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Layth’s TAKE

Hello and welcome to issue 302 of the Gooner Fanzine. During my darkest days back in January after the loss of my beloved Arsenal-supporting dad, the love of so many good people kept me and my family going - including so many wonderful Gooner readers and subscribers. Producing slimmed down black and white versions through the winter, as we struggled with the cost-of-living crisis and a spike in printing prices across the board, gave me no pleasure whatsoever. However, even at our lowest point, I hoped (and planned) we could return far stronger, having pared costs to the bone. Even when we failed to reach the magical figure of 1,000 at the end of last season and I had an awfully big wobble over the summer - borne out of frustration that we couldn’t get over the four-figure line - so many of you were there when we needed help, support, a beer and, yes, at times, a hug. (At the time of writing, we’re still 38 short – but a massive thank you to everyone who has helped get us so near our target.) So, it is with no little pride that I feel myself, and the entire Gooner team can start to pay you back in a very small way with the publication of what I believe to be the best issue under my leadership so far. As you have no doubt seen, we are absolutely delighted to turn this issue into a Liam Brady special. Knowing just how important the great man is to so many of you, we are proud to say we have an exclusive interview with the Arsenal living legend - with thanks to Nick Callow, a brilliant journalist, massive Arsenal supporter, all-round good guy, and Gooner Fanzine subscriber no less. Nick coauthored Liam’s must-buy autobiography ‘Born to be a Footballer’, which the Gooner and myself humbly suggest you buy immediately, and frequently. I am also delighted to showcase such outstanding writing from our superb squad of top-notch contributors - many of who I specifically asked to focus their considerable talents on Mr Brady. I’m also so proud of our creatives, including the incomparable Mark Butler whose incredible work adorns our front cover, as well as Ruth Beck’s brilliant art. So, I really hope you enjoy this special issue as much as my amazing team and I did pulling it all together - including the production genius that is Serge-Braga Mullin. (Despite our ever-increasing late-night editorial meetings and constant production messages in the early hours.) Thanks to every single person on the Gooner team. And of course, to my wonderful partner Faye for simply putting up with me and my passion for The Arsenal. Speaking of the Gooner team, a big welcome to our latest signing, Matty Cassidy, who will join Alex, Rich and myself flogging the Gooner before home matches at The Arsenal. Matty also joins as our Social Media editor and will be responsible for curating our Instagram content. I’ve known Matty and his dad for decades and they’re all proper Gooners, so please say hello and treat him gently - not least because we want him to do the job every home game… On a separate note, please keep an eye out for issue 303, our pre-Christmas issue - which will, as I promised in our darkest hours, see the welcome return of the Gooner Fanzine calendar for 2024. I have asked Kevin Whitcher and Darren Rackham to take charge of the project as they did for many years before lockdown. So please do watch this space. On a serious note, we are sending love to all the Jewish Gooners affected by the terrible terrorist attacks on Israel just as we were going to press. We all have a responsibility to denounce such horror for what it is: Heinous crimes against humanity by terrorists. Silence is not an option. Nor is ‘moral equivalency’. Much love to all affected.

CONTENTS

CHARLES WATTS The return of the Champions League 4

HIGHBURY SPY His much loved, must- read column 10

MICKEY CANNON On Rice, Trophies, Kits and away tickets 14

HIGHBURY LIBRARIANOn Liam Brady 26

DAVID FENSOME The joy of watching Liam Brady 32

AFC WOMEN What to expect ahead of the WSL season 40

LIAM BRADY An interview with the man himself 42

STAR SUB Charles Watts gives us his answers 62

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