Lifelong fan Peter Anderson is aiming to watch every single Arsenal match this season - but from a different place on the Gunners-supporting globe!
The 'Gooner On The Road' has got an around-the-world ticket and is aiming to meet up with hospitable Arsenal fans worldwide to watch a game together, borrow their couch for a night and then head off to meet the next member of our global family.
Peter not only hopes to highlight the wonderful warmth of the Arsenal fans, wherever they may be, but he is also aiming to raise money for the Triple Negative Breast Cancer Foundation. Can the GOTR succeed in his mission? We'll have regular updates on his progress during the course of the season.
So where am I with the Gooner On The Road mission?
Well, after several weeks of deliberation, I finally took the plunge and bought my around-the-world travel ticket. A ticket that would see me watching every Arsenal match of next season, either at various supporters' pubs or at Gooners' homes, across four different continents. All in the hope of raising £10,000 for the Triple Negative Breast Cancer Foundation.
"In order to make sure I don't miss a match, I've had to ensure that it's logistically possible for me to get from one place to another and leave enough time in between fixtures"
The planning for this trip hasn't been entirely straight forward, I must admit. For example, in order to make sure I don't miss a match, I've had to ensure that it's logistically possible for me to get from one place to another and leave enough time in between fixtures. And, being a backpacker, I've got a backpacker's budget. So flying everywhere is out of the question. What it does mean is that I'm going to be doing a lot of hopping around, so those international breaks in the fixture list are going to be my R&R windows.
Originally I had planned a month in Europe, three months in North America and the rest in Australia, New Zealand and Asia. Having studied the fixture list, I realised very quickly that there was no way I would be able to spend that amount of time in those locations. So I've cut short the amount of time I'm going to be in Europe and North America. That means sacrificing some areas where I really wanted to go, with the upside being less holes to fill and a better probability of finding Gooners to host me and watch a match with.
In fact, after fiddling around with my itinerary, I'm now in a position where I can effectively couch-surf all the way from Emirates Stadium (Aston Villa) to Los Angeles. Along the way I have had offers, mainly from Twitter users (@GoonerOnTheRoad) to stay in Prague, Berlin, Copenhagen, Gothenburg, Montreal, Boston, New York, Raleigh/Durham, New Orleans, Austin, Dallas, Kansas City, Salt Lake City, Vancouver, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego... and those were just the ones I could fit into my itinerary! I've had to reluctantly sacrifice places like Brussels, Madison, Chicago, Houston, Denver, Indianapolis and Jackson.
As you can see, there are a huge number of Arsenal supporters in North America. There's also a healthy number of supporters in Australia who are willing to help with my challenge.
Things certainly look different in Asia, where the East-meets-West culture complicates things. I've been told by a few people that easterners aren't going to be as happy to open their doors to a westerner, regardless of whether they 'wear the same colours'. But I'm hopeful that, as my journey evolves, things will go in my favour. I'm not going to be in Asia until February next year, so there's plenty of time, right?!
Now that the itinerary has taken a step in the right direction, all that's left for me to do is get some vaccinations and look for a backpack (and other kit!) to take on my journey.
Peter AndersonGooner On The Road
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