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Found a Place Where We Belong: The supporters

A section of the Found A Place Where We Belong artwork
A section of the Found A Place Where We Belong artwork

We’ve given the outside of Emirates Stadium a fresh look this year - and on Monday, we launched the eighth and final new artwork at our home.

Found a Place Where We Belong is the ultimate illustrated crowd scene, representing the importance of the Arsenal family. The artwork brings together no fewer than 721 supporters who have contributed to our success, given so much to the community and followed us in every moment.

The rich tapestry of supporters includes:

• Iconic supporters from throughout the ages 

• Workshop contributors which included a diverse cross-section of supporters, such as supporter group representatives, Arsenal in the Community members, Arsenal-mad creatives, members of the local north London community, and legends from the previous Emirates Stadium artwork and their families

• Season ticket holders who have attended more than 350 games since Emirates Stadium opened

• Past and present long-serving staff members

• Individuals nominated by supporter groups, who felt their love for the club made them particularly worthy of inclusion

• Supporters who have made a positive contribution to the local community

Ahead of the launch, we caught up with a selection of those featured:

Clive Palmer

Clive Palmer on the Found a Place Where We Belong artwork

Clive was part of the artwork consultation process and first attended an Arsenal match in 1978. He’s been hooked ever since! Readers may know Clive as the voice of our ‘Arsenal Supporting Supporters’ campaign and one of the stars of the ArsenalVision podcast. ArsenalVision, together with fellow podcasters at Arseblog recently raised more than £425,000 for Coaching for Life, a joint project between the Arsenal Foundation and Save the Children which uses football to support the well-being of refugees in the Za’atari refugee camp in Jordan.

“The whole project has been a real learning process for me. There’s been so much care that’s gone into making it perfect – and that’s been a real eye-opener.

“The way the project has been put together, encompassing supporters from many different backgrounds, has been brilliant. It’s not just about now, it’s about projecting forward. North London is a really diverse area and that’s been captured in the artwork, as has the youth and the women’s aspect.

“Not many clubs would put the men’s and women’s teams beside each other, for example. But during the consultation process, it was unanimous that should be the case. That tells you that people are thinking about gender parity.

“The wider project has connected the club to its global supporters in a wonderful way too. That’s especially articulated by the We All Follow The Arsenal artwork - but also with this one too. The only way you can show that you are unified and connected to your supporters is through your actions - and I know that the club do really care and that it’s coming from a genuine place.

“I feel incredibly honoured to be one of the 700 or so lucky ones included as Arsenal has become increasingly important in my life. Growing up, as a young black man with a Caribbean background in England, when I visited the Caribbean, my nickname was 'English’. At that time in England you never made to feel English because you were black. But when you go to Arsenal, you’re an Arsenal person. That’s how I’ve always felt.

“I’ve never felt more welcome in any part of my life, in any environment. That was the case from day one. That tells you what Arsenal fans represent. I’ve always felt welcome. It’s not just the football, it’s who you share that journey with.”

Verona Alili

Verona Alili on the Found a Place Where We Belong artwork

Verona’s Arsenal journey started when she attended a girls-only football session hosted by Arsenal in the Community. Since then, her artistic flair saw her work alongside artist Reuben Dangoor on our No More Red campaign. Verona played an important role throughout the consultation process and her call for the inclusion of youth inspired the creation of Future Brilliance.

“What’s going to be really nice is walking around the stadium in the future knowing the artwork is going to be there. It feels permanent. I can’t wait to see it in person.

“Arsenal has had a massive impact on me from the age of 13. I was at secondary school in Camden at the time and saw some leaflets advertising the fact the club were going to run girls-only sessions at The Arsenal Hub. My friends and I were really keen to start training with a team so we went to one of the training sessions and absolutely loved it. I had a really good understanding with the coach and ended up going to the sessions for around four of five years. When it came to leaving school, Arsenal in the Community spoke to me about joining the BTEC Sport programme they run. I was really interested in doing it and everything has gone on from there.

“The staff at the Hub have helped me grow from a teenager into a young woman. They’ve had a really positive impact on me. Arsenal is a second home. The community around the club is amazing.”

Joanne Harney

Joe Harney on the Found a Place Where We Belong artwork

Joanne - known affectionally as Joe by all at Arsenal - is our longest-serving member of staff, having joined the club in September 1986. A true Arsenal legend, Joe has lived in Islington for her entire life and has made a massive contribution over the past 37 years.

“It’ll be really surreal to see myself on the artwork when I pass Emirates Stadium. To be up on there along with people from my past is quite surreal. I didn’t expect anything like it - so it was really humbling to be considered and included.

“I’ve been going to matches ever since I can remember and, when I was a little girl, there wasn’t an equivalent. I remember walking down St Thomas’ Road and I’d see the flags in the distance at the top of the stadium but, other than that, you wouldn’t have known there was a football ground close by until you were much closer. But nowadays you can stand at the top of Highgate Hill and see Emirates Stadium - and that there’s something on there.

“Arsenal has been in my life longer than anything else apart from my parents and my brother. Arsenal is a family to me because, aside from those people, nothing else has been in my life for as long. It almost feels like my DNA. I’ve been at the club since 1986 - and I actually got married at Highbury. So Arsenal has even played a role in those major personal moments in my life too. Our wedding reception was in the Clock End in 1990 and my son’s Christening was held at the stadium too. It’s absolutely been a major part of my life.”

Zak Wagman

Zak Wagman on the Found a Place Where We Belong artwork

Zak has previously acted as a representative for young supporters on the Arsenal Supporters’ Forum - a role he has also carried out for the Arsenal Advisory Board over the past two years.

“Finding out I was going to be on the artwork was an incredible moment - especially because I really didn’t know it was coming! I had been involved in the consultation process and the club had mentioned putting together a collage of various supporters. Without knowing the details, I assumed it would be famous people or iconic supporters. I’m neither of those so to find out I had been selected was such a cool experience. To see myself on the image waving a scarf, which is what I do at fixtures, is such a cool thing.

“For the club to recognise the role of the supporters as a group and that as a collective, supporters are just as important as managers and players, is a fitting tribute to show what Arsenal means to so many people. To be on the side of the stadium alongside legends of the club is a great honour and something I was really excited to find out about.

“To see myself up there is going to be such a great privilege. To be part of the history of Arsenal in such a tangible way is so exciting, given what the club means to me.”

Dave Seager

Dave and Liam Seager on the Found a Place Where We Belong artwork

A long-time Arsenal supporter, Dave has also written a host of books about Arsenal, including Arsenal for Everyone - which profiles a selection of our disabled supporters and their relationship with the club. Dave features on the artwork alongside his late son, Liam, who tragically passed away on New Year’s Day in 2019.

“I simply love how the club have involved so many sections of the Arsenal fanbase when considering the content and themes for the stadium artwork but to be included with fellow supporters and with my late son, Liam, is beyond special. Liam and I attended so many matches together, from his first match in 2001 to his last, the north London derby in 2018, so to be with him on the stadium fills me and my family with such pride. So many in the club have been so supportive of me since his passing but this is truly such an honour.

“As a comedian in a previous book said to me, 'football is the most important of the unimportant things in life'. My support of Arsenal probably ranks just behind family and friends, although a few of them might tell you different! The fortunes of my team can impact my mood and my disposition, but after a personal life trauma, my love of Arsenal, is firmly in context.

“The sense of belonging comes firmly from feeling part of something so much bigger than oneself. For me that is most obvious on matchdays, meeting friends before, during and after the game, but in the modern world of social media and with Arsenal being so global, there is a sense of being part of an enormous, passionate, multi-national community.”

Wayne Busbridge

Wayne Busbridge on the Found a Place Where We Belong artwork

Wayne first watched Arsenal in 1982 against Spartak Moscow at Highbury. For years, Wayne has worked together with the club, the Royal National Institute of Blind People, the FA and the Premier League to improve the matchday experience for visually impaired supporters. He was instrumental in the introduction of the club’s audio programme.

“Arsenal means everything to me - it really does. This club is in my blood. It’s that important for me. I’m a Christian and I’ve often been asked whether my faith is Christianity or Arsenal. I find it difficult to separate them.

“I was amazed to find out I was to feature on the stadium artwork. There are millions of supporters around the world and to have been selected is a big honour.

“It goes to show that the club take inclusion seriously. Arsenal realise that it doesn’t matter what background you have, all supporters are part of the wider Arsenal community and have a part to play.”

Monique Rocastle

Monique Rocastle on the Found a Place Where We Belong artwork

Monique - a lifelong Arsenal supporter - is the youngest of David Rocastle’s three children and represented the Rocastle family during the consultation process. Monique spent two years at the club between 2017 and 2019.

“I think the artwork looks just incredible. I’m so impressed with it - it encapsulates the club’s history really nicely. That’s something the club have always done. They’ve always treated us really well as a family when it’s come to anything around my dad.

“It’s just nice to be involved and to see other supporters involved too. I feel as though the full ethos and values of the club have been represented through the whole artwork process. That’s what Arsenal is all about - being as inclusive as possible and making everyone welcome.

“Arsenal has always played a big part in my life, both from a family perspective but also because my sister, Mel and I have both worked at the club. I’ve made friends for life through Arsenal and met my partner too. My time working at Arsenal has really shaped my career and it’s really nice to think I’ll be on the stadium when I come to matches. It was a special and proud moment when I found out I was featuring.”

Thomas Ballegaard

Thomas Ballegaard on the Found a Place Where We Belong artwork

Thomas has been the president of Arsenal Denmark since 1999 - and he has been a part of the supporters’ club since the early 1990s. Arsenal Denmark have 3,000 members and regularly holds trips to Emirates Stadium. Thomas also sits on the Arsenal Advisory Board.

“Being on the side of the stadium… wow, it’s unbelievable. I think the design, and the way it’s been created, says it all about the way the club have approached the supporters and wanted us to be central to the final product. It reemphasises the fact that Arsenal is not just a football club. We’re Gooners - we’re a family. We’re there for each other. It’s massive for supporters around the world and I’m proud to be a part of it.

“Really, it means so much to be on the artwork. I’ve been going to meetings at the club since the mid-1990s. I want to be an active part of the club and I want to have that voice. The club listens - and that means a lot too. Arsenal make you feel like part of the family and that’s amazing. It’s really nice to be recognised.

“I’m taking a group of 40 supporters from Arsenal Denmark to the Wolves game - it’s a trip we’ve planned since last June - and I know they’re all going to love seeing all the new artwork, particularly the We All Follow The Arsenal design. For Danes coming over and seeing their flag on the side of the stadium, being able to identify it and take a photo in front of it, that means a lot. It’s extremely important because it makes us all proud and strengthens our connection to the club. They’ll be proud to see it, as will I.”

Luke Howard

Luke Howard

Luke is a lifelong supporter who watches the club at home and away. In his role as Accessibility Coordinator for Arsenal in the Community, he was instrumental in the founding of our sensory room in 2017 and he also played a key role in helping key workers and distributing food and resources during the Covid-19 pandemic. Luke was nominated by his peers to feature on the artwork.

“When I found out I was going to be on the artwork, I set about finding an appropriate picture!

“What really resonated with me was the fact my inclusion came as the result of a nomination process rather than a self-application. To have been recognised by other people in your peer group is really touching.

“For me, it’s a reminder that Arsenal is my home. I’m lucky in my job to work with brilliant people on a daily basis. I’m really proud to represent the club.

“I’ve been at Arsenal for 11 years and I’m still honoured that the club have invested as much in me as they have. I just feel overwhelmingly connected to Arsenal. I feel proud to be here.”

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