If you are in the Gainesville area be sure to meet up with the local branch of Arsenal America!
MEET THE FANS: GAINESVILLE
Group name: Gainesville Gooners
Location: Gainesville, Florida
Home pub: Gainesville House of Beer
19 W University Ave, Gainesville
Facebook: Gainesville Gooners
In Gainesville, Florida in 2013, an Arsenal fan named Ross Cotton put a feeler out on Reddit to find out if there were other Gooners in the area.
“Premier League football in big in Gainesville, as you would expect at a large American public university with an incredibly diverse and international student body,” Ross said. “Strolling across campus, you are likely to see students sporting Arsenal jerseys and Arsenal have a large following here.
“The challenge thus far is raising awareness among fans that the Gainesville Gooners exist.”
American college towns provide an interesting juxtaposition when it comes to Arsenal support. During the Premier League season, these cities and towns see a huge boost in numbers of their young, diverse and sports-mad populations that grew up playing soccer, watching the Premier League on TV and playing FIFA on Playstation or Xbox.
“Because of the diverse student body, it's very easy to meet fellow soccer fans,” said a supporter named Alex. “Arsenal seem to be a team with universal support.”
The problem is that that populations in those towns are ever-changing and what works well one year may fade away the next.
So far the Gainesville Gooners are doing a good job at stemming that trend. Having a dedicated home pub - Gainesville House of Beer - certainly helps. And the 20 or so Gooners that turn out for games make for a great atmosphere.
“The scene is truly something special. It's a group of young men and women joined by a common passion,” Alex said. “On match day, there is excitement in the air. Sharing that time with friends and beer makes it even more amazing.”
Of course, there is the minor problem of having to wake up really early on a Saturday or Sunday morning to watch some games. But a Gooner names Salil put in perspective.
“When people find out I'm going to a bar at 7 a.m., they are usually shocked,” he said. “But then a lot of them would do the same for the Gators, so they understand it.”
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