Arsenal’s dance card fills up

Can’t really talk to much about Sunday’s result. A demoralizing loss made more annoying by a smattering of United supporters at our pub. 99% of whom, I’d never seen before. But I suppose our rocket ship had to plummet earthward at some point, and we can now dispense with all the “new Invincibles” chatter.

With the addition of Europa League group stage matches, Arsenal’s fixture list is becoming congested. The Gunners have 4 matches in 10 days of September and following the dreaded international break, October is more of the same. With 9 matches next month, the Gunners are playing an average of every 3 days.

Save the dates!

Some notable dates, Bay Are Gooners will want to put on their calendar. Saturday, October 1st is the first North London Derby of the season and our first 4:30am PT kickoff. Not for the faint of heart.

Then there’s Man City on Wednesday, October 19th. A match of this magnitude on a weekday is beyond annoying, but make arrangements to take the day off, long lunch, whatever, to be at Maggie’s for this one. A framed dollar bill hangs in the balance, but more on that closer to the match.

This week’s matches

Arsenal kick off their Europa League group stage with a trip to Switzerland to face FC Zürich on Thursday, before returning to London to face Everton. Maggie’s will have both matches on and we’ll see if the less favorable start times hamper our attendance.

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

I won’t make it Thursday, but will see you bright (ok, maybe not bright) and early on Sunday!

Best, Mark

An old familiar foe

Heady times for Gooners as Arsenal travel to Old Trafford this Sunday with a 5-0 record to face Man United. The current rivalry may lack Wenger-Ferguson era intensity, but it presents the Gunners with their sternest test so far this season.

After a 4-0 thrashing at Brentford, their second defeat to open the season, United supporters took to the streets, calling for the ouster of their owners (again). At the pub, one supposedly lifelong fan, had already written off their whole season. After 2 losses? Gooners experienced moments of despair last season, but I don’t recall anyone jumping ship.

United rallied to defeat arch-rivals Liverpool, Southampton, and face Leicester later today. I am not expecting Sunday to be an easy match.

While it’s not a luxurious late Saturday kickoff, 8:30am Sunday is still very doable and I expect a good turnout at Maggie’s. But with the holiday weekend and people headed to the Nevada desert, who knows for sure.

More Bay Area Gooner match-viewing pics on Instagram!

New Bay Area Gooners scarves turned out to be very popular, selling out before the Fulham match ended. Fear not, a reorder is on its way! Next up, t-shirts!

Getting to Maggie’s can sometimes be difficult for Gooners living outside The City. BART schedules don’t always align for those hoping to take public transit. Challenges coming from the South Bay, inspired the formation of the Silicon Valley Gooners some years back.

More recently, East Bay Gooners have attempted to establish a foothold in Oakland. Jordan Weibe, the man behind Gunner Club has taken a keen interest in rallying those folks, and at present, The Athletic Club Oakland appears to be the spot. Look for him at the matches!

Jordan, back row, second from left.

Here’s hoping we can continue our winning ways Sunday!

See you at the pub!

Cheers, Mark

Let the good times roll

This time last season, Arsenal started the season with 3 defeats. What a difference a year makes! And for the second week in a row, we get a kickoff time favorable to West Coast Gooners, when Arsenal welcome Fulham on Saturday at 9:30am.

More Bay Area Gooner match-viewing pics on Instagram!

The atmosphere at the pub has been excellent, but winning and extra sleep has that effect. Fulham will not be pushovers, having nabbed draws against Wolves and Liverpool before beating Brentford. But we have every right to head into this match, with a bit of a swagger.

We’ve actually got 2 matches in short succession. Following Saturday’s, we’ve got Aston Villa on Wednesday. Maggie’s will have both matches on, but I will miss the mid-week one.

Now for the big news! Saturday, Bay Area Gooners scarves will available at Maggie’s! The brand new design reflects that of our Emirates stadium banner.

The beautiful new scarves are the handiwork of Holly Hickman, who also designed our stadium banner, and the recent website revamp . A longtime Bay Area Gooner, Holly relocated to New England, but remains a vital part of our group, and we are beyond grateful for her efforts!

Supplies are limited, so find me at the pub to get your scarf!

See you Saturday!

Cheers, Mark

Ooh to be a Gooner: Brian

The Bay Area Gooners is a really fun, diverse, good group of people and I’m proud of the community we’ve built. This space will periodically introduce you to Arsenal supporters, you’re rubbing shoulders with at Maggie’s, but maybe haven’t met.

Brian (left)

When Brian O’Boyle was 10 years old, he visited an uncle in England who lived right near Highbury. He’s been a Gooner ever since. Most of his Irish cousins favored Liverpool, which only made Brian more defiant, There was no way I was supporting them.

Brian was born and raised in San Francisco and lives in the Sunset. He is a wireman with Local 6, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, and an avid fisherman.

One afternoon, he was having a beer with the late, legendary, Maggie’s bartender, Patrick Dunphy, in West Portal. Patrick suggested he stop by the pub for a match viewing, and he’s been coming ever since.

Patrick Viera is his all-time favorite Arsenal player, while his current fav is Gabriel Martinelli, and Brian is fully on board with the Arteta-led renaissance. He’s seen Arsenal play at Highbury but has yet to make it to the Emirates.

Brian (second from left)

Brian enjoys the great crowd at the pub, and says, Always good to meet new Gooners. If you see Brian on matchday at Maggie’s, say hello!

Wait, what time is kickoff?

Last season, it felt like the scheduling gods were f–king with West Coast Gooners. Seemed every other match was either a weekday or a Sunday 6am kickoff. So imagine the unbridled joy of discovering not one, but two 9:30am kickoffs in a row.

This Saturday, Arsenal travel to Bournemouth, and with a positively civilized Pacific Time Zone start time, expect Maggie’s to be rockin’! Their parklet will be open and the match will be on inside and out.

With two wins under the our belts, these are heady times for supporters. Some are even bandying title talk about and while I appreciate the stunning contrast between the present and last season’s start, let’s not lose our damn minds.

Bournemouth are back in the Premiership after two years. They handled Villa during their opener, before capitulating to Man City, 4-nil, last week . On paper, I like our chances, but last season was rife with defeats to teams, we fully expected to beat.

Maggie’s atmosphere for our first two match viewings was excellent and I’m hoping for more of the same on Saturday. We have a few t-shirts left for sale, while we wait on our new designs. New scarves are on their way, but may not arrive in time for Saturday.

Finally, we’re bringing back the Bay Area Gooners’ charitable efforts this season, with specifics to be announced soon. In previous seasons, we raised relief funds for victims of Northern California fires, Southern state tornadoes, and Japanese earthquakes, to name a few. If you work for a non-profit or have a cause near and dear to your heart, let me know, so we can consider it.

See you at the pub!

Cheers, Mark

Let’s do it again!

Not sure we could have scripted last Friday much better.

A beautiful day in San Francisco’s North Beach, Maggie McGarry’s packed with Gooners, and most importantly, an Arsenal win on the first day of the 2022/2023 season.

As matches go, it was not perfect, but Arsenal started fast and showed us a fast-paced, fluid football, hopefully a promise of the season ahead. We were generally solid in defense with William Saliba impressing. Sure, Palace eventually found their way back into the match, but they didn’t boss us as they have in recent matches, and while we bent a few times, but didn’t break.

Lovely crowd at Maggie’s. Plenty of old (as in long-time, not aged) and familiar faces, alongside new ones, and out of town visitors. Man City fan and Maggie’s co-owner, Mick Graham even wore a Zinchenko Ukraine jersey, which felt like a wry show of support.

Now we get to do it again Saturday for the Emirates’ home opener against Leicester City. Kickoff at Maggie’s is 7am and I hope we see you there!

We’re planning new BAG merch this season, beginning with scarves, which will be available very soon. I’ve already run out of our new stickers, though more are on the way. I did discover a small number of our previous t-shirts recently. Mostly large and XL, home and away colors, as well as some baseball tee’s.

These will be sold first come, first serve, with priority given to Gooners at the pub.

Hope to see you Saturday!

Cheers, Mark

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