Have you ever been an “anorak”? I have – I was and probably remain an Arsenal anorak. In my youth I didn’t hang around train stations or sit by airports, flask of tea and a notebook in hand obsessively writing down times and numbers – No, my obsession took it’s material form in a Scrapbook.
To those younger readers who do not know what a scrapbook is; a scrapbook is a book of empty pages into which one can stick newspaper articles, pictures, tickets and other ephemera.
This was back in the days of Yore, the pre-digital world when men were men and women were grateful. There wasn’t daily access to The Arsenal, just reports of the game in the Sunday papers and a few stories about players. There was the Charlie Buchan Football Annual and monthly magazine; it wasn’t until the late 1960’s that football magazines became popular, but given the small amount of pocket-money the young BR had available, I didn’t want to spend a weeks money on a mag. Plenty did – The Charlie Buchan Football Magazine had a monthly circulation of over 250,000, which is more than all the current football mags added together!!
So I started my own “magazine” which took the form of a scrapbook. It was an adjunct to my precious AFC programmes which were locked away in an air conditioned, humidity-controlled steel bunker outside London (in case of alien attack). I would cut out the reports from all the games, make tables of attendances,league position, player appearances, goal scorers, type of goal (head/foot). All manner of things related to The Arsenal.
I have to admit I became obsessive about my scrapbook. My family paper was The Daily Mail (he wrote in great shame) and I would cut any AFC related article or pictures out and add them to the scrapbook – though midweek there was very little. The main sources were the weekend papers. The Saturday night pink Sports edition and the Sundays. Having listened to the football scores on the radio I would be given newspaper money and sent to the local newsagent to wait for the arrival of the Evening Sports paper. There would be at least 10 men/boys eagerly awaiting it’s arrival – seems another world!
The family Sundays were the The Mirror and The Times ( 😦 ). Both to be cut to pieces on Sunday evening after a day spent playing coats for goalposts in the local park.
It wasn’t easy making a scrapbook, there were editorial decisions to be made which could affect the whole project.; layout, which glue, are there too many pics of the same player, do I write in print of joined-up?
Living with a demented younger brother and a spiteful older sister (both top chaps now – well, one of them is!!) the value of the scrapbook meant that it could be used as ransom. No blood was spilled but many an argument was started by one of the swine hiding my third most valuable possession (after my bicycle and my Dansette transistor radio).
I gave up the scrapbook collecting in my mid-teens when I started to attend Highbury on a regular basis and then away games. Plus, the newly discovered attractions of the opposite sex altered my perspective of life – and I had discovered another typical male teenage obsession (thank you Geno Washington and the Ram Jam Band). Strangely, the 3 obsessions I developed in those days still occupy most of my time today 😀
I need to point out to that I was not alone in my scrapbooking – most of my school did the same. Not only football but all sorts of subjects. My sister pressed flowers (what a pointless waste of time), my brother had a Dinosaur scrapbook, Robert over the road had a Red Indian scrapbook but mine was by far the best.
I guess I kept collecting for 6 or 7 seasons, goodness know what happened to those oh-so-precious scrapbooks, probably thrown out in one of my house moves.
Wish I still had them.
n.b. Of course, Arsenal Arsenal is our modern digital scrapbook with all the previous info now on the righthand sidebars, and even better than my old version, this one is created by many hands.
Written by Big Raddy