By Kyle and Stacey Van Buren

When you think about romantic vacation destinations London certainly comes to mind. After all, what husband wouldn’t earn unlimited brownie points for whisking his wife off to London for a relaxing getaway? Full of history, full of wonder, full of Arsenal…

Not surprisingly the idea of what London has to offer often means different things to different people and I can say that was also true in the Van Buren household. For me London meant Arsenal; for my wife, Stacey (someone who had never been to London,) it meant something quite different.


ATP - Emirates view

The most romatic place on Earth... Emirates Stadium

If there is anything I (Kyle) have learned about being married while trying to follow a team on a five-hour time difference, it is that give and take is always a good thing. This trip was no different. In fact, if I didn’t "give" generously for the amount of "take" I was receiving in the form of Arsenal Football club… well I think you get the idea.

The agenda was definitely leaning in my favor. We would arrive on a Saturday, FA Cup vs. Huddersfield Town on Sunday, Arsenal Legends Tour with Perry Groves and Arsenal Museum on Monday, Premier League game vs. Everton on Tuesday. How could anyone not love this itinerary?

To give Stacey credit, she wasn’t opposed to being subjected to Arsenal on this trip. In fact she rather looked forward to seeing them play. But one could understand her trepidation at the prospect of not being able to see the rest of London.

Now, I (Stacey) knew of Kyle's admiration for Arsenal and even knew some of the players names, having heard him speak of them often – especially while recording his Arsenal Review USA podcast. However, my main interest in our trip to London was for the sightseeing and travel, not so much to see an Arsenal game. In fact, I sort of cringed that I would have to attend two games AND a tour. I was convinced there were much better things to do with our time.

But this all changed after attending my first game, and after the second I was totally hooked. I have attended numerous professional sporting events in the US, but none of them compare to what I experienced in London. The excitement and flow of the game was so tangible. I felt both the emotional lows of a bad call and the highs of an incredible play. The crowd was also electric, and it was clear their knowledge of the sport and players ran deep – something not always found on this side of the pond.


ATP - Legends tour

Kyle on the Legends Tour

Especially after the Legends Tour of the Emirates Stadium, I gained a deeper respect for both the talent and dedication of the players and the club itself.

The fans in London also carry this same intense dedication. It was obvious they don't just have a 'favorite' player or team like fans in the US do, that can change with how well the team or player is performing. Rather, it's often very much a part of them, a history of support that runs back through family generations and is part of everyday life.

These Arsenal experiences have confirmed my enthusiasm and honest opinion that attending an Arsenal game was the best sporting event I’ve ever been to.

And there you have it.  It would appear that I (Kyle) have successfully converted my wife into a true Arsenal fan and I think she would agree. I can say with confidence that my strategy for spousal soccer allegiances was greatly aided by the non-footballing enticements in and throughout London. But that doesn’t mean I can’t take any credit for introducing my better half to the beauty of Arsenal Football.

So guys, get to it. I’m way ahead of you.

Kyle Van Buren and his wife Stacey live outside Indianapolis, Ind.  Kyle is the co-host of the Arsenal Review USA podcast and Stacey puts up with him.  You can follow the podcast on Twitter @ArsenalReviewUS and text your thoughts and comments on all things Arsenal to 77-55-REVIEW

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10 Mar 2011