I have always felt that one of the greatest aspects of professional level sports was the idea of embraced competitiveness. Most of us have all played or participated in some sort of team growing up and so have an understanding that there is a turning point; a time when the game becomes more than just a game. A little nutmeg from your best friend when your kids could spell the difference between a trophy and a runners-up medal as adults. Of course, we expect our players to have this trait bred into them, but so too, do the fans.
It’s the fans that really drive the spirit of a club. From the fair-weather supporter to the most dedicated season ticket holder, your club is your club and you defend them to the end. I grew up on the south side of Chicago during a time when the Chicago Bears dominated American football. My parents ensured that I understood one of life’s most valuable lessons: no matter what you do in life, the Green Bay Packers are shit. And I’m completely positive that Packers fans use their one brain cell to express an equal rivalry in my direction. Now mind you, I only care about actual football (which we felt the need to rename), but when I hear that the Bears are doing well, it raises a sense of team spirit in me that will never truly die. I can imagine that I am not alone in this sense, with interchangeable teams and sports.
Can you imagine Jack Wilshere as a young lad? Rising through the ranks of the Arsenal youth academy, joking around with his mates and trying to wrap his head around the fact that he was playing for an organization that is loved by millions around the world. How fitting that he scored his first goal for the Under-18s against Aston
Villa, continuing on to gain the attention of Wenger and first team placement in 2008. His passion and love for this club has never wavered, and though his career has been spotted with injuries, we have stuck by him not only because of his proven talent but also because of that love for one of the greatest teams in the world.
When the victory parade reached the Emirates on the Sunday and Jack grabbed the microphone, what came out of his mouth was something every one of us has sang in comradery. The thousands of fans in attendance happily chimed in, and for that moment the boundary between player and supporter was gone. That’s our Super Jack, they thought. Super Jackie Wilshere, Arsenal till he dies. He did this last year too, didn’t he? I hope he does it again next year when we win the cup all over again.
There is an argument that, as a professional, what he did was tasteless; that he was drunk in celebration. While he is a professional, Wilshere is also a human being. A 23-year-old man, nonetheless, who just helped his team win one of the most prestigious competitions in his home country after having made a come
back from serious injury. Let the man enjoy himself for one night. Let him celebrate like every other fan of the team. Besides, he was really just asking all of us a question, wasn’t he? And as a collective group, it’s fantastic that there is one word to sum up all of our feelings so as to avoid the awkwardness of saying something like “Well Jack, they’re rather subpar for all the money they’ve spent over the years”.
Perhaps one day, the fans of our greatest rivals will get their chance to sing the songs of their people on such a grand scale, but I would advise them not to hold their breath. They are, after all, shit. Thank you.
Written by Catherine, Follow her at @coygoonersgirl