With the FIFA 2010 World Cup due to start in a matter of months, football fans the world over will witness for themselves, that there can be fewer places on earth better to watch a football match than in and around South Africa’s beautiful Western Cape. When they get there, fans will experience a warm welcome, be amazed at the stunning scenery, and marvel at the depth of passion for the game. Cape Town is also home to a unique group of hardy souls who are first and foremost passionate Arsenal fans. Life long Gooner, Ian Miller is the driving force behind Cape Town’s Arsenal fan club, who currently number around 250 members of which ten per cent are expats. Arsene Wenger’s side, will be amazed at the level of support that the Gunners have in the Cape and when no football is taking place, the Cape Town Gooners organise football matches amongst themselves. “ We are a family club and always meet up for a pre-match barbeque, at our On the Green meeting venue,” Miller told Arsenal-talk.com

Passion

“Arsenal Cape Town started out two years ago with only five members, in a small and secluded pub,” recalls Miller. “ The passion and vision of these five members saw the establishment of the first “unofficial supporters club” in South Africa in 2008, and a year later the love for the team and the determination of the founding members to grow the club was noted and taken into account by the official supporters club in England. The Cape Town Branch was invited to apply for membership, and Arsenal Cape Town was given full membership to the Arsenal Worldwide Family in October 2009. Members come from areas in and around Cape Town and from as far afield as Atlantis, Stellenbosch, Hout Bay and even from England,” said Miller.

A goal goes in at The Emirates, and is celebrated just as passionately 5979 miles away in Cape Town

A goal goes in at The Emirates, and is celebrated just as passionately 5979 miles away in Cape Town

Family Friendly

“Although Arsenal and football is the key factor that brings the members together, we believe strongly in family and social development. In this regard we have various family days such as BBQ’s, action soccer days and family days. We have also in the last year had two social development events where we contributed Easter Eggs to various hospitals in Cape Town and our Christmas drive was focused on a children’s home called Colleens Place of Hope. These events are driven by Arsenal’s Be A Gooner Be a Giver campaign.” (www.beagoonerbeagiver.com).

Love Affair

In his distinctive South African lilt, Miller revealed the circumstances that led to his becoming a passionate Arsenal fan, and a love affair that has grown stronger over the years “ My family were staunch Liverpool fans, and I remember as a six year old, how we wanted to see any team beat Everton. One particular Saturday as I sat watching Arsenal play Everton, we all cheered on the Gunners, and I thought that was the team we followed. As the rest of the family tried to explain why we were cheering on Arsenal, I had already made my mind up. Those Gunners were to be my team forever. ” And how deep is that passion for all things Arsenal? Well Miller revealed that his twin sons were named after two Gunner greats. So step forward and take a bow eighteen-year-old Cassidy Lee Dixon and Chezlin David Seaman. And says Miller the Cape Town supporters’ club also prides itself on having fifteen per cent female membership, and that is great news too.

Cape Town Gooners show their proud identity

Cape Town Gooners' show their proud identity

Emirates visits

The Cape Town Gooners have strong ties with north London, with tickets donated by ex-pat fans and shared around whenever members journey to London. Miller himself was last at The Emirates Stadium for ironically the 2-2 draw with Everton. With the FIFA 2010 World Cup in mind, Miller and the Cape Town Arsenal supporters would be happy to see any visiting Arsenal fans, and he says they have been involved in the preparation of the showpiece footballing event. “We are actively involved with South Africa Museums with regard to the 2010 World Cup where they took footage of our supporters club to be used at exhibitions around South Africa during the World Cup; we will also be donating various merchandise for display.”

From the Western Cape to The Emirates Stadium. Ian Miller outside the home of football

From the Western Cape to The Emirates Stadium. Ian Miller outside the home of football

Inspiration

As Miller and the rest of the Cape Town Gooners look on at events unfolding 5979 miles away on another continent, the continued desire to be in north London at the home of football has been an overwhelming factor in the fan’s hope that they can all be at The Emirates Stadium at some point in the 2011/12 season. Their passion and drive is an inspiration to Arsenal fans the world over and the Cape Town Gooners will be made very welcome by all when they converge on Arsenal. Until then, any Gunners’ goal that goes in at The Emirates Stadium will be celebrated just as vociferously deep down on the stunning Western Cape, with Miller probably leading the cheers.