When I was a teenager I used to go to watch the Arsenal with a few mates from school (Christ’s College in Finchley). We’d meet up at the underground and take the northern line south, changing onto the Piccadilly to arrive at Arsenal about 30 minutes before the game.
From about 1977-81 Adrian, Tom, Mally and I did this most Saturdays and midweek too and in 1980 I went (on my own) to the West Ham final at Wembley. We used to stand on the North Bank, just to the right of the goal, about a third of the way back. It was noisy, we sang, and once in a while there was ‘a bit of trouble’ (as Frank Spencer might have said). Then we all did our ‘A’ level and went our separate ways, I drifted away from football as I discovered music instead. I became an ‘armchair’ supporter, rarely going to games anymore.
In 1986 I left London with my work and eventually I settled in Northamptonshire where I’ve lived ever since. In that time I always tried to get to half a dozen games if I could and the building of the Emirates certainly helped. For the past few years I’ve had a season ticket (back in the North Bank, and pretty close to where I stood at Highbury). One of the unexpected bonuses of my return to regular football watching has been my friendship with Tony Attwood and my association with Untold Arsenal.
We met because I posted a comment after an article Tony had written and he spotted that my email address placed me in his neck of the woods. We started car sharing and enjoying a glass or two before matches. In that time I’ve learned a lot more about Arsenal history, about Bob Dylan, and about science, and met some great people (like Walter and Andrew) and I’ve taught Tony how to dance*.
But now things have changed again in my life because I met someone near the start of 2015 and this relationship has blossomed with the result that she and I are getting married in September (hopefully during an Interlull, so I don’t miss any football!**). I’m also moving back to north London.
This has changed my football experience quite considerably. Instead of travelling with Tony I now leave New Southgate and take the train to Finsbury Park, getting off and walking to meet Tony at the pub we usually frequent, but now this takes me just half an hour. After the Citeh game I was back home before 10 instead of nearer midnight and able to unwind on the sofa with a (much needed) glass of wine.
More important to me than a shorter journey is the feeling I now get when I leave the ground and head along the Hornsey Road. I am going home with my fellow Gooners; going home to north London and back into my own neighbourhood. On Saturday the newly enriched Bournemouth supporters gave us a rendition of ‘we support our local team’. This has always annoyed me (I recall Ipswich doing it a few seasons back). I have ALWAYS supported MY local team. I was born in Islington, Arsenal are my local team.
But now it has become ‘true’ again – l now live just 7 miles from the ground instead of nearer 70. Not that it should matter anyway; a Arsenal fan is a supporter wherever he or she lives and however many times they get to see the team play. But it still feels like I’ve come home, to London and to football.
*ok little lie there, to see if he read this far 🙂 [Don’t try to be clever sunshine – Tony]
** only joking sweetheart!
Two anniversaries from the early days…
- 1 January 1908, A rule was introduced that transfer fees be limited to £350, but by and large the clubs ignored it, Despite subsequent attempts by Henry Norris and others to introduce a limit that would be agreed and would hold no limit has ever been introduced.
- 1 January 1910: Arsenal Reserves played a home game against West Ham in blue shirts. Quite why it not known although it is possible that the shirts were borrowed.
As for today – we’ve just introduced the insult of the day – see the home page
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