A trademark of 1ND2Ou since the summer has been the championing and highlighting of fierce passion for our great club around the world. After a long break sine the close season Global Gooner Passion bounced back with @Indocannon last week who wrote a beautiful piece on his journey into Goonerdom in Indonesia. This was partly prompted by the club’s commercial announcements and the forthcoming tour to that country.
Today I have no particular reason other than I wanted to post this guest blog from one of this sites closest friends. Very few readers, if any have commented more or interacted more with me as a blogger than Nir Adhikari, better know to those who follow him on twitter as @adhi_suzu. I must say at this point not enough of you do follow him and if you do you will warm to him as I have in the past year. Anyway Nir has been studying Hotel Management and no Business Studies at university in Cyprus for 5 years but he is still very much a proud Nepalese Gooner….
Before I mention the beautiful game, let me have this opportunity to thank Dave Seager. Your blog has the major influence on me and a deciding factor in me trying to write something. Let me warn you about my writing abilities in a second language though. It is probably about as good as John Terry’s dribbling skills or his footballing sense in general
I don’t remember exactly when and how I get attached with the beautiful game, but first thing in my memories about football is Brazil’s 1994 world cup victory over Italy. Although I must confess I did not see that match. At the time I was 7, but I heard lots of debates among the elders about how brilliant Brazilians were at playing football and some were arguing Baggio should’ve scored that spot kick and, so on. In my part of the world, those days, mostly it was Argentina for the fans, then there were reasonable number of Brazil supporters, and some supported Italy. Though the trend has changed now and more and more people are supporting European nations and people are getting familiar with club football as well.
So where is my part of the world? Having born on the rural part of Asian sub-continent, a country called Nepal, I wasn’t familiar with the world of club football. I used to watch football matches on television, whatever and whenever they broadcast it. There was only one channel NTV (Nepal TV) national television and it rarely showed any sort of football matches (don’t you dare think about internet already, I hadn’t yet touched a computer). Among the football matches being broadcasted, most of the time it used to be Martyrs Memorial League (MML). But unlike most other country’s leagues as you would know them, MML used to be fairly short, three months maximum. Other than that, it was SAFF championship every two years and World Cup every 4 years. When first time in the history of NTV, they broadcasted the knockout stages of European Championship, in the year 2000, I followed it closely, staying excitedly up the whole night alongside my big brother. We were having an amazing time that I enjoyed more than the world cup itself 2 years earlier.
I was particularly impressed by the footballers such as Edgar Davids, Nuno Gomes, Francesco Toldo, David Trezeguet, Thierry and Sylvain Wiltord in addition to other household names whom I knew from world cup 98. France won it in golden goal against Italy and soon they were winning a spot in my heart. From then on, whenever I heard some news about European football or club football, I was paying the upmost attention keen to learn more and more. At the end of the evening news on NTV, they used to include a bit of sport news and most of the time it was Karate or Taekwondo. However, they were occasionally mentioning the results and standings in the Premier league and La Liga. This is how I was introduced to Arsenal. The consistency of not loosing week in week out only increased my curiosity about the club. By the time I knew Thierry Henry was playing for the Arsenal; I felt I had been destined to be an Arsenal supporter. Strangely enough I didn’t know how much I liked Titi before I knew he was an Arsenal player. It was one of those weird co-incidences, but how sweet it was to be for my life!
By the time I completed my higher secondary education and moved to city, I was always searching for Arsenal news and started following matches. It wasn’t until season 2005/06 that my friends and family knew about my secret love. The victories over Juventus and real Madrid felt as sweet as anything could ever be. I wasn’t sure if we will win the final but after the match I was one of those moaners saying (if my aunt had balls, she would have been my uncle.) We had a chance was it not for Lehman’s red card. Few things frequently came in my head during my earlier days as an Arsenal fans: Why were these newspapers and media branding us as a one man team because of Henry alone? The matches I was watching the best of the things were running through fabulous Cesc as well. Why are we always second favored by referees and how can some people follow different clubs when there is existence of Arsenal and why and how and why…?
There were not too many posters or pictures available in Nepal, but whatever I could find, even the piece of picture attached with news on daily newspaper, I was collecting all and sticking them on the card boards and then on the wall of my bedroom. I also began getting more involved with the Arsenal society in Nepal.
As I have been living abroad for last few years, I asked a fellow gunner about the present situation as an arsenal Fans in Nepal and here is what he has to say in his own words:
“We dont have a different Arsenal pub, but we do have a group called ARSENAL NEPAL. We sometimes rent a pub or restaurant for some match screenings. We do the screening in different conditions. 1. If it is a high profile game like CL or game against another big Premier League club 2. If there is electricity cut-off (load shedding which is a curse in Nepal, approximately about 12 hours daily at the moment) 3. If ESPN or other sports channel broadcast other games other than Arsenal. So you can say we don’t do the screening of all arsenal matches. We also produce our official Arsenal Nepal shirt within certain period of time. Usually every 3 months and at that time, we gather and share photographs.
Also, we conduct several football matches under our own name as Arsenal Nepal and if you are a member and wish to play you may play 15 or 20 minutes as per your stamina. Not all may play the game but most of the members come along to cheer their group. We rent the grounds for such games. We play against other small clubs and also against Man U Nepal, Liverpool Nepal, Bayern Nepal, etc. So the gathering is done there too and yes pictures are shared there as well. Some of the older lads in our group often go to Emirates tour and they as well share their experiences and pictures of stadium, players, etc.”
From the start of season 2006/07, my family had television cables with some sports channels as well. I started reading and watching everything related to Arsenal. There were few football shows in ESPN/STARSPORTS namely Kickoff (BPL quiz), Football Focus with John Dykes, Nokia Football Crazy, Come have tea; let’s talk football (John Dykes again), being the peak of them. I specially liked Nokia Football Crazy as one of the host, Jamie Yeo (probably she isn’t in twitter, did my best to find her but was unsuccessful) was a Gunner and Titi fan girl and she was talking about Arsenal time and again (needless to mention she was very beautiful and liked sex on the beach besides Arsenal and Titi). DON’T WORRY GD66 FOUND JAMIE:
Moments to recall from the season besides our move to the Emirates Stadium were Cashley-Gallas swap, Gilberto Silva scoring first ever goal at Emirates and Diaby’s leg break on the last day of season. Personally Titi’s 94th minute winner against Man Utd was the best moment of the season while losing to Hammers at home (our first lost in EPl at Emirates) being the worst feeling. Not to forget our loss to Chelsea in Carling cup final.
The following season, we had signed Rosicky and Eduardo, both of whom were very impressive and we were the most exciting team in England (if not in the whole of Europe). However the departure of Titi was the all time low feeling. An injury time equaliser vs. Man Utd at home in the thrilling 2-2 draw is the sweetest memory from the season. But this is the season which presents me with the all time worst memory: the horrific leg break of Eduardo resulting into our freefall in the Premier League standings from top to third from match day 25 (when we were 5 points clear) to the end of season.
Wish all were playing together
Ever since, it has been the seasons to remember for few things and, to forget for few other things. Depressingly since I’ve watched Arsenal, I have yet to see my players lifting a trophy, apart from couple of Emirates Cups. Every year, I have seen us being undone by referees, misfortunes, or sometimes just not being good enough. I’ve seen us being criticized by media and some pricks (so-called football experts.) Most of all, our best players have been cherry-picked by Barcelona or Manchester(s) over the years. We could’ve been the genuine Premier League and Champions League contenders’ year in year out was it not for the departures from Emirates. Imagining the likes of Cesc and RVP alongside Wilshere, Cazorla or Podolski in an Arsenal squad gives me as much satisfaction as the agony of not winning trophies. Departures and arrivals are the part and parcel of the professional football. We’ve established ourselves as one of the biggest football clubs, competing in Europe’s elite club competition while still being in the middle of transition. As a fan, I’ve learnt to be excited with victories and to live with the losses (although very hard at times). Never mind I am trophy-less for now, I am still a proud Gunner.
Nowadays there are huge numbers of football fans in Nepal and the EPL is the favourite for most of them. Arsenal Nepal supporters club is equally popular and their Gunners. Arsenal Nepal logo is supported by a base of Khukuri cross. Khukuri is the national weapon of Nepal, famously used by the Great Gurkhas, including in The War of Falklands, helping British soldiers. In case you don’t know, here is what Diego Maradona had to say after winning world cup 1986: “We lost the war of Falkland because of Gurkhas; thank God they don’t come on the ground of football.” Here are the Nepalese Gunners hoping to transform the power of Khukuri to the Arsenal FC. Fans are simply devoted to Arsenalism in this country of religious importance.
Arsenal is the way of living now for me and most of my friends. Geographically being in the middle of cricketing powerhouses, Nepal boasts some of the most passionate football fans in the world. Watching Arsenal Nepal supporters club participate in the Supporters Club Trophy in season 2011/12 at Emirates is there alongside the best memories of being an Arsenal fan. Arsenal is the purest of the term you can use to describe the beautiful game.
Thanks Nir for your beautiful insight. I have had many Gooners from around the world share their stories but I am not sure anyone has had it quite so tough when it came to seeing Arsenal live on Tv as your good self. Nir has also asked me to thank his friend Sujan Pyakurel who is active with Arsenal Nepal and who assisted in providing the current with Nir absent these past few years. Please follow @adhi_suzu as Nir deserves way more like minded individuals to interact with.
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