Today is 31st March and, as ever on this date, this blog takes the time to remember David Rocastle.
This time 17 years ago Arsenal were in the process of beating Tottenham. It was the day when Robert Pires’ Arsenal career began to take off with a sublime solo effort to put us ahead in front of the North Bank. However the day is more remembered for the fact that David Rocastle had died earlier that morning. The Arsenal XI contained a number of Rocky’s ex-teammates. The Tottenham fans had helped to observe a perfect minutes silence before the game in memory of a true Arsenal great.
I wasn’t there that day. I was having to miss the derby because of work as it was the only way I could get a shift swap that enabled me to get to Old Trafford the following weekend for the FA Cup semi-final against the same opponents. I remember well how I find out that Rocky had died when an Arsenal supporting colleague came in to the office and asked if I’d heard the news. I had my transistor radio with me so I’d be able to listen to the game but it wasn’t on at that time of the morning. I turned it on and the news was being confirmed on Radio 5 with a series of testimonials being given by assorted ex-players including a very tearful Ian Wright.
I had to take myself away for a moment or two as I couldn’t hold back the emotions. David Rocastle had been an absolute hero in my childhood. He scored that goal that gave us the chance to bring back success with his winner at White Hart Lane in 1987. I was coming up to my 22nd birthday and Rocky was the first one of my Arsenal idols to die. I’d cried when George Graham sold him when I was 13 and if I can forgive George for the bungs and all that controversy I can never forgive him for selling David Rocastle. George’s Arsenal midfield never recovered really, even though we went on to win 3 more trophies before he was sacked. The exciting football left along with Rocky, a man who emobodied everything that those on the terraces could feel. To now hear he had passed away at such a young age, an age when many are still playing at the top level, was too much for me. I’ll always remember him.