Years ago I fell in love, and I fell hard. It’s not the kind of love you feel while looking someone in the eye not knowing how to put into words just how you feel. It’s different. You see, I fell in love with the Arsenal, a football club based in London who I’m sure is also the first love of many others. I’m pretty sure Nick Hornby could explain this a lot better than I can because if I told you that my relationship with Arsenal is the longest and most stable relationship I’ve managed in my life, besides my family of course, you would just think I’m crazy.
Sometimes I think I inherited this love of football from my dad. He grew up on football in Guadalajara and as a Chivas supporter since birth he has an arsenal of stories about game days, stadium antics and the race to the bar post game. I’ve never gotten anything close to that experience because soccer isn’t very big here. The closest I get is joining the local Arsenal supporters club at the nearby pub in the early hours on game days. The eight hour time difference makes even the late night English games a bit too early to enjoy with a pint in southern California. I’ll be honest though, the time difference hasn’t really stopped me.
My dads football love comes from his hometown, and it makes sense because of the football culture there. My football love is a little more complicated. I don’t have a hometown club, nor do I have a pack of friends to celebrate derby wins with; I probably won’t ever stop trying to get them to join me, though.
Football has been around my house for as long as I can remember. World Cups took over a month in the summer every four years, sometimes I was even in charge of recording games for my dad while he was at work. Every weekend the television fills the living room with the sounds of Mexican stadiums and occasionally my dad participates by throwing some choice words into the mix.
Even on the bad days when not a single pass seems to be completed and not a single player has managed to get in the right spot, I’m thankful for football. It sounds silly, but I think football saved my life. People like to ask, “Why football?” or “Why Arsenal?” I don’t really know how to respond because I know just how silly the truth sounds.
Arsenal came into my life a long time ago, but only a few years ago did it really come to mean so much to me. I was in a bad state, but true to my form I pretended everything was great. I hated myself in every way possible, I couldn’t make myself get out of bed and the words I wrote then are clear: I didn’t want to be alive. Somehow football managed to save me.
I hate how silly it sounds, but really, it may have. It gave me derbies to look forward to, transfers to get excited about and a beautiful game to follow. Because of this I was able to get up, I was able to open my eyes and start to figure out how to move forward again. I wouldn’t give football all the credit on this one, but it has been a huge influence in my life.
I am one of those people who will tell you that football is more than just a game, because to me it became a turning point. Nick Hornby wrote a whole book about his relationship with Arsenal so I feel pretty safe thinking I’m not alone.
As unlikely and silly as it may sound, this is my relationship with a North London club.
Every football lover has a reason for supporting their club, as unlikely as it may be, and Footballists has been looking into the stories behind strangers’ football jerseys. Looking through the gallery of supporters explaining their relationships really made me reflect on my own. It feels good to finally be able to put into words where this love comes from.
P.S. Happy return-of-the-Champions-League!