Friday fanzone Q&A – ‘Monkey’ from cult Arsenal band Riders of the Night
- Credit: Archant
Meet top man, cult musician and fifth generation Gooner in this week’s Q&A – Monkey from The Riders Of The Night
Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m a singer/songwriter in the North London rock’n’roll outfit The Riders of The Night, originally formed about 12 years ago by a bunch of Arsenal supporting musicians as a bit of a laugh which just seems to have got out of hand. We started by recording some Arsenal-themed records and from there it took off. We now also play and make music for the masses and gig not only here but around Europe as well. We even made the charts with an unofficial FA Cup Final charity single in 2015. Still play the odd match day gig around the Highbury area which is always great fun. You can catch us on Facebook and hear us on iTunes.
How did you become an Arsenal fan?
In our family being an Arsenal fan is a birthright. I hear people saying ‘I was at the first game at The Emirates...’ well a great uncle of mine was at the first ever game at Highbury against Leicester Fosse in 1913. He was delivering for the printing company that made the official programme that day and instead of going back to work at the printers he stayed in the ground for the match. He was possibly the first person to bunk into a game at Highbury. My father was brought up in Avenell Road and lived opposite the famous Marble Halls. We are now on the fifth generation of Arsenal supporters in our family though unfortunately we can’t afford to attend games like we used to anymore.
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Years supporting the club?
Let’s just say I’ve past my golden anniversary.
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Arsene Wenger. Discuss:
A very divisive subject and not one that’s doing us a lot of favours at the present time. Wenger in my eyes is more than 10 years past his sell by date. I remember walking away from that ground in Paris after we’d just lost the European Cup Final to Barcelona in 2006 and saying to my band mate Binsy that Wenger should leave the club after that game. He had taken us to the altar of the Holy Grail and blown it. That should have been the moment. The night that all us had dreamt all our lives about and they’d bottled it. My mate didn’t agree with me which just goes to show that even within our band we’ve been divisive about Wenger. I respect him for what he did at Arsenal for the first 10 years but I’ve seen nothing to make me change my mind from what I said in Paris in the 11 years since.
Do you think social media has made the game better or worse for fans?
Difficult to say. It has its pros and cons. It’s just a part of life now and we have to get on with it and use it to the best of our ability. Perhaps we could ebay Yaya Sanogo.
One thing you would change about the club?
It would have to be this ownership problem. I know it’s never going to happen in this world of greed we now live in but I’d love to see not only The Arsenal but all English clubs subscribe to the German model of the supporters having at least a 51 per cent grip on club’s shares. That way we would reclaim our club, right a whole bunch of wrongs at the same time and help the club operate as it should do. Not as a money making exercise for all and sundry.
What makes you proud to be a Gooner?
All the things we sing about on our record ‘Eyes Right’. The Marble Halls and Herbert’s bust. Percy Dalton’s roasted nuts. Programme sellers and hot dog stalls, the bright white boots of Alan Ball. David Seaman’s ponytail, Tony Adams getting out of jail. A Brady free kick, a Merson pass, a SuperMac header.
Next statue outside would be?
To tell you the truth I’m not really a fan of the statues we now have parked up outside the new ground apart from Herbert Chapman’s. I think it’s really quite tacky having effigies of people that are still alive and very much with us. A bit like a football version of Madame Tussauds. They’ve even got one of Wenger in the ground somewhere. If it were down to me I would immediately commission one of the great George Armstrong, a true Arsenal legend. Played more than 600 games, done The Double and had another 10 years coaching at The Arsenal. RIP Geordie.
A relatively late starter, Middlesbrough 76/77. First away game Ipswich ’77. That was a bit of a mad one.
Favourite game and why?
I’ve seen so many great games over the years but I don’t think anything will ever top Anfield ’89. Just thinking about it still puts a smile on my face, the odd tear of joy in my eye and sends shivers down my spine. They’ve written books, made films and we’ve even written songs about that match. Doesn’t that say it all?
Worst game and why?
Arsenal v Barcelona in Paris 2006. Already said enough on that subject.
Favourite player and why?
I first thought about Dennis Bergkamp. That man did things with a ball that I’d never seen done before or since. The most skilful player I ever watched. However when it comes to Mr Arsenal there is only one man truly deserving of that honour. Stand up Tony Adams. I watched him play his whole career and I enjoy watching great defending. That man was the best. The leader of the famous back four. The best defence in the history of football. Sometimes it was as if he was 10 feet tall and bullet proof the way he would thwart oncoming attacks from the enemy and also blast through the opposition as if swatting away flies. Sorry, am I getting a bit carried away here?
Worst player and why?
Blimey, where do you start? Let’s just pick a name out of the hat and say Tomas Danilevicius. And I don’t think the next question should be why, more who?
I don’t really have a set routine these days. I will sometimes bowl around aimlessly from pub to pub having a drink and chat with friends along the way or sometimes I’ll have a box of records with me and entertain the punters at Piebury Corner or Cannons by showing off my DJ skills and spinning some tunes accompanied by a light ale or two. Followed these days by settling down in a local hostelry to enjoy the match.
Best thing about Highbury?
Highbury was home. It was always the one constant thing in your life. You could move house, change your job, change your car, change your wife even. But the one thing that was always the same was being able to go over The Arsenal on a Saturday afternoon with your mates. Familiar surroundings that you’d grown up with even if you didn’t live in the area. A pint or two in a local boozer. It was a real and genuine community. In a day and age where real communities are disappearing at an incredible rate it was something to be genuinely proud to be a part of.
Best thing about Emirates?
The fact that we can now compete on an even level with the biggest teams in Europe for the biggest prizes. Attract the world’s best players, have them all queueing up to play for us. Become the world’s elite club and all for the price of £10 a match. Oh, wait a minute...
Biggest scrape as a fan?
Well, I once accidently found myself in the Spurs end when we played at Tottenham. OK maybe more than once...
Fourth place trophy or FA Cup – can’t say both
In my book you may as well be 10th as be 4th and I think our non-performance in Europe over the last 20 years backs that up. So that would be the FA Cup– the world’s most famous challenge cup for me
Favourite win over Spurs
All of them. Though if I had to pick one it would be the 5-0 win at The Lane in 1978. An Alan Sunderland hat-trick and that fabulous goal by Liam Brady will never be forgotten. My late Grandmother sadly passed away the day after this game took place but we’ve always been able to say that at least she went with a smile on her face.
Prediction for the rest of the season
Pretty much the same as it has been for the last 10 seasons. Won’t win The League, won’t win The Champions League, FA Cup if we’re lucky. Same old same old. All very predictable unfortunately.
All time Arsenal XI
Seaman, Dixon, Winterburn, McLintock, Adams, Brady, James, Armstrong, Bergkamp, Bastin, Henry.
Anything you want to add?
Maybe a couple of solid centre halves, a midfield dynamo and a top striker. Keep Ridin’!