I repeat - While this is not the end of the universe as we know it, it's tough to take. I love that old Bill Shankly quote - “Some people believe football is a matter of life and death, I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that." Warning - generalisation looming = New Zealanders don't get this...at all!
The rugby culture is very dominant in NZ but it completely lacks the passion of the UK football culture by comparison. I support the Auckland Blues and the All Blacks but not with the pride, dread, anguish, pain, hope, passion that I support Rochdale and Arsenal. I know when the All Blacks lose a game the entire country is gloomy but this is because NZ's place in the world is largely defined by how well our national team (in our national sport) does. This is a different feeling of loss to what I'm feeling now. The Arsenal fans - gooners - are part of a huge family who live for their team. Don't believe me? - have a look at some Arsenal blogsites and you'll see. These are knowledgable people who share something - the agony of supporting a team (the ecstacy is short lived and infrequent - mostly it's agony). Gooners (and every supporter actually) know two things - one - next season is always there so there is always hope, two - we have to endure the bitter disappointment of the present. When I went to Highbury (and the Twelve Pins pub on the Seven Sisters Rd in Highbury) I was amongst my people. The feeling of belonging was intense!! I felt the same at Spotland - Rochdale's footballing home.
This week The 'dale take on Gillingham home and away in play-offs for promotion. Christine, Lewis, Fran, Tom and I will be in agony all over again (see above). Be kind to us!
Here's a little taste of the passion of the gooners. This was taken from Old Trafford - possibly when I was there!! Tina and Paul and I went to MUFC in 2005 to see The Arsenal - Tina even stood with us in the away section where this was shot(she's a good egg).
Love and peace - W