By Chris Toronyi
I'm not sure it's possible to do a proper thank you to all of the people that gave me one of the most memorable weeks I've ever had. The week included the Arsenal Supporters Trust AGM, the Everton match at the Emirates, an interview with Nick Hornby, Charity Quiz Night at the Tollington, The REDaction Fulham Boat Trip down the Thames and of course the game at Craven Cottage. There are a lot of names, so I'm going to do my best to list and if I have forgotten a few of you it has everything to do with me versus the effort and kindness you provided to make the week. So, here we go...
First off, I'd like to thank the people of the AST that I had the good fortune of meeting at their Annual General Meeting. Much thanks to Tim P., Phil, Akhil, Tim S., Terry, Richard, Rajan, Ryan and many others. As I mentioned in my previous post, the people at the AST were so kind, generous and politely didn't smirk when my accent echoed through the room.
Secondly, I need to thank the Club for granting me press access to the Everton game - we'll talk about the game itself on the pod this week, but I really need to thank Mark Gonnella and Laura Rogers for arranging the pass for me. It was an amazing experience, but one that was not exactly "fun" as I had to refrain from being a fan and watch void of emotion and bias. I’d also like to thank John Cross, James Olley and Matt Barlow for giving a few minutes of their time to chat about the Arsenal. I really have no idea how John is able to put his feelings in a lockbox during games.
Next we have the amazing team that I worked with to put on the Charity Quiz Night at the Tollington. The core that did the leg work and made it an amazing success: Keith Malda, Phil Wall, Akhil Vyas and Gareth Parker. Amazing atmosphere, and some great raffle prizes for the people that played, but most of all they organized a fantastic event that benefited The Arsenal Foundation, Bob Wilson's Willow Foundation and the Homeless FA. And let's not forget the good people at the Tollington Arms who gave us the space to hold such a fantastic event. I must also thank the wonderful Amy Lawrence who was kind of enough to chat and buy me pint at Quiz Night.
I'm not sure a proper thank you can do justice to the next two people. I'm seriously still in shock, but then again I shouldn't be as they have both been kind and so patient with my persistence. First, a huge thank you for Anna Ridley of Penguin Publishing who helped orchestrate my interview with Nick Hornby – I truly have no idea how to thank her properly. She was the keystone to the interview happening. And of course I must thank Mr. Nick Hornby. I'm not sure what he was expecting of me or from me, but he was so engaging, comforting and just cool. I know he wouldn't be proud of that last word ("cool") choice, but that's what he was. And what truly defines the person that he is - I had told him we would only record for 15-20 minutes, but we topped out at 35 minutes. You can hear the entire interview on this week's podcast.
Then there's the Fulham Boat Trip and game. I had never to been to an away fixture for an Arsenal game, so I had no comparison, but what an experience it was. The day began with a trip down the Thames on the REDaction Fulham Boat Trip - we started around the Embankment tube stop on the river and then proceeded to head east - Tower of London, Tower Bridge and then swinging a u-turn a little past the O2 Arena then back towards Tower Bridge, Big Ben and Parliament.
There was singing, drinking, good conversation on the entire four-hour (not a typo) trip until we finally made it a shore near Craven Cottage. It's an experience that I so badly want to put in a can and store it - it will never be that fresh, that new again. So, HUGE thanks to Ben and Raymond at REDaction and Phil Wall for providing me a ticket. Sadly, Phil missed the boat. Next year. Phil, next year. I will add that I will make it point to make the Fulham Boat Trip my yearly pilgrimage to The Arsenal. Amazing views of London and fun down the Thames. It was perfect.
As for the game, I have to thank the good people at Arsenal America and Jill Smith at Arsenal who were able to secure me ticket only weeks in advance. Much, much appreciated. What an experience that was at Craven Cottage. We'll talk about the game as like Everton on this week's podcast, but I will say this, I saw countless people before and after game that I had met last year and run into during the week that took the time to say "hi".
And I must also thank Hayley Wright (and her friend Andy Gibbons) for hanging out with me on the boat trip in Phil's absence and then taking me to a proper pub in Wimbledon for pints, fish & chips and awkward conversation. I'm still feeling the effects of that little adventure as I type this.
I know I say it a lot, but we really are an amazing group of supporters. We do some amazing things for others, for one another. Such a great group of "good" people.
So, thank you London. Thank you Arsenal. And thanks to everyone for an amazing experience.
Thanks for reading and thanks for listening to the Arsenal America Podcast. The show returns this week with recaps of Everton and Fulham as well as an amazing interview with Nick Hornby. Please don't forget to subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, or you can also grab the RSS Feed. Cheers.
Chris Toronyi is a longtime Arsenal supporter and the host of The Arsenal America podcast, available every week at ArsenalAmerica.com and on iTunes at "Arsenal America Podcast." You can read more of Chris' thoughts on Twitter.
The views expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect those of Arsenal Football Club or Arsenal Media Group.Copyright 2016 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source