Tag Archives: Islington

The Arsenal and Me – Andy’s Story

It all started with me walking out of the back entrance of Sutton Dwelling with my older brother, onto College Cross and turning right onto Liverpool road.

Little did I know that this day was to forge a relationship stronger than any wedding vowels ever taken in the history of mankind?

Soon I was walking past the Kings Arms on the corner on Islington Park Street, next came Lewis Buildings and its unique red brickwork, then there was Laycock street where I first went to school, past Highbury Station Road, all landmarks I knew well, but now I was into territory unknown!

The next stop was the ‘Adam and Eve’ pub were my brother was soon shaking hands his with his mates, everyone in the pub had either ‘red and white’ or ‘yellow and blue’ on.

I was soon given a bottle of coke with a straw and a packet of crisps and led to a safe haven towards to the back of the pub where there were many other kids of my age, all grouped around our own little table. We looked nervous, we looked out of place but one thing’s for sure “We were all Arsenal”

I don’t recall how long we stayed in the pub that day nor do I recall our opponents that day, but when we turned onto Drayton Park I was swept away with a wave of ecstasy.

Police horses, coaches, hamburger stalls, programme sellers, stall holders – selling hats, gloves, badges and scarves, I was like a kid in a free sweet shop, I was blown away by the sheer exhilaration of it all, I was in “Utopia”

All the way down Drayton Park I held my brothers hand as proud as punch, I felt at home, I felt safe (Although I was a small 6 year kid amongst thousands)I felt that I was part of this broad church that was soon to be my home for next 25 years or more.

Soon I climbing the steps of the world famous ‘North Bank’ this place was huge, the lush green grass, the massive clock at the other end of the pitch, two identical stands running down the side of the pitch what more could a local Islington boy want on a Saturday afternoon?

We soon took our place, just too right of the goal as you look at the pitch; I was placed on a bar on the lower part of the stand, with the middle gangway some 5 feet behind me.

This was to be my ritual for many years to come, come rain or shine I was there every Saturday we played at home and some of the memories that stand out for me whilst sitting in this place are as follows:

The peanut seller

Sammy Nelson pulling down his pants

Emily Hughes getting whacked on the back by a school kid as he went to retrieve the ball for a throw in, in front of the lower West. He was running down the clock in a league cup game, which we needed to score.

Supper Mac grabbing a hat trick against Newcastle

Liam Brady scoring a sublime free kick on the edge of the box against Sheffield Wednesday at the end of extra time in an FA Cup reply, they were a 3rd division team at the time in the old format.

“You’re going home in a London ambulance”

“Clock end, clock end do your job”

“There’s only one way out”

The Metropolitan Police band at half time, they guy never did drop that baton.

The manual score boards in the corner of the Clock End / Lower West and the North Bank / Lower East and Hereford taking us all the way in a league cup tie.

When I was allowed to go on my own my friends and I moved into the schools boys, then back to the north bank, then onto the clock end before I became a football snob and bought a season ticket in the lower East before buying a bond in the upper North Bank.

Over the years that followed and from various parts of the ground I’ve seen Graham Roberts shove Charlie Nicholas into the stand

Brian Talbot score near on identical free kicks at the clock end against both Newcastle and Liverpool

David Platt donning and Arsenal goal keeper’s shirt whist having to stand in goal for Villa, cues to “You’ll never play for Arsenal”

Dennis Bergkamps first goal for the club against Southampton

Ian Wright with bleached blond hair

Getting knocked out of the FA by Watford

Brain McClair’s penalty miss – For which I am in that picture

My list of memories is endless and when I think back of the old ground and the times I spend their right through to end it brings a lump to my throat and a tear to my eye.

Sadly my days of going over The Arsenal are limited, but it was a pleasure and something that I would never change nor forget and whenever I am introduced to someone new I gladly tell them “Arsenal is my club”

Andy

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Arsenal fan unfairly banned from attending games impacts local Charity

Fan X (as we will call him) pleaded guilty to a public order offence (threatening words & behaviour) mainly due to CCTV evidence, no complaints and no witnesses . It was just a row that got out of hand in a pub amongst acquaintances all Arsenal fans (not football related) 7 hours after a game and nearly 3 miles away from the ground.

The judge stated that Fan X did not deserve a football ban as it was clearly nothing to do with football and threw out that request by the police.The head of the Arsenal police intelligence team decided to take matters into her own hands and approached the club saying Fan X was a ‘danger to public safety’ and asked the club to impose a ban. He has never in 46 years of following The Arsenal been arrested inside a football ground. Fan X also has been banned from attending or organising any events inside our ground.

Fan X is the head of events for an Islington charity, they help keep local kids off the streets and try and give them a focus in life. The charity has held five Boxing shows at the Emirates Stadium over the last few years, all of which were great nights and went off without any trouble. They have even had some Arsenal players in attendance along with some big names in the world of boxing.

So a by product of this unjust ban is that the Islington based charity has had to find a new venue and is likely to lose out on some hard earned money to continue there great work for the local kids. Personally I am disgusted that a man a judge deemed safe to go into football grounds can get banned on the say so of one person and to ban a local charity which does so much great work for local kids will also suffer begs belief.

Fan X has currently got a legal challenge against this.

GC
 

The Arsenal and Me – Fingers’ Story

Now being a young lad from the leafy suburbs of the East End of the district line I grew up surrounded by all things West Ham in the late 70’s. However, my uncle born and breed Islington man had the foresight of introducing me to a club called The Arsenal. He told me about the history, the badge, showed me old and current programmes talked about the 71 double year (the year before I was born) and by the age of six I was hooked listing to the radio for scores on a Saturday and waiting for the final scores, and of course pestering my uncle to take me to a game who used to reply “when your old man says you can come I will take you”

May 1978 Arsenal played Ipswich in an FA Cup final (again asked about going cried when I was not allowed). However, I was allowed to decorate the front window in Arsenal Yellow and Blue rosette and pictures of Brady etc. Day of the game, I woke up early put my Arsenal scarf on and took every minute of the build up on TV. in those days the FAC final was a massive event and one of the only live sporting events you could see on TV. Well at 5pm I was devastated and knew when I went to school on Monday I would have all the Alf Garnets giving it to me. However, my love for The Arsenal was not dampened.

1979 we got to the final again same routine same answers but what made it worse was my dad went with my uncle, in later life I would discover my oldman was a Manc !!!!! This time we won I was dancing around the front room singing songs and felt 10 feet tall on Monday at school.

1980 we got to the final again but was playing a division 2 team called West Ham!!!! For what seemed ages every lunch time I was sent to the Headmaster for fighting. You guessed it, I was sticking up for my team, my obsession, my Arsenal. I knew I would not be allowed to go as got told at the semi final stage but when I asked my mum if I could do the front window in yellow and blue like the last two years seeing their faces was a picture, in the end it was half as the other half had to be claret and blue or my brothers.

My dad tells me know that every night our house was budded (for the younger generation this is where you pick a rose bud throw it at a window and run). Well we lost, more fights at school and Wednesday we lost in another cup final, my world was falling apart.

In 1982 after years of nagging and, aged 10, I was taken to my first Arsenal game at Highbury. The opposition that day was West Ham United. Now for a first game it was so exciting I remember approaching the ground seeing the large crowds, the smell of burgers stools selling Arsenal scarves, etc, being told to stay close to my uncle and then going to our seats in the East upper, seeing the pitch, the crowds the noise. I think Fever Pitch really did capture that moment very well, oh and then an orange smoke bomb with all hell breaking lose in the North Bank with people being carried out or arrested for about 20 mins. I was hooked, I asked my uncle was it like this every week.

I then went on the odd occasion but by the time I was 13 I was travelling into Highbury for every home game using all my paper round money to get there and in (I earned £7 a week) and I still had change when I came home, I was hooked and just coming into a George Graham years. My favourite years of following Arsenal so many firsts for me, seeing us win a trophy Littlewoods cup 1987, first league title 1989 (I was lucky enough to be at Anfield), first FAC Sheffield Wednesday, first time in Europe Standard Leige away (now that’s a story in itself) the list goes on.

I have seen us lose cup finals in this country and foreign lands, win doubles and as an Arsenal fan have probably seen there greatest moments in their history live and all because my uncle has the foresight to teach me that once The Arsenal is in you it will never be the same.

I don’t go as much now (I still do the Euro away’s, with my son) as the club I fell in love with and spent tens of thousands following has changed. I no longer feel part of it, although I still meet my mates that I have made through Arsenal and that bond will never die. Its true The Arsenal will never truly leave me, it’s on my skin, its in my heart, and has shaped so much of my life. So I end this piece with these words “thank you uncle Tom for showing me The Arsenal roll out that red carpet.”

Fingers

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