Arsenal fan Friday Q&A: Old school Gooner Frank Radcliffe

Frank Radcliffe with Jeremy Corbyn

Frank Radcliffe with Jeremy Corbyn - Credit: Archant

For this week’s Friday Q&A we have an old school Arsenal fan and passionate Trade Unionist Frank Radcliffe. There can’t be many Gooners still attending who went to the Winterslag away game but loyal Frank was one of them. Read on for his strong views on the club – as well as being held up at gunpoint as an innocent bystander by German police after Sergio Tacchini gear disappeared on a pre-season trip to Bochum in the 1980s...

How did you become an Arsenal fan?

I lived off the Archway Rd in North London so it had to be the only choice in the early 70’s. My dad took me to my first game even though he hated the game.

Years supporting the club?


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Do you think social media has made the game better or worse for fans?

It has its pros and cons. It’s probably worse as most issues get debated in a reactionary manner far too quickly rather than in a more considered fashion as it used to. It is too easy to abuse players or fans via social media sites when in the past the post room staff would censor anything untoward before it got any further. It is easier to watch games and keep up with results but it takes away from the fun of the old days when fans used to catch up on everything over a pint at the pub rather than via their tablet.

One thing you would change about the club?

The way the club is geared to make as much money as it can through the corporate side of the business rather than getting back to the clubs community roots.

What makes you proud to be a Gooner?

Apart from Jeremy Corbyn being a fan? The history of the club and the memories I have as a man and boy of the great games and players I have seen.

Next statue outside would be?

I’m not a great fan of the statues. I think statues are for the long dead and not for those who are still living. If one of the existing esteemed players was to suddenly become manager of Spurs what we would be then? It is funny that all the players with statues outside the ground all played a massive part in Wenger’s success. If I had to make a choice maybe David Rocastle.

First game?

Arsenal v Stoke City 1975. Terry Conroy scored the only goal of the game for Stoke. Arsenals team Included Terry (Henry) Mancini, Jimmy Rimmer, Geordie Armstrong(on the wing) and Kidd and Radford up front.

Favourite game and why?

1979 FA cup final vs Man Utd. My first cup final and the first time I had seen us win a trophy. A great finish and fantastic atmosphere.

Worst game and why?

Probably tied between the Champions League final. I was just so disappointed to lose when we held on for so long.

And Winterslag away in the UEFA cup in October 1981. We lost 1-0 to the Belgian part timers in one of the worst stadiums I’ve been too. It poured down and the game was dire and marred by outbreaks of hooligsnism round the ground. We lost on away goals at Highbury in the second leg. Awful

Favourite player and why?

Dennis Bergkamp – the most skilful and intelligent player I have seen pull on an Arsenal shirt. The goal he scored against Newcastle when he flicked the ball around Dabizas and rounded him to score past the keeper was the best piece of individual skill I have ever seen. I was lucky to have been at Leicester away when I saw him score the best ever hatrick I have seen in August 1997 when we drew 3-3. He was the driving force in Arsenal’s best spell in the last fifty years of the club.

Worst player and why?

I have seen a few - Gus Caesar to John Hawley, Ray Hankin and Pascal Cygan but I have to say Sebastian Squillacci was the worst. He had limited skill and a lack of positional sense that was more embarrassing than Adebayor’s work rate.

Pre-match routine?

Go for a pizza and a pint on Stroud Green Road.

Best thing about Highbury?

Walking past the marble halls amongst the throng of people and the buzz and anticipation of the game to come.

Best thing about Emirates?

The views.

Biggest scrape as a fan?

Getting held up at gunpoint by German police in Bochum during the early 80’s during a pre season tournament. They were looking for well known Arsenal hooligans at the time who had allegedly stolen the town’s stock of Sergio Tacchini tracksuits...

Fourth place or Europa League can’t say both

Fourth place purely for financial reasons.

Favourite win over Spurs

Five nil at the lane, December 1978.

Prediction for the rest of the season

Finish fifth and get to semi-finals of FA Cup and Europa League

All time Arsenal XI

Jennings, Lauren, Sansom, O’Leary, Adams, Vieira, Brady, Pires, Petrovic, Bergkamp, Henry

Anything you want to add

Thanks for asking me for my views. The Arsenal XI is always the hardest decision over the years. If I could have five subs they would be Ian Wright, Limpar, Bould, Seaman and Alan (Smudger) Smith.

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