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Supporter Story: A big box of videotapes

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It’s the first of a new series! And just in time!

Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League
Not pictured: me
Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Oh, interlull. You’re always bad, but this time, you’re the worst-timed break in Premier League play since Sky invented soccer. As we at TSF Enterprises were trying to see how many pieces of things were left to pick up today, and trying to perk up our collective moods, we thought today would be a good time to embark on a series that TSF has decided to shamelessly steal from Sounder at Heart, our SBN sister blog about The MLS Soccer League’s Seattle Sounders. Which, despite their unfortunate choice of team, is an excellent blog populated with awesome people.

They have a series they’re calling Supporter Story, which is all about how you became a supporter of your favorite team; obviously, I don’t want to hear stories about how you became a Sounder fan, but we at TSF do want to hear stories about how you became an Arsenal fan.

Over the course of the next week or so, we’ll be publishing ours; we invite you to publish yours as FanPosts, and we’ll promote as many of them to the front page as we can. If you’d like to write one, but have never written a FanPost before, it’s easy - over there on the sidebar, at the bottom of the FanPosts column, is a link that says POST YOUR OWN. Click that. Please use the title format “Supporter Story: (whatever title you want to give it)”, and then write your story.

We can’t wait to hear your stories. Here’s mine!

In 1992, I was a few years removed from college and was a sort of soccer-fan generalist; I liked the game, but didn’t really have a specific allegiance, because back in those days, soccer had to be consumed at the fringes. There were very few sports bars that showed it, there was no cable channel that did, and the internet, while in existence, was nothing like the internet that most of us use today to consume Arsenal information.

At that time, as many early 20-somethings do, I was doing a lot of traveling, and in ‘92-94 specifically, I was dating a woman from just outside Birmingham (the English one) that I had met at a hostel in San Diego. I was going to England to see her a couple times a year, and I always tried to combine that with travels elsewhere, either within England or to other parts of Europe.

On one of my first trips, I decided to see as many soccer games in England as I possibly could; not necessarily to pick a favorite team, but mostly to see what all the fuss was about. So in the course of a month, I was able to go to:

- A Derby County match at The Baseball Ground
- A Nottingham Forest match at the City Ground
- A Manchester United match at Old Trafford
- An Arsenal match at Highbury

and while I’d love to say that the Arsenal match kindled some long-hidden fire in me that just needed a spark to blaze bright in the cold dark night, it didn’t; it was a fun game, but it was the last of four games mixed in with a lot of other travel, and they were all sort of starting to blend together in my mind at that point.

So after that trip, I got home, and was telling a coworker - an older guy (“Older”, I say now as a 47 year old, remembering that this guy was probably as old then as I am now) who had moved to Seattle from Dublin about 20 years prior - about my trip. I mentioned that I went to several games, and that my last one was at Highbury.

His eyes lit up.

“You went to see Arsenal?” he asked. I said yep, and he started talking about a mile a minute about Arsenal, their history, their recent successes, and a whole bunch of details I had no idea how to process. So I stopped him and said “I don’t know, man, I just went because it was close to where I was staying”.

“Well, are you here tomorrow?” he asked. I said I was indeed going to be at work the next day, and that next day, he brought me a box of videotapes of old Arsenal matches going back to the mid-80s, including the Liverpool title clincher from 89 and a whole bunch of 1990-91 season games.

“Watch these over the weekend, and when you bring them back we’ll see what you think”, he said. So I did, and that weekend sold me on Arsenal; their style of play (ugly, defensive, but super effective - and oh yeah Ian Wright!), the crowds and the atmosphere, and the Liverpool game all did a number on me, and I was hooked.

Over the next 10 years, I tried to go to at least one Arsenal match a season; in that time, I became a fairly obsessive fan, to the point where I decorated my cube at work with scarves, programs, and a ton of Subbuteo figures. As I’ve aged, that level of obsession has mellowed, but my love for this team has not, and never will.

So, that’s my story. Now tell us yours.