Aside from making me feel at home and being a great host, he also treated me to my first college football (handball) game. Having studied in Oklahoma, Barry drove us up to Norman, some two and a half hours drive from Dallas, to enjoy the festivities (such as a tailgate party) associated with this hugely popular American sport. It was a great experience.
Finally, as is the case with most of my hosts, Barry really went out of his way to make sure that there was money donated to the Triple Negative Breast Cancer Foundation on the day of the match, which was done in the form of a raffle. Barry helped to raise over $300 for the cause, which is another great dent out of my $15,000 target.
|GOTR and Barry (did I tell you he's an Oklahoma fan?)|
Q. Why Arsenal?
Arsenal is the first team I remember seeing. When I learned more about them everything, their culture, their method of operating, their transfer policy was something I appreciated. I think if I saw Chelsea or Barca as a first team, I don't think I would like football today, I don't like the thought of winning championships through money. Everything about our culture, the 'Arsenal way', I could relate to.
Q. Started Supporting Arsenal?
I started following Arsenal in 2006 through the Champions League run. My friend Trevor, a Liverpool fan, took me to the pub for a lot of Champions League games. I enjoyed the run and although Trevor was a fan of Liverpool, I proudly made my own choice. I realised I was a fan when Arsenal lost in the final and I was gutted for a week afterwards; I had my first heartache as a Gunner.
Q. Favourite Player?
Cesc Fabregas. In his most passionate moments, they brought me deeper into Arsenal. The goal against Spurs after Van Persie scored and the San Siro goal against AC Milan were highlights for me. His passion made me crazy. It didn't hurt me that he went to Barca because he went back 'home'.
Q. Favourite current Player?
Bacary Sagna! I love him, he's a workhorse, he's consistent, he's passionate, he's versatile (plays out of position at center back and doesn't just 'do the job', he dominates there). He seems so Arsenal and sets a good example, not in the spotlight, doesn't cause issues.
Q. Favourite Arsenal moment?
My favourite Arsenal moment is actually the Champions League quarter final against Liverpool in 2008. Never celebrated a goal that much just because of that run that Walcott did. That 10 seconds was the most insane thing I remember. It won't be remembered to most fans because we lost the game, but to me it was a great sign of things to come. Of course, the rest of that game is history and [pointing to a window in lounge] I kicked that window so hard, I'm surprised I didn't break the glass. My wife was not impressed...
Q.Where do you watch Arsenal in Dallas?
At the Londoner Greenville if I don't watch it at home. Unfortunately I don't get to the official pub that often because of family commitments. It makes it more special when I do manage to watch with the Dallas Gooner Society though.
Q. Emirates or Highbury?
Well, I never got to go to Highbury. Emirates can be a bit quiet but is a wonderful palace of football and I have a tile there (along with my wife's name and my two children). For me it's got to be Emirates.
Q. League Prediction?
I think we'll get 2nd. It's difficult for me to ignore the danger that Mourinho and Chelsea present, and on that basis I think they'll finish top. I don't think United will get in the top 4!
Q. Who will be Arsenal's player to watch this season?
Jack Wilshere – even though he's so young he seems to me to be a guy that will emerge as Arsenal's player of the season, but at the same time with his questionable performances of recent, he might get pushed down the pecking order, so it will be interesting to see how that turns out over the course of the season.
So, it's now the international break, the interlull, the stop gap. More importantly for me, I can RELAX without having to cram myself into buses and flying tin cans to get from one place to the next.
So, until next time!