You make me happy, when skies are grey. Mental health, The Arsenal and me….. the Road to Is Yours Gold?

Is Yours Gold?

A question that Arsenal supporters have been asking for the best part of 20 years now.

To mark the 20th anniversary of that unforgettable season, I decided to write a book about it. As it’s just a few days away from arriving from the printers now, I thought I would give you some insight into the book itself and how it came about….

Mental health, The Arsenal and Me….. the Road to Is Yours Gold?


During early 2022, I made the difficult decision to give up on a book I had been working on, which was to mark the 20th anniversary of Arsenal’s double winning season, 2001/02. My mental health wasn’t at its best and having a lot going on in life (and my annoyingly busy mind), meant that something had to give.

As much as it was a difficult decision back then, it’s a no-brainer now I look back on it. I needed time and space to concentrate on getting my head clear and refocusing on everything I had done over the last few years to work on my mental health.

Just for clarity, I’m not saying working on that book was driving me bonkers or anything, more that I couldn’t give it my all to turn out a piece of work that I could be proud of and was worth anyone’s hard-earned cash.

Within a few weeks of knocking that one on the head, I decided to work on something else, giving myself a target that was a tad more realistic, as I would be giving myself another 18 months or so to complete it.
That project is now complete, and my third book, “Is Yours Gold? The Arsenal Invincibles Twentieth Anniversary”, is just a few days away from arriving back from the printers.

The groundwork I had done for the ill-fated 2001/02 project served its purpose, as I decided to basically do the same thing, but for the Invincibles season instead!

So, there I was, merrily plodding along with it, thinking to myself “no rush, you’ve got over a year to get this finished”. Before I knew it, I was like one of those parents with kids that live a couple of minutes from the school, who always seem to be rushing like lunatics to make it in before the bell rings. Time was creeping up on me. I now had less than a year to go to get this done. I wouldn’t say I was behind schedule as such, I had things in place, it was just time to step it up a bit.

Then, earlier this year, my mental health took another dip. I spent a few weeks barely able to function or focus on anything for long. The fact that the deadline for completing the book was looming on the horizon barely occurred to me at first, to be honest. Then, one day, I sat there in front of my laptop and had a look through where I was with it. There was, once again, a decision to be made. It wasn’t looking good. Neither was I, in fact. Still, there was something inside me that wasn’t ready to throw the towel in just yet.

On a drizzly February afternoon, my mind was made up for me. I was sat in the beer garden of The Famous Cock at Highbury Corner watching Arsenal away at Aston Villa. For a while, that wasn’t looking good either. Around three minutes into injury time, with the score at 2-2, Jorginho unleashed a shot that cannoned off the bar, onto Emi Martinez’ bonce and into the net.
Pandemonium in the beer garden. Well, as much pandemonium as half a dozen blokes can create anyway. I’m pretty sure I did a lap of the beer garden (yeah, it’s only small), jumping on benches and becoming over-acquainted with the other five blokes along the way. A few minutes later, three points were sealed, as Martinelli surged clear and slotted into a net left empty by poor Martinez, who had gone up for a corner in an attempt to make amends for his stupid big head. 4-2. Nothing else mattered. My usually busy mind was full of nothing but Arsenal.

From that day on, I never looked back. Writing about Arsenal almost every day was something that helped keep me going. It almost feels stupid to think it would do anything otherwise now.
This wasn’t just writing about Arsenal either. This was the Invincibles. I began to completely lose myself every time I sat down to write, as I relived that amazing season week-by-week.

Over the years, I’ve known deep down that writing is a good thing for my mental health but sometimes, when you’re in that hole, it’s just not that easy. (I’m sure there can be an argument that being an Arsenal supporter isn’t always easy on anyone’s mental health, but that’s a discussion for another day!)

I’m not one to let a result affect my mood for too long after the ninety-minutes are up (I swore I’d never let that happen after Paris ’06), but even if on the rare occasion it does, it doesn’t prevent the anticipation for the next ninety-minutes.
That’s what it’s all about. It’s about being part of something. Something that will always be there, whether it drives you mad or not. The shit times will never, ever outweigh those moments of sheer elation for me. I know there are people out there that look down on the whole “being part of something” idea, but I think there are a lot more people out there that get it. I can’t stress enough how much it means to me personally, and I can guarantee I’m not the only person that has used Arsenal as a mental health crutch.

Aside from the Villa game, there were many more amazing moments last season, and I’m not ashamed to say that some of those moments helped me through some very dark times.
Over the years, I’ve come to believe that if you struggle with your mental health, on any level, that it’s important to make the most of the small victories. A last-minute winner over Bournemouth may not have, ultimately, had any bearing on the outcome of Arsenal’s season, for example, but it meant a hell of a lot more to me than that. These are the moments that get some of us through the day.

We all hear about how important it is to talk to people if you’re struggling with your mental health. As vitally important as that is, it’s not the easiest thing for some people to do. Being able to grab a hold of The Arsenal, and genuinely feel a part of something – whether it’s getting together with like-minded people socially for the game, or simply immersing yourself for ninety minutes – can honestly be someone’s lifeline. So, try not to knock anyone who may feel this way, they may be clinging on for dear life.

I could go on about this all day, but I hope you get the idea, and I suppose I really should talk a bit about the book itself.


Is Yours Gold? The Arsenal Invincibles Twentieth Anniversary

“This book is a celebration. A chance to look back at the greatest achievement in Premier League history. Something that – at the time of writing – no team has done since. I invite you to relive that season with me, game-by-game, memory-by-memory, emotion-by-emotion.

The Battle of Old Trafford. That Henry goal against Liverpool at Highbury.

The demolition of Leeds at Highbury. Winning the league at White Hart Lane. Vieira cementing our place in history with the winner in the last game of the season. Every unforgettable moment.

We’ll hear from Arsenal fans that were there and were kind enough to share their memories – and some amazing photos – for this book. We’ll hear from Arsenal fans from overseas (and Leicester!) We’ll take a look at the pretenders. Those that have been compared to the Invincibles, but never achieved what we did. Played 38 Won 26 Drawn 12 Lost 0. Above all this is a reminder. A reminder that Ours is Gold.

I guess “celebration” is the word that most sums up the aim of the book.
We are approaching the 20th anniversary of the greatest achievement in Premier League history, and that is something to be celebrated.
As it stands, the only teams standing between us and 20 years of this achievement not being repeated for 20 years are Tottenham Hotspur and, erm, us.
I’m sure there aren’t many of us too worried about that lot. (Yes, this will be deleted if the unthinkable happens.) I doubt many of us think that we’ll do it again either. If we do, on the 20th anniversary of the 03/04 Invincibles, I will probably retire from football fandom for good.

The book itself features a game-by-game account of the Invincible season, including some of my own memories and some stories provided from Arsenal fans that were there. There are some brilliant stories, in particular from The Battle of Old Trafford and We Won the League at White Hart Lane (again). Not just stories, either. We’ve got some cracking photos from Gooners who were there throughout the season. The icing on the cake for me is that the foreword for the book has been provided by an Invincible and genuine Arsenal legend, none other than the Romford Pele himself – Ray Parlour.

A little more icing was added to my cake when the book was featured in the official Arsenal matchday programme for the North London Derby.


As I’m such a great guy, I thought I would treat you to a sneak preview with a few little extracts from the pages of Is Yours Gold? The Arsenal Invincibles Twentieth Anniversary…..

“With this book, the memories and emotions will come flooding back, a chance to relive that incredible season week-by-week, game-by-game.

The perfect way to celebrate 20 years of the Invincibles.”
Ray Parlour – Invincible and Arsenal legend.



“The explosion of noise inside Highbury was just incredible. I remember the exact moment the ball hit the net vividly to this day.
Relief didn’t even come into it. This was nothing but complete euphoria. The rush of adrenaline that only football can provide.”
Arsenal 4 Liverpool 2
Friday 9th April 2004

“As planned, we headed down to Highbury to celebrate properly. We arrived on Blackstock Road to the inevitable, beautiful, predominantly drunk sea of red and white.
It will come as no surprise to you that the rest of the night is something of a blur, but I do remember, about three hours after arriving at T-Bird, saying hello to my mate who worked behind the bar there.
He had been there the whole time and I had been too merry to realise.
He had a good laugh at me.
I didn’t care. The Arsenal were champions, and…. we won the league at White Hart Lane. Again.”

We Won the League at White Hart Lane (Again).
Sunday, April 25th, 2004.

“The second period was party all the way. Despite Redknapp’s fine strike and a decidedly dodgy late penalty, there was no way we were not going to get the point we needed. It was almost worth our hosts equalising to see just how much it meant to them. Highly amusing.”
@stubbsy70 – We Won the League at White Hart Lane (Again).
Sunday, April 25th, 2004.

“Celebrations were in full flow on Blackstock Road, and quite a few of us were outside T-Bird. Suddenly, we see a car being mobbed as it crawled up the road. Once it reached us, we saw it was being driven by a happy-but-slightly-confused looking young Spaniard.
It was Jose Antonio Reyes.”
RIP Jose Antonio Reyes, 1983 – 2019.

“Having spent the whole season desperately trying to take it one game at a time, it was as if nine months’ worth of emotions were washing over me. Like your whole life flashing before your eyes when you’re about to kick the bucket, the whole season was flashing in front of my eyes.”
Arsenal 2 Leicester City 1
Saturday, May 15th 2004.

Okay, here’s a sneaky peak at the kind of photos we have as well….

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There have been a few “pretenders” in those 20 years as well and I thought while we’re celebrating what we achieved, why not have a look at them and what they didn’t achieve?
One of my favourite experiences was getting the thoughts of a supporter of Preston North End – the “Original Invincibles”, and how it felt for them when Arsenal became the first team to replicate what they did back in 1889.
The Manchester City “centurions”, Chelsea ‘04/05, Covid Liverpool…. they all get a chapter each. All of those were great sides in their own right and broke a number of records along the way to their own success. However, when it comes down to it, there’s only one question that matters. A question that we’ve been asking for almost 20 years: IS YOURS GOLD?




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