I’m a northerner and have lived in Doncaster since 1975,why Arsenal you may ask? My grandad though from Mansfield lived in Finchley during the war and he passed his love of Arsenal on to my old man who thankfully passed it on to me.
My early games were away at Sheff Utd/Leeds and even an FA Cup semi final at Hillsborough before my dad took me to Highbury for a 1-1 draw in the opening home game of the 80/81 season.
I’ve so much to be grateful to him for, leaving the family on Boxing Day to take me and New Years Day too at the time I took it for granted. A family railcard was £10 for him and £1 for me and my mates (who I still go with to this day).
When I was 15 five of us used to travel to games alone with the help of Mars bar wrappers (free national express coach travel) and of course, on occasion, to northern aways, with a platform ticket and travel for 2p.
Hardly anyone wore colours and I wish it was still like that. It was 83/84 season and I loved the casual clothing and still do (wish I’d kept some originals as it’s worth a fortune). There was a time I couldn’t imagine missing a game and if I did I had to listen of midweek sports special, hardly any football was on TV so it was the only way of knowing the score.
From 1988 I had a season ticket in either the east lower or Clockend. What I do miss is the sheer uncertainty of getting off a train at an away and having to have your wits firmly about you at times it was “kill or be killed” and it was an exciting and at times frightening times.
Many friends back then I still have now and I wouldn’t swap Paris/Benfica/spurs cup semi’s/Anfield / league cup 87 final for anything. I can still recall starting 11’s from say 1988 but would have no idea about the 1st game of this season.
I adored Highbury and a major regret is my kids will never go there. I gave up my season ticket after a couple of seasons at the bowl and have no intention of going back particularly under this regime. Stan , Ivan , Arsene et al aren’t for me but I’ll forever cherish the friends I have made and I will always support the Arsenal and will always care but for me it’s just not the same anymore.