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Ode to the Guv’

Written originally for publication in “The Gooner“, issue 282, February 2020.

Goonerholic remembered

Through the joy and excitement of a family Christmas, my celebrations were significantly tempered by the news which came through on Christmas Day of the death of Dave Faber, a man known as ‘Goonerholic’ to countless Arsenal fans all over the world. Such was his fame throughout the Goonerverse that Arsenal included an obituary in the programme for the Chelsea game.

Dave had run the Goonerholic blog since 2006, was a regular podcaster on ‘A Bergkamp Wonderland’ and he was featured in a special interview in the Gooner a few years ago. He had suffered increasing ill-health over the last few months and his last blog covered the Palace game back in October when the infamous ‘Xhakagate’ incident caused him much perplexity and distress.

Dave was born in Whittington Hospital in North London in 1957. He, like so many of us, was thankfully born into a strongly Arsenal-supporting family and his first visit to his beloved Highbury came in 1963 to see a Fairs Cup game against Royal Liege, a game we recalled together in our last conversation online on the evening of our home game with Standard Liege a few weeks ago. That visit etched itself on his heart and he became a committed and passionate Arsenal fan, enduring the privations of the sixties which he described so well in his piece in ‘And Paddy got up’, the Arseblog commemoration which ‘Blogs’ reproduced in tribute to Dave in his Boxing Day eulogy. Dave enjoyed many wonderful times later in his supporting life but was desperately sad that we couldn’t hold on in Paris in 2006 to clinch ‘the cup with the big ears’. He was not alone!

It is one of the sadnesses of my Arsenal – supporting life that I did not get to know Dave better in person. He was an immensely warm, kind and generous man who embodied so much of what is good about supporting our club. In recent seasons after some demoralising performances he was able to craft sane and balanced perspectives within minutes of the game ending. He might have been considered a trifle benign by some modern supporters as he did not rush to suggest wholesale change and savage criticism but he wasn’t one to produce clickbait headlines, especially if it might lead to a negative perception of the club he loved.

In preparation for this piece I asked some of his friends for stories which illustrate his character. I was besieged with stories including how he provided a special link for the club with Israeli supporters and how when an American reader of the blog visited London he took a day off to come up from Swindon specially to show him around the club, his favourite hostelries and of course, Piebury Corner!

Perhaps one story illustrates the character of the man better than others. At the Cup Final against Hull Dave got the opportunity to sit with two great mates in the Executive Club at Wembley. A fine lunch was taken and then he suffered through that horrendous start where we trailed 2-0 and were trailing 2-1 at half-time. Five minutes into the second half his phone rang and after a serious conversation he informed his colleagues that he had to leave because ‘a mate was in trouble’. Knowing how much he loved the club that would have been a horrendous sacrifice but it illustrated what a true and staunch friend he was and how much people mattered to him.

The loss of his incomparable regular blogs is a huge sadness and many of us (from all over the world) who so valued the community which he built, intend to continue the forum he built and to showcase the quality of his writing for the benefit of future generations and for those who just like to read great insights and commentary about Arsenal.

Much more than this so many people have lost a fellow Gooner, mentor and special friend. A man who for so many, embodied so much of what is good about supporting our club and who had the gift of expressing that in such a special and enjoyable way. A man whose own warm and generous nature engendered respect and love not only in those who met him in person but also in those who only knew him from the Goonerholic blog, his Tweets about Arsenal, cricket and music and his wit and wisdom as a guest on the Arsecast and Bergkamp Wonderland podcast.

Dave, you are hugely missed. Rest in Peace, mate.

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