I have always questioned why I am so fanatical about Arsenal Football Club. I can’t think of a fixed point in my life where I can say “yes, that’s where it began.” My club’s reemergence in the late 80s happened when I was still a little African kid playing in the heat of the Malawian sun. When I got to England and became obsessed with Ian Wright, my father refused to take me to a game for the fear of hooligans – so the Arsenal glory years of the late 90s and early 00s were experienced on my sofa.
But now as an adult, I find myself more infatuated with Arsenal than I was when we (or they) were winning things. Not a day goes by where I don’t think about the current plight of my beloved team in some detail and I usually muse about it on Twitter. I am a 27 year old man with a daughter for crying out loud.
My fiancé recently said to me that she is going to have to kick me out of our family home when Arsenal lose. That took me by surprise for about a second and then I understood where she was coming from. As many people know, Arsenal have recently been humiliated by Liverpool Football Club (on Saturday 8th February 2014) and as far as I was concerned the weekend (fuck it, the whole of the following week) was over. The only word to describe my feelings after the match was depressed. I just wanted to be left in a hole somewhere until Arsenal play again and put that result right. Again, I’m a grown ass man.
I know these feelings I have are pathetic and illogical and childish, but I can’t help it – it’s the way I feel. The only film that manages to reflect these emotions is Fever Pitch (1997). The film is about a bloke who is an English teacher who happens to be played by a housewife favourite, Colin Firth. The film is pretty much about how his love for Arsenal Football Club encroaches upon his personal life, especially his new romance with another fellow teacher.
To be clear, Fever Pitch is a terrible film – but it is a film that speaks to me on a level that many great films don’t. At times the acting is so bad that you just end up laughing – but that same awfulness makes these characters seem more real somehow.
There are moments in this film that will stay with me, such as when the Paul’s (Firth’s character) dad tells his son that he should be beyond the Arsenal ‘stage’ of his life – the young Paul responds:
“We’ll never be beyond that stage.”
I totally identify with the character at that moment and I would guess that many followers of other teams get where he is coming from.
Or the bit where Paul’s girlfriend (Ruth Gemmell) says that football is only a game and he responds like any other football fan would:
“DON’T SAY THAT! Please! That is the worst, most stupid thing anyone could say! Cause it quite clearly isn’t “only a game.” I mean if it was do you honestly think I’d care this much?”
The only part of the film that doesn’t ring true to me is the ending. Somehow Arsenal has become a diminished part of his life; I don’t think that will ever be the case for me. I long for the day where I can take my little girl to see Arsenal play and inflict this disease on another generation of the Teddy-Bears.
Arsenal and this irrational feeling is just apart of who I am and as long as it’s not harming those close to me (it’s on the edge at the moment) then I have no desire to change.