The Arsenal and Me – Jill Armstrong’s Story

nvdUn2UFIt has been so hard for me to put down, a few memories as I have hundreds of them!!
My life with The Arsenal began when I was a few months old. Mum would take me and my brother Tom to all the home games to watch Dad play. It became a normal part of our lives.

Dad would drop us off at restaurant near the ground. We would eat then wait in the club till it was time to go to our seats. The marble entrance was so impressive. The commissioners on the door, in their full uniform. So proud and honoured to represent the Great club. The bust of Herbert Chapman was opposite my favourite seat. I remember standing on the wooden seat and looking out the window. There were thousands of fans..a sea of red and white. Stalls selling Rosettes, scarves and Arsenal merchandise. The police on horses weaving in and out of the crowds. It was so exciting to me.

When it was time to go to our seats. We would walk down corridors and secret doorways to arrive at our seats. The security on the doors were always so nice ” Good Afternoon Mrs Armstrong!” Tom and I would often get an affectionate pat on the head.

We would always dress smart. We always went to games like that. Dad instilled in us the respect he had for the great club. He always wore collar and tie and always did right up until he died. We were representing The Arsenal …so we would dress accordingly. Something I have passed on to my children too.

Season ticket holders would sit next to us. I think most knew we were George Armstrong family. A fiercely protective family. My mum would jump out of her seat if anyone started calling Dad. It did not happen often…but on a few occasions it did. Tom and I would get upset and Mum would say, “Look you have upset the kid’s ..it is their Dad”! They were always very apologetic. A great deal of respect was always shown to us. My Aunt would slowly sink deeper and deeper into her seat if anyone mentioned Dad. As she knew mum would leap to Dad’s defence. I am sure a few supporters must have tried to change their seats…can you blame them?

The atmosphere at Highbury was always amazing. I loved to listen to the Fans, especially when they would shout ” Give it to Geordie!” or singing ” Geordie Armstrong on the wing!” I was always so proud of Dad. One game I remember well was the West Ham game on 20 March 1976. We thrashed them 6-1. Bally scored 2, Brian Kidd got a hat-trick and Dad scored. The sound of the crowd was electrifying … I thought the terraces would lift off. Such an incredible atmosphere.

After, the game we would wait for ages for Dad. He was always chatting. Tom and I were happy enough filling in our time collecting autographs ( we did this every game we went too). I was too shy to ask, so Tom would ask for me. Tommy an old commissioner would say ” what do you do with all these autographs, flog them?” Seriously, I have no idea what happened to them. Dad was always last out, usually with Liam. the tea ladies would be clearing up, chairs would be stacked, then Dad and Liam would stroll in. It was great , as all the player’s would go in the tea room after a game. I would often get a kiss on the cheek or a pat on the head, from the players.

Tea room Mum, Pat, Tom and I

Tea room Mum, Pat, Tom and I

As we walked to the car, Dad would always be signing autographs. in all my life with Dad I neverremember him turning anyone away, honestly. Much to our frustration..be it in Palmers Green , outside Highbury or even once on the Bateau Mouche in Paris.

Signing pictures on wedding day

Signing pictures on wedding day

The Fans would tap on the car as we drove out of Highbury, it never scared me as they were always so nice and polite.

Then later we would go for a meal at an Italian restaurant called “IL Faro” in Palmers Green( Philipo the owner became a good friend to Dad) Liam, frank, Pat and David would all turn up. It was like a Arsenal players restaurant. We all lived near each other, so we often saw each other.

When Dad was Reserve team manager, I remember going to Wembley to watch Arsenal play Newcastle. Mum and I went on the bus from Sopwell House with the rest of the families. Dad went on the coach with the players. It was an amazing day and such a buzz doing the Double again. Dad missed the bus, due to chatting, no surprise that he missed the team bus back, this happened on a few occasions. Dad was to come back on our bus, so we could return to Sopwell House to continue the celebrations. We saw him walking over to us when a crowd of supporters grabbed him and started kissing and hugging him, They were chanting ” There is only one Geordie Armstrong!” It went on for a while much to the despair of the coach driver, who was waiting to get the wives and families back to Sopwell House.20160509_201015-1

My life with the Arsenal has been amazing. Dad was at the Arsenal 27 years. A lot of our lives were spent there. the great teams, players, friends and fans we have had the pleasure of knowing. Without a shadow of a doubt the Arsenal runs in my blood and I will always have a great love for the club. Dad is of course the main reason, he loved the club and playing for The Arsenal. he always wore that shirt with great pride. That love has continued with us and now his grandchildren.

The Arsenal proud to say the name.

Jill Armstrong

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

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3 thoughts on “The Arsenal and Me – Jill Armstrong’s Story

  1. tom

    I must be about your age. A bunch of us from the estate would go every week. Your Dad was always one of my favourites. Great memories of a different time.
    Thank you so much for sharing, Jill.

    Reply
  2. Patrick O'Mara

    George was a friend of my uncle and was lucky enough to have met him after a game in the historical 1970-71 season and got a guided tour of the marble hall, dressing room etc. the best day of my life and to a twelve year old truly magical. George was a true gentleman and to watch him play was an honour.

    Reply

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