I’ve thought long and hard about writing this.
The Armchair Gooner’s purpose is to provide news and views about Arsenal. Yet, I consider it an extension of myself. Beneath the ridiculous and football-related veneer lurks many elements of my personality.
My Mum passed away on Saturday night aged 66 through complications associated with pneumonia. With Football nothing to me now but a trivial distraction of little meaning, my desire to blog is entirely absent.
But, those elements of my personality that creep through in my daily posts inspire me to write; to put something, anything down in words and get it out there – warts and all – for the world to see.
Perhaps some of you will feel it to be a touch self-indulgent, or a cry for attention. There’s little reason for me to be repelled by those claims as I am certain, to some, it will appear that way. However, I assure you that is not the case. Think of it as part of the grieving process. Human beings utilise many varied ways of purging themselves of pain and loss. This is mine.
Most of all, my Mum was always the one voice in many dissenters that urged me to pursue avenues such as this. She was someone impossible to dislike; a shoulder to cry on, yet still capable of me calling an “indolent little c**t” when the time called for it.
My love for football comes directly from her. I watched and cheered my first World Cup with her. Even with her relatively small frame, she would gladly kick a ball around with my friends and I when I was growing up, and mercilessly hack the shins of anyone foolish enough to try and regain possession once she’d stolen it.
During my playing days, she’d watch from the sidelines to praise my good deeds, mock my calamitous blunders and act as my greatest champion during moments of my self-doubt – never once failing to know exactly which mentality was correct to adopt.
She would like to know I’ve written this for her. That the people who pop by and read my daily drivel are aware of how important a figure in my life she was, and that she will be missed in ways no combination of words can aptly describe.
Most importantly, she would be happy to know that I have something that is mine, something that is flawed, silly, helpful, stupid and fun, but mine. She always used to ask about how “that football thing” was doing, and I’d reply, “Not too bad, it’s getting bigger every month”.
Without her, I wouldn’t be who I am. I wouldn’t be a blogger.
If you pop by here to read for more than just a bit of news, then you’re one of the people I do this for the most. You’re the most important readers I have. And, in a way, this post is as much for you, too. To let you know that whilst I may not return for a little while, I will be back. And I sincerely hope you’ll still be around when I do.
Thank you for all your support over the last year.
James ‘Raul’ Stokes.