Ann Arbor, Michigan, is a thriving and diverse city. But until recently, the home of the University of Michigan was not the easiest place to catch an Arsenal match with fellow supporters.
Meet the fans: Ann Arbor
But two UM students changed all that and got the ball rolling to bring the Arsenal community together. As branch co-founder Shareed Amer said:
"Whether you are a student at one of the local universities or a professional out in the West suburbs; whether you're a diehard Arsenal fan or just new to the game, you can come and meet new people who are all out to support Arsène Wenger's red and white army. Just don't bring any of your Tottenham friends."
Number of active members: "Being a new group, our membership numbers are hard to estimate. Right now, we're at about 10-15 members. As we get more exposure, I'm sure we'll get bigger--especially for Champion's League games."
Where we watch matches: Connor O'Neill's - 318 South Main Street, Ann Arbor, MI 48104. (734) 665-2968
"Connor O'Neill's open up for the early games -- they've been great about accommodating us. We usually get the great room all to ourselves and they throw the games up on the projector screens. They seriously have been fantastic."
Where our members hail from: "We've got a good split of UM students (undergrads and grad students) and locals. Again, we're still new and growing every week."
The group's beginnings: "I don't know much about other members and how they became Arsenal supporters, but I guess my story is pretty cool. My mom was teaching at Oxford while I was a kid. Oxford is not too far from London, and my family went to see England for ourselves while she was there. The first sporting even I ever attended in my life was Arsenal-Tottenham at Highbury. It is impossible to go to that type of game and leave without falling in love with Arsenal. It helps that Arsenal won 3-1 and my favorite player at the time, Dennis Bergkamp, tacked on a last minute goal.
"My fellow co-founder Trevor and I actually met through each trying to independently create this group. I came back to Ann Arbor for my third year of law school after attending UM for undergrad and Trevor is beginning his graduate studies at UM. We're both big Arsenal fans and wanted to start this up. Because two heads are better than one, we teamed up and it's been great ever since."
Arsenal in Ann Arbor: "Soccer is pretty popular on campus and in Ann Arbor. Unfortunately, however, Arsenal is not that big here. There are a lot of Barcelona, Madrid, Man U, Liverpool, and Chelsea fans. Hopefully this group can help recruit new fans to the 'one team in London.'"Copyright 2014 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 3 Oct 2012