Earlier in the week I was asked to define 7amkickoff. It was a simple enough request: “Can you send me a sentence or two summing up 7amkickoff?” but, as it turns out, defining yourself is not that simple.
It should be simple. “Who am I? Why am I here?” is the question that everyone asks themselves soon after they realize that they are, in fact, a person and that they are, in fact, “here.” Hey, wait, I’m my own person? What kind of person am I? If there were a terrace full of people experiencing an existential crisis they might perhaps chant: Who are we? Who are we? Who are we?
And it was easy to define myself when I first started writing — I was “The Arsenal Blog From An American Perspective” — because like a young kid just realizing that you are a person, you start with a basic concept like “I’m American!” and then try on a lot of different ideas until you settle on the ones that really fit you.
In my Arsenal Writing Youth, I was a “wild eyed optimist” (factually, you can’t spell “optimist” without “tim”). I was a cranky anti-Arshavinist (I still am). I was a pro-Wengerist (still am). I built my own statistical database (still use it). I wrote poems like a teenage girl (still do). I built the “7amkickoff Index” — a data driven style of writing borrowed from “Harper’s Index” (which is now my By the Numbers column on Arseblog News). And I wrote travelogues that literally tens of people loved (still do).
But since then I’ve added some contributors and just as important readers who add to the collective conversation that is 7amkickoff: Grimbo and Chary came first. Grimbo filled with righteous sanctimony and Chary with pragmatic match day reportage. And now we have Les Crang and Arsenal Letters adding their pieces to the mix, Les with the wonderful pieces on Arsenal’s history and Arsenal Letters with the insightful match previews. And 11 Cannons (not listed in the official Who Are We section of the blog, yet) who is going to add artistic flair to the site with some very special graphics. And before this starts to sound like the epilogue from The Breakfast Club:
Dear Readers, we accept the fact that we had to sacrifice a whole Tuesday at 4am for whatever it was we did wrong. But we think you’re crazy to make an essay telling you who we think we are. You see us as you want to see us… In the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions. As a…
I guess I will actually have to get down to the business of defining “7amkickoff” — a sort of mission statement if you will.
Here’s what we are:
We are forward thinking — Have you heard the one about how Arsenal haven’t won a trophy in eight years? Me too. I’ve read Arsénal: the making of a modern superclub and I think that’s about as thorough an explication of the recent past that anyone needs to understand why we are where we are today. If you want to dwell on why Arsene bought Silvestre, go right ahead. I’ve decided that I don’t care about that any more. I want to look forward, toward a better Arsenal future and not some past full of mistakes.
We are rooted in Arsenal’s history — Just because we want to look forward doesn’t mean we can’t also look back. We honor Arsenal’s history, the good times and the bad because Arsenal’s history if what makes us different from Chelsea or Man City. So, don’t want to forget our history but we also don’t be enslaved to it.
We are storytellers — the goal of my writing is always to tell a story and just like with any story there will be opinion, but opinion is not the point. The point is to take you from whatever dreary little hole you work (or live) in and transport you someplace else. I want to take you all to the Swansea game, not just tell you that I thought “so and so’s match was yet another example of Wenger’s profligacy in the transfer market”. There will be some of that but it’s never the point. The point is always to tell a story.
We are data driven – whenever we do write an opinion, we try to do our research. Les is notorious for his research, I can’t tell you how many sources he pulls for one of his historical articles. I love data, obviously. Chary reports what he sees. 11 Canons draws from myriad sources to make his original artwork. And Arsenal Letters gives match previews based on all available data for that week. Our one, lone, voice of unreason is Grimbo. And even he doesn’t just spout off. He knows his stuff inside and out, then he spouts off!
And I, Tim, am an iconoclast – you hold up any icon and my urge is going to be to smash it — yes, even Arsene Wenger. Everyone and everything deserves to be challenged. If it’s strong enough, it will stand up to the meager challenge of some Arsenal blogger.
In short, 7amkickoff is an iconoclastic Arsenal collective of writers and readers who write and discuss in equal measures analytical, passionate, historical, and forward thinking stories about the club that we all love. The Arsenal.