By: Peter Kennelly, @KennellyPeter
Oh to be
Oh to be a
Gooner living in Adelaide, Australia”
Ok, so its not as catchy as the original song, but that is the situation I find myself in. And I couldn’t be happier.
In the words of Jay Z, allow me to introduce myself. My name is Peter and I’m a Gooner who lives in the land down under. Where women glow and men chunder. More specifically, I call the city of Adelaide home. A small city of about 1 million people in the state of South Australia.
The story of how I became an Arsenal fan is rather tame and boring. I was born in London and came out here with my parents when I was two years of age. My family has roots in Islington in the heart of North London, so the Arsenal link was always there. It is in the blood (except for my mum’s side, who are all Spurs fans but that’s totally irrelevant).
So more to the point: What is it like to be an Arsenal fan in Adelaide?
Adelaide is a city that loves some sports and discards others. It used to be completely an Australian Rules town. No other equal. “Soccer” was seen as a foreign sport only played by ethnic minorities. That perception changed slightly for a time. I had learned that Arsenal already had a small relationship with Adelaide way back in 1978 when it signed local lad John Kosmina. He only lasted one season and only made one appearance, but the signing itself put Adelaide on the map. The club itself became popular with the locals for a brief period. But when he left, Football came away from the mainstream again and became more of a sport for the ethnic communities. Soccer went back to square one.
So it was a bit hard to be an Arsenal fan growing up, basically because no one knew who we were! I was just a soccer fan. They thought Emmanuel Petit was a French desert and Highbury was a northern suburb in Adelaide. Not anymore.
Although ‘Aussie Rules’ still rules the roost, Football is now the most played sport at a junior level in Adelaide. Its rise really occurred when the national side qualified for its first World Cup in 32 years in 2005. This rise also coincided with the Invincibles’ side of 2004 and Champions League finals side of 2005. Arsenal were a top side of a sport gaining popularity, so of course support for the club grew enormously.
Now, you see a lot more of the Manchester Clubs and Chelsea shirts around town due do their successes as of late, which is to be expected. But the Arsenal still has a fantastic presence in this city. None more so than the Arsenal Supporters Club of Adelaide, part of Arsenal Australia. With over 800 members, it is the best place for Gooners to congregate and watch the team play. They hold charity matches, FIFA competitions and massive supporter nights. None better than the FA Cup final night of 2015 where more than 500 people came out at 3am and watched us spank Aston Villa. The atmosphere was simply electric. Nights like that show how far not only the popularity of Arsenal had come, but also the game of Football itself. It shows how much the Arsenal mean to people like me, from towns all over the world.
Arsenal is a club built on success and that has translated to a massive worldwide supporter base. Whether it be in London, Toronto, Los Angeles or Cairo, Arsenal has such an impact on so many people. Even Little old Adelaide. And I couldn’t be happier.
Thank you to Peter, @KennellyPeter, for participating in the “Oh to be a Gooner – International Roll Call” blog series. Would you like to earn your place on our map? Contact @coygoonersgirl or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.