The Arsenal and Me – Michael’s Story

Just over a week ago, Arsenal signed Musut Özil and several hours before that ‘we beat the scum 1-0’ (Has a nice ring that, wonder if it can be made into a song?). I’m here at work on a warm Wednesday afternoon, just 48 hours after the signing, still glowing from an Arsenal double joy and reading the She Wore ‘Arsenal & Me’ blogs thinking ”I could have a bit of this blogging malarkey”. So here goes…

Do you really need to hear about my past credentials? I guess not, but it seems the standard. 

I grew in up Islington, born in ’79. My dad was the youngest of 8 children that grew up off Liverpool Road, Islington. He and his brother closest in age (my Uncle) used to frequent Highbury as children during the 1960’s mainly to watch the Liverpool’s, United’s & West Ham’s of the day. The latter my dad went on to later support and became a regular over Upton Park for many years. My uncle on the other hand was taken in by the Arsenal faithful and not looked back since.

So I could have been a Hammer but my dad did not force supporting them onto me…not even subliminally. (I tried to do the same for my children, not influencing them, but I just couldn’t do it. We have 2 more Gunners to the ranks!).

Thankfully I grew up a Gooner like my Uncle & the majority of the family.

An uncle on my mother’s side of the family took me too my first game – Arsenal vs Leicester 20th April 1987. It was towards the end of the season but I remember a lot of hype which centred upon on an Arsenal striker which had been bought earlier in that season but returned back to Leicester on loan. That striker was Alan Smith and it was a chance for us to see him up close. Arsenal won 4-1.

The season after that I slowly started to be a regular on the Clockend, aged 8 propped up against the terrace rails standing on my little red stall allowing me to see the game!
Did I pass the supporters test? Fuck it! Doesn’t matter in any case this will help as a back story to my ‘Me & my Arsenal story’.

“Marwood, Brian Marwood. Brian Marwood on the wing…..and in Goal?!” 

At the start of the famous 1989 season my dad put my name down to be an Arsenal mascot. Luckily my name was picked out of the hat and I was chosen. On the 1st October 1989 Tony Adams & I proudly lead the Arsenal team out onto the pitch. The fixture wasn’t at Highbury but instead at Upon Park against my dad’s West Ham. What mixed emotions my dad must have had.

In the summer before being mascot I got my first (full) kit for my birthday – The 1989 yellow & blue Adidas away top.

My mum did that thing that most mothers which is to write their child’s name on the inside of all their clothes. Fine, except she did it to my Arsenal socks and of course with all football socks you roll the tops down. So there I am at 10 years of age leading out the famous Arsenal Football Club with Big ‘Tone’ holding my hand yet as I look down to my feet staring back at me was my full name written on the outside of my socks! Pillock!

Half an hour or so before my mascot duties really started I was asked if I wanted to join the Junior Hammers boys & Girls out on the pitch. As much as I was bricking at that time it I accepted and shortly stepped out onto the pitch together with these other children in their West Ham tracksuits. We did several laps of the pitch as they advertised their Junior Hammer scheme holding a large ‘Join the Junior Hammers’ banner. As I approached what is now the Bobby Moore Stand, a chant started from the away end. Originally I didn’t catch it. One of the Junior Hammers turned to me and asked.

“Why didn’t you wave?” 
“Why? What did they sing? I didn’t hear it.” I replied

One lap later we got around to the travelling Gooner’s again but this time much louder and clearer to me I heard.

“Mascot! Gis’ a wave! Mascot! Mascot! Gis’ a wave!” Of course I waved which was matched by a gracious cheer. This carried on for each lap.

Forward on and Big Tone & I (with the name on my socks!) emerged from the tunnel & led the Arsenal team out onto the pitch. We applauded the entire crowd in the centre circle as is the Arsenal tradition for thanking the paying fans for attending and off I went to take pot shots at Johnny Lukic. I’d taken a few shots during the warm-up when all of a sudden Lukic disappeared back towards the tunnel. He’d forgotten his kit bag or towel. I’m now left on my own in the penalty area with an open goal but with no-one to kick to or pass with.

In steps my saviour – Mr Brian Marwood! Now sense would prevail as Marwood is a winger that we’d simply pass to each other. Not for the ‘Pro’ that is Marwood. “Right, I’m in goal lad!”

For what seemed to be the next 5 minutes, Arsenal and soon to be capped England international Brian Marwood is in goal saving shots from a 10 year old child at Upton Park.

Marwood in Goal

AMAZING!

Lukic later returned for a few more shots and Arsenal went on to win the match 4-1.
Thank you Brian for making my day magic!

If you’ve read this far thank you and my sincere apologies as you won’t get those 5 minutes back! If you read it and actually enjoyed it…Wow!

I’ve some more Arsenal related stories such as when I later worked in different roles & departments such as an YTS sports coach, turnstile operator, Box Office & Mail Order but I’ll save them for another time….maybe.

Up the Arsenal!

If you would like to tell your Arsenal story, click here

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