WTTGT Writer: David McManus
With an average attendance of 60,025, Arsenal are one of Britain’s best supported football clubs.
Outside of the United Kingdom that level of support doesn’t waiver. There are dedicated supporter’s clubs covering every corner of the globe and following on from Meet the global Gooners: Malaysia, we learn the story of another – the Arsenal Mumbai Supporters’ Club (AMSC).
This supporters’ club was born from a community that was launched on a social networking website in 2006, with a view to bringing all Gooners in Mumbai together.
The online community not only aimed to unite all Mumbai Gooners together, but also aimed to provide competition for the large numbers of Manchester United and Chelsea fans that were already in the area.
In April of that year, club chairman, Saurabh Penkar, initiated with the liaison officer at Arsenal Football Club for guidelines on how to form an officially recognised supporters’ club.
He said: “Eventually we decided, in order to bring Gooners across Mumbai together, we needed to meet up regularly and hold events.”
With the help of Neil D’Souza, Abhishek Patil, Akshobh G, Francis J and Shrikant Meshram, the club began picking up a bit of pace and it wasn’t long before they held their first meeting.
“We held our first meeting at Juhu beach on 23 December, 2006 for beach football,” said Saurabh. “This made the club famous amongst Gooners across the city and is a trend that is still being followed to date. In the end the perseverance [putting together the group] paid off and we were handed our official status on 14 September, 2008.”
Last month, AMSC held their 200th meeting where as tradition, they formed a team to play competitive football followed by a discussion on all-things Arsenal.
The club were actually the first supporters’ club in India to be granted ‘official status’ by any Premier League team, intensifying the already friendly rivalry between the English fan clubs in Mumbai. Others soon followed in the example set by the Arsenal fans of Mumbai.
Saurabh said: “After being officially recognised, we entered various tournaments, one of which comprimised of MUMFC (Manchester United Mumbai Fan Club), CFCM (Chelsea Fan Club Mumbai) and LFCM (Liverpool Fan Club Mumbai).
“We finished first in this league – with me scoring the maximum number of goals.”
Their tournament success then triggered AMSC to enter into the third division of the Mumbai Division Football Association tournament, where they fell short only on goal difference.
Saurabh said: “We finished third in our group and missed qualification to the knock-out phase and a chance on promotion. But we plan to enter the tournament this year too, and we will try our best to qualify for the knock-out phase and enter division two.”
Saurabh cites being a Gooner and doing his bit for AMSC to be amongst the best things in his life: “If being a Gooner is the best thing to happen to me, then being part of this club and having done my bit for this club is certainly the next best thing.”
For further details on the AMSC, and how you can join, take a look at www.arsenalmumbai.co.in.