A blog artwork by John Rogers.

50. The Captain’s Armband

This is one of two captain’s armbands I’ve bought recently from Amazon.

I get little playful fashion ideas sometimes, some of which are possibly ill-advised but amuse me greatly anyway. In the past these have included dressing only in pastel colours that have a chalky, washed-out, dusty quality; a dip-dye cardigan, usually worn with various items bearing circles as seen on the artwork of recent bands like Caribou, Internet Forever and Owen Pallett; or wearing mismatched, differently-coloured converse and socks in a harlequin style.

I’m currently lusting after a pair of t-shirts based on obscure cultural references. One is an illustration of a “double rainbow”, after the best internet meme of 2011. The other is a “why always me?” tee, as revealed during a goal celebration by Manchester City striker Mario Ballotelli, the day after police were called to his house due to fireworks being let off indoors during the same week that he was unveiled as the poster-boy of a bonfire night safety campaign.

This is an Arsenal armband, as worn currently by Robin van Persie. I’m a late-developing Arsenal supporter, having never been into football as a kid. I had no ingrained hometown-based allegiance, probably because my dad wasn’t into the game despite coming from an Newcastle-obsessed geordie family. 
The many years I spent living close the Molineux in Wolverhampton, I saw football matches mainly as an inconvenience, and I didn’t get the significance when caught up in the city-wide aftermath of their promotion to the Premier League.

I didn’t have real roots in either of those cities, having felt the call of London from an early age. But Arsenal was the local team in Dalston, my first London neighbourhood. During my five years there, I’d soak up the matchday atmosphere from the Arsenal fans swarming towards the Emirates stadium, and started watching more and more games. I was attracted to Arsenal’s flowing style of play and their iconic young players like Fabregas, Walcott and van Persie, and felt that Arsene Wenger was fighting the good fight in a corrupt, bloated sport. So I gradually became an Arsenal supporter in quite a natural way.

It’s tough to get tickets, but I’ve been to a few games, including watching Arsenal destroy Newcastle in a Carling cup game, and beat Real Madrid in the pre-season Emirates cup. I’ve become a slight Arsenal nerd, following a lot of bloggers and youth team players on Twitter, getting familiar with boardroom figures and the financial structure behind the club, and generally immersing myself in all of the minutae that football fans obsess over endlessly.

There’s a lot of snobbery in the world of football supporters. I don’t have generations of family history in supporting the club, or a season ticket, and I’m wasn’t born and raised in North London. I don’t hate Tottenham or Chelsea, or their supporters, and I don’t have an exhaustive knowledge of Arsenal’s trophies or fringe players from the 90s or before. But I do feel a strong connection to the area and to the club - I’m a supporter for life. And I do love the game - the drama, the pace, the rivalries, the strategies, the heroics and glory and failure.

I haven’t worn either of the armbands out yet - I’m waiting for the right moment to break them out.

Maybe when that Balotelli t-shirt arrives.

  1. thingsbyjohnrogers posted this