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How is Pat Rice doing?

By Walter Broeckx

That is one of the questions that suddenly arose when I visited Arsenal last weekend.

Pat Rice is one of those people who’s name will always be fondly remembered by all who love Arsenal. Well not all. As I hate to bring it up but the non-existing part of our fans have been saying vile things about him when he was the assistant of Wenger in the last years. Just calling him a yes sayer was one of those things.  It just shows up their class or better said lack of class.  If there is anyone that deserves to be treated with respect it was and is Pat Rice.

From his playing days till the last day he worked as assistant of Wenger he has been an Arsenal man through and through.  I still remember that day at WBA when after the match when Koscielny scored that vital goal that brought us CL football once again he was thrown in the air by the Arsenal players in front of the Arsenal supporters.

Not that he wanted to stand there in the spotlight as that was not really his thing. But the players wanted him there and wanted to show the supporters how high they thought of him.

Since his retirement he worked as a scout for Arsenal till the dreadful news came out that Pat Rice was fighting the fight of his life against that dreadful disease that cancer is.  I know it is not the club their job to keep us updated about his health situation or to inform us on a daily basis. We have heard he would undergo a big operation a few months ago. And that he survived the operation.

Now last week when I had the luck to be in Highbury House, the headquarter of Arsenal and even could have a quick look in the board room  (the door was open so I just took a look) we had a meeting and a chat with someone who has been Arsenal through and through all her live. She has been working for Arsenal since the 70ties as a volunteer in those days I have been told and then has been with the club and started working for Arsenal. She also will retire at the end of this season.

But in the meeting someone suddenly asked if she had any information on the condition of Pat Rice. And well she did. Now I must say I am reluctant to use this information. Not that she said it was a secret and it could not be said. But because we are talking about the privacy of Pat Rice I feel a bit held back to share it.

And also as this is second hand information we might be terribly wrong and that is something I really wouldn’t like to happen.  So I feel a bit held back about it but I think that Untold Arsenal and their readers who for 99% are always supportive for our managers and players deserve to know how things stood.

And according to our contact person it seems that Pat Rice his situation is going in the right direction. He seems to have turned the corner as she said it. It filled us all with big joy of course.

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But she also said that he still had a long walk to go before having completely recovered. But there was hope that he would be able to do it.

Fighting like he has always been fighting in his career. Not the most gifted player of the lot but surely one with the biggest heart and always going first in the battle.  We all remember him (those who have seen it and where alive in those days) that he lifted the FA cup after that crazy 5 minute final when we beat Manchester United with 3-2 after an amazing game in the last 5 minutes.

I also think he must have been on the field when I went to my first ever Arsenal match in 1979. Not that he caught my eye that day. That was Brady who took that honour that day.

And when he returned to Arsenal after his playing days to become a youth team coach first and then became the assistant of Wenger for all those years he showed to be a real Arsenal man that stuck with his club for ever.  Pat Rice is one of the 2 players who took part of the 3 doubles we won at Arsenal be it as a coach or a player.

So I am saying this in the most careful way and hesitant way as we probably all have experienced how fragile life can be and you can take nothing for granted when it comes to things like live and death. After all I don’t want to raise false hope. But the word is that Pat Rice is getting better and maybe be able to beat that terrible disease.

Let us hope that the information I got was correct.  And that who knows maybe we can see Pat Rice in the Emirates this season again.  Let us hope that he will continue to fight like he has always done in his whole career.  That is something I hope that all Gooners will hope for. And we as usual will support him after that he gave 44 years of his life to Arsenal.

So let us keep our fingers crossed and hope that he will recover!


15 comments to How is Pat Rice doing?

  • Derek Papworth

    HEAR,hear. Fight the fight Pat,my very best wishes for a continuing recovery.
    All the very best, and good luck.

  • Asif

    Thanks Walter for the update…this is where Untold outscores everybody else! Isn’t this what being a supporter about…caring for the club like you are a part of the extended family.

    Pat Rice was immensely loved by the players which was apparent in the sending off which he received and if you look at his career span (either as coach or player) a truly Arsenal man. It will be nice to see him in the Ems one of these days post his recovery…

    So all the keyboard warriors, who lose perspective at the drop of a hat need to understand that there are such faithful servants also who dedicate their entire life to the club and its not always about the next guy coming in…

  • GoingGoingGooner

    Great to hear!

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Thanks for the update , Walter, do hope he wins this fight and I’m sure all our prayers are with him.

  • Mike Collins

    Years ago when I was a North Bank standing season ticket holder (And pretty short of money) you had to visit Highbury to renew your season ticket.

    Leaving the marble hall entrance I literally bumped into Pat Rice and we both apologised to each other. I expected that to be that but we stood for 5 to 10 minutes chatting about the club and how he thought the new season would develop. To cap it all he signed my season ticket book which I still have in my possession.

    A fine player and an absolute prince of a man.

  • rantetta

    Thanks Walter.

    I’m always wondering how Pat is doing. The measured way in which you write about one of our heroes is spot on, and appreciated. To think that this man grew up playing footy as a child outside Highbury… Gives me goosebumps.

    That’s such a beautiful reminiscence, Mike Collins.

    An example of how not to report on serious illness – is M. Schumacher. I’ve stopped looking at “reports” of his progress or the lack thereof. The things I’ve read may have been speculative and sensationalised, and I’ve therefore no idea how Micheal actually is, apart from him remaining in a coma. The weird thing is; I wasn’t overly fond of MS – perhaps something to do with my loving Ayrton Senna, and probably irrelevant. But I don’t want any humans to suffer, medically, despite any inevitability of life and death.

    I’m sorry if the above paragraph shouldn’t have been written. I just wanted to say why I appreciate the way Walter has written the article.

    We love you, Pat.

  • SouthernGunner

    That’s very good news. Thanks for the update Walter.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Wow Mike that must be a very nice memory for you. Thanks for sharing this. Of course I never have know Pat Rice in person but his figure next to Wenger has been such a familiar sight all those years. So in a way it is as if I have known him for years and because he was such a great servant of our club all those years you wish him a nice retirement. I do hope he will have the chance to get it after all.
    And just imagine that if we win something this year him being able to witness it in person. Who knows the players might throw him in the air again… Just daydreaming…

  • Mandy Dodd

    Great news, wish him and his family the best. Most of the great things that happened to Arsenal in my lifetime, Pat was there

  • duduspace

    Thank you so much for the update and I join you in hoping we see Pat Rice back soon. I remember when he retired and some idiotic (as nice as I can be) keyboard warrior completely lacking any knowledge of the club and his history said something along the lines of being happy that one of those holding the club back had left. I called him to order immediately by reminding him that he must have more than a few screws loose if he thought he could love arsenal more than someone who gave 44 years of his life in service to the club. Its amazing how basic simple concepts such as loyalty eludes some people.

  • bjtgooner

    I can remember Pat from his days as a young right back, a great player with a great heart. I’m sure that great heart will stand him in good stead now. Get well soon Pat.

  • nicky

    While on the
    never ending battle against illness of those we care about, how is Mme Broeckx these days? I hope the news is good.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Very kind of you to ask.

    Unfortunately not as good as the news I heard about Pat Rice. Very slowly going backwards for the moment. The only good thing is that the process goes very slowly and seems to have slowed down for the moment. But certainly no improvement we can see or even hope for at the moment.

    But as long as there is life, there is hope as the idiom in my mother language goes so we just hope that one day the unexpected will happen.

    Luckily she is a very strong woman. Unbelievable strong in fact. Amazing. In an inexplicable way I am a lucky man.

  • nicky

    Thanks for that.
    We have the same idiom.
    Never give up hope and never under-estimate the power of prayer.
    Your many untold friends who read Untold will be thinking of you and your family at this time.

  • Damilare

    Thanks Walter for the update on Pat. I wish him full recovery.

    Mr Broeckx, the bible says ‘the liberal soul shall be made fat, and he that watereth shall be watered also himself Prov 11:25’. As you seek the wellbeing of others, God will attend to yours and your love ones.