You’ll have to forgive me for the sparsity of content this past week, modern technologies have conspired against me and disconnected me from the outside world – through the destruction of my modem during a power surge. Such is the life of an Aussie Arsenal blogger/podder.
After a whirlwind tour that saw over 160,000 people pack out ANZ stadium in Sydney over the course of 2 games, the Arsenal bandwagon has rolled on to its next stop, in Shanghai, as preparations continue ahead of the new season.
For scores of us Aussie Arsenal fans, last week was a once in a lifetime event or an event that brought many into the Arsenal family. It was a week almost 18 months in the making. A short stop for the club and only one step along yet another marathon campaign, but as meaningful as anything that will unfold until the final day of the season for those locals it touched.
From the moment that the Emirates flight touched down in Sydney the club and fans engaged in an enthusiastic and positive way. There had been one or two murmurings around the local social network water-cooler, that it may be an idea to voice some displeasure over the way things unfolded throughout the uglier parts of last season. While there will always be one or two among any group that want to go ahead and do their own thing, the overwhelming response to the visit was true to local form in almost every way.
Recently, some of Footballs biggest clubs have tapped into our basically obsessive addiction to sport with teams like Real Madrid, Manchester City, Roma and Liverpool all having packed out the MCG. Earlier in the Winter, Brazil played Argentina in Melbourne, Liverpool returned with a legends outfit and then the mighty Gunners came to town. There’s no doubting our thirst for major sports events here Down Under and this has the added benefit to clubs as being a great way to double pre-season preparations with a quick boost to the coffers.
Fans of the Gunners Down Under were treated to the launch of the 3rd kit for the upcoming season, a marketing campaign set beautifully on Sydney Harbour during magic hour and just ahead of the opening game against Sydney FC at ANZ stadium. There were pre-match drinks at favourable times, which was probably as welcome as any other part of the tour….No 3am kickoff this time!!
We saw the Arsenal debut of record signing Alexandre Lacazette, who obliged the hordes with a neat finish as we ran out comfortable victors on the night. While the early games of pre-season are undoubtedly about getting some K’s into the legs of the lads as they start to ramp up for the League season, it’s also a good chance for some of the fringe or younger players to strut their stuff in front of the boss and 80,000 fans. Reiss Nelson was a particular highlight for Gunners fans, as his live wire 68 minutes on the right-wing. Joe Willock and Cohen Bramall also looked decent in the aftermath of a BFG overhead kick goal.
Before wrapping up the whirlwind visit, the club packed in various events, engagements, interviews, appearances and training sessions all the while remaining open and friendly with the fans who flocked to all of the above with an unerring endearment that demonstrated further the connection we all have to a club on the other side of the globe (putting it bluntly). Fans lined up for hours, ahead of the open training session/ fan day, to catch a glimpse of their heroes up close and in the flesh. They had their photos taken with the Golden League Trophy (from the unbeaten season), the most recent FA Cup, hear from Ray Parlour – who apparently treated himself to more than his fair share of amber refreshment over the few days in town! – before looking ahead to the 2nd game against the Wanderers on the Saturday night.
It was a day/night of celebrations, of first times and returns to old times. The scores of photos flooding our social media channels stood as testament to many a memorable day, not to mention the heart-warming stories of meeting childhood idols or taking your kids to see the Gunners for the very first time as a family. The club had time for all of us and showed the kind of class and interaction with its fans that many of those others I mentioned earlier, sorely lacked. There is no doubting the respect shown from both sides of the fence speaks clearly to the type of organisation the Arsenal is and to who the Gunners Down Under really are. The reciprocal love of the game and mutual understanding displayed last week really was a credit to all involved.
While there were crowd figures of over 80,000 in attendance at both games, there is no number that can be placed on how many people the tour touched in other ways. Here’s hoping fans of the Gunners Down Under won’t have to wait another 40 years to create some more of these great moments. For many of us, it’s back to business as usual – here in Melbourne, we will get back to our local cafe (where they charge like a wounded bull, no doubt) to chew over the week that was with our bearded counterparts.
We will be back soon with a new pod that will share some of the moments you had in Sydney as well as getting back into all the latest news, views and banter you all love.
Check back in early next week for a report on the weekends news!
Thanks for the memories……