Dave Seager* is the man behind the popular Arsenal fan site Gunners Town, a column for Shoot and a biography of the Hebburn-born Highbury hero, Geordie Armstrong, a star of the 1971 double-winning team. He kindly agreed to sit in the Who are You? chair and tells us we deserve so much better than we’ve had to put up with over the years. Mind, he thinks the same about Arsenal and feels it’s high time Wenger stepped aside gracefully (Monsieur Salut, of course, remains firmly in the Arsène fan club – if only we’d had to endure his brand of failure) …
Salut! Sunderland: We tend to expect opposing fans to be licking their lips when they see we’re next on the fixtures list. Is that how you approach our visit to the Emirates?
Dave Seager: I am not sure after the last few weeks and with the mounting injury list we can take any game for granted but yes I am confident of a return to winning ways.
Give or take the odd (WBA away) or humiliating (Bayern) reverse, it’s been a good season for Arsenal. what is Arsène getting right and what’s still needed?
I am not sure that he has particularly got anything right this season but it is more a continuation of a winning formula found in adversity last season. I was personally unconvinced by the decision to keep Ramsey on the right but his absence of late has highlighted how much work he does in support of the two central midfielders whilst still contributing in attack.
If not dealt with in the last reply, are you in the Wenger admiration society, by which I mean wanting him to continue, not just appreciating his enormous past contributions?
I have been indifferent for a few years now but have never been in the camp that wants him sacked. I am more in the camp that hopes he will step aside gracefully. Of course I admire what he has achieved though, both on the pitch and in his role in the stadium move, design of Colney etc.
All those FA cup wins are commendable but these days the Premier and CL titles seem to mean more – is the club equipped in every sense to challenge once again for both or do you still lack enough of what Arsène once called man city’s “financial doping”?
I love the FA cup and ignore any who devalue it. Wembley days out are what being a fan is all about and for supporters of a certain age recalling when it was the only live game, it will always be one of the Big 3. I value the league above the CL and Arsenal certainly have the squad and clout to win it. Sadly the squad is never fit and the clout is not fully utilised!
Guess the Arsenal v SAFC score and you could win a life-changing, er, mug in the colours of your team: https://safc.blog/2015/12/arsenal-v-sunderland-guess-the-score-dare-to-believe/
Injuries have been mounting. How sorely have you missed the likes of Walcott, Oxlade-chamberlain, Sunderland-honed Welbeck and Wilshere?
Earlier in the campaign we were strong enough without Jack, Danny and Rosicky as none would have been starters. Of course they would have been valuable assets from the bench. Now, however, we are down to the bare bones and in dire need and it would be good to have Welbeck and Wilshere ready to step in. Our results between now and January with a severely depleted squad will determine our season sadly
Speaking of Sunderland – well, I was – a mighty defensive display at your place kept us up last season but have you been surprised at our perpetual struggles or seen it as pretty much inevitable?
When I look at the Sunderland squad and the additions made I thought you would have a better season. Without wishing to bracket you with your Toon rivals, when I see the two sets of players both should be doing better so it has to come down to tactics of management. Under Big Sam you were always going to be fine.
Any thoughts on the club, the fans, the city, the region?
The fans turn up week in week out and deserve so much better than they have had. The North East is a hotbed of football and I hope you have better fortunes. At least you guys don’t continually bleat on about being a big club and how you deserve better like friends across the Tyne.
Back to Arsenal. Who is the greatest player you have seen, or would dearly like to have seen, in Arsenal colours and and who should have been allowed nowhere near them?
I am fortunate to have seen some of the finest players that have graced our shores (not Geordie Shores!) I fell in love with Liam Brady as a boy and transferred my affection to Charlie Nicholas then Rocky but as you get older you don’t single out players as much but Adams, Merson, Henry, Bergkamp, Vieira and Pires are obvious favourites.
Your own highs and lows following your team?
So many highs but if I stick with the games I was actually at – my first final at Wembley was the Littlewoods Cup, ’87, our first trophy for eight years and start of George Graham era. I was not at Anfield ’89 but that is a high obviously. The last against Leicester to go unbeaten was special along with the last game at Highbury. The latter of course was a high just to be there but a low as we were leaving our spiritual home.
I found myself crying shamelessly as we won the FA Cup in 2014 v Hull after nine years of waiting so that was a a memorable day. The losses v Luton in ’98 and Birmingham in 2011 the ultimate lows [what about the 1973 semi – Ed?]. Funnily enough a personal favourite and a recent memory was the QF win at Old Trafford.
One prominent Arsenal supporter, Tom Watt, told us when he was in this hot seat (https://safc.blog/2011/03/arsenal-v-safc-tom-watt-wenger-and-of-gooner/) that he loathed the word Gooner (though he also dislikes being called a “fan”). Is that just a foible of his or do other, er, Gooners share his distaste?
When I started blogging I was told to go on Twitter so I called myself daveseager66, my son said that is not very Arsenal and suggested i change it to goonerdave66. I duly did and that is what I became known as but to this day I have no idea why I did not go for gunnerdave66 as I do indeed prefer Gunner to Gooner.
And do you miss Highbury?
Yes of course I do. So many incredible memories – Highbury highs under North London skies.
The big question for you: this season’s top four in order?
City, Arsenal, Liverpool, United
And the bottom three?
Villa, Norwich and Toon.
Diving is alive and well. I’d almost forgotten we once called this the “Eduardo Question”, so many others having eclipsed his theatrics, but is it now so prevalent we should all pipe down and accept cheating as part of the game? if not, what do we do?
The only solution is to change the rule on an incident not being punishable if the referee has deemed to have seen it and dealt with it on the day. A panel with harsh retrospective bans would soon sorted it.
One step the authorities should take to improve the matchday experience of ordinary supporters?
A return of safe standing areas for sure.
Will you be at the match and what will be the score?
Yes I will be there and I would say 2-0 to the Gunners.
* Dave Seager on himself: I am a 49- (undefeated) year-old Gunner who has supported the team since the early 70s. My first visit to Highbury was in ’76/77 but not having a football loving family I was not a regular match-goer until I was a teenager and allowed to go on my own in 81/82.
I began sending in guest articles to an Arsenal site in the summer of 2011 and was soon encouraged by friends and readers to go it alone. Breaking my leg in February gave me the time at home to set up www.1nildown2oneup.net which I wrote regularly on for two years and it is still my personal blog. In 2013 with a partner I bought www.gunnerstown.com and converted it into a platform for new Arsenal bloggers and this has gone from strength to strength.
In November 2013 I was fortunate enough to be asked by Jill Armstrong, daughter of Arsenal’s George Armstrong to attempt a tribute book about ‘Geordie’. This was a great honour and I hope I did him justice – the book was published in October 2014 (http://www.legendspublishing.net/product/geordie-armstrong-on-the-wing/) it was a wonderful journey and I met so many of my heroes along the way.
I may attempt another book in the near future but at present the day job, running Gunners Town takes up most of my time although I do have a bi-weekly Arsenal column for Shoot as well. (http://www.shoot.co.uk/category/blogs/premier-league-blogs/arsenal-blogs/).
Interview: Colin Randall