Have you heard about The Arsenal?

Like any good congregant, I will proselytize about the Bay Area Gooners and Arsenal.

While out and about in The City, anyone in Arsenal gear is fair game. It is my mission to make sure they’re aware of our supporters’ group at Maggie’s. Often with mixed results.

I terrified an older Asian woman in Chinatown one day, who did not seem to grasp my intent, despite her bright red Arsenal jacket, Gooner? No? Arsenal? No? Wait, why are you running away?

Then there was a bewildered young man in a classic Arsenal Dreamcast jersey. After several awkward minutes, he revealed, I only bought this shirt because I’m a video games nerd.

Or the family of Italian tourists, whose patriarch, was wearing an Arsenal shirt, but shielded his family, insisting, I have no money. Pretty sure, he thought I was begging or trying to rob them.

But this is how the Bay Area Gooners was built. In the beginning, there were just a handful of us at the pub, while Facebook and Twitter were in their infancy. We grew exponentially by word of mouth, our mailing list, our Arsenal America affiliation, and good old fashion evangelism.

Anyone in an Arsenal shirt is a potential convert. See the match? Have you heard about the Bay Area Gooners? Ever watch at Maggie’s?

Arsenal’s Thierry Henry (C) battles with Bayern Munich’s Willy Sagnol (R) and Hasan Salihamidzic.

One night, I was enjoying a lovely romantic meal with my wife, sitting in the window of a neighborhood restaurant. A man jogged by briskly in shorts and the 2004/2005 kit (a favorite of mine).

I instantly felt a magnetic pull, pushed my chair back, only to have my wife fix me with a steely gaze, Don’t you dare get up from this table. I acquiesced, but couldn’t help but wonder about this lost soul and a missed opportunity.

Yesterday, we passed a young man in the new black away kit on Polk Street. I greeted him enthusiastically, how about that result? Excited for the season? He never broke his pace, stared straight ahead, earbuds firmly in place, as if I did not exist.

To be fair, one can get accosted a lot on the streets of San Francisco, so I let him pass without further incident. But chances are, if you are out in San Francisco, reppin’ the Arsenal, I will find you.

Is this just fantasy?

Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?

Possibly both. We’ve launched a Bay Area Gooners Fantasy Premier League via the league’s website.

Who doesn’t want a chance to demonstrate your managerial superiority, bench your least favorite players, or simply add fuel to your match day banter at Maggie McGarry’s!

Plus, we’ll sort out a prize for the winner!

Once you sign up, you’ll need our Bay Area Gooners League Code: aazyp1 to join!

Life is just a fantasy, can you live this fantasy life?

Arsenal: Back in Black

Arsenal kick off the 2022/2023 Premiership season this Friday at Crystal Palace with heightened levels of excitement and anticipation.

For the first time in recent history, the Gunners pulled off a pretty decent transfer window. They added youth prospect, Marquinhos, attacking midfielder, Fábio Vieira, and a Yank goalkeeper, Matt Turner, immediately endearing themselves to their American supporters.

But they really set Gooners’ hearts aflutter when they plucked a couple of gems from Man City’s embarrassment of riches, including versatile midfielder/defender, Oleksandr Zinchenko, and our own personal Jesus (apologies to Depeche Mode).

The latter immediately started banging balls into the back of the net, during Arsenal’s preseason trip to Baltimore and Florida, causing us all to reconcile unfamiliar feelings of hope for the coming season.

Not only are we feeling good, but we are are looking good, as Arsenal launched a black away kit, the kids are saying is fire (are the kids still saying that?). By all accounts, the new shirt broke all club records for sales of an Arsenal shirt, and we expect to see more than a few at the pub.

We’re back at Maggie McGarry’s for our 16th consecutive year. The ongoing pandemic has presented challenges organizing our match-viewings, but we’re optimistic for a return to normalcy, allowing us to be there for every match. Hopefully, you’ve all gotten vaccinations by now, aiding us in this effort.

Maggie’s is 21 and over, even in the parklet. As much as we’d like to welcome young Gooners, it would result in massive fines and likely suspension of the pub’s license. Dogs are welcome outside. Maggie’s does not serve food but you’re welcome to bring your own. Outside drinks are never okay.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t comment on allegations of sexual assault levied at an Arsenal player, and the shadow they’ve cast over the upcoming season. While not in possession of all the facts, the Bay Area Gooners absolutely condemn all sexual harassment and assault. Our goal is to make Maggie’s a safe space for everyone to enjoy supporting Arsenal without fear of harassment, harm or abuse. If you encounter any behavior at the pub that causes you to feel unsafe, please seek me out or Mick, Maggie’s owner.

People often ask, how they can join the Bay Area Gooners, and my usual response is, 1. Support Arsenal and come to the pub for the matches. 2. Don’t be a dick. But you can support our efforts by joining Arsenal America and selecting us as your home branch. You get nifty swag, discounts on Arsenal gear, as well as access to match tickets if you’re traveling to London.

This season, we’ll be bringing back Bay Area Gooners swag. Holly Hickman, who is responsible for designing our logo, past t-shirts, as well as our stadium banner at the Emirates, is working tirelessly on this new website, as well as scarves, shirts, and more! We will also renew our charitable efforts, which lapsed somewhat during the pandemic. More on both of these soon.

Looking forward to seeing everyone at the pub. C’mon you Gunners!

Best, Mark