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‘Away games will never be the same again’: fans mourn tragic death of 90-year-old Arsenal mega fan

PUBLISHED: 10:27 09 December 2015 | UPDATED: 10:27 09 December 2015

Ernie Crouch with Ray Parlour at Emirates Stadium, before the Arsenal v West Ham game in August. Picture: Steve Burton/Europcar

Ernie Crouch with Ray Parlour at Emirates Stadium, before the Arsenal v West Ham game in August. Picture: Steve Burton/Europcar

STEVE BURTON

Arsenal yesterday promised to honour one of its biggest fans after he died in a freak accident on Saturday.

Ernie Crouch, 90, was on his way to the Gunners’ game against Sunderland at around 12.30pm. A gust of wind blew him off the pavement in Chaville Way, Finchley, and against the side of the bus.

Medics performed CPR but he died around 45 minutes later.

Ernie was a legendary figure among fans for his 80 years of following the club. He watched Arsene Wenger’s side home and away, and was named fan of the year by a club sponsor last season.

Famous Arsenal figures, including Petr Cech, David Seaman, Ray Parlour and Lukas Podolski tweeted tributes after the news broke.

And the club promised to recognise father-of-two Ernie “in a true Arsenal way”. The nature of this tribute is to be confirmed.

For Pat Hale, committee member of Arsenal Supporters Club, following the Gunners will never be the same again.

She knew Ernie for 30 years, and said: “I can’t even describe his commitment to Arsenal. He ate, drank and slept that football club.

“He didn’t just go to home games, he went to away matches, reserves and the ladies’ team. Up until the last couple of years, he would also go to the European away games when he could. His passion lasted right until the end. His last game was at Norwich last weekend.

“As a supporters club, we organise a bus to away games and he had his own seat at the front, next to me. No one would ever sit there - they knew it was Ernie’s.

“Away games are never going to be same again. When we go to Aston Villa on Sunday, it will be very sad.”

After hearing the news on Saturday, she couldn’t bring herself to watch the 3-1 victory at the Emirates.

“I got the phone call when I was in the ground and couldn’t actually watch the game. I didn’t tell anyone until after, and everyone was devastated.”

A club spokeswoman said: “Everyone at Arsenal Football Club was shocked by the tragic death of Ernie.

“We know he was one of our biggest supporters and was a familiar sight at all our games, including reserve, youth and ladies team matches.

“Our thoughts are with all his family and friends at this time. We will be working with them to ensure he is recognised in a true Arsenal way.”


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