The Friday Fanzone Q&A – John Williamson who has watched Arsenal more than 3,500 times

Loyal Arsenal fan John Williamson with the FA Cup in 2015.

Loyal Arsenal fan John Williamson with the FA Cup in 2015. - Credit: Archant

Meet John Williamson, veteran of more than 3,500 Arsenal matches, he attends around 100 Gunners matches a season at all levels. The die-hard Gooner has just booked his pre-season trip to China and Australia this week. Read on for his Friday Fanzone Q&A...

Tell us a little about yourself.

I am 57 and work as a Business Services Manger in Local Government; I follow all aspects of the Club, watching more than 100 Arsenal matches per season.

How did you become an Arsenal fan?

I was born in South East London, but my Dad was from The Angel and therefore I was born a Gooner!

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Years supporting the club?

57 Years – match going for 48 years

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How many Arsenal games have you been to?

At the last count, it was more than 3,500 matches.

You’ve been to far flung places on pre-season tours – what’s been your best trip and why?

2013 was my best pre-season trip where we played in Indonesia, Vietnam and Japan. Vietnam was my favourite place I have visited, the culture, architecture, food and the fact that we were the first UK team to play there made it extra special – I am hoping Australia will eclipse that!

And worst pre-season trip?

Possibly the China leg of the 2011 Tour, the only reason was that we were in different Cities for each day there – Shanghai, Hangzhou, Yiwu and then Shanghai which made it very tiring and spoilt that part of the Tour!

Arsène Wenger. Discuss:

First 10 years, he was a revelation, he took us to a different level. Unfortunately now, all the top teams have caught up or bypassed us. I believe he should have been replaced around 2008/09. It was obvious – to me – that we were not progressing as we should have been. If he hadn’t have been so loyal to all his players and more ruthless, then maybe we could have gone on to bigger and better things. What I do not like is the hounding and abuse he is getting, also how it has divided the fans.

Do you think social media has made the game better or worse for fans?

Definitely worse, too many knee jerk reactions – myself included, too many keyboard warriors and everybody is an ‘expert’ and has an opinion.

It’s not all bad though. There is a lot of good information out there and it’s instant. Fans from all around the world can connect with local fans, I keep in contact with lots of Gooners I have met on my pre-season travels.

One thing you would change about the club?

The pricing structure for home matches – it is way too high.

What makes you proud to be a Gooner?

Our class, history and achievements.

Next statue outside would be?

Rocky Rocastle a true hero of the 80’s.

First game?

November, 1 1969 away to Crystal Palace, we won 5-1 but I do not remember much about the game!

Favourite game and why?

Anfield 1989. I along with most Arsenal fans, went there with little hope and we achieved the impossible. As much as the Premier League tires to simulate it every season it will never be beaten as a climax.

Worst game and why?

The 2000 UFEA Cup Final. The players attitude, the match, the atmosphere, the trouble in the City. Just about everything that could go wrong did, a vast contrast to our other Cup Final in Copenhagen.

Favourite player and why?

Dennis Bergkamp – more skill and vision that I have ever seen from any player and scored the most wonderful goals.

Worst player and why?

There has been plenty over the years especially in the mid 70’s. I’d go for Ray Hankin, an absolute carthorse of a player!

Pre-match routine?

Home games I go for a drink in The George pub in Eden Grove with a group of friends. For away matches it’s usually the train and then a ‘usual’ pub.

Best thing about Highbury?

The Archibald Leitch architecture, the marble halls, padded seats with arm rests, I could go on and on; everything oozed class.

Best thing about Emirates?

It’s a three minute walk from the pub I drink in! I cannot say I am fond of it, I feel let down by the promises made and the justification leaving Highbury, but unfortunately we cannot turn the clock back, it is now our home, we have to make the most of it.

Fourth place trophy or FA Cup – can’t say both

FA Cup everyday. I’d sooner have a trophy than not, in fact I’d sooner win the League Cup than 4th place.

Even though I have only missed one away match in Europe under Arsène Wenger, other than the income, I do wonder what the point of us entering in to something, the manager clearly does not want to try to win and it is making us a laughing stock.

Favourite win over Spurs

5-0 at the Lane in 1978 – I remember it like it was yesterday!

Prediction for the rest of the season

I honestly believe we will finish outside of the top 4 but hopefully win the FA Cup.

All time Arsenal XI that you’ve seen live

Jennings, Rice , Cole, Vieira, Campbell, Adams, Brady, Rocastle, Henry, Bergkamp, Pires

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