The Arsenal fans who have taken their obsession too far

Ben Mountain

Forget January 1st, July 4th, October 31st and December 25th; those dates pale into insignificance for Arsenal fans in Nigeria. It’s all about December 28th instead. Gooners, pop it into your diaries now.

Yep, in a small town in Nigeria, Okene of all places, of course, ‘Arsenal Day’ is a real thing. Local residents get together and dress head to toe in white and red; hanging Gunners scarfs, flags and hats across the town as well, no doubt, as indecipherably raging in an Arsenal TV take-off, debating Wenger-in/Wenger-out and generally moaning about things without much cause. Only this year was extra special as it saw the villagers commemorate their 10th anniversary of ‘Arsenal Day’.

10 years solid for a small tradition 4,200 miles away from the Emirates Stadium itself must actually be quite an achievement. Incidentally, it’s almost the same amount of time that the Gunners have spent craning their necks up in fourth place.

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Quite how this celebration began, or in fact why it continues, is beyond us. Its origins supposedly came about when two villages joined to celebrate the seasons after the success of ‘The Invincibles’ and the North London club’s fantastic few seasons at the very top of the Premier League under the French gaffer, Arsene Wenger, as well as the grand opening of the mega-stadium that is The Emirates in 2006.

Since it began, however, it’s been all downhill for the Gooners. Jackets won’t zip up, stadiums have began impersonating the corporate equivalent to a brick wall and the legacy of The Invincibles has slowly faded away into a rarely heard song. 49, 49, blah blah blah-blah. Perhaps the tradition was a bad omen of some sort.

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We’re not complaining, though. If it’s keeping the boys from Highbury in fourth, Arsene Wenger permanently muttering his excuses with a culminating ‘err’ and the seemingly never-ending quest for a top quality striker going (despite the presence of Olivier Giroud) all events actually entertain us rather well. And, hey, Nigeria isn’t well known for its club-level football so why not take a day off and support the town’s adopted club instead? As long as the tradition doesn’t break into England, we aren’t complaining.

For us, it must have been a celebration at least better than Gunners and Nigeria forward Alex Iwobi’s trip to Winter Wonderland where his post on Twitter lead to some fantastic piss-taking.

Happy New Year ‘Arsenal Day’-Boxing Day, everyone!


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