Arsenalinsider Exclusive

Frank Warren knows a thing or two about the fight game…in fact, he is Britain’s very own Mr Boxing. But the promoter is also a massive Arsenal fan and has been {jcomments on}watching the glorious Gunners since he was a boy back in the early Sixties.
Here, in the first part of an exclusive interview with Warren , he tells us about his love of the Arsenal, his favourite star players over the years and what he thinks about the present set-up under Arsene Wenger, along with his hopes for silveware this season.
Can you remember first game and who was your favourite players growing up?   The game that sticks in my mind was when Arsenal beat Oxford United 5-1 in a replay of an FA Cup game  – I do remember other matches before that but this one sticks in my mind. It was a severe winter, I think it was 1963, but Arsenal had under soil heating and they played it in a midweek afternoon and we bunked off school to go and watch it. As I said, I remember other games. I remember seeing (former Arsenal and Wales keeper) Jack Kelsey playing. My hero growing up was (former Arsenal striker)  Joe Baker. Arsenal bought him from Torino for what was at that time a fortune, I think it was close to £70,000. It was a lot of money back then. He had quite a good goal scoring record. You’ve got to remember the Arsenal weren’t that successful back then but we had some good players like George Eastham, Alan Skirton and Georgie Armstrong was in his early days of playing so that was the team I was brought up on so you can imagine today I am over the moon watching them!  
At Highbury there used to be a schoolboys entrance, did you go in there as a boy?  
We used to go in the schoolboys and I can’t remember whether it was ninepence or one shilling and three, but I was a skinny kid and we went in the schoolboys and then you could squeeze through the railings and then we would go up the North Bank or Clock End to watch the game. And my old man used to have season tickets in the West Stand so I used to go with him as well but I used to like going with my mates.
You mentioned some of your earlier Arsenal heroes, what about the ages?
You look at Liam Brady, I mean, Frank McLintock and I went into business together. He was a fantastic captain and really controlled the back line. You talk about so many, I mean Ian Wright’s up there. I remember players like Geoff Strong, a quality player. John Radford also. I remember Peter Marinello who was going to be the next George Best but he wasn’t strong enough and one footed. Everyone likes strikers but I appreciate defenders, players like Tony Adams – I used to love watching Nigel Winterburn, Lee Dixon all that back line, players from the George Graham era and I thought Arsene Wenger got more out of them
We’re at the Emirates and it has taken some getting used to but we’re getting there…do you ever drive past the East Stand Highbury and have memories flooding back?
I’ll be honest with you I didn’t want to move to the Emirates and it has taken me some time to get used to it. What I liked about Highbury was how compact and how cosy it was. I mean the Emirates is a fantastic stadium but Highbury is where I grew up watching my football and loved it. I am a bit of a nerd when it comes to Arsenal and I bought a couple of items from the old ground when they had the auction.
How different is the match day experience for you now…I read that you have a box at the Emirates (reported to cost him £75,000 a year)?
As I said I’d go as kid with my mates and then go with my old man sometimes and then as I got older you’d go and meet up in the pub with your mates before going to a game in the North Bank. I have been lucky enough to acquire a box and I am delighted with that for me it is a good way to watch the game. I suppose I am a bit spoiled now, it’s one of my luxuries in life. 
How important is Arsene Wenger to the club?  
What you do is gauge your success not only on making a profit but on trophies and I do feel we want some trophies. You don’t want to be also-rans, you don’t want your season to be over quickly and we are capable and I am hoping that Wenger has got it right and that now we can get some trophies. I will be very disappointed if we don’t win anything this year. But I don’t think he has just transformed the club, I think he has transformed British football. He eradicated players finishing training then going boozing and gambling by gradually easing out all of the English players. If you go back to Arsenal’s pedigree it’s the amount of Irish and Scots who played for us and that is no longer the case. I think he (Wenger) wanted continental mentality, they’re not boozers and it suddenly clicked didn’t it? Within three or four passes we went from one end of the pitch to the other and three out of four times you’d get a goal, you know, when we were ‘the Invincibles’. Other clubs watched that and caught up with that regime. I think we are evolving a little bit more now where teams have caught up with us with their training techniques and copying what he brought to British football and he seems to have pushed that on a bit more this season… at least I hope he has!  
Check back soon for more from the exclusive interview with Frank Warren…

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