Tuesday, October 09, 2007


Denton and respect

It was a story that began on the streets and terraces of North London far from the glare of publicity. How fitting that it should end that way, right under the noses of a media blissfully unaware of the events unfolding under their very eyes. Today’s football is the football of celebrity and the celebrity is the player and manager. While the press pack munched on their complimentary snacks before taking their complimentary seats outside they missed the human story of the week.

Grown men gathered dressed in black to say farewell to one of their own. Their leader. The Bear. For 25 years or so these lads grew up together, laughed together and fought outsiders for the Arsenal. Whatever the arguments about hooliganism, when the media have always been quick to stereotype yet slow to get factual, the fact remains for people of a certain generation, mine included, Denton was a legend. For those gathered on the concourse surrounded by wreaths and teddy bears he was a mate.

While the media gathered and wondered who they could next eulogize or destroy with their keyboard outside hundreds marched round North London visiting sites heavy with nostalgia. There were tears, there were beers, there were cheers. And there was respect. Anybody watching would have been surprised at the march held in the honour of their mate. There was young and old, friend and foe. There was a police escort but this was different. For lads used to being escorted by police round the country for various reasons this escort was respectful, responsive. There were Sunderland fans, Chelsea, Stoke showing respect. Outside the stadium there was even a bear from a Tottenham foe.

The next time a player is tragically taken from us be sure the media will generate interest in the story. They will help manufacture grief for someone very few people really knew beyond a shirt every weekend. This was different. This show of respect round Arsenal was organized by e mail, text message and forums from people intimately associated with a lad who was larger than life. Word spread round the streets and people responded because they wanted to, because they cared. Because they felt Denton represented a part of their life, their club, their character. It will be a long while before we ever see anything like this again.

A few weeks back there was a story coming from the club that they wanted to trademark the terms The Gooners. Without Denton there would be no Gooners.

Dear Jakarta casual.
I must congratulate you on a fantastic piece of journalism,about a true Arsenal legend! As you probably know the sad death of the'Bear' wasn't given the coverage it deserved by the London media-So for you to give a wonderful/accurate account of what was a very sad day for us 'Gooners'from the other side of the world,
I salute you.
Dear jakata casual,
Thats a top article about a mountain of a man who every Gooner knew even if they have never met or seen him.
I have written a novel about following Arsenal from afar.I will dedicate it to Denton.
The bear even gets a mention under the Alias of Denzil during a planned ambush of the ICF in 1986.
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