Moving towards democracy

Branch ManagerI founded the Bay Area Gooners over 8 years ago because of a desire to watch Arsenal matches with other fans of the club.  In that time, we’ve gone from about 10 people in the pub to a mailing list of over 700, a Facebook group of 874, and a Twitter feed with some 2,700+ followers.

Most matches now at Maggie McGarry’s draw a pretty good crowd, even at 4:45AM, andit’s especially packed for particular big matches.  I’m there for most if not all of the matches, and do my best to make new Gooners feel welcome and part of the family.

Over the years, I’ve tried to steer the group towards good works. We’ve done charity matches against the local Spurs group, raising money for everything from Southern tornado relief to the Japanese earthquake fund.  We’ve also collected canned goods for the San Francisco-Marin Food Bank on numerous occasions, and held the occasional charitable raffle for different causes.

Running the group can be time consuming, and while I’m not complaining (it’s been a great experience thus far), I’ve decided to try and bring some other folks on board to help share the load. I attended an event a few months back put on by the local Liverpool supporters group, and was impressed by the fact that they have a committee of 6 or 7 leading their efforts.

AH14-Happy Mark2So if you’re a Gooner, who’s at the pub on a regular basis (minimum 2-3 times a month), and want to get involved, let’s talk at the pub.

Not exactly sure how this will work, but there are things the Bay Area Gooners could accomplish that I’m finding I don’t have the bandwidth to do on my own, such as more charitable efforts, a site redesign, maybe even a group trip to the Emirates.

At the very least, if I’m can’t make it to the pub, it would be great to feel assured that someone was taking new Gooners under their wing and making sure they’re integrated into our Gooner family.

See you at the pub!

Cheers, Mark

 

It’s all about to kick off!

Less than two weeks away from the start of the Premier League season and Arsenal supporters have reason to feel optimistic. Last season ended with the FA Cup, the Gunners’ first silverware in some time, and during the transfer window, Le Boss has been far from idle, with new boys Sanchez, Debuchy, and Ospina.

We’re expecting good crowds at our home pub, Maggie McGarry’s for the Arsenal match-viewings. There are the Gooners who’ve been there from the beginning, those we’ve added each season, and no doubt, we’ll see some new faces, their appetites whetted by the recent World Cup.

So who are the Bay Area Gooners?  We started almost nine years ago with a desire to watch Arsenal Football Club with other dedicated Gunners fans. And it’s become an eclectic group -Americans, British ex-pats, South Africans, Hungarians, black, white, straight, gay, women, men, you name it, Gooners from all walks of life – united by their love of this North London football side.

What should you expect when coming to Maggie’s for the first time? If you’re a Gooner, you’re family. There’s cheering, singing, collective moaning, drinking, shouting, laughing, and all round camaraderie.

We don’t always agree on players, team selection, or match tactics, but when the team takes the pitch, we’re united behind the 11 wearing the Arsenal kits.

What we won’t put up with is drunken incivility, racial abuse, sexism and misogyny, homophobia and the like. The brilliant thing is we hardly need to say this, because Arsenal supporters by and large, are intelligent, enlightened, and worldly folks.

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We often get asked, “How do I join the Bay Area Gooners?” Easy-peasy, just live in the San Francisco-Bay Area, support Arsenal, and turn up at the pub for the matches.

Last season, we formed a satellite group, the South Bay Gooners, as many of our regulars living in San Jose, Santa Clara, and Silicon Valley, were finding it difficult to get to The City for 7AM kickoffs. They now watch their matches at Jack’s Bar in San Jose. More information can be found on their Facebook page.

Maggie’s does attract supporters of other clubs. One of the Manchester clubs often has a few fans show up, and we get the odd fans of Fulham, United, Liverpool, and other clubs.

Occasionally we even get a Spurs supporter whose sense of direction is as poor as his/her choice of club. And yet, in all of these instances, we keep the banter civil and unthreatening.

In addition to organized viewings for every Arsenal match, we often engage in charitable efforts – canned food drives, raffles to raise funds, or charity matches. In fact, we’re fielding a Bay Area Gooners team for the Street Soccer USA National Cup tournament at San Francisco’s Civic Center Plaza on August 15-17, 2014. We’re playing in their Open Cup alongside teams from SF Spurs, Liverpool SF, and more.

Stay connected to us on Twitter, Facebook, or by joining our mailing list.

In closing, it doesn’t matter if you’ve been an Arsenal supporter for 50 years or 50 seconds, provided you’re 21 and over*, you’re welcome to join us at Maggie McGarry’s in North Beach on match day.

*We do try to schedule several all-ages get-togethers during the season to accommodate Gooners with kids or those not yet 21.

Questions, suggestions, complaints? Drop us a line here