Travelling to watch Arsenal up and down the country and into Europe can be a frustrating hobby. However, a few of us were fortunate enough to enjoy many games with Pete and whenever he was involved, he seemed to make the whole experience so much better for all of us.
I'm not sure why his company was so good – it could have been one of many things: his enthusiastic pre-match banter, listening to the Whole of the Moon on the M6 on repeat, the 1993/1994 classic yellow and blue away strip he always wore, the many discussions we had about the size of my head compared to his nose, his penchant for a good old sing song, his love of a post-goal celebratory jostle or even his slightly besotted views of Emmanuel Eboue.
What was for sure though, was that if we were going to Arsenal with Pete we would all have an incredibly good time. Winning 2-1 at Stamford Bridge would certainly rank up there as one of my favourite games with Pete. Our unconfined joy as RVP scored a quick brace was a moment we regularly spoke about. He was always astounded by the raucous nature of each and every celebration which ensued when watching our team score away from home; indeed, he always made sure he celebrated each and every goal sufficiently well. He wanted to do it justice, so to speak. On that particular occasion, back in November 2008, after the second went in he ended up a couple of rows in front of where we had been prior to the goal with his arms and legs flailing everywhere! Sheer pandemonium, and difficult to describe if you have not been in the middle of one!
When he finally regained composure (minus hat, scarf, wallet & phone of course) the excitement etched across his face was something else. He always had the most positive outlook and the result, although important to him, was not the be all and end all. Walking out of the Nou Camp having lost 4-1 to Barcelona was inconsequential for Pete. He was not in the mood for negativity especially after the 24 hours we had enjoyed (Emmanuel Eboue, THAT bus journey to the ground, the chant he invented "na na na na na na na na naaa Samir Nasri" et al) and so he promptly re-told the story about his epic journey which enabled him to get to Barcelona, slightly enhanced with hot air balloons and rowing the channel.
Only Parto would have travelled via train, from London to Bristol, before catching a flight to northern Spain before finally getting on a coach to Barcelona. We all wished him well on his return journey and his day at work the following day! What a day that was. Pete said the greatest game he ever went to was the Arsenal vs Barcelona match at the Emirates stadium on February 16th 2011. Charles joined him on that particular evening and what an unbelievable atmosphere it must have been. I'm sure Charles will be able to give you a detailed account of Peter's jostle after Arshavin scored that goal in the 84th minute.
He didn't seem to do small games, though offer Pete any ticket, he wouldn't say no. Perhaps it's a testament that Pete was the one we wanted with us for the big days out. The final game I went to with Pete was at White Hart Lane on a glorious evening in late April 2011. Mark and Nick accompanied us on what was to be an eventful few hours. It ended up as an epic 3-3 draw but there was so much more to the night than just the result. Getting to the ground proved to be somewhat tricky; indeed, we went for our usual pre-match beers at a pub near the Emirates before making the short trip to watch the match. Various traffic issues meant we had to run for about 15 minutes to get into the ground in time. We scaled various fences, nearly impaled ourselves on numerous metal spikes and trespassed several properties before finally getting through the police cordons and into the away section. I was sweating, Pete was laughing. Finally in the ground, the atmosphere was red hot. Within minutes we were 1-0 up and the four of us were strewn over each other, the floor and random other fans. Bedlam ensued as the other two goals went in and I am only pleased I was able to share that evening, our final game together, with Pete.
He loved Arsenal and we all loved supporting Arsenal with him.