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The Life of an Overseas Arsenal Fan #1: Time Difference Difficulties

By Rob Worthington (Senior Writer)

As a regular Emirates Stadium attendee, I’ve been guilty of criticising foreign Arsenal fans in the past. It frustrates me when I see a group visiting our North London home purely for touristic purposes.

However, since delving into the world of football writing, some of the most knowledgeable and committed Arsenal fans I have stumbled upon are those who don’t even live in the UK.

One of the biggest issues foreign Arsenal fans face, especially those who don’t live in Europe, is time zone problems. This often results in international fans having to watch games at a ridiculous hour or, alternatively, completely missing matches.

To gain a greater grasp of the hardships linked to time zones, I reached out to five members of the WLYA writing team. Of course, the famous Floridian, Daniel Finton, will feature prominently. Daniel, co-editor of this site, will be joined by his compatriots Alex Trad and Mac Johnson; our tactical analyst Vinay Shankar who resides in India and our new boy from down under: Allan Riley.

Daniel himself seems to believe he doesn’t have it too bad. Having said that, the 5 hour time difference between England and America’s east coast does cause some issues.

Here's what Mr. Finton had to say about the problems he faces:

“I can now say I consider myself pretty lucky that the match times aren’t that terrible here on the East side of the country.“

“For example, a game held at 8PM in the UK would be at 3 PM here in Florida, so when it’s not a work day that’s pretty nice actually. However, two examples I can use to portray annoyingness are the recent game against Liverpool at Anfield and our FA cup triumph.”

“For both matches, given the horrible timing, I was at work at my hotel front desk job, and even though the FA cup final was on a weekend day, it still fell on the obnoxious time of 11:30 AM and seeing as I am a miserable college student, I work weekends.”

“So while Americans don’t suffer nearly as bad as other nations from the time difference, the inconvenience is still ever-present. Especially when the Brits want a nice noon game that starts at 7 AM here in Florida and up the East side of the States.”

While Daniel thinks his situation isn’t “Terrible”, I would certainly struggle with the time zone hardships that he faces.

Two more recent additions to the WLYA writing team, Mac Johnson and Alex Trad, who both live in Washington, face similar problems. Alex describes the hours he sometimes has to wake up at as ”absurd”.

On the other side of the globe we have Vinay, our tactical analyst, from India. India is 4 and a half hours ahead of the UK so Vinay often struggles to tune into games which occur later in the day. He laments “kickoff times” as the “biggest deterrent”. Here’s his account of the time zone issues he has to deal with:

“European ties are the toughest to stay awake for but it becomes even worse when daylight saving kicks in as the kickoffs are usually around 1:30 am. It’s that couple of hours gap around midnight when you’re tired with nothing to do which is the toughest period, especially if I had classes in the morning. “

“But once the game starts, all that fades away and it’s just about seeing the team play well.”

“Another thing that I noticed over the last few months is how much time it takes to fall asleep depending on how tense the game goes because of all the adrenalin. I do end up sleep-deprived the next day most of the time but there are no regrets from my side.”

For our man from down under, Allan Riley, things are even worse. This is what he has to say about his typical match day routine.

“The worst part is timezones. Arsenal games are usually at ungodly hours of the morning. Take the recent Liverpool game, for instance, and you’ll find me waking up at 4:30 in the morning just to watch the team play.”

When you miss out on a good night’s sleep, nine times out of ten, your next day is ruined. Nonetheless, this doesn’t faze any of these guys or, on the most part, any of the international gooners around the globe. As Daniel, Alex, Mac, Vinay and Allan convey to me on a regular basis, it is a sacrifice they are willing to make for the love of their club.

So, in future, maybe you should bite your tongue before criticising foreign fans. If anything, their willingness to make sacrifices for Arsenal show them to be more committed fans than we are here in the UK. They deserve our respect.

Next week, I’ll be back with these five WLYA writers again discussing the ways in which they became Arsenal fans. There are some absolutely fantastic stories coming up.

Thanks again to Daniel FInton, Alex Trad, Mac Johnson, Vinay Shankar and Allan Riley who agreed to work with me on this series.

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