Many of the football clubs that were founded in South America in the 19th century were given English names, some because they were founded by Britons and others simply because football was considered the “English game.” But neither of these reasons caused the club to be called Arsenal Futbol Club. Julio Grondona explained: “When we got together to form the team in 1957 we had a long discussion about a name. Then the goalkeeper (Moises), who stuttered, said ‘A…A…Ars…..Ar ..sese..nal.’ We were not quite sure what he meant at first and laughed so much that we agreed on Arsenal, dreaming that some of the London club’s fame and success would some day rub off on us.”
The colours – light blue with a red diagonal stripe – caused less discussion and were chosen because the founding members were all either fans of Independiente (red) or Racing Club (light blue and white), the two big clubs of the borough of Avellaneda, of which the district of Sarandi (where Arsenal’s stadium is located) is a part. In 1964, the club inaugurated its own stadium with wooden benches as seats and a capacity for 10,000 spectators. Since gaining promotion to the top flight for the first time in 2002, it has been refurbished with cement but still holds only 18,000 spectators, forcing big games – like last year’s Copa Sudamericana final home leg -to be played at either the Independiente or Racing Club stadiums. The steadily growing club now also has three tennis courts, a hockey field and swimming pool – plus countless fans from other clubs who have a soft spot for Arsenal because of their rapid rise from a poor district and practically nothing to international stardom.