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Friday Fanzone Q&A: Paul Campbell from Piebury Corner says ‘build Rocky a statue’

PUBLISHED: 14:53 31 March 2017 | UPDATED: 17:54 31 March 2017

Paul Campbell from Piebury Corner. Picture: Isabel Infantes

Paul Campbell from Piebury Corner. Picture: Isabel Infantes

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Paul Campbell who runs the cult Piebury Corner on Holloway Road is this week’s interviewee for our Friday Fanzone. Read on for his views on all things Arsenal and his call for the club to build a statue to the late, great David ‘Rocky’ Rocastle on the 16th anniversary of his tragic death today...

Paul Campbell who runs Piebury Corner. (In his younger 'raving' days...) Paul Campbell who runs Piebury Corner. (In his younger 'raving' days...)

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Shopfitting joiner by trade, Punk Rock Acid House veteran by nature. Lived in Islington for 29 years, married to Nicky with three children. Been attending football matches for 49 years.

You and Nicky own the legendary Piebury Corner...

Piebury Corner started out on a mission to improve the quality of food on offer to fans inside and outside the stadium. Around the stadium has definitely got better with many new restaurants on Holloway Road and pop up food stalls like The Bagel Bros on The Bear roundabout. The food on offer on the concourses in the Emirates is still disappointing. The quality of our pies sell themselves but I believe the shop’s popularity is with the humour in the menu, match day musical vibes, the recognition of Highbury stadium and the players that played there within the shops décor and theme.

How did you become an Arsenal fan?

I’ve been fully committed from the last three seasons at Highbury onwards. Had season tickets in the West Upper. I spent a lot of time watching many London clubs before this though my best friend ‘The G Man’ Graham the Bricky, a Fulham die-hard. I used to go down the Cottage and The Orient when I lived in Leyton around 1988 – the Arsenal bug then came in the late 90’s. I have a grass roots philosophy – always support your local team first.

Arsene Wenger: discuss...

If he decides to leave the club this year we will mark his 20 years at Arsenal with a permanent new pie recipe in his honour. The least we can do.

But if he decides to stay then he needs to turn things around rather ‘sharpish’ – or I can see the levels of toxicity within the clubs fan base multiplying 10-fold – to the point where fans in the away support will be turning on each other even more so than they are now.

Has social media made things better or worse as an Arsenal fan?

Better, especially for the global fanbase who can tune into all aspects of the club on a match day. The bloggers do a marvellous job telling it how it really is, especially ‘The Gooners Diary’ by Bernard Azulay who attends home and away matches every week. ArsenalFanTV have the biggest voice – I’d like to see them rotate around all the pre/post match pubs/venues interviewing a broader spectrum of fans.

One thing you would change about the club?

I’d introduce safe standing. If you go on YouTube and look at how well it’s working at Celtic Park it’s only a matter of time before it’s back in the Premiership. I’d airlift everyone from blocks five, six and seven and transfer them to blocks 17, 18 and 19 – re-locating anybody who didn’t want to stand safely. Realistically though, right across the lower tier behind the goal would be superb. For re-generating an atmosphere that’s long gone. I’d also like to bring the average age of the board down by 20 years.

What are the things that make you most proud to be a Gooner?

The club’s history first and foremost. The Highbury architecture and the players that played there. That stadium was the main reason for us moving to live on Gillespie Road. Living, eating sleeping breathing Arsenal every day is the norm around Highbury.

Next statue?

David Rocastle, no other player comes anywhere close to his legacy right now.

First game?

Arsenal v Manchester United, 1987. The first ever Sunday match at Highbury. £7 entry into the North Bank...

Favourite game and why?

Our last-ever match at Highbury against Wigan denying Spurs a place in Europe is up there with beating Barcelona 2-1 at The Emirates.

Worst game and why?

Arsenal v Napoli. I truly felt like packing the whole thing in after the Napoli fans attacked the pie shop. I went to the hospital – missing the match – with customer Tim Garwood who had a nasty cut to his head. Thankfully it wasn’t serious but it left me in shock. We became good football friends after this even catering for his son Tim’s wedding. All’s well that ends well...

Favourite player?

We only came to see Eboue!

Worst player?

Split decision between Phillipe Senderos and Sebastian Squillaci – calamity football at it’s best.

Pre-match routine?

Before Piebury it was The Bank of Friendship pub pre-and-post match.

Best thing about Highbury?

Groundsman Paddy Galligan!

Best thing about The Emirates?

The infrastructure around it, numerous quality drinking establishments,d restaurants on all sides, and good transport in and out.

Biggest scrape as a fan?

1980 – Old Firm Derby at Ibrox Park.

Fourth place or FA cup?

FA Cup all day long.

Favourite win over Spurs?

The 4-1 League Cup win at White Hart Lane in September 2010.

Prediction for the rest of the season?

Arsene’s worst ever Premier league run is going to get even worse – but hopefully we’ll win the FA Cup.

Arsenal all time XI?

I’ve allowed myself one player I never actually saw play in the flesh...

Jennings, Bould, Adams, Winterburn, Parlour, Brady, Henry, Bergkamp, Wright, Vieira, Armstrong.

For more on Piebury Corner follow @PieburyCorner on Twitter or visit pieburycorner.com.

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