Monday, May 10, 2010

Honour or Appreciation?

by Rachid

It's customary for teams playing at home on the final day of the season to take a lap around their pitch and greet their fans. It's become known as the Lap of Honour. In recent times at Arsenal it's been known as the Lap of Appreciation.

For some fans there seems to be a bit of ambiguity in the terms and I've noticed that our lap of appreciation yesterday was met by some Arsenal fans with negativity. I've come across people calling it an "embarrassing parade" as well as other similar terms. The real embarrassment is how people have misunderstood this whole custom.

Many people who have an opinion on this see it as the fans honouring the Arsenal players for their achievements. This is why they view it with such negativity, because they believe there's nothing there to honour. Perhaps if we'd won a cup or had a much better season where perhaps we reached a cup final and/or stayed in the title race until the final day then it would've been the players taking a lap of honour for the fans to thank them for their accomplishment. This is when it's a lap of honour. It's not though, for a reason I'm about to discuss.

As there was no silverware gained this season and things began to peter out at the end, it's actually a lap of appreciation. They're actually thanking the fans for sticking with them through thick and thin this season. It's also for acknowledging that they could've done better but didn't and it's their way of making ammends for how the season panned out, saying "We could've done more this season but we fell short and we're thankful that you're putting up with us".

Looking at the crowd on hand after the match leads me to the conclusion that it doesn't matter what people who are offended by the lap of appreciation think. Think about it. Those who truly appreciate their efforts would have stayed and it's their opinion that counts, not the fair-weather fans who only support their team when everything's going right. Not the fans who leave before the final whistle or the fans who boo the players because their performance hasn't exactly been up to par and it definitely doesn't matter what those who call themselves fans yet want Spurs to finish above us think. Those who stayed behind yesterday for it are the truly appreciative ones and they're the ones who see something worth appreciating in the players, given the fact that we've actually stayed in the title race longer this season, while having to cope with so many unfortunate injuries as well. It's these fans that the players should take a lap to thank, not the ones who don't truly appreciate what this team has gone through this season. If the non-fans had stayed around they wouldn't have been deserving of a thank you from the players.

It must've been a poignant event for those who were there because seeing some of the players walk around with their children served to remind us that they actually have a life off the pitch and they're humans like us. It reminds us that they must have put the season into perspective and realised what they could've done better throughout the course of it. They too must've been affected by the season taking the bad turn it took towards the end. Lets also note that many of those players who were out there were out injured for quite some time. It helps us to put things into perspective and realise that given our injury difficulties, to finish third and stay in the title race for as long as we did deserves some level of praise and appreciation.

Another thing I've noticed about this is that there was no William Gallas there. Why's that? Apparently he's off in France receiving therapy for his knee injury. There's word Arsene Wenger's going to meet him there to talk about signing a new deal. I'm a fan of Gallas' efforts this season but I know I'm only one of a minority of fans who want him to stick around.

Anyway, I've babbled on long enough now. Here's a video of the lap of appreciation:

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