’ll get you started. Despite my Indian and Kenyan heritage, I consider myself very much a Londoner as I was born and bred and still live here. The three clubs I hate the most are, in order, Spurs (traditional local rivalry), Man Utd (who I despised during my early years as a Gooner) and Chelsea (because of the way changed the face of football).
You on the other hand may have grown up in the 70s or 80s and have a dislike of Liverpool’s dominance, like I do of Man Utd. Or if you are a more recent fan, my hatred of Chelsea’s money could be your hatred of Man City’s money. Maybe you despise Stoke’s anti-football shit-kickers. Perhaps you loathe Barca’s “holier-than-thou” vibe while they allegedly tapped-up Cesc Fabregas and have been recipients of a number of favourable refereeing decisions.
At the end of the day, it is each to their own. A person’s individual experience shapes their feelings. I’m merely intrigued as to the influence age and location have, and if any trends emerge.
If you’ve enjoyed this blog, please take time to answer the survey. And please answer truthfully! All the responses will be anonymous, so no-one will judge you for hating one team more than another. It will remain open until the end of the week, or until it reaches 1,000 responses (these survey accounts aren’t cheap, y’know!). So be quick if you want to make sure your voice is heard:
In the event that the survey closes having reached 1,000 responses, feel free to leave your answers in the comments section. Just copy’n’paste the following template into your comment and answer:
Decade started supporting Arsenal –
Most hated rival –
Second-most hated –
Third-most hated –
Over the weekend, I’ll analyse the results and present them in a blog.
Thanks for reading and voting. Follow me on Twitter for more updates during the week.
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