The latest news from the bluegrass state.
It has to be said - New York City has to be up there with the most inspiring, amazing Arsenal experiences in my life. I thought for a long time that this would be something special, but from the moment we began this journey, I didn't think for a moment the magnitude of exactly how amazing it would be. From meeting new friends, to meeting those that I had only known through social media, to catching up with old friends - this trip was a wonderful time and I hope each and every one of you had a similar experience.
The first day we arrived in New York, we left our hotel and immediately went into Manhattan's upper west side to meet up with upper90 and get some new PUMA kits! We met some awesome New York gooners on the way up, and almost that moment figured out that wearing an Arsenal shirt around the city meant you had an army of friends at your back; you get lost but see a massive group of Arsenal shirts walking your way - a quick RED ARMY and they'll help you figure out where you're going.
I took the port authority bus from 41st Street that took us directly to the Arsenal Fan Event at the IZOD center in New Jersey. Little did I realize that the entire bus would be full of Arsenal Supporters from around the world. I sat next to a guy from London who was in New York working for a photography company - we met him throughout the weekend and every time we saw each other it was a reminder of how small this world is. Or perhaps how large the arsenal world is.
The bus quickly filled up and soon, three additional busses pulled up to load up the rest of us. Chants of "OH TO, OOH TO BE, OOH TO BE A GOONER!" and "WHAT DO YOU THINK OF TOTTENHAM?" filled the air and got everyone excited for the event to come! After seeing the FA Cup, the Ladies FA Cup, and finding a seat, Carl Jenkinson, Aaron Ramsey, Kieran Gibbs, Jack Wilshere, Gedion Zelalem, and Thierry Henry came out for a Q&A with the fans! Some lucky fans in the stadium got to go down for a quick game of basketball and keepy-uppy with the players, pictures were taken, shirts were signed, and everyone left feeling pumped and ready for the weekend to come! A perfect starting event!
Friday morning, we headed over to Grand Central Station for the PUMA #STRONGERTOGETHER event. We had a 3v3 tournament all day, where all the kids got a new Arsenal kit, courtesy of PUMA. At about 5pm, we were joined by Thierry Henry, Thomas Rosicky, Aaron Ramsey, Mikel Arteta, and Santi Cazorla! Rosicky and Ramsey joined the kids on the away team, while Arteta and Cazorla joined the home team. The whole game was officiated by Thierry Henry, who was jeered every time there was a poor call. During the event, I was given one of ArsenalAmerica's VIP passes, and went back to meet Thierry, where he signed my jersey! A personal highlight of my trip!
Right after the Grand Central event, we headed to the PUMA store on Broadway, where there was a line wrapping around the block for a chance to meet Thierry Henry and have him sign something - unfortunately, the event was cancelled. When I got there, the line was in full swing anticipating the King - together with puma, and working with Arsenal, we came to an agreement, and I had to be the bearer of bad news. I went and told the line that Thierry wasn't coming, but with PUMA, we had reached a solution where everyone in line would get something signed by Thierry. Really I think it worked out better than everyone thought, and people left generally happy that they were there.
The Kentucky guys went from there to Times Square to grab some dinner, and then split up. I went back to 14th Street with Brian, while Ben and Bob explored the parks and looked for a perfect photo op with the Statue of Liberty and the Chrysler Building at night. 14th Street was amazing - I met so many wonderful people there, and many who I had known through various social media interactions. There were so many that I truly hope that I meet again soon!
Saturday - game day. We got to Harrison at about 1, Ben, Bob, and Brian went to find lunch at a Brazillian Barbecue place that was recommended to us the whole time we were there while I went across town to grab the banners from the rest of the ArsenalAmerica guys. The result obviously wasn't what we wanted, but the game was really just the conclusion to a fantastic weekend. The memories of the events around the game, and simply being there and being a part of that atmosphere was amazing. We brought north London to New York!!!
Check out the photos below, and send yours to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and i'll include them in here!
Branch Manager of Arsenal Kentucky.