The Rime of the Ancient Gooner (With apologies to Samuel Taylor Coleridge)

I saw the old fellow sitting hunched against the wind on a bench in Finsbury Park. He wore a long brown raincoat with a red and white knitted scarf knotted snugly against his scrawny neck, a well worn and faded Arsenal base ball cap, pulled down to protect his balding skull, left only a few stray grey hairs protruding from around the edges.

His faded blue eyes gazed vacantly in the direction of the magnificent Emirates Arena, the weathered and wrinkled skin of his face bore testament to the years spent on the old open terraces of the long gone Highbury Stadium watching, sometimes with joy sometimes with despair but always with hope, his beloved Arsenal.

His fists suddenly clenched convulsively he half rose from his seat, his right arm raising before slumping back on the bench, a single tear appeared in his eye as he relived a missed scoring chance in some long gone long forgotten First Division game. He shivered as the February wind gusted around him and he stuffed his hands deep in his pockets.

I sat down beside him and said “it’s cold today” he jerked and stared around him as if waking from a dream, he looked blankly at me for a moment and then mentally shook himself and returned to the present, “Oh”, he said “I’ve known it colder and at least it’s dry”. I offered him the cup of coffee I’d just bought, he took it gratefully and sipped some of the hot liquid, a hint of colour crept into his pale face.

I asked what he was doing here on such a lousy day, “what else is there to do, I can’t sit about all day at home and there’s no football today”. “No mates” I asked. He gave a mournful sigh and replied “most of them have gone and those not dead are in some bloody care home or another”. “I got chucked out of one last week, me and an old Barney were having a right good laugh when the old dragon who runs the place told us to keep the noise down because we were disturbing the other clients”. “Disturbing this lot” I said, It would need a doodlebug dropping to wake some of them up”. “Well” she said “this facility is only open to my clients and you’re a disruptive influence so I must ask you to leave”.

He lapsed into silence and sipped his coffee. “How long have you been going to Arsenal matches?” I asked. “ About as long as I can remember” he said as a far away look came into his eyes. “My dad used to hide me under his mac and smuggle me in, must have been when I was about five I suppose” he said. “if there was a real crowd in I’d get passed overhead right down to the front. You were only a few feet away from the players boots. It was smashing”. His face lit up briefly at the memory but the smile quickly faded as he went on “Course the war put a stop to that, it put a stop to my dad too, he never came home from Dunkirk”.

In an effort to break the spell I asked “do you still go to matches?” “Well” he said “I still go to the ground and I wander around and watch the crowds enjoying themselves but I can’t afford a ticket and I’m too big to hide under anyone’s coat now” he shrugged resignedly. “so I go and sit in the pub and watch it on tele but it’s not the same somehow”.

It was starting to rain, the wind was getting stronger the old boy shivered. “Look” I said “meet me here at one o’clock next Saturday, I’ll have a spare ticket that you can have and we can watch the game together, how will that be?” His face lit up, a broad smile seemed to sweep away the wrinkles and the years with them. “Do you mean it? Really? He said. “Yes” I replied “I do mean it, we’ll go and watch Arsenal together” The rain was getting heavier, “alright I’ll meet you one o’clock next Saturday on this bench” he said as he got up and walked away in the rain, he looked back smiled brightly and waved, I gave him a thumbs up and turned away.

I got to the bench at a quarter to one, I waited till fifteen minutes to kick off, I watched the game with an empty seat beside me.

Written by Norfolk Gooner

61 Responses to The Rime of the Ancient Gooner (With apologies to Samuel Taylor Coleridge)

  1. mickydidit89 says:

    Only read the first paragraph, and wondering which one of us Norfolk is on about
    I go read on

  2. mickydidit89 says:

    Paragraph 2
    Ditto 🙄

  3. mickydidit89 says:

    Oh Dear Lord, I need a hanky 😦

  4. NG

    I’ll be sitting on the same bench next season… with a bottle of wine!

  5. X says:

    I thought I would pop on and see how my friends in the AA Dirty Old Men’s Club were getting on, and instead, blow me down, I had this overpowering feeling of déjà vu settle on me like a cloud of agitated prismatic incomprehension reflecting at me from all angles.

    You see, I have often associated the occasionally enigmatic Enn Gee, because of his nautical scribings and robotic meanderings down the Norfolk coastline, with an image of him as the ancient mariner, and lo and behold, it turns out he is, indeed, an aficionado of the poetry of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and as any dutiful acolyte would, he has written a slightly weird, apocryphal Post without a proper ending, allegedly in the style of the erstwhile poet.

    But here is the rub – I am convinced this same broke-back story of unrequited love [how not to pick up a date?] was actually featured, in some way, on AA in the relatively near past. Or is NG the old man featured in the Post, and he is not really here at all.
    [Walks off whistling, with a cold shiver running down from nape to tucket!]

    [Well, at least it was footie related and not another soft porn offering.]


    A tragedy Norfolk

    Such a sad story. The idea that this ungrateful old boy snuffed it owing you money fills me with grief. is there no way you can contact his next of kin and demand recompense?

    Something similar happened to me a few year back Norfolk. This geezer walks into my office and I give him Inheritance tax advice.

    Little did I know that he planed to snuff it one week later, leaving my invoice unpaid

    Though I had only met him once, I had no choice but to go his funereal. During the service I tried to slip the invoice in to the widows pocket, but mistimed it and ended up fondling her bottom instead. Some bloke threatened to do me, but I feigned tears and yelled “Oh Johnson, why were you taken so young? and owing so much?”. This seemed to placate him.

    His son got up and gave a very moving speech about how Johnson always helped those in need and was always giving of himself, only interrupted by my coughed cries of “Except to creditors”

    At the grave side the tears flowed as the vicar read the last rights, giving me the opportunity to rub up against the son, “So sorry for your loss. Your father was a fine man. To make sure his legacy is untainted here is what he owed me before me he snuffed it. Under the circumstances, I have decided to forgo the interest”.

    Before I knew I was been manhandled by several mourners and ended up been frogmarched away, yelling as I went “Neither a lender or borrower be Johnson. Death is no escape form Accountancy fees”

    I never got my money. People have no respect these days

  7. mickydidit89 says:

    If you want wit and humour, then leave it to the master

    Transplant, you’re in a class of your own. Brilliant 🙂

    I hereby quit ever trying to be remotely amusing again

  8. stevepalmer1 says:

    Morning all, Nice sad one Norfolk, Probably forgot,at that age the memory fades.

    Not been on much lately, no football ,and apart from Petr Cech not much doing at the club.

    Liverpool selling, where do they get their prices from, and United buying any player that will come north,

    As usual we will sit and wait till the last couple of minutes of the window, but probably to no avail.

    Chavs will spend a bit along with City their owners have to have trophies and whats a hundred odd mill to them.

    Tennis Cricket womens football cycling,Motor racing, and horse racing, all right for many sports fans, but give me a game of Arsenal football any time.

    Blinding Norfolk, still a good story when bugger all is happening.

  9. X says:


    Brilliant! 😀

  10. stavordalerd says:

    Yet again Terry puts a smile on my face…………

  11. chas says:

    Cheers, NG.
    Can’t wait for part two.

  12. Rasp says:

    Thanks NG, a touching if sad story, you never know, the old boy may have won the lottery and bought an executive box!

    TMHT … priceless 😀

    chas, I reckon you’d be quite happy to have a couple of empty seats around you instead of Mr gobshite in front 😆

  13. GunnerN5 says:

    Here’s a bit of fun (at the expense of Spurs) from today’s on line Sport Telegraph.


    Eight reasons Tottenham will never catch Arsenal – new stadium or not. The white half of north London may be riding a wave of optimism, but catching Arsenal may prove a bridge too far

    By Tom Edwards

    11:32AM BST 11 Jul 2015

    Comments38 Comments

    Earlier this week I wrote a serious, intellectual article about why Tottenham’s new stadium will make them bigger and better than Arsenal.

    It proved very popular and, despite my initial apprehension, went down incredibly well with Arsenal fans on Twitter:

    So, because the above tweets raise some riveting and very valid points – and in the interests fairness – I’ve put together a return fixture.

    Here are eight reasons Spurs will never catch Arsenal, regardless of how big their stadium is.

    1. Size isn’t everything

    Ask any Arsenal fan and they’ll tell you that stadium size isn’t important – it’s what you do with it that counts. The Gunners have a 60,432 capacity ground that’s been there for years and feels like a proper home. Spurs haven’t even built theirs yet.

    2. Numbers, numbers, numbers

    While it is true that Spurs were the first north London side to win the FA Cup, a trophy in Europe, and do the double, Arsenal actually have much more silverware in the trophy cabinet.

    Back-to-back FA Cups in the last two years have added weight to that supremacy – it would take years for Spurs to make up the difference.

    3. They won’t want to

    While Arsenal spend all their time worrying about trifling tournaments like the Champions League, Tottenham have their eyes on the real prize – the League Cup.

    After coming agonisingly close by reaching the final last season, Spurs will want to drop out of the FA Cup and Europa League early, then dedicate as little resources as they possibly can to the Premiership.

    These tactics should ensure them a clear run at the most coveted prize in world football, the Capital One Cup – a trophy Arsenal haven’t won since 1993.

    All this will of course mean the Gunners retain supremacy in terms of money, trophies and high-profile competition. Just not The Big One.

    4. Free love on the free love freeway

    Are they from north London? Are they from south London? Who knows. But does it really matter? Probably not if they keep winning. And with the financial fall-out from the last move over with, Arsenal now have more money to invest in the team.

    5. The Stars

    Arsenal have a squad chock-full of incredible talent. The likes of Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez and Aaron Ramsey would worry any opposition.

    While their neighbours are focussing on youth, and do have an array of exciting youngsters, they’re not on the same level.

    6. The Goalies

    The Gunners haven’t had a decent goalkeeper for years, but all that will change next season after the arrival of Petr Cech from Chelsea.

    On the other side of north London, Spurs could be reluctantly waving goodbye to world-class keeper Hugo Lloris if the rumoured De Gea-Madrid-Manchester merry-go-round actually happens.

    Michel Vorm is a solid keeper, but he’ll have his work cut out if he wants to mix it with the big boys – Cech has already been there, done that, and bought the (admittedly, Chelsea) T-shirt.

    7. The Spurs stadium looks like a toilet (…or does it?)

    It can only have been 15 minutes between the release of the new Spurs stadium pictures and the appearance of photoshopped versions turning it into a toilet. And it does look a little bit like a toilet.

    But then I got to thinking, wouldn’t any stadium look like a toilet if you photoshopped it to look like a toilet?

    I immediately set about testing my theory, and here’s what I found:

    So yes, they both look a bit like toilets. Although the Emirates does look like it would be a far more painful place to, er, relieve oneself in.

    So, in this hypothetical world of incredible giants defecating all over north London, the Emirates would theoretically contain less you know what. So we can chalk that one up as a win for the Pooners, I mean, Gooners.

    8. Wenger

    This may be a controversial point to some – particularly those firmly rooted in the #WengerOut camp – but no rational, sane-minded football fan can deny the quality of the man at the helm at Arsenal FC.

    He may not have been able to beat Spurs under Poch last season, he may never have beaten Chelsea under Jose Mourinho, but he’s consistently delivered the goods for his club under a variety of trying circumstances.

    In times of plenty he won the double, in times of hardship he brought regular Champions League football, and now he has money to spend again he’s set about building a team that’s genuinely capable of challenging for top honours.

    It’s unlikely Spurs will win real supremacy in north London until Wenger retires.

  14. Eddie says:

    NG – that’s a sad and very well written story. Poor old boy. But you deserve a medal, well done! if he couldn’t make it for whatever reason at least he was happy for a while looking forward that Saturday.

    The worst part was about him not being able to buy a ticket. There should be a scheme for OAPs, means tested of course, otherwise the likes of you-know-who would take advantage 🙂

  15. mickydidit89 says:

    Evening all

    I’m quite pleased Utd are spending. A lot. Again. And we’ll still end above them. Again.

    Tell you what, I’m not convinced Schneiderlin is necessarily all that. I commented here during the season how highly I rated Wagayama when I saw him on one of my rare visits to The Ems, and I do wonder how much his hard work facilitates Schneiderlin looking good.

  16. Eddie says:

    hold on DidIt – United are buying Schwainsteiger (and Greece) not Schneiderlin

  17. Shard says:


    Your story made me sad. I don’t like it especially when I’m already sad. But then Terry made me laugh, so it’s all good. Plus, Arsenal are back in a couple of days. So yaay.

    Speaking of ancient gooners. Has JC received my card, chas?

  18. Shard says:


    I hate to disagree with you, but it seems they’ve signed both. Wenger said so as well.

    Even though I agree with Micky in terms of having doubts about Schneiderlin, I would have liked to have him at the club. He’s a younger, taller, homegrown version of Arteta and I think we’ll need someone like that. But I suppose with Arteta and Flamini both set to stay, he didn’t offer us all that much. Plus ManU probably offered him 200k per week now that they’ve gotten Falcao and Van Persie off their wage bill.

    It would have been sweeter to win the title while RVP was still at ManU but this is too hilarious, and hopefully we’ll still be able to rub a PL title in his face next summer.

  19. Shard says:

    Ok, a question for all the Arsenal stadium regulars.

    Is it possible to buy tickets for a game with two seats together?

  20. Eddie says:

    ManU bought Schneiderlin too? I didn’t know, sorry DidIt

    I don’t know about 2 tickets together. Keep me updated if I am still to buy one for you for the Pool game

  21. Shard says:

    When do they go on sale Eddie?

  22. Eddie says:

    2 weeks time

  23. Shard says:

    Ok. I definitely want a ticket. Unless someone can get me two together. I’ll be sure to keep in touch Eddie. Thank you.

  24. chas says:

    I just rang JC to find out if he got your card yet.
    He didn’t know how to look through the pile of cards while holding on to the phone.
    In the end I suggested I just have a look when we see him for the West Ham game on 9th August. 🙂

  25. chas says:

    I’d imagine that if you are buying match day tickets it would be possible to get two together fairly easily.

  26. Shard says:

    9th August. I’ll be in Dublin then 🙂

    The only home match I’m in London for is the Liverpool game on the 24th. Does the switch to Monday night make it any easier to get tickets for that game? I know it’s category A and Liverpool so it’s likely to be a high demand game.

    I don’t have a membership chas. Not sure how the whole ticket buying process would work. I mean I know tickets won’t go on general sale, but can someone without membership access the ticket exchange?

  27. chas says:

    The ticket exchange is for after it’s sold out.

    I presume anyone with two memberships can buy tickets together immediately they go on sale.

    Ah, just had a look and Silver members will have first dibs. I’ve no idea if the tickets’ll get to Red members. I think there are some on here with two red memberships.

  28. Gööner In Exile says:

    Shard tickets for Dippers should be available in pairs if you have two Silver memberships to use.

    I have two red memberships that may do the job, as you say a Monday night fixture should keep a few of the distant travellers who have STs at home. Their tickets will be available on Ticket Exchange once game is sold out, which won’t be long.

  29. Gööner In Exile says:

    There is a guarantee that remembers can get tickets to every game, although not many.

  30. Eddie says:

    I have just realised how stupid was my comment. United want to buy a German and Germans want to buy Greece. That’s better. I am obsessing a bit with the Greek situation

    Will the poor Greeks come to London? I love meze

  31. mickydidit89 says:

    Morning Eddie
    Quiet morning from me as I’ve been doing sums spreadsheets since 4am 🙄
    Be done in an hour or so.
    I know we shouldn’t be talking about Greece, but I have been fascinated also.
    The Germans are acting like financial thugs for a good reason. You have to remember the weird thing that debt is an accounting asset, and boy does Deutsche Bank have a lot of assets 🙂

  32. Eddie says:

    yes micky – they lend money to the greek banks, those banks lend money to greek businesses which do most business with the Germans 🙂 The idea of the fund selling Greece to be based in Luxembourg was just outrageous! How dare they even propose something like that? Shocking, but to be fair it shows they have learned from the 2 wars not to try to take Europe by force

  33. Eddie says:

    right football. Hugo Lloris broke his wrist 😦 Sorry, I like the guy

    Jenks signed a new 5 year deal, but will stay in East London for one more season.

    Cech is drilling into his teammates that they definitely can win the league (according to Arteta)

    micky – don’t read this – ManU are close to signing Cavani to replace the traitor

  34. mickydidit89 says:

    Oh Eddie

    Chas posted a factual article from the Daily Mail about some insider secret agent saying we were about to complete the signing of the window

    So…….if Utd sign Cavani, then boy are we in for a treat 🙂

  35. Eddie says:

    a treat? only if you have masochistic tendencies

    Godson waiting, laters

  36. Gööner In Exile says:

    Morning all, lovely post NG.

    So United are signing S&S, wonder if LVG is thinking one of them could play centre back or sweeper?

    Otherwise Carrick is available 🙂

    Lloris breaking his wrist is a real problem for ManUre as he was the intended replacement for De Gea according to reports.

    This was linked to on Twitter this morning, goes to show some things never change

  37. Gööner In Exile says:

    By the way it’s not a doom article there’s a funny twist.

  38. Rasp says:

    Micky has a rival 🙂

  39. mickydidit89 says:

    Ha ha Exil

    I went on to read some of the comments and was stunned by this thicko’s statement “6 months is not enough to rate the true quality of a player”

    Bloody hell. I can do it in three mintes on youtube. Tops.

    Sign Balottelli I say 🙂

  40. mickydidit89 says:

    Done 5 hours work. I quit. Now bored.

  41. Have some lactose free soya milk Micky… will give you a boost 🙂

  42. mickydidit89 says:

    Love it Rasp

  43. Van Girl wants to spend £300m…. how can they do that?

  44. mickydidit89 says:

    I’m pretty much exclusively a bacon, eggs (boiled, scrambled, poached or fried), marmalade and marmite day starter kinda guy

  45. Wit a nice mug of tea I would guess?

  46. mickydidit89 says:

    They spent an enormous amount last season as well
    So no idea about this Fair Play thing at all

  47. mickydidit89 says:

    don’t drink tea
    Lifelong coffee and fags man but I foolishly quit the fags in Jan

  48. I think the powers that be have back tracked on the fair play thing… too scared to implement it…

  49. Nothing better to get your system working in the morning than a strong expresso and a roll up 🙂

  50. mickydidit89 says:

    Really can’t be bothered to go into the fair play thing, just think we should spend more

  51. I can’;t believe that pre season starts on wednesday and the Community Shield is less than three weeks away….. the summer break has passed uickly.

  52. my ‘q’ is sticking…

  53. I’ve been wondering how long it will be before women footballers start taking their shirts off when they score a goal?

  54. 100m hurdler with right leg amputated…

  55. From a purely artistic viewpoint…. it’s that inner thigh muscle that does it for me 🙂

  56. Right… time for me to bugger off before I go too far and Peaches intervenes.

  57. Shard says:

    Sanogo to join Ajax on loan?

    If so, I think this is a very good thing. I know most laugh off Sanogo as some kind of joke but I believe he has the makings of a really good striker somewhere in there. And Ajax could be just the place to bring it out of him. They recently sold Sigporsson, so there is room in their squad. They signed the Polska dude they had on loan last season, Milik, so he’ll probably be Sanogo’s main competition.

    What else? Arsenal play tomorrow, and yay it’s on tv here. So no looking for some stream.

  58. Rasp says:

    New post …….

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