Arsenal Sydney Supporters Club invites Ian Wright Down Under following his Twitter comments so he can sample their passion firsthand - after social media appeal covers cost of his trip
PUBLISHED: 03:16 06 December 2017 | UPDATED: 17:46 06 December 2017
Arsenal legend Ian Wright created so many happy memories for fans across the planet, but he also upset the club's loyal supporters in Australia this week by comments on Twitter - prompting them to raise the money for his airfare Down Under so he can experience their passion first-hand.
The club’s second highest goalscorer created a Twitterstorm when responding to comments on the micro-blogging platform accusing him of being biased in his role as a pundit on Match of the Day after Arsenal’s 3-1 defeat by Manchester United at the Emirates on Saturday.
The Gunners icon – who is known for his forthright opinions on the club he served with such distinction – caused uproar when he tweeted ‘Another million mile away Arsenal fan pipes up – do one pal I’m trying to deal with troops in the trenches.’
His comment was believed to be aimed at the club’s millions of overseas supporters, insinuating they aren’t as loyal as ones in the UK.
But despite an apology prompted by friends such as his BBC5Live 606 colleague Kelly Cates after they pointed out the error of his throwaway remark, Arsenal fans in Australia were so upset they came up with a positive answer – launching a fundraising appeal to pay for flights to New South Wales so Wrighty can experience their loyal support firsthand.
Incredibly the Arsenal Sydney Supporters Club, stung by his comments, raised 5,000 AUD – roughly £3,000 – in a matter of days after a high profile social media campaign to fund his trip Down Under to spend time with the passionate group.
Spokesman Elia Eliopoulou said: “G’day Ian Wright – big-ups for admitting you had a brain fart mate, football is an emotional game to watch.
”This is also my personal invitation to you to witness it for yourself firsthand mate. A bunch of us have rustled together the money for you to fly here and stay for a week to meet these passionate Gooners. This is a genuine offer, so get in touch to sort out a date mate.”
Ironically Elia has become a major benefactor to Arsenal Football Club’s museum memorabilia collection after lending a pair of Cliff Bastin’s boots and Alex James first-ever worn kit with the iconic white sleeves from 1933.
Elia told the Islington Gazette: “Arsenal Sydney’s motto is ‘10,000 miles apart, but forever in our hearts’ and we know while it’s taken 40 years for The Arsenal to visit us for a match Down Under it offers all our club legends to come down and see for themselves the adulation they will receive for their service to the club.
“Australia is the most unique and amazing country to visit so combining a sunny all expenses paid holiday with meeting the fans is a once in a lifetime opportunity. “Spending Sunday and Monday mornings up at 3am to watch a match on the TV with no guarantee of a win, tells you how passionate we are here.
“Distance has made us more hungry to meet our club legends like Wrighty, who’s poster adorned my wall as a teenager.
“There are 3,000 more like me waiting to meet him.“
The Arsenal Sydney Supporters Club are Australia’s largest independent supporters club following the Gunners with nearly 3000 members across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. They meet up at ‘The Armoury’ at Wests Ashfield, a short train ride west of the city centre on match nights to show their support for the North London giants.
Micky Brock, chairman of Arsenal Sydney added of the loyal support at The Armoury when Arsene Wenger’s team plays: “It’s a real eye opener, something that needs to be seen to be believed. Having lived half my life in England, spending decades on the terraces, and half Down Under I can tell you the fans here are as passionate if not more so.
“The reception they gave the club a few months back was nothing short of phenomenal.
“To be able to host Wrighty and for him to see it first hand not only is a just reward to the fans here, but gives him a chance to meet those that have idolised him from afar. He’s in for a big shock”.
Over to you Wrighty – Australia’s loyal Arsenal fan await your arrival with open arms.
The Islington Gazette contacted Ian Wright’s agent this week but has yet to receive an answer.
For more on the Arsenal Sydney Supporters club follow them on Twitter @ArsenalSydney and Elia @Aussie Goona.
They also have a Youtube channel youtube.com/ArsenalSydney, and a Facebook page facebook.com/arsenalfanssydney and Facebook groups facebook.com/groups/ArsenalSydney