Friday Q&A: Jill Armstrong-Millson – ‘dad was a lovely man who loved The Arsenal’
- Credit: Archant
For this week’s Friday Q&A we have a wonderful woman steeped in Arsenal history. Read Jill-Armstrong Millson and her memories of her much-loved dad Geordie Armstrong.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I am married to Tim. We have two children a boy Jude 10 and a daughter Mya who is eight. I am a make-up artist by profession. I have worked on fashion shows, magazines and TV, I have met some great people. I am now a lecturer of Media Make-up and have taught at Cambridge Regional College for many years.
How did you become an Arsenal fan?
I guess you could say I was born a supporter. Mum would go and watch Dad play while she was carrying me and I would happily kick away. Mum took us from babies to watch Dad – it was the only way she got to watch a game, by taking us with her. Tom, my brother, mum and I watched dad play every game at Highbury. It’s a lot of games when you add them up. Then in later years when dad returned to the club as reserve team manager we got to watch a lot of games back at Highbury. So The Arsenal was in our blood from the very start.
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He was of course your dad first and foremost but what was it like growing up with an Arsenal legend too?
Growing up with a famous father who played for The Arsenal was somewhat Surreal. To us dad was dad. Saturdays were always about football. We would get ready for the game. It was always smart – never jeans as this was The Arsenal! Dad would drop us at a nearby restaurant in Finsbury Park and we would eat before the game, as Dad went to get ready for The game. We would wait in the main entrance, till it was time to go to our seats.
We would be ushered through this door, down this corridor and eventually to our seats. After the game Tom and I would wait outside the tea room to collect autographs, The commissioner Tommy, would joke: ‘What do you do with all these signed programmes, flog them?’ I’ve no idea where they went to be honest. After the game we would go to a restaurant in Palmers Green after the game and often bump into Liam (Brady), Frank Stapleton and David O’Leary. A regular Saturday for us.
Dad once opened our school fete in North London. That was kind of weird – but Dad was the most down to earth person you could ever want to meet.
What makes you proud to be a Gooner?
Dad is was what makes me proud – and all the lovely friends we have grown up with. Having spent a large chunk of my childhood and a fair length of my adult life at Highbury there weren’t many people we didn’t know. Dad would talk to everyone. It was his way. He was a friendly, funny man that played for The Arsenal.
What did Highbury mean to you?
Highbury was like a second home to me. I had so much love for Highbury. The marble entrance, the Herbert Chapman bust, where I stood on the seat before a game, watching the fans. The police on horses weaving in and out of the crowds. The sea of red and white, the singing that sometimes I would find deafening that I would have to hold my hands over my ears. Such great memories that will always stay with me.
On other occasions during the holidays if dad had to pop in the club to see Fred street or someone else Tom and I would take the chance to run down the tunnel and onto the pitch. We had a fantastic time or having a swim in the bath, whilst dad had treatment. What happy days.
It was everything about Highbury. The commissioners on the main entrance who over the years we got to know, they took such pride in representing the great club. It filtered all through the club. It was like a great honour to represent or be part of. For me it was a great privilege to be part of. That has never changed for me and it one thing I always instil in my children.
Favourite memory of your dad?
As you can imagine I have hundreds, every single one is special. As a child I would say that when Dad was playing. The memory that always stays with me is when we would drive out of the stadium, the fans would tap on the car, it seemed quite loud. Dad would wind down his window and sign autographs, sign and sign. It felt like a lifetime to me. Dad would sign everyone – he never that I can remember ever turned anyone away.
In later years, it would be walking down to Highbury from the car park. There would be shouts of ‘Hey Geordie’. Dad would smile, wave, shake a hand or two and stop for a chat. The immense love I felt for dad was indescribable. This is what made me proudest of all, a lovely, kind, respectful man who played for and loved The Arsenal.
Arsenal 6 v West Ham 1, 1976.
As a child one of my memories was at Highbury watching Arsenal thrash West Ham. Dad scored, Alan Ball got two and Brian Kidd got a hat-trick. I remember the supporters going mad, the roar from the crowds, was uplifting. The singing was so loud, I remember thinking we have the greatest supporters ever.
Another fantastic memory was the Wembley final against Newcastle in 1998. We were put on coaches to Wembley, and the atmosphere was electric. After, the game Dad had missed the first team coach back to Sopwell House. He was going to get a lift back on our bus. However, a group of supporters grabbed hold of him and started chanting: ‘There’s only one Geordie Armstrong’ – it seemed to go on forever and much to the annoyance of the bus driver. We all ending up having a laugh about it afterwards. Eventually, we got back to Sopwell House where we celebrated the second double win for The Arsenal.
One last thing...
On twitter, I tweet pictures of Dad and the 70’s and I have had some amazing support. I wanted to thank my followers for all their support and kind words it means a lot . As it helps to keep Dad’s memory alive especially for his five grandchildren George, Jude, Cody Mya, and Karl.
Follow Jill on Twitter @touchofpowder