Who will be the next Arsenal departure? plus Thierry Henry, Red Balls and a Sore Arse.

Welcome to the GunnersoreArse blog. Being blogged 918.74 kilometers (in a straight line) from the Emirates Stadium.

There’s lots of speculation at the moment surrounding who may leave the Arsenal in the very near future. So here is a little poll to see what people think. Comments about reasons would be useful so feel free to add something in the comments section. I’ve only included who I feel are first team players, leaving out those on the periphery who may go out on loan. I’ve also left out TV5 because he would have been an obvious choice. I’ve also left out our recent signings Sanchez and Debuchy for obvious reasons. Current rumours are focussing on Jenks going if another RB like Chambers is signed. Which would be a shame because I really like the lad and he is a Gooner through and through. Cazorla has been linked with a move back to Spain and Podolski always seems to be a likely candidate because everyone seems to think that Wenger doesn’t like him? But is there a possible shock departure on the cards. Do vote and let me know your thoughts.

 

 

New York, New York! Match report.

New York Red Bulls 1 – 0 Arsenal

(Wright-Phillips 33)

A full stadium of 25,000, temperature 28c and Thierry Henry. Strangely, the game wasn’t on Arsenal player and from what I heard on the bloggoshere, most viewers had to watch on pay TV. That is except here in Fance where the game was televised on normal terrestrial TV for free, a bizarre state of affairs. As was Wengers starting XI with Monreal at CB and Rosicky it appeared, as the lone striker. It took me a while to work out the set up, originally thinking that Kieran Gibbs was playing as a left winger.

First-Half

But we had Thierry Henry on the pitch and he nearly got the game off to a fairy tale start within 5 minutes when he ran clear of our defence and with his normal nonchalance, tried to curve the ball into the far post. Schezzers however, knew what was coming and managed to tip the ball away for a corner. Wright-Phillips nearly did the same thing a few seconds later. After this early flurry of chances, the game settled into a fairly mundane affair  with the Gunners struggling to keep shape and with no real goal threat apart from a good effort from Ramsey and on the 30th minute mark a good counter attack which was let down by a bad cross from Cazorla. Then a few minutes later, from a Henry corner, Wright-Phillips scrambled the ball into the net after some lax defending by the Arsenal. A few minutes before half-time Wilshere probably had the best chances, the first with just the keeper to beat and then with a good volley which he unluckily saw deflected wide.

Second Half

There were seven changes made at half-time, with Diaby and Akpom coming on. But the Gunners always seemed on the back foot, out of shape and struggling to control the game, often getting themselves into difficulty with poor passing and losing the ball. Thierry was substituted in the 53rd minute and for me, the game lost most of its interest. Diaby looked good and in the 55th minute he had the ball in the net, but he was adjudged to have been marginally off-side. It was a shame because he took it very well. There were another two substitutions at the obligatory 70 minutes, with Olsson and Toral coming on for Rosicky and Cazorla. But the game had lost any form of edge, and often drifted in midfield with short passes and a lack of creativity. There were just three moments of excitement in the last 12 minutes. Akpom got behind the Red Bull defence but with just the keeper to beat his first touch let him down. Then Martinez, our third choice keeper made an excellent save from close range and finally, Akpom tripped over his own feet and won a free- kick on the edge of the box. Replays showed it was not a dive. Ollson however, wasted the free-kick. Two minutes of added time saw nothing else of interest materialise.

Overall it was disappointing and I think it showed Arsénes frustration at being asked to make the trip purely on the basis of marketing and financial considerations. I think there was no benefit for the team in pre-season preparation except for a jolly to New York and the Puma promotions. It was however, great to see Thierry, majestic as ever, controlling most of the play for the Red Bulls and one piece of typical Henry magic in the opening minutes. But the best moment of the match for me came after the final whistle, seeing Henry and Diaby, hugging and having a laugh and a joke together. Priceless.

Right, time for a glass of wine and some spicy chorizo…… hope you enjoyed your visit. Until the next time.

à bientôt

GunnersoreArse, your glossy Sunday supplement. Every Sunday morning at 9am GMT.  The season starts in just two weeks, are my little SoreArses excited? And don’t forget, you can see my Arts supplement here: http://wp.me/p4PyIS-3

 

 

 

Advertisements

Searching for Cezanne: Heroes and villains Part 3.

Welcome to the GunnersoreArse blog. Being blogged 918.74 kilometers (in a straight line) from the Emirates Stadium.

If you have not read them already, to understand the full context of this post, it may be good to read parts 1 and 2 here:       

Part 1  http://wp.me/p4FeF9-8g

Part 2  http://wp.me/p4FeF9-aa

Life journeys can be funny things, what fate brings can alter the future forever. The same could be said of football, a little twist of fate will change the future outcome. Take Arsenal last season, fate intervened with injuries in the team which could be said, stopped us winning the league and Cup double. But we’ll never know for sure, because once a path is taken due to the intervention of fate, the alternative will be lost forever. It is one of the wonders of life, organic and continually changing….. you can never really know what lies ahead.

And this is where I found myself at the beginning of the 1980’s. On the threshold of change, not just through fate, but because of decisions I had to make. However, the past still had a hold on me and there was one more short journey I had to take before finally pulling free of a culture that had controlled me from the age of 14, when I had stolen my first car. Change was not going to be an easy thing I discovered. I had to see a Parole Officer for six months after I stopped giving pleasure to Her Majesty. A Probation Officer who had a very narrow view of change, she sincerely thought all I had to do was to make a decision to stay away from criminal activity, and that would be that, I’d be a reformed character. It was akin to asking me to stop drinking or god forbid, change the football team I supported. In other words, it wasn’t so fucking easy and could be downright impossible!

However, whilst pleasuring Her Majesty I’d met someone who had taken an interest in my artistic skills, Reginald, who was due to see the light of day just a few months after me. So we arranged to meet for a drink when he got back to London. He called himself a ‘Art Dealer’ but for all intents and purposes, he was a fraudster, someone who conned greedy art dealers and gallery owners. It was easy he said and the beauty was, if they did finally find out they had been duped, they would never admit it and tell the police, because their reputation was on the line. Easy I thought.  In the meantime, I’d found a job, driving for a timber merchant, yes, a real job, through some very good friends of mine. I had also started doing some voluntary work with the elderly, my first move towards social work.

In my first week of smelling fresh air I’d had three priorities, the first is obvious, Mr Chorizo needed some action, the second was a decent Ruby Murray and the third was going to Highbury for a match. The Gunners had not been having a good time, since the Cup final defeat against West Ham, they’d continued a mediocre period, Terry Neill was still manager and the players of any note were Graham Rix and Frank Stapleton. The first match I went to see was a home game against Leicester City. It was a drab affair and we just about won 1-0. But for me it was great to be able to sit in the East Stand again and watch a game. However, this was the start of a period where I didn’t truly follow the Gunners, I had my life to sort out. I needed to be an upstanding member of society.

However, it wasn’t easy, all the people who I knew were involved one way or another in the criminal culture. A mate of mine Micky K, had gone into the pub game and he had a pub just off Caledonian Road, the typical mix of rogues and villains. Then I finally met up with Reginald, he was in his 50’s and looking very dapper, all suited up, shirt and tie and looking like a country gent, he even had the accent. We met in a pub in Soho and he outlined his scheme, very simple and what appeared to be ‘victimless’ and foolproof.  He just needed someone who could paint, which is where I fitted in because his last ‘artist’ had gone back to Holland.

The next day he took me to his ‘studio’ in Lambeth, it was a cross between an artist’s studio and a chemistry lab, full of all the paraphernalia needed for an artist, canvasses from the late 19th and early 20th century, paint mixing bowls and jars, piles of paper taken from 19th century books and meticulously dated, pigment powders, old jars of glue, gum arabic and paint binders. Everything needed to produce  an ‘authentic’ 19th or early 20th century painting. And this was the idea, to paint in the style of a fairly well known artist, with original paper or canvas and with the accurate mixture of original pigment to be able to fool a collector or art dealer. We agreed I would do something in watercolour because that had been the medium I’d started with and was used to, then we decided on what style, what artist and what epoque. Eventually we got it down to a couple of English watercolourists and Cezanne. Paul Cezanne had often worked in watercolour for his initial ideas and sketches, so he was the obvious choice, easy to do in the style of and leaving out  the signature. All I had to do was to paint it,  then Reginald would do the rest, finding a ‘mark’ as he called it, doing the deal and collecting the proceeds, of which I would get exactly half. Lovely jubbly I thought, so the following week, I set to work in the studio.

I continued with other things, working for the timber yard, doing some voluntary work at weekends, doing my degree in sociology and going to an occasional Arsenal home game. The Gunners weren’t doing brilliantly but it was looking like we could get close to the top, eventually going on to finish third with Aston Villa as Champions and Ipswich in second place. In the meantime I continued working at the studio, it had taken me a while to get six or seven decent paintings done but Reginald was happy with three of them, two Cezanne style still lives and a small study for Cezannes painting of the bathers. I then left it to him to do the business but it was only a couple of weeks before he contacted me to meet up in Soho.

We met in the same pub, he had a massive grin on his face and handed me an envelope full of cash, £5000 in total. He’d sold two of the paintings to American dealers at an art fair. The third was currently with a New York gallery owner and he would know soon if it was sold. The yank was a greedy bugger  he told me, and was being difficult over the price. An oil painting on canvas by Cezanne at the time could fetch $1m or more, but we were doing very small watercolour sketches, which at auction could go for about $50,000, so any dealer buying our paintings would be looking at a vast profit, and this is what Reginald relied upon, greed. His philosophy was ‘buyer beware’ but knew from experience that dealers would take stupid risks on the basis of earning a great deal of money.

A typical Cezanne watercolour still life.

In early 1981 I had my first solo exhibition at the Islington Public Library Gallery in Holloway Road. It was a sell out and many of my works of local buildings and streets were bought by Islington Council. It was a success and gave me the hope and motivation to continue. However, during my voluntary work with the elderly, I’d met a social worker who I’d told about my background and she told me of a part-time job going at a drug centre in the West End, saying that I could have a good chance of getting it. I went for the job and was successful. I loved it, it was a day centre for drug users and prostitutes in Rathbone Place, just off Oxford Street. We also did outreach work at night which consisted of six male workers, working in pairs going to different areas, distributing clean needles, swabs and condoms and educating users and prostitutes on safe syringe use and safe sexual practices for  health reasons and the prevention of HIV. The system for the night shift was simple, we’d go to the centre at 10pm, collect a rucksack each and fill it with syringes, antiseptic swabs, condoms and a dildo.

My area was Kings Cross where we would  meet working girls in an all night cafe on Euston Road, hand out the various items and then sit down with them, buy coffees or teas and then, with the dildo, show them how to give a blowjob without the punter knowing they were using a condom. The joke amongst the staff was that at the centre there were six different sized dildos, from small to frigging massive, whoever got there last got the monster and then had to give it a blowjob in front of 4 or 5 giggling prostitutes. I eventually got wise to this because I was often the last one to arrive at the centre, so one day I visited a sex shop and bought one that was more manageable and easier on the jaw muscles.

Reginald finally heard from the American dealer and contacted me, he had to go to New York to finalize the deal, which would be in the region of $15,000, and asked if I would like to go.  So we booked a trip and he arranged for us to stay with a friend of his in the West Village. Unfortunately, when we arrived at the gallery to finalize the deal, the police were waiting, whilst the dealer had the painting in New York he’d asked an expert on Cezanne to examine it. We were charged with forgery, we got bail but our passports were confiscated. However, the law on such things was very vague and the painting was unsigned. We had a lawyer and he managed to get the charges dropped on the basis that Reginald had bought the painting in good faith and was selling it in good faith. It never got mentioned that I had actually painted it. However, during their investigations the police discovered that we both had serious criminal convictions when entering the USA. We were deported and put on a list of undesirables, unable to enter the country again. We were allowed to keep the painting and Reginald later sold it to an English dealer for £4000.

This was my first, and last, sojourn into the world of art forgery and the final event that made up my mind to get out of criminal behaviour permanently. I continued working at the drug project and also found part-time work in the Probation Service working with difficult young offenders. My route was now clear, I gradually moved away from mates who were still involved in dodgy activities and got more involved in a social life with Probation Officers and Social Workers. It was difficult at times because I often felt inadequate amongst all these university educated people, I felt awkward socially and very rarely contributed to conversations, often feeling inhibited. Consequently, I kept a small amount of contact with a few old mates. It was a schizophrenic lifestyle for a while.

This was the most difficult time in my rehabilitation and made me understand the difficulties that offenders have when trying to go straight, it takes a major change in social acquaintances to really be successful, which for many is near impossible. A real benefit from my change of lifestyle and social circle however, were female social workers, bloody hell, were they up for it, especially with a bit of rough like me! I couldn’t keep up with it, it felt at times that I was gradually shagging my way through the entire London Probation Service.

I went on to finish my degree in Sociology, I got a full-time job in the Probation Service as an assistant, I continued painting with quite a bit of success and I finally got accepted onto a Social Work qualifying course in 1986, the same  year George Graham  was appointed as  the Arsenal manager and there were nine years of success to come. My visits to Highbury increased dramatically. And during my social work course, I soon discovered the pleasures of young, horny, female social work students, I was like Winnie the Pooh with a new pot of honey! So you could say I was now a very ‘upstanding member’ of society.

2014-05-24 16:21:09

Right, time for a glass of wine and some spicy chorizo…. I hope you enjoyed your visit. Until the next time.

à bientôt

GunnersoreArse, the Sunday supplement that brings you the Arsenal, history, art, dildos and women of the night. What more could you want. Every Sunday morning at 9am. Just one click on your PC!

 

 

 

To be quite frank Frank, just sing us a song you ol’ gooner crooner! A tale of Heroes & Villains part 2.

Welcome to the GunnersoreArse Blog, being blogged 918.74 kilometers (in a straight line) from the Emirates Stadium.

This article is a continuation from my last post, so perhaps to understand the context, it may be best to read that first here:

http://wp.me/p4FeF9-8g

In the mid 70’s, Arsenal had declined somewhat from the glory days of the early 70’s. The lowest point being a 17th place position in the league in 1975/76. Most of the double winning team of 1970/71 were moving to other teams and Bertie Mee had been replaced by Terry Neill as manager, Charlie George had gone, Ray Kennedy had gone to Liverpool and made a very successful change from Striker to Midfielder. George Graham had buggered off to Man Utd in 1972 and Frank McClintock had moved across London to Queens Park Rangers, increasing his weekly wage by nearly 100%, does that ring any bells relating to more recent Arsenal player moves? For fuck sake, I was earning more than he was from ticket touting, selling stolen goods and little schemes with Dennis the menace. However, a footballer earning £250 a week in the 70’s was no where near  the millions they now earn in the 21st century. Retirement funds could not be assured, so many players had to look for other options to earn money for their retirement from football and many went into the pub trade.

And that is exactly what Frank McClintock did, just before he left Arsenal for QPR in 1975, he’d gone into business with Harry H, a con man involved in the Islington criminal underworld and together they bought the Sutton Arms in Caledonian Road. Frank wasn’t new to this culture, he’d been going to pubs and after hours drinking clubs in Islington for quite a few years beforehand, getting to know many local villains.

Franks pub had regular well known faces as customers such as George and John Reilly, the Flanagans, Frank Warren the boxing promoter, and occasionally  the young Terry Adams and his brothers would be there, yet to start their violent take over from the Reillys. But sadly, Reggie Dudley and Bob Maynard, two of the most likeable and genuine Islington rogues you could ever meet, were in custody awaiting trial and would eventually be sentenced to life for two murders they didn’t commit. Everyone who was anyone in Islington knew they were innocent.

My ticket touting mate Eddy’s dad, Teddy K, was a regular at the Sutton, with some of his mates. He was a classy and very good burglar and safe breaker. Teddy and his partner Vincent, had a superb system, they only targeted high end properties in Maida Vale, Hampstead, St Johns Wood and other exclusive areas in London. Mainly flats in mansion blocks, they used to tap up concierges, security guards, cleaners and gardeners when at pubs and after hours drinkers to find out when residents would be on holiday or away from their apartments for substantial periods. Then with their Ford Transit, they’d load up two bicycles, then dressed in workers overalls, flat caps and carrying rucksacks, at something like 3am, drive to within a mile of the property, park the van, get the bikes out and cycle to the mansion block. They looked like any other workers coming off the night shift or just going to work. They even had packed lunches in their rucksacks just in case the ‘billies’ stopped them. They concentrated on safes, cash and jewellery, nothing else was touched….. then they’d leave on their bikes, rucksacks full of ill-gotten gains (and their uneaten packed lunches), and cycle back to the van. They were so good they were never caught. Never ever got a criminal conviction. Despite what they were doing, they had to be admired.

Teddy offered me and Eddy an apprenticeship but having gone on a job with them one night we decided it wasn’t our thing, we were happy to keep on ticket touting and selling stolen high class clothing which we used to get from a gang of lorry highjackers, who targetted mainly clothing transporters. Every month we’d visit a lock-up in York Way and choose the best of the most recent heist and because Eddy’s dad was a well known face, we had an arrangement of sale or return. By this time in the 70’s, although we still got some of our football tickets from Fat Stan Flashman at his office in Kings Cross, we were also buying player allocations from Frank, Liam Brady and Eddie Kelly and a couple of other players. Another Arsenal player had also bought a pub, the Spanish Patriot, just behind Chapel Street Market and had let a couple of villains open a after hours drinker upstairs. That was a regular Sunday afternoon haunt after Frank had kicked everyone out of the Sutton.

I’d eased off going to Arsenal games, practically never going to away games except for a few Cup games. Eddy and I still did our thing after selling all our tickets at home games, paying a few quid at the turnstile and getting seats in the East Stand. But other things seemed more important and the Gunners weren’t winning many things, well actually, they weren’t winning anything. For instance, in 1976/77, we had Malcom Mcdonald up front, scoring 24 goals in the league, but we ended up finishing 8th. Above us were Ipswich, WBA, Newcastle and Aston Villa. I’d gone to a 5th round FA Cup away game at Middlesborough that season and they beat us 4-1. Not the most exciting times to be a Gooner, but on the bright side, the Spuds were relegated that year.

So this was the culture at Franks pub, local villains and occasionally a famous celebrity.  Being regulars, he often used to ask me and Eddy to help behind the bar if it got really busy, which was often the case at weekends. He only ever employed young women, because if he had barmen they would leave after a few days because of intimidation and threats from the customers. You had to be very, very careful. Rounds would be enormous, where the person ordering would also say, “Get so-and -so and his mates a round over there”, and when you looked there would be 10 or more geezers plus the 15 or more he’d just ordered for, then just as you thought the round was finished, some other faces would walk into the pub and the person ordering the round would start again. I would often get verbal and Chris Flanagan was an example, he used to call me ‘Crimbo’ and if I gave a wrong drink or made a gaff, he’d shout at me, ‘”Oi Crimbo, what the fuck is this you little fucking cunt, I’ll come round there and give you a fucking dig. Sort it out”! And at the same time you’d have John Reilly waiting to be served and giving you dirty looks as if to say, “If you don’t serve me soon you wanker you’re gonna end up in a fucking shallow grave”.  You had to understand that it was just part of the scene and the banter and the verbal was generally just a wind up, but Eddy and I had to be on our toes with a quick witty reply that didn’t wind them up too much. They were much more polite to the young bar girls, so you can understand why Frank was reluctant to employ barmen.

Sunday afternoons were probably the best for atmosphere, Frank would get a band and a singer in and he’d regularly get up on stage and sing as well. He was quite a crooner was Frank, giving excellent renditions of Sinatra classics. People loved the man. He was my hero when he was playing and it was a privilege to have known him in his private life. They were good times, I had money in my pocket, I didn’t have to work too hard and some of the charactors I knew were awesome. But in 1977 I started to think about getting out, I was seeing too many people get heavy prison sentences. So I moved to the South Coast and got some honest employment in an attempt to distance myself from that culture. However, on a few visits back to Islington I couldn’t help but get involved in a couple of things and eventually it all went tits up, and on Friday 13th April 1979, at the Inner London Crown Court, I had to give some pleasure to Her Majesty. As a consequence I had to watch the 1979  and 1980 FA Cup finals on an ancient TV in a grey room with a load of blokes dressed exactly the same, in blue and white striped shirts, cheap jeans and slippers. The 1980 final was the worst, not just because we lost, but because many of the other inmates were West Ham supporters and at the end of the match there was a massive fucking fight in the TV room, and as a result, I lost 7 days remission. I didn’t see day light again until Friday 19th September 1980. But on the positive side, I did find out that I had a talent for drawing and got an ‘A’ Level in Art and had also started a degree in Sociology, discovering along the way that I was quite good at this academic malarky. It was a ‘life changing’ moment. Well, it  nearly was ……..but not quite!!

Right, time for a glass of wine and some spicy chorizo…… Hope you enjoyed your visit. Until the next time.

à bientôt

Extra, Extra, read all about it! GunnersoreArse exclusive – local villain gives pleasure to the Queen in a back street drinking club. Every Sunday morning at 9am. Get your copy here!

 

I walked on the Emirates pitch 34 years before Wenger. A history of heroes and villains!

 

Welcome to the GunnersoreArse blog. Being blogged 918.74 kilometers (in a straight line) from the Emirates Stadium.

I was thinking about this last week and I started to reminisce how I’d walked regularly on the Emirates Stadium pitch, across the terraces and through the dressing rooms long long before it was even a twinkle in Wengers eye. In 1972, if someone had asked me what Chorizo was I probably would have said a Brazilian footballer, I was 18 years old and working for a company called J.R.Smith and Sons, a scrap iron and steel company owned by three brothers from Camden Town, Brian, Dennis and Ronnie. I worked with Dennis, they called him ‘Dennis the menace’ and the description was perfect, he was fucking crazy and he had his fingers in many different dodgy pies.  Dennis and Brian ran the Ashburton Grove site and Ronnie had control of a sister company, the Hornsey Metal Company which was in Stroud Green. It was a business just on the limits of sculduggery and the wrong side of legal, just as you would expect from any self-respecting decent scrap metal business. If you had seen some of the blokes that would  turn up to see Dennis at our little backyard office, you could easily have thought it was a scene from Snatch. Even our office was a caravan inside a large shed.

The site started at the top end of Ashburton Grove, where the main office and weighbridge led to the entrance to the yard and then it extended right across to the top end of Queensland Road, where the entrance leading to my little caravan was in Emily Place. I dealt with the non-ferrous metals side of the business; brass, copper, lead, aluminium, zinc, burnt wire etc. I worked with a tough little Irish fella who knew how to work the weighing scales and earn us some extra cash by under-weighing and underpaying customers. Dennis was also extremely good at earning us extra cash, often buying RSJ’s as scrap iron at the lowest price per ton and then we’d sell them as re-usable RSJ beams to the building trade and split the profit, a nice little earner.

The brothers had an uncle named Wally , a bit of a charactor, who had a small scrap yard down in Hoxton, which was much more of a Steptoe & Son type of affair but it was rumoured he had formed the company on the proceeds of some heavy duty criminal activity. But he was happy just to run a small yard and let Brian, Dennis and Ronnie deal with the bigger stuff.

So this is how I managed to walk on the Emirates pitch in 1972, thirty four years before it was constructed.  When I walked from my little caravan office across the yard to the weighbridge, I literally walked across the future stadium. Back then it was a combination of mud, oil, diesel, piles of car tyres, scrap iron and steel, all churned up by roll-on/roll-off container lorries and JCB’s. I could never have imagined it would eventually become the magnificent stadium it is today, a Wenger dream that would not take shape in his brilliant mind for another 30 years. At the end of most days we’d all go for a drink in a pub on the corner of Benwell Road and Albany Place, where some of Dennis’ mates would join us and they’d discuss and conclude dodgy business deals with him. I can’t remember the name of the pub now, perhaps someone can tell me if it’s still there?

The Arsenal manager at the time was Bertie Mee and the team consisted of such legends as John Radford, Ray Kennedy, Charlie George, Frank McClintock, Peter Storey and Bob Wison. Every other Saturday afternoon, a mate and I could be found touting tickets outside the Marble Halls on Avenell Road and when we’d sold them all, we would pay a couple of quid to the bloke on the turnstile for entry into the East Stand and we’d find  empty seats to watch the match. Every Friday and Saturday night you could also find us at the Wellington pub in Mackenzie Road, selling stolen designer clothing from the boot of a Ford Cortina.

These were the halcyon days in Islington, of after hours drinking clubs in the upstairs of a pub and run by gangsters, where someone slid open a spy hole in the door and if you weren’t known, you were told to fuck off. Sometimes you would see an Arsenal player at one of these clubs, McClintock, Peter Storey and Eddie Kelly were regulars. Frank McClintock went on to form a business partnership with Harry H, a well known local con man, and they bought a pub together in Caledonian Road, which became a regular haunt for the Islington criminal underworld. Peter Storey bought a pub in Essex Road and would eventually end up doing time for his involvement in certain criminal activities. This was the Islington of Bertie Smalls (the first ever supergrass), of Reggie Dudley and Bob Maynard (aka Legal and General) and the ‘head in the public toilet’ murder. The Islington where Jamaicans had ‘blues clubs’, basically a basement in someones house where you could drink rum and dance to bluebeat and ska all night long. The IRA had control of Finsbury Park and the Archway area, and the Adams brothers were only just starting their Islington crime syndicate from a house in Barnsbury and would eventually, and violently, take over from the Reilly’s as the most feared crime gang in London. This was the Islington of my youth, where I rubbed shoulders with, and regularly had drinks with some of the most feared and dangerous criminals in London. An Islington where local villains quietly went about their business and stayed away from any form of publicity, an Islington where gangsters from other manors would not dare to encroach upon, an Islington that I have very fond memories of, and by comparison, the East End, the Krays and the Richardsons were small time.

In 1974 I was still ticket touting at Highbury and other venues, and still selling stolen designer clothing, but now it was from the boot of a Jaguar Mk2, but the scrap metal firm had started to experience financial problems. This was caused by Ronnie having gone a bit radio rental with company money from his side of the business in Hornsey. Unknown to his brothers, he’d used business funds to buy, amongst other things, a large beachhouse property in the Carribean, a yacht and a light aircraft, plus a couple of Rolls-Royces and a mansion in Hertfordshire for his mistress, by the time Brian and Dennis found out, Ronnie had spent millions and it was too late to save the company. I was in the weighbridge office when it came to blows between the three of them, Dennis and Brian would have killed Ronnie and he would have ended up in the car crusher if me and a couple of Dennis’ mates had not intervened.

I then spent a hectic 12 months regularly driving two, three, sometimes four  times a week to Teeside, West Bromwich and South Wales collecting cheques owed to us by some of the larger steel works, then speeding back down the M1 or M4 to London and paying them into the bank, some cheques totalled £150k or more, but it was still to no avail. Brian and Dennis were frantically moving money from company banks to personal accounts abroad and the business was eventually put into receivership and bankruptcy. After the business folded I continued working with Dennis and some of his associates for a while in little money making schemes but with all the company problems, his health had suffered so he eventually decided to move to Spain and live off the money he’d managed to keep hidden from the inland revenue.

I moved on to other things, some good, some bad, some disastrous, some glamorous and some downright unsavoury. However, despite having walked on the Emirates pitch 34 years before the turf was laid, before even Wenger or an Arsenal player had ever set foot on it, I’ve still not been into the new Stadium to see a game. It remains a dream, a dream which I hope to achieve very soon. And at the same time I’ll also have a drink in the pub on Benwell Road if it’s still there?

Right, time for a glass of wine and some spicy chorizo….. hope you enjoyed your visit. Until the next time.

à bientôt

GunnersoreArse, bringing you the hidden history of Arsenal and Islington, chorizo and copper, brass and muck. A classy publication delivered to your PC free of charge every Sunday morning at 9am GMT.