When Football Doesn’t Matter—Why Then Do We Post?

Amazing skys 024

Another post from 17HT in the wake of events beyond football.  New readers (or those confused…) please see the comments from the past two posts.

Author’s note:  The ongoing tribulations of poster “James Bond” combined with my own personal life experiences have led to the following reflections…

We live in a wondrous and modern world, and yet the essential problems remain.  Human relations have changed and yet they haven’t.   Our world (at its very best…) still revolves around Love.  If we risk love we risk losing that love.  In fact, in our heart of hearts, we KNOW that we WILL lose the object(s) of our love.   As such, it is an act of great bravery to do so—to engage with each other and give ourselves, wholly and without reservation, to one another.

The internet is a different ball of wax (as we say, over here in the States)…  If you don’t like what’s on one page, click on another…If somebody says something you don’t like, you can disappear for a few days (or forever…), gather your thoughts, and come back when you’re ready. Or (more commonly…) you can respond instantaneously from behind the safety of your screen and keyboard.    Hell, if you’ve got nobody to talk with, you can even create multiple personalities and carry both sides of the argument.  😆

Following Arsenal on the internet (for me) has shown some of the worst and some of the best elements of this new world of human communication.  No matter what, the football goes on, as does the conversation about it.  No matter what’s going on in our personal lives, we can go on-line and exult (or complain) about our team.  The usual characters–the manager, the players, the owner, the other posters– will be there for us.   With the latter group we can argue positives to the gloomiest of gloom-mongers or bring down the most positive optimist.  The important thing, maybe, is that it’s different from our day-to-day.  In many ways, it’s an extension of the old way—trudging down to the stadium and supporting (or having a go at) the lads and sharing a cheer or a moan with your mates…

And best of all…None of it matters.  Or maybe… ALL of it matters…

Here on Bergkampesque the assumption, I think, is closer to the ALL of it matters.  Yes, people come on to hate and denounce, and certainly venting happens.  Some have to be banned, others chased off.   The regulars, however, are bonded by (nothing less than some strange form of…) kinship or tribalism or shared affection for something bigger than ourselves.   To varying extents, we idealize the club, the players (when they perform to our liking), and (some of us at least…) the manager.   Certainly the player for whom the site is named conjures an ideal of intelligence and teamwork.   And the man himself pursued it with an unparalleled professionalism.  If we can bring these qualities to our support, we can (almost…) believe that we too can enhance the club.  Of course, even Dennis had his moments of frustration.  If we can forgive him his, we should likely forgive ourselves our own…

One of our own, a guy we’ve never met and whose real name we are unsure of, is going through a VERY (very, very…) tough time.  We pray that he is getting the face-to-face support and love that he needs. That he turned to us to share his experience speaks volumes.  That we’ve tried, in whatever way we can, to offer our words in return speaks to the fact that we have created an environment where that is okay.

The tragedy of poster “James Bond” has affected me.  As I said in the comments, his story hits home for me even if the memory of its immediacy is a long way back.  It’s nothing more than words on a screen, but it IS more.

Strange, but true.  It’s also true that I can switch it off and watch a match or get outside or just turn my thoughts to my own issues.  That’s human nature.  A better part of human nature is to share with others.  Pain is the flip side of Joy, and it could be argued that you cannot have the one without the other.  Our culture tries to sell us pain-free Joy, but we know (in some deep place) that the truth is different.  To the extent that Bond has shared his pain with us, I want to thank him.  Feeling it (attempting in my own small way to absorb the fullness of it) makes me a better person.  To the extent that I can help him feel less alone (and it’s a very, very, very puny extent…) in this brutal moment, I would like him to feel less alone.

The rest of the world including Arsenal and your fellow BKers are here for you, 007, whenever you’re ready… From personal experience, I know that it’s good to have places you can go that are away from the bigger issues.  This may or may not be such a spot.  You’ve shared a lot, and those of us who’ve been with you through this will always know you differently.   In my opinion, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with knowing people more completely and more deeply, even if you never meet them.

Finally, from your comments earlier, I know that you would like us to pivot back to our shared love, Arsenal Football Club.  I believe Gerry and Dylan have posts related to yesterday’s match, and I think Total will be publishing them as the week moves on.  For now, having watched some up and down matches of mayhem (I’m talking yesterday’s Liverpool-Aston Villa 2-2 and today’s wins by Spurs and Chelsea, as well as highlights of other matches, notably the Man City-Cardiff City match…) I’d like to talk a little football myself.

I’d direct people to the league table.  There’s separation there and a gap to the top 3 teams: Arsenal-51, Manchester City-50, Chelsea-49.   I couldn’t be prouder of my football club right now.  Through spirit, grit, collective play, and continuity we’re competing with clubs who have owners literally (or is it “figuratively”…?) burning money to keep warm.  Those “assembled” squads are right on our tails, point-wise, and they will be (exquisitely) tough to beat as the season grinds on, but they are nowhere near what we have created as a team.  It may seem outmoded to suggest such things, and the difference between players who cost £50 million (Torres, who didn’t even play today…) vs. those who cost €50 million (Özil) is very slight, but there IS a big gulf between players who work together as a team (and a manager who has committed HIS future to his club’s future) vs. the merely hired ones.  Maybe it’s similar to blogs that merely “tolerate” comments vs. one that is hoping to build a community of like-minded supporters of a beautiful club playing a beautiful game and where it’s (even) acceptable to believe that results (and tables) don’t always tell the whole story.  Maybe that’s why we have to write about it (even if it’s” just” in the comments, like Mr. Bond)…

So (as an aging American hipster–such as I–might say…), “Right On”….or (better yet), “WRITE ON”…007, and everybody else, on whatever topic you wish, including the title race, yesterday’s match, or the bigger issues…

By 17highburyterrace

17 thoughts on “When Football Doesn’t Matter—Why Then Do We Post?

  • Thank you 17. 🙂

    That is a beautiful and wise piece of writing that goes straight to the heart. We are very lucky to have you writing and commenting for us.

    There is a paradox in football. On the one hand we have made it so important in our lives and on the other hand we know ultimately it is just a game and cannot possibly compete with the love for our children, parents, siblings and partners. Yet, if we are lucky we live long, happy periods when all is well and we can devote a lot of our time and energy to that silly game called football. For all of us football fans this is as close as we can get to steady, prolonged happiness.

    Deep down we know that life will not always be kind to us and when a fellow blogger, JB, befalls such grief and hardship we all feel a bit of that of primal pain he is now going through. There is little we can do to take that pain away but showing empathy and giving moral support will make JB less alone in the world. Your post, 17, has captured this brilliantly and I am proud to publish it on BK.


  • It does seem a battle between three at the top now, 17. The key thing is just to go OGAAT and not look back or around us. Let’s focus on winning each and every game as much as possible, and one at a time. Next up is Coventry and let’s go out there and play fantastic football.

    City have a tough remainder of games to deal with, with away games to Liverpool, Arsenal, Everton, Manure and Spuddies and a home game against Maureen’s busses. Chavs have it a lot easier with a lot of top teams coming to their place, including us. We have to go to Liverpool , Spuddies, Everton and Chavs, but Manure and Citeh are home games.

    What can we do….OGAAT and Carpe Diem. 🙂

  • Top stuff 17

    Bondys story is a real tragedy,and of course it goes without saying I wish him and his wife well for the future.

    On a general point, what seperates a healthy person from a psycho is the ability to feel “empathy”. This feeling is so strong that it can make you feel for those you have never met. The Internet is a medium were you build relationships with people that in most cases, you will never meet.

    This can be dangerous, but on a football site such as this, it fosters a feeling of camaraderie based on a shared passion and kinship for the team we support.

    If this kinship can offer Bondy, one of our own, a crumb of comfort, then I am proud to be part of it.

  • On the Arsenal front, its now approaching crunch time.

    From our next ten league games, we play the two Scouse clubs (away), Chelsea and Totnumb (away) and both Mancs at home. Sandwiched in between are two piss easy games against Munich.

    Can we hang in there? Or will we fall out of contention? Were going to know very quickly.

    What ever the outcome, the future is incredibly bright.

    The Ghosts of the Thirties are Stirring

  • 17ht, thank you so much for articulating the thoughts that I am sure many of us share.

    JB, I hope you hang in there, it’s probably silly for me to say that what you are going through is spoiling some of my spare time that consists in following Arsenal, but I’m glad that I do as it gives me like other posters time to think about you, pray for you, and as stupid as this may seem, to try and make you feel that you’re not alone in these hard times.


  • Hey, Thanks Total/Terry/Dylan/Nick… No monopoly of wise words here…

    Thanks too, to JB for the comments at the bottom of the previous post… I’m humbled by being included in your wife’s thoughts. Her sense of humor (humour?) seems something very special to be treasured…

    Watching the football this weekend, I just can’t help but draw contrasts between the teams as they separate out in the table. Man City have endless attackers and don’t even seem to miss the one guy we sold them who was playing decent football (Nasri). (Clichy got rounded like a cone for the late Cardiff goal…) Chelsea, of course, are built for defense, but ManU hardly looked a team that could penetrate them w/o RvP and Rooney. An early deflected goal only made the job too simple. 20 million to buy back a midfielder? Cortois (plus cash) to try and prise Diego Costa? If Eto’o is “back,” they might not need him, but maybe they’ll buy him, “just in case”…

    United w/o their mercenaries up front could almost be smelled over the television…Their best player today was an 18 yr old (!) It’s like Arsenal of a few years ago…

    Nonetheless, I would still pick them to get up for 4th (just like we always did)… The Spurs and Pool matches were just too frenetic and end to end for me. Eriksen and Adebayor brought some quality (and goals today), and, obviously, so too does Suarez (and his referees…), but ALL the teams (i.e., Villa yesterday) should fancy their chances against them. Everton go tomorrow and might be the real competition…

    Arsenal look a disciplined group aware of what the fight will require. It’s too early for teams to roll over yet (esp. with the bottom 11 all within 6 points of each other) so taking care of business–defense first and spreading the goals is key. It’s almost a bit of a middle ground between the approaches of the Sheik-O-Garch clubs. Our big buy (Ozil) is being criticized for not doing enough, but, like everybody else, he’s trying to make the TEAM better rather than pad his stats.
    As the Dutchman says, Oh-GAAT and (I think) focus, team spirit and collective responsibility will be what gets the job done…

    In life it’s more like one day AAT or (even) one moment…Hang in there, 007…

  • Wow..probably the best Arsenal and possibly life related post I have laid eyes on, online…I haven’t been able to come on here and comment for the past couple of days because of what happened to James, but I WAS WAITING for someone to post something like this, and you didn’t disappoint me. The bravery to even try to write something of this magnitude defies explanation and is beyond my comprehension…I mean after what happened, I knew I couldn’t make anyone feel any better, yet this has come pretty close, if not accomplished that. So to try to share your thoughts has been…well I can’t even begin to explain…Well done!!! Again I read this site every day, but at times I refrain from commenting, because most of the comments are a lot better than what I can manage, partly due to the fact that I don’t think I know quite as much as the other people, but I know enough to be able to appreciate something like this. I have gone through quite a bit in the past few months myself, but I still come on here and laugh at some of the comments, and read it all, because I know that there are people, actual people who try to share their own personal thoughts on something we are all very passionate about. So like you said, even if football COULD be classified as a mere sport or diversion, it IS a lot more than that, especially when other people are involved and those people are very passionate about the matter in question. Reading this has lightened my load a bit, even if I still cannot understand how much pain Mr. Bond is experiencing. Thank you for composing this!!!

  • A special post if ever there was one. To be one of Mrs Bonds preferred commenters makes me feel special and seeing as I don’t write much on the football side of things, then she must have a wicked sense of humour !.
    As for the football side, what`s the odds that when we face Man Std, they will have both Gilfman and ArghVD back !.

  • Brilliant 17.
    I found it difficult just to offer a few words of sympathy and encouragement in my comments, , and yet you are able to write this thoughtful piece of work.
    A privilege to read.

  • What lovely words 17ht………I have tried to compose my thoughts over these past few days, but have found it far too difficult to put into words my feelings for JB.

    JB…keep strong and God bless.

  • Hi all.. Wow.. I missed a lot of thing here..

    @Bond.. My dear brother.. Sorry for not being there for you in your hardest time.. Wish all the best for you and family..
    Be Strong.. Be Patient.. Just believe it that Tomorrow Will Be Better..

    Guys.. Although we never ever met before.. I believe that we somehow ‘inter-connected’..
    Nothing is come for no reason.. everything have a ’cause-effect’ connection.. We are all inter-related.. Inter-connected.. inter-are..

    No other comment for now about the game.. All I know that we still Top of The League.. And we will still do untill the end of season.. hehehehe.. Go Gunners..

  • 17HT – You have indeed captured the ‘bigger picture’ whilst full understanding the pain of the present. Superb.

    For some reason, your ‘nom de plume’, is an address, a house that like you, is is built on solid foundations from the past. So entering your world is like a safe haven to which JB can go to and be stilled, if but for a short time. He will return.

    Milo – Do not feel that you cannot freely enter the BK world either, but I know what you mean. When James first broke the story I felt people were too stunned by the news to comment. I have said before that I am of an age where, if something has to be said I will say it. So I broke the silence with just a few hurried words. Others then followed.
    Another pause. I again put in a positive reason to think of the trivia that is football. Luckily, James endorsed that view when he gave a glimmer of hope that things may be improving. Alas, now things have moved the other way …
    So now we have HT’s fine words to reflect on …

    So Milo, it is good that your humanity can still shine, given your own situation. I suspect you are very similar to JB in character, with highs and lows, from your comments over the many months. HT and myself are more in the middle area, where pleasure at the good is still great, but realise it may not continue forever. So, when the low moments appear, we know they too do not last forever. Following Arsenal Football Club is a bit of a metaphor for life. No matter how deep the trough or how long it lasts, there will be moments of pleasure along the way that can keeps us going until the brighter future dawns …

    Hang in there JB, Milo, TCM, and whoever else is suffering, there is a future out there.

  • very(very very very….)good post 17th……….I think we are going to fight till the end(for the title )…but I wish Wenger will do something about getting an extra body in during this tw……..really sorry jb………will keep praying for u……

  • perfectly written 17. I’m definitely not a wordsmith so I’m glad you could say it all perfectly for us.

    Best of luck JB, hang in there buddy

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