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!

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