It’s mid-March and I’m sitting on the sofa with my laptop, watching Arsenal bravely defend a one goal lead at Everton. The stress of such a situation will be lost on none of you, but when we add a girlfriend who wants to discuss The Apprentice (“How can EVERY game be crucial?”) and a stream that freezes every 10 seconds, you begin to see how THAT video of the Gooner watching last year’s Newcastle capitulation came into being.
dimension Twitter gives them is terrible grammar. Future poet laureate Joey Barton is a notable exception to that rule, but you won’t get much hilariously misguided Sun Tzu from the Arsenal squad. Santos is worth a look for his ridiculous spelling mistakes (“Great win gays!”) and Wilshere doesn’t mind getting stuck into Spurs fans, but fellow Gooners are the best for banter and entertainment.
Of course, if I was at the game or watching in the pub with my mates, my behaviour wouldn’t be considered strange and my neighbours wouldn’t give me weird looks when I put out the rubbish, but the current financial climate has meant that occasionally I have to watch Arsenal matches on my own. Or with someone who only wants them to win because she’s afraid that another part of her flat might be smashed up if they lose.
Yet the fact that I’m not watching with other fans doesn’t mean that all my piercing tactical insights, Chamakh-based frustrations and other various witticisms go unappreciated, because on Twitter there are plenty of people up for discussing the game. Most of them aren’t racist, many of them are quite interesting and some of them are pretty hilarious. This is especially true when Arsenal are playing away, as you get a higher concentration of proper Gooners who usually attend home fixtures online (tweeting from inside the stadium can be tricky and depending on where you sit, bad for your terrace-cred). But it’s important that you follow the right kind of people.
One of the biggest myths about Twitter is the idea that it’s simply one big network of self-important people posting banal updates about their cats or whatever. Of course there is that side to it, but who you follow is up to you, so if your timeline is clogged with Bieber-loving teenagers, that’s your fault. Twitter is a tool that only works once it’s been personalised properly.
Other Twitterphobes don’t think they’d enjoy the platform because they’re not sure if they’d have much to say, yet just seeing others discuss the match can be very entertaining. The @MirrorFootball stream is great value and anyone who’s witnessed online commentary from @TheBig_Sam (“Tactically, I had the game by the fanny”) will know the power of a well-crafted parody account.
Sean Marland practises punditry from his living room
A few good accounts to get you started: @GoonerFanzine, @FourFourTom, @MrUsmanovNot, @aallensport, @wengerknowsbest, @Gingers4Limpar, @eastlower, @AngryOfN5 and, occasionally, @seanmarland. ARSENAL Matches in 140 Characters
Whether it’s the obligatory Ramsey debate, your theory on Pat Rice’s shorts, links to the best online streams or a wildlyoptimistic brainstorm about which of Europe’s finest Wenger should finally splash some cash on, there’s always something bubbling away during the match. Often a few minutes on Twitter can also lead to finding cracking web content – I recently stumbled on glorious little nostalgia site AFC Collective through a few retweets.
In the end it’s impossible not to get drawn in to the discussion with fellow Arsenal fans, though.
Yet what makes the medium so very suitable for football viewing is the way it’s all utterly instantaneous. Just as incidents spark great new chants and Poznan celebrations inside the stadium, the Twitter conversation moves rapidly and there are usually some razor sharp people around to chip in with the kind of punditry that ITV wouldn’t recognise and certainly wouldn’t be allowed to broadcast. You might even become an online sensation yourself.
Many newbies also make the mistake of following a load of footballers, which I can’t advise. They may be popular with the ladies, but most players are rather dull and the only extra
4 onlinegooner.com My favourite programme
The match programme has been a staple part of the average football-goers pre-match ritual for well over 100 years. It’s believed that Arsenal have produced one for every single home game they have ever played, although in the early years this was likely to have taken the form of a single sheet, with 8- or 16-page booklets only becoming the norm from about 1905 onwards. The Club promote the current 80+-page programme by claiming it’s a must-have if you attend the game because it proves “I was there”, but this is a bit misleading, since you can subscribe to the programme by mail order or buy back editions from any number of sources. On top of that, there has long been a penchant for collecting programmes regardless of whether you were at the game or not – sometimes because the programme relates to a special game and sometimes just because it’s a gap in a sequence which needs to be filled. We asked our contributors to have a flick through their collections, pick out some of their most cherished programmes and tell us why a few sheets of paper stapled together have a special meaning for them...