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The Great David Rocastle, What being ‘homegrown’ really means! ……..

What is there to be said about the great man?

Born in Lewisham back in 1967, Rocky suffered the loss of his father when he was just 5 years old.

He left school in 1983 and the summer of the same year he joined Arsenal Football Club as an apprentice spending two years in the youth team. Just prior to the beginning of 1985/86 season Rocky signed his first professional contract, with us of course!

Rocky struggled to begin with and in training the players couldn’t understand why this kid with so much talent would be running around, dribbling the ball with his head down, then it clicked.

Martin Keown said this:

They couldn’t work out why Rocastle was running around dribbling with his head down. So they took him to the halfway line and said: Can you see the goal?

He couldn’t so the club sorted this out for him and a pair of contact lenses solved the problem. He didn’t look back from that day! ;)

David Rocastle’s debut was against Newcastle and he would go on to play another twenty-five matches that season and despite the change in manager from Howe to Graham, Rocky remained a regular in the side.

In 1987, just prior to him turning twenty, Rocky helped Arsenal to victory over Liverpool in the League Cup but sadly he was also part of a losing side in the same final the following year, Arsenal let a 2-0 lead slip away against Luton.

In 1989 his first League winners medal came after the dramatic events at Anfield, the second came in 1991, albeit a knee injury meant Rocky would only make eighteen appearances that season, a season in which Arsenal lost only once in the league. The following season though was totally the opposite, Rocky missed only three out of forty two matches played, scoring four goals.

In 1992, Rocky was sold to Leeds United for £2 Million and on finding out that he was to leave the club he did something I bet not one player in this current squad would do.

He cried, he cried his heart out knowing that he would no longer be part of the club he loved and cared for so much! He didn’t want to leave Arsenal Football Club, not one bit!

Rocky would go onto play for other clubs too but injury forced him to retire in 1999.

Then, in February 2001 all Arsenal fans were horrified to hear that David Rocastle was ill, very ill. He was suffering from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, an aggressive form of cancer which attacks the immune system. He underwent a course of chemotherapy and was positive about a recovery.

Ten years ago today, Arsenal Fans hearts were broken when the news broke that David ‘Rocky’ Rocastle had lost his short battle with this evil disease and had passed away in the early hours.

He was just 33 years old and left behind his wife Janet, his son Ryan and daughters Melissa and the youngest Monique, who was just five years old – the same age as Rocky when he lost his Dad.

The world had lost a good man, a decent man, an honest family man and the world of football had lost a truly great footballing man.

He gave his short life to football and to his family, for nine of those years he gave everything football to Arsenal.

For nine years he lived, breathed and walked tall for the club he loved, the club that was in every bone of his small 5′ 9″ frame. What he lacked in height though he made up for in guts, committment and attitude, attitude and desire to one thing and that was to wear his club shirt with pride and lay his body on the line for the club and players around him.

Remember the ‘Winterburn – McClair’ Mass Brawl in 1990 at Old Trafford : Rocky said this:

“It was our team mate, our blood brother, in trouble. They were kicking Nigel like a nightclub brawl. That’s what got us upset. We went in there and we stuck up for each other. At Arsenal we never ever started any brawls – we just finished them”

If only some of our players today had half of what Rocky had……

He was Mr Arsenal for every year he graced the football pitch wearing the colours of his beloved team.

He didn’t need to be told how to play, he didn’t need to be told to have faith, he certainly didn’t need to taught to have belief or commitment, it all came naturally to him, it came from within because he was a true winner, he had something that cannot be taught.

Big Tony Adams always used to repeat the words of Rocky to the Arsenal players new to the club:

The late great David Rocastle always used to say :

Always remember who you are,
what you are and Who you represent!

The only way to leave todays post is with a few tributes…..

Thank you to those who have over the years compiled the tributes for us Arsenal fans to view and thank you for letting us share them today, the day we remember and celebrate the life of a truly outstanding man and footballer.

Rest in Peace David ‘Rocky’ Rocastle, the true Arsenal fan will never forget you……..

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134 comments on “The Great David Rocastle, What being ‘homegrown’ really means! ……..

  1. Morning all…..

    Ten years ago today was a very sad day…….

  2. Gone but never ever forgotten, He was one of us..! He was proper Arsenal.

    RIP Rocky.

  3. Never forgotten WATH, spot on – a true Arsenal man…..

  4. Good read rico.i have to confess i was very young during the Rocky days so i never had the pleasure to know him but from your post i can see how influential he was both on and off the pitch.

  5. AFC.com

    Remembering Rocky… a true Arsenal legend

    Gunners Greatest Players – No 16. David Rocastle

    1987, Rocastle seals Cup win at Spurs

    1989, Last-gasp Thomas snatches title at Anfield
    AFC Website:-

    Thursday, March 31 marks the 10th anniversary of David Rocastle’s tragic death.

    ‘Rocky’ was just 33 when he lost his battle with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a form of cancer, on the morning of a North London derby win over Tottenham.

    ‘Rocky’ was immortalised during the 2009/10 campaign when he was one of the 32 Arsenal greats depicted on the outside walls of Emirates Stadium. Watch this special feature for great action and key facts about Rocastle plus the thoughts of his former team-mates Kenny Sansom, Perry Groves, Nigel Winterburn, Steve Bould and Martin Hayes.

    When we ran our Gunners’ Greatest Players poll in the summer of 2008, ‘Rocky’ finished in 16th place, just ahead of another homegrown Arsenal hero – Pat Rice. .

    ‘Rocky’ scored 34 goals in his 277 games for Arsenal – many of them memorable. There was the venomous shot at Anfield in the League Cup in 1988 and a solo effort against Middlesbrough the same season. But it was his midfield trickery and deft chip at Manchester United in 1991 that earned him a place in the Gunners’ Greatest Goals countdown.

    The talent and tenacity of ‘Rocky’ made him an instant fans’ favourite at Highbury after he broke into the side under George Graham, and this League Cup winner at White Hart Lane earned him ‘hero’ status. Arsenal trailed the Semi-Final replay but Ian Allinson equalised and Rocastle stabbed in a late, late winner to take the Gunners to Wembley.

    Rocastle was not on the scoresheet at Anfield in 1989 but he was a vital cog in George Graham’s side that season and was in the thick of the celebrations after helping to bring the title to Highbury for the first time in 18 years. Click on the link to the right to re-live the finest moment in Rocastle’s Arsenal career – a night no Gooner will ever forget.

  6. Goosebumps.

    I am telling you, Rocky would have walked into any Arsenal team under Wenger and I will never forget Graham for the shoddy way he treated Rocky.

  7. Hi KT,

    He was Mr Arsenal – if our players today had just half of his love for Arsenal we would be winning everything – he loved Arsenal, for a man to cry when told he is being sold tells it all…

    Would any of our players feel such a loss if told they were going??

    Nah, I think not……

  8. Hi Will..

    To this day I don’t know why he was sold…..

  9. FDJW-Jacks is gonna be a future dad soon as he is expecting a child from his ex.no more LJW.

  10. Anyone see that clip of rvp’s 4 year old ripping the ball into the top corner against his dad?its hilarious…but some paper had to spoil it by referring to the kid as the ‘new messi’.

  11. Rico, superb mate. As always.

    I watch these YouTube clips Of Rocky quite often. I remember first going to highbury with my dad, brother and uncle and clearly remember the buzz that guy sent around the stadium when he got the ball. Few players can do that at that age. And when I watch these clips and I still get that buzz. It’s like a ravers flashback when they hear a certain tune from the 90’s (not me….obviously….ahem!) That fuzzy feeling inside.
    TA6, CN10, PM10, DB10, TH14…..sorry guys but DR7 will always hold a special place.

  12. Rico, very good read, god we could do with him now!!

  13. Hi Rocastle,

    Thank you, I hope i have done the great man justice….

    There are some great clips on youtube, not to watch without a tissue in hand – i never saw him in the flesh, just on the television. It must have been an honour to see such a star, a mr arsenal play….

  14. Nor do I Rico but the way Graham did it was shoddy and obviously there was a bag of fivers for Graham in the deal.

    I wish that we had Rocky in our midfield now.

  15. Who do you guys think has been our player of the season?id pick Sagna.

  16. I am proud to say that reading the tributes and watching the videos have bought a tear to my eye. RIP Rocky.

  17. I hope im not spoiling Rocky’s discussion here as i never really watched him play so i can’t really say anything but from what i’ve read he was a real gunner and thats enough for me.

  18. Rocastle, Spot on mate, he gave the whole ground a buzz and you knew what it meant to him to pull on The Arsenal shirt….! It showed in the way he played and the mentality he had that he wanted to win, the will to win the passion and the commitment and we all saw that as well as being blessed with such skills…!. If only we had a few more today who showed such love for the club and gave it all on a match day…!.

    He’d walk into this team now and kick most of their arses :D

  19. Will, smacked of money didn’t and i guess somethings stay the same today… Stinks….

  20. Here’s my persoanl fav….. Enjoy and have the hankies close…..

  21. Kt, you would have loved him, he had many years ago, what wenger teaches today, he was ahead of the game…

    What he had couldn’t be taught, he was a natural and even Wenger has said that he would be exactly what he would look for in a player….

  22. My dad knew the Adidas Market exec at the time who was working closely with the club, and he asked him why he was sold. He said that GG knew his knee was shot to bits and would only play 25% of two or three seasons before he retires. It was the beginning of football turning into business. We have to remember that AW did the same with Paul Merson. He was found by fans outside the east stand in tears and taken into the gunners bar for a drink (orange juice?!)

  23. KT, watch these clips go onto u-tube and go watch a few of the Rocky tributes and clips and you will see what he means to all of us who can rememeber, you will also see what it mean’t to him to play for Arsenal. This lot now couldn’t tie his boot laces…!

  24. Adam – you are not alone…..

  25. I didn’t know that Rocastle, but for the sake of a few pounds, why not let a player see his playing days out with the club he gave everything for – i guess you are right about football turning into a business..

    I guess there is no room for sentiment in the game, however, i can understand the ruthlessness to a degree but as with Merse, with afc under wenger, he moves on good players and replaces them with shoddy rubbish… Thats what is wrong, Merse still had a couple of seasons in him…..

  26. You only have to look at Rocky on the pitch and his expressions to show what it mean’t… always encouraging and always clenching his fist making sure teammates didn’t slack off…! he’d run through a brick was in his Arsenal shirt, noone would do that today, not one..! not even Jack…!. The more you remember Rocky and those players we had the more I detest the new age footballer and what they have become. . . . .

  27. WATH, that youtube clip is heart wrenching …..

  28. I knew you’d appreciaye that Rico………..
    The man was just Arsenal through and through, the sad thing is all these jcl’s will probably ask who is David Rocastle….? The club needs to make sure they all know exactly who he was…..!.

  29. The guy was doing step overs before they were called step overs.

  30. They are doing a nice piece on him todat WATH, the trouble is, who is there at the club from the Rocky era? Who is there to pass stuff on about what playing for Arsenal means for a real ‘homegrown’?

    roll on the henri’s and jet’s coming through….

  31. You had chance to listen to Wengers comments WATH?

  32. I was privileged enough to be at Highbury the day he made his debut against Newcastle. It says something about a man that even ten years on, fans who never even saw him play, honour his memory. Leeds Chelsea Man City Norwich fans are all marking the day. Astonishing that a humble, mild mannered player has had this affect. OOOOOH ROCKY ROCKY, ROCKY ROCKY ROCKY ROCASTLE!

  33. Will,

    thats funny – i wonder what they were called back then…

  34. Nope not listened to the wenger comments Rico, Spot on Will, that was 20yrs before Ronaldo even knew how to dribble on his bib let alone do a step over…!.
    Skill speed power and a fierce competitor…. He had it all.

  35. ‘privileged’ Jaygooner,

    That just about says it all, any fan who saw him play in the flesh was exactly that, Privileged…..

  36. J-gooner, you only have to judge how he was respected by the minutes silence at Highbury ten yrs ago…. For the swamp dwellers to show the respect that they did says it all…!

  37. The guy was so far ahead of his time. Could you imagine Rocky next to Jack in the Arsenal centre?

  38. I remeber being quite shocked at the time WATH seeing the spuddies players and fans standing silent – and possibly the rivalry was far worse back then than it is today….

    Talking of jack – he’s going to be a Dad, he’s also telling wenger he’s playing in the under 21’s…

    Things worry me about him…..

  39. Will, I’d settle for Rocky, Mickey and Paul Davis in midfield right this second and then I’d say we would win our last nine games even with a waiter in goal..!

  40. Agree Rico the ravalry was far worse then for sure seeing as so many now seem to think our big rivals are the mancs and the chavs………

    Hmmm there are a few things abt Jack that seem worrying BUT lets get it into perspective most is media stirring as well and we don’t know what he has said to wenger or anyone else for that matter.

  41. I’d settle for that midfield…

    I guess fans of today think that way as they are who we usually have to try and beat for trophies – but there isn’t any team more of a rival in my eyes than the spuddies….

    The rest i just don’t like… ;)

  42. As for Jack, he needs his arse spanked…. ;)

  43. Bartley has returned to Arsenal – injured!

  44. What do you think rocky would’ve been if he’d been developed by Wenger?

  45. Rocastle.
    An immortal player

  46. Apparently the mancs have contacted Athletico over De Gea.

  47. Hallo, Like KT I didn’t know much of Rocky or seen him play but the U tube links and stories have convinced me #legend

  48. Kt, Rocky didn’t need developing, he had everything….

    Wenger could have learned from him….

  49. Hi JM, spot on…

  50. There is a reason why i don’t like these ‘Brazilian wonderkids’.yesterday Neymar said chelsea was his dream club.today he has said he’ll not leave his Brazilian club Santos as his true happiness lies there.

  51. KT, Fergie says he is ready to spend big in the summer so its prob true…

    We however are linked again to Woodgate..

    says it all…..

  52. Howdy Erick,

    A legend indeed, i’m truly hoping that some of the Arsenal English boys can come through and play for their club with some of the heart, desire and passion as the great man did…

    Jack is certainly showing them the way…..

  53. KT, that is exactly why we shouldn’t believe all we read, most of it is just made up….

  54. Rico I like the way Rocky had this burst of pace leaving players for licking the grass..Ryo Miyiachi has this feel to him I want him at Arsenal he may make Nasir warm the bench controversial but true

  55. Kt: Louis walked Neymat trying to convince to go to Chelsea … nothing more. Nowadays, Bresilian clubs can afford to pay more, the league is like in Europe (not like before – “Campeonato Estadual” (Campeonato do Rio de Janeiro, S. Paulo, Minas Gerais, etc)) and therefore has become not so interesting the coming of good players to Europe. Brasil grew economically in last 10 years in contrast to Europe …

  56. Wow Erick, that will be deemed as slightly controversial but we all want to see players under pressure for their place, it’s all a bit too easy for them, they take their places for granted…

    If Ryo bursts onto the scene and someone gets dropped to make way, so be it i say…

  57. Rico I spent two hours looking at Ryo videos Cristiano Ronaldo is nothing this kid does not only have the talent but he works his socks off

  58. KT, as Rico said earlier Wenger could teach Rocky nothing but Rocky would sure of taught the dressing room a thing or two….!

  59. Erick – he has age on his side, if he keeps working he can be as good as he wants, as long as his head is screwed on right which i am sure it is….

  60. Spot on there WATH, who is there in our dressing room right now that is anywhere capable of being that kind on influence, i think we all know the answer….

  61. legend…that is about as simply as i can put it.

  62. Does anyone know the situation with Ryo’s work permit. In other words, will we see him playing for Arsenal next season?

  63. Hi oliver

    Adam, i am unsure what the 2011 ruling is re the permit, i think he could join on a ‘special talent’ vias only as he he is yet to play for his country and he’s outside europe, i am only guessing that though…

  64. Adam, I understood that once you had tried for a special talents visa and failed you had to wait a yr to re-apply…. def not 100% certain on that at all though, also if he does play for Japan that changes things as well.

  65. I think you are right WATH, i’m not sure though whether you are allowed one a season or two – at the same time as the transfer window…

    i have a feeling its the latter in which case will can re-apply in the summer, same with wellington…

  66. Just had a mate tell me Rocky is the player Walcott would love to be…..! Absolutely spot on…! Oh how i’d settle for that as well..!

  67. Back in a bit….

  68. I’d settle for that too WATH, i bet walcott would too – what a thought eh….

  69. Sorry guys but Jack isn’t fit to lick the mud off of Rocky’s boots. Jack is not an Arsenal fan, Ricky dreamed of playing for us and when he got there, he did everything to stay there.

    Rocky is the with Adams and Parlour.

  70. WATH, why/how the fck did we get a work permit for that waste of heart and lungs Denilson??

  71. Will, totally agree Jack isn’t a fan BUT he’ll been taught the right way hence he has the fight and the fire in his belly to win. Rocky was Arsenal thats what made him that bit more special, he was one of us , our age it was like watching your mate playing for our team there was the connection. He loved the club and the shirt like we did and it showed. Now all they love is the wage packet…! Totally agree Lee, how indeed did crab boy get a work permit is a mystery, maybe was a manc giving it out and realised how crap he was and wanted to stitch us up..?

  72. Nail on the head Wath, nail on the head. In those days, players wanted to play for the club, now they want to play for the highest payers.

  73. Rvp’s 4 year old > Denilson.

  74. lol think you got that right KT….. bet he’s a better keeper than the waiter too…. ;-)

  75. is this stuff about us being linked with woodgate bollox??

  76. actually, thinking about it he’s injury prone and would be cheap….done deal then!!

  77. Wath did you see neymar’s new quotes?that boy doesn’t know what he wants.

  78. Boo! I never saw Rocastle play either. So the youtube vids are enlightening. :) Too young gone though. :(

  79. I reckon it’s the hair KT, he’s thinking where best will he fit in best and not look like a weirdo….!

    hey AGAG…. He was special…..!

    Lee, it’s a waste to pay the fella 50k a week to be injured 11 months out of 12…!

  80. What did he say, KT? Too lazy to check…

    Hola, WATH. Certainly looks it from the little I’ve seen. Now, if we only had more players who were that committed…

  81. Hi Agag.neymar claimed yesterday chelsea was his dream club.today he has claimed his true happiness lies.

  82. Boo, afternoon all…

  83. *lies in Brazil*

  84. Song,fabregas,walcott and diaby all back.rvp,bendtner and ramsey will have final tests but should be fine.denilson is out with a toe injury-AW.

  85. KT, exactly like every boy then. ;)

    Hey, rico. How are you? Busy with your greens?

  86. Rain today agag, no gardening :( You good?

    That’s great news about those coming back Kt, i think rvp will be fine too…

    Denilson out :)

  87. hopefully the toe is aw’s, kicking him out the door…

  88. I’m great, rico. :D Rain again? :(

    KT, the treatment room emptying… that’s excellent news. Hope they’re fit to actually play.

  89. How can you say that gorgeous?its women who don’t know what they want.

  90. Maybe denilson saw rvp’s son youtube clip and he tried that technique only to injure his toe…!…rvp junior>denilson!

  91. It’s the truth KT. You know it. :)

    Robin’s son calls him Daddy Arsenal. :D

  92. rico, i am out of town this weekend and into the middle of next week on business, so i shan’t be able to do a match report for saturday…weekend after should be no problem.

  93. Hello, oliver. :) Howdy? On hols? Good for you!

  94. hi agag…no hols, not this time…work-related, so i shall be quite busy.

  95. ************** ROCASTLE FOREVER **********************

  96. Agag shame on you!how can you say that with a straight smily face?

  97. hiya k and sd…

    oh rocky, rocky…

  98. Thanks for letting me know oliver, hope your travels go well….

  99. Spot on SD, oh to have a player or two like him in todays team…..

  100. I wish i saw rocky play but too bad i was a toddler then.

  101. If you’ve not just been, I hope you go on one soon, oliver. :)

    Haha, KT. :) And you do sound a bit on the defensive. :D

  102. The bookies, William Hill have us favs to sign Cahill this summer…

    Both Parlour and Keown believe he is the answer to our defensive problems, now that’s something coming from Keown….

  103. Means wenger def won’t sign him then…………..

  104. Agag we men know you can’t win an argument with a woman or else they’ll throw shoes at you,take your credit card and go and buy more shoes…

  105. thanks rico…agag, been while since we have had a holiday. we are discussing visiting baguio this summer, but time off work will be an problem for my wife and i…not to mention heavy rains in the cordilleras…our last visit there overlapped july/august…it rained, and rained, and rained, and…

    i am trying to talk her into visiting montreal instead, but that looks unlikely to say the least.

  106. Thank you oliver for further proving my point.you just can’t win such an argument.

  107. It does WATH but they are kind of people wenger should be listening too but he’s too bloomin stubborn…

  108. oliver, if you want the rain, england is definately the place ;)

  109. Neymar now wants barca switch…

  110. I want rvp to play tomorrow.there is no team he scores against more than Blackburn.

  111. Smart move, KT. :)

    oliver, Baguio is always lovely. Much different now. You might want to spend more time in the south though. Visit the coast.

  112. I did say, KT. You lot are wishy washy. :D

  113. Kt, i don’t – i want RvP to play on Saturday ;) ;)

  114. Police have foiled a bomb threat that was targetting the Signal Iduna park home of current Bundesliga leaders Borussia Dortmund.it is understood the terrorists were targetting the weekend game between the leaders and 3rd placed Hannover.the game was totally sold out in excess of 80,000.Borussia Dortmund have had the highest average attendance in Europe in excess of 78000.

  115. Sandro Rosell has claimed barca will beat madrid 5 nil in the Copa dela rey final.

  116. Rosell is a prat!

  117. Off for dinner, back in a bit….

  118. We are apparently going to Malaysia for preseason.

  119. oh rocky rocky…

    rip my main man..gone but never ever ever forgotten…

  120. Evening all, been out all day and just tuned in, A sad day indeed Rocky had all that i was talking about yesterday, a true Arsenal Legend, loved him.

  121. Hi jj/steve.its been a long time jj but i hope everything is ok with you.

  122. Hi Steve, jj….

  123. yeah its good ktr i just been really busy working but thought id pop on seeing as though its an important day..

    fucking miss him..cant beleive we sold him cant believe he died and cant beleive its ten years..

    i try stay off you tube when it comes to rocky it gets abit emotional but i just cant help it..

  124. Ktr7, times like this, makes you think that life isn’t fair at times. A great tribute post, nice to be reminded.

  125. bonjour guys

    so whats new..is rvp crocked or what??

  126. Thanks Steve, you are right – life is very cruel sometimes, very cruel…..

  127. I’m off for the day folks…

    Catch up tomorrow..

    RIP Rocky…..

    Gone yes, Forgotten… Never….

  128. From what i read RVP just a deadleg and should be good for the weekend (should)!!!!!

  129. yeah im going too thanks for the post rico
    i speak to yall at the weekend..

  130. Nte Rico

  131. Morning all

    New Post up ….

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