One week after the Minnesota Golden Gophers played a tension-filled football game against the Wisconsin Badgers and the Green Bay Packers tied the Minnesota Vikings, I meekly strolled into The Local in downtown Minneapolis Saturday morning; a Madison resident on Minnesota soil. Fearing the worst, I didn’t dare lock eyes with anyone; I halfway expected them to smell the cheese curds on me and send me on my way. But when I finally took my seat and looked up at the fellow bar patrons around me, I realized something: Minnesota and Wisconsin really aren’t that different, it seems. After all, we both appear to have an undying love for the Arsenal.
The 8AM alarm that morning wasn’t the most inviting of noises after staying up until 3 the night before. Nor were the 4 other times the alarm went off after pressing snooze. The Arsenal is still the only thing that will get me out of bed that early on a weekend.
Having grown up in Minnesota, I had previously tried watching other Arsenal games at different pubs around the Twin Cities whenever I was back in the area, but I never found one with more than a handful of supporters. That is, until I found the Minneapolis/St. Paul Arsenal Supporters Group. I confirmed with Eric, the moderator of the Facebook page and the MSP/STP Gooners Twitter account, that The Local is now Gooner headquarters in the Twin Cities area.At halftime I found Eric and got to know a bit about their group. He told me they’re still quite young. They opened up their Social media pages this past September and have grown tremendously since then. They used to play second fiddle to the Man U supporters on match days, but have since outnumbered and outclassed them. The MSP/STP Gooners drove the Man U fans away enough such that The Local’s bar staff assured them that Arsenal games will always be featured on the largest and most prominent television in the pub. It appears the Arsenal fans now know where to congregate. About 40 Gooners lined up alongside the length bar that morning. Eric told me at one point they even hit triple digits.
On match days, it’s tough to beat the $4 Founder’s Red Rye Pints (which show up on your tab as “Arsenal Red”) and $4.99 breakfast sandwiches.
The pints I drank went down about as smooth as Rambo’s two goals that day, and the food as well was a positively welcome surprise, just like Flamini’s first goal of the season. It was a truly hospitable atmosphere; one that I hope the A.S.C. Madison also provides to wandering Gooners looking for a place to watch a match.