I have never claimed to be a literary genius or am happy that everything I write is always grammatically correct but as far as I am aware the word ‘like’ tends to be used when we approve of something, as a verb. When we see something that is similar perhaps. Or at least that is what I thought before I came to New York! While enjoying some brunch in Greenwich Village there was a young lady on the table next to me who has just said ‘like’ 5 times on the bounce without a word in between. It would be annoying if it wasn’t so funny!
Friday night in 14th Street was as messy as expected, thousands of Gooners descending on the area for a truly red and white evening. The beers flowed as those of us from Blighty talked all things Arsenal with the many differing accents amongst those that had travelled from all four corners of North America and beyond. It was thoroughly entertaining and unsurprisingly the only thing I can confirm is it ended well into the early hours of Saturday morning.
I was by no means shocked at the sheer scale of the fanaticism when witnessing it first hand
Saturday morning, New York City and matchday had finally arrived, a day that couldn’t come soon enough for the Gooners who were extremely aware it has been a full 24 years since we last visited this part of the world.
The Red Bull Arena is located in Harrison, New Jersey, a fair old distance from Manhattan and an area going through a period of regeneration similar to many major city suburbs all over the world. Deciding to enjoy the pre-match build up in the area, the PATH railway was taken and the number of red and white shirts were already numerous.
I’ve tried to work out why but my feeling about the amount of Gooners in the US has been totally different to our trips to the Far East over the past 3 years. The popularity of the Premier League in Indonesia, Malaysia, China, Hong Kong, Vietnam and Japan seemed obvious before we even travelled. This meant I was by no means shocked at the sheer scale of the fanaticism when witnessing it first hand.
I knew we had a lot of fans over here and was very much aware of how much our visit was being anticipated but I have been no less than astounded by just how many there are.
A good few beers were enjoyed in the centre of Harrison before we made our way to the stadium, a simple walk that was only made more difficult by a 20 minute monsoon that didn’t just cool everyone down but completely soaked them through to the skin! Unless of course you managed to sneak under a hospitality marquee until it passed! It’s all in the timing folks ;-)
Inside the stadium emphasised my previous point about the number of Gooners present. It is no exaggeration to say 95% of the crowd were in Arsenal shirts. An incredible sight and once again demonstrating just how massive our club is. A fact that could not have been more apparent wherever we have visited pre-season, especially in recent years.
Virtually all of our World Cup stars have yet to return to the squad of course and the fact our starting eleven lacking a recognised centre half or centre forward is probably the best indication as to the position we find ourselves in when we head off on a pre-season tour in the year of a Summer international tournament.
The game was good workout for the squad present however, both sides enjoying chances across the course of the game. One goal was to decide the outcome and as well as seeing the mighty Gooners ‘live’ we all enjoyed the pleasure of witnessing the legend that is TH14. The man looked class throughout and it was awesome to see for possibly the final time.
This first appeared on Stubbsy Tours in July 2014
Overall then, a great experience to see our team play in the USA and especially to meet so many friendly, knowledgeable and passionate Gooners. Your hospitality has been great and I thank you.
Talking of which I’m sure I read somewhere the people of New York are amongst the ‘rudest’ in the world. After my relatively short stay I’m sorry, but I’m not having that. Everywhere I have been, from shops to restaurants, to cafés, to bars, to public transport and to tourist attractions, EVERY single person has been courteous, friendly, helpful and polite. I can’t offer compliments high enough. Many parts and people in my own country could learn a lot from those I have met out here.
For the next couple of days football and Arsenal will very much take a back seat and I will be doing the tourist bit.
And that like, is like, something like, to like, thoroughly like, end a quite awesome trip like.
New York, it has been a pleasure. Next up, the Emirates Cup.