By Scott C. Mossman
On July 26th, Arsenal is coming to the United States for the first time in 25 years…to a large and growing fan base. Arsenal, of North London, hasn’t been to the US in 25 years. Where did the fan base come from? For more years than I’m comfortable with, this county has seen pre-season tours of the likes of Manchester United, Chelsea, Manchester City, and even another club from North London yet there is a base of passionate supporters waiting in anxious anticipation for a friendly match featuring the Islington club none the less.
Without pretending to know everything about the early days of Arsenal America (before 2006), I can attest to the role the supporters club in North America has played (By the way, North London and North America…sounds fitting eh, Canada?). The reason support for the Arsenal in this part of the world seems to be thriving is due to the community which has been created, nurtured, and motivated in quite the efficient, self-sustaining way. AA is made up of official supporters’ branches all across the county with each branch being unique and made up of completely different people. However, each branch is connected through passion and social networking and no one likes to be left behind. If one branch posts a photo online of their group in front of a pub, wearing branch specific clothing attire, and holding up uniquely created Arsenal scarfs, you can bet the other branches are taking notice. The actions of one branch undoubtedly inspire another. Not that competition is unhealthy. In fact, if you follow twitter feeds of the branches you may see members from various cities exchanging merchandise or complimenting what another branch has created, which brings us back to community.
The reason an Arsenal America branch can grow so rapidly is due to the social community it develops. Watching Arsenal in the United States was once impossible and then it was a chore. On top of that, there was no one to talk about it with. Not only are there easily accessible ways to watch and follow our club now, but our relationship with the club can become part of our daily lives. That is exactly what has happened. Speaking personally, I don’t think a day goes by I don’t have a conversation, either in person or online, with a member of my local branch or someone from another city who supports Arsenal.
For many cities around the country, Arsenal has become something to do as much as it is a club to support. Many North American Gooners may find themselves going to bed early on a Friday night in favor of a Saturday morning out to the pub with friends. They do this with the knowledge that thousands of others are doing this in far off cities at the exact same time. That is what Arsenal America is all about.
When Arsenal takes on former club legend, Thierry Henry and the New York Red Bulls on Saturday, Gooners from all over the United States will be in attendance. Many will say hello to friends they have already met at Arsenal, some will be able to put faces with names they already knew from the internet, and brand new friendships will be made as well. It’s been a long time coming, Arsenal, but we’re ready to take the club to the next level in this country. Come on you Gunners both near and far!
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Gooners from Oklahoma share their views and insights about Arsenal Football Club!