Tag Archives: London

The Arsenal and Me – Danny’s Story

My Mum and Dad were born in Bethnal Green and Stoke Newington respectively and moved out of London to nearby Berkshire in the 60’s. I was born in 1971 into Arsenal blood, When i was very young Liverpool were the big team of that decade, I briefly flirted with them mainly because most of my mates followed them but in 1981 that all changed as i visited Highbury for the very first time, I’ll never forget that day. It was sunny and warm and The Arsenal were playing Crystal Palace, I was 10 and sat in the West Upper, I looked down at the packed North Bank and thought i want to be in there in amongst the noisy swaying masses, I spent the whole game looking at the fans and savouring a London Derby atmosphere, I loved everything about Arsenal, The fantastic Highbury Stadium, The famous Red shirts with White sleeves, The Cannon on the chest. I was hooked.

I went as often as i could after that but still being so young i had to rely on my Dad to take me. I started going regularly in about 86/87 with my older brother and brother in law always standing in the same spot on The North Bank, George Graham arrived and that was the start of a successful new era for The Arsenal after a few barren years. Our 87 Littlewood’s cup victory started off the run of trophy laden years. League titles and success in Europe followed, What a fantastic time to be a Gooner it was mocking my spurs supporting mates season after season. Arsene Wenger arrived and Arsenal continued to dominate English football playing the best football ive ever seen and watching players of the calibre of Bergkamp and Henry week in week out was just Footballing heaven.

I’ve had a season ticket since 2006 after being on the waiting list for 10 years and hardly ever miss a home game, My 3 kids are all Arsenal supporters and will keep the Arsenal supporting family tradition going on for years to come. It’s getting massively expensive now but as long as i can afford it i will continue to go week in week out, what the hell would i do at the weekends if i didn’t, Arsenal is a drug i can’t kick.

Thanks for reading and Up The Gunners!

Danny

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The Arsenal and Me – Mo’s Story (Part II)

1980 and 1981 has  many similarities with similar to 2011  and 2012.

The great Liam Brady departed , the team coming in to a new season following two cup final defeats in five days. The team and fans were on the floor, like 2011/12 when Cesc and Nasri went and the shambles of the start of that season.

My memory of 80/81 was the team had taken a step back. We still had the bullet forehead of frank Stapleton up front. We sang Rixy was better than Hoddle (even if we didn’t quite believe it!). The crowds dropped and the games were dull! But we had great times off the pitch…

There was so much going on to deflect from the poor show on the pitch. The young teens of 1978 were growing up! Going to games was about dressing up. Our meetings with the Scousers of 1980 spawned copycat wedge haircuts, Adidas track tops, kickers. Winter of that year was a sea of ski jumpers in then clock end.

Musically, we had a new wave band to follow, the 4 be 2’s , our own Arsenal band at a time when West Ham had the Cockney Rejects!

The 4 be 2’s stable created an Arsenal record ‘Crack Away on the Beano’ and a Celtic London Irish spin off (Pope Paul and the Romans) brought out a song ‘Why won’t Rangers sign a Catholic!’. It was rumoured that the lads behind the above went down the lane and sold the records to gullible fans in a Tottenham cover sleeve!

Richard Jobson of the Skids as well as the Lydons were seen in the Clock Cnd! The soul and dance music side of our fans was also in evidence. The Clock End was a great place to be. It wasn’t so for away fans. For some reason,they were placed in the middle of the clock end fenced on both sides, but how were they to get there?

Through the home fans!! Unless away fans came in great numbers, eg Leeds in spring 81, they had a torrid time! Whilst, Arsenal is proudly a broad church in the best traditions of a rebellious movement, the first item on the agenda was the split!

The growing identity of the Clock End ,gradually to be dubbed by hooligan opponents as the Gooners saw them to grow apart from the greater mass of fans in the North Bank. At the Christmas North London Derby, the /Clock End decided to stay put and not help the North Bank with the annual Tottenham incursion.

It was a bit of  a cut of nose to spite thy face gesture, which wasn’t repeated. We had  a great run  towards the end of 81 season, I went to Brighton, Norwich, Ipswich, and Wolves towards the
end of that season. We were unbeaten again like the run ins of the last two years! We had a big away following.

We beat Aston Villa at home on  a mad day to end the season. They still won the league that day, Pele, the real, not the Romford one, did a lap of honour on the pitch pre game and there was a mass pitch invasion by our fans at the end of the game. Villa came on as well, but the police horses get the fans apart!

1981/82 and like the Van Persie sale to Man U, we sold our main striker Stapleton to them! We couldn’t score  a goal that year! Well, we had Raphael Meade and even tried out Chris Whyte up front!

We were poor, Boring ARSENAL was in! Off the field, the casual dress scene exploded!! The Gooners dressed like middle aged golf club members, diamond pringles, farrah slacks, polonecks, deer stalker hats. Others dressed like Wimbledon wannabies, fila bord, Tacchini, etc.

My best mate wore the legendary La Coste “ANDY PANDY”  rain jacket through the winter!! The trouble  at matches was getting nastier. We had paranoia about the newly promoted West Ham. For the away game in December 1981, as much for perceived self protection then anything else, a huge gathering met up at the Arsenal Tavern to go to East London. Many of whom lived out there,so had to go East to West and back again!!

There was the usual group paranoid about the police presence at the Arsenal Tavern. How did they know were here?eehh.. All they needed to do was look out the window of Highbury Vale police station!

The West Ham home game for those who were there was a day when the violence got out of hand, but a day when Arsenal would no longer roll over in the North Bank. Any sense of group pride that night was replaced by shock when the news came in that John Dickinson RIP was stabbed to death at Arsenal station after the game. The trouble that increasingly followed football at that time became something that was less abstract and much more serious!!

1982/83 was another lean season.We signed Woodcock which kind of worked and Lee Chapman who was like Bambi on stilts!! There was little patience with Lee and he got the Eboue treatment! We got to two semis, beaten in both by  a much stronger physically Man U side. It was the year of the departure from the norm, the Green away kit!

I remember going to Leeds for an FA cup replay,where a young West Indian kid on the terraces sang all through the game. I still remember “Green is the new colour for me, green is the turf at Wembley and that is where the Arsenal will be in the FA cup in 83!”.

Even the casuals starrted wearing green hats to away games! We also got beat 5-0 at the lane!!
After that  dour season,the club needed a lift, An Ozil type lift you might say!

Well the club did make the marquis signing in the summer, the best young talent in Scotland! He looked like Bono,could he play like Bono sang?

We had  a new king,Charlie Nicholas!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Mo
Part I here

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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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