As the old saying goes “Football’s a funny old game”. How truer a sentence that is.
The game of football, is in the simplest of forms ‘22 men (11 on each team) attempting to win by scoring as many goals by kicking a ball into the opponents net’. A very basic view but that’s essentially it yet we all get so emotionally involved.
I was reminded by the excellent as ever Darren Berry’s blog from Gunner Town on Friday regarding the North London Derby (NLD). Jokes aside in his piece Darren hit home a valid point regarding the emotions towards the NLD. Like Darren, I hate the NLD and even more so when we play this fixture at home. It’s a fixture we simply cannot lose and it’s the fear of losing that sends my stomach churning. This maybe the reason we were so below par on Sunday. Too busy concentrating on not conceding and not losing that we forgot our objective of winning and/or we were too cautious.
It’s quite common that these fixtures end in a statement just as Sundays game did. Yet when we win the feelings are totally different. You’re sent on an emotional high.
The other thing that made me think about the emotions watching football happened during the game on Sunday. I stand next to a lady whom I’ve known for several seasons now at the Emirates and we’ve both become friends. The fact we both have children of a similar age give us more of a connection in our friendship than just The Arsenal. This season she has been joined by her husband whom I knew already but I’m getting to know more and more at each home game.
So when Kevin Wimmer out jumped above the Arsenal boys and sent a bullet of a header into the top corner past (oops!) his own goalkeeper (haha!) this opening Arsenal goal sent the fans into scenes of jubilation. At the time I had no idea who scored as I’m at the opposite end and assumed in the melee it was a defender, possibly Mustafi. I didn’t care! We were 1-0 up. Punching the air and shouting in elation I turned to my friend and we embraced for a brief hug. I should mention, and in an order that I’m not 100% about, I also dived into the row in front (well, quite not literally), hi-fived the friends husband and as I felt a tug or grab on my shoulder I was hi-fiving & hugging the lads in the row behind me. Even in that last sentence it just shows you the level of emotions that you’re presented with that your giving ‘man hugs’ to random strangers. Unrelated to football you wouldn’t do that in the street.
Once the dust had settled after the goal my friend turned to me chuckling saying that we embraced before she even celebrated that goal with her own husband!!
My son’s watched 2 finals now and is practically a regular with me at the Emirates now despite being the tender age of 6. You ask him what’s been his best game he’s seen? Surprisingly it’s the Arsenal Vs Leicester game from last year and I understand why.
This was probably one of the first games where he’s been exposed to real emotion in football. I feel that only if you’re at the game are you swept away with the tides of emotion. Yes, you get upset, depressed, joy, jubilation etc…if you’re watching on TV but your senses are heighten if you’re there live and part of the action. Leicester were high and flying at the time and Arsenal were right on their coattails before Leciester eventually went onto winning the title. The game itself we were given the injustice with Leicester being awarded a dubious penalty seconds before HT. The resulting penalty was scored and we were 1 nil down at the break.
The turning point was the sending off of Danny Simpson on 54’ and now there felt we could get something out of this. Walcott scored to equalise in the 70th and it was game on! For the remaining 20 minutes we battered them but it seemed to no avail. Tensions we high and everyone knew we would score but could we in the allotted time? Not until the 90th+5 when Danny Welbeck glanced in a freekick to win the game with virtually the last kick did we…well headed.
As I started to celebrate, the parent in me clicked in, I turned quickly to protect my son from over any exuberant celebrations as he stands on a seat to see. As I turn I see him screaming with clinched fists “YYYEEEEAAAAASSSSSS!!!”. Remember the guy with the curly hair celebrating at old Trafford? My sons face was no different. It was scary in fact but the emotions got to him. A last minute goal. Not only that going 1 nil down to winning it in the last minute. Brilliant stuff!
‘1 nil down 2 one up’ is a personal favourite of mine. I think there’s no greater satisfaction in football. Of course I’d prefer a stress free victory with a clean sheet all day long. There’s just something about being taken on a roller-coaster of emotions. The despair, the hope & the joy and all in 90 mins.
It’s also funny how re-watching replays of certain goals themselves can re-trigger a feeling or an emotion. Such as Micky Thomas’s goal in ’89 (nope, wasn’t there but I watched it live). Every time I see it I get goose bumps as MT4 runs through, in fact writing it now it’s happening unless the office is cold. Another one which has a very odd feeling is Ramsey’s goal in the FA Cup Final against Hull. It’s great viewing, as I was behind that goal the memories flood back, but very quickly I’m brought back to earth from the joy and get a sense of being emotionally drained. That’s how I felt and many of us felt winning the FA Cup that year. It was brilliant winning it boy! was it and uncomfortable victory.
One of my most memorable goals, not favourite is another NLD at home when Van Persie gave as a 1-0 lead. Just as the celebrations started to come to a close, people started to grab each other in hope & wonder in a sort of “look, hold on a moment’. The ground seemed to paused and stood silent for an instant as Cesc took on an entire Spurs team. As the ball nestled into the net again we celebrated. I was physically drained as were many around me. It was a brilliant moment, rejoicing the first goal and before you’ve time to think we’re now 2-0 up! Two goals in 2 minutes and in a NLD. Scenes!
I haven’t even touched on the disappointment that goals or games can provide you in football.
Where else in sport or indeed life does emotion grab you so much?
Which for 22 men simply running around a pitch and kicking a ball, football really is – “A funny old game”.
Ever been hurt celebrating? Let’s hear it. I’ve heard of a few celebration injuries. I busted a lip from a rogue fist, arm or elbow from a group huddle from last year. Worth it!
Let’s hear about your memorable goal celebrations? Funnier, the better.
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