Meet The Gooners! Jim Giles & Matter

Another in our continuing series about the Gooners we rub shoulders with in the pub during the Arsenal matches.

As anyone who has been to our regular match-viewings at Maggie McGarry’s or the Irish Times, ours is an eclectic group, and while the majority of the Bay Area Gooners are Americans, we do have our share of British ex-pats.

Amongst them is journalist, Jim Giles, born and raised in London and narrowly escaped growing up an Spurs supporter. He says, I honestly can’t remember how I ended up supporting Arsenal. I was about 7 at the time. Everyone at school supported Arsenal or Spurs, the two local teams, or Liverpool, who were the big team of the time. My parents are Spurs fans and they said that I should follow Spurs instead, on the grounds that White Hart Lane was nearer our house. When I got a bit older I realized that was a total lie. I still find it frightening to think that I might have gone along with their suggestion.


Jim and Sam, two generations of Gooners!

As you might imagine, Jim has many fond Arsenal memories, though he says his earliest was a pretty boring 1-1 draw with Norwich at Highbury. His favorite was being on the streets of Highbury after the Gunners won the league at Old Trafford in 2002. He recalls, I watched the game in a local pub and there was joyous mayhem on the streets for hours afterwards.

When asked about his favorite player, he’s quick to name Tony Adams, saying, Far from the most skillful player we’ve had, but since I’ve been watching I don’t think anyone else has exerted a bigger influence over the team.

Like most Gooners, Arsenal’s recent lack of success has Jim concerned. Scary times, he says, Wenger has never been a great tactician or motivator, but for a long time he had an extraordinary ability to spot undervalued players. That seems to have deserted him of late and, without that, we’re a very average side.

Shortly after moving to San Francisco, Jim discovered the Bay Area Gooners, which he describes as a complete surprise and absolutely brilliant. I don’t make it Maggie’s very often now because I have a kid, but I’ve had some excellent times there. It’s great to hear the songs being sung (even at 8am).

When not obsessively following Arsenal, Jim and a partner launched MATTER, an online journal devoted to independent, global, in-depth reporting about science and technology. 

Jim describes MATTER‘s inception thusly,  I’ve been writing about science and technology for over a decade now. Frustrated at the breathless pace of so much of journalism, particularly tech journalism. I wanted to create a sustainable way of producing more in-depth stories and I was lucky enough that Bobbie Johnson, a former Guardian tech reporter, was interested in doing exactly the same thing.

We teamed up a couple of years ago and launched MATTER in November 2012. My aspiration — and right now it’s still an aspiration — is for us to match the heavyweights of long-form journalism, like the New Yorker, in terms of quality of writing.

Mark’s note: As a Kickstarter supporter and now subscriber of MATTER, I can personally attest to the compelling stories featured within.  Do yourself a favor and check it out!

Meet the Gooners! Patrick Wilkinson

Another of our continuing series getting to know the Gooners we rub shoulders with in the pub during the Arsenal matches.

Patrick Wilkinson has been a Gooner since 2004, when during a trip across Switzerland, he crossed paths with a group of Londoners in a hostel near Interlaken. They regaled him with legendary tales of The Gunners’ heroics, and he has been keeping up with the club ever since.


Patrick & Brooke

In the recent past, his favorite player has been Tomáš Rosický. Patrick says,  I’ve enjoyed watching Rosický ply his trade in the midfield. Though he’s fallen out of the starting line-up due to injury and other factors (such as Arsenal’s overall tactics), Tomáš brings a certain style and flair to the team that I think has faded a bit in recent times. He’s one of those players that really knows one-two passing, and his finesse with the ball is lovely when he’s having the right day out.

When asked about his favorite Arsenal memory of late, Patrick has a tough time deciding, It’s hard to say – I’m tempted to mention the final match at Highbury, though that was solemn in a way. did enjoy watching Henry come on as a super sub and score against Leeds last year in the FA Cup 3rd round. It’s hard to write fiction better than what happened that night.

Finding the Bay Area Gooners was also quite an uplifting experience. It’s a treat to enjoy a match with a group of passionate supporters – trumps watching the game on the couch, no doubt.

As to the current state of the club, Patrick says he’s trying to stay positive during what he sees as rebuilding seasons. I think the squad is markedly less effective in the Champions League without van Persie and Song. Quality replacements are there in the squad (though maybe not at DM), but the current squad has yet to show that telekinesis of understanding which made the early 2000s’ squads so spectacular.

In terms of the financial state and running of the organization, I’m very unimpressed with Stan Kroenke’s participation in the club at this time. I’m not against Usmanov becoming the primary shareholder, mainly on the grounds that I think he is much more open with the fans and the public than his American counterpart.

Patrick is also a filmmaker and has recently combined his two passions in a film called, The State of Fifa in the 21st Century. Here is the film’s trailer:

About the film he says, It stems from my fascination with football as a living, breathing, and ever growing industry of power and capitalism. Examining the structure and practices of FIFA brought me to the conclusion that in so many ways the organization is run like a political regime: FIFA conducts business with methods that serve personal and financial agendas, while at the same time Blatter releases idealistic PR statements regarding the state and development of the sport. It’s hypocrisy on a grand scale. Though, I must admit the corruption makes for a compelling story.

My film, though, takes the notion of corruption to a different level wherein FIFA twists the sport of football into a tool of political propaganda. In reality, I’m not so sure that my portrayal of the sport in the film is vastly different from the reality in 2013, though I strive to embellish the language of the narrative with facts and figures in an effort to entertain the audience.

Patrick already has plans for another film, saying, The State of Fifa in the 21st Century” is just the 2nd part in a 3 part series on Football and world politics. The next film will delve into the passion and violence of the Latin American game of football…one region of the world where politics and sport collide with uncontrollable force. I plan to shoot some original football footage for the next film, and I think there will be ample opportunity to cast some Bay Area Gooners in various on-field roles.

We’ll keep you posted on where and when you can view Patrick’s work, but be sure and say hello to him at the pub.  Who knows, you may end up in his next film.