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To Absent Friends! – A new season without Danny and Claude awaits.

Following a difficult eighteen months caused by the pandemic, where many of us lost family members or friends at a time where it was almost impossible to visit them during their final days or even attend their funeral services after they’ve passed, the return of supporters to football grounds for the 2021-22 season offers a significant lift for many match going fans such as myself. Prior to March 2020, match days represented a huge part of my social life and I enjoyed spending time with my ever expanding Arsenal family. Sadly, two faces from my regular match day experience, won’t be there to greet us when we return.

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Return to stadiums provides lift for fans but some familiar faces will be missing.

 

I’m not naive, and I know that Claude Callegari wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea and rubbed many people up the wrong way with his often confrontational attitude and frequent appearances on a certain fan channel. This didn’t bother me, within reason, I’ve always judged people on how they behave towards me. Whenever Claude saw me, a big smile appeared on his face and I could tell he enjoyed being in my company from how warmly he greeted me. Mutual friends told me how fond he was of me too. Claude was someone I often bumped into in The Twelve Pins pub whilst waiting for my train home. This regularly resulted in me getting back later than originally planned and having several extra beers too. I will have to find a new excuse for not being home at a sensible time this season!
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Pints in Pins, last beers before catching the train home after games won’t be the same without Claude!

 

 

The more recent loss of ‘Concourse Legend’ Danny Bailey, named this due to his reputation for spending longer in the concourse than he spent actually watching the games, will leave a huge hole in lives of anyone who spent any time with him on match days. Although I can’t remember the year, my first encounter with Danny was in a Wetherspoons at a pre season friendly against Boreham Wood. I vaguely remember Danny coming up to me and taking a photo of him and myself. At this stage I didn’t know him and thought what the f**k is this bloke doing, Danny explained he always took pictures with mates at games. This was Danny all over, once he’d met you, he’d already decided that you were friends and many share similar introductory tales.
One of the things I admired the most about Danny, was his complete lack of vanity. I’ve never known anyone to post every single photo they take on a day out, regardless of the picture quality or how they look in them. The only trouble with this, is that you’d often find yourself tagged in photos where you also weren’t looking your best too! During my search for photos to include in this article, I found many that were blurry, leaving me wondering if you need to wear 3D glasses in order to view them properly! This personified Danny, who couldn’t careless whether his eyes were closed in photos or if the pictures of his dinner looked like he’d just dropped it on the floor! Danny even had no shame uploading images of his butchered attempts at giving himself a haircut during lockdown!
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Blurry Bailey, Danny’s lack of vanity when it came to posting photos was refreshing!

A funny memory that sums Danny up for me, was the time he came up to me at an away game against West Ham and asked if we were still winning 1-0. The genuine surprise on his face when I told him we were 5-1 up still amuses me. Judging by how unsteady on his feet he appeared to be, he’d spent the most of the game at the bar. This left me spending the last few minutes of the game holding on to the back of his coat, worried that he’d lose his balance and topple head first down the stairs! Whenever I was drunk in his company, I took some sort of comfort from seeing Danny, as he was usually worse!

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Off Nut, looking typically worse for wear!

Those who knew Danny, had become very accustomed to hearing or reading the phrase “off nut”. Made funnier on occasions by Danny mistakingly using the potato emoji instead of the nut one when typing it on social media or in WhatsApp chats! Danny would regularly post videos on Facebook singing “we’re off our nuts”, a reference to being extremely intoxicated for those not familiar with it. I’d often find myself singing along before even pressing play as I knew what was coming.
I enjoyed seeing photos of Danny on his adventures, be it visiting random football stadiums or zoos wherever he went. If he had to go alone, that’s what he’d do and appeared happy doing so. Following Danny’s death, my wife Malina reminded me of his words the first time they met, where he told her that we were the most natural fit as a couple that he’d ever seen. Taking into account the number of people Danny knew, this was a huge compliment, especially coming from someone known for their honesty.
To summarise Danny, he was an infectiously happy character loved by many, if not all. He will be greatly missed, particularly at away games and I wouldn’t be surprised if a chorus of “there’s only one Danny Bailey” goes up at Brentford away. This would be very fitting, as there can be no denying, there really is only one Danny Bailey. Rest in peace my friend x
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Only one Danny Bailey, will be missed by many.

Anyone interested in donating towards the funeral costs, to give Danny a fitting send off, the link is below here.

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