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Cowardice and friendly fire

I couldn't help but glimpse at the article on the upcoming NLD in the Metro newspaper that the guy next to me was reading as we travelled home. Sensing my interest he gloomily announced "I'm not looking forward to this game".

"Are you red and white or lilywhite?" I enquired.

"Not effing lilywhite" he said "Are you?"

"No, firmly red and white for many years" I answered. "I'd have had to change seats if you were lilywhite"

"I'd have changed carriages if you were" he laughed

As we swopped gooner credentials he told me that he held a couple of season tickets but had rented them out for the last couple of seasons. "I've barely gone since we lost in the CC final against Birmingham" he explained as he continued "I won't let the tickets go but I find it hard to watch games like this one. It matters too much if we lose. I can`t even watch it on tv. I might stay in touch with a mate by text but I can't watch."

I had to confess that if I wasn't going to a big game like this I'd sometimes avoid watching it, finding it easier to catch up with the result rather than endure the 90 minutes plus of pain if the game didn't go our way. On the other hand, if we'd won, I could still enjoy some of that curious mixture of joy and relief a positive result in such contests brings. I could even convince myself that my not watching had something to do with the result going in our favour. We agreed we were probably not alone in our craven cowardliness.

My fellow gooner was on the opposite side of many of the arguments I find myself on in this and some other forums. He thought we should replace the manager, the board, most of the players, spend all the 100m we have in the bank to guarantee we win something, FA Cup, Carling Cup anything, whatever it takes. We should have stayed at Highbury, the owners are only in it for the money, we need Dein back, let Usmanov buy the club and put a few hundred million in. The arguments were those he and I had probably had with fellow gooners many, many times over the last few years but as we argued we joked and mocked each other's respective views.

There's something about face to face football talk, especially when you're on the same side that is missing when exchanging views via a keyboard. In much the same way you can have the most vociferous arguments with long term mates in a bar after the game (consume enough alcohol of course and we're all mates eventually) there's a kinship that isn't so easy to share in the same way on football forums where little communities of views, as Wenger described them, take hold. There are things that you can't convey easily with the written word that an inflection in your voice, a smile on your face, a glint in the eye or some other sub-conscious body language can. So you can be poles apart in your views but still on the same side. That's much of the joy of going to matches and meeting fellow supporters, even those with diametrically opposing views or supporters from the opposing team, no matter how robust the banter is usually just banter.

The distance and anonymity of the internet somehow makes genuine banter less easy though it does come a little more naturally to some folk like Niko and Iceman. Chances are though that some precious type will take exception to the perceived tone of a comment and overlook or ignore the real point or issue altogether. Assuming they were even interested in it in the first place. They might even take exception to the number of syllables employed. At that point, without having made any other relevant contribution, like insecure teens gossiping together in the girls toilets they'll bitch about those they don't like as though it should be of equal interest to everyone else.

Our exchange ended, inconclusively as such circular arguments often do, as my fellow gooner reached his destination. "Good one" he said as he patted my back and we shook hands neither having persuaded the other of the merits of much of our views.

"Hope we can enjoy this game" I ventured without total confidence.

"Don't let it spoil your weekend" he grinned cheerfully.




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The Journalist

Writer: Amos Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Sunday November 18 2012

Time: 10:08AM

Your Comments (oldest first)

Change to most recent first
Very well put. The guys I go to games with have the total range of views on Arsenal and we sometimes do debate the toss. But emotions never spill over even after heated debate and a few beers. I love what the internet and forums such as this have brought to football, I genuinely think there's so many positives (about 50% of the people I travel away with now I met via twitter). But you're right, the same way in your professional life, a phonecall or a visit to a desk is better than an e mail, there's something more rational and considered face to face and at matches. This article grasps it well too http://arsenalarsenal.wordpress.com/2012/11/05/im-finished-with-supporting-arsenal/
Little Dutch
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18/11/2012 11:09:00

You're right, Amos. People get offended very easily on forums, but are also more offensive online than if they were talking to another person. I don't know why, but that is certainly the case.
prits
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18/11/2012 13:13:00

That has to be true prits but it's also true that the same thing on line isn't seen as offensive when said face to face. Unless it's specific abuse directed towards another individual whether offence is taken is a matter of choice.
Amos.
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18/11/2012 13:56:00

I do struggle to see what exactly this guy gets out of the game, it's like the pain and fear of losing have taken over and overidden any possibility to glean any form of positive emotion from the game, I just find it bizarre. It's like yes I'm married yes I love her, but I can't bear to see her or talk to her anymore just in case she says the wrong thing, i'll text sometime but thats it even though i keep my door keys it brings too much pain to go home. Utterly disfunctional.
nikolaijns
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18/11/2012 14:59:00

Excellent read Amos.
Deltaforce
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18/11/2012 17:15:00

Did anyone say banter? ;p
k.chelski
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18/11/2012 17:40:00

I wouldn't go that far Niko, people deal with the tension in different ways. I don't agree with it though, I still watch every game I can - the uncertainty is part of being a fan, and especially with Arsenal, you really don't know which version will turn up on the day.
prits
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18/11/2012 17:52:00

Nice read, but blimey o' reilly I was only joking about the syllables! My internet smiley didn't do the job then :-((
shewore
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18/11/2012 19:38:00

That's a good link LD. Well worth a read.
Amos.
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18/11/2012 21:49:00

I know they do prits, I just cannot stand to not watch Arsenal, if we're playing I'll go to any length to ensure I can watch the game, live, pub, telly, stream it's irrelevant as long as I can watch it somehow. I could understand if the person had fallen out of love with the game, feck knows theres enough wrong there to put any sane individual off, I personally would rather that than this strange limbo he seems to have put himself in where he still stumps up a couple of grand a year for something he can no longer tolerate being a part of other than to find out the result after the event. I'm no stranger to strange but that's Steve Strange locked up in Strangeways watching Dr Strangelove levels of strangeness.
nikolaijns
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19/11/2012 01:05:00

 

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