Arsenal America was formed in August 2001 by several Arsenal fans who realized that there wasn't a supporters club in the United States. The club was granted official status in 2005 and since then has grown leaps-and-bounds, with new branches popping up all across the United States.
USA.Arsenal.com's Kevin Mooney caught up with Josh Templeton, the new president of Arsenal America. In part three of a three part interview, Josh describes one of Arsenal America's most exciting offerings -- the annual 'Road Trip'.
USA.Arsenal.com: What can you tell us about the Arsenal America ‘Road Trips’?
Josh Templeton: We do a road trip every year. We typically do two per season, so you’ll normally see us do one in fall/winter and another in the spring. They normally will constitute two or three matches. It will always be at least one home match and at least one away match.
For instance, the most recent road trip we did was in April. The home match was against Wolverhampton and the second match we got to see was the away leg of the Arsenal v Barcelona Champions League Quarter-Final. It was a fantastic match to experience. We got to go to Camp Nou, and we traveled with the club and with all the Arsenal supporters from abroad. It’s a really great experience and it’s a great time.
We also do a lot of different things while we are on tour. We often do a Legends Tour, which is a tour of Emirates Stadium given by an Arsenal legend. We have used Kenny Sansom, and Charlie George and it is an absolutely fantastic experience for Arsenal supporters to get to see the inner workings of Emirates Stadium. But you also get the fantastic stories about the history of Arsenal and what it was like to play for the club. And it’s from a real person – so you can see the Arsenal experience face-to-face. Our members love that.
Last season we also did a road trip in December – and this was the first time any supporters club had ever done this – we actually did a supporters football tournament. We worked with the club and arranged a game where Arsenal America supporters were intertwined with a number of Arsenal employees and players at the London Colney training facilities and we played a match at their youth training academy.
They pulled out full kits for us – home versus away – and we got pictures from that and had a great time. We got to spend some time with some really great Arsenal people. We got to play with the Arsenal club photographer and there were even some guys who used to play with the Arsenal youth academy. A few of them played with Ashley Cole, Tony Adams… and played in the reserves. So it was pretty cool to play on the pitch with some guys who actually played for Arsenal.
USA.Arsenal.com: What are your thoughts on the upcoming season?
Josh Templeton: I’m excited about the upcoming season I know that there a number of people who are excited nervous and everything in between. I think that this is going to be a season for Arsenal to really define ourselves as a club. It is now five years since we have won a piece of silverware. I think the additions of Chamakh and Koscielny – I think by putting them in it gives us options on the pitch to do things more dynamically.
Over the last few seasons we’ve absolutely been plagued by injuries, so I’m really hoping to see a very fit and sturdy Arsenal this season, I think we are going to challenge, as we always do, on all fronts. I think the teams to beat will be Chelsea, Manchester United, Manchester City and even maybe Liverpool back up in there. But I think that really the two teams to beat will definitely be Chelsea and Manchester City.
I think with the type of money that Manchester City is spending it’s a pretty good indicator that they are here to stay and that they are here to really make a run for the title. I think they have set their sights on that and they have set their sights on a Champions League spot. I also think that we would be foolish to count out Tottenham; this is a team who have finished in the top four.
From an Arsenal point of view I’d like to Theo Walcott have a really big season. I also think we are going to need to see Cesc Fabregas really pull the strings in the midfield and find the right partner for him.
I think at the end of the day we’re going to be a in a really strong position to challenge for the title and to challenge for the Champions League trophy. I think Wenger is going to do as he always does with the FA Cup and Carling Cup and he's going to play youth – a blended youth and senior squad and I think you're going to see him vie for the title and bring some silverware back to Arsenal.
I think it’s going to be a defining season and I’m excited about it!
USA.Arsenal.com: Who is your pre-season player of the year?
Josh Templeton: That’s a really good question… I actually think this is going to be the year for a big Arsenal defense, so I’m going to go out on a limb and say Thomas Vermaelen is going to be in contention for player of the year. I think Vermaelen brings a very unique skill set to Arsenal because not only is he a fantastic center back who is smart on the pitch, but this also someone who as a defender plays like a midfielder and in some instances can move the ball like a striker. I think at the day, Vermaelen will challenge anyone like Fabregas, Chamakh, or anyone who would hope to get player of the year. He was on the EPL top XI, so I think that really says a lot about a player who is just one season in with Arsenal.
The next Arsenal America Road Trip is currently being planned for late October or early November. To learn more about the Road Trip or membership with Arsenal America, you can visit their website at www.arsenalamerica.com or click the FanZoneUSA button at the top of this page.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