Tag Archives: Saturday

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

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

Advertisements

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

Arsenal’s new suit’s – A reminder of the class of The Arsenal

When reading about the new suits Arsenal wore before the game against Liverpool, it reminded me of something that happened over 20 years ago. The pictures that came out before the game looked great. Personally I had felt for some time that we are The Arsenal. I think they should wear them for every game as not only do they look the nuts but it a great tradition of ours.

Suits

Anyway, I was talking to a pal on Saturday about this and an incident came to mind from years back.

I have a load of pals from the same small town as an ex-Arsenal player, and needless to say quite a few of them knew an ex-Arsenal player who grew up in the area. One summer, many months ago we had a pre-season friendly. Stefan Schwarz was in the team. One of my pal’s and the former player’s dad came to London for the weekend for the games.

Anyway he got us tickets for the Saturday afternoon, we all went along had a few beers and watched the game. At the end of the game the three of us met the player outside the main entrance where he got us all into the player lounge.

At some point I needed the toilet, so I asked him to show me where to go. We were just about to start walking up stairs when he stopped, turned round to me and said “I can’t take you up there, you’re wearing jeans, no one is allowed upstairs with jeans on”

Although none of the hierarchy were in the stadium at this time, there was no CCTV, and upstairs was more than likely empty, he would not take me up there and you could see the fright in his eyes as if he got caught it would of got a roasting. It showed the respect that the players had for The Arsenal.

In the end he took me in the dressing rooms!

That shows that back then we had class and the players knew it. Hopefully the return to suits is just the start, and the current crop of players will learn to respect The Arsenal, and what it represents.

Andy