The Chronicles of a Gooner would like to welcome Experienced Football Writer James Rowe to the team ahead of the 2018/19 season.
James, based in the Netherlands regularly travels to London to watch his beloved Arsenal and is an expert in Dutch Football.
“I have been a Gooner for more than 30 years . This club means a lot to me and has been a huge part of my life. I emigrated to Amsterdam in 2005 and since 2011 I have been regularly attending home Arsenal matches from Amsterdam and at the time of writing it’s 29 and counting.
Arsenal changed my life forever when I decided to attend my very first European away match in the 2002 / 2003 season. Back then you had a 2nd Champions League group phase and I had the choice of Valencia, Rome or Amsterdam . My first thoughts were to go to Rome. Fate intervened and I ended up in Amsterdam. My life changed forever after that trip. Although in the words of my Granddad when he picked me up from the airport ” You went all that way for a 0-0 draw” .But what a match it was !
Arsenal featuring the likes of Dennis Bergkamp , Thierry Henry and Sol Campbell visited a very youthful and tenacious Ajax side that included Nigel De Jong , Christian Chivu and Andy van der Meyde. Dutch future superstar Rafael van der Vaart was injured for that match. Ajax then under the guidance of current Dutch national team manager Ronald Koeman held Arsenal to a 0-0 draw and to be honest it was a fair result in my opinion. It felt like a privilege to be in the away end in the Amsterdam Arena that night representing everything that is good about my club. There was such togetherness among the fans all singing their heart out. I remember it like it was yesterday and it was more than 15 years ago
I emigrated to Amsterdam two years later and my life has since changed beyond recognition . I now interview Dutch professional players and managers on a regular basis in their own mother tongue. I have to pinch myself sometimes but hard work does pay off
One thing has always remained the same my love and support of Arsenal football club . My first 5 years here in the Netherlands I did not go to a single Arsenal match . It was tough at times but I always new I would return to my spiritual home.
That day came when I went to the Emirates Stadium for the first time in December 2009 for the Premier League home match against Hull City which Arsenal won 3-0 . It felt strange turning right outside Arsenal tube station that day. But it was nice to be back and cheer on the players to victory.
I can’t wait for the new season to start under the tutelage of our new manager Unai Emery . Here is a man that got Spanish team Almeria promoted to La Liga for the first time in 25 years . Won 3 consecutive Europa League titles and Ligue 1 too with Paris St Germain. What a CV ! . I have faith that Arsenal will improve tactically and surprise people this season with the flexibility of the team and performances against stronger teams
I believe that we must give Unai Emery time. He has a big rebuilding job on his hands that will not be finished overnight . I also believe that we will view some players as unrecognizable next season such as Granit Xhaka and Shkodran Mustafi.
We must come together as fans and get behind the new manager and players . This club has always had class . The fans have always had class , It is time for us to show it next season and I know that we will.
I will be writing a regular column for the Chronicles of a Gooner this season. I am looking forward to it . All feedback is welcome and you can also follow me on my Twitter feed @JamesRoweNL . Up the Arsenal !