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Many of you will follow @mj_afc on twitter and some will have shared beer with him. Most will have marveled at how he is an Arsenal season ticket holder and away supporter whilst living in the North East. We have all taken our hats off to him for his commitment and admired the quality of his insight and his writing on Angel2Islington and on my sister site Gunners Town.
However virtually all of us will have been unaware that behind the scenes he is working, studying for a law degree and at the same time as bringing up 2 young children, with his wife Rachel, the youngest of whom, Nate is severely disabled with a very rare hereditary condition called Atr-x syndrome.
I will allow Michael to tell the story from but he running the Great North Run to raise money for taking care of Nate and the details ate at the end of the blog. 
Thanks Dave
Nate was born via emergency c-section on 26th July 2010. Neither I nor my wife were expecting any surprises, and for the first few hrs of his life things seemed fairly routine. Then Nate was admitted to special care and within hours we were told that Nate may have a serious life limiting genetic condition.
I had left my wife and son in hospital for a couple of hours as we had promised our daughter that her brother would have presents for her. I shot to a nearby Toys R Us to get her some presents (mainly so she didn’t feel left out). During this time I was told that Nate had gone to special care, but it didn’t seem to be anything to worry about as they were just looking at his tone (Initially I thought this was his colour but they actually meant muscle strength).
Upon my return we were informed that the on-duty doctor needed to see us and we were shepherded onto a ward that had no patients and I started to realise all was not well. The news was broken to us, Nate was ill and they didn’t like his chances. Nate had presented three unusual characteristics; his ears were rotated more than expected, his eyes were too far apart and he couldn’t full extend his fingers, has wasn’t making any effort to do anything. Things were bad, very bad. They felt he had a serious genetic condition but the earliest we could see a geneticist was Tuesday (it was currently Saturday).
Meanwhile as the doctor was opening up to us ”had we noticed all of his unusual features?”, out of the corner of my eye I could see my parents making their way to see us, gifts and balloons in hand. Still to this day it breaks my heart to think that this moment of celebration was actually becoming more of a nightmare by the second.  He didn’t cry/scream, he didn’t feed, in fact he didn’t do anything.

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The Strange interlinked story of Arsenal, Johan Cruyff, Luis Suarez, Alexis Sanchez and Geordie Armstrong

Cruyff and Rice at Highbury in Geordie's Testimonial
Cruyff and Rice at Highbury in Geordie’s Testimonial

On the day Luis Suarez arrives in Spain to finalise his move to Barcelona this is quirky short blog today, which whilst not directly Arsenal related I hope you might find interesting. During the research for my book on Arsenal legend Geordie Armstrong I uncovered a little known or perhaps a forgotten fact when writing a chapter on his ‘Testimonial Year’ in 1974. In 1973/74 in a very unusual set of circumstances Arsenal played Barcelona twice in a season in friendlies. One match at the Camp Nou on the 16th October 1973 and one at Highbury on the 13th March 1974, which was Armstrong’s testimonial.  It took me some time to uncover the reasons behind this unprecedented 2 match agreement between the giants of North London and the Catalonians. Can you think of any other occasion in our history where we have played the same side, let along such an illustrious one in a single friendly during a competitive season let along two? I hope you are intrigued, as I was and keen to find out how this came about? There is more detail in the book but I wanted to write about it now because strangely what has happened at this World Cup with Luis Suarez and the biting incident, which 167 people expected and cashed in on, may just lead to a fascinating parallel between Barcelona in 2014 with Barcelona of 1973. That is of course if as seems certain the Uruguayan is signing for the Catalans as reported. It is the length of the Suarez ban and when he can play for his new club that provides the unique parallel. Continue reading

Inspired by Bergkamp and Gunning for Arsenal from Beirut

AFC Lebanon


Today the Global Gooner Passion series takes us from Nigeria, Africa to The Lebanon.  I am delighted to welcome Daniel Baz, a 24 year old Arsenal fan from .Beirut Daniel was born in Orlando, Florida but grew up and now resides in the once war torn city of .Beirut He has a degree in Business Marketing and is currently studying for a FIFA Sports Management Certificate. You can follow Daniel on twitter @Dani14Baz and here he is…………….. Continue reading

New Kit, New Dawn, New Players, New Formations?

Newly Arrived Sanchez in Puma!
Newly Arrived Sanchez in Puma!

Last week on the 1st July Arsenal’s long association with Nike ended and new era begun with a new kit manufacturer in Puma. Last night we witnessed a new kit launch exactly a year and a day since the last away kit was unveiled with the assistance of our ‘British Core’ on the side of the Emirates. Last year the new return to the old with the traditional yellow and blue heralded a return to trophy success. Just as being in keeping with the club’s tradition in 2013/14 brought with it the FA Cup there is now serious hope that the new kit deal and the lucrative financial clout that comes with it can prove a further stepping stone on the path back to where the supporters, staff and players alike want ‘The Arsenal’ to be. I am delighted what I have seen that the club and PUMA appear to have recognised the importance to the fans of our traditional colours and the design holds true to the red with white sleeves. The temptation to move away to make a statement has been resisted and I for one am content to see it. I see Southampton FC are reverting to red and white stripes for 2014/15. I am all for tradition and pleased to see that, although it is a shame they will not have any of their old players to play in the new ‘old’ colours! So as Arsenal look forward now to a pre-season culminating in the Community Shield with their new yet retro kit and we perhaps look forward to something else returning that was a firm Arsenal tradition? I am of course referring to my broken record theme of 442 or at least that of having 2 strikers. However don’t worry because despite seeing a second striker being thrown on twice to win at Wembley I do not envisage a reversion from Wenger to the old ways entirely. Although for me the key to the old 442 or 4132 was the holding midfielder whether he be Peter Storey, Manu Petit of Gilberto. Continue reading

Boy are they still Crazy Passionate Gooners in Nigeria

Nigerian Gunners en masse
Nigerian Gunners en masse
I wrote a blog in January 2012 when anticipating and Arsenal tour to Nigeria exploring the passionate nature of our support in Nigeria. Sadly the tour was cancelled due to the political situation which was a crying shame as Nigerian Gunners are as passionate as they come.This is what I wrote back then:
All my research tells me that Arsenal  are the best supported club in Nigeria and one Nigerian based Gooner, has suggested this fan base could be as high as a staggering 30 million, 22% of the population. I was astounded to find that Nigeria is the 8th most populated country in the world. So let me give you some context here for our fan base and therefore I guess our market – The combined total population of Sweden, Norway and Denmark is about 50% of the number of Gooners in Nigeria!
About time then that 1ND2OU revisited Nigeria in the third year of Global Gooner Passion starting with Okunola Oluwatobiloba, particularly as 10% of all my followers are from Nigeria which gives us all an indication of the huge support.

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