My memoirs are made of this - Brian Sadler

One of Brian Sadler's proudest moments was when he presented Dennis Bergkamp with the Norfolk Arsena

One of Brian Sadler's proudest moments was when he presented Dennis Bergkamp with the Norfolk Arsenal Supporters Club player of the season award. - Credit: Archant

The dying wish of a popular football fanatic and lover of the sporting life has been fulfilled by the publication of his memoirs five years after his death.

Brian 'Bass' Sadler, a devout Arsenal fan, spent the last months of his life at All Hallows Hospital in Ditchingham compiling his life story after being diagnosed with stomach cancer.

Now his poignant final despatch has been published as a booklet containing pictures of the many highlights of an eventful life tragically cut short at the age of 48 in December 2007.

The 24-page publication, which was originally written in long-hand by Brian, was typed up by his wife Emma-Jane, who he married in 2004, and printed in his home village of Loddon. Around 80 copies have been circulated among his family and network of friends and other people whose lives he touched, with his bright, upbeat personality and kindness.

He concluded the several thousand words long publication, with the message: 'Writing this lifetime memoirs gave me great comfort. I hope you'll enjoy them. Over the years I have been blessed to enjoy the company of many wonderful people who were to become lifetime friends. I hope I gave you all fun, laughter and great times. Keep well, enjoy life, be happy.'

Brian was one of the original members of the Norfolk Arsenal Supporters Club and travelled far and wide in support of his beloved Gunners after becoming involved with a campaign in 1991 to form the club. The club became a 'new family' allowing him to travel home and away and abroad to watch a team he had followed since the age of seven. One of his proudest moments was when he presented Dennis Bergkamp with the NASC player of the season award. 'I performed this in the grand marble hall at Highbury and when I emerged from the room to take my place in the North Bank I was ecstatic, full of pride and quite emotional. I shudder to think what if it had been my all-time Arsenal legend hero Tony Adams,' he wrote.

Brian enjoyed the highlight of his playing career, spent largely with Thurton and Loddon, where he became an active fund-raiser after hanging up his boots, when NASC provided him 'with the glory of gracing the Highbury pitch' for a charity tournament. When he became aware of Brian's illness Gunners boss Arsene Wenger sent him a personal message along with a signed pennant.

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During his early 20s Brian worked as a sales assistant at Pilch Sports in Norwich – 'a fantastic opportunity' which brought him into contact with many of the local star names of the day, including ex-Canary footballer Peter Mendham and then budding Essex cricketer Don Topley. He also fashioned an opening as Radio Norfolk's first horse racing tipster after volunteering his services to Keith Skipper where he operated under the pseudonym of 'Sprint' after asking for his real name not to be made public as 'I didn't fancy people chasing me for bad tips or getting begging letters.' He made an impressive debut with his first batch of tips from a Yarmouth meeting. 'Four winners from six selections – 25-1, 12-1, 4-1 and 4-6 – what tips! And I did not have a single penny on any of these.' Talking about the decision to write his memoirs, which detail the highs as well as the lows in a frank appraisal, he said: 'This turned out to be very upsetting but also therapeutic. How does one remember everything that's happened over the 48 years to date? With help from family/ friends etc I believe I have put together details that have given myself a lovely life. Sure, as I said, some events have not been easy but to enjoy the good times one needs to unfortunately suffer bad times also.'

Before dying, Bryan made his funeral wishes clear and also arranged for ante-post bets to be placed on the 2008 Cheltenham Festival. 'Not too much but I've got good odds hopefully – all they have to do is win!'

Brian's sister Julie Davison, who lives in Loddon, said she was delighted that the memoirs had been printed. 'I am ecstatic, although it has been five years it has brought back a lot of memories, happy and sad. We will always remember him but this has made it even more special.'

The Sadler family sponsors a Loddon FC match each year in his memory and Julie is now trying to organise a game to raise money for Cancer Research and All Hallows Hospital. 'I am hoping it will be between Loddon and the Norfolk Arsenal Supporters, or maybe a celebrity match. Brian did a lot of charity work himself.'

Alan Jackson, a close friend of Brian's from the Norfolk Arsenal Supporters Club, added: 'He was the joker in the pack and kept everybody going. He would always be able to smile, joke or come up with an anecdote. First and foremost he was a very jovial chap and everyone in Loddon knew or knew of him.'