There are not many days in my life when I am jumping up and down with excitement. Yesterday was one. I was very animated. Had my vocabulary been strong, I would not have shied away from writing as many words as possible to explain what was going on inside of me. It was finally going to happen. What I was dreaming of for the last four years was finally on its way: my Arsenal Football Club jersey was coming, courtesy Myntra.com.
I ordered the jersey on 10th July, 2012 and the automated message told me it would be delivered in 10 days. A big wait that was, considering how impatient I am. But on the 11th July, a message from Myntra was enough to make me restless – your package will be delivered in 10 hours. That was good enough to make those 10 hours feel like 20 hours. The clock in the office almost stopped ticking; the sun was not ready to move from its position and things around me slowed down: It was that frustrating. But everything changed when I received the packet. The wait was over.
There it was – the majestic Red and White jersey. I opened the packet and could not remove my eyes from it for several minutes. It was so adorable you can easily see and admire it. Yes, for people, it is only a jersey, but for a fan, it is adorable. Everything looked like it was engraved into the red on the front. The big white “Fly Emirates” right in the centre, the ever-impressive Arsenal logo on the left side of the chest and the Nike swoosh on the right side – everything was inch perfect. Running your hands all over the tee was as thrilling as it can get. And it was there that I felt it.
I felt the love and passion for this team – a team that has been magnificent ambassador of this wonderful game for the last 126 years. I admit, I do not know much about the history and legends that came and left before I became a fan, but I felt what Tony Adams would have felt every time he wore this jersey to represent Arsenal. I felt how emotional this would have been for Thierry Henry whenever he kissed the badge on this jersey after scoring that all important goal. I felt how happy and delighted Dennis Bergkamp would have been, becoming an Invincible in this jersey. The accolades for Robert Pires, the heroics of Patrick Vieira, the magic of Ljungberg and the acrobatics of David Seaman: they all happened in this very jersey.
And then I felt bad. I was angry at guys like RVP (having decided to leave) and Walcott (who might leave for more wages), who are talking about leaving Arsenal for trophies. How could they say they love this club when they do not even feel for it? How can trophies be bigger than the club itself? For a change, I hate professionalism. Keeping your personal goals above the club, football was never about this. I Salute the guys like Tony Adams. For them, it was always that jersey. As he said- “Play for the name on the front of the shirt and the fans will remember the name on the back”. I can forget Cesc leaving us, he went to where he belonged and Na$ri was never a hero for the Gunners. But RVP and Walcott both spent seven years at the club and they were made here and taught football here – in this very jersey. And then discarding it for higher wages or trophies? Trust me guys, as a fan of the club and the sport, things could not be worse. You do not change and discard jerseys like you change your boxers. The respect for the shirt is vanishing among the light and brightness of cash (Did somebody say Manchester City and Chelsea?).
For some of you, the whole article might seem an exaggeration. What is a big deal in getting a jersey? You may be right; there is no big deal. In India, you can get replicas of these jerseys (with the name of your player printed) for as low as Rs. 500 or maybe less with little bargaining. I thought many times before about getting one, but it never happened. Sometimes it was the laxity on my part and at other times, poor exam results never encouraged me to ask my parents. Yesterday, I felt the moment was right. May be it had to happen this day. I really do not know how to put in words, but this jersey is my only priceless possession (yes, the same ‘priceless’ as in the MasterCard advertisements).
Thanks to Myntra (for delivering me this way before time and not testing my patience), thanks to Nike (for designing such a wonderful piece and show the world the perfect example of how Red and White colors should blend to create something this amazing) and the biggest thanks to Arsenal, who made me believe the importance of this jersey. For fashion and style, anyone can wear it but to wear it as a fan is a completely different experience.
I was thinking of getting my own name printed on the back before I received it. But when I saw it; I knew this has to remain untouched, unadulterated, unmodified, unchanged. And that very moment, I decided that I am going to wash it myself (over the top, is it?). You see, I can’t really trust the washing machine or the maid in this matter because for them, it is just another cloth. For the people, it is the western influence, the growing effect of globalization in our tradition-bound nation. For friends who have never heard of names apart from Manchester United, Real Madrid, Barcelona and Brazil, it is some football team. For the supporters of other clubs (like my roommate who supports Chelsea, it is something to envy). But for me, it is not just a club or a team. It is inexplicable.