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Because Of My Father

BY CONOR FOGARTY / @BastinsBoots89

Arguably the most common reason for supporting a club comes down to geography. By and large if you live near a football club, there’s a good chance you’ll have more than a passing interest in their existence, especially if you’re actually a fan of the beautiful game.

Of course, while supporters of smaller teams enjoy baiting more cosmopolitan opponents by chanting “We support out local team”, a presumptuous song if ever there was one, there is absolutely nothing wrong with being fanatical about a club which is not on your doorstep.

Given the global-appeal of Arsenal and the club’s proud history it’s not surprising that a large percentage of the fanbase are not from north of the River Thames. Everybody who follows the club though has their reasons.

Perhaps you were flicking through the channels one day and saw Dennis Bergkamp in full flow and were so amazed by such poetry in motion that you decided to follow the team. Maybe the dazzling red and white kit did for you as a child? Who knows…but I’m sure you’ve your reasons.

For me, a young Irish man, the reason is simple – I support Arsenal because of my father.

My dad was born and raised in a tough Irish family, and at the age of 18 he decided, like many of his young compatriots to emigrate to London. The year was 1968, and there was no doubt that going from a small, rural Irish village to the huge bustling city of London must have been something of a culture shock. Of course, being an Irishman of a certain generation, he would strenuously deny ever feeling lonely and scared.

My old man's interest in football was about the same as my current interest in pop songstress Lady Gaga - he knew it existed and that it was popular, but he regarded it with some suspicion. Eventually though, one fine Saturday afternoon, he decided to see what it was all about. It was not to Highbury he ventured first. In fact, whisper it quietly, it was to White Hart Lane to see Spurs play Chelsea. As far as I know he quite enjoyed the experience and decided to go again next week, but Tottenham were away from home so, he went to Highbury instead. After that there was of course, no turning back.

I don't think I need to go into the reasons that caused him to fall in love with The Arsenal. My dad went to every home game and as many away games as he could from 1968 to 1973 at which point he returned to Ireland. He still recalls with fondness the '71 cup final and he reluctantly recounts the '72 final defeat with a voice tinged with bitterness, even after 40 years. And so, it was inevitable that I too would be an Arsenal obsessive, purely because of my old man.

It's a gift for which I am forever grateful.

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