I’ve never been as addicted to twitter as on 31 Aug 11. I enjoy the social networking portal but have always used it sparingly and never from the confines of my BlackBerry smart phone. But such was my desperation or excitement (choose as you deem fit) that me and my phone became one on this crucial day.
I did not have access to internet on my laptop, so was switching between several live blogs on my phone to the annoyance of my parents, but nothing on this day could make me leave the confines of the digital web. To anyone who has still not grasped the hallowed event (or is surprised finding me writing about shopping), I’m talking about the “Transfer Deadline Day” of European football.
At the cost of repetition, this is the last day clubs may offload or (more importantly) contract new players in their teams. And this year it was almost the season decider for Arsenal – or so the media made it out to be. Not surprising, considering the club had on the previous weekend been subjected to a humiliating 8-2 defeat by their title rivals Manchester United. The score line alone shouts disaster, that it has never occurred in the 115 years preceding last sunday made it one of humongous proportions.
So there I sat in a little town in northern India reading with bated breath the transfer rumours as if am reading my probable b’day gift list. Korean captain Chu Young Park had already moved in the previous day, and all was set for the Brazilian Andre Santos and German Per Mertasacker to join him any moment. But the latter two were still to be confirmed “officially” and there was the desperate issue of quality midfielders.
While my prayers were directed towards an unlikely move of Edin Hazard, there were rumours about M’Ville, Mikel Arteta, Gary Cahill and Yossi Benyaoun. My heartbeats danced with every rise and dip in hopes as shouted by @SkySportsMobile tweets and several others.
I cursed when it became clear we are not chasing the French club’s players and that turned to bitterness as Arteta’s bid seemed to die down too. Finally though sanity prevailed and we notched both Arteta and Yossi to make the agony of the hours seemingly worthwhile.
Today as I look back I find it almost childish to have risked the health of my body’s engine on events out of my reach and of which, frankly I do not have a deep enough understanding as compared to the men in charge of the club. But I was not alone, with me were millions who ran twitter’s trends crazy with #deadlineday running tops both worldwide and in India.
The answer then is simple – this is football, this is sport, this is human nature. It is the connect we feel for the club, its well-being somewhere intricately connected to our moods. Hence it was crucial for me not to feel gutted and frustrated for the next six months that a couple of defenders and mid field generals be added to the team. It was crucial for sanity to prevail over the season that I see through this tumultuous day.
This is the call of sport, which in its grandiose entirety surpasses the moment of glory. It’s built on a base of emotions running every single day – with or without on field action. It is also the ruthless nature of the sport that we nonchalantly bade goodbye (sometimes even that courtesy is forsaken) to heroes of yore and conveniently replace them with new demi-gods.
Many say it is a display of selfish and tribal emotions without a sense of logic and humanity. Well firstly where did love ever speak the language of logic! And selfish of course we are. That’s the reason we many a times pray for a neutral team’s defeat more than we pray for our victory. That is the instigator for a chorus of boos to unsettle a weak and under fire opponent.
Call it tribal, but few other aspects of human life can claim to churn such emotions in us. In a matter of minutes we go from plucking our scalp off, to crying hoarse with delight (and in the case of Arsenal lately, the other way round). This unknown connect is what makes me wait with bated breath for a Hazard to sign for our club.
Humans have always been addicted to hero worshipping. It was the warlords in the old days, which moved on to an ephemeral “god” (which sadly continues) and today has moved on to sports. These “heroes” offer a benchmark for a mortal like me to emulate. He/she gives me the joy of achievement which in my capability I never can. And once the connect is established – like faith – its mighty tough to break.
Football clubs therefore enjoy the kind of brand loyalty, business houses would kill for. Imagine a band of followers who stick with your product despite having better options elsewhere. A following that in many cases is passed down generations. And a product, which sells without much guarantee or advertisement. Yes fans do revolt and demand a certain level of performance, but deep within they have chosen the club with its inherent imperfections. I would go as far as to say that on many a occassions it’s these imperfections that hold the bond.
I know Barcelona is the best there is now, but nothing could make me shift allegiances despite the obvious fact. I enjoy Arsenal not only because they win (and yes they do win a lot). I follow them because somewhere inside me I find myself in the club. I connect to their austere ways of doing business, I favour their talent nurturing policy, I revere the traditions of a 125 years.
So while we still could not land Hazard, I am happy with what Arsene Wenger has achieved. A healthy pack of talented and proven players for less than an Andy Carroll or a Fernando Torres. That is so Arsenal, and that is good enough for me to stay ever faithful and ever honest. Victoria Concordia Crescit is our motto and I believe in that to the hilt. Now to cheer a string of victories, bring ‘em on!!!