It’s hard to imagine a better return to London after my many years of absence. Hugs from friends old and new, a myriad of scrumptious dining choices (more mushy peas? yes please!), a proper summer downpour, a cup of Earl Grey*, and a private invitation to the Arsenal 125 launch at the Saatchi Gallery in London on Thursday night, August 18th, (yes, I’m late with my post, I blame jetlag.) courtesy of Nike and curated by Arena HOMME+. (Thanks Nike!)

125 years of Arsenal… Gooner football magic.

Unlike “football” in America (wankers in pads), Football in the rest of the civilized and uncivilized world is possibly the most beautiful game ever played. And with a history and fanbase like Arsenal’s, London’s most successful football club,  to celebrate such an auspicious occasion to mark 125 years, Nike and Arena HOMME+ have teamed up with Ashley Heath, and in turn,  Jason Evans, DoBeDo, and RSA/Greg Fay to create a beautiful mixed format exhibition that is up for one week for  public viewing. Yes, ONLY ONE WEEK. Or technically 3 more days since I’m a bit late… (apologies). Which means if you’re a Gooner, you’d best make your way down to Saatchi for a look.  THREE MORE DAYS… Go see it!

Football has always been a part of my life. I grew up watching matches with my dad and played on a youth team as a child;  the most memorable part of those younger years being my incredibly cringe worthy but some what adorable bowl cut Bruce Lee, buzz cut Bruce Willis, and permtastic Gilda Radnor hairstyles. (Thanks mom.)

As years went on, my relationship with football waned. At one point, I’m sure it flatlined. But over a decade ago, my passion for the sport was reignited by a random football match I saw whilst waiting for my flight in the airport. 90 minutes of sheer magic was what it was, and soon the football bug was back. Since then, throughout the footballing season, you’d find me on certain days, half asleep at 4 a.m. in the morning hoping to catch the early kick-off time somewhere in the world.

I don’t know what initially drew me to Arsenal, but whatever it was, made me a lifelong fan.  And as Arsenal celebrates its 125th year, you hear chatter and grumblings that we need the old Arsenal back. I try not to think about it. Arsenal had its moment in the sun for a long time, and though we’ve been struggling it doesn’t mean we won’t be back on top one day.

This exhibit gives us Arsenal fans a little kick in the pants and a taste of optimism. Helps us remember what it means to stand by our team through thick and thin. It doesn’t matter if we don’t always win. If that’s all we cared about, then we might as well be one of those fair weather Los Angeles Lakers fans that I despise. No. Arsenal fans, football fans have more heart than that… we always have.

The exhibition is in two parts and separated into two areas. One is filled with imagery of several current players and fans done by the photographic collective DoBeDo, focusing on the fan’s perspective.

The other part/area is a screening area with a 10 minute short film shot by Greg Fay for RSA (Ridley Scott Associates) Films, which follows three Arsenal  fans and portrays the spirit behind the team as well as highlights the limitless appeal of this sport to all cultures and ethnicities and ages. I watched the film four times…

*Don’t forget to pick up the very collectible Jason Evans FANZINE while you’re there.

I want this jacket…

Head over to check out the exhibition now open now at Saatchi Gallery.

Saatchi Gallery
Duke of York’s HQ
Kings Road

Public view: 19th – 23rd August 2011, 10am until 6pm daily