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Two clubs, 16,000 kilometres apart: Supporting Arsenal & Adelaide United

By Allan Riley

For those who follow me on Twitter (@AllanRileyy for the sad few who don’t), there’s a couple of things you’ll learn about me today.

The first is that I confuse most of my following with pointless ramblings about very Australian things. The second is that I support two football teams separated by 16,254 kilometres and a 23-hour flight; Arsenal and Adelaide United.

The things that come from supporting two football teams from different sides of the planet are quite unique. While the concept may seem foreign to people from the UK, it’s very common in Australia.

There are similarities between the two clubs, despite their distance apart. Both clubs have a reputation for playing expansive football that is easy on the eye. In addition, Arsenal and Adelaide are currently bringing through a young crop of players from their esteemed academies, and both are managed by ex-players and in Adelaide’s case, a club legend.

Supporting two teams obviously means double the drama, excitement and adrenaline that comes with supporting a singular team. As someone who’s not able to watch much football outside of Arsenal games without ruining my sleep schedule, the opportunity to have more quality football at acceptable hours of the day is welcomed with open arms.

Another benefit is that I can escape the natural drama that comes from supporting a club as viciously unstable as Arsenal. Given the malaise the London club is in, watching a young, energetic, talented side in Adelaide play exciting, attacking football under the tutelage of a club legend filled with genuine stars has brought me a lot of joy. Whereas watching Arsenal games at times makes me feel like I’m slowly becoming insane, watching Adelaide United play is a relief.

There’s a bittersweet nature to that last point, however. And must be caveated by the fact Arsenal have indeed been playing much better football lately.

Arguably most importantly on a personal level, as Australia miraculously escaped the full effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, it means that our fans are lucky enough to be able to attend games. This is something that not many people across the world are allowed to do in this current climate. Naturally, I’ve had all kinds of jealous comments come my way, particularly in the WLYA writers group chat.  

In January, I was able to head back to Adelaide’s boutique home ground of 15,000 after not attending a single game since March 2020. I can safely say it was one of the best matches I’ve ever been to in terms of the experience. To have 10,000 people at the game was brilliant and I’d hate to sound like that one Chelsea fan who got memed into oblivion, but it was absolutely electric.

Of course, there are drawbacks. There are very few feelings worse than watching both your teams lose their respective games on the same weekend. It’s not something I’d recommend. It’s said that weekends can be ruined when your football team loses. When BOTH teams lose, it’s quite common to be in a bad mood for days after the games were played.

Supporting two teams from different sides of the globe can be strange sometimes. However, it can also be a roller-coaster ride of emotions that, at best, can put you on cloud nine and at worst, can leave you in a state of despair.

Like many of my compatriots, I support two football clubs and I'm proud of that. I care about both equally; I support both with the same amount of passion. Really, I'm just living the life of an Australian Gooner.

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