Gooner of the Month: Paul Anderson
Starting this month and every month, here after, we will try and provide an interview with one of our fellow Gooners from Orange County. Since we’re more than just supporters, we share a passion and a history of the club that we would like to highlight once a month that really speaks to who we are being a Gooner week in, and week out.
This month we present our very own ex-Pat historian and quasi-drunken Uncle for the group, Paul Anderson.
What is your name?
Paul Anderson, AKA PJ AKA OldBaldGooner
Where are you from?
I come from Stanford-le-Hope, a small town in Essex in England. We have a 1100 year old church and 8 pubs all with a mile of each other.
What got you interested in football?
Coming from England you don’t really have a choice. The whole country revolves around football. The newspapers and TV devote ridiculous amounts of column space and time to discussing and dissecting the weekend’s events. Every Monday/Thursday you find yourself doing the same with co-workers, the bloke in the newsagents, the bus driver, the ticket collector on the tube…. In fact sometimes it feels like the WHOLE country is talking about footy.
Growing up did you play football?
When I was a kid England we were one of the powerhouses of world football. I remember watching the 1970 world cup as a 6 year old and seeing the likes of Moore, Beckenbaur and Pele playing. In those days (wait for it) there was no such thing as the internet so we spent most of our spare time playing outside in the street or the park. We’d throw down our jumpers for goalposts and play 20 a side sometimes for 2 or 3 hours non-stop. When I started Junior school I played full-back for a year or two, then I got into rugby. I didn’t play competitively again until I was around 30 when I got talked into playing for a Sunday league team. Sunday league footy is a lot of fun but it can also be a bit brutal too. I had a bit of a shock, playing with a bunch of 18 year old kids was hard work. Our goalkeeper used to smoke in goal. The center forward liked to head-butt people. The coach was a raging alcoholic. Ahh I miss those days!
At what age did you start playing FIFA?
I plead the fifth on this.
Did you play or watch sports other than football growing up?
Oh yeah I played all sorts. Rugby and football were my two main ones. I only got into rugby because I was tall for 11. My sports teacher who was a mad Italian Welsh man pulled me aside in PE one day and said “we’re having a trial for the rugby team tonight. be there” I told him I didn’t play rugby and he said “You do now” and slapped me around the ear. LOL There was no room for debate in those days. I turned up for the trial and actually did quite well. I also threw the javelin and ran 400m for the school athletics team too. Some sports I hated though, especially cricket. I always got hit with the bloody ball. I guess I was too slow to get out of the way.
At what age did you start watching Arsenal?
To be honest, I was a big Leicester City fan when I was about 10. Keith Weller and Frank Worthington were my two favorite players. My mum wrote to Frank McLintock (who was the Leicester manager in those days) and asked him where she could get a replica shirt (very rare in those days) and he wrote back and gave her the suppliers address. That kit was my favorite Xmas present that year. Anyway, back to Arsenal – one day my dad (a spurs fan) decided to take my brother and me to see the Totts. Dad hadn’t been since the 60′s and thought football was still watched by men in flat caps who would pass the children down to the front to watch the game in safety. Little did he know, White Hart Lane was like a war zone that day and that, was that. A few weeks later my older brother started going to Arsenal and I followed him. My first live game was a 5-1 thrashing of QPR at Highbury in 1978.
What about Arsenal caught your attention?
I remember walking up the North Bank steps at that first game and standing looking down onto the pitch. It just completely mesmerized me. The NB was a wonderful place that full of characters and full of noise. As a 14 year old, I’d never experienced anything so exciting. The whole “tribal” experience was like a drug. At times it almost felt like you lived there. After most games we’d literally be told to leave by the stewards. It wasn’t until a year or two later that I learnt about the class and tradition long associated with the club. I’ve always been proud of that part of being an Arsenal supporter. Nobody can come close to Arsenal when it comes to doing things “The Arsenal Way”.
Who is your all-time favorite Arsenal Player? What about this player stands out for you?
Liam Brady will always be my favorite. He was a joy to watch. He was this little skinny Irish kid who could shimmy and beat people for fun. He’d nutmeg players and then go back and nutmeg them again. He wasn’t scared to get stuck in either. He scored some amazing goals but my favorite memory of him was that goal at Tottenham in 1978. You know the one – the “look at that, ohh look at that” one. LOL
Who is your favorite current Arsenal player and why?
It’s got be Olivier Giroud right now. The guy is playing out of his skin. His all-round game is amazing. Not only is he scoring goals but he’s defending at set pieces too. Did RVP ever do that? Is the pope a catholic? Giroud – I’d kiss you if I was a girl.
Are you superstitious? Do you have any pre-match rituals?
None really, I once tried not shaving once when we went on a winning streak. It wasn’t pretty. I think that was the only time I was glad we lost.
How did you first find out about the OC Gooners? When was your first time to The Olde Ship?
Can’t remember really… It’s all a drunken blur. Glad I did though. Great bunch of people. My second family.
What were your expectations the first time watching a match with the group? Did you feel welcome?
Totally! I wasn’t sure what to expect really but I was pleasantly surprised to find people with the same level of hate for Tottenham as me. That was comforting. Joking aside, I’ve always felt we are the closest set of fans at the ship. I’d like to see us do more as a group away from the pub, BBQs, parties, etc. It would be great to do something for Christmas/New Year together….
Did you feel the emotions and begin to chant?
I think you already know the answer to that one don’t you? What do you enjoy the most about the group? Like I said earlier, I think the closeness of the group is amazing. We’re like a big extended family. I guess I play the role of the drunken uncle quite well… hic
What is your favorite OC Gooner moment/memory?
The Gooner on the Road visit. One of the ex-pats who showed up said it felt like he was back on the Clockend. It was an amazing feeling to be part of such a gathering. Let’s hope the Vegas trip in February is as good.
Do you have a favorite activity outside of the pub that you enjoy with individual OC Gooners or the entire group?
“Individual OC Gooners”? LOL Now that’s a bit of a cheeky question isn’t it?
You can follow Paul on Twitter @oldbaldgooner