My Gooner brother and I talk on the phone after most games and this post is also inspired by all the fans who do not live in the UK and for whatever reason, cannot get to see matches live. I read their posts and comments all the time on different blogs. Reading an Americans experience of being an Arsenal supporter in the States made me think about my current position, unable to just go to the Emirates to see a match, or meet up with fellow gooners in a pub, but having to rely on the internet, television and bars to view a match. It’s also why I blog quite a lot, it’s an opportunity to discuss our team on a regular basis. Reading other posters on blogs has made me more aware of how isolated some Gooners can be. Some may never get to see the Gunners play live, but their support is 100%. Long distance Gooners.
These days I watch most games in a French bar where the patron is very sympathetic and the only time I’m unable to see a Gunners game there is when it coincides with Marseille playing, or the patrons beloved Toulouse Rugby team are playing. I have a very good friendship with him and often, when there is a Sunday game at 4pm, when he generally goes home for a siesta and closes the bar for a few hours, he leaves me alone and just says, help yourself to drinks, just tell me how many when I get back. He must think I have an honest face!
So living so far from the Emirates presents quite a challenge to die-hard fans. Some Gooners from afar fortunately have a good fan-base and can watch games with many other like-minded fans in bars. Unfortunately, in France and where I live there isn’t such a thing, so consequently I generally watch a match alone in a bar full of Frenchmen who couldn’t give a toss. The one exception is a mate who is a West Ham supporter and he often joins me to watch a match and the only time we fall out is if it’s a game against the Hammers, then it can get nasty! But the barman Ali, can now say, “For Fuck sake”, in a perfect cockney accent.
Fortunately for me, the last couple of seasons I’ve been lucky to see the boys play in European away games at Montpellier and Marseille, the first ever European away games I have ever attended Recently, many American East Coast Gooners were able to go to the game against the New York Red Bulls, and see the great legend Titi at the same time. It just highlights the variety of places which we Gooners are based, over the last couple of years, Gooners in Malaysia have also been blessed with Arsenal playing in their country.
I get views on this blog from Brasil, Mexico, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Russia, Sweden, India, the Philippines, Singapore, Japan and many other places worldwide…. it’s quite an eye opener.
So, despite having been a regular visitor to Highbury and away games, I now find myself in the position of a lonely long distance gooner, and consequently, my sympathy with other Gooners worldwide has increased. Now days I’m restricted to having internet conversations with supporters and telephone conversations with my big brother. The last game I saw at Highbury was in 1998. A year before Henry came to the Arsenal, but a team with Bergkamp, Petit, Vieira, Seaman, Overmars, Llungberg and Anelka.
I moved to France in 1999 and henceforth, all Arsenal games have been watched on TV or on the internet, apart from the games at Montpellier and Marsielle. So this is for all those Lonely Long Distance Gooners, who don’t get a chance to see the Arsenal play live but continue to give 100% support. I now understand the frustration of supporting from afar, of relying on the internet and blogs to enable debate and chat with other Gooners.