Tag Archives: Birmingham

The Arsenal and Me – Lee’s Story

Boxing day 1978.

Arsenal 1  West Brom 2.

A wide eyed 9 year old sat in the east upper watching his first match at Arsenal was probably the happiest person in the stadium. Yes it was me and I didn’t care that we had lost because Liam Brady had scored our goal. Ok, it was a penalty but it was Liam Brady!

Growing up in Holloway I was only going to support one team. The Arsenal, but having a father who despised football I had to do it off my own back, although the 78,79 & 80 cup finals helped.

Decorating my bedroom window with pictures from the Islington Gazette & Evening Standard and rosettes started becoming as regular as putting up Christmas decorations. It was an Uncle with a spare season ticket who took me to that first match and I had to wait just over 2 years for my next match when I started going with friends at the ripe old age of 11! It seems strange these days to think of that but its what lots of kids did. Some of the kids round the estate used to just go up there for the last 15 minutes when they opened the gates to get in free but I would dig deep into my pocket money & cough up the 90p to get in the schoolboys.

That was it then every other Saturday (yes Saturday) and through the 80’s I done the Arsenal apprenticeship of schoolboys, North Bank, Clock End and when seating came in West Lower. We didn’t go because we thought Arsenal would win a trophy or challenge for the title, we went to watch the Arsenal.

It went deeper than just football. Some games were spent crowd watching and as a teenager growing up the best fashion trends of the 80’s would be seen on the Clock End on a Saturday afternoon. Items that were hard to come by or not on sale in Holloway sports would be looked at in awe. Some of the older lads were the smartest dressed supporters in the country.

To todays fans, winning the league cup means very little but back in 1987 it meant the world to me. After going Arsenal for the best part of 7 years I finally got to see them win something and a first trip to Wembley. No memberships or away credits needed then, just queue up after a match with a voucher from the turnstile. Even that great day couldn’t compare to what happened 2 years later and I was lucky enough to have a ticket for Anfield 89. The best football match I’ve ever been to and I don’t think I will ever see anything like it again. You can’t put into words the feeling of being there that night.

I used to love going to Highbury and  the whole match day experience. I would walk to Highbury via a pub when I was old enough (well nearly old enough) passing Arthur Daley type ticket touts ‘I’ve got seats upstairs’, the smell of horseshit, hamburgers’ and cigars all rolled into one, the reassuring click of the turnstile, then you were in. Some of the most funniest things I’ve heard in my life are comments that were shouted from the terraces. You can’t explain the pandemonium that hits a terrace when a goal is scored compared to todays cheer clap and then take a photo.

The 90’s were great and some of the players Arsenal had you would only dream about as a boy. But things were changing, all seating really hit atmosphere’s at games & it started becoming harder to get tickets, and then every game became all ticket and memberships arrived.

The trophies I’ve seen Arsenal win has been unbelievable and if you would have told me when I was standing on the Clock End in the pissing rain watching a 0-0  bore draw v Birmingham or the night we lost to Walsall at home I wouldn’t have believed it.

I still go to the odd game now and again but I have been priced out and feel I’ve been taken for granted and I’m not a fan of the new stadium but that’s the way it is now.

I’ll always be Arsenal through and through, it doesn’t just go away.

Lee

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

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The Arsenal and Me – Glen’s Story

I am a glory hunter.

There I said it. At the tender age of 8 years old, with no football team to support & no father figure to follow, I remember the older boys on the estate talking about a game that was going to be played on a Friday night. For the week leading up to the game, the older lads played it out the on the estate. I was put on the Arsenal side to make up numbers. Friday night came.

May 26th 1989. I felt as if I had been playing and representing my mates and Arsenal on the estate so I wanted to watch it. There was a problem, my mum not a football fan, was not interested. That early evening I went to bed early climbed out my window and watched at my friends. That game, them moments of sheer excitement got me hooked. That was me I was an Arsenal fan.

As I grew older and my passion for the game grew, my knowledge got better, Arsenal signed a player called Ian Wright, something about that man that made me want to be him. I loved his style his passion everything about him. I was the white kid on the estate that would score a goal and “bogel” like he used to. I practised the one step penalty, I admired his ability, I was hooked on Arsenal. It was my drug.

Still at 10/11 years old I had not been to a game. I knew my mum would never take me and she wouldn’t let me travel to Highbury with the older lads as I was to young. not being allowed to do something got me itching to go more & more.

Aged 14 a few weeks before my 15th birthday, I though ‘Sod it, I’m’ going. Arsenal were hosting Norwich. HIGHBURY was my destination with £10 on me and no ticket, I took my chance. I can’t remember how much I paid to get in and I can’t really remember the game. I just remember winning and seeing it 1st hand what a feeling it was to see The Arsenal. that day we won 5-1.

From this day on, my aim was to play football & go to The Arsenal. I have been lucky enough to see us lift Premier League titles and FA Cups. I have also had the disappointment of watching us lose in finals … Liverpool, Birmingham, Chelsea. My love for the club still grows. I still get the same buzz now as I did when I was pubescent 14 year old lad.

There is something about going Arsenal that made me feel like I had the family I didn’t at home. Now I am a dad of 3 boys. I do it all different already; my boys come football with me and recently went on their first away day. Arsenal is now well and truly in my family and will live on for generations to come just how I want it to be . UP THE ARSENAL

Glen

The Arsenal and Me – Lorraine’s Story

On Friday 6th September I met with fellow Gooners @thearsenalhorse @gooner1947 and @grandpasnail to mark the Arsenals 100 years move from Woolwich to Highbury. We met at Dial Square restaurant in the grounds of the old Woolwich Arsenal and travelled to Highbury where we were lucky to gain access to the old Highbury ground.

It was with very mixed feelings as I walked in to where the old ground stood and I had goose pimples and a little shiver as I looked to where the old North Bank used to be.the memories came flooding back.

“We’re the North Bank we’re the North Bank we’re the North Bank Highbury”
“Good old Arsenal we’re proud to sing your name”
“One nil to the Arsenal”

I could shut my eyes and still hear it feel it and re-live it and it took me back to just over 40 years ago.

I was 15 and still at school when a friend said that she had a friend that also loved Arsenal and if I wanted we could meet and go to matches together. And so began a friendship based on the same passion; our love for the Arsenal. We went to both home and away matches (it was easy then you could just turn up on the day ) and we always went by whatever means we could.

We decided early on Boxing Day to go to Ipswich, however not knowing how to get there I asked my dad what motorway we would need to get to in order to hitch a lift. I can’t remember how we got to said motorway but clearly remember us both standing at the side of the road with our scarves and rattles and both our little thumbs waving hopefully.

It wasn’t too long before a van pulled over and Glory Days! It was a van full of lads going to the game “Get in girls we’ll take you ” and so we got in the back of the van which was loaded with beers and although we were not really drinkers I remember having one or two. They dutifully dropped us at the ground and said “meet us here after the match girls ans we will take you home”.

I can’t remember much about the match (score etc) but do remember a guy being kicked down the stairs by an over zealous steward for chanting something that nowadays no one would bat an eyelid at. Somehow we ended up on the supporters coach for the journey home which ended in a visit to Peter Storey’s pub so a very good day indeed!

Now here’s the thing; “Passion”. We travelled to Birmingham FC and as girls were welcomed with open arms into the Birmingham supporters clubhouse which really resembled little more than a Cub Scout hall just inside the ground. It was here that I met a very good looking boy called Archie never mind that he was a Birmingham supporter at 16 I was sure that it was love.

We kept in touch and he rang me and said that he had never been to London before and would love to see the sights.we agreed to meet at Waterloo station and I made a big effort to look my best.

When I turned up his face dropped as he looked at my attire “I’m Not Going To Arsenal” he said as he saw my red and white clothes and scarf. An hour later as we stood in the North Bank my eyes kept darting to the right of me at the extremely miserable and dejected look on Archie’s face but how could I miss my beloved Arsenal play?

I never saw Archie again. I’m afraid my passion for the Arsenal was greater than any good looking Birmingham fan – even poor Archie.

I have many more memories that I may share but I don’t want this to be too long. Nowadays I can only go to some games due to the exorbitant cost but at 56 years old always sing loud and proud as anyone on the Fulham boat trip with the Away Boys or North London Derby day at the Gunners pub will certainly vouch for!

My passion for The Arsenal has never diminished and I know that it never will.

Lorraine

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