46 Comments

Famous Fans and My Favourite Player

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Matt Lucas was the star turn at the Arsenal foundation ball earlier this week. The porcine baldy is of course a fan of the club and his presence allows me to steal a march on Mel for once. Obviously being an ex publican I cannot compete with a Lahndan cabbie for “guess who I had in the back last night” stories but I did have Matt Lucas in my cellar way before any of youse lot ever heard of him. We ran a comedy night called The Bright Side featuring 5 minute slots from wannabe local comedians, a regular compère and headline acts from the national circuit. Being a tiny bar in the absolute back end of nowhere we were always surprised when anyone any good deigned to grace us with their presence. Matt had just picked up a bit of telly with Vic and Bob and his agent told him in no uncertain terms that his career and image must as of that day not be tarnished by association with the likes of us. Yokel underground comedy clubs in darkest Somerset holding about thirty five people simply didn’t fit the profile he needed to build if he was serious about breaking into the big time. Matt, bless his shiny domed pate,  told us if we snuck him out after a more prestigious show he was doing in Bristol and drove him over he would be delighted to perform for us and bugger his agent and all who sailed in him. A lovely, quiet unassuming Gooner, who had to change into his stage clothes in our tiny beer store and did so without complaint, he delivered the funniest set I’ve ever seen, almost all of it improvised.

The problem of course with celebrity fans is they aren’t all going to be as nice as Matt. I’m often reminded of the fact that Hitler was a vegetarian , usually when I find myself wondering about the mental health of anyone who can bring themselves to eat the decaying flesh of a dead animal and call it food. Lunatics the lot of them, whereas all veggies are thoughtful, caring, loveable and cuddly. Right? Hitler? Doh. So it is with famous Arsenal fans. For every Lucas and Lofty there is a Bin Laden and a Morgan. I suppose we must also accept that in our fame obsessed culture even ex players come to be considered celebrities these days. But again, for each Thierry there is a Wrighty. A world of contradistinction and paradox will provide many pitfalls for the unwary simpleton.

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There is one man who straddles the worlds of ex player and celebrity with an avuncular comfortable ease. A stalwart servant of the club both on and off the field and a televisual personality to boot, a man with a floral name who had to play for a country in which he was not born but overcame these problems to cement his place in every fans heart. And a man who sent me his autograph when I was a mere strip of a boy. On Wednesday evening it wasn’t all Bubbles Devere and Vicky Pollard, ther was some serious business too. We learned that Bob Primrose Wilson, after fifty plus years of devoted service,  has not yet finished with us, not by a long chalk. Bob is to take up the role of ambassador for the Arsenal Foundation and the club has also set up links with his own charity The Willow Foundation. What a guy. As a boy I used to marvel at him and the way he would fling himself at the feet of an onrushing forward. Remember this was in the days when football boots were constructed like the type of footwear one wouldn’t expect to see now unless attached to the feet of a deep sea diver. Also the rules on kicking people up in the air were, shall we say, treated with a certain relaxed sang froid. But it didn’t prevent Primrose basically tackling the centre forward with his outstretched hands, despite the fact that his face was following as fast as Bob’s dive could carry it. I’m not sure keepers do that any more. They seem to spread their arms and legs and assume a half crouch as if warding off evil spirits whilst simultaneously practising an obscure marshal art. Bob’s keeping was always more proactive. Rather than saying ” Hah! Look at my muscular thighs, see my huge arms, quail before my monstrously  outsized gloves and see if you can get the ball past me” Bob would just launch himself and punch the thing away or often grab it and snuff out the chance.

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I suppose coaching methods evolve and change but I’ll lay odds that the unpopularity of the Wilson technique has much to do with two things. Firstly the penchant for forwards to ‘win’ a penalty. This has become so accepted a part of our modern version of the  game that commentators sometimes speak with great respect of players who can do it well. The second thing of the two things I referred to just now in my opening sentence of this paragraph is that it’s a bloody difficult technique to pull off and pull off well. It requires a frightening combination of phenomenal timing, enormous skill and quite terrifying bravery. Primrose brushed it all off in his famous quote about  having to be crazy to be a goal keeper. For proof of his courage look no farther than a game against Spurs in the late sixties. Bob was knocked out cold on the pitch but his aggressive  approach to keeping never faltered. If anything he became more determined . I think another Arsenal keeper summed up the attitude he and Bob shared. Jens Lehmann is supposed to have said when asked about his, ahem,  pumped up attitude to competitive sport “If I have a lot of adrenaline in my body, that is helpful because I feel less pain”.

That Bob is still such a tirelessly positive guy after the pain and trauma he has suffered in his family life is a lesson and an example to the rest of us lower mortals and I wish him all the luck in the world in his latest role at the club. I should add that Liam Brady, Martin Keown, and Super Bobby Pires also accepted invitations to work as ambassadors for the charity and it is so good to have such men still doing their bit for the club. On a night when a collection of multi millionaires, for such are our players, managed between them to raise £75,000, the most important man among them, less well paid and yet more cerebral, dignified and modest than any number of his players combined, Le Boss himself, quietly popped twenty five large of his own into the collection plate.

You know what? With men of the calibre of Bob Wilson and Arsene Wenger working for our great and historic club, I can just about live with being associated with the likes of Osama and Piers.

About steww

Arsenal, books, photography, bass guitar, dog walking, mountain biking, being on the radio, writing, talking too much, failing, making mistakes, buggering on regardless.

46 comments on “Famous Fans and My Favourite Player

  1. Fantastic STEWW
    not bad for someone without any ideas of what to write about today. Great stories. And oh, AW ” we salute you ” .
    Have an outstanding weekend mate…

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  2. Good read Stew – Wilson an intelligent dignified man in a game, a world, where those qualities seem in short supply.

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  3. Marvellous article about some wonderful people.

    As a small boy I used to play in goal and my two greatest sources of inspiration was the agility of Gordon “Banksy” Banks and the sheer raw courage of Bob. To see Bob, along with Frank McKlintock and Charlie George – all from that same era, of course – still today around the Emirates is a very wonderful thing.

    Have a good weekend all.

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  4. I think us veggies can rest easy… I’m sure I read the Hitler/vegetarian thing is a complete myth!

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  5. What a lovely read Stew.Tak a Bo son

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  6. Excellent Steww

    I once saw the entire Arsenal team as I was on the escalator at Southgate station. They were going in the other direction, presumably back the Arsenal because Southgate station is on the Piccadilly line. I was about 12 years old and they seemed like giants to me. Most of them made eye contact with me as they could see I was star struck…I remember Bob Wilson, John Radford, Charlie George….

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  7. Brilliant number 10! I have it on very good authority that Matt is a sweetheart and Primrose? Well we all love him,remember that cup final when he was pitch side tv reporter and we scored and he caught celebrating arms aloft?! One of us.

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  8. I can remember at least one bullshit penalty young Wojicech conceded for being brave. It was against a lower table club and he ended up saving it. I think it was Norwich or West Brom.

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  9. They’re showing Van Persie hugging Darth Vader. Baaaaaaarfffffffff!

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  10. Benteke scored for Villa. This might turn out to be a rather fantastic end to the week.

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  11. Thanks, Lee Mason.

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  12. And now Ramires has got himself sent off. Yes!

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  13. Wow, can’t see the game as I’m at work but looks exciting; Chav’s will have to work hard now just to get the draw I’d imagine?

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  14. long way to go but its as good as we could hope right now

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  15. Benteke is a moron.

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  16. im sorry b.green but you were born to be a veggie

    great post stew in these days when training grounds are locked off and players are separated from the looney hoards it is more difficult to bump into our heroes but this takes me back to a simpler time……ahhh

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  17. Really great writing again stew.

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  18. Gainsbourg69 May 11, 2013 at 2:03 pm

    maybe he is, but the refs in england are clowns. why didnt ramirez see second yellow minutes earlier for “professional” foul in villa’s contra -attack ? before luiz subbed him…rafa saw and acted…the ref saw nothing …

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  19. Not saying a word.
    Switch over from the SPL game and fatty scored.*sad face*.
    Always a pleasure to J T in agony on a stretcher though. *smilie face*.

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  20. Fucking Villa

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  21. One can argue that Benteke should have been off for the elbow on Azpilicueta.

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  22. Hazard out for the run in is pretty good for us.

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  23. Lambert kept Nzogbia on the bench as well. What a clown.

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  24. Tony Pulis is gutted that his boss is retiring. Let’s see if Stoke have the balls to play Manure the way they play us.

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  25. Hope is not lost girls and boys. If Chelsea lose their final game and we win ours, thumping somebody along the way, we could be 3rd. Hope, eh. What a virtue!

    PS: My word, what a story by Steww. So inspiring yet humbling. Did you say you are a musician, photographer and not a writer.

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  26. G69 – I can’t see Pulis on the touchline next season. He has been found out by the Stokies. His days are numbered.

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  27. Thanks for the read today Steww,
    People like Bob Wilson really do represent the kind of club Arsenal is.

    Nuts to that Villa game, I suppose that’s why they are where they are.
    At least the game has cost the Chavs 3 players.
    Wigan will have huge motivation now, as if they manage to beat us they have everything to play for against Villa next Sunday week.
    Lots hope it is a looooong day for them today.

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  28. As said elsewhere DC any game that sees John Terry leave the field horizontally cannot be a totally bad result for an Arsenal fan

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  29. Screw it. We have to take matters into our hands and to hell with what happens around us. We need six points from our two remaining fixtures, period.

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  30. You think, Shotta? I think Stoke will have to be relegated before Pulis gets the sack.

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  31. g69 @ 4:03pm – He is losing the fans. Lets hope he has lost the owner.

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  32. Well done Wigan! Brilliant game and lovely ending for the underdogs. Hope they stay in the league but also hope we beat them.

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  33. Very happy for Wigan, not just for beating City but because it’s a lovely team. At the same time I hope the celebrations will ensure that we face a tired side on Tuesday so we can beat them emphatically. While I would prefer for Wigan to stay up, if it’s their survival vs. our CL qualification, the choice isn’t a difficult one.

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  34. Second that Sav.
    Congrats to Wigan and well deserved.
    Hope they still have hangovers on Tuesday.

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  35. Have to add: watched the interview with Roberto Martinez on the ESPN broadcast and have say, that is one classy Spaniard. Very classy man indeed, even managed to give Paul Jewell some credit in the mix. Fuck, I hope they loss to us but they are a credit to English football.

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  36. SHOTTA
    I agree. Pulis is pulverized and gone . I can also see Mancini being booted out for what seems like a totally underachieving type of season for the sky blues.

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  37. The ends justify the means sinyor..

    ANDREW
    agreed. All this ferrets face Ferguson tributes truly nausiating
    Enjoy the following from his explayers and ex teammates from the nasty side of 3FS.

    He is just a novice. He should keep his opinions to Japanese football.
    3fs on AW

    even a big club like united can be very small.
    He encouraged players to dive and goes mental with rage often.
    Makes illegal approach to players under contract to other clubs. Including me.
    He treated me like a piece of meat.
    J. STAMM

    EXPLOSIVE moments were common under 3fs and there was fear about the place.
    E. Black , Aberdeen

    He was screaming in my face so I floored him with a right cross and he fell like a ton of bricks.
    Hahaha. My hero Frank Macdou-goal. Aberdeen

    He treats players as one would cows.
    R. Keane , manure player 12 years and shown the exit door after criticizeing the club and management.

    Feel so much better now. That’s more like it.
    Now go retire a••h••e.

    .

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  38. Any of yous have nice stories and tributes for this giant ( p.o.t) of the game we all love. ??

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  39. Yes – as a football manager fucking exceptional

    His qualities as a human being may not match his professional achievement

    If they did he would be perfect

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  40. Anicoll5
    do the ends justify the means??

    To this day Beckham when in England keeps fit and sharp at ARSENAL training grounds.
    That’s a spit in 3fs face. Everytime. He used to be the posterboy Image for that club. How humiliating for them and the day after his injury due to the assult by 3fs , instead of keeping it hush hush, he takes a strolling walk in town as if to say. Yes look at me and what that ba•••d I work for did to me. The game is so much the better by him being gone. Talk about a person bringing the game to disrepute. Pffttttt.
    One reason I love Aaron much for picking us over them besides his total commitment and heart on the pitch.
    If I ever have a son with talent enough to be wanted by big clubs, am archtypical ARSENE type would be my advice to him not this egomaniac. And lets not forget which club was the biggest spender in the whole league before chelski and shitty arrived on the scene. Perfect. pfftttt. I have zero respect for him and his type. Not one of our ex players have ever had any deragotory statements directed at AW. not one..

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  41. Save your energy – Ferguson was and is an exceptionally good manager even if the only trophy he had managed was to keep his job for 26+ years and win jack

    If you have zero respect for him then bully for you

    I find the abuse of Ferguson laughable to be honest

    Embarrassing to be honest !

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  42. To be fair Andrew .He is a bit of a hypocritical old cock.

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  43. Oh when it comes to abusing him I have endless supplies oh energy. Not to worry. And as far as respect for accomplishment and managers ahead of him in the EPL there are a few. Fear and intimidation of his players and officials and the FA is how he has achieved. Bully on me. Beg to differ. Bully on him old red nose.

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  44. Goonerkam, I am with you. Zero respect for Rednose. When you have the officials in your pocket it is rather easy to be successful. As a human being he is despicable.

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  45. ZERO RED CARDS . ZERO PENALTIES AT HOME. SEND YOUR PLAYERS OUT TO BREAK LEGS WHILE YOU ARE PROTECTED BY THE FA AND THEIR FREAKING OFFICIALS.
    HUMILATE AW by sending him out to the stands for daring to stand up for his players.
    M••••er f•••••er of a club if I ever saw one.
    Manure indeed..

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  46. Fuck Ferguson. That Scottish player who floored him, what a legend.

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