Date: 10th January 2013 at 5:33pm
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Against a backdrop of fans railing against ludicrous ticket pricing, VMC’s Skoorb caught up with our pal Rocky at The Arsenal ahead of Sunday’s glittering, ermine and mink lined fixture…

1. Who is your favourite Arsenal player of all time and why?

‘That’s not as easy question as one might think. Even in just my lifetime we have had some quite amazing players. David Seaman, Tony Adams, Ray Parlour, Lee Dixon, Ian Wright, Patrick Vieira, Robert Pires, Dennis Bergkamp, Freddie Ljungberg etc etc, however, despite my claim that it wasn’t an easy question my answer is probably quite predictable, but trust me, it wasn’t an easy decision. Thierry Henry is quite simply the greatest player to ever grace the Premier League. He was a different class to any player I’ve ever seen. He’s provided Arsenal fans with some of the greatest moments in our history. Quite fittingly scoring a last day hat-trick in the final game at Highbury to deny Spurs a place in the Champions League is one of the more emotional times in his Arsenal career.’

2. What brought you to support Arsenal?

‘Being a Northern boy people tend to think that I’m a glory supporter, but it is in fact quite the opposite. I started getting into football as an 8 year old boy after watching the 1986 World Cup, but because literally nobody in my family actually likes football (and I mean no one, Dad, cousins, uncles, aunties, none of them, it’s quite surreal really) I had nobody to guide me in the direction of a team. I spent a couple of years flirting with Everton before deciding to become a Gooner bizarrely after watching them lose the League Cup final against Luton. I felt sorry for them and they became ‘my’ team. Had The Gunners won the game, which they really should have done, I could be a Luton fan right now. So I’m probably the only Arsenal fan in the world grateful for that cup final loss.’

3. If there was one player in Arsenal’s squad that you would want to keep above all others who would it be and why?

‘After giving you an obvious answer in the first question I’ll give you one you might not expect for this one. Wojciech Szczesny is the one player I would definitely keep. Season after season we seem to continually lose our best players and always wonder how we’re going to replace them, but we always do. Apart from goalkeepers, great keepers seem to be really hard to come by. But in Wojciech we have got a top goalkeeper who’s very young, a massive talent and a genuine Arsenal fan.’

4. Every team has a player that is an ‘unsung hero,’ a ‘water-carrier’ for the ‘artists’ if you like. They get through a lot of work but often don’t get the recognition they deserve. Who would be your pick for this ‘role’ in the Arsenal squad?

‘Our ‘water-carrier’ would have to be Mikel Arteta but he’s far from unsung, in fact his professionalism is very much appreciated by Arsenal fans. It’s our one redeeming quality that we do love a hard worker. Gilberto Silva and Ray Parlour are other Gooners without massive bags of talent but their hard work and diligence made them firm favourites.’

5. Football Manager time – If you could pick any three players from City’s squad who would you choose and why?

‘The first one on my list would be Sergio Augero. It’s no secret on the Vital Network that I’m not a fan of the way City have gained this selection of players, and it probably does cloud my judgement
of the way I look at your players somewhat, however I’m a big Augero fan. He’s a great player to watch and I’d love to see him in an Arsenal shirt.

‘Second would be Vincent Kompany. This is a strange one because I actually rate our top three centre-backs, however, Kompany is top class, a real leader, something our other central defenders could really learn from.

‘Last and definitely least would be Samir Nasri just so I could dump his stupid ugly face in the reserves…on the bench…Childish? Yes. Petty? Yes. But I don’t care. This guy is one of the most arrogant footballers in the world, and if we’re being honest, not even that good, and thick as too short planks. He needs putting in his place. I’m sure it won’t be long before you City fans come around to our way of thinking (if you haven’t already?). I got to say ‘I told you so’ regarding Emmanuel Adebayor, and I’m certain I’ll be saying it again with Nasri.’

6. The Time Machine – If there was one thing which you could go back in time and change from Arsenal’s past what would it be and why would you make that change?

‘I would rewind back to Wednesday 14th April 1999 and to Villa Park. It’s the replay of the FA Cup semi-final against Man Utd. We’re deep into injury time and Phil Neville brings down Ray Parlour for a last minute penalty and the chance for Dennis Bergkamp to send Arsenal to the FA Cup Final. However, instead of shooting to the right, this time he’s going to smash it straight down the f***king middle. Not only would this ensure we don’t see the hideous sight of Giggs’s ape-like chest later in the game but we get a chance at retaining our FA Cup and we, I am convinced, would also go on to retain the League title too. We lost the league by 1 point that season and I’m positive we’d have got that point we needed vs Leeds. All complete conjecture obviously, but that’s the way the mind of a football fan works.’

7. The topic of ticket prices has been highlighted this week by the extremely unusual sight of City returning some of their allocation for the match on Sunday. This is a disappointment as it is bound to affect the atmosphere which having more away fans helps to generate. I know we like to have them at The Etihad and it is a shame when the full allocation isn’t taken up. So the natural question which arises is…What are your views on football ticket pricing in general and what do you think is a reasonable amount to pay to see Arsenal play away from The Emirates?

‘It’s completely discouraging to see these massive prices at football and I think you’ll find that most fans have shed their colours on this matter and are all completely behind the City fans making this stand. I saw a couple of people trying to shift some upper tier face value tickets for Sunday’s game on Twitter the other day and they had to remind people that the £126 price tag was serious. I personally stopped attending regular Arsenal matches about four years ago when I deemed it too expensive. Now it’s a treat reserved for once or twice per season.

‘My little boy has recently got into football and I took him to his first game against Bradford City (what a game to choose eh?). It was absolutely freezing and he wasn’t feeling well (and we got embarrassed by a League 2 side) so he didn’t really enjoy it as much as he should, but he wants to go again (when it’s warmer, he insisted) to a home game this time. It’s going to cost me in the region of £150 to £250 for tickets on travel for the day…on what planet is that good value? Of course my location adds to the cost and that is indeed my own fault, but still.

‘I would prefer to take him to a big game with a big atmosphere for his first time at The Grove, but considering our ‘Category’ pricing policy that just won’t happen. I can pay £26 for a game against West Brom or £62 for a match against Tottenham. The disparity is ridiculous. Arsenal argue that the price over the entire season is the same as it was last year, but that doesn’t help fans who go every now and again or away fans who have to pay these massive prices. Of course it helps put bums on seats for the so called lesser games, which is great, but there has to be a better way to do it.’

8. Which player do you think will score the first goal on Sunday and what is your prediction for the final score?

‘I’m actually quietly confident about this game for a change. I think we’ll nick it 1-0 and that Santi Cazorla will get that goal.’

Very many thanks and respect going out to Rocky and the Vital Arsenal team.


all times East Manchester

Su 13Jan 16h00 Arsenal, The Emirates, PL
Sa 19Jan 15h00 Fulham, The Etihad, PL
Sa/Su 26/27Jan Crystal Palace or Stoke City, A, FAC4
Tu 29Jan 19h45 QPR, Loftus Road, PL
Su 03Feb 16h00 Liverpool, The Etihad, PL
Sa 09Feb 17h30 Southampton, St Mary’s, PL