WTTGT Writer: David McManus
With Arsenal being one of Europe’s biggest football clubs, it comes as no surprise that they have one of the largest fanbases to go with it.
But outside of the United Kingdom and Europe, Arsenal also has dedicated supporters’ clubs stretching from the Americas to Asia, and here we meet one of them – the Arsenal FC Supporters Club of Malaysia (AFCSM).
Initially launched in 1999 in an attempt to gather all Arsenal fans in Malaysia underneath one umbrella, the club aims to act as an ambassador for Arsenal FC and they are officially recognised by the North London club.
The plans came into fruition on May 17, 2000, when AFCSM had their first major gathering.
It was the night of the UEFA Cup Final between Arsenal and Galatasaray, which the Gunners lost 4-1 on penalties.
However, off the field, it was a successful night for AFCSM who had more than 100 fans turn up to watch the match – despite the fact it was 3am local time.
Since then, the club has expanded with 400 registered members and 3,600 members currently on their Facebook and Yahoo group mailing lists.
AFCSM President Sukumar Krishnan said: “Personally, I have been a Gooner for the last 30-odd years since I was 10-years-old.
“I became an Arsenal fan mainly due to my brother-in-law who was a centre forward playing for a top state in Malaysia.
“He was an ardent Arsenal fan and he used to write to the Arsenal players, and he actually got replies from them – so the first English club I knew about was Arsenal.”
Club members routinely gather at the Eckywoobee Sports Café to watch matches – nicknamed the Eckyrates – where up to 80 members will turn out to cheer on their team.
“The Cafe has five large LCD screens and a giant projector screen to view the matches,” said Sukumar.
“We chant and sing as in any stadium and every miss or goal is rued or cheered with equal amount of passion,” he added.
Sukumar and other members from AFCSM intend to visit the Emirates Stadium sometime next year, where they will get a full stadium tour.
He said: “I visited the UK and Emirates Stadium for the first time in February, and though I have been to Highbury before, this was an eye opener of sorts.”
The club are currently running a poll to determine the player of the 2010/11 season, and they intend to present the award to the winner when Arsenal visit Malaysia next month.
Membership for the club is open to all Gunners in Malaysia, and details can be found on their website at www.arsenalmy.com or visit their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/AFCSM.