It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Maria Petri, on Friday 22nd July 2022, at the age of 83. Maria leaves behind cousins, Christina, Madeline, John and Maddy, her god-daughter Maria and other family members. Maria was a lifelong supporter of Arsenal and could always be heard at the stadiums with her infamous chants. She will greatly be missed by all.
The funeral took place on Tuesday 30th August 2022 at 1pm at St Katherines Church, Friern Barnet Lane N20 0NL. The burial followed at 2.30pm at Hendon Cemetery, Holders Hill Road NW7 1NB. Instead of flowers there was a donation box at the church in aid of the NSPCC (National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children), which Maria was a great supporter of.
Maria Petri,was one of the oldest Cypriots born in London
The funeral was well attended with family and friends plenty of Arsenal fans and from the Arsenal club itself that included the Arsenal chief executive Vinai Venkatesham.
Maria Petri was born in London in 1939; her parents came from Akanthou and immigrated to London in 1938. She grew to become the darling of Arsenal Football Club who she has supported for over 70 years, has been present at most home and away games, and has even travelled as far as Shanghai, Australia, Tokyo and Kuala Lumpur to watch them.
Maria’s parents, Michael and Eleni, were a shoemaker and seamstress respectively; when they came to England, they opened a restaurant in Rathbone Place which catered mainly in English food, and they lived above the restaurant. From there, they moved to Holloway Road and opened another restaurant and also lived above.
During World War II, at the age of five, Maria was sent to live in a nursery in Sevenoaks and when she returned to London, it was her parents’ aim for Maria and her brother Sotiris to be educated.
Maria attended All Souls School in Goodge Street, then a Grammar School in Maida Vale called Paddington High, and from there to Chichester where she studied to be a teacher. Her brother became a leading accountant for Beechams, the large pharmaceutical company.
Maria’s teaching career spanned 32 years. She taught mainly in Islington; one of the schools she taught at was Woodberry Down.
One thing that struck Maria during her early childhood was that most Cypriots congregated in Goodge Street where she and her family were living and had several businesses, mainly in catering and providing services like shoemaking and grocery shops.
She started supporting Arsenal at the age of eleven and took a keener interest during her college years when she went to Portsmouth to watch an Arsenal match – since then, she has been an ever stay.
The biggest match she has ever been to in her own eyes was the UEFA Champions League Final when Arsenal played Barcelona in Paris. Her favourite player was Kenny Samson.
During the pandemic last year, The FA Cup which Arsenal won beating Manchester City, visited the home of 81-year-old Maria, along with Arsenal legend and 2002 FA Cup icon, Ray Parlour.