"Chicago tends to be a transient city, so many members come and go."
That's according to Dili Yang, the co-manager of the Chicago Gooners. If you have ever spent any time in Chicago, you know that really is true.
Meet the fans: Chicago Gooners
So how were the Chicago Gooners able to stick together despite a near-constant flow in membership? A long-time member once explained it this way: "Our group is very loose," he said. "You show up and watch games. There are always Gooners at the pub. Some know each other well and some don't; but we're all best mates when The Arsenal score."
And so, even with so many members coming-and-going over the years, enough Chicago Gooners turn out on big matchdays to fill up three rooms at their home base, a northside bar called "The Globe."
"Premier League football in general is pretty big in Chicago, especially at the Globe Pub," Yang says. "There are other places to watch the game in the city, but the Globe is essentially the central hub for it. While you can find supporters of many, if not all of the clubs, at the Globe, the Arsenal contingent is definitely the largest."
That's down to the group having such a long history with the pub."We have been located at the Globe Pub ever since their inception," Yang says.
And this is where the Chicago Gooners really begin to stand out. Not only have they had one home for such a long period of time, they also are one of the longest-standing Arsenal supporters groups in the USA. Local legend has it that they first came together "sometime around 1999."
To put it in perspective, some of the other more venerable branches of Arsenal America – like Baltimore's Charm City Gooners and San Francisco's Bay Area Gooners – didn’t come together until 2004 and 2006 respectively. Arsenal America didn’t even form until 2001.
"The Chicago Gooners have been around for a while. Everyone was too busy drinking to remember exactly when," Yang quips. "But the core of the original group remains along with the addition of a solid group of regulars."
That "solid group" often numbers more than 100 strong.
"For the bigger games, the pub is a sea of red in the front room with even more Arsenal supporters in the back room and lounge area," Yang says. "Everyone likes to socialize and chat before games, sing and shout at the TVs during the games, and many people stay to drink and socialize - sometimes for hours - after the games, especially if Arsenal win."
And perhaps that's why despite the ever-changing faces on match days, a strong sense of tradition remains. From the group's banner - a Chicago flag with cannons rather than stars – that hangs in the front area of the pub during each game, to – shall we say – a very Gooner-specific holiday. As Yang puts it, "Every time St. Totteringham's Day rolls around, we have champagne for everyone!
"It's a good tradition."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 6 Sep 2013