Begin the Begin

The Bay Area Gooners got the season off to a rousing start with the first annual Season Kick-Off Party last Thursday night at Maggie McGarrys. Gooners enjoyed pizza from Golden Boy Pizza, watched classic Arsenal matches on the big screen, and tried the new BAG t-shirts on for size. But mostly just drank copious amounts of cool, refreshing, alcoholic beverages and ruminated on all things Arsenal. All in the name of a good cause, as the event was also a canned-food drive for the San Francisco Food Bank. Many thanks to the Gooners who brought donations. Pictures of the event are here.

On Saturday, we regrouped for the first match of the season against West Bromwich Albion, a newly promoted side. Happy to see Samir Nasri get the first goal, which never hurts the confidence of a young player settling into his new side. But it was the numerous other chances that went begging that drew the most collective groans from those present. We really should have been up 3-0, and this inability to finish teams off always leads to squeaky-bum time in the last few minutes of the match as the opposition throws everything at us in order to equalize. As much as I loathe the Mancs, they do put teams away in a less stylish, workmanlike fashion.

One shouldn’t put much stock in anything The Sun publishes (ahem, aside from Page 3), but it was disappointing to quotes attributed to Thomas Rosicky, criticizing the likes of Gael Clichy for the unsatisfactory result to Arsenal’s last season. Someone should remind Little Mozart, in as much as Gooners appreciate his play, we haven’t seen very much of it, due to his near-permanent residence in the club’s physio room, and that slagging off a player who has been a model of consistency for us, isn’t the way into our hearts.

Then there is the small matter of Arsene Wenger’s latest signing, Mikael Silvestre. Since when does Arsenal offer players over 31 a two year contract? Players the caliber of Dennis Bergkamp (aka “God”), and Robert Pires were only offered 1-year extensions when they hit 30. But now we are offering twice that to ManUre cast-offs whose injury-to-playing time ratio rivals Thomas Rosicky???. Maybe Rosicky needs someone to keep him company.

What can one do besides take a deep breath, remember that “Arsene Knows”, and hope that we dispatch Fulham FC without much trouble this weekend. See you at the pub.

Cheers, Mark

How soon is now?

So here we are, on the brink of another season. Arsenal, armed to the hilt with youngsters and a few seasoned veterans, are on the verge of something grand. Again.

Do you feel it? The tug, the allure, the promise, as you watch the preseason matches Granted most have been against negligible competition so far, but it’s hard to resist. You find yourself slipping into a daydream as you watch preseason matches with Adebayor, young Jack Wiltshire, Carlos Vela, Theo Walcott, and returning bad boy, Nicky Bendtner scoring at will.

Yes, you tell yourself, this is it. Even when the “can’t win anything kids”, rhetoric begins. Oh yeah, we’ll show the bastards. A rush of blood to the head and suddenly you’re entertaining thoughts of silverware at the end of the season.

The week before the season begins for real, optimism reaches its peak. Fears that we haven’t done enough to shore up our back four or found a replacement for the Flamster are tucked away as we stand on the brink of another title run.

If you feel like sharing this moment with other Gooners, as the San Francisco Branch Manager of Arsenal America and administrator of the Bay Area Gooners, I’m throwing a little party:

Bay Area Gooners
2008/2009 Season Kick-Off Party
Thursday, August 14, 2008
7:00PM – 11:00 PM
Maggie McGarrys Irish Pub
1353 Grant Street (at Green)
San Francisco, CA

The evening is also a Canned Food Drive for the San Francisco Food Bank, so if you do join us, we ask that you bring a donation of canned food. You can see a list of needed goods here.

We’ll be debuting the brand new Bay Area Gooner T-shirts which will be on sale, as well as our Frequent Gooner Card which will allow folks to earn free beers for showing up to early matches. There will be free Golden Boy pizza slices for everyone who brings a food donation. We’ll have classic matches & goals on the video, spinning some Brit-pop, old soul, punk, ska, and new wave, and there will even be Arsenal Bingo with prizes. Email me for more info.

Hope you can make it!

Cheers, Mark