If you follow the correspondence in this site you’ll know that an annoying plagiarist has just been banned from this site. For what it is worth, I suspect this writer is not an Arsenal supporter at all but was simply here to annoy us and cause mischief.
It is frustrating that he/she occupied our time – but that is over now, and it this seems a good time to move onto something completely different (as they say).
One of the lovely things about running this blog, and one that was quite unexpected when I started it, is that I have got into correspondence off-site with a number of people on all sorts of topics. In one case recently the correspondent gave me details of the financial difficulties of Bournemouth, after I ran the list of clubs in trouble.
I wrote back to say, I know the club well, having been brought there as my family moved from north London to Poole when I was 11. As trips to Highbury were rare I took up watching Bournemouth and Boscombe Athletic instead.
Having shared this coincidence my correspondent added…
“I was only thinking the other day, maybe it would be fun if all of us writing in to your blog told us when and how they became an Arsenal fan.”
I agree – especially over the next couple of days. I am about to set off for Devon to cover a PR story for one of my clients, so won’t be able to update the posts, but if you feel you’d like to take up the challenge and have a story to tell, please do write in. I’d especially like to hear the stories of correspondents from overseas – but that doesn’t cut out the London based supporters. If your piece is held in moderation I won’t be able to clear it until Tuesday night UK time, but I will do it, and I suspect the pieces will make good reading.
My story is simple. My grandfather ran a piano factory in Stoke Newington, north London, and (so I recall being told once) went to Highbury when Woolwich Arsenal first moved there. My father naturally followed in the faith, and I can remember him going to a midweek afternoon game against Aston Villa (we won 4-0) – played in the afternoon because Villa didn’t have floodlights themselves, and so were excused playing evening games. That would be October 2 1957. Some time around then I started going to games – my first was to see the reserves play West Ham (0-0). In those days reserve games were at Highbury on saturday afternoons in the Football Combination. The crowds were about 10,000 normally, to the best of my knowledge (please do correct me if you know for sure).
But I had already developed a habit that has stayed with me all my life of going to football matches elsewhere. My first football match that I can recall at Wood Green Town. WGT was an amateur club that played in White Hart Lane about half a mile from my home, and had been there since the 19th century. (I lived on Devonshire Hill Lane which runs parallel to White Hart Lane). WGT closed ten or twenty years ago I think.
So I followed the club of my father, my grandfather, and also my mother’s family who lived just off Westbury Avenue, Wood Green (my father owned a garage in Westbury Avenue).
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Moving to Dorset aged 11, after actually having been to see a number of first team games at Highbury as well as away games at Portsmouth, Birmingham and Cardiff, was a wrench for me, but we did get to a handful of games each year. Despite being the only Arsenal supporter in a boys only grammar school that played “Ruggar” I kept the faith, not least because my father would occasionally arrange family trips to Birmingham to see an away game. More regular watching would have to wait until I was 18 and moved to Brighton as a student.
What that upbringing gave me, as I have suggested, was an awareness of the fun of away games with my dad, and also a willingness to go to other matches. We went to Poole Town (then in the southern league, with a ground very close to my school), Bournemouth, Southampton (a lower league club making the journey upwards, Portsmouth, Brighton, Exeter, plus non-league grounds where Poole played – like Yeovil, Portland…)
Although I do it less often now, I still visit other grounds, some years back watching the rise of Rushden and Diamonds from about the 6th division to the 3rd – taking my mum to some of the games which were quite near her home. But I particularly remember with the deepest affection the last games I went to with my father during his final years. My parents retired to Torquay (a retirement area on the south coast in Devon), and each time I went to visit them, dad and I tried to take in a game at Plainmoor. Torquay are now very firmly my second team, and I am thrilled by their return to the 4th division this year via the play offs.
If that’s a boring load of old bilge for you, sorry, we’ll get back to the hard stuff later in the week. But I do find it interesting to know the history of supporters, and if you would care to share your story, I’d love to read it. And perhaps one or two other readers would like to as well.
At the moment of writing some sites are saying that we have signed our new central defender, but there’s no confirmation yet. Maybe by the time you read this, there will be.
Thanks for reading, and hopefully we will no longer be interrupted by stolen comments from non-supporters.