We caught up with Arsenal fan and football writer Tim Stillman to talk about; saving up pocket money to buy his favourite Arsenal shirt, memories of the ‘Invincibles’ and a perfect send off for Dennis Bergkamp.
What was your first ever football shirt?
My first ever football shirt was Arsenal’s 1990-1992 home kit, the famous “splodges” design. My mum bought it for me in a sports shop in Beckenham, Southeast London. I’ve moved back into the area recently and the shop is still there too. It was a bit of an iconic moment really, it was the summer of 1990 and I’d just started to contract the football bug.
Like lots of kids, I “flirted” with some teams before I made my choice. A lot of my family are Spurs fans and they had Gascoigne and Lineker and I admit that I was tempted. Palace were my local team and they had that excellent Wright-Bright strike partnership and had just gotten to the cup final, so I ‘experimented’ with them too. But Arsenal had Rocastle and Merson and had just signed Limpar and I was a winger, so I went with them. The moment I chose that kit with my mum felt very significant. I realised at that point that I was properly committing to being an Arsenal fan.
Within about 18 months, Gascoigne had gone to Italy, Lineker was going to Japan and Wright signed for Arsenal anyway, who won the league the season after I made my choice. It felt like a good one!
What is your favourite football shirt?
This is such a difficult question because I’m a collector of retro shirts.
In terms of home shirts, I love the Arsenal 1992-94 home shirt. I became a season ticket holder in 1992 when that was our shirt and we went on to win three cups wearing it. The 1993-94 away one has great memories too, I remember saving up my pocket money to buy it.
The best ones I currently own though, would have to be my 2002-2004 Arsenal home shirt. Again so many great memories of that shirt and I also have 19 GILBERTO on the back of it with the gold champions badges. Gilberto played for my wife’s team, Atlético Mineiro too, so he’s an idol in my house.
I also have a long sleeved 1932 FA Cup Final shirt which I adore. It’s like a rugby shirt and has that really old, distinctive design.
What is your favourite goal?
Leaving aside the obvious cup final winners / league title clinchers, my favourite goal was Bergkamp’s final goal for Arsenal against West Brom at Highbury.
It was just perfect, the fans had voted for it to be themed as “Dennis Bergkamp” day and the man himself came off the bench with a trademark effort.
Dennis was the reason that my sister chose to be an Arsenal fan, he’s bigger than Arsenal as far as she is concerned and she was sat next to me in the Clock End that day. He scored at our end too so we had a perfect view. It was the last time she came to Highbury with me before we moved to the Emirates and it was the perfect ending in that respect.
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