ANYBODY who liked football before Sky TV told them to should be able to tell you of his legend. David Rocastle. who died aged 33 from cancer ten years ago today, will always be a hero to me.
A two time championship winner with Arsenal, he was more than that. He embodied the spirit of the club in the 1980s, pulling itself up after barren years of not winning much alongside a group of talented London lads and raw youth team graduates: Thomas, Davis, Merson, Adams, etc. They grew together. Rocky’s emergence attracted disaffected black young men to go to the football matches, changing the diversity of the crowds for the better. Football violence touched every club but skinheads were barged away from the terraces. I think Rocastle’s cool was part of that.
No wonder he didn’t fit so well into the dour,frankly boring style the club adopted in the pre-Wenger 1990s. He went on to play for Chelsea and Leeds, but his heart, you can’t help thinking, remained at Highbury.
His goals weren’t bad either. In this YouTube tribute composed by a similarly starstruck fan (although one with probably more time on their hands), look out for the often forgotten amazement at Old Trafford. He jugggles the ball, beats a few players and then chips the keeper. They talk about the great goals Cantona, Torres and Thierry have scored, but that one is right up there. Rocky, never forgotten.