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!