These are the good times

What is there to say? A magnificent win over United in thrilling fashion. And how good is it to see Eddie Nketiah come good! Starting to feel like he may be worthy of that number 14 shirt. The musical tributes, here and here, are piling up.

To quote Chic, good times, these are the good times. Still too early for title talk (IMO), instead preferring to enjoy these players and this manager, as they continue their winning ways. Certainly has made for lively times at Maggie McGarry’s this season.

Our post-match charity raffle was a lot of fun and we raised a bit of cash for Youth Speaks, and it felt good to get back to our charitable ways. Hope to be doing more of this later in the season. Pictures on both our Instagram and Facebook, so give us a follow if you’re still on either of these.

No weekend match, as Arsenal head to Manchester tomorrow to face Citeh in the 4th Round of the FA Cup. Maggie’s will have the match on, for those of you who can take a long lunch, “work from home”, or “take a meeting”.

Let us know if you’ll make it on our the Bay Area Gooners Facebook page.

Sadly, I will be unable to free myself from my work obligations and won’t make it to the pub.

Best, Mark

Utd, Raffle Redux Sunday!

Delightful win over Spurs this past Sunday! Unfortunately, our charity raffle was postponed as yours truly was ill and unable to attend. By all accounts, Maggie’s was a raucous good time! For everyone, except a solitary Tottenham supporter.

Sunday, another stern test as Manchester United visits the Emirates. The Reds were responsible for Arsenal’s last loss, a match that still sticks in the craw, due to questionable refereeing in a match the Gunners largely dominated. But now Arsenal can exact their revenge and add to the gap between us and City.

Let us know if you’ll make it on our the Bay Area Gooners Facebook page.

Charity Raffle Rescheduled!

Our charity raffle to raise money for Youth Speaks, originally scheduled for the North London Derby, will now be held this Sunday! Tickets will be available from myself or Kaylé Barnes throughout the match and we’ll draw the winners immediately following the final whistle.

We’ve got a number of great prizes including those pictured here, but you must be present to win! However, if you’re unable to attend but would still like to make a contribution, you can use this QR code:

BAG Scarves Are Back!

We sold out two previous batches of Bay Area Gooners scarves, and still did not quench the demand! We’ve received a new order and these will be available from me Sunday as well. While supplies last!

During our last match against Utd, we had to contend with a small but vocal (and really annoying) group of their supporters, so get to Maggie McGarry’s early to stake out and defend our territory.

Hope we see you at the pub on Sunday!

Best, Mark

NLD Charity Event Sunday!

When last we saw our most loathed opponent in October, Arsenal dispatched them fairly handily 3-1. Since then, the Gunners have continued their mostly winning ways and held their top of the table spot, while Spurs have been a model of inconsistency which sees them currently in 5th.

This is always one of the biggest fixtures on the calendar. Arsenal’s season is judged not just by silverware and our table position at the end, but by how we fare against the scum. It is the stuff banter and bragging rights are made of.

Let us know if you’ll make it on our the Bay Area Gooners Facebook page.

But Bay Area Gooners have another good reason to head to Maggie’s on Sunday. Over the years, our group has prided itself on our good works. We’ve done numerous fundraisers over the years for everything from Northern California fire victims to Southern tornado relief.

These efforts were temporarily derailed by the pandemic, but we’re back at it this Sunday. We’re hosting a charity raffle to raise money for Youth Speaks! Tickets will be available from myself or Kaylé Barnes throughout the match and we’ll draw the winners immediately following the final whistle.

We’ve got a number of great prizes including those pictured here, but you must be present to win! However, if you’re unable to attend but would still like to make a contribution, you can use this QR code:

I hope we see you at the pub on Sunday!

Best, Mark

Ooh to be a Gooner: Kaylé

Another in our series profiling the Gooners joining us at Maggie McGarry’s on match days.

Kaylé Barnes was born in Lafayette, Louisiana, grew up in Houston, Texas, and lived for a time in Washington, D.C., In DC, she watched Arsenal regularly at Lucky Bar (RIP to that bar) with the DC Armory, and found the East Coast start times so much gentler.

She moved to San Francisco about 8 years ago and in an effort to acclimate to new surroundings, found us, by searching Bay Area and Arsenal. Upon learning of our existence, she began braving the West Coast’s less hospitable kickoff times.

But her journey to becoming an Arsenal supporter, started with one of the many international friends Kaylé made as an undergrad in college. One particularly special friend, spoke passionately of Arsenal and Thierry Henry.

Watching Titi, she was captivated by how beautiful he was, how beautifully he played and the rest was history. Kaylé’ also loved everything about Arsène Wenger, the style of footy he wanted his team to play, his passion for the game, even his coats. And she appreciated how many French players there were when she first encounted the team.

When asked abou all-time favorite Arsenal players, she says, Titi is an easy answer, but a more interesting answer is Giroud. He was an underappreciated player, who gave us a lot of memorable goals and  a real commitment to the team. I’m glad through his work on the French national team, he’s starting to get his props, since he’ll probably surpass Henry’s goal record with Les Bleus during this World Cup (Editor’s note: he did).

She finds it impossible to choose a current favorite, saying, It changes every match, which is a wonderful position to be in. A true embarrassment of riches! I can’t and won’t choose. If I had to celebrate one player in one critical match, I’d say Tomiyasu versus Liverpool. I was really stressed, but also hopeful about the Liverpool match and the work he did to make Salah a non-factor was really impressive and helped us win. 

Kaylé is a huge Arteta fan, I’ve wanted Arteta since Wenger left in 2019 and have never wavered. I’m pretty sure the only person who loves Arsenal more than Wenger is Arteta. Seeing him lead the boys in All or Nothing: Arsenal was surprisingly moving, reigniting my love for the team and the Arsenal way, which made me fall in love with the club initially. Watching how much the players respect and love him made me recommit to our absurdly early West Coast times.

She loves watching with the Bay Area Gooners, citing the sense of camaraderie and community. Sharing something in common. It’s a really special feeling to walk into a bar for a 4:00 am match, knowing other people, just as passionate, are going to be there. We’re seeing the fruit of the Arteta way and it’s delicious! Thanks for all the love and intentionality you bring to creating a community for Gooners. You make sure everyone feels welcomed and that it is a positive space.

Kaylé (far right)

Kaylé visited the Emirates in 2019 and found it a really moving experience. I haven’t seen Arsenal play in person yet, but one day inshallah. I can’t wait until I get to see them play in London! I’m sure I’ll cry. I hope by the time I make it to a match, Wenger’s statue is up to greet me.

When not obsessing about Arsenal, Kaylé is Director of Advancement for local non-profit, Youth Speaks. She says, Youth Speaks is a Bay Area-based youth arts and culture organization that amplifies the stories and perspectives of young people through arts education and youth development programming.

Youth Speaks produces local and national youth poetry slams, festivals, and reading series, alongside a comprehensive slate of arts-in-education programs during the school day and during out-of-school time. In short, Youth Speaks exists to create spaces that challenge youth to develop and amplify their voices as creators of societal change.

On Sunday, January 15th, we’ll host a charity raffle during the North London Derby at Maggie’s. We’ll have a number of great Arsenal prizes and all proceeds will go to Youth Speaks. More on that, very soon!

What the FA!

Frustrating result on Monday. We all generally understood Newcastle would be a stern test, but was rather hoping they’d come to play. Arsenal weren’t their sharpest when faced with the Magpie’s nihilistic style and a woefully inadequate referee, so I suppose we should be happy with a hard fought point, but the vexing outcome still gnaws at me days later.

Monday, Arsenal begin their FA Cup campaign against Oxford United, a League One side. Personally, I’m hoping Arteta will rest some folks, play some youths, and conserve our strength for the North London Derby the following weekend.

Let us know if you’ll make it on our the Bay Area Gooners Facebook page.

Unsatisfying to have another Arsenal-free weekend, but we’ll make up with it with a trip to the Tottenham toilet bowl on Sunday, January 15th. We’re expecting a good crowd at Maggie’s and we’ve having a charity raffle that day to raise money for a great local non-profit.

Unfortunately, work obligations will keep me from being at the pub Monday, so you’ll have to do enough shouting for both of us.

Best, Mark

No rest in the new year!

Thrilled Arsenal finished 2022 with a win away at Brighton. Despite going up 0-3, the Gunners found themselves with plenty to do in the remaining 25 minutes of the match, as the Seagulls would not die quietly and it all ended with a rather nervy finish. Still, sitting atop the Premiership table with a 7 point lead is a lovely way to start 2023.

Another match in quick succession as Newcastle come to visit tomorrow, and possibly the Gunners’ sternest test yet these season. Since their infusion of blood-stained lucre from new ownership, The Magpies have become a formidable side indeed. Whether we’re looking at another Man City, where unlimited resources means nothing is out of reach, remains to be seen.

Let us know if you’ll make it on our the Bay Area Gooners Facebook page.

Then next Monday, Arsenal face Oxford United in the 3rd Round of the FA Cup. While Maggie’s shows all matches, this means we have no weekend match viewings until the North London Derby on Sunday, January 16th. Save that date, as we’re doing a charity raffle that day. More on that very soon.

Unfortunately, I have work obligations tomorrow, but hopefully some of you will make it to the pub.

Best, Mark

Last Arsenal match of 2022!

Lovely to see the Gunners continue their winning ways. Gooners at the pub agree we’ve lost the apprehension and despair that permeated last season’s matches when Arsenal would go down a goal.

This season’s model has us all brimming with confidence that the team will not only fight back but persevere and get a result. Another full house of Gooners at Maggie McGarry’s saw us do just that, Monday against West Ham.

Tomorrow a formidable test awaits away at Brighton. The Seagulls, currently sitting in 7th, have put up some decent results and should not be taken lightly.

Kick of is a perfectly civilized 9:30am, so expect another good crowd.

Let us know if you’ll make it on our the Bay Area Gooners Facebook page.

Regrettably, I’ve gotten one of those winter colds and won’t make it to the pub. Wishing all our Bay Area Gooners a Happy New Year and I’ll see you in 2023!

Best, Mark

And we are back!

After an intolerable and unnecessary international break, that saw our best player injured, Arsenal are finally back!

Can they continue the momentum that has them sitting top of the table? Who will step up in Gabriel’s absence? Will we sign anyone in January? The season restarts with more questions than answers.

But the important thing is, Arsenal are back and we’ve got matches to watch!

The second half of the season kicks off with West Ham on Boxing Day. Kickoff is a lovely 12pm for West Coast Gooners and we’ll be back at Maggie McGarry’s for the match!

Let us know if you’ll make it on our the Bay Area Gooners Facebook page.

Happy Holidays to all Bay Area Gooners and hope to see you at the pub!

Best, Mark

Men in Blazers visit S.F.

Any footy fan worth their salt is aware of the Men in Blazers. Roger Bennett and Michael Davies have been covering all things football for almost a decade now on their podcasts and TV show.

Now they are bringing their MIB Live: This Cup’s For You – World Cup Tour to San Francisco at The Warfield Theater on Saturday, December 10th. They’ll discuss the ongoing tournament and celebrate Bay Area football culture with some very special guests.

Would you like to represent the Bay Area Gooners at this event? Email me to let me know how many tickets (limit of 3) and you will be entered in a random drawing for tickets provided to us by MIB. I expect to draw a name on Friday, December 2nd. You’ll need to wear Arsenal gear (or Bay Area Gooners, if you have it) to the event!

Ooh to be a Gooner: Mahlon

One might easily believe Mahlon Christensen was predestined to be a Gooner. Some 17 years, ago he wins a 2002-2003 Arsenal away kit during a pub quiz. Soon after, his good friend and rabid Arsenal supporter, Tal, visits and hands him a copy of Fever Pitch, Nick Hornby’s memoir of Arsenal fandom.

He immediately connects with the ideas of suffering and hope in the book. Watching Arsenal on television, he is captivated by the participatory nature of football fandom, the constant singing, chanting and bantering.

Theo Walcott, was the first Arsenal player Mahlon fell in love with. He settled on Walcott, while playing FIFA with Tay, because he was amongst the fastest players in the game. His current favorite is Gabriel Jesus. He’s brought an entire new dimension and attitude to our offense and to everyone. He has raised their game to a new level to match his enthusiasm.

Mahlon subsequently discovered the Bay Area Gooners online, joining our Facebook group. Originally from Modesto, now living in Alameda, he doesn’t get to Maggie McGarry’s as often as he would like, but has enjoyed some memorable moments at the pub including 2017’s FA Cup Final win over Chelsea.

In 2021, Dave Seager, the author of several books on Arsenal, reached out to ask him to participate in a new book. Mahlon has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair, and Dave wanted him to share his story in Arsenal for Everyone, about Arsenal’s disabled supporters. Always check your Instagram DM’s, because you never know when one will provide a once in a lifetime opportunity or a chance for a new friendship. In this case I got both.

His friendship with Dave would solidify during Mahlon’s first visit to see Arsenal in person at Emirates Stadium in October, accompanied by his brother, Michael. Luckily my secret plan to make Michael into a passionate football fan came to fruition. His brother’s desire to go to London and willingness to help with logistics, got the duo planning in earnest. Dave secured them tickets to Arsenal v Tottenham and the trip was set.

On game day, the club arranged for them to see the Arsenal players arrive for the match, An incredible experience primarily because we’ve all seen it on TV for so long. They watched the North London Derby from the Clock End, just behind the Ashburton Army, an Arsenal supporters group.

The noise and pageantry was unlike anything I’ve ever seen or heard! There were flags and the army never stopped singing from first kick to the last. In fact ALL the fans sang, in unison. It was great to hear all the new songs and to feel the energy of an entire stadium pulling together willing the team to victory.  It was surreal.

We were right behind the goal which Arsenal was attacking during the first half. To see the first goal go in was a thrill, I will never forget! I felt like it was coming straight at me.  Everything just lined up for us to come this year and with Arsenal in first place it couldn’t have been a better year. And we got to go to the best game of the year and watch Arsenal win again.

Finally seeing Arsenal at the Emirates was the fulfillment of a long time dream! I honestly thought that at my age and with the significant arrangements that are required for me to travel, that I might never see Arsenal play in person. Mahlon saw his dream day at the stadium further commemorated by inclusion in the matchday programme.

Mahlon and Michael also accompanied Dave on a Legends Tour of the stadium, led by Perry Groves. This included the director’s box, the golden Invincibles’ trophy, manager’s office, and of course, the team locker room, Mahlon had seen so many times in All or Nothing. Mahlon says, I’d like to point out how helpful the Arsenal staff were on the tour; they were there to call elevators and facilitate my wheelchair movement throughout the stadium. After the tour, Perry spent another 30 minutes with them and was in Mahlon’s words, a true gent.

Following the tour, they took in the Arsenal Museum and Highbury, It was really incredible to be there after seeing it in pictures for so long! He also connected with UK friends he’d made online, some he’d corresponded with for a decade. It meant a lot to me that they each took the time to come to where I was staying to meet in person.

Being a member of the Arsenal community is vitally important to Mahlon. He’s happy to share his story with fans he feels understand him so deeply already. Not being a very social person by nature, initiating conversations is hard for me, so it’s great to have a built-in network of people who all care about the same thing that I do.  Whether we watch from near or far, no matter what the time zone, we all feel a part of something larger than ourselves. Arsenal is for everyone, we are one family.

Thank you to Michael McAnaney for sharing his photos. You can follow Mahlon on Instagram here.