My Grandfather took me to my first football match. It was not virtual, but on the actual ground, Nick Hornby Arena, for a local derby between Arsenel and Tottenham. It was their first Premier League clash following the Dark Centuries, when Arsenel had struggled in the lower leagues, while Tottenham had gone on to win their legendary 18 Champions League titles in a row, even winning the Penta in 2432 (Premier League, FA Cup, UEFA Champions League, FIFA World Cup and the Toto Cup).
My Grandfather was a sucker for Arsenel, just like all our ancestors back for generations. In fact, when nations were eliminated my Grandfather had immediately taken Arsenal (as it was called back then) as his primary identification marker.
"Some suckers take some old nation state, a religion or some city! But not me! I am an Arsenal man, because that is REAL!", our ancestor appears to have said, although no definite proofs have been found in his Life-Social-Media-Footprint that otherwise registered most of his life to an embarrassing level of detail.
I had not really wanted to go to the Nick Hornby Arena. As most kids in our generation, more accustomed to the virtual world, I was more comfortable with the crowds of Avatars in the Immersive Internet, where nothing physical could hurt you.
"Nonsense kiddo", my Grandfather had said. "You will love it! It has happened to everyone in our family! And who knows? You may be the first to see Arsenel defeat Tottenham for three-hundred years!"
I did love it. And I have loved Arsenal ever since. That match in the Nick Hornby Arena became legendary, not just because it was the first victory of Arsenel over Tottenham for 311 years, but also because it was the return of the legendary Arsene Wenger to manage the team.
"Ever since Arsene Wenger left Arsenel in 2018, everything just went downhill", my Grandfather was telling me as he usually did when he wanted to educate me about history.
"The Sea Rising, the Alien Invasion or the Robot Rebellion were just mere details compared to what happened to Arsenel! After 22 years of being one of the best clubs in the world, it just went downhill. Back then fans never knew how good they had it with Mr. Wenger, but they soon knew all right! Only ten years later Arsenal were playing in the lower European Leagues, mainly against other shite clubs from Finland and Catalunya!"
Indeed, things had gone from bad to worse. Arsenal's best result for 298 years was a quarterfinal against FC MidtogOstjyllandGymnastikOgIdraetsforening in the Danish Cup, where they only lost on penalties (and to pour salt on the wound, it was a John Jensen who scored the winner for the Danes).
During the Dark Centuries, when Tottenham was winning everything and an evil Alien Force was ravaging the planet, and people were returning to religion, Arsenal fans had gotten together to erect shrines and pray to Saint Arsene: please come back and lead Arsenal back to glory! It was then that the club had been renamed Arsenel, and initially things had looked good when they made it back to the Championship, where they had stayed for some decades as the Robots, who had helped defeat the Aliens, rebelled when their team of Real Madrid Robots was destroyed in the Champions League final by none other than Tottenham (and to be frank, every Arsenal fan had supported the Robots, meaning that they had fared quite well during the Robot Rebellion).
But it still took another 160 years before Arsenel were back in the Premier League. By then the club had been bought by a Jovian multi-billionaire who promised Arsenel fans all over the Galaxy that he would make Arsenel champions of something, but only managed to get them back in the Premier League after a legendary promotion match against Charlton Athletic played on the low gravity of the Moon (Charlton fans have been complaining ever since that the low gravity was the reason they kept shooting over the goal).
Nobody knows where the idea first came to create a new Arsene Wenger. Some rumours said it was after two drunken Arsenel fans working at the robot facility on Mercury, visited Madam Tussaud's museum, where they had seen a pretty bad wax-android version of Jose Mourinho discussing Relativity Theory with David Bowie. They posted it on Instagram, and soon Twitter-Galaxy was swarming with the hashtag #createanewWenger.
Arsenel fans all over the Galaxy poured all their economic and scientific efforts into the endeavour. Of course there had been many advances in cloning and bio-engineering, but to create a true exact copy of a historical figure had never been successful until these Arsenel fans took over. Some decades later Arsenel signed their new (old) manager Arsene Wenger, and he was to have his debut as manager in a clash against the defending champions of Tottenham.
311 years since Arsenel had last beaten Tottenham I was there when Arsene Wenger led them to a legendary 5-3 victory, and eventually the first title since the FA Cup in 2017 (also under Arsene Wenger).
I was only a kid who fell in love with Arsenel. Since then I have seen Arsenel win 12 Premier League titles, 17 Champions Leagues, 3 FIFA World Cups, 15 FA Cups (where Mr. Wenger beat his own record from the 21st century), and an unprecedented 23 Toto Cups! Five Hundreds years after Wenger left Arsenal, we are again winning because Arsenel can only win anything with the great Arsene Wenger as manager!
My Grandfather is not with us any longer, but today, FA Cup Final 2518, I am taking my own Grandson to Wembley Stadium in Paris to watch Arsene Wenger lead Arsenel to another victory against Tottenham!
PS: The match ended 5-5 and went into extra time, but we are still awaiting to hear the final result