Friday, August 12

Ooh to be a Gooner!

By @hahostolze

Go online and check blogs, guest articles or even twitter. What football club seems to have the fans that are the most well-informed, eloquent and intelligent? How can football, usually a hotbed of people who are uncouth, simple and rather impossibly blind to their own failings be seen in a relatively fair, almost academic light by quite a few of us? That is something I will try to answer.

You see, there might be many reasons why Arsenal can count amongst its fans and bloggers people like the Arseblogger (@arseblog), GilbertoSilver of @gunnerblog,@SwissRamble, the great old @theGoonerHolic, @Yogis_Warrior of A Cultured Left Foot (not to mention his former guest writer Darius Stone) and people on twitter like @JamieDalton82, @YankeeGunner, @DarrenArsenal1, and our very own @TheRSD. First of all, there is a logical geographical and historical reason. Arsenal football club is centred in the area’s north of Camden generally perceived as some of the more intellectual areas of London. Hampstead, Belsize Park, Islington, Highbury: gooner infested. Compare that to, for instance, Manchester United fans, and their origins lie in Salford and Trafford: hardly the most intelligent demographic areas (anyone ever heard the anecdote of the man trying to be a globe of Salford?). Nowadays this may not be THAT important but a fanbase is very important to establish. Apart from Arsenal, what other football clubs have their origins and location in a known ‘intellectual’ area? Fulham perhaps, and that is a club (MJ statue apart) that always struck me as quite sensible and down to earth.

Secondly there is the fact that with six years of no trophies, people who jumped on the bandwagon (like ManU’s Surrey and Kent fans, for instance) have long left for pastures much greener. Only true fans remain, and that causes us to be a closer community, but also allows us a more balanced way to look at our club and our football: with the glory seekers and the sort of people who want to ‘spend, spend, spend’ out, we can focus on realistic and actual discussions that are more likely to happen.

Arsene Wenger is an innovator. That won him a lot of fans during his first view years in England: some, undoubtedly, jumping on the bandwagon. But only the more insightful realised how he was innovating and changing English football for good, more, in my opinion, than anyone has done since the days of Brian Clough. The football lovers who also appreciate philosophy, economy and an understanding of how football should be played gravitated towards Arsenal. This led us to the sort of fans who not only have the ability to write in wonderful ways (and on intelligent subjects) but a fanbase who can appreciate it. Besides, with a man like Wenger and his bloody vague and intricate ways of conducting affairs and indeed interviews, we need a huge community simply to understand the man.

And so it is to this day. With all of Arsene’s innovations, with the way he brought so many foreign (and, to be honest, more cultured) players to this country before anyone else did, with his beautifully fluid and intricate football, with the actual economy of the club always under public scrutiny, with the philosophy of how to run a business with a role in the community perennially important, Arsenal fans seem to have the ability but perhaps more importantly the need to decipher the man, the squad and understand everything. Outsiders always say we play lovely football but that we are going nowhere. We know better.

If you check the annual ratings, Arsenal blogs are some of the most read football websites in the world. They are the highest rated, both by subjective and more neutral readers. A few years ago there was a summary of the top 20 most read blogs, regarding football, in the world. 12 or so where on Arsenal, there was one on Celtic, one on Chelsea, one on WHU and a few general ones. That is something to be proud of. When it comes to ratings, things like Zonal Marking and WAATP score highly, but so do Arsenal’s bigger blogs, much higher than anything our competition can throw at us. That is a wonderful community for us to have. It means that we have the sort of person who can actually care about what he writes and what he (or she) reads and it means that we are years ahead of other clubs and their fanbase, their online community. Maybe this is because of the example of big names like we have in our blogosphere, who started the blogging craze and have had many people trying to be as good as them. Maybe it is because innovation (like internet, like twitter, etc.) is just something that fits a club run by Arsene Wenger. Maybe we have nothing better to do after six years of no trophies than find solace in each other but then again, where are all the great Scouse blogs? We have a great online community.

Before Zonal Marking, we had Arsenal Column as our own. Before hundreds of scouting columns and talent articles, we had Young Guns and Jeorge Bird. Before OPTA became so popular, Orbinho was already online. There are bloggers aplenty, some more negative, some more positive. On this website alone there are five people willing to give opinions, and there are other websites with that many contributors. Live webchats, twitter and formerly 606: we are everywhere. This is something that should be celebrated, not diminished. There is the occasional bickering, the disagreeing, the caring about who got the news first (I myself make that mistake a lot too) or who said something the right way. But in all, we should be proud. Just like with Arsenal, where we know the future is insanely bright and that we have a reason to be calm and knowing, realising that we will have many moments to say ‘I told you so’. The same goes for our online community. It is something to be proud of, innovative, new, and something in which Arsenal and its fans lead the way. Concordia Victoria Crescit, and long may it last.

*Disclaimer: sorry to anyone of who feels left out in this article. I could have named a hundred people and still leave a lot out. We have some great people online.


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