Welcome to the second part of exploring the Gooner passion in Russia, although this time it is not strictly only Russia. On the suggestion of Anna Lvova (@MadRuskiGunner) ’1nildown2one up’ caught up with Alexander Krotov (@blader_gooner.) Alexander like Anna is a Muscovite, but he also happens to be the current main man/coordinator of activity for the ‘ARSSC,’ the Arsenal Russian Speaking Supporters Club in Moscow.
I have asked Alexander a few questions about his own passion for the Arsenal and about being a Gooner in Russia but first let’s look at the ARSSC itself. The ARSSC was formed in the year 2000 and it is the only officially recognised Arsenal supporters club in Russia but it is so much more than that and it is not solely for Gooners in Russia but for all Russian speaking fans where ever they may be in the world. The Club recognised the ARSSC in 2005.
So why do they need a fan club and a website? I will use the words translated from the ARSSC site:-
“Ache alone – bored and lonely. Especially for the football club, this is far away from your city, and even in another country. Sick – this is largely a communication. You always want to find a kindred spirit with whom you can discuss the previous game, the prospects for the team to share the joy of victory or to brighten up the bitterness of failure, to learn something new, and in general – to communicate. And in this century the most convenient way to find such like-minded people – is, of course, the Internet. It is for this reason in 2000 the site was created by FC-Arsenal.com , and for the fans at its base”
The club uses the website as its main platform for communication with its members. It keeps them up to date with all news from the club, blogs, interesting articles as well as educating fans on the club’s great history and tradition. In addition it enables fans to earn match tickets and organises trips to London and across Eastern Europe to see matches live. Of course them main objective is stated:-
All the years of existence, we have pursued and will pursue one main goal – to unite all Russian-speaking fans of “Arsenal”.
One of the most important functions of the club however, is to ensure that no Russian speaking Gooners are alone wherever they are. The website enables fans of Arsenal to connect with like minded individuals in whichever city they may be. This takes 2 main forms. Firstly there is an online forum for discussion and debate but mostly importantly the club organises for fans in towns and cities in most of the major Russian speaking, ex USSR countries, to meet and watch the Arsenal together.
There are club officials and coordinators in numerous cities across the countries that made up the old USSR but the main ones are Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan. On the site for every major city in these 4 nations there is a recognised bar or pub designated as the meeting point for match days or a face book group subsection of the ARSSC to join to ensure you are kept up to date with plans. So if you find yourself in Moscow you can join Alexander at the Radio City Sports Bar (http://radiocitybar.ru/Sport/) or if in St Petersburg it will be the ‘Dickens Pub.’ If you are in the Ukraine in Kiev when the boys are playing meet the fans at the ‘Pub Lucky’ or in Lugansk it would be the ‘Sports bar.’
The passion for Arsenal out in the old Eastern block is strong and growing all the time only aided over the years by the arrival of Luzhny, Hleb and then Arshavin. Check out the club members in Minsk at their own 10th anniversary celebration party, which was over a weekend in which we thrashed Fulham 4 nil at home in May 2010. You MUST watch this promotional video made by the Minsk guys
Now on to the main man in Moscow, Alexander Krotov. I caught up with him this week but by way of introduction here is Alexander interviewed by Arsenal Player before the Shaktar away ECL match in November 2010.
So Alex thanks for agreeing to chat to ’1nildown2oneup’ as part of our ‘Global Gooner Passion series.’
Firstly I would like to get a feel for the following in Russia of the Premier League. Are all the games on TV and do most fans have a Russian side and an English side?
Not all games are on Russian TV, but we have few bars with Sky Sports, SuperSports and so on, were we can watch almost every single game. If I understand the 2nd part of question right, sorry, but most our supporters don’t have any Russian team to support, but of course there are some of them who have.
Did the arrival of Abramovic at Chelsea heighten interest and does Chelsea have a greater following than other teams such as Arsenal as a result?
Of course arrival of Abramovich at Chelsea multiplied the number of their supporters and interest in general of many people who were not even interested in football. But most of them were just glory hunters and I have to disagree with Anna, on this one, as I think they still have less supporters then Arsenal.
So where does Arsenal come in the affections of the Russian community of Premier League fans compared to the other English super teams?
I think MU have the most supporters, then Arsenal, then may be Chelsea and Liverpool.
So now to you Alexander. Can you describe how and when your love affair with the Arsenal begun? Was it love at first sight, a slow burner or was their one moment or one player perhaps?
It was about 1998 when my interest in football started. At that time EPL was shown on Russian TV. So I started to watch it. I don’t know why but I liked watch Arsenal. For the first time of course it was just that, but some time later my interest in Arsenal start to grow and grow.
So the ARSSC started in 2000. Were you involved from the beginning?
At that time I was too young (about 12 years), so of course I wasn’t in supporters Club. I joined supporters Club few years later in about 2004.
What sort of activities and events do you organise? Do you get together to watch Arsenal games in bars/pubs?
We get together in a bar for every (almost, besides that are not on TV like some of Carling Cup and so on) game. We also get together on Arsenal matches in ex-USSR area (Russia, Ukraine). From tme to time we (of course not all of us) are going to England or to Europe on CL Arsenal matches. Also we had few meetings (2 in Minsk and 1 in Kiev) where we are a lot of our members from all over ex-USSR (Russia, Ukraine, Belarus…)
ARSSC CSKA Moscow Oct 06
St Petersburg ARSSC travel to Kiev Sept 08
Have you travelled over to see games either on your own or with other members? Have you been able to do this often? Perhaps once a season? If so which games have you seen live and which ones live longest in your memory?
I have flown to England for a few games. But sadly it happens from time to time, not too often. I have been over twice to England.
The first time was on boxing day 06/07 with 2 of our members. Matches vs Blackburn (h) 6-2, (Watford (a) 2-1 unfortunately we didn’t make, so we watched it in pub in London), Sheff Utd (a) 0-1, Charlton (h) 4-0.
In the pub for the Watford match
The second time I was myself. In March-April 2010. Matches vs Puta (Barcelona) (h) 2-2, Wolverhampton (h) 1-0, and Scum (Sp*rs) (a) 1-2. Then I wasn’t able to fly back course of volcanic ash and I stuck in London for one more week and visited also Wigan (a) 3-2.
Alexander at the Emirates and meeting a legend
A lot of our members were at ECL away matches vs Spartak Moscow, Lokomotiv Moscow, CSKA Moscow, Dinamo Kiev (twice), Shahkter Donetsk since 2000. Also I was in Istanbul on CL vs Fenerbahce in 2008 (5-2) with two of our members. So I think it was the most memorable match. Absolutely amazing night
Is there one player in your time supporting Arsenal that is your personal favourite or perhaps there is more than one? Perhaps also tell us why?
My favorite player for all times is Robert Pires. I can’t explain why.
What has been the stand out moment or moments for you Alexander since you have followed Arsenal?
There are a few of them, but one of them may be the most memorable. It was penalty in 2nd leg against Villarreal in the Champions League semi final. I don’t know why but at that moment I was sure that if we conceded we would lose. I didn’t even realize that it would be just 1-1 on aggregate and extra time ahead. So it was absolutely horrible moment for me. But we all know what happened with that penalty. So I go nuts jumping in bar (also almost turned table on floor).
Recall Alexander’s most memorable moment.
Is there any particular signing/s you would like to see this summer ahead of the new season?
Yes, but Arsenal will never buy these players. I have admiration for Gotze, Reus, Hamsik and Cavani.
What are your hopes/aspirations for Arsenal for 2012/13?
I hope for a Top 3 finish. I can’t see us challenging for champions, unfortunately
Would you like to have more Gunners around the world follow you on twitter?
That’s not my goal course and I don’t tweet a lot. I use twitter more to read what others say than to write myself, but of course it’s nice to have followers all over the world. (@blader_gooner click follow now.)
Do you have any plans to expand the Supporters Club and is there anything you would like me to particularly tell our readers about Arsenal fans in Russia?
Definitely. We hope to get more supporters in the regions. We have good numbers in big cities. For example in Moscow we have about 40-60 people on every Arsenal League game in bar.
Alexander is keen for me to promote the ARSSC and its website http://www.fc-arsenal.com/ to any Russian speaking fans who are not aware of their work. Please forward this article to any you know.
If you are a Facebook user and wish to connect with the ARSSC or like their page click here http://www.facebook.com/arssc.moscow and let’s support Alexander and his members in Moscow and all Gooners across the Russian speaking parts of Europe.
Alexander coordinates all the Moscow members meeting at Radio City and just look who popped in for the home defeat to Man United in January
That Mad Ruski Gunner Anna gets about!!
Спасибо за помощь Александр. Наилучшие пожелания от меня и моих читателей.
Thanks so much for your kelp Alexander and all best wishes from me and the readers.
До следующего раза спасибо за показание
Until next time thanks for reading.
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