WTTGT Writer: Simon Bourne (Site Editor) – Follow Me
Tony Whelan isn’t the first man to make a bit of an arse of himself at Highbury (calling Kaba Diawara), but he is on a relatively exclusive list of people to have blasted balls into the back of the clock end (yes, I said clock end).
You may remember one cold January evening back in 2003 when Arsenal were up against giant killers, Farnborough Town in the FA Cup third round. Arsenal won the game 5-1 in testimonial fashion, including a brace from flop, Franny Jeffers, who was celebrating his 22nd birthday that day. But the moment of the game came in the 63rd minute when a very different kind of flop entered the action to celebrate another’s special birthday.
Whelan told WTTGT: “It was my mate’s daughter’s first birthday so I was trying to think of something I could do to celebrate. We were playing Farnborough in the FA Cup third round and I got the idea that I should streak at the game with a message written on my chest for Millie. I only told one of my mates about it so it really was top secret stuff.
“There were about 100 of us that went to the game, all Gooners. I’d only had one pint before I went to the bog with my mate and stripped off. I put one of them long trench coats on and some footy socks so the stewards wouldn’t click on, then made my way to the side of the pitch. As I got there, this female steward clocked me and she just stared at me as if to say ‘where are you going, there’s no seats round here?’ Sure enough, I just ripped off the coat and revealed all, before making a mad dash for the pitch. She managed to get hold of my leg and I thought, ‘there’s nothing more embarrassing than a streaker who didn’t even get onto the pitch.’ You’d just be a naked fella in the crowd! Thankfully I shook her off and got over the barrier.
“Once I was on I just didn’t know what to do. I just ran. I got to the halfway line and expected to be clattered, but nobody came. Vieria was laughing his back off and I just ran straight past him with my stuff swinging about all over the place. I got to Bergkamp and I just didn’t know what to do, so I just pinched his arse and gave the North Bank a wave. I got to Lauren and he told me to piss off. Before I knew it I’d done nearly a full lap so I just launched myself head first into the back of the net.
“The policeman came over and said that he was going to have to nick me. I was gutted; I had a first birthday party to get to!”
Whelan was promptly arrested by the old bill and taken to Highbury police station. The sergeant thankfully let him go and the now fully clothed exhibitionist was able to go join in at party. WTTGT asked if he would ever do it again and Whelan added: “I would love to, but unfortunately the nature of my job would mean that I would be sacked, as well as being banned from all football grounds and spending more time in the police cell.”
“It was nearly ten years ago now since that day and no doubt Millie will be starting to think that I’m her dad’s weirdo mate who got his balls out and ran around a football stadium, with ‘Happy Birthday Millie’ etched all over his chest, but to this day, it is the greatest moment of my life. Being on the same pitch as Pires, Vieria and Parlour will stay with me forever, even if I was naked.”
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