As some of you might know, I enjoy watching football as much as the next person in the kopitiam. Therefore I should have a favourite team, a team that I believe plays one of the most beautiful football in the modern game, a team that I would stay up till the wee hours of the morning to watch.
That team is Arsenal.
For some time I've trawled the local forum groups, message boards, chat rooms to find some local boys who are not already supporting Man U, Liverpool, and Chelsea (pui!) . There I was just googling about, when I chanced upon afcsingapore.info . Before I knew it I was posting messages on the board and even sending PMs to some of the members. I was given the affectionate title of 'Goondu', in light of me being the newbie.
Well as things turned out the forum is a very active one, with a core group updating members on the ins & outs of the club. It was through one 'Centurian Gooner' that I was able to watch the 1st leg of the Champions League Semi-Finals in the early hours of Tue morning together with fellow fans of Arsenal.
I showed up at the door, a dozen cans of guiness in hand, with a some amount of trepidition. All that was dispelled when I was warmly received by the lady of the house. My host has just woken up from a nap, and after introducing ourselves by our nicknames in the forum, we sat down to get to know more about each other. My host, a friendly guy called Kevin, often wondered why he didn't get to know some of the other fellow Gooners more, other than the obvious fact that they just luurve Arsenal to death. That's the thing with men and their football isn't it? It really binds them together, regardless of their race or titles.
Anyways, more Gooners arrived as the match drew near. Soon I was treated to a slice of Arsenal history from all sides. Most impressive was a guy who doesn't look a day past 25, who's rattling off all the statistics of all the players that ever played for Arsenal, and throwing in li'l anecdotes like the weather for that day, how the goals came about etc!! He was quite literally a walking encyclopedia for Arsenal. They should really put him on a sports gameshow...or have they already??
Watching the match on the very nice plasma TV, the atmosphere was electric. There were shouts, moan, cheers and jeers. Beers were flowing, chips were passed around, and infectious banter punctuated the air. On more than a few occasions, they even broke into songs/chants, which I am still trying to learn, therefore I just hummed along. It ended well for us, a 1-nil result is something that is useful to work on for the 2nd leg.
One by one, the Gooners trooped back home. While bidding our goodbyes, I was rest assured that I'll be welcomed into the 'clubhouse' at the pub. I returned the kind gestures with a huge smile on my face, and promised that I'll be there for the next, and last match against Wigan.
Oh yeah, and I made Emirates Gooner. That's a good thing.