One of the boons of the contemporary Web is the rise of fan channels. These of course provide fans the opportunity to air their views on their clubs, and is helped naturally by the ubiquitous nature of the Internet. Most clubs these days have one, from United Peoples’ TV/ Full Time Devils of Manchester United, Chelsea Fan TV/ 100% Chelsea, Spurs XY/ We are Tottenham TV, etc.
AFTV is the only Arsenal fan channel at present, though arguably it’s the most globally known. Even bigger clubs, like Real Madrid, Barca, or Man United, don’t have fan channels of AFTV’s prominence.
We’re often seen as being arrogant, hyper, and embarrassing by other supporters. There is in my mind some truth to this. Nonetheless, does AFTV contribute to this? And is AFTV a boon or a negative? Let’s see, shall we.
AFTV started in 2012/13, and captured many of the ups and downs of that season. From losing to Blackburn in the FA Cup, Spurs away, and Swansea away, to the 5-2 win against Tottenham at home, and pipping the Scum to the fourth place spot on the last day.
Fan media generally provides a direct route to what fans are thinking and feeling. It is of course without the objectivity and fluff of the media, and provides fans with a voice. AFTV is thus no different and in this regard does it well. It’s a fact indeed that without fans, football is nothing, and it’s pretty much spot on via fan media.
Moreover, Robbie Lyle brings his media experience and connections into things well, and has interviewed many celebs and legends. Wright, Merson, Smith, and many other great Gooner legends, have appeared on the show from time to time.
It’s also commendable that Lyle and Co. are at every game, even on pre-season friendly tours. He did well to travel to Australia this year and to the USA in 2016. AFTV is a near gold-standard in terms of fan channels in the world today.
AFTV’s reliance on characters possibly contributes to the negative perception of Gooners generally.
For instance, there are:
– The articulate/intellectual Moh
– The supposed “blind love” of Wenger from Chris (though terms like “Ginger Chris” are in my mind needlessly base)
– More “blind Wenger love” from Ty, and the opposite from Claude as a staunch Wenger Out.
– Rants from stalwart Wenger Outs like DT and Troopz
– Tactical analyses from Graham
– Old school passion and Wenger critiques from the Lees (i.e. of Same Old Arsenal and Gunnerbang on Youtube/Twitter)
– Ebullience and Nigerian flavour from Dr. Kelechi
Other fan channels don’t rely on these characters to the same extent, though they all do have rants (passion is to be expected in football fans, naturally). However, bar possibly Andy Tate on Full Time Devils, there are not many standout characters in other clubs’ fan channels.
So it’s understandable, considering AFTV’s gold-standard amongst fan channels, and Arsenal’s general prominence amongst global football clubs, that our fans get called out.
Yes, we cannot get tarred by the same brush, and we all rant as football fans. But these people, who represent in some ways caricatures of Gooners, do add to these thoughts.
AFTV is accused of being the catalyst for anti-Wenger sentiments. This is a correlation, and not causation. If AFTV had not existed, fans would have had other means to do this. Fanzines, websites, forums, etc. would still exist, and if results (bar the FA Cup wins) has been the same, it would have grown to the level it is now. Most Gooners now, I believe, want Wenger to go, as there is a depressing regularity of our performances season over season.
To cite AFTV as the cause of this growth is tenuous and simplistic at best.
Moreover, many dislike the speech of Troopz. I’ve never understood fam, cos yuh get me, blud, he speaks the way that many black youth in London talk, innit, fam. Troopz himself has said that he is Jamaican, and given his general speech, it fits perfectly. Words like “fam” and “blud” are common speech in parts of London with a high Caribbean population, and many people of other races use them too. I was not raised in London, but my town was and still is highly multi-cultural. Many white kids, who were the majority naturally, used similar words because it was cool. And there’s nothing wrong in that. My honest view on those who decry Troopz speech is that they are a bit….well… sheltered. Maybe they come from environments that are very homogenous, or otherwise not as mixed.
I even heard people on other Gooner podcasts say that “people in the real world don’t say ‘fam and blud’”. Really? So many areas of London, and other big British cities, are “not the real world”? Are they some conspiracy theory then? That they don’t really exist, but it’s what they want you to think?
It can come across as pretty silly, to some. And possibly Troopz does over-emphasise it. But then I don’t see anything wrong in his manner of speech. It’s to be expected, somewhat, for somebody of his cultural background. For instance, look at Big/Roadman Shaq of “the ting go….” fame. He says “fam” and “blud” too, as it is common speech in numerous areas of London. For those interested in knowing more, though this isn’t a linguistics lesson, see this article on Wikipedia.
Another point is questioning Lyle’s motives here, but then considering he travels around the world and attends virtually every game, he warrants some remuneration here. And his drive in making AFTV globally-known is pretty much testament to an entrepreneurial spirit, hard work, and being determined and committed. These are positive traits that anybody can apply for themselves.
So AFTV for me is a mixed bag. Fellow columnist here Ese Agobaye shared his own views, and mine broadly correlate to his. I can certainly see the good in AFTV, though mitigated by some negatives.