(This post is not in order so don’t get confused that I’ve magically moved from the Grand Canyon to San Francisco)
I thought it was going to be a lonely day in San Francisco when I set out in the morning to the official Arsenal Supporters Pub: Maddie McGarrys. Although I’d enjoyed the Blind Pig in New York, the turnout had been fairly low as the game meant nothing for Arsenal’s season. I wasn’t expecting the turnout in San Francisco to be any better.
As I made my way up Grant Street, a sea of red appeared on the horizon. Bear in mind that this is San Francisco where it’s so hilly that half the time the horizon is only a few metres ahead of you so it’s not quite as dramatic as it sounds. Anyway, it quickly became obvious that any preconceptions I had on Arsenal support overseas were completely off the mark. The pub had been full for a good half an hour and the crowd gathered outside was growing rapidly. Needless to say I was pretty devastated. Had I really come this far from Wembley to try and find a good spot to watch the game, only to be left jumping at the back of a swarm of arsenal fans trying to catch a glimpse of a television 30 metres away? I hadn’t even brought my glasses.
I snuck through the crowd to the front of the line to speak to the bouncer. He was adamant that no one was going in and that their sister pub a couple of miles away was my best bet. He then proceeded to repeatedly let people in that he knew or people inside knew. I guess this is payback for all those years of favouritism I showed working at the nightclubs in Oxford. I tried everything, even the “I came all the way from London!” to which he replied “Why would you come all the way from London to San Francisco to watch a game at Wembley?”. I think I must have been half asleep when I worked out the logic on that one. Eventually I gave up and slumped against the wall and put on the most pathetically resigned face you’ve ever witnessed. It must have been fairly tragic because he took pity on me just a couple of minutes after kick off and I pushed my way through to take up my place at the bar.
The rest is history to those who actually want to know about the game. The rest of the day was spent celebrating, hugging random strangers and excessive amounts of drinking. God I love the Arsenal.