On Sunday evening, I watched the game at Quiver Lounge in Kitengela. At full capacity, Quiver carries like a million people. The atmosphere was electric, charged with the raw testosterone of football fans. Quiver, if they allow commentary during big matches, can truly become the best sports bar on this south Coast of Nairobi.
When Rashford struck that ball like it had insulted his mother, hiding it from Ramsdale like your girlfriends hide their sidepieces, the whole place went on fire. That was the loudest roar I have heard in all my football-watching life. With it carried so much passion, so much hatred, so much contempt, so much bravado. It was pure, unadulterated hatred for Arsenal. I was honestly scared for my life. Someone in Mtito Andei heard it. You probably heard it wherever you were watching the game from. When I say it was loud, take my word for it, no hyperbole.
What that roar did to me was kill my spirit. I was beside myself with genuine grief. If you saw me, you would have seen me at my saddest and most vulnerable. I was helpless. I was pitiable. It felt like Arsenal would capitulate under the usual bullying of Man U. It didn’t help that Rashford’s goal was top-drawer. I lost faith in Arsenal back in 2015, and have been a reluctant, but still loving fan, hoping that one day, Arsenal will win the league again. I have regained the faith, though still shaky. I had told a friend, I can take a defeat from any other team, even Everton, but not Man U. This game meant much more to me than any other fixture, not even the NLD.
I sat there, fidgeting, nervous, expecting another Man U counter, and I could not stand the arrogance of Man U fans. I was tired.
I was on phone in the lead-up to Nketiah’s goal, barely catching Xhaka’s pass that caught Nketiah’s head in good time, sending the ball to the net and I jumped so high like a Moran. However louder Arsenal’s celebrations were, they were not even half of the earth-shattering noise Man U made earlier.
The game became more exciting, but I was nervous still, despite Arsenal being in control. This was the most exciting Arsenal-Man U game in a long while, with traditional rivals under renaissance with two equally good managers. We went into the second half, cautiously optimistic.
The second half came and the game was on steroids. Then Bukayo Saka did what Rashford had done earlier, I jumped so high with my beer and by the time I was landing, I had poured all of it. But still, our noise was not even a quarter of what Man U had done. It seemed as if that three-quarters of the men and women at Quiver were Man U fans in their annoying jerseys. But I sat back wondering if we could hang on to that narrow lead. And soon enough, Man U headed home a goal and the place went on fire again. Game on.
Towards the end, I would have grudgingly accepted the draw, though it would never sit well with my heart. Then Nketiah struck again. Nketiah that I have the least faith in. And I saw only three minutes had been added, I relaxed. And we won.
Winning was good. But I will never forget that arrogant, impossibly loud, intimidating roar from Man U.
That is what football used to be.
There will be enough Chelsea fans, or City, or Liverpool fans to get even a tenth of that roar. Not in our lifetime.
In other words, I notice that there more girls now support Man U than I remember. There were days that girls supported Arsenal because of Theo Walcott, but yesterday, nearly every other girl in Quiver supported Man U. Can Man U male fans stop forcing their girlfriends to wear Man U jerseys? Supporting Man U is an awful decision for any human, and they shouldn’t force it on their spouses or children.
And girls, please, you look horrible in a Man U jersey. Ask anyone.