It’s amazing to think that today is the tenth anniversary of David Rocastle’s death. Where did those ten years go?
George Graham must have had to pinch himself when he took over the club just at a time when its youth programme had hit the jackpot. Sure, he added to their ranks with some players who would go on to be Arsenal legends, but imagine inheriting the potential of Adams, Keown, Thomas, Davis, Merson, Hayes, Quinn, Campbell and of course Rocastle. It was a time of brilliant reawakening for Arsenal after years of slumber, and Rocastle embodied that young, rising team.
He was fast, brave, skillful and could score outrageous goals. In his prime, a brilliant player.
I actually met him once. Well, of a sort. My little brother’s birthday was looming, and I decided to get him Rocky’s new video – The Rocky Road to Success. Rocastle was signing it at what was then HMV, at Oxford Circus. I remember going up the escalator, peering around to see what was going on, only to discover the man himself was standing on the next step up, also going up the escalator. I tapped him on his back and mumbled something embarrassing about him being skill or ace. Well these were the 80s.
The picture above must be 1986 or 1987. I was recently flicking through my ‘Official Centenary History’ of Arsenal (the one written by Phil Soar and Martin Tyler), when out it slipped. I’d cut it out a newspaper and stored it there for safekeeping.
Back then, he was my footballing hero. I have no other photos of players of that era, cut out of newspapers and carefully squirrelled away.
That was the power of Rocky, for me. What a player he was.