If you’re familiar with Twitter, you might recognize the popular hashtag #GoonerFamily. This one is one of my favorites, as it brings with it a sense of camaraderie between many fans and particularly amongst the supporters groups (such as Calgary, Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal, Buffalo and Boston, to name a few). It’s an idea that needs to be discussed in such a turbulent time after the club got comprehensively outplayed by Everton in a game we needed to win.
When it comes to Arsenal, when the club has a bad run of form or a series of poor results the lines quickly get drawn in the sand. Different camps dig in and become embroiled in arguments about the club, the players, its manager, and the ownership, in what can best be classed as trench warfare. Like with any battle that is in a stalemate, both sides get more aggressive as it drags on; as the team falters on the pitch, the battles become more bloody.
It’s not surprising that our team engenders so much debate amongst ourselves, because Arsenal fans are in an incredibly unique position in all of sports fandom. We are arguably football’s most successful unsuccessful team, renown for our quality but with no titles in almost a decade. We are incredibly consistent at getting into the Champions League – no small feat in the highly competitive EPL – but have not made serious progress in that competition in years. We were top of the Premier League this season for over 120 days, yet find ourselves nowhere in the mix come the final weeks. Our manager has had an incredible reign that can be divided firmly down the middle, with the first half being nothing but glory, and the second half being much more miserable. We built a new stadium and have some strong commercial deals, letting us buy Mesut Özil for £42m, yet seemingly do not want to pay for players in positions that obviously need shoring up. We are a team of two faces, the definition of a glass half-filled, with staunch perspectives differing on “half-full” versus “half-empty”.
But what outsiders need to understand is that these problems are internal to us Arsenal fans. Come kickoff, we are united in our passion for the club and we ALL desire its success. The idea of #GoonerFamily is extremely appropriate. We might not always like what the club does, and we have a right to ask questions, demand better, and to generally want the best for it. But much like a family, even when we don’t look on with approval we still love the Arsenal – and accordingly, we still love all the other fans that also support Arsenal, even if they have wildly different opinions. That’s what being the #GoonerFamily is all about. We have our differences, but we are still family at the end of the day.
For those of you who (like me) are opinionated and frequently participate in forums, discussion, or general banter amongst other fans with contrary views, remember the concept of #GoonerFamily when you’re discussing if Kroenke should go, or if we need a new manager, or if Özil is a “flop”. Be respectful and remember that come matchday, we all wear the same colours and have the same desire to see the Arsenal win. One of the greatest strengths of Arsenal as a club throughout its history has been its inclusiveness and diversity, and that requires embracing others not by virtue of their stance, but simply because they’re part of our extended family.
And we’re all going to be celebrating if Arsenal manage to win the FA Cup and/or finish in a Champions League place, even if we all don’t measure it as “success” to the same degree.