Tag Archives: Charlie George

The Arsenal and Me – Trond’s Story

How did it start? And when?

I’m really not sure. It was the early seventies, the very early seventies. I would guess sometime in 1972. A small kid with the universal dream of becoming a professional footballer in England chose Arsenal as his favorite team.

Why Arsenal?

Don’t know that for sure, either. Maybe because my best friend at the time was an Arsenal fan (or became one at the same time I did). Maybe it was the shirts – for sure the coolest and best-looking strip in the English 1st Division.

Was The Double in 1970/71 part of the reason?

I don’t think so. It was probably the red shirts with the white sleeves and the cool cannon that clinched it.

Plus Charlie George, as cool as they came.

Which means I was a young boy coming of age, supporting The Arsenal through the seventies and eighties. That was rough sailing.

Back then, being an Arsenal supporter (or supporter of any English team in the north of Norway) was hard work. Norway’s only TV channel, NRK, Norway’s BBC (well, not really), showed a handful (10-15) of games throughout the worst winter months. News from England about your favorite team was hard to come by. Twitter was still a few years away. Our only TV channel treated English football in a random manner. At worst it could actually take 2-3 days to get to know the score from last Saturday’s match (if we weren’t able to tune into BBC on the radio on Saturday afternoon).

Now, if there is a slight delay in the transmission – or if I am watching on a lagging stream – I can learn on Twitter about a goal being scored a few (milli-)seconds before I actually get to see it.

I could give you loads of descriptions of how terrible life was for an «arctic» Arsenal supporter – or for anyone – back then, and up here. Imagine wanting to run outside to emulate my heroes’ achivements, only to be met by black darkness in the middle of the day, and a couple of meters of snow…for months and months.

Anyway, the worst problem with being a sub-arctic Arsenal supporter in the seventies was – obviously – the results.

To jump ahead: After The Magic Night at Anfield in May 1989, my level of support, or should I say willingness to spend time following the Arsenal, waned. I was/am not a fan of the Graham era. Sorry. I like my football like I (used to) like my drinks: Plentyful. I’d rather see Arsenal win 5-4 than 1-0.

Enter Arsène.

Oh yeah, I quickly became an AKB. Still is, will always be. Probably annoying and naive, but there it is. I am not one to change my mind easily.

With Arsène football became fun again. Arsenal became fun again. Exciting. Thrilling.

Still, it would take another almost 10 years until I went to Highbury for the first – and only – time (going to London, spending a night or two in a hotel, paying for tickets – it sets you back a few quid). It was Arsenal vs. Juventus in the Champions League on a fantastic London night in March of 2006. The night Cesc really came of age, leaving mentor Vieira on his arse, and scoring a goal. The night Pirès made a tackle. And the feeling of floating above the North Bank when Henry scored his magic goal, putting Arsenal 2-0 up…I am a big and very tough man, but a few tears escaped my eyes then.

Nah, it was the wind and the chill, of course it was.

And I was bitten – my visit to Highbury gave me The Sickness, and I have been to The New Home of Football several times, soaking up the feeling of London, North London, The Arsenal.

I hope to be back soon – actually just a few days ago my Arsenal supporting wife made the point that it is too long since we went to see The Arsenal.

Lucky man, huh? Both an Arsenal supporter and married to a girl who enjoys going to the games (almost) as much as me.

Now all that is missing is a trophy.

Over to you, Arsène.

Trond

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The Arsenal and Me – Stephen’s Story

I came from a family with no interest in football. I was at primary school it was 1971 and cup final time. Everyone was supporting one of the teams and I choose Arsenal for no reason that I can remember. I do remember the final. The only televised game of the year. Crying when we went behind and then Charlie George. How many people became hooked after that lying on their back re-enact ing the goal. That moment shaped my football life. The period after that has been better and more eloquently discussed than I ever could by Nick Hornby in Fever Pitch. Odd Cup finals few highlights and not much success was my childhood. There was of course Liam Brady. The highlight of a mediocre side, a joy every time you saw him play and probably still my favourite all time player. A left foot that could do anything. Only Thierry of Arsenal players since have created that same buzz of excitement in the crowd every time he touched the ball expectantly waiting for him to deliver.

liam

After years of mediocrity came George Graham. My first Wembley final was Charlie Nicholas Littlewoods Cup 1987. What a day that was. It showed we were on the up and finally heading for titles and proper success. In my mind it was the moment we overtook Liverpool and that has continued to this day. Obviously the later frustrations of losing to Luton (terrible day that was) although we laughed about how hopeless Gus Cesar was even on the day.

We all then have great memories of Anfield 1989 and then later Wenger’s early years. Finally league titles.The move to The Emirates has been a joy and a frustration but like Charlie Nicholas Littlewoods Cup perhaps the time has finally come when we will challenge again. Shame that the Birmingham final happened when we were overdue a trophy unlike Luton when it happened after a success.

The greatest thing that Arsenal has given me apart from the stress and the upset is the memories. My first Arsenal game with George Armstrong running up and down the wing in front of me. Getting the train to Highbury aged 15. Standing at Middlesbrough as Martin Hayes scored the winner running terrified back to the car as we thought that we would be murdered, my nephews first game with Ian Wright scoring, standing in the rain at Charlton and my then girlfriend and now wife looking at me saying she loved me and was never coming again, a College night watching Charlie Nicholas (again)scoring at Villa Park in an evening match. There were the joys of Denis and Thierry and despite my move to the North East I have managed plenty of memories. The Invincibles, our last Cup Final with my 3 year old twins lifting pretend Cups and Thierry’s final Arsenal goal at The Stadium of Light. Now we get to see Ozil and Jack Wilshire who I really hope will get fit get better and become a legend. No reason why not.

My first real boss was an Arsenal fan. Came up at the interview and probably helped me get the job. Also made my boss a friend as we often talked football.

My best mate is a United fan and got me a ticket with him for the Old Trafford 8-2 humiliation. After our heaviest post war defeat I managed to run into the back of a United fans car on the way out of the car park. Typical United fan was on his way back to South London. Cost me £1800 in total to watch that. and pay for car repairs. It’s almost funny now and a memory to let my children laugh at me for.

The thing I like most is that if we have a triumph or disaster people think of me. I often get calls after/before big games and when we sit at the top of the league I know that friends and family around the country with only a passing interest in football pass a thought my way. When I die I expect and know that my children will do the same after an Arsenal win and raise a glass my way celebrating. Raise a memory to me.

I have got no less obsessive as I have got older even though I forget about losses more quickly now. I remain impossibly pessimistic.Twitter lets me watch other fans thoughts and laugh at those forever in our shadow and minding the gap more than is probably healthy. But the die has been cast for far too long now. Arsenal and me are stuck together. No doubt about it Charlie George changed my life.

Stephen

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The Arsenal and Me – Mark’s Story

How I became an arsenal fan…

There was no choice on who I supported in my family. Both my parents are Arsenal fans, I was brought up in Islington, and could walk to the ground from my house. Same for both my parents. My dads parents weren’t into football too much, in fact if they supported anyone, it was the scum. My dad had more sense though, and became an Arsenal fan due to where he lived (and just to be awkward and follow a different team to his family). My mums family are all Arsenal. Just so you know how ‘Arsenal’ they are, my granddad was a close cousin of a certain Charlie George……

My First Game…

What a first game for me to go to. 18th April 1998, I just turned 8. My dad struggled getting tickets to take me to games, I was bugging him for ages to take me. He managed to get two season tickets off his mate, who couldn’t make that game. I was in the upper tier of the North Bank. It was quite surreal going into the stand, obviously hadn’t ever experienced anything like that before, being in such a big place with 38,000 people. The game was against Wimbledon, we won 5-0. Petit scored his first goal for The Arsenal I think, and my favourite player at the time (I was 8!!) Wreh scored.

I’d like to add the only reason why I liked him was because of his goal celebrations. Looking back at stats now (on http://www.stats.woolwicharsenal.co.uk/aftlu.htm (Great Website!), Wreh had scored a few in games leading up to that Wimbledon game, so maybe that’s why I liked him too, and obviously knew of his celebrations! At the end of the game, we waited back to see the other scores on the screens, I think united had drawn 1-1 with whoever they were playing, and I do believe this meant Arsenal then went top of the league.

The Arsenal and me now…

Now I am a season ticket holder, east stand lower. This is my fifth year with a season ticket. I don’t miss a home game, unless I really have to. I try to do a fair few away games. Haven’t done any this season yet, but will be going Palace, Dortmund and Cardiff within next couple of months. There’s things I am not happy about over The Arsenal, lack of investment in squad, ticket prices, The Arsenal making money out of fans at every opportunity, etc. However, it is an addiction. I love going over there. I’ve met a lot of great people over The Arsenal, some very good friends of mine now. I watch some away games that I can’t go to for whatever reason, and always gutted I’m not there.

There’s something about football that non football fans don’t understand. Scoring a last minute winner or beating the scum for example, I’m smiling for a week after. Same for the other way round, if we lose in the last minute, or the scum beat us, I don’t talk to anyone. I’ve got colleagues who don’t understand it, say ‘its just a game, how can it affect you so much’. It’s not just a game though is it.

Mark

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