Friday 1 November 2013

Class and Heritage 0-2 Corrupt Russian Oil Money [George & Dragon, Seattle]

My time in the 'Rainy City' has come to an end. 

One of the first things you notice about Seattle is that it's on a pretty steep hill along the coast of the Puget Sound body of water. There doesn't appear to be a lot of fat people in this place, and with those hills in mind you can understand why. Normally, when you see cities on TV shows and movies, you don't really get any sense of perspective, you don't think about the vertical dimensions that make up the landform where a city stands. So when you see it in person for the first time and realise you need to get from 'down here' to 'up there', it makes getting places that little bit more challenging.

Photo taken from my paddle-board. Honest.

Seattle's a great place to come for arts and culture, and the sports scene here is very respectable too; the city is represented by the Seahawks NFL team, the Mariners MLB team and of course the Sounders MLS football team, currently captained by Tottenham reject Clint Dempsey.

I managed to score a free box ticket to the impressive CenturyLink field to watch the Sounders beat Stan Kroenke's Colorado Rapids and progress to the next round of the MLS Playoffs. The game itself, when compared to watching the mighty Arsenal, was less entertaining than watching algae grow, but thankfully the atmosphere made up for it. This is the 5th MLS stadium I have been to see this year and like all the other teams – with the exception of the NY Red Bulls – there is something innovative that could be taken back to Premier League football. The crowd interaction is great, you can see that the people responsible for this are creating an experience that incentivises the fans to get behind their team as the 'twelfth man', including national anthems, fireworks and songs to inspire chants. It's all very American, but it seems to do the trick.

Impressive stadium. Football is questionable (as in, 'are they actually playing football?')
The thing is, when you don't have that level of atmosphere at your home stadium and the majority of your fans are sleeping at their seats, you never feel like you get that twelfth man advantage, and that's exactly what it's like for Arsenal. Chelsea knocked us out of the prestigious Capital One Cup, the third team to beat us at home this season (it's only November), and I think one contributing factor here is the complete lack of chanting and crowd interaction. We are unbeaten on the road and, not wanting to take anything away from the outstanding team performances we've had on this run, our away fans get behind the players in a way that our home fans don't. As a team on the bleeding edge of technology and setting standards across the globe, I think Arsenal Football Club is well-placed to introduce new ways of improving supporter participation at The Emirates and making the stadium a fortress that opposing teams fear to come to.

The George & Dragon pub, owned by John (middle) who is a Gooner.
The George & Dragon Pub is the spot to go to watch Arsenal in Seattle. The game on Tuesday was about 60% Gooners and 40% clueless Chelsea fans. This made it the least enjoyable atmosphere to date of all the pubs I've visited, but I'm sure that has something to do with the scoreline. We were outclassed, outpaced and out-everything-elsed and you could see the difference a billionaire sugar-daddy can make to the depth of a football squad.

My next stop on the itinerary is Portland in Oregon, known to have the best beer in all of the US. Oh dear.

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