A guest post today from DogFace, who explains all:
Hello all, you may or may not remember me from times past – I used to write for a rival blog a few years ago and got good numbers too. I was the chap who started RefWatch, a statistical exploration into referee bias – crazy days back then. Sometimes it felt as if I was just pissing in the wind, but – well, things are a bit different on that subject now as everybody seems to have a ‘Ref Watch’ these days, so job done.
Anyway, I’m not here to reminisce or talk numbers, I’m here because I have something to say. It’s trivial yet important as it’s representative – a metaphor, a microcosm of a bigger picture that is easily understood; the bigger picture is in itself a microcosm of a vast collage of power structures that dominate our day to day lives – so maybe we can gain some perspective from that too?
I’m here to talk about celebrating second place and winning nothing. Yep. That’s it, jump about like dolphins, gooners – we won nothing!
That is, at least, how ‘black and white’ our chums in the mainstream media wish to serve it to us – but, unfortunately for them, I don’t see the world as black and white as my mind isn’t the type to knee-jerk comfortably into their divisive narratives. I see the world more as “red and white”… or maybe it’s just many shades of pink, or rose if you will – yes, I see the world through a rose-tinted filter and you know what: after a season like this, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I’m not the type to tell all you lot how to be a fan. I might tell you to “leave it mate” if you are sat near me in the stadium and screeching some nonsensical negativity, but that’s as far as the lecture goes – I’ll leave that sort of thing to the experts such as Robbie Savage, Danny Murphy et al.
For instance the talking heads out there in the ivory towers of the council of how-to-be-a-proper-fanville have been quite insistent that we (Arsenal fans) should take absolutely no joy from this season (and especially how it ended) because of the following indisputable facts:
- You won nothing.
- You could have won something maybe.
- If you don’t win then you lose and, QED, losers are sad and cry.
OK, number three wasn’t a fact and it is this that I wish to dispute, and put forward the case that this season will live in my mind with great fondness because something happened on that final day. Something happened in that moment when Giroud hit his hat-trick as we shared the news from Newcastle. While we were all giddily coming to terms with the ‘black and white’ reality of this news from the north east; while we turned our faces to the glorious sun and basked in its warm motherly righteousness, we heard that it had happened again – and then we realised that it had indeed “happened again” and we laughed from the belly of our souls with startled disbelief and genuine happiness.
It felt like an epiphany to me – confused as I had become at that time as to what I should expect from my team regarding the contract they had to complete to ensure my individual satisfaction as a fan – so the relief, pleasure and joy of something so unexpected yet something so annually carved in stone felt like a prophecy coming to pass, it felt other worldly and magical. I enjoyed that moment more than the last time we won silverware (the cipher of success and waiver to celebrate in modern football) because it opened a flood-gate of subconscious repression and kicked down the mental doors of acceptance that I had constructed to box in the disappointment of the 2015-16 season.
Do you realise what we would have lost if we finished third? Do you understand what would happen if Tottenham had won the League? Did we ever stop to think…? I think not – it’s too painful a thought to deconstruct while there was still a sliver of hope, while the mathematical possibility of a silver lining still exists.
This moment goes much further than just the realisation that we have the ‘bragging rights’ because it also brought into pin-eyed focus the realisation that something has been built during the Wenger years that has now become such a part of us that we have taken it for granted. It’s like the more you have the more you have to lose, and that’s the fulcrum of the schism in the fan-base in my humble opinion: the fear of losing, the good times becoming nothing more than a chapter in our history and the need to prepare for what comes next.
In this period we have built chants and traditions that our children have grown up with – can you imagine never again singing “Tottenham Hotspur, Tottenham Hotspur – have you won the Premier League?” Can you even fathom never being able to smugly use the phrase “Forever in our shadow” to silence the crows of a cocky co-worker? Just think – we could have laid the “It’s happened again” chant to rest on Sunday but instead we sung it the loudest, longest and proudest it has ever been sung – we sang it so the whole of North London could hear us and b’Jesus we sang it so well!
All this was in my mind in that moment, all this and St Totteringham’s day too! St Totteringham’s ‘day’ was ‘now’ and it was as if Arsène Wenger himself was St Totteringham, cruising past us down Hornsey Road in his 2013 Lexus, giving blessings in the form of autographs to the crowd of children patiently trying to force their match programmes under his nose as we sang, drank and raised our glasses to him; with that little smirk on his face as if to say: “Well, sorry it’s a little bit late, but – here we are again it seems.”
Another strange thing happened as part of this epiphany. While I stood there, arms raised and eyes closed to the sun, the warm glow of red in my eyelids ensconced in the cradle of a cathartic cacophony, I realised that I loved Tottenham, which clashed with everything I knew and took for granted. It was like the closing line from Orwell’s 1984 but turned, contextually, on its head:
“He gazed up at the enormous face. Forty years it had taken him to learn what kind of smile was hidden beneath the dark moustache. O cruel, needless misunderstanding! O stubborn, self-willed exile from the loving breast! Two gin-scented tears trickled down the sides of his nose. But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother.”
I had actually been drinking gin that day too – and that really did come to mind. So thank you Tottenham for being so unfathomably crap that you somehow lost 5-1 to a ten-man relegated team. You gave us a score line that is not only brilliant in itself, it also associatively triggered the synapses of such happy memories of your humiliations past! To me you’ll always be like that annoying little brother or cousin who so desperately wants to be like you, imitates you to get your approval and respect so as to be accepted as an equal but is alas forever bitter about totally spursing it up when it comes to the crunch.
But that is not all – there’s more that came to me: the realisation that the salivating likes of Robbie Savage and Danny Murphy, who have been sharpening their knives and pencils to feast on the banquet of misery that was to befall us gooners, had nothing. Their divisive narratives fell to ashes as WOB, AKB and all those wonderful shades in-between sang together and shared in these ineffable feelings that make football football.
So, sorry lads – but one of the reasons that we are enjoying this so much is because (and I think deep down you know this too) you mugs in the mainstream media have absolutely NOTHING so say to us over the summer, and ironically we are enjoying your bile about that too.
Long may this ride continue, gooners, and may it happen again… over and over and over again.
DogFace is on twitter: @DogFaceRefWatch
And so am I: @AngryOfN5