On being an Indian fan of Arsenal and Barcelona….


I am a fan of Arsenal. And I am a fan of Barcelona. and having been initiated into football via the magical skills of Diego Madarona in ’86 (weren’t you asking who/what is the godof86?)… I share the Eduardo Galleano – certified love for Joga Bonito. Having played the game at some level, I understand and appreciate a great defensive performance by say, Alessandro Nesta, and that is beautiful football for me too…. I love expressive, free-flowing football, and during the time I started watching the European game in all seriousness, the most beautiful, attacking and free-flowing football, in my opinion was played by Arsenal and Barcelona.

So I was, and remain a fan of Arsenal. And a fan of Barcelona.

And I have been in London for about a day in total, mostly in transit. And I have never been to Barcelona, though I would love to be in both of the places. Camp Nou would be fabulous, I know. And so would be the Emirates. I will like to visit the shopping mall which is in place instead of Highbury, and feel sad for I could never have been there to the stadium.

And then someone at Football365 screams abuse at fans like us, from distant India and Singapore and Hong Kong, for showering our support to clubs with whom we do not share locational or cultural synergies. And they call our ilk fair-weather fans and glory-hunters.

My real team will always be Mohun Bagan Athletic Club, in West Bengal, India. And yes, if you ask me, I go to the stadium to watch Mohun Bagan whenever I can, whenever the travails of holding down a job allows me to. A victory in the Indian National Football League can gladden the heart like nothing else. Like all other Mohun Bagan fans, the pain of defeat, especially to those bangladeshi refugees of East Bengal Sporting Club, can be at times just way too hard to bear. 

Yet, do understand that the football I get to see, supporting Mohun Bagan, is not really top drawer. But I really like the game! And European football is available on TV all the time (not the Championship, though)… so I naturally watch all the games I can, and due my preference for skillful, free-flowing football, I support Arsenal and Barcelona. And thus I have been supporting both the clubs for the last ten or so years.

And yes, if you ask me, a loss to Spurs (thankfully, that’s extremely rare) does not affect me so much that I feel for a while that this life is not worth living. Neither a loss to Real. They do affect me to quite an extent though. I do feel gutted after a defeat…. but yes, the pain you, North London / Catalunya dweller are dealing with might be more than that I face. And do realise, I know the feeling. I feel the same when Mohun Bagan loses to East Bengal. Or even to Mohammedan Sporting, rare as it might be though. Is that reason enough to spew venom at us? Really, when we started supporting Arsenal / Barca, we had no clue that we have to justify our support some day.

Look, I would love for Mohun Bagan to play football of such a level that there are fans of us in the farthest reaches of the world, but that is not to be. And you, dear north London / Catalunya dweller, would feel the same have you been in my position. And more fans would mean more money, and more money would mean better players in our team, and thereby more trophies. wouldn’t you like your team to win? As of now, as a Mohun Bagan man, I have to live with the limited glory of coming in the top 4 of the Indian National League after long last, and as a Gooner / Cule, I would like them to win the Premiership / La Liga, and meet in the finals of the Champion’s League. Well it’s happened once, and not too long ago…. I watched the match with friends, and I wore a Barca kit in the first half, and an Arsenal kit in the second.

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3 thoughts on “On being an Indian fan of Arsenal and Barcelona….

  1. I could not believe it when I started reading this entry. The reason I got hooked on to soccer was because of Maradona. 1986 was the first world cup I watched and after that it was all Maradona for me. Till day I support Argentina………even in their god awful 1990 campaign.

    As far as clubs were concerned, it used to be Napoli and Sevilla (yup, the little guy’s clubs). Now Italian league bores me.

    Have been an Arsenal supporter for about 20 years now cause one of my teachers when I was studying in India was English and he used to rave about Arsenal. When I moved to Thailand (which has a better soccer culture I started to follow Arsenal for the only reason that I knew no other club). But they played free flowing soccer so there was no reason to like them. Ditto barcelona. As far as Indian soccer is concerned, do not follow it at all.

    And like me, do you HATE AC Milan, ManU and Liverpool:))

  2. Hey FishOutOfWater- good to see the comment. And welcome to the blog!
    And we almost tracked the same trajectory, I must say! Napoli, Sevilla… that’s tracking Diego’s path. I too did so.
    And now, indeed, though, Sevilla is eminently supportable.
    I HATE Manure with a passion … I deeply dislike Liverpool, ditto Real, and am kinda okay with AC Milan.
    And yes, Serie A bores me too… especially for us who have started watching the game in the late 80’s and early 90’s, it is indeed painful.
    Thanks for the comment.

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