Arsenal will forever be in my heart. But a little bit of love for the club I have followed for 40 years died yesterday thanks to a box office wallah who effectively denied me the chance to take my boy, aged six, to Stoke.
All I wanted to do was collect a ticket from the Britannia box office, a duplicate of one that hadn’t arrived in the post to a mate on the away season ticket scheme. Simple, right? Er, no. Let me explain. My mate lives and works in Scotland and wasn’t going to the game so as a gift suggested I take Josh on him. Cheers, mate, the Arsenal family spreading the love. Josh could go to his first away game having already been 10 times to see the Gunners at the Emirates.
All I had to do was ring the box office and explain. I did. In short the girl on the blower wasn’t having it. She pointed out that only the intended recipient could collect the ticket. Yes, but he is in Scotland and isn’t going and he is giving me the ticket I argued.
Again, she pointed out that only the intended recipient could collect the ticket. Surely, I countered, the rules could be bent a little to allow me to take my son to the game. To nurture the supporters of the future. To support a club under fire after hiking season ticket prices and membership costs. To support a club without silverware since 2005. To support a club that could do with all the support it could get given the current movement opposing so much about the Arsenal of 2011. At a virtual dead rubber of a game with only Champions League qualification riding on it. I say ‘only’ – Lord know that other lot would celebrate long into the night at this achievement – but, to qualify that, we could have been going to Stoke to win the title.
I added that they could check me out as a loyal follower with home and away season tickets and that surely my ID would suffice along with the permission of the guy who owned the ticket. After repeating myself and adopting a heated, incredulous tone but still getting an unswerving monotone response I asked to speak to the away scheme manager. I was put on hold but lost the plot and slammed the phone down in anger at the Emirates entrenchment.
Two minutes later a bloke called Jason called to berate me about my attitude. I was, according to him, “rude and agrressive”. I argued that I was merely frustrated and wasn’t rude, didn’t swear and delivered what I thought, even if I say so myself, was a reasoned, eloquent argument. I then pointed out that if he was only ringing to question my attitude then the conversation should end sharpish. What other business rings their customers to have a go at then once they have questioned their service? Unbelievable.
I couldn’t reason with Jason. I couldn’t talk to him about my Dad collecting me from the schoolboys at Highbury to go into the cavernous, wondrous North Bank. Peanuts, all roasted. My first NLD at WHL in 1975. Liam Brady. Brussels 1980. Oxford Road against the Mancs early 80s. The agony of York away. The joy of Anfield 89. More than 60 grounds in Europe following MY team.
Yes, I’ll be at Stoke, but my nipper won’t be. My six-year-old son who runs round the house singing, “Ooh, ahh Ray Parlour” and is being brought up like me and his Grandad before him to be Arsenal, will miss out. I don’t suppose it will bother the likes of Ivan Gazidis and will have zero impact on the club’s corporate goals and ideology of global domination. But ignoring the lifeblood of the club, its loyal fans, is to do so at its peril. As for our excellent manager Arsene Wenger – an utter genius who I admire greatly – I quite understand why he has too much on his plate to let one whining fan upset the Emirates evolution. Don’t ever take my Arsenal away, eh?
A few weeks ago I read about the Black Scarf chaps who are marching from Blackstock Road to the ground to voice their concern about the deepening division between what you might call old school supporters and the club. Not for me, I thought. I ‘support’ the Arsenal, don’t we have enough detractors without rebelling ourselves?
Then I spoke to Jason. Now I am joining the march. It has hit me that I am the very same supporter, with the same set of beliefs, for whom these boys are marching.
And my away season ticket for the next campaign? You can stick it right up your Arsenal.
Article Written by Carl Eldridge at Arsenal Insider
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