About a week ago, I sat down with my cat, Persie, and we had an awkward conversation.
‘‘Persie,’’ I said as he squirmed and tried to run away, ‘‘how would you feel if we changed your name?’’
For those readers who haven’t guessed, Persie is named after the Arsenal striker Robin van Persie.
For those readers who had hoped the London Olympics would provide some respite from the constant Arsenal references in Sporting Declaration, prepare to be disappointed.
I have a strong suspicion that your regular columnist, when searching for a replacement, simply asked the only other bloke in the office who owned an Arsenal shirt.
For the record, I actually own 23 Arsenal shirts, five DVDs, four club ties, three official tracksuits, two turtle doves and a cat named after van Persie.
Persie is 10 months old and got his name because my partner wouldn’t let me call him Dennis or Bergkamp. True story.
Then the real van Persie announced he wanted to leave – most likely for big money at one of the soulless, history-deficient clubs – and I came to realise how short-sighted that naming decision was.
I was sad when Patrick Vieira left Arsenal in 2005 – I remember I was buying a pizza in Sydney when my mother phoned with the news, as if a close relative had died.
Thierry Henry was slowing up when he left two years later and will always remain a club legend. Emmanuel Adebayor saw dollar signs in front of his eyes and I spent several hours peeling his name from the back of one of my shirts. I still wake up the neighbours shouting unrepeatable things at the useless so-and-so on the tele.
Then went Cesc Fabregas, Gael Clichy, Samir Nasri.
But I think Robin van Persie will hurt the most.
On July 4, he posted a message on his website to say he wouldn’t be renewing his contract.
We’ve all been there. We’ve all drafted an angry email to our boss claiming to be worth more money, or composed a tweet to vent our outrage at the constant lack of fridge space in the lunch room.
But most of us think better of it and don’t hit the send button.
More than anything, RVP’s statement, which included ridiculous comments such as ‘‘I love the club and the fans’’, served only to highlight how much professional sportsmen don’t love their club as much as the fans.
Every fan wants their team to be successful – to stop selling the best players year after year, to replace the awful players like Marouane Chamakh with better players, and to win every competition going.
But proper fans don’t have the luxury of being able to just up and leave if they don’t agree with the strategy, or if Manchester United offers more attractive terms and a better chance of silverware.
If that was the case, Spurs would have folded several years ago.
‘‘Loyalty, at least in football terms, was not a moral choice like bravery or kindness,’’ wrote another Arsenal fan, Nick Hornby.
‘‘It was more like a wart or a hump, something that you were stuck with.’’
And just like a wart or a hump, poor little Persie is now stuck with his name.
I called the council to ask whether I could alter his registration form, but I guessed from the long silence and the utter bemusement that followed that it was not a common request.
I had a similar confused reaction from the NSW Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages. This didn’t make a lot of sense, because Persie met all their criteria to have his name changed by deed poll – his birth was registered in NSW, and he’s not in jail, on parole, or in a mental institution, though there are times when I think maybe he should be.
In any case, the notion has proved a non-starter with Mrs Sporting Declaration, who is too attached to contemplate a change.
And so, I’ve only got one option left: praying that Robin van Persie comes to his senses and decides that he’d prefer a statue in front of the Emirates Stadium to a few tin pots on the shelf. Or that the whole situation has simply been an ill-conceived attempt to negotiate himself a better deal at Arsenal.
Otherwise poor Persie is going to be a bit confused as to why I’m shouting his name at the television at 2am, calling him a useless so-and-so.