The anti glory game
As a Spurs fan, last night’s Arsenal-Barca cup final is a strange affair to watch. If Arsenal were playing a team I was familiar with, for example, Liverpool, I could easily switch allegiance and become a rabid red for the night. But football is so much a game of emotion, and I find this negative support (I’ll support you because I don’t like them – not dissimilar to the US foreign policy now I think of it), difficult to maintain. So no matter how hard I tried I wasn’t really willing Barca to score.
But I know in the long term I definitely don’t want Arsenal to win (I’d never hear the last from my brother for one), so you’re left in this no-man’s land, which must be something akin to a non-footie fan watching the game. You can’t really enjoy it. If truth be told, I envy Arsenal fans their chance to partake in the glory. As Spurs legend Danny Blanchflower said, "Football is not really about winning, or goals, or saves, or supporters… It’s about glory. It’s about doing things in style, doing them with a flourish; it’s about going out to beat the other lot, not waiting for them to die of boredom". So, watching your rivals in a big game is a curious sort of anti-glory event. The best you can hope for is schadenfreude, which is not the noblest of emotions (although for Spurs fans it is embodied beautifully by ‘Nayim from the halfway line’).
As it turned out Arsenal put on a good performance with 10 men, and didn’t deserve to lose. I’m glad they did and all that, but they didn’t deserve it (Barca were quite poor I thought). Still, do I envy them still? Yes. I half remember a quote that even Google can’t locate, which went something like ‘between despair and nothing I’d choose despair.’ As with West Ham on Saturday, Arsenal fans would rather have the despair of losing than the nothing of finishing 12th in the league.