How To Raise A Gooner


Imprinting On Your Club

Now bear with me on this…

You know that bit in Twilight when Jacob imprints on Bella’s new baby. Well, picking the team you will support for the rest of your life, or more correctly being picked by your team, is kind of like that.

“When a shape-shifter imprints on a specific person (ie club), he becomes unconditionally bound to her for the rest of his life. When it happens, the experience is described as being gravitationally pulled toward that person while a glowing heat fills him; the connections of everything else become severed, or simply secondary, and only the imprintee is left to matter, leaving the shape-shifter with a deep need to do anything to please and protect the person.”

Well, it’s EXACTLY like that. We are the Shape-Shifters.


Beckham Fumbles The Ball

 Exhibit “A” for Negligent Parenting

The Beckhams are negligent parents, thank God. One of those days when Becks and Skelettesse were out shamelessly promoting themselves, they left their son, Romeo, at home with a team of babysitters. At some stage it seems the boy got hold of the TV remote and wandered freely through the Football channels until his eyes fell upon a team that played flowing football in Red and White jerseys. Their players were handsome, quick and skillful. Their game was clean and classy. It was…love at first sight but their sleeves were all white.

A Brummy Gone Wrong

Another cautionary tale: My mate, Mark, is an Everton fan but he was supposed to be a Villa fan. He’s a Brummy and when he was 7 years old his dad brought him to see Villa play against Everton. As they were walking home. his dad says to him, “So, are you a Villa fan yet?” My mate said “yes” because he knew that was what his dad wanted to hear but he wasn’t. It was Everton who played the better football and Everton who won. They had the cooler shirts, their players looked more like heroic action men to him. You only fall in love with 1 football team in your life. Every other football attachment you form is like a grubby hook-up with a hooker in a motel that charges by the hour. (I watch a lot of TV.)

Ah, L’Amour…

You see it works like this. You’re 16. Your friends invite you to a party to meet their friend, Mary, because apparently you’d make a lovely couple. She’s from Dublin, too. A nice girl she is, and you’d have lots in common. Mary is dead keen to meet you. As she has an exchange student visiting from France, she also brings along Annie. Annie is shy, cute, tanned, in fact she is unbelievably adorable (to you.)

Exotic and hard to understand, she doesn’t get a single one of your lame jokes. But it doesn’t matter. You are completely and utterly besotted. Mary bloody who? “Oh yeah, sorry, nice to meet you, Mary. Now, how long is Annie staying with you?”

 The MRI Helmet Experiment

They say that infatuation and chocolate light up the same region of the brain. I had a theory along these lines so I rigged up an MRI helmet and brought it along to a few Arsenal games. I told the stewards I was with the medical team. I managed to persuade a few parents (by giving them beer) who happened to be bringing their kid to their first ever game to let the kid watch with the helmet on.

What did I discover, once I’d managed to tie down that stray electrical wire? The same area of the brain that lights up for infatuation also lights up when you’re watching your football team. When you’re a kid making that connection for the first time, it lights up like a Christmas tree.

Donner und Blitzen

What was the greatest day of your life? Guys, listen very closely here. You must practice saying this next line like your life depends on it:

“I’m torn between my wedding day to the most beautiful woman I have ever met and the birth of my son (or daughter).”

Yes, I know it’s not true. That’s why you must practice it, drill it and repeat it to the point where you almost believe it, if you are to be convincing.

I remember when I was a kid reading a comic that had a storyline about a Nazi spy pretending to be an English soldier. To flush him out, our hero jumped on him while he slept in the middle of the night, so that in shock the spy exclaims:

“Donner und Blitzen, was ist los?”

I decided to memorize this as a technique for future use for when the need would arise, as surely it would. Little did I know that it would be me, myself, who would become the two-faced deceiver.

Maybe you’re not married. Don’t switch off here, dude. It applies even more to you. You have time to avoid my mistakes. It’s like investing in a pension, the younger you start the better off you’ll be in the end. This is particularly for the guys who are still doing the girlfriend thing.

Look, we all know what your best day is/was/will be. It involves red shirts with white sleeves and some form of Silver Cup. This isn’t about truth; this is about survival. When your future wife leaps on you (AND SHE WILL) in the middle of the night to find out what your best day really was, you better not shout out “Donner und Blitzen!” She will do this, because deep in her soul she knows the truth, she just needs to be able to prove it.

But you are going to need this woman’s help. So don’t blow this moment. Why will you need her help? Because our greater purpose on this earth is to raise future Gooners and you don’t want this woman working against you.

How To Imprint on A Proto-Gooner

This is an area I have studied for my own life. I have so far successfully indoctrinated a wife and a daughter to our Gooner Cult.

The automatic assumption is that there is a lot of peer group pressure with kids picking teams. Not so much, in my experience. It doesn’t matter to you who your friends think you should fall in love with. Once you encounter the French exchange student, your “canard est cuit.” You don’t care that no one else fancies the girl, you think she’s smoking hot.

I was 7 years old, the year everyone at my school picked a team in the English Division 1. In my close group of friends there were 10 or so kids. The picks were Arsenal, Man United, Liverpool, Leeds and Chelsea because they were the top teams. It was 1971 and Arsenal were popular but there was no consensus in my crowd and not much peer group pressure.

For Boys

Here is the formula:

  1. The optimum age for boys is 7. But don’t let it get away from you. It can happen a year or two earlier, so don’t leave your boy at home unsupervised.
  2. Block all the football channels. Don’t worry about the porn channels, they need to know that stuff anyway.
  3. Then load the Digital TV Recorder with classic games where Arsenal won Silverware. When you play them, pretend they are live. You’re child must be convinced that Arsenal wins the cup every time they play. Also, select the games where Arsenal is wearing it’s coolest kits and the other team’s kit looks like kack. And make sure the other side are crap. You don’t want any unintended bonding for the plucky underdog team. Also, don’t pick games where we start by going a goal down. You can lose a kid in the first 10 minutes. It’s a dangerous world out there as you will see at the end 😉
  4. When you get to this season’s games, NEVER show them live. That can be disastrous. For every Chelsea 5-3 there’s a Blackburn 3-4. You can’t take chances with your kids.
  5. If your kid does burst in on you watching a live game and sees the score, tell him that it says 4-3 to Blackburn because they are counting the number of filthy tackles of the teams and that the Arsenal tackles were only done in self-defense to protect our youngest players. Trust me, your kid will believe you. You’re their father. They trust you.
  6. Emphasize the youngest players in the squad and tell their back stories. Your kids relate to them breaking into this intimating adults-have-all-the-say world. Think Jack Wilshere, Ox, Ramsey and Coquelin, not so much Benayoun and Arteta. Remember, it’s NOT about what YOU like. And remember, in the end everyone one of our players has a compelling story to be told. Learn them all.

When your son is safely bedded in as a fan having spent the first 3 years of his fandom supporting an always-winning Arsenal, a club who seems guaranteed of Silverware every season, then it is time to slowly break in some “unlucky” draws into the playlist. When that is negotiated successfully, mix in a loss every 10 games or so. But only a loss in which defeat was the result of an horrifically unjust refereeing decision that grabbed defeat from the jaws of victory. You should have plenty to choose from. Try anything with Howard Webb in it.

Note: I have requested a Youtube video from Culann Davies which is re-edited so that we, if fact, won the Champions League in 2006. I think it will be a big “seller” and not just with the kids.

For Girls
Now, recruiting girls requires a completely different strategy. Unless your daughter is super-sporty, the target age for indoctrination is in their early teens. They are boy-crazy at this stage, obviously. Guess what football teams are full of? Girls mix lust and football freely. We boys think this is terrible. We ridicule Twitter names like Mrs Ramsey, Mrs Wilshere, etc. as not being true fans. WE think they miss the point of the beautiful game. Yet, we spend almost as much time tweeting about girls and sex as we do about football. What hypocrites we are. When we go to a game, we go drinking before the match and chase girls. And afterwards we do the same again. Our motives are no purer. Girls are interested in the beautiful game, they just like it to be even beautifuller, and shirtless.

With my own daughter I was again similarly cautious. I started by mixing in pictures of our best looking players, shirtless. We have a good looking, youthful team. Let’s use it. Show her games against ugly teams. Focus on Wayne Rooney and Rio Ferdinand or John Terry and Petr Cech’s helmet or Luca Modric and Gareth Bale’s ancestry.

Do not, I repeat, do not let your daughter watch Fernando Torres play! Think like a teenage girl. It’s dangerous but necessary. I am personally horrified by how lusty teen girls are. They’re nearly as bad as boys.

Raising The Next Generation

Follow these simple steps diligently. Be always vigilant for you are always just a TV remote click away from disaster, and for the love of God, do NOT take your newbie to a live match. For that is the greatest folly.

OK now, get out there, Gooners, and get breeding. (I know you’ve been practicing for this moment since you were 12.)


Be Careful with that Imprinting!

Just for your delectation, here are a couple of pictures that popped up while I was googling “Arsenal Shirtless.” Like I said, it’s a scary world out there. Be careful.


This Article was originally posted by the kind folks at and is reposted by their kind permission. Admittedly, it was under a somewhat different title.