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.