Recent Posts:

Battle Of Highbury Part 2, Death of a Soccer fan.

1 May, 2022
written by Nigel Kahn

West Ham faces Arsenal on the 1st of May this year at the London Stadium, Forty years to the day of the same fixture played at Highbury, the former home of Arsenal. That day is one of the darkest days of football violence, not just in this fixture but in football at that time.
That morning, one fan went to this game and would never make it back to his family. He wouldn’t grow old, and he wouldn’t have a family of his own. Just for being an Arsenal fan, supporting the wrong club at the wrong time.
The game that day had been marred by violence that delayed the game twice. West Ham fans had attempted to take the North Bank of Highbury, something they had previously achieved in 1975 and 1977.

This time though, Arsenal fans were prepared and repelled the West Ham fans. Smoke bombs were set off, and the police struggled to contain the fighters. The game was overshadowed by the violence that day. As I said in part 1, My uncle got us seats in the Arsenal West Stand, but during the second half, with the Hammers two down, he had seen enough to know after the game it wouldn’t be good, so we left with still about 20 minutes of the game to play.
Back in 1982, there was no social media, no mobile phones or text messages. We left the ground to get into his car, then back home.
The next day, once we got the Sunday Express paper, I heard about John Dickenson. His picture lying on the ground with the police trying to save his life stood out.



At just 23 years of age, he lost his life on the streets outside the Arsenal stadium, a victim of the growing football violence that dominated football terraces in the early to mid-80s.
It Seems John had ended up at Finsbury Park train station while his car was parked by the ground, so he decided to get the tube back one stop to Arsenal Station, Gillespie road.
He was either as part of an Arsenal firm fighting it out, or he was unlucky to be caught up in it. Whatever he was doing, it would be the last he would see before being stabbed and left in to die in the street.

Below is an account taken from another website

For the Inter City Firm and their Arsenal equivalent, the Gooners, the match itself didn’t really matter. Both firms had smuggled their members into stands reserved for supporters of the other team and spent much of the match attacking innocent spectators. At the end of the match, the Gooners retreated to the nearby Tube station, preparing to ambush the Inter City Firm (and any other West Ham supporters) as they headed home. But the Inter City Firm had a better grasp of urban mob-warfare tactics and gained the advantage by going to the next Tube station, catching the train back to Arsenal, and attacking the Gooners from the rear. According to some accounts, John Dickinson was the last Gooner left standing his ground as his associates fled in panic. With nothing but a broken broomstick with which to defend the honour of Arsenal against the massed hordes of the East End’s most Neanderthal, he was dead of a knife wound through the heart within seconds.

He was discovered by sports Journalists walking back to get trains after the game.
They called the police over and tried to save his life, to no avail.
I can still remember the following games at Upton Park, posters asking for witnesses.

At the end of that season, my uncle decided he had enough, never renewed the season tickets we had held since 1977, and so to my mum’s fears, I moved from the seats of the West Stand to the North Bank of Upton Park.
It would be five years before I went back to Highbury to watch West Ham. By then, football violence started declining, as had attendances at games. In these days of 60,000 attendance in the new London stadiums, it is hard to imagine that, in the mid-80s, attendees were as low as 15,000 as many had decided they just didn’t feel safe.

Nostalgia is a wonderful thing. Remembering and reliving the good old days has never been so popular, but while it is generally the good times we look back to, it doesn’t mean we should ignore the dark or tragic times as well.
John Dickinson lost his life 40 years ago today, aged just 23, just for supporting the wrong team at the wrong time.
I hope no other fan’s family ever face what they did that day and the years that followed.


You need to be a member and be logged in to comment and get involved with the community. Its free to join here.


  1. Well said Nigel. Important to remember so we never go back to those days. My son is the same age now as John Dickinson was back then and I can’t imagine how it must have felt for his family and friends.

  2. Very late commenting on this as I only found out about this site having watched Nigel on Stel’s video yesterday so not sure if Nigel will read it. A very interesting and poignant article – I’m commenting because I was at that match with the West Ham fans on the Clock End and do remember the smoke bombs but sadly not that someone was killed afterwards. The one thing that has always vividly stuck with me from that day is that it was the only first team match that Ray Houghton played for us before we stupidly let him go to Fulham on a free transfer that summer!

    I would like to add that I’m very impressed with this site and will definitely be on it regularly – an awful lot of time and effort has clearly gone into producing and maintaining it so thank you.

    • Thanks for the kind comments mate and welcome !

    • Welcome to the 6foot2 family and thanks for commenting
      We are still young but building a great foundation here


Submit a Comment

Follow Us On Social Media

Recent Comments

Related Posts

Doddsy Away day in the Forest

Doddsys Awayday round up Alright my Ansomesssss howessssss useeeeee Doooiinnnngggg Well, the away days are back, and it’s funny what you miss when you don’t have it, but I’m sure by the time 4 pm Sunday comes, I will wish we were still preseason. Up early at 7 o’clock...

Your Predictions (And Ours) Viborg Home

Your Predictions (And Ours) Viborg Home     Another defeat against Forest, one which was far less predictable than the Citeh loss. Nobody went for 1-0 to Forest, although 20% of you felt we would lose. As far as our team goes, Nick was closest as the only one who...

C&B Match Review – Forest Away

Nick and John discuss the defeat to Nottingham Forest - Not good enough! Subscribe to the channel here:

Can’t See The Wood For The Forest

Opening three games of season you generally need a good start to dictate how the season goes, struggle in the beginning and the nerves set into the fan base that can then seep into the players.0 points after two is not disastrous but it puts pressure on what is to...

Your Player Ratings Forest Away

Your Player Ratings Forest Away So, a pretty dismal result away to Forest, but a day when every bit of luck went for the home side. Two losses in two is not the start we had hoped for. Can members please let us have your player ratings, which will and reveal the...

The Saturday Booze Up Including Forest Preview

Nick, John and Gary discuss the upcoming Forest game and all things West Ham, with a few beers. Subscribe to the channel here:

Premier League Live Scores

West Ham Match Day