WTTGT Writer: David McManus
Competition for support in Cape Town can be fierce with three football clubs all playing in the country’s Premier Soccer League.
So, imagine how hard it is for a football club located almost 6,000 miles away to maintain a loyal, hardcore fanbase?
Well, for the Arsenal Cape Town Supporters Club (ACTSC) the answer is: not very.
Launched in 2008, the group was started by five Arsenal supporters whose vision led to the group becoming officially recognised by Arsenal FC within just one year.
Warren Van Schoor, chairman of ACTSC, said: “Since October 2009 we have been operating as an official supporters’ club.
“With 180 official members to date, our Facebook page boasts almost 450 members.”
Based in the southern suburbs of Cape Town’s vast area, the group meet for every televised Arsenal match regardless of the opposition, and attendance usually ranges from anything from 50 to 200 supporters.
“We usually meet from about an hour before kick off,” said Warren.
“We’ll start chanting and exchanging our thoughts on what will unfold and generally talk about our love for the team.”
The group’s support is not strictly gathered from just Cape Town, however, with games against the bigger teams – what you might consider the ‘big four’ – drawing in support from the surrounding areas.
The nearby towns of Atlantis and Stellenbosch – located approximately 30 miles north and east respectively – commonly provide extra support on these occasions.
But although they come together as one on match days, there is a competitive edge to the relationship between the Cape Town Gooners and the Atlantis Gooners.
Warren said: “We have family days where we go to Atlantis to visit and socialise with our Atlantis members.
“The day compromises of a South African style barbeque, amusements for the kids, and the all-exciting Arsenal Cape Town versus Arsenal Atlantis football match.”
Aside from going head-to-head with their own supporters, ACTSC has also put their footballing ability to the test against rival supporters.
In February earlier this year, the group co-hosted a tournament between themselves and supporters of Everton, Manchester United and deadly North London rivals Spurs.
Two 2-1 victories over United and Spurs supporters ensured that the Gooners secured a place in the final irrespective of the outcome of their final match against Everton.
However, a closely fought encounter in the final against Spurs proved too much on this occasion, with a penalty shoot-out resulting in Spurs fans claiming the glory.
“There was the obvious initial disappointment,” said Warren. “But all members gathered around for one final huddle and group picture – and of course one last war cry!”
Images attributed from ACTSC.