Arsenal’s Oldest Fan?

The reason for writing this post is the upcoming 90th birthday of one John Alfred Churchill who has been going up the Arsenal with the Vines family for upwards of 25 odd years. He’s been attending games for a lot longer than that, obviously, but it’s only in the last few decades that he really established himself as part of the family.

The ‘oldest fan’ crack stemmed from a Champions League game against AZ Alkmaar in 2009 when John was a meagre 84 or thereabouts. Our habit in those days was to buy a few cans and sit on the wall alongside the Drayton (the away fans pub), just the other side of the South bridge at the Emirates Stadium. Some Dutch fans stopped to chat on that occasion and remarked on JC’s age, saying that most football attendees in Holland were aged between 20 and 40 and they’d never seen anyone as old as JC at a game. We tried to convince them that John was 104 years old and in their inebriated states were of half a mind to believe us. The next summer I sent John the card below for his birthday; a card he proudly took to his local chippy in a vain attempt to hoodwink them into believing he’d had cards from Her Madge.

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Anyway, to get back to Mr Churchill, he was born on the 1st July 1925. Often’s been the time when he’s said that he’s not slept much the previous night due to guilty feelings over the stress and worry he caused his parents as a young lad. On one particular occasion, he hitched a ride in a lorry from London all the way up to Liverpool in the hope of blagging his way on to a ship. The police stopped his escape plan and sent him back to London after informing his parents he was safe and sound.

As a schoolboy, he played on the hallowed Highbury turf during an Islington schools final. His tale from this momentous occasion was that he played left wing, scored a goal but finished on the losing side, the score being 1-0. The punchline to this story is that he scored an own goal from a corner!

His desire to sail the seven seas led him to lie about his age and gain access to a seaworthy position in the Merchant Navy in the early 1940s during the Second World War. He became a gunner, learning how to fire the on-board defensive guns. His time with the Merchant Navy saw him through to the end of the conflict and left him with some shrapnel in his leg which still gives him some problems (when he remembers it’s still there)!

JC’s walking speed has never been that prodigious at the best of times but, for some unknown reason, always improves when he’s walking with a young lady. So we’ve been very happy when in need of a swift walk from the pub to get into the ground before kick-off if the said young lady has been part of our pre-match festivities!

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Since I found the marvellous blog which is Arsenal Arsenal, many bloggers have met JC and all have commented on what a wonderful chap the old boy is. My ulterior motive in compiling this post is to get some of you to send him a card for his 90th birthday. I’d love it if he received a few cards from regulars on the blog from all over the country and maybe a couple from overseas, too; more of that later.

After the war JC joined the Civil Service and met my old man and they developed a lifelong friendship from there onwards. When clearing out my Dad’s house we found diary entries about their relationship from way back (fifties, I think), such as ‘JC says he’ll give up smoking if the cost of them goes up anymore’. As a matter of record he gave up about 3 years ago after many failed attempts. One time he tried to convince us that his doctor had advised him to start smoking again because he’d become such a bag of nerves!

My Dad used to have two seats in Block Z of the West Stand Highbury and JC was on his regular list of colleagues and friends he’d invite along to watch a game. The seat alongside my Dad’s two became available in the early 90s. JC was informed, bought the season ticket and thereafter, a regular feature of Saturdays, was JC turning up in his Volvo estate to ferry them both towards Islington.

Back to more recent times, JC’s love of going to the football is less in the actual game itself, but more in all of the familiar faces he sees at home games. He often approaches stewards and policemen/policewomen, touches their lapel and when they look down, brings his hand up to clonk them on the nose. Many of the stewards don’t get caught more than once but they all seem to enjoy the interaction as much as he does.

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As I said before, our custom used to be to walk over the South Bridge to the ground, largely because my old man needed to be pushed in a wheelchair to get him to his seat. Passing the burger van on the corner of Aubert Park and Drayton Park, JC often stopped to shout out ‘Buy one, get one free’ or some such nonsense. The boisterous chap behind the counter developed quite an affection for JC after a time, always addressing him as “Colonel” and making cracks about Douglas Bader and other non-PC type jokes.

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John has shown little sign of giving up attending games, though he tends to steer clear of evening kick-offs these days, preferring Saturday 3 o’clocks (as most of us do). We will continue to pick him up and take him to The Arsenal for as long as he so desires.

Long may it continue.

Back to my request for birthday cards……if you do receive a request via email to send the old boy a card to commemorate his 90th milestone, I’d be eternally grateful if you could post him something to brighten up his day.

Thanks in advance.

Written by chas

60 Responses to Arsenal’s Oldest Fan?

  1. Rasp says:

    Bloody marvellous chas. I’m not having the happiest of times at the moment, your post has brought a smile to my face and reminded me that it’s not all about a £50m striker ( 😀 micky )

    As you know I’ve met JC on several occasions and he still has that rakish twinkle in his eye. Lovely man, with many stories to tell …. Happy 90th, I look forward to celebrating his 100th

  2. Morning all

    What a great idea chas. JC is a real character and I hope he continues to enjoy going to games for many years to come.

    I’ve emailed all the bloggers whose names jumped into my head with JC’s address and I apologise if I’ve forgotten to include you. If that is the case please email and I’ll forward the address,


  3. Great post Chas, about a great Arsenal supporter, e mail his address to me and I’ll definitely send the Old Gooner a card.

    A bit of news in the Sunday Mirror, Man U are treating their pitch with garlic in an effort to drive away the worms invading the pitch. Will it work? Is Van Judas allergic to garlic?

  4. Gööner In Exile says:

    Superb Chas, card incoming.

    JC is a legend, I’ve missed being asked when it’s due 😀

  5. Joney says:

    This has cheered me up. I’m a big Arsenal fan and would like to send JC a birthday card. My Dad turned 99 2 weeks ago and as I couldn’t find a 99 B/day card I bought a 90 and a 9th one! Didn’t use them on the day and wondered if I would ever have the need for a 90th B/day card. Well, there will never be a better use for it than to send it to JC. Where should I post it to.!!

  6. mickydidit89 says:

    Very thoughtful idea Chas
    Definitely going to send him a card. For those who have not met him, he’s every much the delightful man Chas portrays and most certainly worth sending a card to.
    I’m sure it’ll be quiet today as most people either have a dad or are a dad, therefore we have to do things

    John Alfred Churchill. What a name.

  7. What a lovely post Chas… what a character! I will send him a card from France if you give an address. A loyal and true Gooner from Highbury… I hope I get a chance to meet him next season when I’m back in the UK.

  8. I’ll send a card with “Her Madge” on the toilet… I think that would brighten his day. 🙂

  9. Red Arnie says:

    wow, Chas. 🙂 what a character, JC. 🙂 🙂 🙂

    I have taken his seat a couple of times, and am proud in the illusion that there is therefore a little bit of JC in my Gooner self. 😛

    Question is: when do I get to meet him in person? let us see. 🙂

  10. Red Arnie says:

    Chas, back to the lovely euphonium from this morning. 🙂

  11. Red Arnie says:

    and since I am feeling rather militant this morning …

  12. Red Arnie says:

    Pete Postlewaite, what a star!

  13. Red Arnie says:

    many films of the British 1980s, but this is truly my favourite

  14. Gööner In Exile says:

    Funniest byeline of the day:

    Wilshere is said to be undecided over his future and concerned about how many matches he will play for the Gunners next season. (Star on Sunday)

    Well of course that means he will join Man City where it’s worked out so well for their signings over last few seasons.

    They’ve spent close to £300m since their first title win but the starting XI remains largely unchanged.

    I don’t believe the story but just the amount of drivel written like this makes me laugh.

  15. GiE, that “news” may just have had the desired effect. a report this morning (Sunday Mirror) says that Arsenal are offering Wilshire a new five year deal at £100,000 per week. Now call me an old cynic but…

  16. Red Arnie says:

    GiE, Norfolk. 🙂

  17. Well done John. PG for all of us.

  18. Eddie says:

    pssshhhhh….the man is a cheat. He proposed, I accepted only to be told later that he has been married for 60 years!!

    I think the toothy boys are brilliant for taking their Dad’s mate to games with them all these years. That’s what I call being ‘nice guys’. ok, when they are sober

    Happy Birthday JC

  19. Gööner In Exile says:

    To be fair Eddie I think JC deserves more recognition for putting up with the Vines.

  20. Red Arnie says:

    GiE. 😆 Yes, brave man JC. 🙂

  21. Red Arnie says:

    I suspect JC is their official minder, makin sure they dont misbehave too much! 😆

  22. Shard says:

    And it’s John Churchill…John Alfred Churchill
    By far the greatest geezer, the world has ever seen.

    Not sure sending him a card from India would do much good. The postal service is notoriously unreliable. But all the best to him.

  23. chas says:

    Thanks for all your responses.
    If you do fancy sending a card (which would be most welcome), then please email with JC90 as the email heading and Peaches will forward his address on to you.

    I’d really appreciate it if you sent a card from India. He’d absolutely love it and it wouldn’t matter a jot if it turned up late. His birthday isn’t for another 10 days anyway. His merchant navy career had him across the Atlantic for some of the time but he also has particularly fond memories of stopping of in India, too. Just to receive an envelope with Indian stamps on it would both delight and amaze him.

    Thanks again, everyone.

  24. chas says:

    ….stopping off….

  25. chas says:

    Happy Father’s Day to all you Dads.
    I’m proud to say I received two Happy Godfather’s Day cards. 🙂

  26. chas says:

  27. chas says:

  28. chas says:

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  30. London says:

    Great post


    Nice one chas

    I would love to send JC a card. I have met him once but I dont think he will remember me. He was to busy admiring some bird.

    I admire that. The ability to meet someone with the attitude of “yeah yeah, whatever. Now get out of my way pumpkin face, cant you see ime priming myself for that bird”, commands huge respect.

    Send me an email and I will sort it.

  32. mickydidit89 says:

    Well, I think we can all agree that this transfer window has been little short of a catastrophe

    Now is the time to act

  33. mickydidit89 says:

    Or, instead of ACTING RIGHT NOW, we could just lie down and relax

  34. chas says:

    If you want to send a card can you send an email to Arsenal Nuts as per my 5.40pm comment, ta.

  35. chas says:

    So, Kingdongbia is off to Milan.
    Cech is one step closer.
    Oooooo, how exciting!!

  36. chas says:

    This made me laugh .
    Everyone’s a bit dozy, aren’t they?
    And doziness increases with age, too?

  37. chas says:

  38. chas says:

    Shocking photograph…….

    …..I’m outraged that the police were ever allowed to wear their hair that long

  39. chas says:

    I wonder how BR’s solstice party went.
    Must be a 3-day comedown at least.

  40. mickydidit89 says:

    Portobello Rd, not Westbourne Grove, but hey
    Me old patch

  41. Big Raddy says:

    Morning All,

    Feeling dreadful. Mead can be a right bastard if drunk to excess

  42. mickydidit89 says:

    Mead aka The Druid Fluid 🙂

  43. Big Raddy says:

    Sky Sports reporting Cech has agreed personal terms.

    Who goes? TPIG is homegrown. Ospina has done nothing wrong.

  44. Eddie says:

    szczesny is doing his best to repair his reputation. Ospina is really not that great, he has to go

  45. Eddie says:

    Tea plantations in Cornwall selling produce to China!!! This really takes a biscuit

  46. Eddie says:

    in Poland it is widely reported that Szczesny is leaving Arsenal

  47. mickydidit89 says:

    Maybe you could be our ears on the ground in Poland
    Any hot “expensive striker to Arsenal” stories, however well founded, most welcome

  48. Eddie says:

    Lewandowski boyhood dream was to play for Arsenal. He was gutted he didn’t join us at the Ems

  49. GoonerB says:

    Morning all, great post Chas and a big happy birthday to JC.

    What expensive striker did you say we have bought Micky?

    Always liked the look of Lewandowski Eddie but I get the feeling he is rated at Bayern so are unlikely to let him go, ….unless….. you have some inside information from Polska that we don’t know about?…….well do you?…..come on Eddie do you:?……..I haven’t got all day Eddie, so do you?……

  50. Eddie says:

    no GoonerB, I don’t, sorry 😦
    Lewy wanting to join was is a blatant lie just to please DidIt

    BTW, I liked your post the other day. I didn’t have any good ideas for the answer, so I just enjoyed it on a quiet

  51. ‘morning all, Sergio Aguero is undergoing a medical at London Colney prior to signing a five year £150,000 a week deal, the transfer fee is undisclosed but believed to be less than £40 million.

    Another blatant lie to please Micky 😀

  52. mickydidit89 says:


    Imagine how much sunshine you would have brought in to my very gloomy Monday without that last sentence.

    Inconsiderate at best 🙂

  53. TMHT – your email has bounced back, can you send an email to and I’ll reply with JC’s address

  54. GoonerB says:

    Sent in a new post if required

  55. Ooooh so you have ………… I might just have enough time to sort it.

    Back in a bit ……………..

  56. We have a New Post ………………………….

  57. The Cockie Monster says:

    Love this post and have sent birthday card and honestly, it aint a rude one !. hahaha

  58. LBG says:

    Proud to be a Vines, proud to have perpetuated JC’s contact with the Arsenal, and proud to have you as a bro, Chas. Long may the Vines charabanc wend its way to the Home of Football.

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