It’s Wednesday, Gooners.
We should all have recovered from our wild celebrations following the FA Cup triumph, I believe;
I have, anyway.
I must admit it was easier for me, let me explain why.
I enjoyed this win as much as you all did, I was impressed by our amazing performance and I couldn’t dream of a better FA Cup final; we were in control from the beginning until the end, we avoided being too complacent against a smaller team and we fully embraced our status of favorites – showing on the pitch why we were designated as obvious winners.
That was what experts call a mature display, something that doesn’t come off quite often when you are a Gooner – like we all are.
If it was easier for me to recover for celebrations, it was because I couldn’t really gather together with fellow Gooners in my area since it seems there aren’t any here; you already know I’m Italian but you might not know that I moved to Switzerland six years ago and I landed in a Gooners-free zone; actually, I’m in a kind of football-free area.
Swiss people go nuts when they National team plays in big tournaments like Euros or World Cup but, apart from one month every two years (if they qualify, of course), they really don’t care about football; they love hockey a lot but that’s pretty much it.
There are a few British expats but many of them could easily wear one of those Arsenal/Chelsea/Manchester custom shirts – then I can’t really count on them.
Anyway, on Saturday I was on my way home after a beautiful hike and I suddenly felt very alone; the kind of scary loneliness, you know? The Arsenal was about to kick-off the FA Cup final and I felt I was the only person across the whole country worried about that; when I saw Wembley almost entirely painted in yellow and all those pictures of fans groups across the world, it felt insanely wrong to be sitting in front of the telly, alone.
I realized that you can’t take the community out of football because, if you do it, it’s like taking the entire meaning of the whole thing out of it; somehow, it felt wrong to turn on the TV and tune it on BBC One.
I must admit I even considered not watching the game at all, which scared me. I felt empty inside.
Those of you who were in Wembley, in a pub, at some friends’ place or hosting a FA Cup Final barbecue special had someone to share their anxiety, joy, disappointment with – someone who’s not surprised by the idea of being so concerned by a football game.
I know it sounds a lot like Nick Hornby’s “Fever Pitch” but it’s not; it’s much worse: the main character has his own Steve to cheer/argue with, I don’t.
I became one of those armchair fans many “regular” fans seem to despise. It’s hurtful.
I’ve been a Gooner for twenty years – which is a lot if you consider that I’m a 32 year old lad from Italy – but it doesn’t seem to count much because I can’t attend as many games as I wish; instead, I take my beer(s) from the fridge, I sit in front of the telly and pretend I am part of the beautiful game.
It’s becoming harder and harder to ignore the feeling I have before, during and after every single game: I feel like a perfect idiot.
I scream at the TV; I wave my hands to suggest players where to move and where to pass the ball; I throw the TV remote against the wall; I yell at linesmen for a wrong call and – of course – wait for half-time to go pee.
Basically, I do everything everyone of you does at the Emirates Stadium or in a pub – with the only difference that my drinks do not cost as much.
There’s another difference, tho, a massive one: I’m at home and none around me (my wife, my friends…) can’t really get why I get so involved.
No “ooooooh” when Santi Cazorla eludes pressure with tight control; no “Nooooooooo!” when Theo Walcott runs clear on goal but flashes the ball off the far post.
So, please, next time you throw you anger towards an armchair fan, think about this story: I might be spending a weekend in a ski resort, or hike up a mountain and enjoy a barbecue in a forest but……I’d still think about the score, the line-up, Mesut Özil’s shoulder drop and Alexis Sanchez quick feet.
I can’t help and nor can you.