Tuesday 9 November 2010
Are You A Fan Or A Supporter?
All day (in-between work off course) I have been intrigued in the on going debate about the differences between a fan and a supporter.
I will not go into analysing the game or provide a match report because others are far more qualified to provide one; however, I do want to dig into the issue of fans and supporters and also the general atmosphere at the Emirates Stadium.
Being present at every single home game this season and most home games for several years, the atmosphere is something that comes into question quite often by other fans and now has even become a talking point with our own fans.
The game on Sunday against Newcastle was a bad one if you’re a follower of Arsenal football club. The week in general was a poor one. Funny how one week we win at the City of Manchester stadium and at St James’s Park then the next week we lose back to back against Shakhtar and at home to Newcastle.
The atmosphere was shocking on Sunday against Newcastle, their was no noise, chants were not lasting very long and at times it was even a struggle to hear two claps in a row! People that were not there may think I am exaggerating but I assure you, I am not!
Me being me, I tried to start some chants up and the lad next to me always joined in but apart from him and my mate who came to the game with me, no one else seemed interested! It was a struggle to even clap to chants for some people!
Yesterday, I heard many reasons on why the atmosphere is so bad and suggestions on how the atmosphere can be improved. Some say because of the increase in ticket prices since the move from Highbury, it has meant some of the working class followers are priced out of the market and been replaced with either the upper class (who some have said rather do crosswords then watch games) or new comers who are so used to success that when it does not come, they get frustrated. Suggestions wise, I have heard that the club level should be removed in the north bank and clock end, season ticket holders who sing should be separated covering each block and to remove the sales of pies and hot dogs so people are forced to sing rather then eat! Some have also called for some sort of an anthem for the club, where people can really get involved and sing up, like at Anfield when ‘you’ll never walk alone’ is played and sung. Even in the away section, I have shivering when listening to the Kop sign their anthem when I was visiting Anfield.
Some of the suggestions could work. Some suggestions were light hearted (like the pies and hot dogs) but some were deadly serious. To re-arrange the stadium would prove very difficult as the club level is quite established with season ticket holders and moving normal season ticket holders would be hard because each block has a different price etc.
I did think the price factor in general was important. Being someone who goes to every home game and quite a few away games, it sometimes is a struggle. With the Emirates, many new comers have come to watch games live and getting chants together are getting harder and harder. The prices I paid at Highbury were much less then the prices I am paying at the Emirates. I do feel sorry for kids between the ages of 16-21 because football is an expensive business. When you’re young, you get concessions but once you are over 16 years of age, prices increase and for students, it is very difficult to attend many games. So that is a reason for the lack of atmosphere because the same crowd do not always attend games and even though the stadium is always sold out, the crowd varies so people cannot learn songs as they do not go often enough.
I understand that some people may just be to shy to sing up or some may not know the words but the least they can do is clap along, there has been times at games, where I have started a song with a mate and people have stared at us like we are speaking a different language. Sometimes, if people do not get to away games, they may not have heard some of the songs but chants like ‘Arsenal’ ‘Arsenal’ ‘Arsenal, when a corner is awarded is not even being sung anymore.
My dream is to run and manage a fans group where every member has to take a test, which includes singing a song (the na na na na na Sammy Nasri song would do!) It would be nothing major but would be for people that CARE about the club, I would want young people with fresh ideas, I would want the older generation that have the knowledge and experiences from watching the Arsenal for years and also have the middle aged people who have seen a lot but want to do something extra to help the club; but for now, that’s just a dream!!
The fan and supporter thing did make me think. For me, a fan is someone who likes the club but a supporter is someone who loves the club. The fan will come to watch the team and be entertained but a supporter will come to do exactly what the name says, support the team. A fan will be loud and proud in the good times but a supporter will be loud and proud in the bad times. A fan will sing when we are winning but a supporter will sing when we are losing despite how badly. Before this turns into a poem, I will stress, that this is only my opinion. Until this morning, I thought a fan and a supporter is the same thing but after listening to other people on twitter, I think there is a slight difference.
Call me arrogant but I think I am a supporter.
I have always been keen to listen to people older then myself about how life at Arsenal used to be and always want to learn more about the history of the club. I do feel that younger fans, the same age as me, have been spoiled because they are so used to having success. Being 22 years old, I gained an interest in football and Arsenal in 1995 and from 1996, I have been a keen follower of the club, so Mr Wenger is practically all I know, however, I have learned about the history of the club. I was very used to success because of the double in 1998, the cup finals in 1999 and 2001, and the double in 2002 and off course the unbeaten season in 2004 which was followed by the FA Cup the year after. Even the Champions League final run was very special. Even though I have been spoiled, I have never taken it for granted and that’s something others must not do. Before the title win in 1989, there was limited success. The last time the league was won (before 89) was in 1971 where Arsenal did the double. So the club went from 1971 to 1989 without a league title, Arsenal did win the FA Cup in 1979 and the League Cup which was known as the Littlewoods Cup in 1987 where the record of Liverpool always winning when Rush scored first was broken but that was it when it came to silverware in between 1971 and 1989. That puts this drought from 2005 to 2010 in perspective.
The club is well run, the finances are in order and we do not rely on Russians, Sheikhs or Americans for investment. We built a brand new training ground and a stadium rather then getting one for next to nothing like certain teams have or will (you can have your commonwealth games and Olympic Games stadium’s because we built our own!) So sometimes you have to deal with the bad times (even though some would argue, being in the top four every season and playing in the Champions league isn’t all bad) to get the good times.
So if success is the reason why there are more ‘fans’ then ‘supporters’ or why the crowd are so quiet then some sort of perspective is needed. As a supporter, I will be ‘loud and proud’ every time I watch the Arsenal, never mind the score line.
I would love the Emirates to be rocking like it was for that Champions League game against Manchester United (for a few minutes at least) or rocking like it was when Thierry Henry scored the winner in the 93rd minute against the same opponents Manchester United.
I know Highbury was known as a library but that season when we got to the Champions League final (last season at Highbury) was special. The atmosphere before, during and after the game against Madrid, Juve and Villarreal was unreal.
The best atmosphere I have seen was in 2004 when we beat Liverpool after Thierry scored his second goal when he ran through the Liverpool defence. We had just lost to Manchester United and Chelsea in the FA Cup and Champions League respectively so there was a big sense of relief about the victory because it set us up for the league title and off course we ended up going through the whole season unbeaten, an achievement which has never got the praise it deserved. The longer time goes on and the longer this record is never matched, people will see how special the unbeaten season really was.
I have gone on a bit in this post as the subject was suppose to be about the atmosphere at the Emirates but it has ended up being a bit of a rant. There is no offence meant to anyone in the blog because we all want the same thing. We want the team to win and therefore I would like to see the atmosphere improved at the Emirates because I feel it can help.
Having a good atmosphere can only be a positive for the team. The Kop at Liverpool is a great example, I am convinced that the Kop has won Liverpool games, the energy they provide during games has urged their players on and they truly are like a 12th man. Even though Pompey is in bags of trouble, I was most impressed when visiting Fratton Park because of the atmosphere; they really did get behind their team. We saw it last week at Shakhtar too how intimidating an atmosphere can be.
Let’s try and get behind the team and get back on track. I will not be at Wolves but will be present at Everton but let’s support the team like usual and especially on our travels, because our away support is brilliant. Let’s help the team bounce back and let’s try and add some silverware to the honours list!
Come on you Arsenal!!!!!!!!!!!