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An Open Gate

BY JOHN DUNNE / @rebelgooner

I just wanted to share the experience of my first trip to The Home of Football. I was 12-years-old when the family decided to take a holiday in London in August 1980. I had been an Arsenal fan since my uncle bought me a t-shirt aged 5 so Dad took me to visit Highbury with a view to getting tickets for a midweek match against Southampton.

When we arrived at the box office, we saw the gate that led to the pitch was open. We decided to go for a stroll and there in front of us was the first team training on the hallowed turf. It was a real shock and then a voice started shouting at us telling us to leave. When the guy got closer we heard his Irish accent.

Dad had a word with him, lied a bit about it being our last day in England and the gentleman groundsman, who I think was called Paddy, let us sit in the dugout and watch the players going through their paces. When they had finished training I was able to meet all of my heroes including David O’Leary, Pat Jennings, Willie Young and Frank Stapleton.

We thanked Paddy and went on our way. I couldn’t sleep for a night, I just kept staring at all the names in my autograph book. The following night I sat in the West Stand for my first ever game, but all I could do was stare at the North Bank and take in the noise.

It took me another six years before I was able to travel from Ireland to watch another game. That Southampton game, which finished 1-1, cemented my love for all things Arsenal and now thirty years later I still enjoy my trips to London as much as ever.

Being part of The Arsenal family is something else. 

Reader Comments (2)

A never to be forgotten experience,but no camera .

December 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBarry Dunne (Dad)

i still have the autographs (:

December 6, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterrebel gooner
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