Professor Arthur Marwick

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The Independent Online

Those of us who played alongside Arthur Marwick [obituary by Clive Emsley, 4 October] in the Open University football teams of the 1970s and 1980s admired not just his "prowess on the pitch" but his boundless enthusiasm and his support for all his team-mates, writes Andrew Spackman.

During his OU career, Arthur was living in Hampstead. On Saturday evening he might have been in the Flask with a group including Lady Antonia Fraser, but every Sunday morning in the season he would drive up to Milton Keynes to turn out for the Open University Football Club, normally for the team which was playing in the bottom division of the MK Sunday League. Back in the 1970s the games were sometimes played on a rain-swept, sloping pitch with no changing facilities and on the edge of a Bletchley industrial estate, or on a pitch where the sheep had been cleared from the playing area just before kick-off.

The OU team's results were not too impressive, but that didn't deter Arthur. I once heard him telling a former player in all seriousness how much better the OU Reserves were now doing. "Ach!" he said:

We've been going out and getting hammered 5-0 in the first half. In the old days we would then just have crumbled, but now we are holding them to 7-0 at full time, and often we are the stronger side in the last 10 minutes.

Newly appointed to the OU in 1978, an employee in another department was really impressed at the atmosphere in the OU Sunday team. It particularly struck him that there was a genuine cross-section of OU employees in the side; for example, the chap who must be a gardener was treated with as much respect as an academic. The "gardener" turned out to be Arthur Marwick.

Arthur played in the first game of every OU soccer team, and by 1975 was a fixture in the OU Sunday Reserves. It was a joke that we had started each team in order to ensure Arthur a game.