WTTGT Writer: Antonia ‘The Gooner Girlfriend’ Hawken – Follow me
Imagine if you will this scene…
A man and a woman are sitting in a Spanish trucker’s cafe, about two hours away from the French border, at nine in the morning. The television is on. A Spanish news reader is chatting and a newspaper lies on its front with the sport section facing upwards. The newspaper is picked up and scanned by the man, interpreting brief sentences to establish the general gist of the back story. The television images swiftly change to reveal a young, dark haired man lifting up a Barcelona shirt, beaming smile, between shots of a previous team dressed in red and an older gentleman walking around in similar kit.
“He was always going to go,” comments the man.
The woman looks at him, and notices a brief tinge of sadness in his tone and eyes. Her hand rubs his leg comfortingly, before turning back to her tea and a questionable sandwich containing a whole pepper.
I admit it was a sad moment for both of us: Arsenal had lost a good player which naturally haunts ‘the man.’ Now I, the woman, had to learn the name of another squad member to make it sound like I knew something about football. As with the passing of any relationship you recall both the good times and the bad, and react appropriately.
There’s a period of mourning, occasional surges of anger, annoyance and eventually acceptance (better known as the three A’s of a breakup); followed by hope for the future with talk of a replacement. There will inevitably be that awkward moment when you come face-to-face with the “ex,” but it’s a question of rising above it.
Someone who was once an ally becomes the opponent and the tricky dynamics of the football relationship are altered. It’s not you, Cesc, it’s me.
I’ve always thought that relationships are funny things. They come, they go, and you’re supposed to move on to the next with minimal thought or care for the past, and as relationships tend to involve two people, you’re presented with double the history to suitably put aside for the sake of your current beau. It’s also tricky to forget that you’ve taken the place of someone else, someone who admittedly wasn’t right, and yet a phantom lingers. Not only are we being compared, we ourselves are comparing: my ex used to buy me flowers, my ex used to text every morning, my ex used to do this amazing thing with her tongue… the same goes for sport.
He who takes the spot of a transferred player has a window of opportunity to prove himself, score more goals, defend deeper than his predecessor… prove all time and money were worth it. It’s never nice thinking you’re not meeting expectations.
My contemplation of football relationships was brought up again once we returned to England. Our ferry docked on 20th August, the day Arsenal played Liverpool, but thankfully due to our exhaustion from two constant weeks of travelling round Spain and France we were both bed ridden for the match and didn’t have to witness the loss. After a few hours recuperation, lunch was required and we ventured to the kitchen where the television had been left on after the match.
“Arsenal lost!” came a distant voice from my boyfriend’s mother, a true subscriber to the Gooner Girlfriend mantra: know the score and suitably console/celebrate when appropriate – a hearty meal was later prepared for dinner.
“I’m glad I didn’t stay awake to watch then,” mumbled the boyfriend who was slicing ham from a pig’s leg he’d bought in Spain…
**Take note ladies, when a man’s annoyed, a piece of meat seems to be a good way to release tension, so stock up for this season**
Leg discarded, he flicked through channels until a past match, with Thierry Henry playing for Arsenal, filled the screen.
“Ah, now those were the days…what a match.”
Evidently, it was a classic.
All anger from today’s loss appeared subdued by reminiscing about the past. Just as with relationships, when you’re in a period of mourning it’s nice to look back to happier times, especially when you’re current state of affairs is dire. It also brings back your faith: if we were like that before, we certainly can be again.
Like a couple suffering from a diminishing spark, it’s always good to remember why you fell in love in the first place. The Arsenal romance occasionally dims, but remembering the initial love affair never fails to add fuel to the fire: you’re team colour is red, the colour most associated with passion for goodness sake. After witnessing a few narrow wins, greatly outnumbered by losses, it seems to me Wenger owes the Arsenal fans a large bouquet of flowers, a hand cooked meal with wine, maybe followed by a massage… that always makes me forgive and forget.
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