The Creation of a Gooner part 2
Thanks for the encouraging comments last time. I was worried that going back so far would put people off, but it seems Gooners liked my stroll down memory lane. So, I will continue, as was my plan, with a short series of my life with the Arsenal.
Last time, I didn’t write about players, and I only mentioned Roger Smart scoring the first goal for Swindon. This was deliberate as it wasn’t the players that attracted me to Arsenal but the way they kept trying to play football, trying always to win that made me switch sides during the match. But from then on, the players and the managers formed a huge part of my life.
For now, though, I will return to Swindon. I have always retained a soft spot for them ever since, and also for Don Rogers, who scored the two goals in extra time to seal North London’s fate. He is still alive and is a Swindon icon. The Don Rogers stand sits proudly at the County Ground, Swindon’s home since 1896 and, of course, they wear similar shirts to the Arsenal. They are kin. They won, Arsenal lost but they won me.
Below is Don Rogers scoring the goal that broke my 11 year old heart. Aficionados will recognize some Arsenal heroes.
This, below, however, was the team that day for our beaten heroes. The numbers after their names are their ages at the time, so they weren’t exactly young kids thrown into the spotlight. And you don’t need to be an Arsenal historian to recognize some of these legends. Even young fans nowadays will recognize Bob Wilson and George Graham, and many others are big names in the Arsenal canon. The illustrious Bertie Mee who was to bring us huge success not too long later was the manager. He was a prototype Wenger, he looked distinguished and intelligent like a university don. And I will get to him soon in this series. He deserves a blog to himself and I will present it. These were the giants that fired my imagination. Quite a few were to stay with us for many years after that and bring us glory, and me happiness.
One little side note, we beat a small team from North London in the semi’s, but alas, dear reader, I wasn’t a fan then, I was still searching for a home. Now, of course, I have enjoyed every time we sent the Spuds home crying. I didn’t have to wait long for that feeling though, as just 9 days later, they foolishly came to Highbury in the old First Division, only to learn of Arsenal’s superiority as they were beaten 1-0. The line-up was the exact same as the final. I did tell you last time that teams didn’t really change in those days. Jon Sammels scored the goal and I was starting to understand what it means to be a Gooner. Many times after that I have savoured the sweet victory over that little team. That was the first. And your first was?
Jon Sammels who pumped in the goal against the hapless Spuds. Somehow, despite being one of our own as he supported us as a boy, he never quite became an Arsenal legend.