For better or for worse…. till death do us part!

Welcome to the GunnersoreArse blog. Being blogged 918.74 kilometers (in a straight line) from the Emirates Stadium.

Loyalty and staying with the same partner for life….. till death do us part! Or in this instance….. staying loyal to, and supporting the same football team for life, which when analysed, throws up all the same experiences, emotions, disappointments and joys similar to a marriage. Some people can devote their whole life to one person, for better or for worse, unfortunately I’ve not been very good at it, hence three failed marriages. But when it comes to the Arsenal……..   I’ve devoted my life to her, plus quite a substantial amount of money and emotional investment, see, just like a marriage! So how do we do it? What makes us able to stay faithful to the Arsenal for life but not always stay faithful to a partner? Can the simple word ‘Loyalty’ really convey what it means?

I took my marriage vows with the Arsenal when 8 years old and I’ve never been unfaithful to her, never once have I dipped my chorizo into another teams sauce, not yellow mustard vinaigrette, not white béchamel or creamy blue cheese. Arsenal to me is what Red thai curry is to white thai rice, what Bolognese is to spagetti, what mint sauce is to lamb, what chili is to con carni……in other words, a perfect marriage. For 52 years and hopefully for a good few more, it will only be death that eventually separates me from the Gunners and I finally go to St Peters Italian Deli in the sky. In comparison, the longest I’ve stayed with one partner is 14 years and during that time I have to admit, occasionally I dipped my spicy chorizo into a bit of tasty french mayonnaise, a well seasoned tzatziki a la grecque, a piquant chinese oyster sauce, plus, on a regular basis I got my chorizo nicely warmed in some deliciously comforting and fulfilling Lancashire Hotpot. And if you are reading this Lisa from Southport, “I still think of you!”

Some of you will call me weak, and yes, I agree, on occasion I have preferred to look for some nice sun dried tomatoes in virgin olive oil rather than eat luke warm tinned tomatoes at home. But with the Arsenal, I’ve been much stronger in my resiliation to stay faithful and loyal.

So the question is, could I be unfaithful to my Arsenal? Would it be possible on occasion to share my spicy sausage with some Tottenham kosher potato tart , a Chelsea currant bun, Cardiff Welsh rarebit or some Norwich roast mutton dressed as lamb and cheat on my Gunners? No of course not, it would be unthinkable, it would be akin to being offered perfectly cooked Smoked Duck Breasts with a Ginger butter sauce and saying, “I’d rather have some spam with ketchup.” Or being invited to dine at a three star Michelin restaurant but turning it down and going to a hot dog stand on Tottenham High Road.

I am proud to be a Gooner, my Greek Keftethes swell with pride when I tell people that the Arsenal are my team. My spicy chili sauce gets spicier when we win a game, but sometimes I’ve had to accept eating cold pizza that’s been left in the fridge for a day or two longer than it should have been.

Over the years, I’ve had the privilege to sample some of the best culinary delights possible, with a dash of international influence and creativity. Hollandse Nieuwe Haring, Bûche Chocolat gourmande a la Française, Irish beef in Guinness, Swedish Meatballs, Romford Pie and Mash and of course, Spanish Tapas. But on other occasions, I’ve had a plate of unsavory overcooked sludge plonked in front of me which you wouldn’t even give to your dog……. but I’ve eaten it! My analogy here is the Arsenal, not women, well, if I’m truly honest…….. Damn, I’ve been a slut sometimes! But my point is, if your wife served you a load of trollop on a plate on a regular basis, you’d start to think, “Is she the right one for me?” and “maybe I should go out and find some Steak Diane or Crêpes Suzette”. Whereas the Arsenal serve up some unappetizing fodder on a regular basis but we go back for second and third helpings and over the last few years, that would be ‘fourth’ helpings as well. This is to me the essence of fan loyalty and faithfulness, no matter what’s on the menu, you’ll eat what ever is dished up. Never thinking that there might be some ‘Cordon bleu’ somewhere down the Fulham Road in a restaurant where they change their chef as regularly as they change the table napkins.

Psycologically I’m basically a loyal person, for instance, I’m very loyal to friends and family, and also to certain commercial products, Nivea, Gauloises tobacco, Spanish chorizo, Pataks curry pastes, Heinz baked beans, pastis 51 and Durex, though nothing puts me off my meal more than having to wrap my chorizo in clingfilm! I’m also extremely loyal to the Arsenal and this begs the question, where does loyalty come from? What are the psychologically complex factors which define us as loyal followers of just one football team. Psychologists have studied the complex and opaque neurological processes which add to the psychological make up of a loyal fan. They have also spent quite some time analysing the psychology of infidelity and adultery. But it’s as complicated as the recipe and ingredients for a Marseille Boullabaisse. I may have a go at preparing it for you on another occasion.

Is it easier to commit adultery with another woman than to be unfaithful to your football team? Are the prohibited Nouvelle Cuisine menus of infidelity easier to digest than the taboo of dipping your chorizo into a cold blue piece of stringy pidgeon standing on a soggy meatball? Is loyalty to the Arsenal more powerful within us than the ability to stay loyal to a spouse?

In fact, does it ever cross our minds that we could stray from the righteous path of only  supporting the Gunners? Whereas the temptation of a juicier meal away from home may  intrude upon us from time to time, and we can sometimes give in to it. Do we sometimes look at another teams attractiveness, sexiness and charms, being overcome by lust and temptation for some forbidden fresh fruit cocktail? Would we actually take that fateful step into another teams restaurant and consume a three course ‘a la carte’ meal with all the trimmings just because we have an urge rising in our Moulinex mixers to whip up and serve some Crème Anglaise?

I think I can catagorically say no for all or at least, for most football fans on those questions. For us, fidelity to a football club is sacred, it would be sacrilage to even contemplate having an affair with another team. We would be a Prune and Port Fool. Our loyalty means we will happily accept the occassional crap dinner, knowing that there will also be times when we can savour the taste of the authentic and appetizing delicacies of well cooked football, prepared by a gourmet Chef de cuisine, tempting our tastebuds and teasing us with the delights which are to follow and if we’re lucky, ‘Silver Service’.

You may think this has all been a load of Falafel and Chocolate Profiteroles,  and you’re thinking perhaps whilst I’ve been typing it I’ve chucked far too much Côtes du Provence rosé down my neck. This may be true, but writing it has been like slipping my tongue into a Rum Cream Trifle and eating Cherries marinated in Maraschino liqueur……….  Yummy.

I, Northbank, do take you, Arsenal FC, to be my Football Team, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; until death do us part. And hereto I pledge my faithfulness.

Right, time for a glass of wine and some chorizo (perhaps dipped into a creamy prawn sauce)….. hope you enjoyed your visit. Until the next time.

à bientôt………… et bon appétit 🙂

And don’t forget….. GunnersoreArse is always a blogging good read, every Sunday morning at 9am GMT.  Tune in and join in! But occasionally, I may be unpredictable…. and when the fancy takes me, I’ll scratch my GunnersoreArse on another day.