Love Thy Neighbour: Why I Can Still Be An Arsenal Fan And Not Hate Tottenham Hotspur

We're supposed to be entertained, don't waste your time hating others when your club needs you!

Disclaimer: This article is not an attack on football fans in general; the majority of which follow the game because of their love of the sport. It is simply an observation I have made about a small minority of people that I have met, spoken to or overheard. It isn't my intention to offend anyone. I've never been one for confrontation. Raised by parents who spent a combined 45+ years in the Police Force, I went to a Church of England Primary School, played for the football team that was often too nice to win games and the nearest I got to witnessing a fight before the age of 16 was watching 'Ali' (worth the wait). Say what you will about my sheltered childhood, it led me to becoming the person I am today. But before you condemn me for posting this article in the wrong section of this website; I should state that this is very definitely leading to something sports related. Allow me to begin. The other day I was having a conversation with a guy I'd just met at a social function, naturally because we're two red-blooded males we began the conversation talking about football (always a safe bet). Fair enough I thought, there's plenty of mileage out of this topic, until the issue of which team we support reared its ugly head. Now, this tends to be the first question that anyone asks you when you're talking about football, and perhaps it's just my insecurities playing up on me, but it makes me feel a little uncomfortable. My natural response to the question is- "Arsenal, but I'm more a fan of the game itself". Now already by answering in that nature I've set myself up for a fall, I'm sitting on the fence...and it's only a matter of time before someone pushes me off. I'm not from North London, I've only ever been to a few home games, infact the only reason I've followed the Gunners all these years is because Tony Adams was my favourite player as a youngster. But through good times and bad i've stuck with them. I gazed in awe as Henry, Edu, Parlour, even Aliadiere tore apart Inter Milan on that incredible night at the San Siro, I still get shivers hearing Martin Tyler's commentary from the 4-2 win against Everton in 1998: "It's Tony Adams being put through by Steve Bould, would you believe it! That sums it all up!". But with every up comes a down, I've endured emotions at the opposite end of the spectrum, none more so than the sadness I endured as I watched the 8-2 defeat to United whilst in the company of United and Chelsea fans. But the person I'm speaking to doesn't know any of this, so why you ask do I add the latter part of that sentence to my response? Because it's true, I support Arsenal yes, but I love football, and everything the sport is about. If Arsenal are 70 minutes into a nil-nil draw, and a pulsating Manchester derby is on the other channel, I'll switch over. If we lose on a Saturday, I don't let it ruin my weekend. Sure it was gutting to see Cesc Fabregas leave for Barcelona in the summer, but I don't harbour any form of animosity towards him; he's looking out for number one, surely any of us would have done the same? But the final, and in my opinion the most important point of this introduction, is that I do not hate Tottenham Hotspur. There it is, in black and white, berate me if you will, bombard me with hate mail, but i've got my opinions and you have yours. Back to my conversation the other day, when the subject turned to teams we support; I was instead asked which team I dislike the most in England, presumably because the way I answered would indicate which team I follow. I paused as my eyes quickly scanned the room to seek a diversion. My silent plea for a power cut, or small fire was unheard. I was forced to confess that actually "I don't really dislike any team", of course there are teams that I admire more than others, but why should I feel obliged to dis-like another team? And why should I feel bad for saying I don't? It got me thinking, as supporters of a club, is there really that much to be gained from dis-liking another? We all know the score, United hate City, Tottenham hate Arsenal, Newcastle hate Sunderland, the list goes on. I'm all for regional pride, but surely as a supporter you're committing to 'support' something? The clue is in the name. It seems all too common these days that rather than supporting one club, your true identity as a fan is determined by the team(s) that you dis-like. Of course this isn't true for everybody, but it's something I've noticed is becoming more and more of an issue. Now to some, supporting their team is a way of life, they're present at every home game and away game, the new kits are bought as soon as they're released (despite bearing an almost identical resemblance to last season's), they would die for the clubs honour; and I must stress now that this article isn't for a second intended as a criticism of the millions of good people in that mould that attend football matches in England on a weekly basis, my gripe is with the select few that put their hatred of another team over their love for their own. By all means support your team, but please go about your business in a dignified manner; rather than chanting about the Munich air disaster when you're 3-0 down at Old Trafford, get behind your team, they're called your team for a reason. Admittedly, this sort of thing is one of the reasons I don't go to all that much football, criticise tactics, lay into your manager's transfer policy, but what does anyone gain from singing 'that' song about Emmanuel Adebayor? It annoys me, it isn't right, so why should I have my afternoon ruined by a select few that think it is acceptable? I don't know if my way of thinking like this is the exception or the rule, maybe it's just that I don't take the game as seriously as others? Perhaps by writing this article I completely discount myself as an Arsenal supporter at all? Or perhaps my words are entirely obsolete, and I'm just reading too much into this whole debate. But as far as I'm concerned, football is a sport, I've played it, I've watched it, I've refereed it, and I've loved every moment of it. So maybe it just gets to me when a select few seem to gain more enjoyment out of their rivalry with others, rather than witnessing the beautiful game itself. The Oxford English Dictionary defines sport as: "an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment". A cliché I know, but the definition is relevant. Note the last sentiment in the extract, we're supposed to be entertained, don't waste your time hating others when your club needs you. Love thy neighbour, love thy team.
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Just a guy that loves to get his feelings out in the open. If you like what you just read, talk to me @itsbridgertime