This little trip down memory lane comes from my brother, Jon Vines.
The story began with Arsenal’s Double cup-winning season of 1992/3. We’d beaten Sheffield Wednesday twice in both domestic cups, the Coca-Cola and the FA Cup and the club had promised a parade of both trophies after the opening home game of the new 1993/4 season.
Jon’s son, Matt was very excited at the prospect and set about investing a big effort into making an Ian Wright poster. The plan was to move right down the front of the lower tier while the cups were paraded to within touching distance and to get Wrighty to sign the aforementioned poster.
Well, the day arrived and the parade was scheduled for after the game with dodgy Midlands opponents Coventry City. However, things didn’t go as planned and Micky Quinn, later of Talkshite notoriety, scored a hat trick and the good guys got thumped three nothing. This from Wiki, “He (Quinn) attracted the crowd chant of ‘Who ate all the Pies?’ due to his physique, which he used as the title of his 2003 autobiography. Other nicknames included ‘Sumo’, ‘Hippofatamus’, and ‘Bob’, the latter from football fans who claimed that he bore a physical resemblance to the television presenter Bob Carolgees”.
After the game George Graham spent so much time trying to explain the result to the media that when he returned to the dressing room, the players had got changed and a message was broadcast over the tannoy that there would no longer be a parade of the cups. As a 13 year old, Matt was devastated and Jon decided, as a shot to nothing, he would express his and his son’s disappointment by writing to the club.
Within a week, Jon’s wife took a phone call at their home and called for Jon to come take the call. When he asked who was speaking, the reply came back, ‘Ken Friar, secretary of Arsenal Football Club’! (Upon being told the details of that phone call at a later date, Vines Senior (Matt’s Grandad) was particularly impressed as Ken Friar had always been one of his heroes. Friar had reportedly been given a job as a matchday messenger aged 12 when he’d kicked his football against the car of the current Arsenal manger George Allison in 1946 and then worked his way up through the ranks to eventually become Managing Director).
The upshot of the call was an invitation, on behalf of George Graham, to visit the club and have a private audience with the manager and the cups. Jon managed to wangle an extra invite for ‘Grandad’ and the three generations of the Vines family had a guided tour of the Marble Halls, met George Graham and even got to hold the trophies. They were also the first members of the public allowed into the newly opened Arsenal Museum at Highbury.
Matt also managed to bump into Ian Wright in the corridor and got his much desired autograph after all.
The newspaper clipping below is from The Independent in March 2000 and the last line says “Even now, as a rising 20 year-old, Matthew would rank it as one of the best experiences of his childhood” Jon said. The day as a whole, that is, not just the bumping into Ian Wright in a corridor.
Written by LBG via chas.