Interview with Dave Seager – writer, co-founder of gunnerstown.com, long time Arsenal fan and author of 3 books about people related to Arsenal.
As we have the time of the coronavirus pandemic, and yet there is nothing more important than health at the beginning, I would like to ask how are you and your family’s health?
All good thanks or as well as can be expected. In the process of trying to move to a new house, which is stressful
Dave, I know you’ve been supporting and going to Arsenal games since the early 1980s. Could you tell me, how it happened that you started to support Arsenal?
My family moved to London when 5 and it was the season Arsenal has just won the Double in 1971. I think it was my sister’s boyfriend who got me into Arsenal as my parents has zero interest in football. I went to me first two matches in 1976/77, taken by my brother and previously mentioned sister’s boyfriend. I was 10 and utterly hooked by then.
Sadly, I did not go to Highbury again until the early 80s as a teenager when parents trusted me to go on my own with school friends.
How do you remember the atmosphere at Highbury in those years because it was definitely completely different from today’s The Emirates?
It was indeed entirely different with an incredible atmosphere. I always stood in the North Bank, near the centre where the singing was the best. Of course, there was no pre-booking, so you had to turn up early to pay on the turnstile. This atmosphere built towards KO, at its best whilst the player s warmed up. Each player has their own little chant or song which we would sing until that individual acknowledged our efforts. The fact that we were all standing was the main reason and why the modern game lacks the atmosphere.
What was your first Arsenal game that you had the opportunity to be at?
September 1976 at home against Man City. It was early in the Terry Neil tenure and the team were finding their feet. Geordie Armstrong who I later was honoured to be the biographer for was our best player, despite being our oldest.
What can you tell us about your former 1 Nil Down 2 One Up project? I know you sold this site, but I would like to know why and what was the idea behind this project?
I used to read Arsenal blogs like most fans and then saw and in 2011 I saw an advert on one asking for new writers. I gave it a go and my stuff seemed to go down quite well. I thought to write in the same way I would chat about things in the pub after a match. In January 2012 I broke my leg and was stuck at home, so I struck out on my own.
1ND2OU was an old 80s Fanzine which was defunct. It was named for the famous 1-2 Semi win at Whit Hart Lane in 1987. Also, we came back from 1 down to win 2-1 in the final against Liverpool. It was my first live Wembley Final, so the blog name made sense.
Where did the idea for Gunners Town come from, what can we find there and how many people are involved in this project?
Gunners Town was a site that existed already although known as ‘Welcome to the Gunners Town. I bought it I 2013 with 2 partners, of whom is still with me, Paul Hepker @invinciblog, who like me used to bog about our team.
The vision then and still is to provide an uncensored platform for aspiring bloggers/writers who wish to find an outlet for their Arsenal reacted thoughts and idea. We take on new writers continuously and although many come and go, we are always proud to have given them a voice and perhaps a steppingstone to greater things. Some who have written for us are now full-time journalists
Gunners Town has existed for 7 years now. What can you say about future plans for this project?
We recently added a podcast with a good crew and in all honesty apar from that is more of the same. We are currently at a level of support and site visits each month at the highest kevel since 2015. We have a great current crop of writing talent mixed with a few old hands like me.
Dave, you’ve written 3 books about the people of Arsenal: „Geordie Armstrong on the Wing”, „Supporting Arsenal is a Funny Old Game” and „Arsene’s Double Double”. Could you please tell us how these books were made, and which one is closest to your heart and why?
All three projects were so different but the journey on Geordie was special as it was my first, a huge responsibility and of course I met so many heroes. It also introduced me to my publisher, who became a trusted friend. He in turn trusted me with two quirky ideas for book 2 and 3.
I know that the Armstrong family asked you to write a tribute book to the true legend of Arsenal, Geordie Armstrong, and that is how „Geordie Armstrong on the Wing” was born. Tell about your feelings at this time? For me, as a long-time Arsenal fan from Poland, this is something amazing and I can’t even imagine what you must have felt then.
Yes, a real privilege to be asked as I was a not to well-known amateur blogger in 2013. When Jill asked me and I went meet her and Geordie’s widow, I did suggest they might ask a professional, but they wanted the passion of a fan for the project. It took over a year interviewing, transcribing and writing in between the day job and family stuff but what a joy, and I am very proud of the style of book we produced.
As I’m 32, I didn’t have the chance to watch Armstrong play for Arsenal, but I would like to ask you what was he like and what was his opinion among Arsenal supporters?
I should say read the book here! He was a modern style box to box winger 40 year ahead of his time. He has two better feet than Santi and more accurate cross than Beckham. He was also universally loved by everyone who met him as a player and coach. He is described as the greatest English player never to play for England.
I’d like to ask you few questions about the current Arsenal now. What is your impression about Mikel Arteta’s work after the first few months as a head coach?
I absolutely love the guy and see nothing other than a bright future with him. He is a modern coach for the modern game, tactically astute, clear on what he wants and importantly able to communicate these ideas and plans. I sense his players over time will run through brick walls for him.
What do you think about Raul Sanllehi release?
It is for the good of the club, I am delighted and excited to see Edu and Arteta, both Arsenal men given full responsibility and backing. I could say more but I might risk slander.
Arsenal’s moves in the transfer market are making sense so far. We signed Willian, Gabriel is coming, Aubameyang is close to signing. What kind of transfers do you think we still need?
The key is the physical central midfielder. Partey or similar, to play with Xhaka and then a more creative central player who can link to the attack not just with passing like Ozil but who can beat a man as well. He may yet try Willian in that role actually.
Few days after our FA Cup victory you had an amazing visit to your home. Tell us who stood in front of you with the cup when you opened the door and what did you think then?
I was called by the club’s Events Team on the Monday asking if they could interview me about my alternative FA Cup Final experience. They said they were doing a circuit interviewing well- known (ridiculous I know) fans and could they come to the house. I agreed and booked them I for 9am on the Tuesday.
It turned out the interview was a white lie, so they could surprise me by turning up with the trophy. It was a complete surprise. I saw a fan pull up and a car and my friend Stuart Macfarlane, the Club Photographer got of the car. Next thing I know Rob Falconer from the Events team pulls he cup from the bac of the van. Amazing.
Finally, I want to ask if you are planning to write any book yet or maybe there is something already in the making, and we will be the first to find out about it? 🙂
To be honest I had planned a sequel to Double Double called From Double Double to Invincibubble. However, I lost my son tragically in 2019 so rather lost my mojo. It may return fully one day but not in the near future. I am just happy to be writing again for Gunners Town and a national paper once week for now.