I'm really not happy that for the second day running, I have to write about a shirt that fell under the Unai Emery regime. To make it even more depressing, this is the first shirt that has come from this season. This year, I've had to contend with Arsenal languishing in midtable, a managerial change, my Mum having open-heart surgery, Covid-19, having to postpone my wedding, uncertainty as to whether the Premier League campaign would even resume, and now social unrest across the globe..... oh, and my Bipolar has been all over the place just to top things off. All-in-all, 2020 has been an utter disaster, and we're only half-way through it.
But, even at the bleakest of times, small rays of light manage to creep through. I am writing this in a really poor head-space; a time where I find myself questioning my purpose in life and struggling to recognise any positives. Wherever I look, I see hurt and examples of the human race being horrible to one another. I would consider my moral compass to be on the right side, but in the past couple of weeks I have been made to feel awful about myself for voicing opinions that I consider to support kindness. This, unfortunately, is the issue that social media presents.
Time and time again, people spout hate and disgust without a single consideration for the individual that they are berating. Even when comments are not issued directly towards an individual, volatile and hate-ridden comments relentlessly being posted drive the energy and hope out of those of us who try to do the right thing. I'm tired. I'm exhausted.
That is why I want to remember a positive moment from this disastrous year. In August, I travelled to Anfield, wearing this shirt, to watch my football club. Prior to the game, I went to a pub and shared a beer, not only with Arsenal fans, but with Liverpool supporters. We shared a collective celebration as Manchester United conceded a stoppage time goal to lose at home to Crystal Palace. We sang songs back and forth, but all in the spirit that football should represent.
As soon as the game started, we became enemies again. We shouted obscenities at one another as we willed our teams to victory. Arsenal were routinely dispatched by the Champions elect, and after 90 minutes of pain-staking football, we left the ground to begin the long journey back down to the South. On the walk to the car, some of the locals spotted our Arsenal shirts. We shared our opinions on our respective teams before wishing each other luck for the rest of the campaign.
"Fair play for coming all this way for a televised 5.30pm kick off lads, have a safe trip back home", one fan said to us, as we waited for our driver to return to the car. This is what football should be. We may all have different colours on; we may hate each other for 90 minutes; but once the game ends, we all have a shared purpose and something that connects us all together. The majority of us base our lives around our football club. Family gatherings and nights out with friends, all of these things are put on hold if our football club are playing.
Football is my saviour. It gets me through even the hardest of times. It doesn't judge me, it just supports me, just as much as I support my team.