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Today’s post is not the usual blog but is the entry for “Are You One of Crazies” competition organised by Carlsberg, Nuffnang and Churp Churp. Here goes.

Starstrucked

I would readily admit that I’m one who’s crazy about football, if not the craziest. I guess there’s no better place to start than how it began. It begs the question, of all sports, why football? I got hooked when I was still just barely 10 years old. It was an English FA Cup semi final match in 1991 which enthralled a bright eyed boy in Malaysia. One of the teams that played in that fateful match became the love of my life.

While I didn’t exactly went into it full force, my passion was nevertheless fired up. I began scouring the local newspapers for that little bit of news regarding football and especially the team they call The Arsenal. Back then, I knew there was no internet and everything depended on the news editors choice. Even the chance to watch live football on television was scarce with terrestrial station only showing it on occasions before the advent of satellite television.

I can still remember the cigarette sponsored advertisements and “Road To Wembley” theme song as I sneaked out from my bedroom to the living room in very quiet fashion to watch those games. Why? Different time zone meant that matches would be very late or very early in the morning and being a school-goer, my parents were very strict on sleeping time.

From young, football plays a very big part in my life. Not only for teams playing few thousand kilometres away from me but also my local team. Born and raised in Perak, I was always going to be a Seladang fan. Going to the Perak Stadium on match days was tiring. Mostly because of the cheering (and the expletives whenever the referee gets a decision we think is wrong) but also because my dad would drop and pick me up a distance away from the stadium to avoid the traffic jam.

The most memorable moment when it comes to Perak was the Malaysia Cup final in 1998. Thankfully the match was right after my SPM finals paper and I was allowed by my parents to join a group of friends down to the capital, Kuala Lumpur, for the final. The 20 of us were part of a 100,000 crowd witnessing the first ever cup final to be played at the then newly opened Bukit Jalil National Stadium. That is ended with Perak lifting their first Malaysia Cup in 28 years only made it all worth while.

As I grew older and the internet became faster and faster, football engulfed my life more and more. However, the attention tipped the scale more towards the foreign side of the game than the local one. Not having to rely on the monthlyMatch magazines from the U.K., the world wide web allowed me to access information quicker and easier. It grew my affection towards Arsenal but it also opened a whole new level of world football to me.

This was about the time, satellite television became more and more common and with it, more and more football were shown, especially the Premier League. It wasn’t just about the availability of games to watch but also the availability of club jerseys to be procured. I started my collection in 1998, forking out RM140 that I’ve saved a whole year for what turned out to be the kit worn during Arsene Wenger’s first league title with Arsenal. Over the years, I’ve amassed quite a number of jerseys. Add in those magazines, books, dvds and other merchandises; it was not a small sum of money spent.

Plenty to choose from

Not a sight for sore eyes

I think my life would turn out very differently if not for Astro. They have brought football to us for a price. A sum that I will always pay. Without them, I would never be able to satisfy my thirst for football. Weekends nights are spent with friends between August to May. Every 2 years, even the months of June and July are spent with friends instead of family. It is because during those times, football is on. I don’t hide my passion for football and made it known to my family who are kind enough to accept that part of me. Every event is catered so that I don’t miss any Arsenal matches. One can only be grateful of such arrangements.

I don’t miss matches and especially not when it comes to Arsenal. Just this month, I can remember going to a friend’s wedding dinner. Someone quite close from my university days. Yet, it clashes with an Arsenal match against Norwich. I went early to the dinner and sneaked out right before kick-off. By the time the match ended and I returned to the dinner, most guests were already leaving the party. Sometimes people should know better than to arrange any events on the same night as Arsenal. I’ve not missed an Arsenal game that’s available on television for over 5 years now.

Earlier this year, I did my personal pilgrimage to the home of football, the Emirates Stadium. Going alone, halfway across the world can be daunting but it was an experience I would swap for no other. It has always been my dream to watch an Arsenal game in the home stadium and now I’ve done it. If life ended then, I would be satisfied. What it even sweeter was the acquaintance I met there.

Hearing the Champions League tune in person is something else

Twitter is where I hang out socially on the internet and there I talk football as well. Ok, fine. Maybe not 100% of my tweets are about football but I can guarantee it won’t be any less than 90%. With followers from all over the world, it was inevitable that there were a lot of them in London as well. Meeting up with these friends (people I’ve chatted with but never met in person before) and the warmth they showed to a stranger/foreigner really kept me warm despite the cold and windy conditions.

Away from home but not a stranger

However, while others here usually goes to sleep after the end of the Premier League matches, the night continues on for me. Weekends usually mean sleeping at 7 in the morning the next day. This is because, as long as there’s a live match on, I would invariably find myself watching it. La Liga, Ligue 1, Bundesliga or Serie A, I just love to watch and learn. A lot of people complain about how slow some leagues are, especially about the Italian but it’s something I enjoy as well. There’s a lot of tactical knowledge and understanding of the game which can be picked up watching those games.

When I add that to the months — years I’ve spent on playing the Championship Manager and then the Football Manager, I’ve built up quite a database of knowledge when it comes to football. I know players in far off leagues and what their history is like. None of my friends would ever want to take me on when a difference of opinion is raised on a subject that is football (though sometimes, I was bluffing my way through). However, having interacted with people all over the world, I’m humbled by some whom I have great respect and massively better knowledge than me.

For the last 3 years, I’ve kept a football blog going. Mainly, it is about Arsenal. However, when the right topic comes and when the season touches breaks, I do contemplate to write about non-Arsenal matters of football. To do it every single day is not easy. It takes dedication, perseverance and diligence to do it. It’s easy when there’s a lot of stories on the internet which one could use as the points of discussion. The harder part is finding that something different to write about when there’s nothing to report. For me, it started out as an avenue for me to put out my thoughts, rants and ideas about Arsenal. For me to maintain it this long without long breaks is a massive achievement.

Eat, sleep and always thinking about football

Football crazy? To lose sleep, time with friends and time with families just for the sake of football is not something many can do. In most people’s definition, I am definitely one who is crazy about football.

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