When a sixth-generation Arsenal fan made a montage of the 1971 Cup Final little did he realise twelve months on he would be hosting a critically-acclaimed Arsenal art show with thousands of visitors expected.
But for 38 year-old ‘Dan Mac’ as he is known – his mixture of a Wembley Cup Final match ticket, programme and match photos from the victory over Liverpool in May ’71 - changed his life.
As he said modestly: “Around this time last year I made an Arsenal piece of art for myself, took a photo of it and just tweeted it – Fresno Gooners saw it and retweeted and it took off from there.
“The feedback has been really positive. 150 people turned up at the first #OpAa at Piebury Corner in June – and it wasn’t even the football season,” he adds, still incredulous from the numbers of fans and customers who turned up - through the power of social media.
“People came along specifically to buy items who we hadn’t met but had interacted with on twitter.
“We’ve also had interest from high-profile Arsenal fans such as Dermot O’Leary. He and Boyd Hilton bought our Cup Final rosettes!
“Fleet Street journalists Amy Lawrence and Harry Pratt have also been impressed by the work. Andy Exeley [Arsenal Programme Editor] has featured our artwork in the last three Arsenal magazines, and we are fortunate enough to have him include us in the match-day programme for Burnley this weekend.
“Jill Armstrong [wife of much loved and missed Arsenal legend Geordie Armstrong] and her family came to the one in June, and we’ve had powerful social media backing from people like Geoff Arsenal and Darren Arsenal and Jules Wheeler to name but a few.
“Andy Bell [Beady Eye's ex-Oasis guitarist - and for afcionados such as myself cult early 90s indie band Ride - who has been known to spin a pre-match tune or two at PC] will be playing over the weekend. And of course Piebury Corner owners Paul and Nicky Campbell have been great supporters from the off.
“The interest has been phenomenal – we are expecting thousands of people over the course of the weekend.
“Bob Wilson is a huge supporter and he will be judging the kids competition with the winners to be featured in this weekend’s show – and we are also big fans of the Willow Foundation.”
After the huge success of the last exhibition at Piebury Corner, the second #OpAa will be featuring new up-and-coming artists, as well as those who have been with them from the beginning, with a greater range of affordable art prints available - perfect timing for a bit of (very) early Christmas shopping.
Artists will include @artofsport @paineproffitt @11cannons @23dawit @miniboro @rincks @jfdoodles @nine-0 @dammydodger @goonerfrog @tashakp @quietbritishaccent @urbancolours & @alsnotnutz
If you don’t recognise any of those names then you are missing out on some very talented and creative artists - and I would urge you to go along this weekend to take a look (and buy!) their stunning work.
As a disclaimer I have written for various publications which have featured a few of the exceptionally innovative people listed above, including international match programmes and the current issue of The Football Pink which carries a superb Paine Proffit depiction of Highbury.
So, if nothing else I will be going this Friday night to have a drink and a chat with them - and see if I can pick up a print or two of course.
Make no mistake: the people featured at Op As this weekend are the future of sports art, and football art in particular.
#OpAa is staging its second Arsenal inspired art exhibition and sale at Piebury Corner on Friday 31st October & Saturday 1st November 2014. 209-211 Holloway Road, N7 8DL
A raffle will be held at the show for the one-off originals - ‘Wrighty’ and ‘Bergkamp’ - canvasses with all monies raised from their sale to be donated to the superb Willow Foundation.
Artists @nine-0 and @vccdesigns will also be painting live at Piebury on Saturday afternoon ahead of the Burnley game.
Layth Yousif is a journalist and author of Arsene Wenger: 50 Defining Fixtures. Click here to buy a copy.
Follow him @laythy29