No more middle ground

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By Brian Fettner


WOW! What a match huh? Reading 5-7 Arsenal. That match embodied why we are all so hopelessly addicted to football and especially Arsenal FC. They took us from utter despair to dizzyingly wonderful heights of ecstasy, all in a matter of 120 minutes. I was left shaking and buzzing for hours afterwards as most of you were as well. This morning most are still in shock. That was easily one of the greatest cup ties most of us have ever seen.

Something happened though, that for some reason I never really noticed before, because I have always been so one sided when it comes to how I feel about Arsenal and how I want to be perceived as an Arsenal supporter. I got to see things from a different perspective and I am troubled but what I saw.

I don’t usually do Twitter during a match because it is so reactionary and hard to get a reasoned thought in but that’s what matches are right?. I typically stay as far away from Twitter as possible. But this time I figured it’s just a cup match and the expectations aren’t that high because of the team sheet so what the heck. I’ll have some fun. The match started out like most Arsenal matches these days. We conceded first. No big deal. We can come back from this. Then all hell broke loose. Reading went on to score another and another before making it 4-0 with no fight back from our team. I don’t normally moan on and most who know me know that I stay very positive but after the last couple of weeks we have had I couldn’t find any positives in being down 4-0 to Reading of all clubs. I couldn’t contain it anymore and started tweeting about how something is wrong with our club. These guys are one niggle away from being starters and they can’t hold their own against a team deservedly at the bottom of the league table? Judging by Twitter many of you felt exactly the same way. I still had hope we could make a game of it but the problems we have were there for all to see nonetheless.

This is when I noticed that there are attack dogs for the uber positive gooners just as much as there are on the WOB/Black Scarf group. I never really noticed it before because I’m usually really upbeat. Some of the attacks were vicious. Most not on me personally but others on Twitter. Being called names for tweeting a reactionary feeling you have for how we are doing is bollocks if you ask me. I saw several tweeting how much of a c*nt you are if you don’t stand up for the Arsenal. Standing up for them still means speaking up about deficiencies, doesn’t it? Most of us care very deeply for the club so it is still OK to say something is wrong isn’t it? I wasn’t aware supportership means ignoring obvious problems. Then, of course the inevitable “I told you so”s after the match. I was made to feel like I couldn’t celebrate with everyone else because I wasn’t happy in the first half.

The big picture I got from my Twitter experience last night is that the reasonable moderate Arsenal supporter is being completely squeezed out of having a voice. Much like politics these days you are either on one side or the other. If you are a moderate you get ridiculed and snubbed by both sides and can’t get elected. If you say Arsenal are in trouble then you must not be a “proper” supporter or worse yet a “plastic”. If you say nothing is wrong then you are a zealot who is so far up IG and/or Wenger’s arse you can’t see daylight. What is so wrong with loving Arsenal but willing to voice concerns with the current trophy drought and our tendency to sell off our key players every year? Depending on how AFC does in the latest match, one side is out in force claiming how right they’ve been.

Our fanbase has become so black and white that a middle voice is completely gone. They are still out there but are ridiculed by both sides to the point that none of them wants to say anything anymore. I still consider myself of the positive/upbeat slant but if I want to have a moment where I question what I see on the pitch as a problem I do not need to be told to go support some other club or that I don’t really love Arsenal. I truly love this club beyond any sense of sanity says I should. I used to give people who I felt were negative a little ribbing. A few I always saw as alarmists looking for the negative in every Arsenal match I now see were just concerned for the club and rightly so. I have even reached out to these individuals to apologize for my behavior(yes I’m a Yank so there is no u in that word here.LOL).

It’s very enlightening to see things from a different perspective. I got to experience that if only for a night. This is not a black and white world.There are many shades of grey(50 to be exact. *rimshot*). This is true for us Gooners as well. Unfortunately the grey majority is being systematically silenced. Moderation and compromise are signs of weakness according to the world we live in. I’d love for that to change. Next time you want to ridicule someone over The Arsenal consider that they may love them like you do and just want to express how they are feeling at the moment. We’re still allowed to do that…right?


Brian Fettner

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