Arsenal fan Q&A: Micky Brock from the Sydney supporters club

Micky Brock at the darts in Sydney with his Arsenal scarf

Micky Brock at the darts in Sydney with his Arsenal scarf - Credit: Archant

It’s time for our Arsenal fan Q&A. This week we have a loyal Gooner from down under Micky Brock. Read on Micky’s passionate interview as he shares his favourite player (George Armstrong), scrapes at West Brom, his dear old dad giving him a love of The Arsenal by sharing tales of our 1930s stars and much, much more.

Micky Brock with Steve Bould

Micky Brock with Steve Bould - Credit: Archant

Tell us about yourself

I’m born and bred Arsenal and formerly chairman of the Australian Arsenal Supporters Club (1990-2005) and currently the chairman of Arsenal Sydney.

In addition, I am the senior journalist for Football NSW, co-host of British Football Watch every Saturday night (9-11pm Sydney time on 99.7fm) and laughingly referred to as ‘the face of Australian Darts’ as I travel to all the World Series tournaments in Australia and New Zealand doing the behind the scenes interviews – most of which can be viewed at Darts Downder or the DPA sites.

Micky Brock with David Seaman in the mid 1990s

Micky Brock with David Seaman in the mid 1990s - Credit: Archant

In my working role I have to be totally unbiased in my reports but anyone who knows me would tell you, I have mates from just about all clubs and come kick-off time if you’re against us, you are not my chum, friend, pal, mate nor mucker. If your side needed to win to stay up and it was a ‘nothing game’ for us I would still hope we shove six past your lot. Of course, at the final whistle – win, lose or draw – normal relations will be resumed.

How did you become an Arsenal fan?

My dear old dad attended Highbury as a four-year old in 1920 and growing up he would sit me on his knee and tell me stories of the great 1930’s sides. Of Bastin, Hapgood and Drake and many others conjuring up images of Arsenal players wearing superman type capes as they entered the arena, or so it seemed to a young impressionable mind at least. His favourite story of Ted Drake’s seven-goal haul at Villa Park was ‘eight attempts on goal from Drake – he scored seven but the other hit the post’

Mickey Brock is proud to be chairman of the Arsenal Sydney Supporters Club

Mickey Brock is proud to be chairman of the Arsenal Sydney Supporters Club - Credit: Archant

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Years supporting Arsenal?

I approach my 60th year in February and I cannot think of a time I haven’t been enamoured by the prospect of watching Arsenal so realistically I would have to say I’ve been a one-eyed Gooner fan from birth and for that I make no apology.

Arsene Wenger and Stan Kroenke, discuss

Wenger dragged Arsenal up from the good work of Graham and took the side to ever greater heights while instilling a never seen before expectation in the fans. Would Arsenal be where they are today without him? A matter of conjecture of course but it’s hard to think we would be. Doubles, titles, the Invincible’s and belief. Has he stayed too long? Perhaps but if he rekindles the side and we not only challenge but start to lift trophies again, who will knock him? As for Kroenke, I feel the less said about the ‘silent assassin’ the better.

Has social media made things better or worse for Arsenal fans?

It is widely recommended those with an IQ lower than their shoe size or bereft the usage of the collective family brain cell stay off media platforms. Anyone can be a keyboard warrior and cause untold friction with inane comments and nonsensical rants belittling our famous and most cherished club. Worst of all is comments made by these types cannot be guaranteed are actual fans of the club but do so in a mischievous manner simply to annoy. Childish, pathetic, deplorable.

That said, the Arsenal Sydney offer to Ian Wright still stands. [Loyal fans down under raised more than £3,000 to pay for Ian Wright’s airfare so he could spend time with them and experience their passion after he criticised overseas Arsenal fans, as reported by the Islington Gazette earlier this month].

Why am I a proud Arsenal fan

I’m proud to be an Arsenal fan for many reasons, tradition being a major one although this appears to be slowly being eroded under the present regime. That said, we were never penned in like cattle at Highbury and I thank the club wholeheartedly for that. We were never fenced in as at other stadia and this must never be underestimated in my opinion.

First game?

We moved from London to Banbury when I was about five-years old so I believe the first time I saw Arsenal play would have been at Highfield Road against Coventry I should think. Don’t remember the result as I stood there goggle-eyed watching the boys.

Favourite game?

Would be way too easy to say Wembley ’79, the League Cup Final against Liverpool when Rush scored and the Scousers lost for the first time in ‘87 or even Anfield ’89 but sometimes there are moments that come to mind first. During the 1970/71 my dear old dad took me to watch us play at Old Trafford and it was a day to remember as I got to meet captain Frank McLintock and none other than George Best who gave me the best advice I’ve ever been given which I’ve passed on many times. That, however, is another story and one you couldn’t print here! We won 3-1 that day.

The other one would be the famous ‘one-nil down, two-one up’ at the Totts not just because of the scoreline but the appearance just after half-time of the chicken on the pitch resplendent in red & white scarf.

Lastly I would have to say the day Sammy Nelson dropped his shorts at the Northbank who had been on his back all that evening. Priceless.

Worst game?

Each and every one where Totteringham has ever taken anything off of us. Totally unacceptable.

Favourite player?

George Armstrong was my first. I shall never forget the sight of his nippy runs down the wing nor the jinky cuts inside. All action and engines. Obviously Charlie ‘the darling of the Northbank’ George for the rebellious nature he exuded and the fact he came from the self-same terraces we were stood on. Thirdly would have to be Liam Brady. Still cannot think of a player who could seemingly send a ball 40-50 yards into the path of a running team mate with little back lift of that magical left foot and as for the free-kicks and ‘that’ goal at the Totts…….

Worst player?

I wouldn’t be comfortable singling out a particular player but there are several over the years worthy of mention of course. Lee Chapman does spring readily to mind though.

The best thing about Highbury?

A visit to that marvellous Art Deco façade and the impeccable Marble Halls was always a thrill but it has to be the camaraderie among the faithful in either the Northbank or the Clock End, the terrace humour and the sense of belonging, of being ‘home’. It’s something all who stood on those terraces can attest to but in attempting to put that feeling into a tangible sentence is nigh on impossible. Wintery nights, the sights, sounds, smells and the banter. Makes one’s eyes misty remembering it’s where we grew up, where we came of age and united against the common foe.

Best thing about the Emirates?

Shameful to say I have not yet attended a match there. Living some 10,000 miles away, a growing family, mortgage and divorce made sure of that but soon, one day soon.

Next statue at the Emirates?

Not a massive fan of statues of ‘living’ past players to be honest but Rocky Rocastle. No need to elaborate further.

Biggest scrape as a fan?

Liverpool was always hairy but coming out of Filbert Street in the 70’s after yet another drawn game in the FA Cup against Sheffield Wednesday. I’m way too small and farty to ever have been involved in the terrace jaunts enjoyed by many but as we left the ground we were jumped by Wednesday’s fans turning into every man for himself. It didn’t last long, the ‘proper’ Gooners made sure of that thankfully. The only other time really was a trip to the Hawthorns. I went with my then girlfriend plus her younger brother and his mate. I would have been about 17 or so at the time and we were the only Arsenal fans on the terrace with Baggies ‘hard nuts’ giving the four of us stick from both sides and behind. I thought it was a right royal kicking at the very least and then more and more Throstle’s fans began to pour in from the right side all sporting their green and yellow scarf’s I seem to remember. Turned out to be the Arsenal firm and they quickly despatched the home town louts who remained very quiet for the remainder of the match. Was it Johnny Hoy and co? I cannot say but I thank them anyway.

Fourth place or trophy?

Trophy every time. We are there to compete, to win things and not seek relative comfort from finishing in a position that allows us to enter a competition we simply don’t look like winning. What about the money it generates some will respond. The answer to that is where is it being spent? Is it strengthening the team? Is it lining our American’s pockets or the Shareholders? We are Arsenal and we should be competing on as level a footing as the others but we are not.

Favourite win against Spurs?

I go back to the wonderful ‘one-nil down, two one up’ night. We took a wrong turn going into the ground and found ourselves on ‘the Shelf’ surrounded by heavy browed grunting knuckle draggers. Admittedly we spent the night in stifled elation but what a night. In amongst the rabble, coming from behind to win and the chicken. It’s what football tales are all about. Magical nights, great mates, the scares, the thrills, the elation and the sharing.

Prediction for the remainder of the season

We will flatter to deceive, possibly finish fourth (if lucky) and likely win a pot. No way can we or will we challenge for the title and nor will we until we strengthen the side and instill that famous ‘winning’ mentality. I have and will follow the Gunners through thick and thin but some of the body language last season was totally unacceptable. We need a leader on the pitch, a McLintock, Adams, O’Leary or Vieira to threaten, cajole the troops into performing, leading by example.

All time X1

Impossible to select. Henry, Wright, Bergkamp, Pires, George, Wilson, Seaman, Adams, Anderson, Winterburn, Sansom, Thomas, Brady, Stapleton, Nelson, Armstrong, McLintock, Vieira, Radford, Kennedy, Rocastle, Rice, Davis or even ‘big Willie’ Young and we’ve not even considered Hapgood, Bastin nor Drake!. You cannot compare different eras when balls were like bags of cement went soggy, pitches were ankle deep mud or frozen, boots were unrecognisable to today, the beer culture, training and so on.

Most treasured Arsenal possession?

I was given a plain red and white bar scarf on my sixth birthday which is still with me today. Over the years it has been adorned with a number of badges, both cloth and metal, which I have to say is my most treasured Arsenal possession along with my Charlie George action figure. My scarf and I have been through a lot together and, it is to be hoped, we still have a long journey ahead of us. Always and forever – COYG!