Short of winning silverware, the defining moments in an Arsenal season are the matches against Tottenham. We can finish second, third, or even fourth, yet still hold our heads reasonably high, as long as we finish above Spurs, and even higher, if we have beaten them in all encounters that season.
The importance of this rivalry is ingrained in every Arsenal supporter, and American Gooners are no exception. Amongst stateside supporters, the dedication of those residing on the West Coast is possibly the most tested of all.
Because London authorities wish to limit extra-curricular activities amongst rival supporters, North London Derbys always feature an early-afternoon kick-off. Thus with the 8-hour time difference, those of us in the Pacific time zone are faced with the prospect of a pre-dawn pub gathering, if we wish to watch the match live with our Gooner compatriots.
This weekend, the Bay Area Gooners will meet at Maggie McGarry’s Irish Pub at an ungodly 4:45AM to watch the match between Arsenal and the Spuds. It is an hour that will separate the weak-willed from those who bleed the red and white of Arsenal.
The temptation to DVR the match and watch at a more civilized hour will be great, as will the desire to watch alone from a reclining position on one’s own couch. I know of what I speak. She Who Must Be Obeyed gifted me with the full necessary satellite package to watch all televised Arsenal matches, in the hope that I might in fact, watch more of them at home.
But this is not really an acceptable choice. If you cannot experience the Derby in person, then it really deserves to be watched amongst a throng of other loyal supporters.
Let this serve as a challenge to all who call themselves Gooners here locally. I don’t care what state of wakefulness you turn up in or if you’re still in your robe and slippers, but if you really want to define yourself as more than simply a casual observer, more than someone who shows up once the sun has risen, and be recognized as a true Gooner, I expect to see you at the pub this weekend!
C’MON YOU GUNNERS!