Date:Friday August 8 2008
I attended members day the other day and for all intents and purposes I enjoyed myself. Being a fanatic, I would probably walk a hundred miles to see Dennis Bergkamp's jockstrap in a museum, so the chance to see the first team train represented an opportunity for me to see some of my heroes (and as a grown man I have some difficulty admitting that) in a different context than the normal match setting.
I sat and watched Wenger, Rice, Colbert et al put the squad through their paces and although my dad (not affiliated to any club, still hazy on the offside rule) remained slightly puzzled at what all the fuss was about, I was enthralled, after all, I am a fanatic. I didn't attend members day last year, but I had a fair idea of what would take place and I was not especially disappointed until I started listening to the wholly entertaining and indeed insightful Q & A session with Wilson, George and Nelson hosted by the jovial Matt Lucas. The 3 former players (although obviously seasoned after dinner speakers) spoke honestly and at times bluntly about the distance between the modern footballer and their fans. Particularly when you compare their era to the current one. Stories of Charlie taking the bus home with the supporters the night we won the league down the lane are almost enough to bring tears to my eyes with a sense of longing.
These are vastly different times, more professional you could certainly argue, but equally the distance between ourselves the fans and our club, which we at least regard as a form of extended family, has become gulf like. Yesterday was called members day, but apart from a two minute spell where the players kicked balls aimlessly into the crowd, we may as well not have been there. Okay I got to attend a training session and see some legends tell a few funnies all of which I thoroughly enjoyed, but Members Day? The day when the club shows me how much they appreciate my support and repays even a fraction of my loyalty.
I think not.
What do I want? Text messages from Cesc, post match hug from Kolo, Crimbo card from Arsene? Of course not. But some form of recognition that they are all lucky bastards that wouldn't have a job if it wasn't for the sheer passion and yes love that we pour onto them and our club. It was very refreshing to hear Bob Wilson speak up about the greed of Sky and of how money is effectively ruining football in the long term. I do not expect our club to be less professional, nor the players to be our best mates, but that gulf should not be so wide, at least one day of the year.
Date:Friday August 8 2008
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