Arsenal’s 2013-2014 campaign is two fixtures away from full-time and spring is springing as the silly season looms. Though, the season now passing has been plenty silly in its own right. Lunches were “lost”, sleeves were cut, TV remotes were thrown, Nicklas Bendtner was paid to play for Arsenal Football Club, and Jose Mourinho voodoo dolls were rediscovered and re-tortured. Ultimately though, I’m not sure that it has been one to remember.
At best, this season will bring an FA Cup. The trophy will quiet rival supporters about our draught, which isn’t a bad thing. However, call me Bergkampian, but I’m not someone who was all too bothered by it anyway. Besides, Spuds, Scouse, and the other unfortunate realities of the Premier League will just find something else to nag us about. The fact of the matter is that we are fourth (again) and those who like to dabble in doom are sharpening their knives, preparing for an FA Cup final loss. With a win, fans will be varying degrees of satisfied, with a loss, it’d take quite a chipper supporter to hold onto any optimism.
Of course, I can only speak for myself. I’ll be trying to watch Wembley from a cottage in Muskoka, where I’ll be for the May long weekend. TV channels will be limited, Wi-Fi nonexistent, and as a result I’ll probably end up having to drive to the nearest McDonald’s with my laptop. Hopefully it’ll be more of an “I’M BUYING EVERYONE CHICKEN MCNUGGETS” than a sobbing into a McFlurry kind of day. Should we win, I will certainly be happy. But from where I sit right now, I think that happiness will fade in the cold light of day, leaving me feeling little more than content with the season that was.
Content isn’t really what I had hoped for this year. Being content gets you fourth place. I don’t want to come across as overly doomy or greedy here, because I in fact, had quite reasonable hopes for this campaign. All I wanted was for Arsenal to be competing for the league title right until the end. If we were to lose out on the final week, the pain would recede and in its place there’d be true optimism for the next year. Where we stand though, with two games left and only one that matters, I’ll either be content or inconsolable. Not optimistic. We have been embarrassed when it mattered this year and there’s no reason to expect the activity we need in the transfer market this summer.
Though the season hasn’t been one I’ll remember for footballing reasons, besides maybe the three wins over Sp*rs, Wilshere’s Norwich goal, and the odd bit here and there, I will definitely remember it for where it has taken me as a supporter. The opening day defeat to Villa was (somewhat) softened by the great company and amazing atmosphere at the home of the T-Dot Gooners, The Fox on Yonge. For other matches, I forced myself off of the couch to watch with fellow gooners at “The Duke” (of Wellington), here in Waterloo, Ontario. It’s also a great venue for a match and a pint, though more Scouse tend to show up than one would like (the 2-0 win over that lot was fun though). Getting out, meeting other Canadian gooners, and pushing the Arsenal Canada scene forward is a sentiment that kicked off for me after I started writing for this blog (see Barriecuda’s “Call to Arms” for example).
What’s more, I have tickets to the match in New York against NYRB in July, which will be my first time seeing the Arsenal live. It presents the chance to meet supporters from near and afar, and that’s certainly not an aspect of the trip to overlook. I just hope that if you recognize me sobbing in the stands after seeing Thierry Henry, you won’t tell a soul. Anyway, the Red Bulls match will be a pleasant reward for those of us who are singing She Wore in a pub, at home, or in a McDonald’s line buying everyone McNuggets this May.
As an added bonus, I mentioned in my last post that I was writing something about Arsenal for my creative writing class. It was meant to be a piece of short prose, but things/life/deadlines happened and it ended up as a poem. It also ended up a lot more vague and less Arsenal related than I planned but hey, maybe you’ll like it. Cheers!
There’s a man alone in the corner booth
wearing red like the rest. His eyes fixed on
the match, his hands fixed on his pint. Amidst
the buzz of the bar, the slurs and the songs,
he catches your eye. Well, maybe it’s him.
Maybe it’s just the bar’s last vacant seat.
Maybe you’re just tired. Just tired of standing,
soaking in puddles of sick and Guinness.
You wade over to him, bumping elbows,
stumbling, spilling stout on your soggy shoes.
You reach him, you stop, you smile, you motion
to the seat with your dripping glass. With his
eyes still fixed on the football, he says “Sit.”
You sit. You try to introduce yourself.
He cuts you off: “Islington born. N5.
I’ve reasons for supporting the Gunners.
But you’re still too young. Jesus Christ, what’re yours?”