I don’t think there is a better or noisier group of away fans in the Premier League than ours.
At the weekend, while the commentators pleasured themselves as they murmured about the “famous Anfield atmosphere” our boys and girls out-sang the Scousers all game long.
They were loud, supportive and funny.
I loved the many choruses of backing for Giroud as he plays his way (slightfully painfully) into the EPL and the hilarious Andre Santos song (“he drives how he wants”).
But for the second week running there was also loud singing of a Robin van Persie song that refers to the untrue rape allegation made against him very early in his Arsenal career (“she said no, Robin”).
I was saddened to hear this particular ditty and I’m trying to figure out why it bothered me (I have felt no such qualms about the songs of abuse aimed at Nasri and Adebayor).
The first thing – and I fully expect some people to heatedly disagree with me about it – is that I feel van Persie deserves more respect from Arsenal fans than many of the others who have angled for transfers in recent years.
He was at the club for a long time and although his glass ankles shattered far too frequently he always tried his best when fit. Last season he proved to be an excellent captain as well as a top striker and played a massive role in getting us to third place. If Robin had had 10% less effective last season we would now be settling in for “Thursday night, Channel Five” to quote another song that was belted out with gusto on Sunday.
He made one silly statement to force through a move – no doubt based on poor advice from one of his management team – in which he dared to assume that his view of how the club was being run was as important as Arsene Wenger’s. But apart from that he was quiet and dignified and has said nothing negative about Arsenal before or since. Nor do I expect him ever to do so.
Some people will never forgive him for going to Manchester United, but I’m sure the club could have sold him abroad if we had been prepared to accept less money, so he doesn’t share all the blame for that one.
(Incidentally, the other galling thing about that transfer is that, seeing United’s urine-poor performance against Southampton, they would be struggling for top four this year without van Persie).
The second thing that bothers me about the rape song is that it is factually incorrect. He was arrested following an allegation that, on police investigation, was determined to be unfounded. He was never charged.
Now I know that terrace songs are not meant to be judged on their accuracy (although it is incontestable fact that the w*nky T*ttenham Hotsp*r did, indeed, go to Rome to see the Pope and he did, indeed, tell them to f*ck off), but this is the equivalent of the scummy fans from Old Toilet and Riot Hart Lane singing about the false claims made against Arsene Wenger in his first days in the Arsenal job.
And let’s not forget that when the allegation was made against Robin he was one of ours. To sing that song now just makes us look like hypocrites. It would be fine to ridicule him for an indiscretion committed while under someone else’s colours, but for something he did (or didn’t do) as a Gooner? Really?
Thirdly, it bugs me that we have adopted a song that was invented by opposition fans who wanted to abuse one of our players. Surely we can do better than tinkering with other people’s sloppy seconds.
Finally I’m against the chant because it feels low class. One thing that has always separated Arsenal, its players and its supporters from other clubs is that we have conducted ourselves better than them. Even now in an age of crazy oligarch spending the way we run our club is a clarion call for sense and integrity.
And in that context seeing Arsenal fans abuse their former captain and hero over an untrue rape charge he faced while he was under our protection just sticks in my craw (not sure where my craw is, but that’s where it sticks).
On balance I would prefer that we didn’t abuse van Persie at all (although I’m probably in a minority on that one) and I would love to see us give him a polite round of applause when he takes the field against us in recognition of what he did for us last season. That would be classy.
Having said that, if the away fans want to abuse Robin (and they, more than anyone, have the right to sing what they want) I would rather see them restrict it to the bit about him being a front bottom. Or wait until he commits some new indiscretion while belonging to Manchester United and lambast him for that.
Or come up with a new chant that has wit rather than classless insult – maybe something about him and Fergie, or him and Rooney.
In fact – how about we try to come up with a new van Persie song ourselves? Any offers?