As Gooners, we must address the reality that we might well have become the most distasteful fanbase in the Premier League.

Until relatively recently, I was weighed down with an irrational dislike of Liverpool fans.

I found them unbearably chippy, possessed of what I considered an unmerited sense of entitlement given their club’s rather mediocre status in the Premier League era. To me, they were deluded, bleating hysterics: their zealous belief in Liverpool’s almost mystical importance was not merely unjustified, but also baffling and frustrating.

Internally, I placed them top of my list of Annoying Fans of Other Clubs, miraculously ahead of even Spurs, Chelsea or United supporters.

A year or two ago, I realised I no longer held such a negative opinion of Liverpool fans. Quite the opposite, in fact. Perhaps it had dawned on me the true significance of a powerful, (once-)successful club within a downtrodden, often marginalised city. Perhaps the revelations around Hillsborough made me appreciate what a genuinely vital place the club had in people’s hearts. Perhaps the team’s past achievements had crystallised in my mind, my perception of their remarkable campaigns of the seventies and eighties shifting from bygone glories to admirable, even enviable, feats of sporting excellence.

Or perhaps it had simply become abundantly clear that they were no longer the pre-eminent moaners and whiners in the land.

The Angry Gooner

Because when it comes to delusion, hysteria and zealous intensity, there’s a new big boy on the scene: the angry Gooner.

A seething, heaving band of shrieking paranoiacs has slunk from the deepest pits of Social Media Hades and slithered into the wider consciousness of the global Arsenal nation. This desperate, gurning horde has easily displaced Merseyside’s finest in my mind as the most irritating group of fans around.

And their madness is now reflecting quite horribly on the rest of us.

As Gooners, we must address the reality that we might well have become the most distasteful fanbase in the Premier League.

We don’t have the malicious, National Fronty grubbiness of some of the more “old school” Chelsea or West Ham fans; or the (success-induced) arrogance of United fans; or the venereal bloodlust of Stoke fans. But what we do have is Arsenal FanTV, Piers Morgan, sad little banners and, perhaps worst of all, those godforsaken f**king flybys.

Remember when we scoffed as a crew of morons paid for a plane decrying David Moyes to fly over Old Trafford? Remember when we sniggered at Chelsea fans for holding up A4 pages demanding Rafa Benitez leave? Remember when we laughed with condescending amusement at the bedsheet banners up at Newcastle?

Well, the more intellectually subnormal among us appear to have observed these pursuits from afar and simply thought, ‘That Looks Like a Good Way to Express My Feelings’.

Sure, these people can scream loudly and incoherently about their right to protest. And, certainly, everyone does have a right to protest, but are they in any way aware of how foolish they look? Do they realise that less deranged observers – and the people carrying out these heinous, wasteful acts of “protest” can surely only be severely deranged individuals – see them as nothing more than, well, arseholes?

There isn’t really a better way of putting it. At least not in words they can understand. These people are arseholes. Unhinged, pathetic, embarrassing human beings; unhinged, pathetic, embarrassing Arsenal fans. The dregs of our Arsenal nation. I’m ashamed of them, and so should be every other Gooner in their right mind.

They make us all look like idiots.

I mean, really: why would you do something like arranging for a plane to fly over a stadium with an earnest little message flapping in the breeze behind it? Why on earth would you do such a monumentally stupid, profligate thing? Why?

If you were part of this, or support such an act: what is wrong with you? Seriously, what in the world is wrong with you?

I cannot find a single redeeming aspect to these activities, so I don’t see that there’s any particular need for balance here. What they’re doing isn’t a political protest, or a civil rights protest, or anything with even tangential value to the human race.

The utterly ludicrous nature of it all really needs to be hammered home: They’re flying planes. With messages. Over a stadium. Because they don’t like the manager of a football team.

If it wasn’t so thoroughly nauseating, it would be humorous.

So, fellow Arsenal fans, this is us now.

This is what we’ve become, thanks to what we once saw as the lunatic fringe mutating into a larger, even more disreputable group.

You recall how ridiculous and small-fry UKIP seemed all those years ago? Well, now you have an entire country tarred with the Brexit brush. Of course, it’s not all of us – not even close – but you’re defined by the best and the worst of you, not those in the middle.

And, unfortunately, the worst of Arsenal supporters are now pretty much the most unpalatable fans around. I hope we’re proud of ourselves.