The Arsenal and Me – Harry’s Story

My first ever visit to Highbury was a home game against the meanest and most cynical team in the first Division,but the best team Leeds United.

The date was 12th April 1969.I was seven yrs old,dad had been going for years,and had told me much of his visits to Highbury,and finally it was my time to see for myself.

But horror of horrors I had no scarf,they weren’t so easy to get then,anyway mum went everywhere to get,but couldn’t get one,I was gutted and upset, that I couldn’t wear the red and white around my shoulders.

But mum came to my rescue, she bought red& white wool,and sat up all night bless her knitting me one, just so I was dressed properly for my first visit.

We sat off by tube,and it wasn’t until we got to Kings Cross,that I finally saw other fans going to the ground.

It was at this point I knew this was my club,and always will be.We were herded on as was usual dad gripping my coat firmly,it was tough being smaller then most on the train as you were struggling for air.

Finally we arrived at Arsenal station, and steadily slogged our way up the never ending slope to the entrance,finally stepping out into the light.

It was then that I was hit by a wall of noise,and colour,fans everywhere,laughing,swearing and talking.Some fella selling Percy Dalton’s as was usual,and the to become familiar smell of onions.

Dad bought me some badges from a fella hawking them by the entrance to the North Bank.i still have that first badge,and wear it on all jackets I’m wearing. Dad got a program and we ambled around to the East Stand,that’s where we sat for the only time.He still had hold of my jacket with a vice like grip.

I looked up at the spectacular East Stand facade,and it hit home,what a building even though young seeing the cannon, on the wall above the entrance was brilliant.

We then went in to the ground the familiar rattle of the turnstiles filling my ears.

We walked up the steps,and on finally seeing the pitch, it held me spellbound,after all dads stories here I was finally in his second home.

It was to become my second home.

I watched the old bill band marching up and down, hoping the mace would hit the turf,it didn’t.
Some on the North Bank were questioning the parentage of the old bill, I couldn’t understand what dad was laughing at,I soon found out,and often questioned them myself years later.

The teams emerged,and finally I was seeing my team the brilliant red standing out against the green background, the light making it appear bright.

And there was the most hated team in the country.

The game itself wasn’t very good the highlight Gary Sprake,Leeds Keeper knocking Bobby Gould out with a crisp hook to the jaw,screams of dirty bastards went up and send him off,but he survived,you had to kill an opponent to get sent off back then.

The game just ambled on, with Leeds winning 1-2.

Although disappointed I knew it fired my passion,and I knew I would see many victories in the future.

And success wasn’t far away,but that’s another story.

Harry

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

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