By Kevin Mooney
The ‘road trip’ has become a prototypical activity for U.S. sports fans. Whether it’s to the Final Four, Super Bowl, or a pilgrimage to see one of the great cathedrals of American sport, for many fans, it’s simply an opportunity to show their devotion and follow their team to faraway places.
For Arsenal fans in America, however, road-tripping to London presents some obvious difficulties. Thousands of miles, a really big body of water and the difficulty of securing tickets and can be daunting barriers to a weekend trip. Fortunately, Arsenal America, the official Arsenal Supporters’ Group in the United States is there to help.
|At a pub before the game
Twice a year, the group organizes a trip to England for its members. Working with the Club, Arsenal America reserves a block of tickets so the group can enjoy match-day as a group. On their last visit, Arsenal Media followed the group as they experienced a quintessentially Arsenal day of heading to the pub, walking past Highbury and Arsenal station and watching the Gunners take three points.
The last road trip also provided members with a truly unique experience – the opportunity to attend Arsenal’s Champions League match at Donetsk in eastern Ukraine. That match planted the seed for the focus of the spring trip – an away match at Bolton on April 23rd.
Arsenal America President Josh Templeton explained why. “Many of our supporters have asked ‘what is it like to be at an away match?’” he said. “Our supporters asked, and we answered with this amazing trip. The atmosphere, the excitement, and the experience of being at an away match is truly something special. And the Club is providing us access to tickets that are very difficult to obtain.”
In addition to reserving tickets for a game, Arsenal America sets up a variety of activities with the Club, including a Legends Tour of Emirates Stadium. “Legends Tours provide a truly unique experience for Arsenal Supporters,” Templeton said. “You get to experience Arsenal from the players’ perspective. In the past we have had the pleasure of meeting with Charlie George and Perry Groves. The stories and insight they share bring Arsenal to life in real time. This is an event that you do not want to miss.”
|Team Arsenal America at Hyde Park
Another popular event is the Arsenal America Supporters match. It’s a chance to stretch those travel-weary legs and to meet the locals. In previous years it has been played at the Arsenal Academy at Shenley and Hyde Park. “We have played other supporters, Arsenal America supporters, and even Arsenal staff,” Templeton said. “It is considered by many to be the highlight of the trip – other than three points!”
“It’s exciting. I think it’s such a different experience. I think for any true Arsenal supporter, if they can make that pilgrimage, it’s something that you can never take away.”
And it’s also exactly the kind of thing that Arsenal America plans to continue doing for a long time.
“We’re planning even more trips and more events,” Templeton said. “I think there is going to be a lot more opportunity for Americans to come over, so hopefully everyone is excited by that.”
To learn more about the Road Trip and how to become a member of Arsenal America, visit their website at www.ArsenalAmerica.com.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 10 Feb 2011