"The early mornings really enhance the experience."
That is one aspect of being an Arsenal supporter in the USA is that is almost required: you must be a morning person. It's especially true in the western half of the country where getting to the pub to watch a game often means waking up before 5 a.m. in order to get a seat.
Meet the fans: Denver Gooners
"The Premier League has a great following in Denver," says Denver Gooners Branch Manager Drew Wiltjer. "There are three pubs that are packed to the gills for every match day - even before the sun comes up for the early matches at 5:45 a.m."
Denver has always been a great sports town. From baseball and football to lacrosse and indoor soccer, the city has you covered. So much so that an outsider might wonder if there was even enough room for another sport. After all, until recently, there was no Arsenal supporters group in Denver.
But Wiltjer is quick to point out that the popularity of the Premier League was soaring and the lack of an official group did not mean there weren't plenty of Arsenal fans in Denver. "There would be 25-30 Arsenal supporters for most games – and that number was growing," he says.
Fellow Denver Gooner Ben Donnelly suggests that it really just came down to a lack of organization. "When I would say that I'm going to the pub at 7 a.m. to watch a game, people usually asked which of the pubs I'd be going to."
"The presence of KSE and the Colorado Rapids makes Arsenal feels like our home team.
Eventually, the fans had enough and the Denver Gooners were born. "It started as an informal uprising of Arsenal fans aimed at uniting them into a community," explains Wiltjer.
And the day it officially got started? The last day of the 2012/13 season. Or as Wiltjer likes to point out, "Saint Totteringham's Day 2013!"
"The Tottenham fans were segmented from the Arsenal fans at the Three Lions pub, forced to watch their season-ending match upstairs," he recalls. "By the end of the match, they had abandoned their own match and were all lined up peering over the railing. After the final whistle, they shrieked in fear, as the Arsenal fans broke out in song with 'One Nil To The Arsenal.'"
Now the Denver Gooners are becoming a fixture at the pub. And as Wiltjer says, "Football fans are thrilled to have more people in their community."
"Arsenal are easily one of the top three teams in the city. Becoming a Gooner was a natural choice for me as a Denver native," says Donnelly. "The presence of KSE and the Colorado Rapids makes Arsenal feels like our home team, so it's not surprising for it to be standing room only on match days.
"The scene here is great."
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