All Guns Blazing: Let’s remember the loyal Gooners we have lost

Arsenal flags being waved by supporters during the FA Community Shield at Wembley Stadium, London. P

Arsenal flags being waved by supporters during the FA Community Shield at Wembley Stadium, London. Picture: PA/Nigel French - Credit: PA ARCHIVE IMAGES

In our weekly Arsenal fan column, Layth Yousif pays tribute to two passionate Gunners, Ernie Crouch and Dawn John.

You can’t argue that December hasn’t been a good month on the pitch.

We eased past Sunderland, saw an outstanding Olivier Giroud performance in Greece, and revelled in a solid performance at Aston Villa to set up a mouth-watering Monday night against Manchester City as memories return of previous ties.

Who recalls dismantling a poor City team 5-0 in October 2000, made even more memorable for seeing Joe Royle address the media afterwards while clutching a can of cider?

Or Mikel Arteta’s late 2012 winner that looked to have derailed their title bid – only for Sergio Aguero to achieve the second most exciting climax to a league season after Anfield ‘89.

But whatever Monday’s result, we will all be there – apart from two people. For all the talk of victories in December, Arsenal also suffered two dreadful losses.

Ernie Crouch died before the Sunderland game.

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Ernie, 91, who’d been attending Gunners games since the 1930s, was known to many. Because of his longevity, but also as he was a humble man whose loyalty was inspiring – prompting Arsenal Supporters Club to leave his usual seat on the bus empty when it went to Villa as a mark of respect.

I’m lucky to be pals with his granddaughter, Hannah Crouch, who told me: “It was the spirit and atmosphere at Arsenal he was most passionate about.”

Dawn John was a Stoke Newington girl who became a Gooner after Alan Sunderland’s late 1979 winner against Manchester United.

Dawn was a friend of mine, as she was to many who loved her enthusiasm, her warm smile – and like Ernie – complete devotion to our team.

We had a beer after a game last month, talking Arsenal. It was fun and sentimental – but never too serious – as we knew there was always next week.

But that was the last time I spoke to Dawn. For the cancer she didn’t know she had killed her the day after the Sunderland game.

And as I fight back the tears in writing this, I’d say this to our beloved red and white heroes: use our famed Arsenal spirit to win against City and honour Ernie and Dawn – two fallen Gooners, united in their loyalty and devotion to our wonderful club. Whose cherished memory will never be forgotten as long as the Arsenal exists.

Follow Layth @laythy29

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