My Life As a New Arsenal Supporter After Year One

In the summer of 2011, I converted from casual fan of this English sport to an emotionally attached supporter of Arsenal Football Club. I wasn’t around to enjoy The Invincibles. The days of Henry, Bergkamp, Vieira and Adams are only YouTube history lessons for me. The same goes for the 1989 moments told in the film “Fever Pitch.” Having missed all of the glory, but being keenly aware of it, I doubt my level of frustration with today’s Arsenal is less than those that experienced the euphoria first hand.

Arsenal had given me a thrill that previous spring with their comeback win against Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League. Celtic’s recent achievement brought back this memory. At that time, I didn’t know enough about the sport to realize that was only the first leg of a two game match. But after that match, my interest in American sports began to wane dramatically. I wasn’t yet committed to any EPL club. My last enjoyment of an American sport was the 2011 NBA Finals. As I watched the Dallas Mavericks win that coveted trophy, which I had waited 20 years for, I knew that would probably be the last basketball game I would watch. The bug for English football had been planted.

All of the matches were so much more exciting than any American sport. Ninety plus minutes uninterrupted, commercial free action had its hook in me. The constant breaks and commercials are to blame for my divorce from the NBA, NFL, and MLB.

FOX Soccer had become my new girlfriend. That summer of 2011, my TV was fixed permanently on that channel as they showed replays of UEFA CL and EPL matches.

As the 2011/2012 season approached, I felt I needed to make a choice of which English club to support. However, it turned out there never was a choice.

Of all the replays I watched that summer, I had not seen these matches live and didn’t know the results, Arsenal had the greatest affect on my pulse rate. Plus Arsenal were under constant attack from the UK media. The competence of their long-term manager was being questioned daily. It seemed (at the time) he was being attacked for not matching the spending power of an oil sheik and a Russian billionaire. My views on this aspect have changed as I became more informed, but its definitely true that the UK media’s criticism of Arsenal played a role in cementing my loyalty to the club. I will also admit that “Anyone but United” played a role just as I had always rooted for any team but the New York Yankees. I couldn’t respect myself for jumping on the bandwagon of the clear favorites.

Though I had converted to a sport that was much more entertaining than American sports, I do prefer the way leagues are managed over here. Every American team has a reasonable chance of winning the big prize. It’s not just down to money. Due to the salary caps, the trophy hunt has more to do with the skill of management than the size of the transfer budget. If this were true in the EPL, Everton would be winning trophies every year in my opinion. Had Everton been the first club to give me a thrill, they might be my team today. Even with Financial Fair Play, the type of parity seen by US sports will probably never happen.

With Arsenal, I find myself caught between admiring them for trying to compete while balancing the books, while simultaneously being furious with them for not spending big when they could. The board claims the money is there should Wenger choose to use it. If this is true, It seems he is managing their resources as if it were his own personal estate and he is preparing for the next Great Depression. This would be admirable indeed…. much more so if we were competing for the league. But Arsenal have another choice: their own Russian Billionaire. They will not even hear what Alisher Usmanov is willing to do.

Arsenal CEO Ivan Gazidis says in two years the club will be able to compete with the super rich clubs. This plan is already showing signs of failure as Chelsea just reported a profit and they spend huge every transfer window.

So why not bring in Usmanov and play catchup before the massive fan base erodes, and the opportunities for premium commercial deals that go along with it?

Committed long term fans may become indifferent and stop renewing their season tickets, or buying jerseys and taking vacations to the UK.

In times like these, I wish I could have remained an uncommitted neutral. Unfortunately for me, my loyalty is sealed. I can enjoy matches as a neutral but will I ever see Arsenal win a big trophy? The future awaits.

61 thoughts on “My Life As a New Arsenal Supporter After Year One”

  1. In my 3rd year of Arsenal support. The Sounders and Arsenal are my two sports loves now a days. Hell I have been to a game at the Emirates (saw they take down Wolverhampton right before the take down of Barca). I am really torn though as I love seeing them develop players like no other and keep making a true profit, but they need to buy some people with the cash they have. They are in serious danger this year.

    1. Worst start since early 80’s at the end of Terry Neill’s reign, all the big names had left (Brady being no. 1), but this year’s Arsenal, as awful as they’ve been playing, will get it together. They always do. You’ve been watching as long as I have so you know what I mean. Very possible that we could end up 5th though.. Sad that ending up in Europa League would undoubtedly cause change.. It would be tantamount to relegation in its own way, considering the CL streak we have under Wenger.

    2. I envy those that live in cities with a MLS club. I watch MLS but remain completely neutral. This is a topic for another thread, but the way fans are turning out in Seattle is a good sign for the future. Shifts in culture usually start on the West coast.

  2. Good piece.

    I became a fan in 2009-10, after watching a few games on Fox Soccer Channel and then buying/watching the ‘Arsenal Official History’ DVD (which you buy and own if you don’t already, also read the book Fever Pitch).. It was after I jointly read that book and watched the History DVD that I fell in love with the club. They were still competing in 2009-10 and though there were problems we still had completely top players.. It just hit me that you didn’t experience Fabregas as a player. He was fantastic. Anyway, I’m digressing.

    You may have noticed the club is in a rut in terms of competition and expectations but like you’ll soon learn Arsenal is a club, like many, whose history is a series of ups and downs, and we’re in a relatively down period at the moment. But the season you just missed, 2010-11.. we weren’t great but we were at least competing.. we were FIRST in early December and only lost once until late April, a far cry from the Arsenal of today. We were still in the hunt until April not late Oct like this year and last. Of course that season ended badly (Carling Cup Final disaster my have caused it..) but at least they showed fight.

    I also recommend you watch Season Reviews to familiarize yourself with past games and players. I’ll upload them for you if you want (email

    And I can’t stress it enough, buy the Official History DVD

  3. Also Dan.. Not trying to tell you how to be a fan, but i strongly recommend, again, reading Fever Pitch and watching the History DVD but in reading and watching familiarize yourself with the names of players coaches staff, Highbury, key spots and all kinds of bits of Arsenal lore.. Names like Bastin, Don Howe, Ted Drake, McLintock etc etc. Like me, we’re relatively new Gooners. It’s good to know as much as you can so as not to feel unknowing when these ideas and places and moments in time pop up, but more importantly to feel, even though you’re American and like me were maybe only born in the mid 80’s, like you know your club intimately.



  4. And in the process, though of course not as important as familiarizing yourself with Arsenal players and names etc, you will also pick up names/players from other clubs of yesteryear. Many have crossed divides etc, (like many new fans wouldnt know that Tevez played for United and the Hammers before then)..

    All it depends on how enthralled and obsessed you are with the sport.

    Btw, there are a few season review DVDs that you can download from several torrent sites, especially the most recent but many of us wouldnt want to relive that hahah. I have fond memories of 2010-11 even though Nasri and others who are gone are in it ha.. Many great moments.. I have many from the past twenty years including 89 and 91. I can send you all one by one if you wish. Again, email

  5. i wish the boad will be humble & do the noble thing by sacking wenger be4 things get out of hands. by living him i see our team droping out of top4, by so doing no big name player will be atracted to come & eropa, this is right time to bring somebody like Gadiola.

  6. Interesting. I have been watching (real) football since the 2010 world cup. Im part spanish and watching spain win the cup was huge for me. The first half of the season i watched english football as a neutral, (hate to say, but i was leaning towards United at the time.) But i hated how successful they were, like they had nothing left to work for. I forget why and when exactly I became an arsenal fan, but i remember watching an FA cup tie between United and Arsenal hoping arsenal would come back and win. So March 2011.

    I watched NFL and MLB casually before watching Arsenal, now I watch NHL and MLB a bit more, but nothing compared to how I follow Arsenal.

  7. One thing I dont quite get though is why you feel the need to “divorce” American sports.. I must be a dime a dozen because I follow the Giants, Knicks, Rangers and Yankees as well as the Red Bulls with ease mine you haha.. as well as other sports like Formula 1.

    Then again, I guess time has as much to do with it and I dont have children yet ir anythingbso I’m in the thick of it haha.

    Just found it strange is all. Ironically, being American, I found The Arsenal the closest and oddly care about them the most, but I can’t imagine a life without my NY Yankees and baseball in general

    1. I still follow some college football. I just became bored with most of it all after many years. I’m in my 40s and followed the DFW teams all of my life. Call it a mid life crisis. The commercials were the main reason. The last few minutes of a basketball games is torture. Plus, there just isn’t enough time in the day (for me) to keep up. My energy and focus is on this new passion.

    2. Congrats on coming into the fold…I was there last year LOL. I pretty much understand why you feel that way about American sports because once you watch European football and begin to see som eof the financial practices, it makes you wonder why other sports can’t be treated the same way.


    1. I’ve been following Schalke since 1978 (my dad became a fan when in the service in Germany and back when I was a kid the only soccer we got on TV at all was “Soccer Made In Germany”) and as a long-time supporter of a club whose bread and butter is in developing youngsters let me be the first to say… “We’ll be more than happy to take him off your hands!” (even considering the recent UCL results). Can you imagine the damage Arsene could do with a German academy and DFL ownership rules behind him?

      My team in England is Wednesday (since the early 90s when a friend from Sheffield got tapes of games mailed to him) but, in lieue of the Owls being up, I’ve rooted for the Gunners in the PL ever since Wenger got sent off that one time and spent the rest of the match standing on top of one of the tunnels. I simply like the cut of the man’s jib. He’s pure class and IMHO you’re a fool if you want him gone.

  9. Nice piece, I admire your moral fibres. One issue though, Chelsea were able to post a profit because the 800m quid invested by Roman was included as a gift.

  10. Btw, my Yankees aren’t even favorites anymore.. ha.. Everyone that isn’t a Yankee fan still thinks it’s the late 90’s early 00’s.. Two World Series in 13 years is hardly dominant.. Though we make the playoffs yearly, we are not favorite to win, let alone make, the WS.. Still love this club and 27 WS, 40 pennants speak for themselves, but yeah.. Not the kings, though we’ll get there again.

    United on the other hand are dominant and will be until they eventually die down. Will most likely win the trophy this season, especially with Van Persie in tow, whom we sadly just gave away.. World class and gone.

  11. also, don’t ‘wish’ you could have remained an uncommitted neutral and it’s not ‘unfortunate’ that your loyalty is sealed.

    like i said, just two seasons ago, had we had the right mental strength and a greatest signing here or there, Arsenal could have won the league, but we shat away the end of the season as we have in a row for a few good season before that.. but we were very close and in the title race then even in April. it’s only a matter of a small change.. we have the pieces. this club doesn’t need to become City to succeed and that’s what makes us Arsenal, we can do it the right way. we have the resources and i guarantee you it will come good in time. we will be champions again and it will glorious.

    1. It’s a moot point. I can’t go back to being neutral or switch clubs. I only say that because right now it’s tough to support Arsenal. Hopefully that changes soon.

          1. You just made my point. Ups and downs. Arsenal’s history is made up of it.

            You think those that were waiting for a trophy from 1979 to 1987 just said, “Oh FORGET Arsenal. They’ll never win again!” Get real. There will be change and Arsenal will be a force again. It will be incredibly glorious.

            I’ve said it before: anyone that is a Gooner, a committed Gooner, in 2012 and has been a fan for 4 years or even 8 or just 1 like Dan and actually STICKS with the club are true fans. They’re not going off to Chelsea, United, City etc.. If they were true bandwagoners, they’d do that, but no. And they will get their reward. You stick with your club, especially a club well run like Arsenal, and you will see your championship. It will come.

  12. Welcome aboard fellow Arsenal fan!

    Remember the pain you felt when Arteta missed that penalty on Saturday? Get used to that feeling. That kind of thing tends to happen a lot these days. We always get so close. It can be kind of infuriating (think about the Milan tie last year, the League Cup loss to Birmingham City [though you may not have been following the team at that time], etc).

    The first (and only) Arsenal match I attended was a 0-0 draw against Sunderland.

    And yet–for some inexplicable reason–I can’t stop supporting this team. Like Hornby says in Fever Pitch, it becomes an affliction after a while.

  13. “I will also admit that ”Anyone but United” played a role just as I had always rooted for any team but the New York Yankees. I couldn’t respect myself for jumping on the bandwagon of the clear favorites.”

    -You’re not a bandwagon fan you’re just a follower of the trendy thing to do. I’m sorry but I always get a laugh out of new fans who take this approach. In essence you ARE a bandwagon fan.

    1. I’m sure there are many American or other non-english United fans arent entirely clueless and actually do out of their way to learn of the club and actually support.. but he was referring to those that only choose United because fhey are successful.

      I agree that letting other people’s view on being a United fan shouldnt hinder someone that would other becoming a true fan ( even though a good majority of United fans follow them because of success) but how exactly is he a bandwagon fan for supporting Arsenal? A bandwagon fan in sports lingo is someone that follows a team who purports to being a fan simply because of success. If he was one he would be supporting City right now or Chelsea. Anyone that sticks with Arsenal especially now is a fan thru and thru.

      1. He supports Arsenal because he think it’s trendy and cool, that’s just as bad or even worse as supporting a club because of success. And you suggests he should buy a DVD of Arsenal’s history, I mean come on…

        1. How in the hell did you come to this conclusion? That I support Arsenal because its trendy and cool? Wouldn’t that choice made me pick Man City? I don’t see your twisted logic

        2. Trendy and cool would mean supporting Chelsea because they are European Champions, City because they are Premier League Champions. Man United because they are 19 times champions..

          And yes, I suggest he buy the DVD.. What has that got to do with anything?

      2. He is a bandwagon fan because his selection was based off of one win against Barca and the fact that he didn’t want to pick a winning team. It has almost become fashionable, trendy, etc. for new fans to purposely pick a team like Arsenal. This selection is made because of how others will view someone that supports a team like Manchester United or Chelsea. I personally don’t let others opinons sway who I support. I certainly don’t make choices to be cool or so others don’t criticize me.

        You can jump on the bandwagon for many different reasons.

        1. My choice had nothing to do with what anyone else thinks. I got a thrill out of that win & months later after seeing other replays I realized that was my club. My fanship has been a solitary experience for the most part. Who was I trying to impress? I didn’t meet other Arsenal fans until very recently. You assume everyone has the same motivations for the choices they make.

  14. This sounds all so familiar to me. I can’t quite “divorce” the Mets, Jets, Isles, and Knicks. However much pretty well all on that list deserve it. But I can’t really enjoy American sports the way I used to since I started following the real game in ’03. Just watching the games is nowhere near as exciting.

    Funny how United hatred is often square one. So if they are the “Yankees” of the EPL and City was the “Mets” I of course had to support City. Plus Reyna had just signed with the good guys and he was an adopted denizen of the greater NYC area.

    Stick with it, though. I never thought back then that City would be anything more than mid-table and look what happened. In a weird way there was a lot less pressure then. Once you were safely clear of the relegation zone you could just kind of concentrate on enjoying the matches. And I can’t imagine the Gooners will ever have to worry about going down, so just enjoy each year for what it brings and don’t get to stressed out when things go sideways.

    1. It wasn’t a choice. When Arsenal turns it around, however long that is, I’ll enjoy it & no one can call me a glory hunter.

      1. Like I said Dan you can see your support isn’t based on a love for the club it’s based on being considered a ‘true’ fan and not a ‘glory hunter’.

        1. See my above response to your assumptions. I didn’t meet other fans until very recently. So opinions of others have never played a role. It’s what I think of myself that matters.

          1. When you submit an article and list your reasons for supporting Arsenal as a comeback win against Barca, the fact they aren’t United and then make a comment about having the satisfaction of not being considered a glory hunter you really can’t say I’m making assumptions. I’m just pointing out what appears to be the latest trend with new fans.

          2. This is pointless, Nonsense. Those reasons are far from bandwagon. You must know more new fans than I do. The other new fans I have met are City or Chelsea fans, including one who I drew into the sport. I don’t belittle them for their choice. Nor would I belittle someone for picking United, even if I personally wouldn’t make that choice. It doesn’t give me a feeling of superiority. To each his own. The point of this article was much less the “why” but what the experience has been like. I am sure you’ll comeback for the last word but there was never any conflict or drama intended from this post.

    2. To you being rational is supporting a club simply because of sustained and current success..


      There is NOTHING irrational about supporting Arsenal.

      Idiotic comments abounds.

  15. The thumbs down make little since. I haven’t attacked anyone else’s club. I did imply for someone new to pick the favorites is a little too easy. That didn’t mean I don’t respect United and their support. But if my next door neighbor suddenly began following this sport and chose the likely favorites, then he isn’t paying his dues. I believe in suffering through bad times before getting to celebrate the good.

    1. There are divers on all the clubs. Can’t recall an Arsenal dive this season. Maybe one. They never get PKs.

      You are just Trolling, trying to get a response. This write up didn’t attack any one else’s club.

  16. Let’s not criticize or judge how or why a new soccer fan chose his team. Instead, let’s welcome him with open arms. The more new soccer fans who are attracted to the Premier League, the better.

    The Gaffer

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