I’m a big football fan. I rarely miss a game of my beloved Arsenal, despite our seeming decline into mid-table mediocrity and transfer inertia.
I wake up at 3am to watch the games on dodgy internet streams; I read daily news and several daily blogs about the club as a part of my day’s schedule.
And yet, I’ve never been to an A-League game and I could count on one hand the number of games I’ve seen on television. But please don’t call me a Euro snob.
It’s not that I turn my nose up to a league of lesser quality as people have recently suggested to me; I really don’t care about the quality very much.
The sad truth is that it is the A-League that is foreign to me, more so than a competition played on the other side of the world.
You see, I’m from Canberra so I don’t have a local side, I don’t own Foxtel so I can’t watch games, my local paper, The Canberra Times, doesn’t print much on the league and the A-League doesn’t have a very good internet presence.
I’m simply not exposed to it; I don’t know about it, it is seriously vague and alien to me. In all seriousness, the only exposure I get to Australia’s premier football league is from SBS’ The World Game, and from right here on The Roar.
From a young age I was introduced to Arsenal and I developed an emotional connection. I feel that as a Foxtel-less, Canberran, I have more access to the Premier League than I do to my local league.
I would estimate that there is near to 100 blogs on Arsenal alone, there is a plethora of podcasts and forums and news sites, a greater presence in Australian newspapers than our local league and a greater presence on FTA television, which shows Champions League and Europa League games as well as Arsenal and Liverpool replays, and old classic games (not to mention Bundesliga and La Liga games).
I love the beautiful game but I am neither A-League fan or Euro snob. I watch suburban football dreaming about standing on a terrace and singing my heart out for 90 minutes surrounded by mates, and I have already shown a propensity for fandom, to being irrationally addicted to the travails of 11-men on a grass field.
I am a potential fan, a potential diehard that as of yet, the FFA has simply failed to tap into. I’m sure there are many like me.
But this is the good news, recently, I have sensed change. The vague and alien A-League has actually entered into consciousness, onto my computer screen in blogs and forums and Twitter, and on my TV and my newspapers.
I’ve seen the amazing Wanderers fans and I’ve witnessed the exploits of the great Del Pierro in the news and on Youtube. I still don’t watch games (I can’t), but I’ve noticed that SBS will be playing Friday night games next season.
After eight seasons, I’ve finally been exposed to the A-League. The ingredients for me to become a casual armchair fan are finally falling into place next season, I’ve began engaging with league and other fans in the cyber-world and I have been very seriously considering taking the three-hour drive up the Hume Highway to watch a game at Alianze or Parammata Stadium.
Surely an honest football fan without Foxtel or a local club could, up to this point, be excused from not engaging with the League.
But it seems to me that good administration, a new TV rights deal, an exciting black and red team in Sydney’s west and certain Italian man have, for me at least, blown away the facade of ambiguity.
In the immortal words of Bob Dylan, the times they are a-changing.