Author and Arsenal fan recalls The Moray: a focal point of Finsbury Park and matchday life
- Credit: Archant
For many drinkers, the closure of the Moray Arms pub in 2007 meant Arsenal matchdays have never been the same since.
And memories of the pub, in Durham Road, Finsbury Park, have moved former regular Kevin Carty to write a book in its honour.
Kevin was born in Holloway, but as a teenager his family moved to the newly built Six Acres Estate in the 1970s.
He retired as a teacher in 2014, when he began work on the book, The Moray.
In the process, the 61-year-old, who now lives in Forest Gate, Newham, revisited memories that ranged from his own time in Finsbury Park to Gunners cult hero David “Rocky” Rocastle gatecrashing a 40th birthday party.
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He said: “I had the idea to write this book for a while, but didn’t have time as the teaching profession isn’t conducive to writing a book!
“To me there are lots of these sort of pubs that have been lost. Times have changed and pubs aren’t the same as they used to be. They have to be the gastro type places to thrive and the closure of the Moray struck me as an end of an era.”
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There is no sign of the Moray’s heritage in Durham Road today. Like hundreds of pubs before it, an apartment block has taken its place.
So how did Kevin approach his research?
“Pat and Sheila O’Sullivan ran it from 1965. Sadly, they passed away within two years of each other (2003 and 2005). There were new owners for a while, but it was never the same.
“But I got in touch with their daughter, who lives in Ireland, and she gave me lots of information about them. I also did a lot of research in libraries, and from there it was just about getting anecdotes, taking in stories from all the regulars.”
Of his own memories, Kevin explains: “I started drinking, at least legally, in the early 70s so I was a regular from then on. But my dad used to go beforehand as it was just around the corner from us on the Six Acres Estate.
“For home games, it would be the place where a bunch of Arsenal fans would meet and they wouldn’t necessarily be regulars. I think Arsenal is missing it these days. There are alternatives to go for a drink before and after games, of course, but the Moray had a real connection to the club.
“Sheila used to have this big charity penny bottle, which punters would fill with coins. Once it was full, they would get players to come in and smash it before the proceeds were donated. I remember they had players like David O’Leary, John Lukic and Pat Rice come down.
“There was also an Italian guy whose hero was ‘Rocky’: David Rocastle. His 40th birthday party was at the Moray and Sheila managed to get Rocky to come down as a surprise!”
Though Kevin was disappointed at the 2007 closure, he wasn’t surprised.
“In the years before the Six Acres and Andover estates were built, the number of pubs in the area was in double figures. Many of those were knocked down to make way for the council housing, so the Moray really was a focal point.
“But I was resigned to it going. The writing was on the wall when Pat and Sheila died. They were its beating heart.
“It was a typical back street pub, very traditional. It was never going to turn itself into one of the trendy, middle class pubs that tend to dominate Islington now.”
To buy the book, search The Moray on feedaread.com