The Arsenal and Me – John’s Story

I just wanted to share the experience of my first trip to The Home of Football. I was 12-years-old when the family decided to take a holiday in London in August 1980. I had been an Arsenal fan since my uncle bought me a t-shirt aged 5 so Dad took me to visit Highbury with a view to getting tickets for a midweek match against Southampton.

When we arrived at the box office, we saw the gate that led to the pitch was open. We decided to go for a stroll and there in front of us was the first team training on the hallowed turf. It was a real shock and then a voice started shouting at us telling us to leave. When the guy got closer we heard his Irish accent.

Dad had a word with him, lied a bit about it being our last day in England and the gentleman groundsman, who was Paddy, let us sit in the dugout and watch the players going through their paces. When they had finished training I was able to meet all of my heroes including David O’Leary, Pat Jennings, Willie Young and Frank Stapleton.

We thanked Paddy and went on our way. I could not sleep all night, I just kept staring at all the names in my autograph book. The following night I sat in the West Stand for my first ever game, but all I could do was stare at the North Bank and take in the noise. Charlie George played against the arsenal that night and he got a great ovation from the North Bank, I remember asking my dad who he was and he replied , a legend son a legend,

It took me another six years before I was able to travel from Ireland to watch another game. That Southampton game, which finished 1-1, cemented my love for all things Arsenal and now thirty years later I still enjoy my trips to London as much as ever. well maybe not as much since we moved as I miss the old lady Highbury and the emirates just doesn’t compare, but as the saying goes, I’m Arsenal till I  die, proud to be a Gooner.

The Arsenal family is one I am proud to be a part of.


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