Just like her neighbor to the south, Canada is chock full of Arsenal supporters. But unlike Arsenal America, Arsenal Canada operates as a single group. While it is headquartered in Toronto, you can find Gooners in just about every corner of the country.
Meet the fans: Arsenal Canada
But as you might expect from a nation so vast that it spans five time zones, things operate quite differently in Vancouver than they do in Halifax – cities that are 2,750 miles (4,500 km) apart. But through a shared passion for Arsenal, and with a little help from the Internet and social media, fans throughout Canada keep in touch and support their Club together on each and every match day.
We caught up with a four Arsenal supporters from across Canada to provide a glimpse of how they support the Club so passionately and how they became fans from across an ocean – and a continent.
Vancouver, British Columbia
The place to be
Unless I am away for work, I am there for every match. I do not miss many matches. We watch at “Phat,” a unique Sports bar in the heart of Yaletown that Arsenal supporters from in and around the greater Vancouver area have made their home. “Phat” is famous for their smoked meat sandwiches and are also open and fully operational at 7am which bodes very well with the time difference.
On average you will find 20 of us at the pub but, for the bigger games we have upwards of 50 supporters in attendance (not bad for our first season).
Checking the time
We’re eight hours behind London and the time change can certainly be a challenge. It means that lunchtime kickoffs in the UK start at 4:30am for us here in Vancouver -- a late kickoff of 9:00am is a real treat. There certainly is something to be said for watching The Arsenal with a big breakfast and an early morning pint. During the week games start at 11:45am which is great for taking extended lunches.
School boy Gooner
I grew up in London and as a school boy I was invited to take part in a youth training session at Arsenal; after which I was taken on a tour of Highbury by David Platt. I have been a Gooner ever since.
The Arsenal in person
Personally, I have been to dozens of matches at Highbury but, am yet to make a trip to the Emirates. There is a chance I will be in the UK this summer and am planning to check out a few pre-season Emirates Cup matches.
I moved to Calgary last year, met a fellow supporter and we soon got fed up having to go to a pub that didnt open early and was run by Spurs fans. So we have persuaded a nice neighbourhood pub - The Pig & Duke - to open and we will get a new market for them.
Great White North (London)
Along with Jake Surrey, I set up a branch of Arsenal Canada in Calgary. Both of us are from North London originally, so we are longtime supporters. There are about 20-30 core members of which most will go to the pub. But there are many, many others who will go if we put ourselves out there - which Jake and I are good at doing!
Morgan Rubes - Arsenal Canada Chairperson
We've got a pub in Toronto that I can see rivaling the Blind Pig in New York. There's a committed owner and massive Gooner fanbase begging to be united. So when I am in Toronto on a matchday (a rarity unfortunately) I head to the Fox and Fiddle. It’s our first season there, 30 would be a small crowd on a weekend with 60 being one of our largest. We have room for more, so come join us -- Arsenal Canada members save 10 percent on their food portion of their bill!
The banter is good, the songs are sung in unison, and we all agree that Adebayor’s recent penalty miss was brilliant.
About the only thing I’ve loved longer than Arsenal is my family, nothing else has been such a constant in my life. Ever since I was compared to Nigel Winterburn as a kid I have been hooked. It’s been a great love affair, with its highs (WHL ’04) and its bitter lows (Paris 2006), but I stay true and get more involved every year. It’s my 3rd year in charge of Arsenal Canada.
Being compared to Nigel Winterburn did not make him my favourite player, that goes to Robert Pires. There have been so many players to love though and so many moments, it’s great to have so many on DVD so I can relive them in the summer time!
Halifax, Nova Scotia
There aren't many Gooners making their presence known around Halifax, so my Tottenham and Chelsea-supporting friends and I generally watch matches at each others' houses. Champions Leagues matches, however, are usually watched at the pub, as they usually draw a bigger crown than my core group of friends, and they take place later on in the day. Pubs are never open here for early, 8:30 matches.
Passion at the pub
The pub is special because - and I am sure the beverages have something to do with it - everyone seems to turn up their passion for the game by a notch or two (at least!). It also makes friends (and friendly rivals) out of complete strangers when everyone is there for a common love of footy.
Halifax does not have a designated Arsenal pub, so there will usually be a very diverse crowd supporting very diverse clubs. That has its benefits in that it can be amusing to taunt and make fun of each other, though it would be great to see more Gooners out and about to put up a united front!
I'm on the East Coast, so I'm not overly bothered by time change. The earliest matches are at 8:30, so it's not hard to be up in time. Midweek games usually start at 3:45, before my workday ends, but I'm lucky enough to have a job where I can sneak out early and watch matches in the pub on the first floor of my office building. Failing that, I have dual monitors at my desk, so I will sometimes stream a match on one screen while I work on the other. I swear it doesn't affect my productivity!
Thanks to Arsenal Canada, I was able to attend my first two games this past fall: a Premier League match against Chelsea and a Champions League match against Olympiakos. It was so much fun, and I cannot wait to go again! I have to juggle finances and family commitments to go to Germany, but I hope to get back to the UK and Emirates by the 2014/2015 season.
Honestly, I haven't been a life-long Gooner. Coming from a German family, I had traditionally followed the Bundesliga. Because I had a habit of boasting about the superiority of German keepers, I was drawn to watching a few Arsenal matches because of Mad Jens Lehmann. It didn't take long before I was fully captivated by Thierry Henry, and a Gooner convert. Now I always say that Bayern was my first love, but Arsenal is my true love.
If you are in Canada and want to join members of Arsenal Canada at one of the pubs, check out our forum at www.arsenalcanada.ca or contact us on Facebook at Arsenal Canada, Calgary Arsenal, Montreal Arsenal Supporters, Vancouver Arsenal, or Arsenal Toronto.Copyright 2013 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 15 Aug 2013