Anyone who has spent time with me will attest to the fact that I am an Arsenal man thorough and through. There is no sitting on the fence or second judging myself. For me, it has always been Arsenal.
I therefore felt that as someone who loves and aspires to write things about this club I should share about the reasons that made me choose to support the Gunners.
Let me start by this memorable quote from an Arsenal Legend.
“When you start supporting a football club, you don’t support it because of the trophies, or a player, or history, you support it because you found yourself somewhere there; found a place where you belong.”
It is never easy to explain why you support your team. Many people vehemently refuse to admit that this is linked to the success of the team but in reality, the fortunes of a team over a certain period of time goes a long way in attracting new fans.
For me, it happened in my high school years somewhere at the foot of Nyeri Hill. I used to hear about these two football teams in the Barclays Premier League that were always at loggerheads as to who between them is king (sorry Chelsea and Manchester City fans, yours were tiny teams then.) That meant that there was not a lot of teams to choose from, you either supported one or the other. For those who are still guessing, these teams were Arsenal and Manchester United.
At the helm of management of these teams were two successful but contrasting managers. Arsene Wenger, better known as Le Prof was renowned for giving his players a fair chance irrespective of your nationality, race or colour (or so was my feeling at the time) whereas his opposite number at United, Sir Alex Ferguson had a bias for English and generally white players. This then meant that in the Arsenal team, there were many players with an African background. These included first team players like Thierry Henry (what a legend!), Patrick Vieira, Lauren, Kolo Toure and Emmanuel Eboue
You may be wondering why this information is relevant to any aspiring fan but I believe that it went a long way in helping me choose Arsenal over United. It meant that in the Arsenal line-up, I felt represented or “at home” as Dennis Bergkamp would put it.
Then something really special happened at the end of the 2004/2005 season that will remain in my memory forever. The date was 21st May 2005 (I didn’t really remember the date but that’s easy to find) it was the FA cup final between Arsenal and Manchester United and for me; it was the first time that I had an opportunity to watch these two teams. It was still a goalless draw after extra time and therefore the game went to penalties. Scholes’ spot kick was saved by Lehmann and shortly afterwards, Patrick Vieira scored the penalty that would give Arsenal the only trophy I know as a supporter. It was an epic moment and I remember the feeling of taking on your bitter rival and coming out on top. At the moment, it was the best vindication that I was right to choose Arsenal. It was the first cut and for sure, it was the deepest.
From my many years of supporting Arsenal, my choice has been vindicated in more ways than one since Arsenal does not only play football the right way but it also goes about its business the right way. However, that’s a story for another day.