This devoted Arsenal FC fan from Oxford, England, has been going backpacking round the world – to countries like the United States, Germany, Denmark, Australia and New Zealand. But while backpacking, he aims to watch every Arsenal game for this season – with another Gooner.
Now, writer Peter Anderson, 29, will be coming to Singapore. In fact, he plans to catch the Arsenal v Man United game on 13 February, at Molly Roffey’s Irish pub – Arsenal Singapore’s official home ground.
Peter is currently in Auckland, New Zealand, and will be stopping over again in Sydney – on his way to Singapore and other parts of Asia.
Find out more about Peter’s travels in an interview I had with this Arsenal fan.
Peter, I understand that you are coming to Singapore in February. Why Singapore?
It’s a good hub for getting to Indonesia, Malaysia and the rest of South East Asia, and I hear the Arsenal fans in Singapore are well organised. I’d also like to sample the sights and flavours of the country – I hear the night safari is a must-see.
How did you initially come up with the idea to go backpacking round the world for one year and meet Gooners?
My mum died from Breast Cancer last February and very shortly after, I lost a promising job, through no fault of my own. I was depressed and so I decided to go travelling, initially for a few months. But I was worried about missing Arsenal games whilst I was away, and so I came up with the challenge of watching every Arsenal game of the 2013/2014 season with another Gooner, whilst backpacking. I have a very limited budget so the only way I could last the whole season is if I couch-surfed. So I thought ‘why not couch-surf with Gooners’? I would also make sure that the trip is in memory of my mother, and that I would raise USD$15,000 for the Triple Negative Breast Cancer (TNBC) Foundation.
What does your family and friends think of your globe-trotting?
They’re all very happy about the fact that I’m turning something negative into something positive. They support me as much as they can from far away.
What are some of the cities and countries that you have you visited so far?
There were a few places that I wanted to go, for example I had always wanted to visit the mid-west of the United States (US), and see the West Coast (LA, San Francisco). I also really wanted to visit Asia, which is the fourth and final continent on my round-the-world adventure.
So far, I’ve been to Prague, Berlin, Copenhagen, Gothenburg, Montreal, Boston, New York, Raleigh, New Orleans, Austin, Dallas, Kansas City, Salt Lake City, Vancouver, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles (LA), Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth, Brisbane, Wellington and Auckland.
How do other Gooners around the world usually treat you?
Their hospitality has been fantastic. Every single Arsenal fan that I have stayed with has been very generous with helping me settle in, showing me the sights, offering food and of course arranging fundraisers for my cause.
How do you usually get invited to stay with another fan?
I have a twitter account (@GoonerOnTheRoad) which I use regularly. At the beginning, I simply tweeted to say I would be passing through a certain country/city on a certain date and people would come back to me and offer me places to stay. Now that I’ve got a bit of exposure, it becomes easier.
How different are the Arsenal fans around the world?
The biggest difference is the time of day that people watch the games at. Some fans will just record the match and watch it delayed, trying to avoid the score from friends or on the news (a media blackout) but the truly dedicated ones watch it live.
So that means that a UK kickoff time of 3pm on a Saturday will be 2am in Australia or 4am in New Zealand. Many of the fans that I meet have never had the chance to go to the UK and watch a game, so the next best thing they can do is to watch Arsenal with 50 or 100 other fans as part of a dedicated supporters’ club. In a way, you could argue that the fans abroad are more dedicated than the ones that go to the games back home (in England) because of the unsociable hours and the amount of money they spend on memorabilia (often shipped from the UK).
What has been your most memorable experience up until now?
It’s very difficult to choose just one. In terms of Arsenal-related experiences, the Orange Country Gooners in California did a sterling job of raising USD$1,500 for my cause during the Man United match – which we lost. I came away from that particular game thinking that we had won because the guys had done such an amazing job. Outside of Arsenal, seeing the South Island of New Zealand has been the highlight for me, particularly driving down the Pacific Highway between Kaikoura and Christchurch. The scenery was breathtaking.
What have been some of the biggest challenges throughout your entire backpacking journey so far?
There have been a few challenges, the biggest is finding somewhere to watch the game and a place to stay. In the US it was fairly simple, but in New Zealand for example, it was far more difficult to find hosts. Thankfully, the ‘Arsenal Family’ pulled through and I met some great people in Dunedin, Wellington and Auckland. Another challenge has been staying upbeat and positive about traveling alone. Every few days I’m travelling to a new place, meeting new people and sleeping in unfamiliar surroundings. It can feel a little bit lonely at times but I remind myself that it’s all for a good cause, and once you learn how to turn a negative mindset into a positive one, it becomes a whole lot of fun, and I remind myself ‘who is is getting to doing what I do?’.
When and why did you start supporting Arsenal?
I was 10 years old and I was at home watching TV. I was wanting to watch cartoons or some TV show, but there was a football match on and I think I couldn’t find the remote control. It was the second leg of the UEFA Cup Winners Cup Semi-Final between Arsenal and Sampdoria, and it went all the way to penalties. David Seaman was the hero, saving three penalties. Despite not having a big interest in football, the drama surrounding the whole event meant I’d never forget it, and I started following Seaman and Arsenal more closely. Over the next few years, Arsenal signed a great Dutch player called Dennis Bergkamp and recruited one of the best football coaches in world football, Arsene Wenger. By that time, I was a Gunner.
Do you think that Arsenal will win the BPL title this season?
Yes. We have a great team spirit, the fans are getting behind us. We have shown that we can grind out results when not playing at our best.
Which players, if any, do you think Arsenal should buy in the January transfer window and why?
I don’t think we need to sign any particular players. We could do with another defender but our goals are coming from everywhere this season, so I don’t think it’s an absolute necessity to sign a striker. Position-competition is always a good thing, but you don’t want to disrupt the team at the same time, especially when there is such a good vibe in the dressing room at the moment.
Tell us more about your aim to raise USD $15,000 for the Triple Negative Breast Cancer Foundation.
I’m raising money for the TNBC Foundation. TNBC is a rare form of Breast Cancer, it spreads fast, is difficult to predict, and doesn’t respond well to traditional treatments. The Foundation’s goal is to find ways to deal with this strain, to raise awareness of it, and to support sufferers of this disease. (If you wish to contribute to Peter’s cause, go to http://www.goonerontheroad.com)
To meet Peter and find out more about this die-hard Gooner, join him at Molly Roffey’s to catch the Arsenal v Man United game on 13 February, at 3.45am (Singapore time).
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