By Brett Chase
This Saturday, hundreds of Gooners from all over the United States and Canada joined a contingent of the NYC Arsenal Supporters for a day in New York celebrating Arsenal -- and one Gunner legend in particular.
The day began with nearly 200 Gooners meeting at the NYC Arsenal Supporters' home pub, The Blind Pig. Fans traveling from faraway places like California, Florida, Canada and even some who made the transatlantic flight from England, joined local Arsenal America members to watch The Gunners outfight Bolton Wanderers 4-1 amid nonstop singing and at chanting.
Yet the main event of the day came later. 450 Arsenal Supporters made their way to Harrison, NJ to see former Arsenal great Thierry Henry and his new club -- MLS-side Red Bull New York -- face Colorado Rapids. Songs rang out as a red-and-white army marched several city blocks toward the train, where the chanting continued all the way to Red Bull Arena.
A raucous section of Gooners looked on as Henry opened the scoring after a lovely give-and-go sent him clear on the left side of the area to finish low and inside the far post. The legend's name was sung with pride from the Arsenal supporters, who were acknowledged by a wave from Thierry himself.
The 3-1 Red Bull victory was a fair result, and the home support went home pleased. That left hundreds of red-clad Arsenal supporters awaiting an opportunity to meet with the Gunners' all-time leading goal scorer.
Approximately an hour after the full-time whistle, our favorite Frenchman emerged to the sound of his own name being sung, and applauded the fans in kind. Thierry answered a number of questions about his career and his future posed by several of our supporters, including one fan's cheeky inquiry of "What do you think of Tottenham?" to which Henry replied "I think you already know the answer."
He then posed for photographs in front of the crowd and the assembled Arsenal flags, and several with event organizers Josh Templeton (Arsenal America and Charm City Gooners President) and Kurtis Powers and Brett Chase (President and Vice-President, respectively, of NYC Arsenal Supporters). Finally, after graciously signing items held out by fans for several minutes, the legend headed back toward the dressing room to the sound of his own songs, leaving behind hundreds of very cheerful American Gooners.
If it wasn't already known, Arsenal support is alive and thriving in the United States, and it was on display this weekend in New York. Whether each fan has cheered on the Arsenal for decades or only the a few seasons, the passion for Arsenal seems as potent here as it is in N5.
The arrival of an Arsenal legend like Thierry Henry on these shores will no doubt draw even more supporters to the club. And with so many fans descending on New York City from all parts of North America in honor of Arsenal, this weekend very much embodied the club motto, Victoria Concordia Crescit.
It was a wonderful day to be an Arsenal supporter in America.
Brett Chase is the vice president of the NYC Arsenal Supporters.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