That’s when I sign my life away marry my best friend, the love of my life, my soulmate. There’s just one problem.
He’s a Spurs fan.
Not even an armchair fan who delights in claiming to be Tottenham, just to wind me up. No, he is a fully paid up, card-carrying, season-ticket-holding Lilywhite with a deep-rooted hatred of Arsenal.
In short, it’s about as bad as it gets.
You’ll be pleased to know this week’s column isn’t an ode to my traitor of a fiancé – for one, we’re not that kind of couple and for two, this is an Arsenal website after all.
Instead I thought I’d take a brief look at why I’m not running for the hills at the idea of spending the rest of my life with someone who wants pretty much the exact opposite to me for roughly ten months of the year (even the remaining two months are questionable – he was hardly thrilled when we signed Ozil or Alexis for example).
1. Bragging Rights
When it comes to football, whether it’s about an isolated match, league position or trophies, it’s always sweet to win. And it’s all the sweeter for comparisons.
Some of my lowest moments have come as a result of Spurs – the 4-4 draw at the Emirates and the 5-1 humiliation at White Hart Lane in 2008 (even if it was only in the Youth Cup*).
*Otherwise known as the League Cup
However, these moments also paint a bigger picture – a draw and loss in a minor cup are considered low points.
Two 5-2s, various FA Cup eliminations, negative spirals and of course the first part of a League/FA Cup double celebrated on their own turf – these high moments are beyond comparable.
It’s good to win, but it’s better to beat someone else (just ask Jack Wilshere). And Arsenal have been beating Spurs for some time – 20 years last time I checked.
2. Interest in lower league positions
Linked to point 1 above – my enthusiasm for lower league football is limited, probably due to being spoiled my entire life by an Arsenal side which plays picture perfect football. Even the mid table echelons of the Premier League can occasionally fail to pique my interest, and this is where my other half comes in.
When rivalries in your house escalate to the point that it’s cause for celebration when Tottenham capitulate to Tim Sherwood’s Aston Villa even as St Totteringham’s Day approaches, you know you have problems but it does make life more interesting.
And the way Spurs capitulate on a regular basis, it’s an ongoing source of entertainment. Never a dull weekend, let me tell you.
3. Stadium woes
How everyone laughed at us, how they mocked us when we had to sell our best players to complete our (self-funded) move to the Emirates in the noughties. Newham Borough Council are heavily subsidising Tottenham’s move to a newer, shinier and just as barren White Hart Lane, and yet they’re still starting to feel the pinch.
If ever you needed vindication that our austerity period was for a reason, then living alongside someone who bemoans their inability to compete financially is more than enough to convince me that we did the right thing.
Plus, there’s Milton Keynes. It’ll give me some nice free weekends when he has to travel up there for games.
4. Greener Grass – Players
Then of course there is the varying standard of playing staff who grace the respectful stadiums to which we pay weekly visits. Whenever I’m watching Olivier Giroud miss a chance, or Per Mertesacker have a rare off game, I remind myself that things could be worse. A lot worse.
Every other week, my Spurs-spouse-to-be makes the round trip to watch the likes of Soldado, Bentaleb and Chiriches.
Of course, it’s not necessary to live in such close proximity to a Spurs fan to delight in this contrast – after all, the “You sold Bale, we signed Mesut Ozil” song came about for a reason – but it does make that reminder a little bit stronger and a little more frequent.
Sitting next to someone with their head in their hands can really focus your mind on what you have.
Count your blessings and all that.
5. Greener Grass – Implosions
Finally, something that drives most Arsenal fans up the wall is our ability to implode. On our day we can mix it with the best in the world – just think of how a mixture of luck, refereeing and away goals prevented us eliminating Barcelona and Bayern Munich in seasons where they went on to win the Champions League trophy.
Too often though, we turn in drab performances at critical times and leave ourselves mountains to climb, whether it’s through a poor start to the season or giving a first leg lead that we just fail to overturn.
However, there’s one team that implodes on an even more regular and more spectacular basis than Arsenal – Tottenham.
There were ten Tottenham points in gap (and there could even have been 13, at 2-0 up…) but then it all went horrendously pear-shaped. Living with someone who is so fatalistic about Tottenham’s season throws our own worries into stark contrast.
Two negative spirals later and it all adds up to one thing – Tottenham exist to make us feel better about ourselves.
Not for everyone
Of course, dating a Spurs fan isn’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea. On the rare occasions when things do go their way it can be unbearable, and in those moments I’m fortunate to be able to escape to the Gooner haven that is my parents’ house. However, it’s also not the life-ending catastrophe you might assume.
Next time you bump into someone with conflicting loyalties, Charles Dickens has some comforting words: “There are dark shadows on the earth, but its lights are stronger in contrast.”
After all, the sunshine in my life is Lilywhite. And I wouldn’t change him for the world.