10 Important Rules of Being an Arsenal Fan
There may be many flaws with Arsenal Football Club as an institution, but its fans are certainly not one of them.
I'm obviously quite biased, but the Gunners have one of the more passionate groups of supporters in all of England, a country famous and infamous for its collection of impassioned fans.
There are, however, some rules that every new or experienced Gooner should know and follow if they truly wish to call themselves a supporter of the Arsenal or are apprehensive about whether to take the plunge and devote their mental health to the fate of the team.
Here are but a few of the unofficial laws of Goonerdom.
You Have to Learn How to Pronounce Every Player's Name Correctly
Every time I hear a friend or commentator mangle the name of one of Arsenal's foreign players, I cannot help but cry out in agitation.
If I can learn how to spell "Wojciech Szczesny" correctly and train my fingers to type it as if it was my own name, the least you can do is take a minute to learn how his name is actually pronounced.
Many Arsenal players are from odd lands that devalue vowels and chuck in seemingly random apostrophes and accent marks to already complex names. It may be a slightly tough task to remember that it's Tomas Roshitsky and not Rosicky, as one would logically expect, but you will be derided for not doing so.
So do it. Please.
You Have to Know the Chants
If you can't watch a game thousands of miles away from the Emirates and be able to keep pace with those lucky enough to be able to voyage to Mecca every week, you're not a real Gooner.
There are the generic but still great ones like that in which the fans rightly claim that we're the greatest team the world has ever seen, but it is essential to know the sacred, Arsenal-specific cheers.
Venture into your local pub after learning "One-nil to the Arsenal," "Who's that team they call the Arsenal" or "Boring, boring Arsenal" and you can blend in with the local supporters. And make sure to know the origins of the former and latter.
You Have to Know the History of the Club
You don't have to know how many points Arsenal earned in 1912, but any Arsenal fan should be well-versed in the bigger events of the club's history and certainly those of the Arsene Wenger era.
Know, for example, that we got promoted to the top flight in 1919 under extremely shady circumstances, and that we've been there ever since—longer than anyone else in history.
Know that we won our first double in 1971 under the captaincy of the legendary Frank McLintock 10 years after Tottenham won theirs. Know all the biggest club legends, from Cliff Bastin to Thierry Henry.
And, most of all, know all you can about every season of the Arsene Wenger era, the most successful in Arsenal history.
You Have to Be OK with Beautiful Football
This seems like a bit of a strange rule, but Arsenal has had to sacrifice silverware in recent seasons to realize Arsene Wenger's dream of playing the most aesthetically pleasing football in England.
Gone are the big, physical players of the Patrick Vieira era (again, know your history) and in have come smaller, lighter but more technically proficient players like Cesc Fabregas, Theo Walcott, Samir Nasri and Tomas Rosicky.
It is no coincidence that, since Vieira's departure in 2005, the Gunners have not won a single trophy to speak of and have acquired the mark of pretenders.
But, hey, at least we don't play like Stoke!
You Will Love Arsene Wenger Like Your Father
While we're on the subject of Arsene Wenger, know this: You must love that fabulous Frenchman as if he were a dear member of your own family.
During his darkest days at the beginning of this season, many, including myself, lost their affection for the club's manager of almost 16 years. But nobody could have turned the team around and hoisted it into third place like Wenger did, getting Arsenal into the Champions League for the 15th straight season.
When he came to the club in 1996, he brought revolutionary footballing and training philosophies to a club that was hopelessly stuck in its ways, and Wenger's unrivaled eye for hidden gems and bargains has allowed the club to achieve an unprecedented period of success while maintaining its financial health.
In Arsene we shall always trust.
You Will Hate Tottenham Like Your Worst Enemy
If there is one rule of being an Arsenal fan that you absolutely, positively cannot break and which binds you with your brethren 10,000 miles away it is this:
You hate Tottenham.
You hate Tottenham more than your biggest pet peeve. Which is Spurs fans. All annoyances in the world pale in comparison to the nuisance from across North London, which constantly pretends to be on Arsenal's level despite decades chasing the Gunners' tail.
This you must abide by faithfully as an Arsenal fan, with firm an unwavering devotion.
Know About and Celebrate St. Totteringham's Day
Speaking of Arsenal's supremacy over Spurs, every Gooner should derive a special sort of schadenfreude from St. Totteringham's Day, a yearly celebration that marks the day when the Gunners are mathematically assured to finish above Tottenham.
My cockiness is not unfounded. Since the 1995-96 season, Arsenal have not finished below their bitter rivals in the League table, whether the feat has been accomplished on the last day or due to a possibly coincidental case of mass food poisoning.
However it comes, it does always come, and every Gooner should know and celebrate the day when supremacy is established for yet another year.
You Will Be Up at Any Hour to Watch Arsenal on TV
My experience getting up at 7 o'clock on many mornings to watch Arsenal in action from my viewing spot in the United States very closely resembles Laurent Koscielny in this picture, but I don't care.
To glimpse your favorite team live on television, you should always be willing to make a sacrifice and throw away a bit of sleep to suffer through the highs and lows of a Carling Cup match against Shrewsbury Town.
What amazes me is that many peoples' situations are so much less convenient than my own, and yet, they too do whatever is necessary to watch their boys in action. Asian and Australian Gooners are forced to stay up until ungodly hours to catch a match, and yet, it is just a part of weekend life.
If you can't identify with us bleary-eyed warriors, then you need to examine how devoted you really are.
Get Used to Disappointment
Being an Arsenal fan is certainly not the nicest thing you could do to your nails or heart.
In every season, you are inevitably led on an ascending, dipping, twisting and swerving rollercoaster of emotions as the Gunners build up expectations to massive heights when they show their potential, only to let you down spectacularly later.
For the past seven trophyless years, Arsenal fans have just become used to the team's perennial progression from title contender to the sad choker whom everyone sympathizes with because, hey, they play great football.
The one silver lining of annual suffering, though, is that is galvanizes a fan-base like few other things.
You Can Change Your Underwear and Your Wife, but Not Your Team
Many things in life can change. Perhaps you feel tired of your current car and have the wealth to go out and buy another one. Or you're unhappy with your marriage and file for divorce. That's all perfectly fine; you can reshape your life in any way you want.
There is one exception, however. You absolutely, positively cannot change which football team you root for.
That, in the end, is the most important rule of fandom in general, and Arsenal is certainly no special case. Sorry, but if you hop over to Manchester United or Chelsea for a taste because they're performing better this month, you forfeit the right to call yourself a supporter.
But if you keep your faith to the cannon through thick and thin, regardless of form, you are a true Gooner.