Run for the love of Arsenal

This post by Abigail R., a member of the Bay Area Gooners, originally appeared here. A big part of my participation in the NYC marathon is fundraising for the American Cancer Society, so I want share a little more about why this cause is so close to my heart. I’ll be dedicating my race to my cousin Chris, who we lost to liver cancer in 2008. He was great with my sister and me: his playful nature made him a highlight of our family trips to England. He’d pull candies from behind our ears, teach us card tricks and chase us around the garden. We learned a lot from Chris, and though I can’t remember all of the cockney rhyming slang phrases he taught us, I will never forget his most important lesson: loving Arsenal Football Club. Every Christmas and birthday we’d open our presents from Chris to find a variety of Arsenal paraphernalia: blankets, towels, sweaters. We never tracked a year without the help of  an Arsenal desk calendar, and seldom went a day without seeing the Gunners logo somewhere in our house: on a blanket, a towel, or a bowl – you name it, we had it!
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Reppin since ’99
Though Chris is not the only Arsenal fan in my extended family, he is certainly the one that I credit for instilling in me a continued love for the club: I still feel as proud to wear my Arsenal colors today as I was nearly 20 years ago, sporting a red and white jersey big enough to be a dress. I think he’d be proud to know that despite having no children of his own, he was able to contribute 2 more Gunners fans to the world. Arsenal is part of my family now, and Chris’ legacy will survive for years to come: when I spend mornings crowded around the TV with my kids to watch the Gunners play, just as I have done with my parents countless times. I wish that I’d had the chance to go to a game with Chris, or to take him to all of the Arsenal bars I have frequented over the last few years. That we could go to Maggie’s at the crack of dawn to be energized by the singing and chanting of a sea of red and white supporters, welcoming today’s squad to the pitch for a 6am kickoff. Or enjoy a specialty burger during a lunchtime game at Abbey Burger Bistro in Baltimore, or trek into NYC with the whole family to join the NYC Gooners at the Blind Pig or O’Hanlon’s. So it is in his name that I raise these funds for the American Cancer Society – to support families affected by cancer, to research cures, and help patients fight off the same disease that took Chris from us too soon. When I gear up in my Arsenal kit on race day in November I will be carrying him with me, his presence supporting and inspiring me every step of the way. I’ll think of him when I finally cross the finish line and I’ll feel his love  – for me and for Arsenal.  

Arsenal Are Coming To California!

This post first appeared on FootySF and is reproduced with their permission. Major League Soccer announced today that Arsenal Football Club will face off against MLS’s top players in the 2016 MLS All-Star Game at Avaya Stadium in San Jose on Thursday, July 28th. Arsenal FC, currently tied for second place in the Barclays Premier League, features such international stars as Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Özil, Theo Walcott, Aaron Ramsey and Petr Čech. Under the steady hand of legendary manager, Arsène Wenger, Arsenal has built a renowned reputation of playing some of the most attractive and exciting soccer in the world. “We are pleased to welcome Arsenal, one of the most successful clubs in the world, to compete against the best of MLS,” said MLS Commissioner Don Garber. The Gunners will hope to do what their London rivals could not – beat the MLS All-Stars. In 2015 Tottenham Hotspur was beaten 2-1, while Chelsea lost 3-2 in 2012. Arsenal has an impressive history English League Champions 13 times, FA Cup winners a record 12 times, FA Community Shield winners 14 times (FA Charity Shield before 2002), League Cup winners twice and European Cup Winners’ Cup (1994) and European Fairs Cup (1970) winners once. Arsenal has competed in the UEFA Champions League for 18 consecutive seasons. In addition, Arsenal Ladies are the most successful English club in women’s football. Hugely popular in the United States, Arsenal boast a large nationwide supporters group, Arsenal America, and the Bay Area is no exception. San Francisco is home to the Bay Area Gooners(“Gooners” are what Arsenal fans call themselves), whose Facebook group boasts almost 1,000 members. Two years ago, some of their members tired of driving up 101 in the wee hours of the morning, formed the South Bay Gooners, and it has thrived. They watch their matches at Jack’s Bar in San Jose. The San Francisco group watches every Arsenal match at Maggie McGarry’s in North Beach, regardless of the start time. They also host all-ages match viewings at the San Francisco Athletic Club for many matches. The time difference between London and San Francisco makes for some early mornings during the Premier League season. This weekend’s match against top-of-the-table Leicester City FC kicks off at 4:00AM PT. As member, Clinton Becker, tells it, “Being a Gooner in the Bay Area comes with a certain level of dedication, getting up for 4:45 AM match or flying 10 hours to see Arsenal play live in London. Now to be able to see them playing in my own backyard is almost a dream come true.” San Jose becomes the fifth city to host the MLS All-Star Game for a second time. The 2001 MLS All-Star Game was held at Spartan Stadium in San Jose on July 28, 2001, exactly 15 years to the day that this year’s match takes place at Avaya Stadium. The game will be broadcast live on ESPN and UniMás in the United States, TSN and RDS in Canada, and in more than 140 countries around the world, including Sky Sports in the United Kingdom. Arsenal will also play Chivas de Guadalajara at StubHub Center in Carson, Calif. on July 31st. Fans will have the opportunity to purchase tickets to the 2016 AT&T MLS All-Star Game will be made available through a lottery system. To register for the lottery and the opportunity to purchase tickets, please visit mlssoccer.com/all-star/tickets. San Jose Earthquakes season ticket holders will receive an exclusive pre-sale opportunity and will not need to register for the lottery.

A New Season! A Second Venue!

Arsenal FC kick off the 2015-2016 season this weekend against Chelsea FC in the Community Shield match. And as we have for the past 7 (8?) years, we'll be at Maggie McGarry's in North Beach, cheering the Gunners on!
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Photo by Holly Hickman. All rights reserved.

If our home pub has one drawback, it's that Maggie's is 21 and over only.  Every season we field inquiries from local and visiting Gooners wanting to bring younger supporters to our match-viewings. Thus, we're continuing an experiment we started with last season's FA Cup Final. Beginning with this weekend's match, the San Francisco Athletic Club will be open for every Arsenal match beginning 7AM PT or later.  Because the SFAC has a full kitchen, they can welcome Gooners of all ages. SFAC's will be flying the Bay Area Gooners banner, while breakfast and drink specials for BAG members will be available. Maggie McGarry's Irish Pub (21+ only) 1353 Grant Avenue San Francisco, CA 94133 415-399-9020 San Francisco Athletic Club (All-ages) 1750 Divisadero Street (at Bush St.) 415-923-8989 Looking forward to see you Gooners young and old this season! Branch Manager