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Oooh to be a Gooner: The ties that bind

jokman dan betts arsenal writer

The once vibrant setting had lost its colour, and now the stark greys dominated his eye line. Listless noises filtered to his ears, but he paid no heed.

Hands stuffed in pockets to shield from the unforgiving wind that buffeted around his surroundings, his body language was not solely due to the harsh weather though.

He had been warned by his friends that this was a destructive relationship, that it had been doomed for years. Blindness goes hand in hand gleefully with love though and he had blundered on, ignorant of the perilous path he was taking.

He had invested his life into this hazardous affair, and the scars had begun to show. The hurt that currently enveloped him had recently transformed recently from the all-encompassing misery of years gone by into something akin to the numbness you receive at the dentist.

Were they aware of the pain they had caused? Why did he continue to plough on when on the horizon was the very real threat of sorrow? He lifted his head and sighed.

It hadn't been all bad. The very nature of his bind was down to the memories which clasped to him. The adoration he exuded toward his beloved had bloomed in the perfect storm.

Technicolour snapshots of happier times played through his mind like an escapism matinee, and it normally his preferred medicine.

Right now though, in the aftermath of another blow-up, another stumble in the relationship, the montage of bliss did nothing to avert his mind from the darkest of clouds which would soon overrule all in his mind.

The rocky terrain which his faith in their liaison now sat on was down to the series of moments his partner had disappointed him. They say it is the hope that kills you, and he had hoped it would change, but the destructive behavioural pattern had shown no sign of changing, until recently.

He had puffed his chest out and goaded the same friends who had denounced his affections. A few weeks ago, the relationship had been in the rudest of health. It appeared to the majority, even his doubting pals, that the habitual mistakes that had blighted their friend’s partner had been erased.

That seemed so long ago as he stood in the same spot he had done for the past half an hour. He had ruminated on every second of the latest calamity, and as painful as it was, it had also served as an awakening.

The facts were inescapable: he would go into work, be butt of the jokes, castigated for never learning and goaded how every weekend carried the ominous threat of ruination. It was the epitome of being a supporter.

The basic definition of the word was the one he subscribed to: 'to support.' Through the good times he had enjoyed, it was easy to declare your love for your chosen team. It was in recent years though, that had defined exactly what it meant to be a fan; a Gooner. If he even entertained the idea of cutting the ties which linked him and the club every time they struggled, then the ties weren't strong enough to begin with.

He had angry thoughts and things he would like to change about the dynamic of the team, but he would never, ever stop supporting the club.

They may be the root cause of many a lost weekend, arguments and pain, but when you choose a club, it is for life. There are some who wish ill on the precise club they claim to support. Surely an oxymoron, he pondered?

He could never even begin to think of hoping for a bad result, it just didn't fit. He would go on and continue in the same vein of the last twenty or so years. He would look forward to next week and a victory.

A lady in a Hi-Viz jacket approached him, and said that the stadium was closing. He nodded and made his way down the concrete stairs.

Next week may conceal another bout of anguish, but it also held the very tangible possibility of redemption, and the moment the ball hits the net from an Arsenal player - those seconds that your stomach lurches into your throat and you lose all sensibilities as you bounce around without inhibition - is what makes these instances of gloom worth it.

He left the stadium with a little bit of hope again.

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