In 2005, we were in the midst of planning a belated honeymoon to London. And, while I’d been following the Arsenal somewhat passively for a couple of years, I did not yet fully appreciate the club’s significant history and accomplishments.
I reached out to the Arsenal Football Supporters Club in London, and a lovely woman named Peggy Goulding arranged seats in the North Bank, Highbury for a match against Manchester City. That day changed my life.
Prior to the match, my brother-in-law and I were welcomed into the London Supporter’s Clubhouse, just across from the stadium. The walls were lined with memorabilia and the rooms were packed with Gooners from all walks of life. We felt immediately at home and had a few pints before making our way to the stadium.
We were SO close to the pitch. My German companion shouted at Jens Lehmann warming up and got a wave. Ian Wright presented Thierry Henry with a trophy to commemorate his breaking Wright’s goal-scoring record. We howled at the abuse hurled at a Tottenham banner flapping weakly amongst the other league pennants.
Most of the day’s drama, including the infamous Robert Pires-Henry flubbed penalty trick, unfolded at the other end of the pitch. Still, we got to see club legends up close and in person – Wright, Henry, Pires, Denis Bergkamp, Kolo Touré, Cesc Fabregas, Lehmann – and experience a famous 1-0 to the Arsenal win. All-in-all, a day I will never forget.
I returned to San Francisco determined to maintain my support over land and sea and with a newfound love of watching matches surrounded by other Arsenal supporters. When I learned the San Francisco branch of Arsenal America had lapsed into inactivity, I jumped at the chance to form the Bay Area Gooners.
We found a newly opened Irish pub in San Francisco’s North Beach neighborhood and made it our very own! On the very first match day, we were welcomed by Maggie McGarry’s very own ex-pat Gooner bartender, Patrick Dunphy.
Patrick was both exuberant and cantankerous, but his consistent presence behind the bar and willingness to open for every match – including the occasional 4am kick off – helped grow the Bay Area Gooners into the vibrant and thriving community it is today.
We often channel our energy into charitable efforts. Food drives, fielding teams for tournaments supporting those in need, or raffles for victims of natural disasters, we exist to support Arsenal in a way that also benefits our local community.
On most match days, Maggie’s is packed with an eclectic crowd of people from all over the world. Ex-pat Brits rub shoulders with locals and tourists enjoying a holiday. The Bay Area Gooners are there for every Arsenal match, and all Gooners aged 21 and over are welcome!
I fell in love with football as I was later to fall in love with women: suddenly, inexplicably, uncritically, giving no thought to the pain or disruption it would bring with it. – Nick Hornby, Fever Pitch
Patrick Thomas Dunphy
We honor the life of local legend Patrick Thomas Dunphy who passed away November 5, 2019 at the age of 69.
One Patrick Dunphy, there's only one Patrick Dunphy.
When launching the Bay Area Gooners during the 2005/06 season, we settled on Maggie McGarry’s Irish Pub in North Beach as our home. At the very first match we were greeted by a jovial Londoner and life-long Arsenal supporter with a booming voice and bawdy sense of humor. From that day forward Patrick, opened the bar for every match regardless of start time. This is no small sacrifice as matches kick off as early as 4am on the US West Coast. That, my friends, is dedication.
Everyone who watched football at Maggie’s, regardless of club loyalty, knew and loved Patrick. He gently ribbed opposing fans and shouted GOONERS! at the top of his lungs when he thought Arsenal fans were too quiet. He was a warm and welcoming presence whose hospitality was legendary, but to us, Patrick was so much more. He was a friend and talisman, the linchpin of our community. When he banned a song – he believed “one-nil to the Arsenal” was bad luck – we never sang it again.
Patrick was given a special mention in a 2009 Bay Area Gooners feature in the Arsenal match day program, and his face has been immortalized on the back of our shirts. After his death, tributes poured in via social media from football fans all over the world, and during the next Arsenal match, fans in pubs all over the Bay Area remembered him with rousing applause in the 69th minute. Following the December 14 Arsenal v Man City match, the Bay Area Gooners alongside San Francisco Man City Blues celebrated Patrick’s life at Maggie McGarry’s in San Francisco.