What is the largest city by area in the continental United States ? Think you know the answer? New York City? Nope. Far from it. How about Los Angeles? Closer, but you are still way off. Covering nearly 875 square miles, the winner is Jacksonville, Florida! In a city so large, it's a wonder Arsenal fans could track each other down! But as branch manager Adam Guillette says, a sense of duty made it happen:
"Arsenal play the most attractive football in the world, and we have an obligation to share this beauty with as many people as possible.So come join us as we support the greatest team of footballers in the world!"
Group Name: Jacksonville Gooners
Location: Atlantic Beach,FL
Year established: 2010
Number of active members: "We have over 250 fans on our facebook page and as many as 20 Gooners show up for matches, though usually it's around 15 of us."
Where we watch matches: Culhane's Irish Pub - 967 Atlantic Blvd Atlantic Beach, FL 32233. (904) 249-9595
"We turn out for every weekend match, even the early ones! We're also there for the midweek matches, but we tend to have a much smaller contingent."
Where our members hail from: "Since we're in Florida it's really a mixed bag of people from all over. Locals are always present, but we've had Gooners from Boston, London and Dublin!"
The group's beginnings: "I was 10 years old when my dad brought home two soccer balls he had procured from a coworker. One was an Arsenal ball and the other was Sp*rs. The Arsenal ball had cannons on it and the Sp*rs ball had a freaking bird, so the choice was easy!
"In 2010 I was emailing Arsenal America about tickets to the home finale against Aston Villa, and mentioned I'd also like to start a branch. They put me in touch with Ron Murthy, who recently moved to Jacksonville from LA, where he had been a member of the LA Gooners. Together we've recruited plenty of other local Arsenal supporters to join the drinking...err, "fun"!
Group's favorite Arsenal moment: "Even though the turnout was low, one of our greatest moments was the come-from-behind victory over Chelsea last season. It was early in the morning and there were only a handful of us, but I'm not sure I've ever heard the pub get so loud!"
Arsenal in Jacksonville: "The Premier League is definitely gaining in popularity in Jacksonville. Soccer as a whole is! In fact, the recent USA v Scotland match in Jacksonville was the highest attended match the US has ever played in the state of Florida. There are plenty of bandwagon Chelsea/ManUtd supporters, as well as some Liverpool folks, but we're the only guys with an organized group."
Why we are Gooners: "We're Gooners because Arsenal plays the most attractive football in the world. As supporters, we have an obligation to share this beauty with as many people as possible."
Why Americans should be Arsenal fans: "Arsenal plays the most beautiful version of the beautiful game. Why would you want to watch any other team?"21 Sep 2011