Unai Emery…He’s One Of Our Own

A quick word of warning. This blog is more about me being a bit of a racist than it is about Arsenal.
So…I was watching the Boreham Wood game, and just as it kicked off I saw Unai Emery bless himself, Catholic-style, and I thought to myself “Ahhh, he’s one of us.” Which is somewhat an odd thing to think, given, you know, I don’t believe in God. Not in a Bolshie in-your-face aetheist sort of way. But I just stopped believing in God in my early 20s, gradually. Up till that I was definitely Catholic. The good kind. Like my dad. Catholic AND tolerant. The priests in my school were for the most part brilliant. Anyway, I digress.
What did this mean, “he’s one of us?” I saw one of our footballers bless himself recently during a game, maybe AMN? And I had the same thought. One of us. And it felt slightly reassuring.
It’s about time we got a couple of Catholics into the Arsenal team. There was a time we had 5 or 6 Irishmen playing for Arsenal. AND I LIKED IT. It shouldn’t matter of course. But in a somewhat similar vein, I now have a couple of Blessers at Arsenal, which is great.
The Ozil-style Muslim praying before the game is cool too. But I definitely don’t get the “one of us pray-ers” vibe that maybe I should, even though I’m not a pray-er. But that contradiction doesn’t seem to occur to me when the Blessers are out there representing.
I should actually be rooting for the aetheists in the team, I suppose, given that I don’t really believe in God. The camera never zooms in on them aetheists before a game starts so I’m not sure what they do for that segment. Perhaps they murder someone, or sodomize each other, or sketch cartoons of The Prophet. I’ll ask Tim Stillman  (cos he goes to matches, silly!)
Anyway, it’s all quite odd how I feel, even if it’s only micro-feelings that disappear almost as soon as they show up.
Maybe I’m a bit of a bigot. I don’t think I am. But then I wonder sometimes if I’m a teeny bit racist too. My wife says I am. But then she used to tell me I was an alcoholic just because I drank a skinful 4 or 5 nights a week. And look at me now!!! In your face, wifey!
My wife says I’m a racist because I’m a bit of a runner and I watch the Olympics and marathon races, 10Ks etc. And I love the sprints too. And I always root for the white guy. Not necessarily to win but to make the final of say the 100m. And then to actually be competitive. He doesn’t have to win but just not be shit. Like if the 7 black dudes are 10 yards ahead of the whitey I find that a bit depressing. But if one of the black dudes blesses himself before the race starts that cheers me up. Or if he has an Irish name, like Shaquille O’Neill, I like that. Especially if he seems nice, and not a dickhead. But Ideally I’d like the white dude to come 4th in a sprint for the line where they needed a photo finish to separate the top 4 so that, you know, the rightful winners got their places, and the white dude showed we were truly competitive.
I’m not joking either.
Same in the marathon: Kenyans are tops, and they should be. But couldn’t a white dude push them right to the line? That’s all I’m asking for. Though Mo Farah came 2nd in the London Marathon and that worked for me. He’s a Gunner. Also, many Kenyans are Catholic so that works too. In fact, quite a few of them were trained by an Irish priest, or more correctly a “Brother” named Brother O’Connell. So that’s pretty damn good. Now…would I prefer one of the Irish Brother’s Kenyan lads to win or some white American chappy? Probably the Kenyan. A Kenyan and 2 other Kenyan Catholics winning it with a white dude at least in the picture as they come up to the finish tape, thereby proving white dudes like me can run similar marathon times and compete (but we can’t) and still the best lad gets to win, so we’re all good.
OK. This algorithm is getting a bit complicated – the equation for “who is one of us” ie “one of me.”
It’s hard to know what the rules are. What MY rules are. If there was an Intergalactic Athletics competition and the 100m final lined up, and all the runners were weird looking blobby creatures in whom I could see no discernible similarities to my good self…Would I suddenly develop an affinity for the blob in lane 7 when the commentator shares the seemingly trivial fact that he is the only contestant that has a rectum, although he also uses it to breathe through? “Close enough! Come on, Number 7!”
France was one of the teams I was rooting for in the World Cup. As it happened, I liked the mix of the French football team. For all the African Team hype, people seemed to ignore the fact it had 5 white dudes in the starting XI – Lloris, Giroud, Griezman, Pavard, Hernandez. But whether it’s 2 or 4 or 5 or zero that got picked for the final, it wouldn’t have mattered to me cos I knew all the players as individual personalities. And I liked who I liked. I liked N’Golo Kante a lot. And of course, Olivier Giroud. And Mbappe – he’s a good kid. And I didn’t care about anything else
What I thought about the France vs Africa hype for the World Cup Final was…it’s fucking stupid. It doesn’t matter, does it? Don’t talk about it and if you do, don’t be “serious” about it. Keep it light. Some players and some supporters feel more or less attached to the identity of their ancestors’ country. Which is how the world is. But immigration and assimilation are serious and difficult topics in France and for the French. And I feel like the rest of us should stay out of it. What do we know of France? It’s different to the UK which is different to the US which is different to Ireland.
Then there’s the sexuality thing. If 2 International football teams were playing and 1 of them just happened to have a few gay fellas playing for them, I’d root for that team.. That’s the underdog factor. In fact, if whities were tops in Marathon running, I’d root for the black dude to win that race.
OK. So where are we now? I like underdogs apparently. This is a new wrinkle. Underdogs trump almost everything, even “my own kind” at times. Maybe because underdogs aren’t threatening?
But maybe if I saw the underdog as the first of many, say…the first of an inevitable “wave of immigrants” coming my way to dilute my culture and “my people.” Maybe then I’m not so sure I want him winning all our races. No pun intended. Yikes. The mind is a dark place.
When the Irish rugby team plays, I strongly root for the players in our team who come from my school. There are often 1 or 2. Now, those lads are very very much “one of us.” They are basically actually me. This is despite the fact that I specifically thought that about half the fellas in my school were absolute plonkers. And a good 20% were absolute bollixes. But I guess if the lad on the rugby team happens to be an absolute bollix, he is my absolute bollix. He is an absolute bollix who is “one of us,” the prick.
And then to really mess up my formula, there was this:
Irish Relay
The Irish Women’s relay team who just won their relay semi-final to qualify for the World Championships Final. Now if you know anything about Irish Athletics, we are absolute shite at athletics. Fucking hopeless. We appear to be running backwards in all the sprint events, at least historically. But here we are winning things. And look at them. They’re beautiful.
And you could click on it and there was a video. And you hear their voices. And the first girl on the left has a lovely Carlow accent. And they’re all laughing cos they are girls and they won together. And it’s music. And the second girl has a Dublin accent and it’s lovely. And the third girl has an African-ish accent with a bit of Dublin mixed in, and it’s lovely.
It’s all lovely. And I want to cry. Why? I don’t know but I do really but I won’t explain it because some things sound much naffer when you explain them and justice can’t been done to the feelings.
And then don’t we go and get silver in the Final?! We do! Ireland…winning at sprints! By coming second.
What does it all mean? Am I a teeny bit racist or bigoted? Am I worse than the rest of you?
I’ve no idea but I’ll keep looking into it.
In the meantime…Up Unai Emery! Up The Gunners! Up The Catholics! Up Mo Farah! Down with Margaret Thatcher! Up with Sinead O’Connor! Up with Barack O’Bama! Down with Boris Johnson! Up with the Irish Women’s Relay Team! Up with seeing us all as being “one of us!”