I only have a little over two weeks before I head of to Jakarta for the Arsenal Asia Tour 2013 and that is a glaring reminder of how remiss I’ve been about blogging. That is, I haven’t even posted about the Arsenal Asia Tour 2012. So here it is.
Fans Party, July 28, 2012
Jerome and I arrived at the hotel earlier than the other Pinoys because we had to claim the passes from the event organizers. (I’m going to skip the rant on how directions from Google maps failed us this time and we had to take a cab from TST to the hote.) Apart from having to buy The Most Expensive Coffee I Ever Drank™ while waiting, going to the hotel early wasn’t such a bad thing. Because WE GOT TO SEE ARSENE WENGER IN PERSON. See, that had to be in all caps because the excitement can’t be expressed in sentence case.
The president of our local supporters club, Gab, arrived so we decided to take a picture with our banner at a nice spot on the hotel– the rooftop. It had a 180 view of the HK harbour and had this clear-sided infinity pool that I wanted to jump in on, clothes and all. Later, the Gunners would have photos and videos taken on this spot too, but sadly not with us. Why is that? Haha.
Here’s where we get lucky: When we went back down to ground floor from the rooftop, the elevator stopped at one of the floors and Ryo Miyaichi was on the other side. Being excited Azn fans, we shouted “Ryo!” which pressured the poor kid to use the elevator with us peons.
Our second elevator encounter was with Abou Diaby, and this wasn’t so accidental anymore. He was warmer and friendlier than Ryo (maybe because he’s also better at English?). I took pics and had my pic taken, all the while mentally chanting the healing song from Tangled. Seemed to work for a little bit last season, then… *sigh* I really feel for Diaby, he should have been great for us.
One by one, the other Filipinos arrived and we just sat and had Arsenal-related talks and hoped Arsene would go down the lobby again, or one of the players. We also lamented the fact that Santi, Per, Giroud, Poldi, and Bac weren’t in the tour. Anyway, that’s why we’re going again this year! Other notable sightings in the lobby & cafe were Vic Akers (OBE) and Kieran Hunt. And also– for some reason not Arsenal-related– Keanu Reeves.
Then it was time for the fans party. I didn’t know what to expect but I wasn’t expecting freebies! Super nice, really generous freebies. Like, thanks Arsenal, wow.
I also didn’t expect the chance to touch Vito Mannone and Carl freaking Jenkinson. Carl. Jenkinson. Which at this point wasn’t 21 years old yet so all my comments in this blog entry are going to be PG13.
Apart from Jenko and Vito, the other Gunners at the fans party were Djourou and Kyle Bartley. Well, former Gunners. No, wait! Djourou’s just on loan, oui? Oh, and we caught a glimpse of Szczesny outside the room too but he didn’t go in.
The host was a bit annoying though, I’m not sure if he’s even a fan; he kept mispronouncing the names of the Gunners. But anyway, you can let little things like that go when your group photo is being taken by Kyle Bartley and you get to (illegally) coach them into winning trivia games.
It was all so amazing and I was buzzing for days until I find out that the players in the fans party in the Beijing leg of the tour were Vermaelen and Arteta. My skipper creys.
Oh, and we waved at the English lads who were coming back by coach from some Nike event. Only Gibbo waved back, that guy is so nice.
Arsenal FC vs Kitchee FC, July 29, 2012
Game day was a sweltering, sunny day but we’re used to that in the Philippines. There was a rally that day too. If I recall correctly, they were protesting against the introduction of the Chinese national education lessons into the syllabus. It made for a very long and crowded commute with lots of rerouting, but we’ll happily go through all that to see our beloved Arsenal play live.
We spotted Stuart MacFarlane, the official club photographer, outside the stadium. Look, I’m such a fangirl of Stuart so I’m not going to miss having my photo taken with him. But wait, there’s more! He also took a picture of us with Ling2x’s “Philippines” bar scarf. Represent!
This is not the best time to point out how huge my thighs are in the photo oh no
Before I went to my seat, I snapped a few photos of the Gunners warming up. And by few, I mean hundreds, and maybe about one hundred (okay, an exaggeration, but not by much) of those were of Arteta stretching. Dude likes his stretches.
I’m seated apart from the other Filipinos, even Jerome. But we remedied this by asking my very nice, very accommodating seatmate (who was alone; wouldn’t have asked if he wasn’t) to trade seats with Jerome.
And then, game time! Everybody got some game time, I think. Except for, oh I don’t know, the person whose jersey I was wearing. Maybe if you played against Kitchee and didn’t get all my hopes up, Verma, you would have been so much better this past season. I’m thinking maybe he had a slight injury? Or not. I don’t know!
Anyway, Kitchee fought back impressively. To be honest, our defense wasn’t all that strong (lacking a “little” something something called Mertesacker, I bet). The FT score was 2-2, courtesy of goals from Theo, Eisfeld,*Kitchee player 1* and *Kitchee player 2*. Yikes, I’m so sorry Kitchee, I was impressed but not impressed enough to remember names.
After the game, the Filipino contingent took a group photo with the Singapore group outside the stadium. Well, some of the Filipinos. We seemed to have lost the others. We really need to sit together next time.The last Arsenal-related thing we did that night– apart from hunting the bookstores for that month’s Arsenal mag– was wave at the Arsenal coach as it took the Gunners back to the hotel. Wenger smiled at us, and Chambo waved. I thought I took a video of it but… well, I did hit record but you can only see the wheels of the bus and hear us screaming random Gunner names. Fail.
It’s amazing how many details I can still remember from last year, when I can’t even remember what episodes of my downloaded shows I’ve already watched from this past week. I guess that’s the thing with special moments, it’s hard to forget them. (Cue: Awwww)