"I became a Gooner when I was in the same class as David Seaman's son."
Yes, Chris Allan's story about how he became an Arsenal fan is better than most. Despite growing up in the UK, he says his father was not a big football fan. "So he didn't have a team to pass down to me."
MEET THE FANS: MIAMI
But Allan still managed to find his way to Arsenal – when he visited the home of the legendary Arsenal and England goalkeeper. "I went to a birthday party at his house and I wanted to wear an Arsenal shirt. That's how I became a Gooner."
Fast forward to 2009 and Allan moved to New York City. By now he had long since achieved full-time Gooner status. He immediately joined the NYC Arsenal Supporters and felt at home with the group's fantastic culture.
Two years later, he uprooted himself once again, this time for sunny Miami, Fla. "There is a lot of football in Miami mainly due to the Latin influence here," says Allan. "And the first thing I did was look for a supporters club."
Of course, there was one problem. "There wasn't a club here, so I just watched the games alone."
After a couple of years of watching games with such a dynamic group in the Big Apple, Allan always kept the idea of starting up a Miami supporters group in the back of his mind. That idea would continue to bubble because of, as he says, "a strange amount of Arsenal fans in Miami."
A lot of people, once they realize I'm British, ask who I support. And a lot of people say they like Arsenal.
"A lot of people, once they realize I'm British, ask who I support," he says. "And a lot of people say they like Arsenal.
"I would see Arsenal car stickers all the time," Allan recalls. "And I recently left a note on a Vespa because it was red with two Arsenal stickers. It just became a matter of finding the Arsenal supporters and recruiting them."
Things really got going shortly after the end of the 2012/13 campaign. "I got a new job and a guy at work is a big football fan," Allan explains."He supports Barcelona, but 'likes' Arsenal. So he pushed me to start the group."
And that co-worker may have turned out to be Allan's most prized recruit to date. "He's helping me out a lot with the social media aspects and the website -- as well as committing to come to all the games. He has taken Arsenal on as his British team." And with help from a graphic designer at their company, the fledgling group even got its own logo.
It was then just a matter of tracking down a place to gather for games. They approached people at a local pub to see if it could be a good fit. With Allan estimating that he should already be able to bring 10-15 supporters in for games – and perhaps more than 20 for the big matches, the group found their first home.
But times change... and so do matchday venues. Ahead of the 2016/17 season, Gooners in Miami can meet up at Fado Irish Pub at the Shops at Mary Brickell Village. Allan says the new digs offer a huge room that will be decked out in Arsenal gear. If you are in town - be sure to check it out!
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