Arsenal Fan Blog Part 1 of 2- Girls like football too

June 21, 2010 8 Comments by Sian

Last week I picked up a popular British women’s magazine hoping to find inside lots of articles about the modern woman and just how multi-faceted she is. The year is 2010, we have the vote, we have any job we like (or we will have, one day) and we can drive just as fast as our hairier counterparts.

So you can imagine my bewilderment at ending up reading a section that this particular magazine had entitled in the contents page: “How to survive the World Cup”. This was just about acceptable, because of course I understand that not all women like football enough to dedicate themselves to a month of non-stop ball action. Particularly when said ball is the much maligned Jabulani.   

 Anyway, I read the article and… the word ignorance doesn’t even cover it. They made us sound daft, uncaring of the beautiful game and only interested in Coleen Rooney’s sunglasses. They even mentioned a team that hadn’t qualified for the tournament! Come on woman, you might not like football but at the very least do your research before you write about it. I once wrote an article on Morris Minors. Did I know anything about them? Noooo. Did I learn about them beforehand? Yesssss.

Sure, lots of women don’t like football but my argument is that also, lots of women do! And do you know what? Not only do we understand the offside rule but we also know our Louboutins from our Lorenzis and know exactly how many months it’d take to save up for a pair of either (I’ll give you a ball park estimate: a bleedin’ long time).

 So, in honour of all the chicas out there that do know their stuff, I decided to post the female responses to my request for stories about Arsenal first. You’ll notice that these ladies come from all over. I can also tell you that each and every one of them would have known that Sweden did not qualify for the World Cup 2010.

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As a Spaniard people tend to disapprove of my support for anything but a Spanish club. As a Sevillian I get disapproving looks because I’m a Real Madrid supporter. I grew up watching Sevilla and occasionally Real matches when my dad would let me and my Real supporting brothers. But I became an Arsenal supporter during the 1996-1997 season.

In 1990, my eldest brother, Adrian, went to London with an aunt and saw Highbury. He became obsessed with Arsenal. I was 2 at the time and from what I’ve been told I was glued to the TV if an Arsenal match was on. I was 6 when I truly became an Arsenal fan. I didn’t understand football to the extent that I do now but from what I remember I just liked watching them. Admittedly I probably only watched because my brother did. But they’ve become my team and I now tend to watch more Arsenal matches than I do Real Madrid matches. No matter how frustrating Arsenal can be, I rarely ever have a day when I don’t enjoy the football. Obviously winning makes it much better, but the way they play, its just, well, beautiful.

But I also love Arsenal for another reason. It’s because of Arsenal that I met my boyfriend, Jak, and subsequently one of my best friends. It was the Boxing Day match in 2004 against Fulham. I was in London with my youngest brother (I have 4 older brothers), Sebastian, visiting our other brother, Ricky, who was studying there. Ricky had managed to get us tickets, which was exciting in itself. I’d never been to Highbury and I’d never seen a match live. Jak’s family normally goes to France for Christmas vacation but were in London that year for a reason that I can’t actually remember.

Jak was in the row in front of me and I’d noticed him because I thought he was really cute and he was wearing this hat that was just, well, something you actually had to see. He was so passionate about the match and I loved watching him get excited over pretty much anything. We won the match 2-0 and somehow, Sebass and I ended up at the same pub as Jak and his brother for some post-match drinks and food.

Jak and I started talking and I found out that he lived in Canada, which was my adoptive home, and that he actually went to a high school that was close to mine. We chatted for quite a bit and he asked for my email address, which I gave to him. After that, he’d sent me a couple emails and we sort of kept in touch. I was at his school one day for a game and we ran into each other. We watched the game together and he asked me out. We’ve been together now for about 5 years and in those 5 years I became best friends with his best friend, Tricia, who is a fellow Arsenal supporter. Jak now goes to school at Cambridge but when Trish and I are watching matches back in Canada, he’s on webcam or Skype watching it with us. (KASSEY, SEVILLE, SPAIN)

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I started supporting Arsenal in the 1997-1998 season. I watched La Liga but my best friend watched more of the Premiership so he wanted me to choose an English club so we’d have more to talk about. I watched a bunch of matches from various clubs and I just fell in love with Arsenal. He, of course, approved of my choice as he is an Arsenal supporter as well, which I didn’t know at the time. It was the way that they played and the passion that they played with. I was drawn to them and I’ve loved them ever since. I didn’t really start obsessing over Arsenal until what ended up being the Invincible season. Which unfortunately for me makes expectations of Arsenal quite high. But win, lose or draw, I love the Arsenal. (TRICIA, CANADA)

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I’m a third generation Gooner so it was in the genes. My granddad lived and watched at Woolwich. My Dad was taken to Highbury for his 6th birthday treat and they won 6-0! It was over to me next, I was the son my dad never had so Saturday afternoons were spent with him glued to radio/television following Arsenal Football Club and living on Isle of Wight by now. I got married, had kids, moved to Bucks. Son number two became the next obsessive Gooner. Me, my dad and my son on North Bank: happy days. My lovely Dad is now gone (buried in his Arsenal shirt!). Me and my Gooner son (now living in North London) are now season ticket/away fans… in his honour. (SUE, OXFORD)

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It was 1994, and I was 8. My folks bought my brother the full kit and I asked why I didn’t have one, ‘You don’t support them’ Me: ‘I do now!’ I realise how childish, fickle and pathetic it was but I’ve never looked back. (LAURA, LONDON)

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I’ve supported Arsenal since I was 13. Although I was born in Essex I grew up in Lincolnshire and Somerset so they wouldn’t have been my choice if I was going to support a local team. The reason I started supporting Arsenal was because of a boy, whose name I can’t remember despite still knowing him! Him and all his family are massive Arsenal fans and it just kind of rubbed off. We only went out for about a month but it must have seen something good because I’ve supported them ever since. Unfortunately I’ve never been able to go and see a match: living so far away and having children very young has put paid to that but one day I will take my youngest son (7) to go and see them. I have an Arsenal tattoo on my back and I’m very superstitious. I never bet on them and I never record matches. I recorded one once, the European one, with *the* goal. That’s all I can remember- I’ve blotted everything about it out of my memory, it’s still that painful. Dennis Bergkamp is my absolute hero, I love him so much, and it pains me to say it but I’m not sure if we’ll ever be that good again. Heady days eh? In 26 years of supporting them I haven’t managed to find anyone else who supports them, in a man way. Magnet for sports haters, me. Bah! (KAREN, BRISTOL)

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It was really just a few years ago that I started supporting Arsenal. We had cable installed (meaning expanded television channels) and I saw that I could actually see a lot of EPL games. I’ve always been a fan of the game, but didn’t really know anything about the teams. I knew a few names, Man United, West Ham, Newcastle etc. Just what leaked into books and movies etc.

I began watching matches in earnest. I watched at least 3 and sometimes 4 each weekend, beginning as a neutral, but after only a few months my neutral status evaporated. I’d watch a game and, through the course of the 90 minutes, develop a preference for one of the sides. Soon, it was always Arsenal that I wanted to see win. By Christmas, I was entirely won over.

In some ways, I would like to have an Arsenal pedigree like yours, long family history of support, grandparents as season ticket holders, every jersey since 1886 in the closet, etc. But the way I see it, I had a choice of any club I wanted… or no club. For no reason other than what I saw on my TV screen, I found myself an Arsenal supporter. The team has given me a lot of joy and no small amount of pain.

I feel very much as if I own each player and can’t bear when they don’t do well or… worse… leave. Ade is probably the only player who has gone that I wish I’d never loved. I’m not an overly logical person but even I wonder what is so special about Arsenal and whoever wears the shirt. What magic infuses the club? How can I love a club half way around the world that I’ve never even visited?

No answers. That Arsenal play “attractive” football fails to explain its appeal to me. As does the “classiness” of the club and the players. Really, it is just a gut reaction.

I have a tiny little heart condition for which I had to have a procedure a few years ago. It happened that this coincided with the second leg of the Champions League Knockout round with AC Milan. We were at 0-0 and had to play at the San Siro. I am in the recovery room. The nurses were kind enough to put the TV on with the game. Cesc scored that bomber and I screamed my head off. BIG flurry of staff etc pouring into my room… thinking, I guess, that I was in crisis. Husband somewhat embarrassed.

It’s lonely in the US for football fans. I take a lot of consolation from people I talk with on-line. (MARGUERITE, USA)

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My Ma…

England’s World Cup triumph in 1966 was directly responsible for my 44 year relationship with the Gunners.

The ‘66 World Cup was the first football I had ever watched and I became so caught up in the euphoria which followed it that when Uncle Patsy, (himself a life-long Gooner) offered to take me and my brother to the Arsenal, I jumped at the chance.

It was Boxing Day in 1966 – I can’t remember who we played, nor what the score was. I can remember Jim Furnell was in goal and Joe Baker was our centre-forward and that from that day on I have been a Gooner though and through.

In those days, it was unusual to see girls at a football match and I think my friends and I were considered a bit of an oddity.  I remember an old lady who used to stand in front of us behind the goal on the North Bank – she must have been in her seventies – she never missed a match. Occasionally Peter Storey used to bring her a bunch of flowers when he walked out on to the pitch.

There was no such thing as advanced booking then. It didn’t matter if Man U or Tottenham were playing, you simply turned up with 2 bob in your pocket, went in the schoolboys’ turnstile and then were allowed through to the North Bank (if your uncle was waiting for you). The downside to this system was having to be at the ground at least an hour and a half before kick off to make sure you were able to lean on the rail right behind the goal.

They did make you queue for tickets for finals and stuff like that and tickets used to go on sale at 9am on Sunday mornings. To make sure you got a ticket you’d have to be there at 6 or 7 and the queues went right up Avenell Road and down almost as far as Drayton Park.

These days, they don’t make it so hard for us to see the mighty Arsenal play (that is as long as you can get a season ticket) but it sure doesn’t get any cheaper! (TERESA, LONDON)

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My sister…

I used to work in a restaurant near to where we live. One weekend I was bored at work and as a joke asked the manager if he could make anyone interesting come in. About an hour later, I came out of the kitchen and nearly dropped the plates I was carrying when I saw Cesc Fabregas sitting at a table with Danny Karbassiyoon. I talked to them for a little while and told them I was going to the AC Milan match away the next month. Cesc responded (and I quote!) “Wow, big fan!” Biggest compliment ever! 

After telling them that I had been at the match earlier that day (and read an interview with Danny in the programme), Cesc asked: “Have you got your shirt on you? I will sign it for you if you have.”

We continued talking and he asked my age. When I told him I was 16, he replied “Oh, I thought you were older!”… I deeply regretted telling him the truth.

Next time, a few weeks later, he came in with his girlfriend. Being the good guy he is, the first thing he said to me was “Do you have your shirt on you?  There’s some more of us coming so if you bring it down we will all sign it for you” as I had been too busy with other tables to get it signed the previous weekend. My nerves tripled not knowing which other Gooners might be coming in!

A little while later, “the others” arrived. In came Gael Clichy and his girlfriend, Bacary Sagna and his wife (who is the loveliest WAG in the world), Lukasz Fabianski and his manbag, and Philippe Senderos.

Towards the end of the meal Cesc reminded me about the shirt. Our bouncers took them out the back so they could sign it without being bothered by anyone. After they had all signed it, we noticed there was a note on the staff noticeboard saying “I want to make love to Lukasz.” All eyes shot back to me and I had to explain that it was actually my joker of a friend Tyler who had written it and not me. Clich’ took a photo of it on his phone and they all found it hilarious.

A few weeks later, the day after Eduardo had his leg smashed to smithereens by the lummox that is Martin Taylor, we were in a café near us. First to notice Cesc was my Mum who went “Yoohoo! Cesc!” Luckily he didn’t hear.

I went off to the loo and came back to find my Dad happily chatting away to Cesc (who was with Philippe Senderos). As I went over, Cesc went “Oh hi, how are you!” If I had have died that day, my life would have already felt complete at 16. Cesc Fabregas knew who I was!

I’d be a Gooner anyway, as nothing else is allowed in my house, but it really does help to know that our boys are as brilliant human beings as they are footballers. (EVIE, LONDON)

Ev's shirt

Ev's shirt

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And on that note, I think it’s time to confess to you that Bacary Sagna is me and Evie’s favourite. Sure, I won’t hear a bad word said about Nicklas and Evie is besotted with Cesc but really, it’s Bac that we adore.

It’s one thing for someone to be polite to a waitress, but it’s another for him to be polite to her Dad! Last year on my birthday weekend, we decided to drop into the place we both worked after dinner, parents in tow. As we walked in, Bac and his wife Ludivine, regulars at the restaurant, were walking out. Dutifully, Evie introduced the parents and Dad even got chatting away to Ludivine about the baby (she was about 8 months pregnant at this point). Patiently, in heels, she then proceeded to wait around while Dad spoke to Bac about the upcoming Roma match. When Bac heard that we were going, he promised to give his shirt from the match to him.

So, you can imagine Dad’s disappointment when, after the uselessness of the game that was Roma away and then the subsequent penalty shoot-out, the boys all threw their shirts into the crowd! Nowhere near us!

A few weeks later, Evie was back at work. It was about 1am and in walked Bacary Sagna in his full training gear, just back from the Newcastle away game. Yes, he had remembered, and yes he had a signed shirt ready for our dad. What a guy!

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That’s it for part one but coming up very soon are all the fellas’ stories! Hope you enjoyed!

6 Comments

  1. Tricia
    2616 days ago

    “I can also tell you that each and every one of them would have known that Sweden did not qualify for the World Cup 2010.”
    And that’s because Denmark rocks =)

    Loved Evie’s story. So cute. I already knew the boys were adorable and sweet from what you’d told me, but I couldn’t help but gush and be super jealous of your sister.

    Laura’s story is cute too. Sounds like something I would’ve done lol

    I’m glad Kassey told that story about Jak. It always makes me smile. It’s too cute and probably one of the best days ever when my bestie met the love of his life and I met one of the greatest friend’s I’ll ever have.

    Loved reading these and looking forward to more. xo

    Reply

  2. Evie
    2615 days ago

    Brilliant blog once again Siany!
    It’s nice to have the best night at work EVER, written down….so I can re-read and reminisce. :)
    Cescy and all the boys we’re really and truly lovely! Meeting them made me fall even more in love with Arsenal and made me want them to suceed just ’cause they are jolly nice blokes!
    xxxx

    Reply

  3. Evie
    2615 days ago

    Ps. I meant ‘were’ and also….LOVE THE PICTURE :D

    Reply

  4. Kassey
    2615 days ago

    Loved the blog. It’s nice to hear how other people fell in love with the club. Sooooo jealous that your sis met Cesc. Great story nonetheless.

    Reply

  5. Yogesh
    2614 days ago

    Nice concept. Was very good reading everyone’s arsenal love story.

    I have similar feelings as MARGUERITE(shegunner to us all). Even though i would have loved to have the pedigree of arsenal support you, your family and many from Britain have, i am still glad i chose Arsenal from a nuetral position in spite people around me crowing for ManUre n Pool back when i started watching!

    Reply

  6. missnadira
    2494 days ago

    hey. found your blog while googling about arsenal.
    Nice post!
    So true about the generalization of women and football. there’s a lot who did care and have lots of football knowledge out here.keep on writing. luv it!.=)

    Reply

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  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Laura Brilliant, Siân. Siân said: FINALLY, the girl portion of the Arsenal Fan blog! http://bit.ly/9xYVa7 @shegunner @I_aura @oldbird42 @briggybum71 [...]

  2. [...] hill home from Enfield Town in the days before he had a car. Please read this story for my sister Evie‘s own experiences of the man (scroll to the [...]

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