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Supporters

Arsenal have a large and generally loyal fanbase, with virtually all home matches selling out. Arsenal fans often refer to themselves as "Gooners", the name being derived from the team's nickname, "The Gunners". The club's location, adjoining both wealthy areas such as Islington and working-class suburbs such as Holloway, has meant that Arsenal's supporters have come from across the usual class divides. Arsenal have the highest proportion (7.7%) of non-white attending supporters of any club in English football, probably because of the high proportion of ethnic minorities in north London.

Like all major English football clubs, Arsenal have a number of domestic supporters' clubs, including the Official Arsenal Football Supporters Club, which is affiliated with the club, and the Arsenal Independent Supporters' Association, which maintains an independent line. The club's supporters also publish fanzines such as The Gooner, Highbury High, Gunflash and the less cerebral Up The Arse! There is also a very healthy blogosphere dedicated to the club, with "Arseblog," "East Lower," "Goodplaya," and "Gunner Blog" all proving popular. In addition to the usual English football chants, Arsenal's supporters sing "One-Nil to the Arsenal" (to the tune of "Go West") and "Boring, Boring Arsenal", which used to be a common taunt from opposition fans but is now sung ironically by Arsenal supporters when the team is playing well.

In recent times, a supporter's attachment to a football club has become less dependent on geography, so Arsenal now have many fans not just from London but all over England and indeed the world. While there have always been small pockets of supporters abroad, Arsenal's support base has widened considerably with the advent of satellite television, and there are now significant supporters' clubs in Scandinavia, South East and East Asia and the United States. A 2005 report by Granada Ventures, which owns a 9.9% stake in the club, estimated Arsenal's global fanbase at 27 million, the third largest in the world.

Arsenal's longest-running and deepest rivalry is with their nearest major neighbour, Tottenham Hotspur, with matches between the two being referred to as North London derbies. Matches against other London sides such as Chelsea are also derbies, but the rivalry is not as intense as that between Arsenal and Tottenham. In addition, Arsenal and Manchester United have had a strong on-pitch rivalry since the late 1980s, which has intensified in recent years when both clubs have been competing for the Premier League title.

Arsenal in popular culture

As one of the most successful teams in the country, Arsenal have often featured when football is depicted in British culture. The club were the backdrop to one of the earliest football-related films, The Arsenal Stadium Mystery (1939). The film is centred on a friendly match between Arsenal and an amateur side, one of whose players is poisoned whilst playing. Many Arsenal players appeared as themselves, although only manager George Allison was given a speaking part.

More recently, the book Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby was an autobiographical account of Hornby's life and relationship with football and Arsenal in particular. Published in 1992, it formed part of, and may have played an active part in, the revival and rehabilitation of football in British society during the 1990s. The book was later made into a film starring Colin Firth, which centred on the club's 1988–89 title win.

Arsenal's perceived tendency to be defensive and "boring" through the 1970s and 1980s made the team the butt of jokes by many comedians such as Eric Morecambe. The theme was repeated in the 1997 film The Full Monty, in a scene where the lead actors move in a line and raise their hands, deliberately mimicking the Arsenal defence's offside trap, in an attempt to co-ordinate their stripping.

The club is also mentioned in several Monty Python's Flying Circus sketches, and in Douglas Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: a barman remarks that the impending end of the world is a "lucky escape" for Arsenal, who are playing that afternoon. Most recently, in the 2004 box office hit Ocean's Twelve the stars put on Arsenal tracksuits as part of one of their European heists.

 

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