BY KUDA MANGOMA / @Kuda32
I was an Arsenal fan before I knew it. A club passed down to me under the family code of conduct. I started properly supporting The Arsenal from the age of seven and in my early years I was spoilt by success. That 2003/04 unbeaten season a fine example of our superiority.
2005 was the last time Arsenal had the pleasure of basking in the glory of a major title. 2005 was the year I turned 13 and entered my teens. September shall host my 20th birthday putting an end to this chapter of life.
I will be leaving my teenage years behind and in reflection not many things have remained constant. I have made and lost many friends, moved to a different continent whilst leaving my immediate family in my hometown and continued to matured year on year.
One of the few things that has remained consistent though, is my love for The Arsenal, despite the fact our title drought has corresponded directly with this period.
It is often said that teenagers are fickle and struggle to commit to anything. This is, in the main, true and I can say that throughout my teens I have had and lost interest in many things. Such capricious behaviour has never touched my relationship with the club of my life.
Of course, we supporters have witnessed players come and go on both civil and churlish terms since we last tasted victory, but Arsenal always stands tall and carries on. It has taken time, but I've come to terms with the mistake of emotionally investing in players who subsequently turned their back on me. The same lesson was harshly dished out by a female acquaintance who I was naive enough to think was the love of my life, only for her to crush my heart.
I have spent much of my life comparing personal highs and lows to those of the team on the pitch. Each season from 2005 has had much promise, admittedly some more than others. The cup runs and league campaigns, which came to bitter endings and led my father to solemnly reassure that, “next season will be better”, have always had magical moments I can’t and won't forget.
Adebayor’s winner against Manchester United at Old Trafford in September, 2006. Thierry’s goals, sad departure to Barcelona and recent fairytale return. Each and every North London derby victory and goal.
It's not just great games and goals though that are nestled in my heart; I'll always remember the little things, like the emotional returns by Eduardo and Ramsey after horrific injuries, each and every player who represents the club, the way the fans always turn up in their droves at the stadium and of course, Arsene Wenger. These events and individuals make up some of my earliest memories and heroes - they are personal philosophers of eminence.
I have memories of anxiously waiting to see and purchase the new home strip then debating with myself about which player’s name and number to have on the back of it. Each strip for me is like a memory vault – bringing back these sensual motifs upon sight.
Most importantly supporting Arsenal has taught me the value of loyalty, how to deal with disappointments and to enjoy the moment.
Even though my teenage self never celebrated a major title I have learnt a great deal since 2005 and know that when we do win something it will be beyond great.
‘Please be tolerant of those who describe a sporting moment as their best ever. We do not lack imagination , nor have we had sad and barren lives; it is just that real life is paler, duller, and contains less potential for unexpected delirium.’ – Nick Hornby.