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They Don't Know

BY Elfa Björk Sigurjónsdóttir

I grew up on a farm in Iceland and we‘re not a footballing family, so I didn‘t inherit any of my interest in the game or my love for Arsenal from my dad, my grandad or anyone else that I can recall in fact. I have sometimes tried to figure out how it came about.

I remember enthusiastically watching the World Cup in 1990, taping the matches to watch later if my chores were interfering with football. I also remember times in my life when football was of no interest to me at all and my younger cousin, one of my few football-watching relatives, doesn‘t tire of reminding me of our debates about the merits of football versus various motorsports.

In my early twenties I didn‘t have much access to football and to be honest didn‘t seek it very hard either. I‘d watch the Europeans Championships and World Cup, catch the occasional Premier League match, read the sports pages and follow results on teletext - just about enough to be able to converse about it.

That all changed with the 2004-2005 season. I had rooted for Arsenal the previous season, hoping that they‘d manage to complete their season unbeaten, which they did. But in this new season there was a change in the service provider for the Premier League here in Iceland and the TV rights went to a channel that showed all their material for free. I would watch every match. Six hour sessions on Saturday and four hours on Sunday weren‘t all that uncommon. At first I wondered about picking a team, but that wasn‘t the way it worked out.

I fell in love with Arsenal. I don‘t have any better way of describing it. They were still in their unbeaten run and were the only team that could make me catch my breath thinking, “wow, THAT was beautiful.” It didn‘t take many matches to get me hooked and ever since I‘ve been an Arsenal supporter.

My first Arsenal match was at Highbury on April 2nd 2005. It was against Norwich, who were my ‘underdog’ team of the season. Yes, I usually have one of those. It couldn‘t have been much more perfect for me. The weather was great, the place was beautiful. I had half expected to be in awe of the size of the stadium, since it was my first time in a stadium outside Iceland, but I felt nothing of the sort. It just felt all so natural, it felt like home. It didn‘t hurt either that Thierry Henry came back from injury that day, his participation having been in doubt. Not only did he come back, he scored a hat-trick. Ljungberg also got one and Darren Huckerby scored a consolation for Norwich.

Since that first match at Highbury I‘ve been to three matches at the Emirates and travelled to my first away game at Craven Cottage in May 2011. I can‘t wait for the next one...

I have a hard time explaining how I feel about Arsenal to other people. I know a lot of people that aren‘t that passionate about anything. I also know a lot of people that support football clubs, but would never miss a class, a family birthday party or even a dentist appointment simply because it‘s a matchday.

They‘re not like us.

They don‘t understand that London has now replaced New York City as my favourite city...just because Arsenal is there.

They don‘t know how a brilliant goal or an important win will get me high as a kite.

They don‘t know that a loss, and worst of all a deserved loss, will leave me half paralysed (like my head and arms are too heavy to carry around).

They don‘t know that it is so much, much more than just a game.

They just don‘t know. But you do.

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