Tuesday 17 September 2013

Meet The Gooner Family [Graeme, Montreal]

Meet Graeme Cambridge, my last-minute host (literally) for the Montreal leg of the GOTR tour. As I was staying with friends in Canada, I had completely forgot that one of my challenges was to stay with a Gooner wherever I was watching a game. Thankfully Graeme demonstrated once again what the Arsenal Family is all about, and stepped in to offer a place to stay for the night. Top bloke.

Graeme and I spent literally the whole day on Saturday celebrating our win against Sunderland by going on a pub crawl in Montreal with a few other friends. It's a great city to celebrate three points and a return to the top of the table (or at least we were top of the table). Once again, a two-day hangover ensued, one that I'm still feeling the effects of as I type this.
Graeme and the Gooner On The Road

Graeme Cambridge

Q. Why Arsenal?
I love the way they play. There's a class aspect to Arsenal, something that other teams don't possess.

Q. Started Supporting Arsenal?
I'm a new fan. 2006. I worked at a pub called the Hobgoblin in Bristol, and I was there on a day off because there wasn't anything else to do. I caught my first Arsenal match and it was amazing.

Q. All time favourite Player?
Cesc Fabregas. Something intangible, he's just special, he fits into the system. He had the charisma that is hard to match.

Q. Favourite current Player?
Like Podolski because he's great on and off the pitch, but my fave player is Cazorla, he's great to watch and he does that amazing one-two with himself to get out of a sticky situation.

Q. Favourite Arsenal moment?
The second 5-2 thumping of Spurs. I haven't had a lot to celebrate because of the time I've been a fan, but there are still moments to remember, and the second 5-2 thumping of Spurs is at the top of my Arsenal memory list.

Q.Where do you watch Arsenal in Montreal?
Burgundy Lion if I'm not watching at home. I used to go to the Fox and Fiddle when I lived in Toronto. The pub is a bit on the quiet side but the AMMO group is new and still growing in numbers so I'm confident the atmosphere will get better.

Q. Emirates or Highbury?
Emirates because I'm a new fan. But I will see and hear stories about Highbury and that it was Arsenal's fairytale castle, I wish I could have visited it when it was creating lasting memories.

Q. League Prediction?
3rd position. I think Chelsea are going to win the league. City second. That means we will finish above United. It also means Spurs will once again finish outside the top four!

Q. Who will be Arsenal's player to watch this season?
Ramsey. He's been incredible right the way through the end of last season, to the two goals scored on Saturday. He's on the way to becoming a legend.

Sunderland 1-3 Arsenal. National Özil Day [Burgundy Lion, Montreal, Canada]

Well after a nice breather in Canada for the International Break, I'm now in Boston, the first of thirteen cities to be visited in the US over the next 2 months. I must apologise for the lack of blogging recently, but you can be rest assured normal service will be resumed momentarily.

Bye Bye Montreal, my old friend. I'll see you again when the white stuff has come and gone.

Before we talk about kicking off the US leg of my tour, what was Montreal like? I can tell you that it's a fantastic city to visit and one that should be on everybody's 'must-see' list if they are in Canada. Montreal is totally unique as a city in North America, the French influence clearly visible to even the most ignorant and non-educated of visitors. The Old Port (Vieux Port de Montréal for those who feel confident enough to try a bit of Quebecois) is particularly welcoming to people that desire a little more character in their city-break destination. The cobbled streets and micro-brasseries make it a perfect place to spend the closing weeks of Summer, and the whole of Montreal is a gastronomic delight. Of course, in Winter it's a different story and I'm glad I'll be far from there when the weather turns. Full disclosure - I used to live in Montreal for 2 years, two winters are all that I can stand.

Just some of the regular AMMO members

Of course the main reason for visiting Montreal, like all the other destinations on my itinerary, was to meet the local Arsenal fans. Montreal was a little bit different than the other cities I'm doing on the GOTR tour because a) I used to live there and b) I actually created the Arsenal Montreal Member's Organization (AMMO) back in 2010. However, I had never actually watched a game with these guys as I moved back to the UK shortly after creating the group, so for me, it was a perfect opportunity to go and watch Sunderland vs Arsenal at AMMO's pub of choice, the Burgundy Lion, for the first time.

The atmosphere at The 'Lion, as you can see from the video below, was lively yet 'controlled'. I had no idea the turnout was going to be what it was, some people were saying it was the most they've seen and that they were coming for the Ozil Party, others saying they were just glad to see yours truly, the Gooner On The Road. Whatever the reason, I was impressed and quite proud that there's now a place where all the Montreal Gooners can watch a game together.  It just goes to prove that you don't have to be a rocket scientist to set up a supporters club in your own town/city. There's even a podcast that is worth a listen, even if it's just to hear the infamous Lukey give his thoughts on life and the universe.

On to the game itself, and I think we can all agree that despite the dominating first-half performance and Ozil lighting up the world, we were clearly very lucky to come away with three points given the decision not to allow Altidore's goal. I think by the book, the referee made the right decision, but I've seen countless times where a goal's been given in similar scenarios. Fortunately this wasn't one of those cases and we were, albeit for a day and a half, top of the league.

We also had a problem finishing our dinner on Saturday, which was a combination of poor finishing and good goalkeeping. You can see that the link up play between Theo and Ozil is only going to get better, and that the German looks extremely promising in being a major contribution for this campaign, not just a long-term investment. Our other 'signing', Flamini, once again had a solid performance and he is going to be one of those versatile players that will address parts (but not all) of our squad-depth issues.

Finally, you can't discuss that game without mentioning the likes of Giroud and Ramsey, the latter of whom has proven to everybody that you can reverse a negative spiral by putting your head down and telling your critics to get stuffed. Rambo's done a phenomenal job and you can understand why he's captain material for Wales, and also why Wenger has had faith in him for so long. The Good Looking French Guy is also proving people wrong by scoring for fun. He has to be the best finisher we've had since Henry left. Because that Dutch guy never played for us.

So that's it for now, please keep an eye out on the customary 'Meet the Gooner Family' feature for Montreal, which I'll be posting later. For now though, I bid you farewell, as a day of Boston sightseeing awaits.