Monday, August 19, 2013

Arsenal lost and my heart broke

It's very hard to explain the relationship between a football club and its fans (although there have been some excellent blogs, articles and even books written on the subject), but unless you are a fan, you will not understand the pain, the sweat and tears that goes along with supporting a team with all your heart.

My relationship with football and Arsenal began a long time ago and with every year it gets strengthened even through the bad times. It's always the same, during the season, my weekends are ruled by football matches and Arsenal games, during mid-week it's usually champions league games and rest of the time goes towards talking about the team. That first game of the season is always one filled with excitement -your boys are back home where they belong...where you belong.

But it's also a cause for real heart break. People who are non-fans will never understand why someone will spend their weekend in total depression, pouting, angry and ready to snap at anyone unless and until they come to feel as passionately about something as football fans do about their teams. Arsenal lost on Saturday and it's Monday right now and my mood is no better. I refused to get out of my bed on Sunday (despite pleas from both friends and family) and spent the day eating unhealthy food non-stop and watching old matches on Youtube. I must have spent hours watching players score goal after goal on their heyday.

Monday happened much too soon and with very little sleep and nearly no inclination to work, I showed up at work but ready only to talk about Arsenal. What were we going to do? Our team has lost its core players to injury, we have a tough Champions League game coming on Wednesday and we got no one. Sure it does not matter that my educated (and sometimes logical) brain keeps telling me that my own personal victories and defeats have nothing to do with the team. It's just a game.... But unfortunately how I feel is utterly different. I am embarrassed for the way we played (even though I had nothing to do with the 11 players who showed up to put up a fight against Aston Villa). I am upset we didn't win. I am angry that we have not signed any new players. It's my own personal defeat even though I have have no say in how the season pans out.

So, today in the throes of depression, I keep thinking back to those early days years ago when I became a fan. To be honest sometimes (like today) I wish I could go back in time and change my own history by not getting emotionally invested in a game and the club. After all, I meet a ton of people every day (my own father included), who watch football matches and have fun simply catching the games. They have no affiliations or minor ones if that and don't really care who wins or loses at the end of the day. They laugh during matches, they answer phones calls and they even switch channels in between to watch something else. Healthy people, oh how I hate them all and wish I could be one of them. I don't remember the last time I genuinely just sat down and watched a game in the EPL dispassionately and enjoyed it for what it was. I am always worried about how it affects Arsenal. I am tense and anxious and definitely will not even move a muscle during the game, let alone do anything as stupid as answer a phone call from either friends or family.

But then it does not change anything. Logically I know the healthy route but when it comes to football, it's my heart that dictates the rules. My relationship with Arsenal is one of the longest ones I have had with anyone or anything. Even though I am well aware that Arsenal is just a team, for me, it's like my best friend and my family. Arsenal is part of my life for better or for worse. It's part of who I am. I am Aishwarya. I am daughter, aunt and sister. I am a runner. I am a reporter. I am also a Gooner. It's my identity.

So, I am going to sit here and mope all day today and be decidedly upset. I am going to whine about how we have no chances of even finishing top four in the league unless Wenger signs some quality players. I am going to bite my nails incessantly as we approach the September 2nd deadline after which we have no chances of signing anyone. This has been me for years and this will be me in the future too. When I say - Arsenal till I die - it's my reality for today. Until that day arrives when I simply no longer care about what happens at the Emirates stadium and I am just a casual bystander to a sport I once loved, this is going to be me. I am Aishwarya. I am a Gooner and if it breaks my heart, so be it. 

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