Tag Archives: Islington

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

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

10 Reasons why we will beat Stoke + Starting XI

1.. A great away performance at Marseille has boosted the confidence of the squad. There’s even a bit of papertalk about us challenging for trophies now.

2.. We have all our defenders fit, for the first time since 1987, expect to see Jenks, Moneral and Vermaelen on the bench. Wenger will stick to the back 4 who started in France mid-week

3.. Gibbs, I love this fella. He has had more than his fair share of silly niggling injuries over the last few years, but right now he is running himself into the ground, covering the left side of the pitch practically unaided at times. He has everything needed to be a world class left back, just need the fitness now.

4.. Arteta is reported to be back in contention, like Vermaelen he will start on the bench, but he does offer the option to cover in a number of midfield roles. Diaby is also expected back, around December 2017

5.. Ramsey, what a start to the season, what a goal midweek and now facing the player (cnut) who not only screwed his leg but also his mind for a few seasons. Thank Dennis that he is over the injury and is looking his strongest physically and mentally for us. He of course will have some apprehensions facing Stoke, but with everyone fully behind him he will hopefully teach them a lesson Sunday.

6.. Ozil, already showing strong signs to why he is rated as the assist king of world football. He will be looking forward to finally playing in Islington and making the right 1st impression on home soil.

7.. Stoke have changed under Mark Hughes, but you can’t polish a turd. They have had wins against West Ham and Palace by the odd goal and a draw away to Man City, but have only scored 3 goals in 4 League games. Fingers crossed they will come wanting to play Football instead of Rugby, if they do we will roll them over.

8.. Giroud, I worry about him, until we get Podolski back he is our only real Central attacking option and Stoke will be looking to kick him at every given opportunity. I know he wont react but the fear is an injury. I do expect him to lead the line and scare Stoke on occasions as he continues his great start to the season.

9.. The Villa game aside we are currently on a great run and I’m looking at the small amount of fit players at the moment as an advantage. They are playing regularly with each other, not there there is much choice, but the familiarity seems to be doing us some favour’s right now.

10.. Wenger knows, If we are to do anything in the league this season these are the types of games we have to get 3 points out of.

Likely starting X1 – Chesney, Sagna, Kos, Per, Gibbs, Flamini, Ramsey, Wilshere, Ozil, Giroud, Theoooo

The Arsenal and Me – Lee’s Story

OK so when I first said I’d write a piece on why I love the Arsenal I assumed it would short and sweet. Something along the lines of “I was born into the Arsenal family” or “it’s who I am and all I’ve ever been” which may sound strange coming from a bloke born and raised in the Lake District, where football allegiances tend to be formed more by the fact “they’re Northern and doing well” rather than they’re my local team or my families team. But the fact remains this is the way it is, and that is the way I am. The bigger question is why is it that I love the Arsenal instead of one of the Northern teams? Those football “giants” that have sat atop the football ladder. The teams from Manchester and Liverpool who all my childhood mates supported. The teams that I made it my business to mock, insult, and endlessly wish failure upon.

Looking back I guess it was inevitable that I’d love Arsenal Football Club. There is no doubt that if I had to give just one reason for this it would be that my family have roots in North London. My Dad was born and raised in Islington, and for 40 years lived in the area. The Arsenal was a part of his, his parents and his siblings’ lives.

Soon after I got to thinking about this topic I realised that this alone wasn’t enough, after all my mum supported George Best and United, and her Brother was a Liverpool fan (who bought me giant Liverpool soft toy as a christening “gift”, which was in landfill soon after I learned how to read). Add to this the fact that peer pressure is a massive part of any young lads life and being born in 1986 there had to be more than one reason I didn’t just fall in line and support United or Liverpool like all my mates. My Dad was indisputably the driving force behind my love for the club but other factors increased my feelings towards the Arsenal.

The first Christmas I remember is 1991 and the only gift I can remember getting was the full arsenal home kit. I remember thinking it was incredible, the excitement of putting it on and posing in it, ecstatic to be wearing the famous red and white. Other early memories of the Arsenal include the 93 domestic cup double. Of course I remember my favourite players Wright, Adams, Merson, Seaman, Jensen and Limpar amongst others. Whenever my primary school had a fancy dress event I went as an arsenal player (my blond hair meant that Lee Dixon was the obvious pick, as much as I’d have loved to have gone as Wrighty it just never seemed plausible)

All of the above set the tone, but the first time I properly knew I “loved” the arsenal was in February 1995 when I went to Highbury for the first time, 8 years old. I remember the day before the game seeing George Graham walking out of the most amazing building, approaching him with my Dad and chatting to him for a couple of minutes. The fact that this man, the club’s manager would stop to give time to a bloke and his kids said it all, knowing now what was around the corner for Mr Graham speaks volumes of the respect he had for the club, its fans and dare I even say what the “arsenal way” of doing things should be. Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but I’ll never forget that day. The manager signed a merchandise catalogue I had in hand and was on his way, my uncle later told me to look after it as he’d be gone before long (how right he was).

The next day I went to my first match, the whole day was incredible, it didn’t matter that I had an obscured view I’d never been as excited in my life. I was sat inside Highbury watching my team live for the first time, I heard as Ian Selley broke his leg, I watched on as Merson scored and I saw us inevitably throw it away and concede a sloppy goal to draw 1-1 with Leicester City. I remember seeing my name on the scoreboard and the stadium announcer read the same message “Arsenal Football Club would like to welcome Lee Upton on his first trip to Highbury” these memories are imprinted in my mind. Arsenal were classy, the stadium was classy, hell everything down to the tiles in the toilets was classy. I remember having to write a piece of homework about the best day of my life and writing this same story down then, almost twenty years ago.

OK so some could say that other clubs would have been the same, as a northern born Gooner I’ve had my fair share of experience with certain northern teams. When I was young I went to soccer schools, these week long events included a trip to a Premier League ground and training facility. We always seemed to have to go to Old Trafford. I remember my first year going to United’s training ground, nothing was classy, from the welcome, to the make shift stewards right down to the players, who were more concerned about not getting a scratch on their car than they were talking to fans. It was awful, I didn’t want to be there, and they didn’t want me there. I got some autographs took them home, sold them to some glory boys and used the money to get my latest home shirt printed with our newest additions name and number (BERGKAMP 10), that was it, all I cared about was the Arsenal nothing else came close.

There was no doubt about it then, I was in love with Highbury, with London and most importantly with Arsenal Football Club, and those feelings grew stronger over the years, going to more and games with my Parents, home and away. Watching Mr Wenger come in and build some amazing sides with some unbelievable players. Going off to University just after the invincible’s had lifted the title and meeting some like minded fans to go on away days with. My love for The Arsenal was still as strong as it was in February 1995 nothing had ever, nor could ever have knocked it. Arguing with Northerners about Schmeichel/Seaman, Shearer/Wright, Sheringham/Bergkamp, Keane/Vieira, Van Nistelrooy/Henry was what growing up was about for me and I loved every minute of it because I loved the arsenal and everything about it.

So there it is, I love Arsenal Football club primarily because of my family, because of the players, because of Highbury, because of class, because of rivalry, because of mates, because of the friendly touches that meant I knew I belonged, because being at a game was about as good as got, and because of everything that THE ARSENAL represented.

I’m going to end by talking about my feelings today. Do I still love Arsenal? Of course I do. Do I still have unwavering support for the 11 wearing red and white or yellow and blue? (or purple?) absolutely. I used to support everything about the club no matter what and to hell with everyone else. It’s here, this element that has unfortunately changed over the last few years. The Arsenal I fell in love with because of my old man and because of the classy place that was Highbury and because of the family friendly feel around the whole club has slowly been chipped away at, which means that today more than ever I question the club I love and not because I only care about what they win on the pitch, but because of how much I love everything about the club. I hate the fact that I’m left unsure about what it is I support, the identity of Arsenal Football Club seems less clear cut than it was 20 years ago.

While I know that I will give unconditional support for the team I love in the future, I go full circle to the point I made at the start.

I stated that on its own the fact my family were Arsenal fans may not have been enough for me to fall in love with the club. I have a fear that if I have kids my love and passion may not be enough to get them to feel the way I do about my club. The little touches that engaged, maintained and multiplied generations of the same family to come together in common feelings seem to be on the decline. I hope that I’m wrong and the future generations of my family share my love, but I no longer view it as a certainty.

Lee