By Joel McNamara
Arsenal memories just aren’t as good without someone to share them with.
That’s what Kyle, my long-time friend and fellow Arsenal supporter, and I have found after starting the Arsenal Review USA Podcast.
After a little over half-a-season, we’ve made more Arsenal friends than we knew even existed in the US. We’ve heard stories of Gooners stuck on the Tube while Cesc ran riot against Villa (still sorry about that, Nick), talked to fans who have brushed shoulders with Wenger, had supporters sing “Oh to be a Gooner” to us over the phone, received advice on how to start a local supporters’ group, heard a first-hand account of how one American Gooner got to present Thierry Henry with a “Player of the Year” vase, and many unique and unusual stories in between.
The two of us have closely followed the team that has created so much free-flowing football since we were 11, back in the era of Man U-mania (as if THAT ever ended). Years of Bergkamp worship and Henry devotion culminated in a trip to Highbury, “the Home of Football,” where the footballing culture of North London was tangible, something that was shared and appreciated by seemingly all English nationals.
Our perspective was entirely different from the average Englishman: we had emerged from a culture where our team was given only snatches of TV coverage and required copious amounts of internet streaming and there we were, after traveling 3,800 miles (less than many American Gooners, as it turns out), thrust into the Arsenal Mecca we had only seen reproduced on TV and in print. The experience, to us, was heaven.
You all know what happened next.
No one else back home understood. No one in our circles recognized the names Wright, Adams, Overmars, Parlour, Vieira, Ljungberg, Pires, Bergkamp or even Henry. Furthermore no one especially cared, particularly when we wanted to switch on an Arsenal match in September during the Michigan - Notre Dame game.
So after years of relatively isolated Arsenal support, we hatched a plan: to connect with and give a voice to the enclaves of Arsenal supporters scattered across the United States through the medium of a weekly podcast.
And that’s what Arsenal Review USA endeavors to do since the first week the podcast appeared on iTunes: connect with Gooners all across the US to get their unique Arsenal experiences and perspectives via Skype, call-in number, text message or email.
It doesn’t matter whether the stories describe a once-in-a-lifetime trip from the Emirates or the Camp Nou or just jumping up from the family room couch after a beautifully-taken van Persie goal, if you’re an Arsenal supporter, you’re an Arsenal supporter.
The podcast revolves around the previous week of football: who Arsenal played, how well they played, whether van Persie got injured, and which opponent we all agree was the “Wanker of the Week,” all from the perspective of our guests and us, the hosts, with a little American pop culture sprinkled in here and there.
Chiming in are supporters’ group leaders, bloggers, and American Gooners in general from different locations, telling us all about which player was being cursed relentlessly in their local pub, offering predictions for the upcoming week via text, or reliving their best (and worst) trips to Highbury or the Emirates. The show takes no small amount of work to record and mix since Kyle and I now live in different states, but honestly, given the subject matter we hardly notice the time spent each week.
From Los Angeles to New York, it’s been great to be the outlet for so many Arsenal stories and opinions. This year we’re getting even more ambitious and want to make the podcast even more of a sounding board for the American Gooner, so if you’ve got a life-changing story or just a simple opinion on who should start between Diaby and Wilshere, you know where to find us.
This time when we win the league, it’s safe to say we’ll have some Gooners to share the memory with. Can’t wait to hear from you...
Up the Arsenal!
Joel McNamara and his friend Kyle Van Buren grew up together in Michigan and have been supporting Arsenal for 15 years. You can find their weekly podcast on iTunes and at www.arsenalreviewusa.com. Text them your thoughts and score predictions at 77-55-REVIEW.Copyright 2016 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