-Written by Bryan Rice
There was a skirmish outside of North London’s Emirates Stadium this past Sunday after a 2-2 draw between home side Arsenal FC and visitors Manchester City. Soccer hooliganism in the U.K. had long been a problem (we’ve all seen Green Street Hooligans), but this tussle was not between loyal ultras fighting against supporters of an opposing club. No, this fight was pure Gooner on Gooner combat.
It’s not surprising Arsenal supporters are on edge. Despite having won 20+ major trophies over the course of their near 100-year tenure in England’s top division, Arsenal have yet to win a Premier League trophy since 2003-2004, when current manager Arsene Wenger led his “Invincibles” side to an undefeated season. And for the first time in Wenger’s 20-year tenure, Arsenal are on the verge of missing out on a top four position in the Premier League – required for qualification to the UEFA Champions. That, a 10-2 defeat on aggregate to Bayern Munich in the Champions League, and the possibility that the Arsenal Board of Directors may sign Wenger to a new contract has led calls from the #WengerOut Brigade – supporters hoping for Wenger to be fired – to reach a… fever pitch (h/t @TheM_L_G and @FOXSoccer).
What is surprising – and also hilarious – is that they’re fighting about Arsenal Fan TV, a YouTube page that some Arsenal fans claim is tearing the club apart.
Arsenal Fan TV is just a YouTube page and a website, in theory. The page’s content consists of short interviews by creator Robbie Lyle (a living black human-Teletubbie hybrid with a microphone) where a rotating cast of supporters – and small mob of onlookers – give their takes outside the stadium before and after each match. Nothing about this should be interesting. And it should not lead grown men to start trading blows. Still, it boasts more than 350,000 subscribers, is some combination of First Take and worldstarhiphop.com, and compelled me to sit by my computer this past Sunday afternoon refreshing the YouTube page every few minutes waiting for the uploads of the latest interviews after the Manchester City match. Arsenal Fan TV is a true gift from the heavens and the most exhilarating, hysterical shit I have ever watched.
Every fan base in every sport starts the season with high hopes before the inevitable disappointment at season’s end (looking at you fellow Mets fans). But, no one takes it to the level of Arsenal fans, whose season-long transition from irrational exuberance to despair is truly an amazing viewing experience. Here’s a good mashup of Arsenal Fan TV regulars.
These characters showcase the rich tapestry of London (as my single semester abroad there can attest), beyond the posh-centric picture projected across the Atlantic. Seriously, these guys are marvelous and bonkers and give Oscar-worthy performances – or BAFTAs or whatever – week-in and week-out.
On that note, let’s hand out some Arsenal Fan TV Awards to our favorite Gooners.
Best Use of Custom Beats Headphones as a Clothing Accessory While Being Accosted by Claude, a Balding Middle-Aged Englishman
Ty (Wenger In)
Honorable Mention to the hipster beard wearing his “Wenger Out” backwards while wearing a knockoff red Make America Great Again hat that says “Handsome Hustler”. Cheers to you, bruv.
Best Spontaneous Son, Chant, or Prayer
Kelechi, a two-fer, a prayer and a song! Legend.
Best Illustration of British Class Struggle
Real talk. Chris, you do not want to these hands from DT. You get the sense that DT (on the left, chin strap) keeps brass knuckles in his coat at all times, while Duke of Douche-ington Chris is out here at a football match in a dress shirt, a zip-up sweater, the world’s worst tape-up, and a smugness that screams, “I’m 800th in line for the throne!”
Most Frequent Use of British Slang in a Rant
Fam, this man goes by the name of Troopz (Wenger Out); what a gangster, blood. Fam. Blood. Troopz. His name is Troopz, fam. Blood, Troopz is the reason why Arsenal Fan TV is just the best, fam. Fam, without any question the best Arsenal Fan TV Gooner is:
That will do it for the 1st Annual Arsenal Fan TV Awards. I feel bad* ever making fun of Skip Bayless, Steven A. Smith, Mike Francesa, and LaVar Ball because it’s clear I’d pay attention to anything they said if they had English accents. Let Arsenal Fan TV’s original track “Clash of the Season” play you out. It’s British rap about Arsenal Fan TV debates, in which Arsenal Fan TV contributors Heavy D and DT rap battle a #WengerOut debate against each other. So brilliant. So meta. So Arsenal Fan TV.
* I do not feel bad, for the record. This was just a bit. LaVar Ball is insane.