Story of a mediocre fan: chapter 4

Tim’s note: Today we finish Josh Glover’s story about how he fell in love with football and came to be an Arsenal supporter You can read part one here, part two over here and part three here. Today, we land the plane and finish with part four. This has been a fun story, I hope you have enjoyed it as much as I have.

Josh describes himself as “Arsenal fan in Sweden, lover of all things Rosicky, known to scare dogs when Arsenal score.” You can follow Josh on Twitter and read how his summer of intentional practice is going over on his blog.

My wife and I had decided by the summer of 2009 that we wanted to leave Ireland and find another country to settle in. Our criteria were that it was in western Europe so that it was roughly halfway between her family in Bulgaria and mine on the east coast of the US, that it had good support for working families of young children, and that it be possible to get by on English until we had time to learn the local language. By the fall, we’d narrowed it down to Sweden and the Netherlands, and took scouting trips to each to get the lay of the land. By December, we had decided on Sweden, which beat out the Netherlands for two reasons: the weather is nicer (OK, so we were partially tricked by having visited Stockholm in September, when the sky was blue and the sun was shining, which is very much not the case all the time) and Sweden was implementing the neoliberal project of privatising everything a lot more slowly than the Netherlands (Sweden’s consensus-based decision making can be frustrating at times, but when it is slowing down the process of dismantling the welfare state, it’s definitely not a bad thing).

A friend of Delyana’s worked in a games company in Malmö, just across the bridge from Copenhagen (yes, that bridge) in southern Sweden, and he referred me for a job there. We went to Malmö in the second week of January 2010 for interviews, and found the entire place covered in snow, which is unusual for that part of Sweden. We explored Malmö, which is a charming little town, and visited nearby Lund, home of the oldest university of Scandinavia (founded in 1666). I went to some interviews, which went OK, but I ultimately wasn’t offered the job. Strangely enough, this trip to Malmö would cement my relationship with Arsenal and put me firmly on track to becoming a real supporter.

I’d been watching more Arsenal on Irish TV since the season kicked off in August of 2009, though still on more of a flip on the TV when nothing is going on and see if there’s a game on basis. Things were looking promising, with the team averaging over three goals per game going into late November, before back to back losses to Sunderland and Chelsea, which were the first two matches of the campaign where Arsenal failed to score. The team then went on a hot streak in December, winning five matches and drawing one. It was on the back of this run that I visited Malmö. Arsenal were playing Everton on January 9th, and I couldn’t find the game on Swedish TV, so I went down to breakfast early the next day with my laptop and logged onto to see the result of the match.

The match had ended in a 2-2 draw, and I started reading the match report before seeing that there were video highlights on something called Arsenal Player, which had apparently just been launched that year. I watched the highlights, and then saw somewhere on the page that Arsenal Player had the full match as well, but you had to be a club member in order to access it. I looked into membership, and it turned out that there was one available for only 30 pounds a year (the Red membership), so I signed up right away so I could watch the matches that weren’t shown on TV the next morning. From this point on, I have watched every single Arsenal match in the Premier League (Arsenal Player used to have matches from the League Cup, FA Cup, and Champions League as well, but stopped carrying those sometime in the early 2010s, so there are certain cup matches that I wasn’t able to see).

The timing of me becoming a member of the club was terrible in a way, because that meant that I was watching the Stoke match on February 27th. Arsenal went a goal behind early in the match before equalising through a Bendtnaaaaah header just before halftime, and when play resumed for the second half, we (signing up for club membership turned “Arsenal” forever into “we”) were well on top but hadn’t yet found a way through. On 65 minutes, Ryan Shawcross put in a two footed leaping “tackle” (assault is more like it) on 19 year old Aaron Ramsey, breaking Ramsey’s leg. Arsenal would go on to win the game, but this was a really horrible thing to see (I’m sure it was worse for Ramsey than us viewers, of course), and the thing that would kick off a period of really bad blood between Arsenal and Stoke, cooling off a little when nasty little goblin Tony Pulis was hilariously sacked in 2013, and more or less ending when Stoke were even more hilariously relegated in 2018.

We would go on to finish third in the Premier League and get knocked out of the League Cup (which was called the Carling Cup back then, if memory serves) and the FA Cup in the early rounds (bloody Stoke knocked us out of the FA Cup, of all teams!). However, the season wasn’t all bad. Arsenal made it to the quarterfinals of the Champions League, coming back from 2-0 down at home against Barcelona to level the tie, and even going ahead on aggregate at the Camp Nou when Bendtnaaaaah scored in the 18th minute. Unfortunately, that goal woke the sleeping giant that was Messi, and must have filled him with terrible resolve, because he went on to score four goals and put us out of our misery.

OK, a note on Bendtnaaaaah: he has a very special place in my heart, and the reason for that is quite an odd one indeed. You see, the company I worked for leased a big new office space over by Kilmainham Gaol in Dublin (where the leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising were held and executed, and also where Noël Coward was held in the original version of “The Italian Job”), and there was enough room for a foosball table. We spent a lot of time playing foosball (you know, whilst our brains solved difficult problems in the background), and one of my coworkers, this Irish guy named Brian, nicknamed me “the Niklas Bendtner of foosball”, because apparently I played like I had no skill whatsoever most of the time, but had a knack for scoring important goals. Plus I looked a tiny bit like him at that time, at least in terms of my messy blond hair. I leaned into this big time; in fact, my Gmail avatar was a picture of Bendtner for three or four years after that. [Update from the author: as I was proofreading this paragraph, I hear my wife say “Bendtner” from the other room, and it turns out that she was going through a pile of clothes in the wardrobe, and found the Bendtner 11 Danish national team jersey that I bought in Copenhagen during the very trip to Malmö that I just finished describing!]

Oddly enough, I wasn’t listening to the Arsecast yet, so I didn’t know anything about the famous Irish striker Mick Bendtnaaaaah (“Oi’m deadly!”) yet, but every time I start to write his name these days, I hear “Bendtnaaaaah” in my head, so that’s how I’m spelling it here. It’s a bit anachronistic in the context of the story, though, a fact that I thought was important to point out, because now I’m about to talk about Arseblog.

I have been an avid reader of blogs since before they were even called “weblogs”. I can’t remember what the first blog I started reading was, but it’s probably either Wil Wheaton dot Net or Penny Arcade, if you want to consider the news post that went along with the comic a blog. I’ve since stopped reading Penny Arcade, as video games have become less and less important to me (the only games I still play are FIFA, Civilisation V, and loads of old NES and SNES games on my NESpi, and of course the Final Fantasy re-releases on the PS4), but I still read WWdN, and have in fact just finished listening to the audiobook version of “Still Just a Geek”, which I would highly recommend to fans of Star Trek or geeks or just people in general, because it’s sooooo good, y’all!

But this is a story about Arsenal, so let me get back to my main point. When I got back from that trip to Malmö where I became an Arsenal member, I immediately went looking for Arsenal blogs to add to my Google Reader (remember that? It was a really excellent RSS reader, and I was sad when they closed it down in 2013). The very first hit when searching for “arsenal blogs” was Arseblog, which remains true to this day, so I loaded that one up, along with a few others like A Cultured Left Foot, East Lower, Gingers4Limpar, Goodplaya, Goonerholic (rest in peace, Dave), Gunnerblog, Poznan in my Pants, and Yankee Gooner. Arseblog had this column called “By the Numbers”, which led me to what would become my favourite Arsenal blog, 7amkickoff (according to my research, I couldn’t have discovered 7amkickoff this way, as August 20, 2011 appears to have been the very first “By the Numbers” piece, but this makes for a better story, so let’s all just agree to forget about this parenthetical remark altogether and willingly suspend our disbelief for the sake of the art of storytelling).

7amkickoff had this vibe that I really liked. Unlike Arseblog, which by that time was a full time job for Arseblogger (I wouldn’t learn his real name until I started listening to the Arsecast a year later), 7amkickoff felt like it was written by just a regular dude. I dug the stats, I dug the frequent sarcasm, and I dug the fact that he was a guy from the US who had become a real Arsenal fan (there were—and still are, sadly—a certain percentage of Arsenal supporters who see themselves as gatekeepers who get to decide who was a true Arsenal fan, usually based on things like going to games every week or having been born and raised in North London, or having supported Arsenal through the shit years of the early 80s or 50s and 60s or whatever).

As I mentioned in the previous chapter, I got a job offer in May 2010, enjoyed the World Cup with my cousin, and then my wife and I packed up everything we owned and also our son, who was three years old at the time, and moved to Stockholm on October 1st. One of our first orders of business was to get cellphones, and I got some sort of awesome Nokia that had a removable mini SD card that you could put MP3s on. In addition to loading up some of my favourite music (I have no clue what I would have been listening to at that time), I also got into the habit of downloading the latest Arsecast MP3 and listening to it whilst I walked to the train or vacuumed the house. It was from listening to the Arsecast that I finally learned that Arseblogger’s name was Andrew and that he lived in Dublin, a city which I had literally just left! In those days, I probably could have met Andrew for a pint if I emailed him and said I was a reader who lived in town.

So now I was watching every Arsenal match, reading every Arsenal blog, and listening to almost every Arsenal podcast (aside from the Arsecast, I only know of one other one that existed around this time, but I’m sure someone will correct my memory in the comments), so I think we can mostly all agree that I had become an Arsenal fan. And since this is basically the story of how I became an Arsenal fan, I guess we can write THE END.

I thought about doing one of those things where you leave a blank page and then you’re all like “Sike! The saga of Josh is far from over, sucka!”, but that would have been very immature and totally unlike me. So instead of doing that, let me add another angle: this is the story of how I became an Arsenal fan, yes, but it is also the story of why I remain an Arsenal fan to this very day. So if you’ll bear with me for another few minutes, I’ll lay that out for you.

When I started my new job, I was a little worried because I thought I would be the only non-Swedish person there, and I couldn’t really speak Swedish then. Luckily for me, between the time I was interviewing and the time I actually started, they’d hired this Australian guy named Luke. He was a huge Man U fan, a fact which sadly didn’t bother me as much as it should have (that has well and truly changed by now, don’t worry), and when he heard I was an Arsenal fan, he said, “the Invincibles, nice.” I am embarrassed to reveal to you that I didn’t know what he was talking about, so I did that thing where you give a little laugh and say “oh yeah” and then run home and frantically Google. Maybe I wasn’t a fan after all. I mean, I was definitely a fan of the current team, and knew lots of statistics and so on (those “By the Numbers” pieces, doncha know), but I knew pretty much nothing about the history of the club. So I read about the Invincibles, which was only six years in the past at that point, and I was blown away. A whole season without losing a single game? How?

The Arsenal blogs I was reading certainly mentioned names like Bergkamp (who even I knew, from his heroics in a Dutch shirt) and Adams (who I didn’t) and Henry (who I hated) and so on, but I just glossed over them without much curiosity. OK, I’d better stop here for a second and explain why, in the fall of 2010, I hated Thierry Henry. Don’t worry, I’m fully ashamed of myself now.

About a year before this, Ireland and France were in the process of trying to qualify for the 2010 World Cup, and since both were runners up in their groups, they went through to a playoff stage and were drawn against each other in a two leg tie, with the away goals rule in play. The first leg was held in Dublin, and since the usual venue for international football matches, Lansdowne Road (which was five minutes walk from my house in Dublin), was under construction, the match took place at Croke Park, which was a little controversial because Croke Park was home to Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) games like Gaelic football and hurling, and the GAA had been founded in 1884 as a nationalist organisation to promote native Irish games, and association football was seen as a foreign sport. In any case, France won the Dublin leg 1-0 (with the goal scored by none other than Nicolas Anelka), but then in the Paris leg, Robby Keane scored in the 33rd minute and Ireland were actually on top for most of the game after that. The tie was level at 1-1 on aggregate, with both teams having scored one away goal, so it went into extra time. On 103 minutes, France won a free kick just inside the Irish half, which Malouda lofted into the Irish penalty area. The ball hit Thierry Henry’s hand (probably by accident) and stayed in play, then Henry basically took a basketball dribble with his hand to control the ball and tapped it across to William Gallas, who bundled it home.

Neither the referee nor any of his assistants saw either of the handballs, and the goal stood. France won the game and qualified at Ireland’s expense for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa (at which they would finish bottom of their group, scoring only one goal, to the immense satisfaction of me and everyone else in the Republic of Ireland). The incident was dubbed “The Hand of Gaul” in Irish newspapers, and it was a scandal of epic proportions, with every pundit in Ireland, France, and England weighing in. The Football Association of Ireland asked FIFA for a replay and were laughed out of the building (though ultimately FIFA did apparently pay the FAI 5 million euros to drop the matter), and all of Ireland was united in hatred for that cheater Thierry Henry.

So yeah, I used to hate Thierry. But that started to change in October of 2012, when my Arsenal membership pack arrived in the post (remember when they used to come in October and not in April?) and it contained a copy of “So Paddy Got Up”, an anthology of short pieces about Arsenal from loads of amazing writers and edited by the Arseblogger himself. The members edition, which is an abridged version of the original book, opened with a piece by Philippe Auclair on the legendary Herbert Chapman, and was followed up by a piece from Tim Stillman on the history of the club from its founding in 1886 to 2011, and then a piece by Nikki Bandini, under the name Paolo, titled simply “Dennis.” The book ended with a piece from Andrew Allen about our run to the Champions League final in 2006, in which a certain Thierry Henry featured prominently.

Wow, just wow. I read the entire book in one sitting, astounded to discover that the club I’d stumbled onto by mistake had such a rich and amazing history. I started paying attention when various Arsenal blogs mentioned various players and events from our storied past. I read about the history of our rivalry with Spurs, and finally understood why I was required to hate them. And I understood the significance when, in late December of 2011, rumours started circulating that we were considering bringing Thierry Henry back on a short term loan. I remember vacuuming my house a few days after Christmas, listening to the Arsecast (episode 222, as some of you will no doubt remember, though it seems to have sadly disappeared from the archives) as Andrew, Gunnerblog, Goodplaya, and Goonerholic discussed whether this was a good thing or not. I think the consensus was that Thierry Henry was welcome back to Arsenal anytime he wanted.

In the early morning of January 10, 2012, I woke up, grabbed my laptop, and went downstairs to watch the FA Cup tie against Leeds from the previous night. The scores were level at 68 minutes, when Henry came on for Marouane Chamakh (a player that I really really liked, and still do) to an immense roar from the crowd at the Emirates. 10 minutes later, Alex Song saw Henry making a run into the box and released a perfectly weighted through ball, which Henry controlled with one touch and then curled it into the far corner with his next. The Emirates absolutely erupted as Henry ran down the touchline and engulfed Arsène in a hug. I sat there, jaw hanging open and tears in my eyes, as Henry detached himself from Arsène and continued his run down the touchline, pounding the cannon on his chest.

Of course, we went on to crash out of the FA Cup a month later, so Henry’s goal was just a magic moment that was ultimately not important in the context of the season. But when I think back over the last 12 years of supporting Arsenal, the moments I remember most vividly are not necessarily the most important ones, but the ones I shared with other people. Sometimes those people are bloggers that I’ve never met, and sometimes those people are much closer to me.

In February of 2011, I was sitting on the sofa in my guest room with my three year old son sitting next to me, watching a dodgy stream of the first leg of the Champions League tie against Barcelona. I remember Kai falling asleep shortly after the match started (sadly missing a 19 year old Jack Wilshire absolutely running the midfield), and when Andrei Arshavin hit that curler from just inside the box to win the game on 83 minutes (I can still hear Martin Tyler yelling “Arshaviiiiiiin!”), I jumped up and let out one of those silent screams and closed my eyes and pumped my fists and looked over at the sleeping Kai and wished he was awake and capable of understanding how amazing this moment was.

When I finally got to visit the Emirates for the very first time in December 2015, it was like coming home in a strange way. I got there way ahead of the 3 PM kickoff and walked around the stadium, taking it all in. I knew all of the figures enshrined in bronze outside the stadium and even the moments depicted: Bergkamp flying through the air to control that ball, Tony Adams celebrating his goal in the game in which we clinched the 1998 league title, Henry sliding on his knees in front of the Spurs fans to celebrate scoring a goal, Herbert Chapman surveying the lads implementing his legendary WM formation in training for the first time, and Ken Friar accidentally kicking a football under George Allison’s car and instead of getting a scolding, getting a job that would end up lasting the next 74 years.

We were playing Sunderland that day, and I was sat way up at the top of the North Bank, next to a couple of newlyweds who were visiting from Singapore. I asked them to take a picture of me, which I managed to text to my wife before the stadium’s wifi collapsed under the weight of 60,000 fans all checking Twitter. We celebrated Joel Campbell’s 33rd minute goal, then consoled each other when the Handsome French Bastard Bloke sliced a clearance into his own net just before halftime. I hurried down to the loo, knowing that there would be a long queue for the privilege of using the urinal, and ended up several places in line behind The Angriest Man on Twitter, who I always thought was a fictional character that Andrew had made up for the Arsecast, but apparently not. “Fucking Wingah!” he moaned, “I’m never coming back here to watch another match until Wingah is out. Been coming for 30 years and I’ve never seen us this fucking shit. Wingah’s got to go!” I’m guessing he probably changed his tune during the second half, when Giroud headed one home to make amends for his earlier oopsie and then Aaron Ramsey put the game beyond doubt in stoppage time.

I shook hands with the Singaporean couple (this was four years before COVID, don’t worry) and made my way out of the stadium, joining a human river as we flowed over the Danny Fiszman Bridge towards Arsenal tube station. I heard some people speaking Swedish near me, and they turned out to be a group from the Arsenal Sweden supporters club. I introduced myself as a fellow Swede (I had just gotten my citizenship earlier that year), and one of the guys told me I should sign up when I got back to Sweden, which I did promptly.

My son, now eight years old, was very sad that I hadn’t taken him with me (in my defence, I was in London for a Clojure conference, which he would have found quite boring), but I was able to make it up to him in the summer of 2016, when Arsenal announced that they’d be playing a preseason friendly against Manchester City in Göteborg. As soon as I read about it, I texted my friend Justin and asked him if he wanted to come along with his boys. It turned out that the boys would be in the UK for the summer with their grandparents, but that Justin and his wife Caroline would be in town, so we decided to make a weekend of it. We got up nice and early Saturday morning to catch the train to Göteborg, and found Stockholm’s Central Station packed with people in Arsenal shirts, two of whom were a classmate of Kai’s and his dad, this guy named Sadru.

Justin, Sadru, and I spent the entire two and a half hour train ride talking transfer gossip and sharing our predictions for the season to come. We compared tickets and saw that we weren’t sitting anywhere near each other, but agreed to find each other on the train home so we could celebrate what was sure to be a massive Arsenal victory. Justin and Caroline and Delyana and Kai and I checked into our hotel, then spent a few hours exploring Göteborg (the Venice of Sweden, as it’s called) before Justin, Kai, and I split off to walk to the stadium and Delyana and Caroline went to a movie. Our seats were right behind the goal that Arsenal were defending in the first half, so we got a close look at Agüero’s tap-in on 30 minutes, very much against the run of play. Justin, ever the fatalist, shook his head sadly and said “well, I guess that’s that, then.” I tried to stay positive for Kai’s sake.

The second half started with Iwobi banging one in right in front of us, which Kai and I celebrated just like we did at home, with me lifting him up in the air and jumping around like wild (these days, we celebrate goals by me yelling “yes!”, which startles the dog, and Kai running across the living room and doing a knee slide in front of the TV, pointing with his thumbs to the SMITH ROWE on the back of his shirt). We went up a gear, threatening time and again, before Walcott found space on 72 minutes and dinked one over Joe Hart (who was still being talked about by the English press as the second coming of Peter Schmeichel or something) to put us ahead. Chuba Akpom added a third in the 85th minute, and we were already celebrating the win when Iheanacho headed one home a minute later, and then worse than that, Gabriel Paulista steamed into a 50/50 and came off the worse, having to be stretchered off the pitch. At the time, he was an important part of our backline, and losing him meant that Koscielny was our only fit centre back. Maybe this is what made Arsène desperate enough to sign Shkodran Mustafi a few weeks later. 

The day after we got home from Göteborg, I started a new job, this time for a company with a few thousand people. We used Slack at work, and of course I discovered a #gooners channel a few weeks into working there. We talked a lot of shit about Arsenal and occasionally met up for matches at Arsenal Sweden’s official pub, The Flying Horse. The place has horrible TVs, but great beer, great food, and great atmosphere on matchdays. Of all the matches we’ve seen there, one sticks out in my mind.

It was the third match of the 2019-20 season. We’d just signed Nicholas Pepé for £72 million, and he’d come on for a late cameo against Newcastle on opening day and looked exciting, but then hadn’t featured in our next match. This match, away at Anfield, was to be his first start, and we were amped for it. My friend Korey arrived at the Flying Horse nice and early to be sure to get our lucky table, and we got our beers and prepared to be blown away by Pepe. Every time he touched the ball, Korey would yell “Pepé!”, and we just knew that Pepé would somehow hear him and beat five guys and smack one into the far corner. Tragically, Pepé didn’t manage any of this, and in fact it was Liverpool who would blow us away, with Matip scoring in the first half, then Salah adding a brace before Lucas Torreira scored a late consolation goal. Honestly, it’s the most fun I’ve had watching Arsenal lose, thanks to Korey’s enthusiastic cheerleading.

It’s these moments, these people, that keep me connected to Arsenal after all these years. It’s that great parent-child bond of supporting the same team and going out for a kickabout with our Arsenal shirts on. It’s meeting people from around the world, both online and in person. It’s steeping myself in the club’s long history, reading “Stillness and Speed” and Amy Lawrence’s brilliant “Invincible” and Philippe Auclair’s haunting “Lonely at the Top”. It’s watching ‘89 and feeling every hair on my neck rise when I hear “Thomas, charging through the midfield… Thomas… it’s up for grabs now!”

And it’s taking my son to the Emirates this spring for his first time, going on the Legends Tour and watching him take everything in and have way more fun than I expected he would, in no short part due to Perry Groves, who led the tour and had a lot of really interesting and often hilarious things to say. In a complete coincidence, I was wearing my ‘89 JVC away shirt, which I got with GROVES on the back, because I loved the “We all live in a Perry Groves World” song and he was quite a character and I didn’t figure many people would have that shirt. When Perry noticed it, he laughed his ass off and said “Not even my son would wear that.” I did get him to sign it for me at the end of the tour, and he told me that it was actually quite touching to see someone wearing a shirt with his name on it, 23 years after he’d made that brilliant decoy run to create space for Mickey Thomas to score the winner at Anfield.

So when we walked out of the stadium after the tour and were flagged down by Arsenal Fan TV to be asked what we thought of Arsenal’s season so far, it felt like I’d finally made it. Here I was in North London with my son, head full of Arsenal history, and being asked for my opinion on Arsenal by the official unofficial Arsenal TV channel. Maybe the commenter was right; maybe my take was bad, maybe I am just a mediocre fan, but I love this club and I love all of my fellow fans who love this club and support it through thick and thin. That’s all of y’all reading this.

Thanks for taking the time to read this, and join me in praying to Jesus that he scores 40 goals this season and we win the league!


  1. Well done, Josh. To be able to write out your journey as a footy and fan and eventual Gooner, sharing your personal history and adventures along the way was entertaining.

    To answer your question from an earlier post, while I was installing CCTVs and associated security and network equipment, I have a story of my own:

    At the time, the industry was just starting to move from analog to digital cameras. that huge change brought a lot of new capability but also increased cost. Digital cams can process algorithms (LPR -license plate recognition, left luggage, etc), on board while analog cameras relied on NPR/DVR storage and analysis).

    At the time, Arsenal decided to go with a mix of both: digital for higher risk/security areas and analog for others applications. As I was installing a very expensive digital Flir unit with my guitar case nearby, along came a tall, dapper man with aristocratic looks in what seemed to be a bespoke tailored suit, At the time, I had NO CLUE who this was.

    “How are you doing up there?”, he asked in lovely French-accented English. And so we began a brief conversation. He actually asked if these were the new digital cameras and knew so much: What housing? (dome or PTZ (pan, tilt, zoom), POE (power-on-ethernet) or individual power supply? Who IS this dude, I wondered?

    And then he noticed my guitar case. “Fender or strat?’, he smiled, pointing to it. As it happened it was neither, though I have plenty of both. “Uh, that’s a Gibson Les Paul, I have a gig after this”, I muttered.
    “Very nice, good luck”, he said and strode away.

    The next day, I was rid of my ignorance by a North London Gooner who was supremely annoyed that some Canadian had met The Man and was clueless to who he was. So I researched and looked into the team and its history. Some of us got tickets for the Dennis Bergkamp testimonial match, and that was it. Always a sucker for a great melody, I have been playing the Arsenal tune ever since.

    1. Oh wow, that’s a great way to become a Gooner! And *of course* Arsène knew everything about the cameras. He’s probably the guy who decided exactly where to install the cameras, knowing him. 😉

  2. Great job Josh! I throughly enjoyed your story telling and your style is definitely of “a regular dude” yet unique in your own way.
    Hope that you up will keep writing for 7amkickoff in some capacity

  3. Wow. This is nothing but a love story. Appreciate this, Josh. You got through plenty. As a former journo, I can appreciate how much hard work that was. Dont remember if it was mentioned, but is a book on the cards? It should be.

    On the blogs, I used to read them all… ACLF, Gingers, Arseblog, and an utterly miserable chap called Online Gooner, for whom Arsenal did nothing right. Now this one’s pretty much the only one I read (Arseblog very occasionally).

    Why? The blogs tend to be pro or anti establishment. This one is scrupulously fair. And Tim backs up his argument with numbers (he’s not opining in the dark), and changes his mind when presented with fresh evidence. The only dude I’ve ever seen him take to from Minute One and not change his mind was Torreira, lol.

    Tim also — probably for obvious reasons — doesnt play the access game that many who write, blog and tweet about Arsenal do or have to. 7am has got integrity. And of course, he’s a superb writer, who serves up much more than football (Im angling for Gold Member, y’all 🙂 )

    Glad you mentioned Arsenal Fan TV, because they used to get looked down on in parts of goonerland… a view that Hector Bellerin, regrettably, lent credence to. They werent perfect, but the disagreeable characters have now been shed. Theyre now a bit too bland and eager to be “positive”, tbh. As you proved, gooners come in shapes, sizes and from all places. And I totally agree… being able to walk through the turnstiles at the Emirates doesnt make you a better fan than everyone else.

    One day, when you can, talk a walk down to Africa… east, west or south. They have some of the most avid gooners you’ll meet, who will never set foot in London. This is a big family. Glad you’re in it, and can share your story.

    Tim, thanks for letting Josh do this.

    1. Hey now.. I changed my mind on Torriera. I loved him at first but once it was clear he was too small for the league I had to give him up. I think he’s fine for Serie A which is less about agricultural challenges than the PL.

  4. Amazing journey to gonner ism that. Wow! Been following all allong but never have I commented as from chapter Un, I stumbled upon 7amkickoff 5 years down the line and I never looked back, you would catch me checking up for new and obviously exciting expressions/posts on the website every day and that was the case in anticipation for chapter 4 which took a few more days in the making. Phew! That was one of a bendtnaaah moment or a Rosicky chip in to the far corner moment as I was reading about a fellow gunner journey to gunner ism. Cheers from Maasai Gunner in the African Savannah.

    1. Thanks, mate! Being compared to a Rosický chip is the highest compliment I could be paid! Are you thinking of that one in the NLD where his hair flashed in the sun for a second as he was tearing down the right side?

      1. Definitely that one, great story mate. Will be having a talk with Tim and I’ll have mine posted here sometime in the near future. Cheers!

  5. (never posted here before but felt obliged now) Absolutely Terrific series Josh. Brought plenty a happy tear to my eye. As an Irishman I have exactly the same sentiments about Thierry. Hated him at that time (and also took a lot of abuse from people who knew I was a Gooner) but the love came back at that Leeds game when he went to Arsene. (Tears definitely Flowed) The little bit about Ken Friar also watered the eyes. His Arsenal story is just incredible. Anyway thanks for bringing back the mems. . . To Tim – Tie this fella to the posts. He’s gotta stay!

    1. Thank you so much! I agree about Ken Friar; when I read the story of how he got started at Arsenal and then just stayed for 70 years or whatever, it really underlined for me how long and amazing a history our club has!

      1. Thanks for sharing your journey to becoming the arsenal fan you are. Mediocre? How many fans can say they’ve had a blog featured on 7amkickoff. Elite status right there.

        I sometimes forget how different other overseas fans’ experiences can be. I began my journey quite early. In 97 in fact when Arsenal were barely on tv. But I was there for the doubles and the invincibles. But I tend to remember the offer of the Sheffield United replay by wenger as the point that I was sure I’m an Arsenal fan. I couldn’t imagine anyone else doing that. Then or now.

        But through the difference, there’s always something in common and that is the beauty of football fandom. Thanks once again for this series Josh.

        I discovered 7amkickoff on arseblog as well and it was before the by the numbers articles by Tim. 7amkickoff was listed along with the likes of gunnerblog, a cultured left foot, and a few others. Wow. I can’t believe I’ve been on here for nearly 14 years. The first time I commented was when someone said I hope you feel like a maroon, and everyone had fun with that. Thanks for all your blogs Tim.

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