I’ve bored on about this long enough, but Arsenal have been in my family for quite some time. My Granny (Cathie) is now 95, and still watches all of our games on television as her knees prevent her being able to enjoy a live game – she does of course still holler and hoot at the telly though. She still lives in Highbury, so I popped round for an Aero and a chat before our last match, against West Ham, to get the views of a girl who could never be labeled a Johnny Come Lately…
So Granny, you are an Arsenal fan. For how long have you been one?
Since about 1944 I should think. That’s when we came down here from Scotland and moved to 50 Gillespie Road. Your Grandad was from here already of course.
Were you bullied into it by him?
Yes, but no. I’d already been to see them with my mum in 1936, when I came down on holiday with her. We played Grimsby Town and won 6-0, so I thought they were great. It was great in the crowd. They had mounted police. Do they still have that now?
Yes, they do. Were there many women?
No not really. As far as I could see, it was just me and my mum. My brother thought we were mad, he said we couldn’t go on our own but we went anyway. We didn’t need tickets because we just paid on the door.
What do you think of the current team?
Not a lot! Very disappointed with them. They don’t try hard enough. I can’t understand why every game we have to start by losing a goal. I hope you’re not taking this down.
Oh, I am. Are there any you do like?
I like Walcott. I like Sagna too, and Jack Wilshere.
What do you think of Jack?
Oh I think he’s great. I think he’ll stay forever. Well, he’d better.
Your favourite player was the Swede who played for us with the red hair. Freddie…
Oh, yes, Jungleberg. Ah, he always scored goals, that boy. He was my favourite. Here, I made a list of players I could remember.
At this point my Granny shows me a Post-It note with the following names written on the front: ‘Bastin, Seaman, Bob Wilson, A. James, Simpson (I assume Peter, not Jay), Drake, McNab, Brady, Kelsey, Storey, O’Leary, Ian Ure, George, Eastham, Wright, Radford, Gould, Kennedy, Sansom, McLintock, P. Rice, A. Ball, Adams, Graham, Merson’
What do you think of Arsene?
I don’t think he should leave. I feel sorry for him. I think the players are letting him down. Do you agree? He’s a good manager, and a good man. I think it’s a shame if he goes. Plus, the Paris people are after him.
How much has football changed since you first went?
Oh, quite a lot. I like Highbury, that’s where we used to go. Not the Clock End, but the other end. My last match was against Newcastle with Grandad, Dad and Evie. We took our blankets, and we lost.
Yep, it was 1-3 to Newcastle in 2001. I had my school play that day. So what do you think we need to do this season to keep up there?
Well they need to play much better than they currently are.
Nice and simple and I quite agree. What do you think of the new players?
Yes Podolski’s quite good. I’m not sure I think too much of Giroud just yet. [the four goals he has scored in the seven days since can be put entirely down to my Granny]
He’s quite good looking though.
I suppose. I hadn’t really thought about it.
Cazorla’s about your size.
Aye, he’s a little cratur. Are you writing this article for a book?
No, a website.
Oh. That’s even worse. Don’t write this down!
I’m not, I’m recording it. Anything else?
I’m pleased Walcott is staying. I didn’t think he would. But he is. For a lot of money.
Do you think we’ll win anything this season?
Oh yes! We might win the cup! You never know.
The Champions League?
Well that’s a different story. We always do well in that though. When do we play that again?
Next month. Do you remember when we used to be able to hear the crowd from here? [Granny no longer lives in Gillespie Road, but her flat was still close enough to Highbury that we could hear the roars]
Oh yeah, used to hear that alright. Your dad used to stand at the window and watch the crowds. His dad used to go, but Alan didn’t go when he was little. He loved football though. When he was older he used to go with.
Did he swear a lot?
No, he wasn’t allowed to. He doesn’t swear a lot now, does he?
No. Never. You know, Granny, some people think you can’t have more than one team. I do agree.
Well, I have more than one. Dundee United have always been my team.
Why did you choose them?
Because my dad supported Dundee. So my mum and I supported Dundee United! I still follow them on that Jeff Stelling thing, but they’re not doing very well this year.
Who would you choose if we played?
Well now there’s a question. I would have to support Dundee United.
I would have to! I’ve stood in the snow watching them play. Mind, it would be alright if it was a draw.
What do you think of Man United?
Ugh, I think they’re very lucky with the decisions they get. I think Ferguson is a good manager, but he gets on my nerves at times. He is Scottish though. Whatshisname’s a good manager too. Aston Villa’s one… no, Everton’s one! Moyes! I like him, and he’s Scottish too.
OK Granny, I think we’ve got enough.
Och, she says ‘You’re a blether Granny!’
With that, my sister and I toddled off to the match and Arsenal won 5-1. Not quite a 6-0, but a thrashing nonetheless.