Henry Norris is the ancient football correspondent of the Bugle newspaper and an ardent Arsenal supporter to boot. He has had somewhat of a sabbatical but he is back in business. Each week he’ll bring you his forthright views on all things AFC…please be advised, it is not for the faint-hearted! And, yes, he DOES hit the bottle early…
First, allow me to seek your forgiveness for my paucity of contributions over the past few years. One’s better half came into a few quid (from a second cousin removed who pegged it) and took it upon herself to travel the seas of The World (the planet’s biggest cruise ship, bloody thing is simply gargantuan) and I, dutifully, followed.
We are back in Blighty now though, and I have taken up residence at the Ritz, a home-from-home for me over the years and certainly when I am in town to watch the Royal Arsenal. And so it was with great delight that I joined my old chums Sir Chips Keswick, Ken Friar and a heavily disguised Prince Phillip at Wembley to watch the glorious Gunners swat those pesky west Londoners known as Chelsea (do you know they are new-money upstarts? Only founded in 1905, what absolute horrors).
The fantastical and indelible scenes that greeted the players who wore our cannon on the day of our rightful success reminded me of my favourite of our 236 FA Cup final victories (FA stands for ‘For Arsenal’, if you didn’t know); that being the encounter and subsequent triumph over Sheffield United in the year of 1936.
It wasn’t a particularly hard task to overcome the Blades (that is their nickname…how many of you know that it was formerly that of their city rivals, Sheffield Wednesday?) but the win, made entirely possible by my old pal Ted Drake, was met with uproarious glee from the mass of Arsenal followers in Wembley; alas, no United chaps were allowed to come to London for the game by order of the Prime Minister of the day Stanley Baldwin (himself a fully-paid up member of the AFC supporters club, Elite Branch) – it was all something about the Yorkshire tykes having mining to do, steel to forge and whippets to walk.
Flagons of fizz were the order of the day and we sank plenty at the after-party at the Dorchester Hotel, hosted by the great man Herb Chapman, naturally. I proceeded to overindulge on a bloody humongous scale and found myself in a three-way with our full-back Edris Hapgood and a young filly named Constance Perrywinkle, who agreed to join us on the condition that Edris sign his jock-strap for her. What japes!
After some shamefully unsatisfactory rutting with Connie we took to enjoying the opium that Edris had acquired from Cliff Bastin and before I knew it dawn had broken and the morning’s News of the World, proclaiming our victory with the headline, ‘Dashing Drake Lands Cup For Arsenal’, was delivered. Ahh, memories.
But what of the celebrations this time around, I hear you ask. Well, it was all tediously low-key, I have to report, given that the dastardly, hideously-moustachioed American cad, Jimmy Kroenke (he owns Arsenal, apparently) was our host. That said, I did enjoy a head-spinning toke on a sizeable blunt with some chaps calling themselves something along the lines of “Arsenal bredrin innit”, who assured me I was “fam, bruv” – my Latin doesn’t stretch to deciphering this tag, sadly. Anyway, thoroughly pleasant they were, too.
That’s all for now, my friends. Next time I shall bring you up to speed on Monsieur Wenger’s summer signings as well as a lovely anecdote concerning Ivan Stepanovs, a litre of gin and newsreader Moira Stuart. Pip pip, old beans.’