Avinash continues where he left off recounting his love story with the Gunners.
There is a famous saying that falling in love is the easy part, sustaining it is the problem. Funnily, I never had any trouble sustaining my love for Arsenal. Whenever I went through tough phases in my college life, Arsenal was always there to cheer me up. Like the famous movie ‘The 7 year itch’, the problems, ironically started in 2005. The year Patrick Viera left Arsenal.
It was a rude shock for me. Till then parents were people who never aged and Viera was someone who would probably have been buried in Highbury. Hell even Sachin was still playing (and still is)! I never thought there would come a day when he would be sold. Least of all when he was not even 30. I remember Zizou still in his peak after 30 and in fact scoring his most famous goal against Bayern Munich in the 2002 Champions League final around the same age that Viera was when he was sold to Juve. I was too naïve to understand economics and funnily thought our Golden Age was yet to begin considering we were just building our new 60k capacity stadium as well. Boy was I wrong.
2005 was a landmark year for many reasons. It was the last time we won a trophy. The last time our captain stayed on for more than a year of being given the captaincy. The last time we decided when we wanted to sell our players and the last time I saw Wenger believing what he said in a press conference. It was also the last time I was stupid enough to believe things last forever.
The 06/07 year was I believe the killer blow. First losing against Barcelona in the CL finals after Mad Jens got himself sent off was to put it mildly, heartbreaking. Then losing Ashley Cole (in that manner) and Henry was just a body blow. Yes we had new players who were promising but there was no Arsenal in them yet. They were still kids holding the hands of their mentors. This along with the League Cup final defeat to Chelsea was an ominous sign. I however, still believed.
The 07/08 season was reason to cheer. We got some top class talents in Nasri & Diarra (who I still believe is one of the best defensive mids after Makelele) but It was not good enough. It was also the year when we started dreading February. The month which killed our dreams in a cruelly ironic sort of way before / after Valentine’s day. The next 5 years, were more of the same. Top 4 was a trophy and making it to the semis was a victory. Ironically, the success criteria of the English football team and Arsenal almost mirrored each other. I started being in the relationship for the heck of it.
That is also when I realized, I was married to Arsenal. In body, mind and spirit. The initial years of romance and awesome sex had given way to many a year of hanging in there. Like every true love story, I reminiscence about those days in Highbury when the songs were cheerful, the days were fun, the times of Arsenal truly under the sun. I’ve composed a song of my love for Arsenal, a sonnet so to speak.
Arsenal Arsenal Arsenal, a true love you’ve been,
Lured me with roses and now stinging me with steam.
Love was at first sight, with Berghamp, Henry & team,
Now all we’re left with is this sorry team.
I love you for who you are, not what you earn in silver,
Right now all I wish for, is just a small glimmer,
Despair has strung us to the edge,
Left to wither, without a summer of hope.
Long Live The Arsenal, I scream from terraces here,
Far away in India, a land that I hold ever dear.
Jackie you might be young, but you are our great hope.
Please don’t let us down like Cashley, N$sri or the Pope.