Arsenal, man and boy…… memoirs of a life-long Gunner

We are delighted to publish this fascinating historical insight from our latest writer GunnerN5. The bomb site he played on as a lad is what we now know as Ashburton Grove … yes, the Emirates Stadium; how times have changed.

I was born on Avenell Road as the bombs were dropping on Islington; later we were evacuated to Lemsford near Hatfield in the county of Hertfordshire.

My maternal Grandfather was a coalman and used to deliver around the cobbled streets of Highbury by horse and cart. He lived on Stavordale Road and watched the very first Arsenal game at Highbury.
For my 10th birthday he took me to my first Arsenal game- Nov 22nd 1947 – Arsenal 2 Huddersfield 0 – I was hooked for life.

We were a poor family and my parents could not afford to buy me tickets to the game but that did not stop a determined Arsenal supporter from getting into the ground. Over the walls, I had to negotiate the broken glass bedded into the cement at the top of the walls and often went home with torn pants and got a clip round the ear. Through my Dads legs and under the turnstiles, usually ending up with scuffed knees.

Failing either of these ways in I would wait until half time and when the stewards opened the gates I would dash in and hide in the crowd – the stewards used to give a mock chase but I think they kinda enjoyed letting me go.

I went to every home game, 1st team one week, reserves the next and went to every away cup game that I could afford. We stood as a family under the clock, about 20 of us. My parents both were born in family’s with 9 sons who fathered 46 sons. Of the 64 of us, 60 were fervent Gunners but 4 misguided soul’s went the wrong way up Seven Sisters Road and ended up to be Spurs supporters – I ask ya?

Life’s path took me and my family to Canada, it was a real shock not being able to go to live games but I’ve made up for it by having 3 satellite dishes and the internet – between which I NEVER miss a game, although not always live. Still to this day Arsenal results can make or break my day and as game time approaches I still get goose bumps.

Being a statistical type of person I’ve created masses of data on our history and have recorded on excel spreadsheets every seasons results by year and manager. I also have our history by every team we’ve played in the EPL.

I’ve seen the teams of our past 12 managers going back to George Allison and in this mans view Arsene Wenger is far and away the best.

Unfortunately I’ve not seen a live game at the Emirates although as a kid I did play around that area.

Cheers to all and here’s to another exciting season.

Since GunnerN5 grew up in wartime, we thought it would be interesting to reproduce this passage describing the adaptation of Highbury, taken from Arsenal.com…..

Highbury becomes ARP stronghold during World War II

During the Second World War 42 of Arsenal’s 44 professional footballers were drafted into the services. The majority of the administration staff at Highbury followed and even the stadium itself did its bit for the war effort.

Arsenal Stadium, Highbury was transformed into a ARP (Air Raid Precautions) stronghold and Arsenal had to play their wartime home fixtures at White Hart Lane!

Incidentally, manager George Allison did convert the referees room at Highbury into a small flat for a while.

Success continued during the war years with Arsenal winning the South A League in 1940, the London League in 1942, the Football League South and the Football League South Cup Final in 1943.

Arsenal relied heavily on guest players during that six-year period, notably Stan Mortensen and Stanley Matthews.

For all its efforts, Highbury paid the price when it was bombed. The North Bank was completely destroyed and much of the terracing on the South Stand was also damaged. These had to be repaired before Arsenal could return home after the war.

91 Responses to Arsenal, man and boy…… memoirs of a life-long Gunner

  1. Morning all

    GunnerN5 – Great introduction to your new writing career on Arsenal Arsenal – look forward to blogging with you today.

    Team ideas for tonight? If anyone fancies doing a match report please email me during the day.Thanks

  2. kelsey says:

    Well done Sir.

    Please remember that GunnerN5 is 6 hours behind GMT so will not be able to respond for a while.

    I feel so young on here these days 😉

  3. clockendrider says:

    GunnerN5 fantastic piece. My grandfather and uncles were also coalmen in the area in the 50’s and 60’s. The stories they tell me chime in perfectly with yours. Made my day……

  4. armory says:

    Er If you were born as the bombs fell on Islington but were 10 years old in 1947 that means the blitz happened in 1937!!!! Love the article though.

  5. Rasp says:

    Morning armory, thanks for the comment,

    I realised there was an anomaly there, I have changed the wording to ‘grew up in wartime’.

  6. SharkeySure says:

    There’s just so much more to being an Arsenal fan than whats carried on NewsNow. Posts like this one from G5 serve to remind us all of that.

    It seems that the high decibel minority have completely forgotten what they are a part of, in terms of Arsenals history and status. They talk ONLY of ‘ambition’, new signings and trophies as if there really was no other reason to support a football club.

    The I/Me/Want/Now brigade sicken me at times, so its refreshing to read a post which takes us completly awa y from the daily grind of rumour and speculation. Many thanks Gunner 5.

    Having said all of that….Xavi – what a dickhead !!

  7. London says:

    Hello GunnerN5

    What a pleasure it is to read your post, I got goose bumps when I saw the word NEVER in capitals as in I NEVER miss a game; I thought to myself: now that is an Arsenal supporter through and through.

  8. Rasp says:

    Morning Sharkey, London,

    Yes, great article by GN5. I love the black and white picture of a packed Highbury in 1951, 60,000 fans standing in the pouring rain and players who probably earned less than a bobby on the beat.

  9. London says:

    Morning Sharkey

    I have been all round the Spanish Press and I cannot find a word about this Xavi story in exactly the same way as I couldn’t find a word about what Pujol was supposed to have said yesterday. At first, I thought these are fabricated stories coming from the Catalan press because I don’t believe that those players are that outspoken, they are not political but as there is nothing in their papers I have come to the conclusion that these have been made up by the English press……still just in case I am wrong Xavi is a dickhead.

  10. Morning London/Sharkey

    Like you, I’m happy to call Xavi and Puyol unlady-like names but I also think that the stories are made up by the English press to keep the pot boiling. Anything that makes us unhappy eh – they’ll print it 😦

  11. Keeper and Centre-back pairing for tonight?

    I’m going for

    Fabianski

    Vermaelen Djourou

    …………. for starters 😉

  12. Gooner64 says:

    GN5

    Great article mate I grew up in Holloway in the 60s and 70s my first job was in a catering butchers in Ashburton Grove oposite the council depot. Brought back great memories mate.Didn’t miss a game home or away from 79 to 87 those were the days. I used to stand in the Clockend rain or shine. Like you live overseas now but I never miss a game.Back in England end of the year can’t wait to go the the Emirates for the first time. Look forward to reading more of your posts. Good to be a Gooner.

  13. Welcome Gooner64

  14. Rasp says:

    Welcome Gooner64,

    GunnerN5 is in Canada. We hope he will come on this afternoon for a chat, so if you’re around, keep an eye on the site and maybe you can reminisce together.

  15. armory says:

    And GunnerN5 again very good article hope to see more of your writing in the future.

  16. SharkeySure says:

    Morning all,

    London – well I have to salute the press if they have completely made that up, cos they certainly had me fooled. Usually I see straight thru that sort of stuff if I’m unfortunate enough to even have seen it.

    Yesterdays Daily Fail stories about Cesc and transfer requests was classic ‘no quotes’ bullshit.

  17. Gooner64 says:

    Thanks peachesgooner and rasp.

  18. gnarleygeorge9 says:

    GunnerN5

    I love that sort of stuff about The Arsenal 🙂 Thanx muchly for a most enjoyable read.

  19. bops says:

    Smashing article Sir.. Wish I was in your shoes.. at least until you went to Canada 🙂

  20. gnarleygeorge9 says:

    Whats happened to Big Raddy?

  21. George Anderson says:

    So interesting to read memories from GunnerN5. I was born in Stepney in 1936 and my dad used to take me to reserve games until I was 12 when I started going to 1st team matches on my own. I’d get to the ground at 12.00 o’clock for the 3pm KO. As soon as they openned the gates I rushed to get my place right underneath the clock. There was a higher ‘kerb’ running round the back of the clock end which meant that I could see over the heads of the grown-ups. I used to have a ‘rattle’ painted red and white – I suppose that was the fore-runner to the vuvuzela! In later years I got a season ticket in the upper tier East Stand and now have two season tickets at the Emirates. My wife, son and daughter take it in turns to go with me … they’re mad keen Arsenal supporters as well.
    Gunner George.

  22. SharkeySure says:

    Off on his hols GG.

    Sailing round some beautiful part of the world I believe…..

  23. Rasp says:

    Hi George Anderson,

    Thanks for your comment, as I said earlier, please see if you can be around when GN5 is on the site this afternoon – it seems you have a lot in common.

  24. Rasp says:

    Hi gnarley,

    Raddy’s away without internet for his usual summer sabbatical.

  25. Hi gnarley – he’s gone to his summer retreat in Italy for six weeks – not at all jealous of that 😆

  26. GunnerN5 says:

    Morning all, 6:00am here in London – Ontario that is.

    armory you are right I did take poetic license and exaggerate the bomb bit but the funny thing is when we returned from evacuation the bombs were dropping.

  27. Morning GunnerN5 – thanks for the article, its given a few new bloggers the chance to come onto the site.

  28. Rasp says:

    Morning GN5,

    Thanks for the great article – a refreshing contrast to all the other ‘non-Arsenal’ Arsenal stories on the net today.

  29. SharkeySure says:

    I love seeing the really old folks at Arsenal games. Its kind of humbling to think of how llong they have been watching Arsenal, and the the players that they have seen who are only historical facts for me.

    Likewise, at ‘only’ 43 myself, I find it equally amusing and startling to hear the 20-30 year olds talk of Liam Brady as though he were Ted Drake.

  30. gnarleygeorge9 says:

    Cheers all

    43 yo Sharkey you a a mere pup 🙂 Ted Drake scored 7 goals in one game

  31. GunnerN5 says:

    SharkeySure: Personally I cannot relate to the glory seekers who believe that we have failed if we don’t win a trophy, Supporting a team is so, so much more than silverware, of course it’s great when we do get some and then enjoy the bragging rights that come along with the trophies but there’s so much more…..

    In my 63 years of supporting Arsenal we have only won trophies in 17 of those but that doesn’t mean that I was disillusioned and depressed for the other 46 years.

    Frankly having been around during so many fruitless years watching Arsene’s Arsenal is a joy beyond belief.

  32. GunnerN5 says:

    Hey Sharkey – not so much of the old folks ?

  33. SharkeySure says:

    GG – Those 7 goals are just about the first historical Arsenal stat that I ever knew.

    G5 – I concur completely. I used to argue a lot on another site about football being so much more than trophies, but it mostly fell on deaf ears.

    I’d often explain that I was more proud of our 2006 CL ‘failure'(!!) than our 2005 FAC win (theft??). They were practically queuing up to laugh at me for that one.

    Kids today ‘eh…

  34. jaygooner says:

    Wonderful post GunnerN5. The bit about “bunking in” to Highbury brings back loads of memories. The amount of times we went in on a two for one basis through the old turnstiles, especially. It used to make me laugh when the stadium announcer gave the crowd figure as 30 odd thousand when it was blatantly obvious there were over 50 thousand in the ground.

  35. am says:

    I dont believe Xavi could have said those exact words,

    But I still Believe Pique and Puyol are assholes.

    When Mourinho beats barca to the league and we win the Champions League they will be desperate to resign Cesc and will offer in excess of 60mil.

    Its a win- win situation for Arsenal. In this time Ramsay would have recovered and Lansbury, Wilshire would be more experienced.

  36. jaygooner says:

    Love that Ted Drake clip. He had 8 shots and scored 7 goals. It should be enforced pre match viewing for Super Nik lol.

  37. SharkeySure says:

    I said ‘really old’…you’re not !!

    Best of all, when I see a woman in her 70’s or more who’s still going, thats like a double whammy.

    Absolute worst is girls who’ve only gone with their fella, but really have no interest at all, and sit texing throughout the match

  38. SharkeySure says:

    Oh and corporate fans who couldn’t give a toss about being there.

    So many fans worldwide who’d love to visit the Ems even once in their lives, and yet every week there’s a fair few in there who really arent too bothered about it.

  39. London says:

    Hi Peaches

    That was exactly what I was thinking

    —-Fabianski

    Djourou,Vermaelen

    To start tonight.

    It will be interesting to see if he plays Nordvit at right back though.

  40. Gooner64 says:

    Gunner N5

    Great article brought back memories of my first match with my dad aged 5 in dec 1969 against burnley won 3 – 2 been hooked ever since. Win lose or draw always a Gooner.

  41. London says:

    Hi Gooner64

    My Dad took me for the first aged 5 around that time…..I am going upstairs to see if I can find that programme…..Burnley 3-2 you say….I will be back.

  42. kelsey says:

    Welcome aboard GunnerN5,

    It is a fallacy that only the under 40’s are bloggers, and we always generate a lot of good comments from the more mature gooners on here, when we get a nostalgic post.

    Nothing to do with age just that it is hard for some of the younger ones out there to appreciate all those barren years, unless they witnessed them, themselves.

    Looking forward to reading more from you, and of course looking at some of your “famous spreadsheets”

    Nice one GunnerN5 😉

  43. London says:

    Sharkey

    That is a very scary thought: when talking about Brady certain people mentally put him in the same category as Drake.

  44. Rasp says:

    Hi London,

    It looks like you may have to give up on any hope of Gallas staying since he has lost his squad number and is not listed in ‘players’ on arsenal.com …… interestingly, Campbell is still there though?

  45. GunnerN5 says:

    Sharkey; We may have been on the same “other” site.

    I’ve posted on one for the best part of 12 years and it has always been dominated by dour glory hunters who hate everything Arsenal with the exception of trophies..

  46. London says:

    Rasp

    Irish pointed out that Gallas had lost his number a while back but if you were negotiating a lower wage for someone what would you do? Give him number or take it away giving the impression that you don’t care either way…….exactly, that’s why Billy Boy remains an option….Denial is a river in Egypt 😉

  47. kelsey says:

    Who remembers this fairly recent event, I think Stepanov
    played.

    Biggest AFC away defeat in the Premiership
    1-6 (Manchester Utd 25 Feb 2001)

    God that was a week I will always remember,the ribbing I got was unbearable.

  48. London says:

    I see your in a happy go lucky mood today Kelsey 😉

  49. Rasp says:

    Nah London, he’s gone (Dandan’s house says so) and Arsène doesn’t want him to stay … I do hope AW is not harbouring hopes of a last minute deal with Sol at the cost of not pursuing another CB before the window closes. At this moment, I’d put a new CB as a higher priority than a new GK.

  50. SharkeySure says:

    GunnerN5. I was talking about Le Groan, they’ve only been going for 2-3years I think.

    Damn it was hard work over there. Anyway I’ll leave that there, as people normally comes on and tells me off

  51. kelsey says:

    Sharkey,

    There uses to be a TV programme called “Never Mind The Quality Feel The Width”. Do you get my drift 🙂

    Morning London.

    GunnerN5, I don’t believe anyone on here ever posted on the site where we first met.

  52. Johnny says:

    What a blindin post mate, my first season was 83. I never missed a home match until 92(norwich done us 4-2). Its funny how our support has changed since Wenger took over, we`ve become spoiled. Your spot on, Arsene is the best thing to have happened to our great club since the Chapman era. When I think of some of the shit I used to watch in the 80`s, I cant believe how lucky I am now, to watch such a great side every week. As someone else commented, following a club is about much more than just winning trophies, its about being part of it and we are blessed to be a part of such a historic club. Anyway cheers for the post, hope to read more from you in the future.

  53. GunnerN5 says:

    Kelsey, It’s good to hear that nobody else here has been on “that” site as they will not have to live with all of the mental scars that we do.

  54. irishgunner says:

    Afternoon all,

    Great post GunnerN5 I throughly enjoyed reading it. I think your post is the sort that sets us apart from all the other blogs who just post crap to fill the day, we post quality 8)

    Peaches/Rasp – Can we put the Fantasy Football code and link in a widget?

  55. SharkeySure says:

    Johnny – well said.

  56. Hi Irish, I’ve emailed alfa with all the info – if you know how to do it I’ll give you the reins – do you know how to do it yourself?

  57. irishgunner says:

    That’s cool Peaches, its not starting till the season anyway so hopefully Alfa gets it up before then, if not I’ll try and do it next week or something.

    Where is Alfa these days?

  58. London says:

    I don’t know where he is but I do know that he won’t be able to resist returning. To survive man has to eat, drink and talk about Arsenal.

  59. irishgunner says:

    Coquelin has signed a long term deal.

  60. Rasp says:

    Quotes from TV regarding his possible CB partner…..

    “It doesn’t matter for me who I play with”

    “You know each other’s qualities and you know how the players play.

    “I didn’t know Koscielny before but I have seen him in training.

    “He is a good defender, he puts pressure on the attackers all the time and he is tight with his marking.

    “I have played alongside him a few times in training and that has gone well. He is a good defender.

    “Djourou had a long injury last year, for almost all of the season.

    “I think for him it is good to be back. I know him well and he is a quality player.”

  61. dandan says:

    HI Gunner N5, welcome I do believe you have now taken my record as the oldest article writer on here. That was magic stuff well done.
    Coincidently I have a brother and his family and some other friends who live in Condo’s in London Ontario. My bro is a spud as are the rest of my family. I spent many happy years standing in front of the barrier half way up the clock end. right behind the goal and in front of the clock. we may well have danced together LOL

  62. SharkeySure says:

    Oh Dan…no.

    I now have a mental image of you and G5 dancing…at your current ages, not as 10 yr olds !

    Oh dear….

  63. dandan says:

    Also just before I came on and saw your article I booked a six week break in the Rockies and across into Montana. My wife and I just love Canada have been going there since 71. only twenty years less than I have been going to Highbury

  64. dandan says:

    Sharkey you should be so lucky LOL

  65. Rasp says:

    The deal is done, Eduardo’s gone …. the very best of luck to him.

  66. irishgunner says:

    Bye Eddie 😥

    Top player and goal scorer, hope he regains his form in the Ukraine – be nice to draw them in the CL and give him a proper send off – as long as we win of course 😉

  67. Rasp says:

    Hi irish,

    Its a real shame, who knows how good he could have been for us were it not for the injury?

    It looks like we’ve given up on the idea of a ‘fox in the box’, which makes sense when you haven’t got proper wingers I suppose.

  68. dandan says:

    Sad to see a good guy done in by Samfooty, perhaps one day the authorities will act.

    Good luck Dudu we wish you well

  69. GunnerN5 says:

    dandan; That’s just about where my family stood year in and year out. As a kid I couldn’t see through the crowd so I used to pretend to faint and the crowd would pass me over their heads and drop me behind the goal. They would make sure I was okay and then take me to the corner flag and then let me sit there for the rest of the game. Sometimes they’d say to me “hey weren’t you here last week” and I’d answer “no, not me mister”.

    When the players took a corner they would always acknowledge us – great memories.

    Ah the games we used to play.

  70. irishgunner says:

    Rasp – Yep, I was hoping he’d give it another season. I don’t think Wenger wanted to sell him per se, more he couldn’t guarantee him a starting spot that Eddie wanted.

    I think it was the hounding he got after the Celtic match more so than the Taylor injury.

  71. SharkeySure says:

    “no, not me mister.” – brilliant !!!

  72. 26may1989 says:

    Like the post GunnerN5, thanks. Re loyal fans, there’s a Spurs fan I work with who hasn’t missed a single competitive Spurs away game since 1993 and has not missed a single competitive home game since March 1968!

    Shame re Eduardo, but probably best for him and Arsenal. Good luck to Dudu, I hope the Ukrainians see the best of his prodigious talents.

    Quick question: there was a transfer rumour about us going after a trio of Ajax players, one of whom is Luis Saurez. I don’t doubt the rumour is rubbish, but in theory, what would people think of signing Suarez? He’s clearly an excellent player, and apparently scored 49 goals for Ajax last year, but I thought his attitude and cheating at the World Cup were shocking. And I don’t primarily mean the handball vs Ghana (though that was outrageous), it was the dive against South Africa, and the resulting red card that ended the South African keeper’s (home) World Cup that really angered me, as well as Suarez’s constant diving and whingeing.

    Personally, I hope we never sign him, even if we needed to sign a striker – disagree?

  73. SharkeySure says:

    My wifes parents have been in Canada (Edmonton) for about 20 years now….lovely lovely place.

    The beauty of Jasper/Banff etc is almost unparalleled.

  74. SharkeySure says:

    26m. I like Suarez. His gloating and comments after the handball were not great, and really do him no favours.

    Diving. I didn;t notice that he was any worse than most forwards, who often defy the laws of physics, ie falling fiorwas when your shirt is pulled from the back etc.

    Overall, phenomenal finisher whilst also a very good footballer. I’d have him in a heartbeat.

    I’d also have Fucile, who served at RB and LB, oh and Duiego Perez the DM.

    I thought that Uruguay were the best team to watch in SA, along with Germany. Their match up was ‘my final’, and what a great game that was.

  75. SharkeySure says:

    26m Ask the Spud if he knows of Morris Keston. Apparently he managed 50years home and away. Tell him that Martin Cloake’s just told me that.

  76. 26may1989 says:

    Will do Sharkey – the guy in question is away at the moment (no doubt, wherever Spurs are playing their pre-season games – US?). I expect his life’s ambition is to beat 50 years…..

    Fair points re Suarez – but I got really pissed off with him during the Urugay v South Africa game. Maybe it’s just me, maybe he’s not much worse than others, but I was left with a strong dislike of Suarez.

  77. SharkeySure says:

    26m We’ve all done that though ‘eh. I’ve never done that too much for Arse players though, unlike some in blogland!

  78. 26may1989 says:

    Ah, the righteous, indignant hysteria of the typical football blogger. That one on Arsenal Action for example.

  79. dandan says:

    Gunnern5.There were 6 off us only one under 6′ we used to stand in front of the barrier one step down, no one would try to get in front of us and when the match started, we would take a step back, tight against the barrier, magic view lol

  80. kelsey says:

    I knew you two would get on. 🙂

  81. kelsey says:

    I have to eat my words about Rosicky.he looks sharper than ever.Walcott is another matter.

  82. SharkeySure says:

    Kels – I’ve got home and watched most of the 2nd half now.

    His back pass to the keeper on 62 mins was really really odd. He had four yellow shirts nearer than the keeper and bypassed them all. Thats about all I remember from him…

    Sounds like I didn’t exactly miss a first half masterclass from him then..??

    JET…wot a monster. If he ever learns to run a bit, there’ll be no stopping him.

    Nordveidt looked good again, but Djourou didn’t.

  83. SharkeySure says:

    Oh and Traore left me a little perplexed as well. Great pace and power, but poor decision making.

  84. goonermichael says:

    Hi everyone. Nice post. How was the game? I didn’t see it

  85. SharkeySure says:

    Lansbury’s finish was top quality !!

  86. goonermichael says:

    Thanks Kelsey

  87. kelsey says:

    On another note,sad to see Eduardo go.He seemed a humble chap and he will go down as one of our few players that we never really got to see how good he could have been.

  88. kelsey says:

    gm,

    it’s only my opinion.(and i need a haircut 😉 )

  89. goonermichael says:

    I have to hand my pc back over to my son. See you later

  90. London says:

    Excellent summary Kelsey, although, maybe a bit early to be expecting a plan B, I think they were just trying to get plan A up and running.

  91. Morning all

    Theres a NEW POST

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