|Macau. And some Gooners. And a cannon.|
This time next week I will be somewhat emotionally returning to the UK, after having watched every single Arsenal match of the season, live, with another Arsenal fan.
So that's 52 matches. 8 months. 4 continents. 14 countries. 36 different cities. Oh, and more than 50 of the most genuine, passionate and hospitable Arsenal fans around the world as hosts. When I take a moment to look back at those numbers, it's kind of tough to fathom. You see, people come up with ridiculous ideas all the time, things that sound awesome on paper, or in a dream or on a chalkboard, but in reality that vision is rarely executed. Usually it's because there isn't enough time or money, or people's eyes are bigger than their stomach, or there's been a big error in the planning, or time-machines haven't been invented yet (I'm sure that last one has been the stumbling block for many people's big aspirations).
I'm guilty of having big ideas and failing to follow through on them and I bet you can think of an example for yourself in the past, too. When I came up with the idea of travelling the world for eight months, watching every Arsenal game of the season, LIVE, with only £5,000 in my pocket, every sensible cell in my brain was telling me it wasn't going to work. Yet here I am, approaching the final sprint. One-on-one with the goalkeeper, whatever you like to call it. There's still a week left to go and although anything can happen, I've exceeded my own expectations, and it's such a humbling feeling to have. And to think that I have the #GoonerFamily to thank for most of it!
But, there is one other goal that I'm playing catchup with. And it's the most important of all.
For all those that are wondering, I made the decision to return to London for the final home game, as I started the journey this way (against, ahem, Aston Villa). It just felt like the right thing to do, book-ending the journey at the Emirates, Arsenal's home, with every game in-between watched overseas. It also means that I'm going to be on home soil for the FA Cup final, which should tie in nicely with my fundraising efforts.
Which is where all you readers come in. As I've just mentioned above, there's one goal that I'm chasing, one that means more to me than anything else. I'm doing this trip for a cause. As hopefully most of you know by now, my mother passed away in February last year from breast cancer. Being part of a small, close family, losing mum was the beginning of the end of the world for me. I was at the lowest point in my life and, perhaps slightly selfishly, I couldn't think of a way to climb out of the dark hole that my existence had turned into. Traveling was an opportunity to heal, a therapeutic journey if you like. It was during the planning for this journey that I came up with the Gooner On The Road idea.
So, this trip isn't just an exercise to see if it's possible to do something that many people say would be impossible, it's a journey that's tied to a very important cause, one close to my heart. My goal is to raise $15,000 for the Triple Negative Breast Cancer Foundation. But you can probably tell from my Facebook post below (from earlier today) that I'm pushing water uphill at the moment:
So, if you have a moment, and a spare few quid, please, please donate what you can. I still need to raise $4k between now and the end of the FA Cup Final, and whilst I have a few ideas that could see me getting close to that $15k figure, like Arsenal I'm not taking anything for granted. To support the cause, please click HERE to donate. Remember you can pay with a credit card or using Paypal. And I'm sorry, but if you're not in the US there's no opportunity to claim back tax I'm afraid.