Many Arsenal supporters groups in North America come together according to plan. 

One or two supporters decide they want to organize a group and they work to bring people together in the cause of The Arsenal.

But in some cases, a small collection of fans adopt a more laissez-faire attitude and suddenly realize that a significant group has organically grown around them.

Meet the fans: New Orleans


Group name: NOLA Gooners
Location: New Orleans, Louisiana
Home Pub: Finn McCool's Irish Pub
3701 Banks St. New Orleans
Facebook: NOLAGooners
Twitter: @NOLA_Gooners
Email: nolagooners@gmail.com

Perhaps unsurprisingly, that is what happened in New Orleans.

"A regular group has been coming to Finn McCool's to watch the Gunners for over a decade, with some coming and some going," explains branch manager Omar Khalid.

He says that the size of the group always varied but a small core was ever-present. After a while more and more Arsenal fans began turning out at the pub and someone suggested that they become a part of Arsenal America.

Now, for the big matches that "small core" of fans is joined by more than 100 other supporters.

"Finn's is a warm, welcoming environment - especially for Gooners," Omar says. "Football is a niche market in New Orleans, but that allows for a lot of fans to be concentrated in Finn's. Most are Gooners, but almost all clubs are represented in the Premier league as well as other clubs around the world."

And he says that is part of what makes taking in a match with the NOLA Gooners such a unique experience - that welcoming environment extends to everyone. And as such, whenever any club scores, as he puts it, there is "pandemonium" in the pub - complete with chanting and a lot of friendly banter.

"The bar owner is a Celtic fan," Omar explains. "And he refuses to officially 'endorse' one team for this reason, although he has no problem with us making his bar our home."

Each member of the NOLA Gooners has his or her own story as to how they discovered Arsenal –often a unique and personal tale. And most of the time, it comes down to one little thing about the Club that piqued their interest and then fueled the obsession.

In Omar's case it was randomly attending a match at Highbury. Watching the Invincibles put four past Middlesbrough was more than enough to convince him.

Another supporter named Michael first discovered Arsenal through the 1998 World Cup and the play of Patrick Vieira. But it wasn't until 2005 that he really became the obsessed Gooner that he is today. "I really dove in after Hurricane Katrina when I had time to watch a ton of games and read Fever Pitch."

Others in the group mentioned the battling style of play of a Ljungberg or the dreaminess of a Pires or a Giroud.

Whatever that "one thing" was, supporters found their way to Arsenal and the NOLA Gooners.

But Omar says there is something else that helps to make the Arsenal experience here so special. "It's New Orleans," he says. "We are just looking for a reason to party so there is no judgment. Especially at Finn's where we are right at home with our fellow Gooners."   

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 Kevin Mooney 20 Sep 2013