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Staff at posh Highbury Stadium flats told grieving Arsenal fan: ‘Don’t leave your flowers here’

PUBLISHED: 07:00 09 February 2017

Darren Marsh's family: mum Daphne, brother Kevin and dad Terry lay flowers at Highbury Stadium in 2005. Picture: family of Darren Marsh

Darren Marsh's family: mum Daphne, brother Kevin and dad Terry lay flowers at Highbury Stadium in 2005. Picture: family of Darren Marsh

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A lifelong Arsenal fan was stopped from laying flowers in the posh Highbury Stadium flat complex where his 21-year-old son’s ashes were scattered.

Darren Marsh pictured in Arsenal kit aged five. Picture: family of Darren MarshDarren Marsh pictured in Arsenal kit aged five. Picture: family of Darren Marsh

On Tuesday, Gunners managing director Ken Friar got personally involved as he vowed to find out who was responsible, saying: “This should never have happened.”

Terry Marsh, 73, has supported Arsenal since 1955. His son Darren died in 1989 after a lung transplant went wrong. Also a lifelong Gooner, Darren’s last wish – like hundreds of other fans – was for his ashes to be scattered on the old Highbury pitch.

After Arsenal moved to Emirates Stadium in 2006, Highbury was sold and became an expensive flat development. However, a memorial garden was installed.

On December 10 every year – Darren’s birthday – Terry and his wife visit the garden to lay flowers. But on the most recent occasion, they were told by a member of staff: “You can’t leave them here.”

Terry, of Whitsable, Kent, told the Gazette this week: “It felt like Darren had been stolen from us all over again.”

The season ticket holder said: “Darren was Arsenal mad. He told me before the transplant: ‘Dad, if it all goes wrong, make sure my ashes are at Highbury.’

Darren's mum, Daphne, pictured in a previous year at the  former Highbury Stadium memorial garden. She was left in tears when a member of staff at the complex said she couldn't leave flowers there. Picture: family of Darren MarshDarren's mum, Daphne, pictured in a previous year at the former Highbury Stadium memorial garden. She was left in tears when a member of staff at the complex said she couldn't leave flowers there. Picture: family of Darren Marsh

“Obviously, when Arsenal moved to the Emirates in 2006, it was a wrench – but we totally understood the club had to move on. In any case, Highbury still has the memorial garden.

“I’m not naive. The flowers are probably gone by the next day, but it’s a ritual we have to ease the pain. It’s like a pilgrimage as we don’t have a cemetery to go to. The staff are usually very understandable. We call them before and they let us in to have our few moments in the garden.

“This time, we were told by a member of staff: ‘You can’t leave those there.’ She was very rude. My wife was incredibly distressed, in tears. It was totally out of order and we are still upset about it.”

The Gazette received no response from Vision Four, the Highbury developers, as we went to press yesterday (Wed).

But after we contacted the club, Mr Friar called Terry to apologise, promising: “It will never happen again.”

Terry and Daphne will be his guests at Saturday’s home game against Hull.


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