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All Guns Blazing: Let’s remember the loyal Gooners we have lost

PUBLISHED: 11:49 18 December 2015

Arsenal flags being waved by supporters during the FA Community Shield at Wembley Stadium, London. Picture: PA/Nigel French

Arsenal flags being waved by supporters during the FA Community Shield at Wembley Stadium, London. Picture: PA/Nigel French

PA Wire/Press Association Images

In our weekly Arsenal fan column, Layth Yousif pays tribute to two passionate Gunners, Ernie Crouch and Dawn John.

You can’t argue that December hasn’t been a good month on the pitch.

We eased past Sunderland, saw an outstanding Olivier Giroud performance in Greece, and revelled in a solid performance at Aston Villa to set up a mouth-watering Monday night against Manchester City as memories return of previous ties.

Who recalls dismantling a poor City team 5-0 in October 2000, made even more memorable for seeing Joe Royle address the media afterwards while clutching a can of cider?

Or Mikel Arteta’s late 2012 winner that looked to have derailed their title bid – only for Sergio Aguero to achieve the second most exciting climax to a league season after Anfield ‘89.

But whatever Monday’s result, we will all be there – apart from two people. For all the talk of victories in December, Arsenal also suffered two dreadful losses.

Ernie Crouch died before the Sunderland game.

Ernie, 91, who’d been attending Gunners games since the 1930s, was known to many. Because of his longevity, but also as he was a humble man whose loyalty was inspiring – prompting Arsenal Supporters Club to leave his usual seat on the bus empty when it went to Villa as a mark of respect.

I’m lucky to be pals with his granddaughter, Hannah Crouch, who told me: “It was the spirit and atmosphere at Arsenal he was most passionate about.”

Dawn John was a Stoke Newington girl who became a Gooner after Alan Sunderland’s late 1979 winner against Manchester United.

Dawn was a friend of mine, as she was to many who loved her enthusiasm, her warm smile – and like Ernie – complete devotion to our team.

We had a beer after a game last month, talking Arsenal. It was fun and sentimental – but never too serious – as we knew there was always next week.

But that was the last time I spoke to Dawn. For the cancer she didn’t know she had killed her the day after the Sunderland game.

And as I fight back the tears in writing this, I’d say this to our beloved red and white heroes: use our famed Arsenal spirit to win against City and honour Ernie and Dawn – two fallen Gooners, united in their loyalty and devotion to our wonderful club. Whose cherished memory will never be forgotten as long as the Arsenal exists.

Follow Layth @laythy29


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