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Ex-Barking and Dagenham mayor and one of West Ham’s oldest supporters dies aged 102

PUBLISHED: 16:54 13 February 2019 | UPDATED: 10:56 18 February 2019

Mabel Arnold celebrating her 100th birthday. Pic: Paul Bennett

Mabel Arnold celebrating her 100th birthday. Pic: Paul Bennett

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Tributes have been paid to former Barking and Dagenham mayor and one of West Ham’s oldest supporters who has died aged 102.

Mabel aged 18. She lost both her parents at the age of 16. Pic: Paul Bennett.Mabel aged 18. She lost both her parents at the age of 16. Pic: Paul Bennett.

Mabel Arnold passed away peacefully at the weekend, just two months short of her 103rd birthday.

The ninth of 10 children, she was born in the middle the First World War, in April 1916.

She lived in Amesbury Road, Dagenham, since 1940 but had a tough start in life, losing both her parents by the time she was 16 and ending up staying at a hostel in Tottenham Court Road.

It was then, though, that she met her husband Richard, with whom she attended her first West Ham game in 1934.

It would begin a lifelong connection with the club for the Arnolds, with Richard taking up a role as trainer and scout for the club in 1958. It was something he would continue to do until his death in 1981.

Mabel, who was the club’s oldest season ticket holder, continued to attend matches, following the Hammers home and away with her son Graham - one of the couple’s four children.

Speaking to this paper shortly after her 100th birthday, Mabel told how she met Hammers legend Bobby Moore after the club won the 1964 FA Cup.

“I remember Bobby Moore coming over to me after the ‘64 final with Preston and asking for the first dance.

“I said, pointing to my husband, ‘No – he’s first’, which was funny since all the girls there wanted him.”

Outside of her love of football, Mabel was heavily involved with politics, spending 27 years as a councillor in Barking and Dagenham.

She served as the borough’s mayor in 1987-88, and during her time as a councillor sat on the social services and libraries committees.

Council leader Cllr Darren Rodwell said: “It is with great sadness that we announce the death of a borough great – a former councillor, mayor and recipient of the freedom of the borough – Mabel Arnold.

“Not only did she serve our borough selflessly over the years, I am extremely proud as a Hammer to say until her death, she was the oldest season ticket holder and fan of 85 years.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with her family and friends.”

West Ham United vice-chairman Karren Brady added: “Everyone at the club is saddened to hear of Mabel’s passing, yet proud and appreciative that we were lucky enough to call her a member of the West Ham United family.

“She was an inspirational lady, who will always hold such a special place in our history, and in the hearts of all West Ham fans. Mabel will be sadly missed.”

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