First off, get yourselves out of the gutter.
Just because we’re dealing with ‘F’ words does not mean that the tone of this fine blog will be in any way compromised.
No f*cking way.
So we are onto the sixth letter in our Alternative Arsenal Alphabet – and it’s one that throws up some fine entries to this anthology.
As always, please feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments.
F is for…
The Arsenal have been responsible for many “firsts’ – a lot of them initiated by the great Herbert Chapman who managed the club in the 1930s. To list but a few…
First club to use floodlights.
First to use undersoil heating.
First club to install turnstiles.
First (and only) club to have a London Underground station renamed in its honour.
First ever game broadcast live on the radio was an Arsenal game (Arsenal v Sheffield Utd, 1927).
First ever game broadcast on TV was an all-Arsenal affair (Arsenal v Arsenal Reserves in 1937).
First game ever to appear on Match of the Day was Arsenal at Liverpool in 1964.
First match broadcast live in 3D (Arsenal v Man Utd in January 2010).
I could go on but you get the point: we are The Arsenal – the greatest club in the history of world football. (Incidentally, our N17 neighbours have absolutely no firsts, but they do have 11 number twos turning out on a regular basis).
Did you know that the North Bank was destroyed by fire in 1941? The blaze was caused by a visit from Herr Hitler’s Luftwaffe, who somewhat rudely dropped a bomb on our fine stadium. Fortunately these days the only German aerial threat is when the BFG goes up for a corner.
OK, do you know how many (fully competitive) finals we have played in over the years?
The answer is 31, made up of 18 FA Cup Finals, 7 League Cup Finals,, 3 Cup Winners’ Cup Finals and 1 each of the Fairs Cup Final, Champions League Final and UEFA Cup Final. Out of that 31 we came home with the silverware on 15 occasions.
Under ‘A’ I mentioned the 1930s film The Arsenal Stadium Mystery. It has since been drawn to my attention that there are many movies in which The Arsenal has featured in some (often very small) way. For example: in The Full Monty there’s the celebrated scene in which the men are taught to dance with one arm in the air by being told to emulate the famous Arsenal back four. Then there was Fever Pitch, the film based on Nick Hornby’s memoir of growing up as an Arsenal supporter. Among the lesser well known is the brief appearance of a bloke in an Arsenal shirt in the 1995 film ‘Hackers’. I know you might sniff at such a fleeting glimpse of an Arsenal shirt, but in ‘Hackers’ the chap wearing it was busy boffing Angelina Jolie at the time (I’ve always wondered whether Chas has an alibi for that day)…
There are many more film references to explore. If you would like to read about them here’s the link: http://www.arseweb.com/other/movies.html
No, not the end-of-the-night, drunken, arm-around-your-best-mate saying “I really love you, honest” sort of friendship. I refer to The Bank of Friendship in the Blackstock Road – a fine, outstanding example of an Arsenal boozer. I probably should have included it under ‘B’ but as I forgot, it’s getting a look-in here. It was always my favourite post-match pub while we were at Highbury and I’ll never forget the party there when we clinched Arsene Wenger’s first league title in 1998 (the game where we beat Everton 4-0, the scoring capped off with a Tony Adams volley). There was so much rhythmic jumping up and down in the bar that the whole building was vibrating and the glasses on the top shelf above the bar were shuffling merrily along to the edge of the shelf and falling off, one after the other. I don’t think the landlord really cared – he must have made a fortune that day.
You don’t often see a punch-up at The Arsenal these days and, sadly, if you do it’s more likely to be between two Arsenal supporters. But back in the days before segregation of fans was introduced it was not uncommon to see some full-blooded brawls both inside and outside the ground. As I recall, Arsenal fans were never really known for having a feared “firm” of hooligans (unlike Chelsea, West Ham, Leeds United, Manchester United, Millwall and so forth). Even so, I knew plenty of Gunner loons who were not averse to a bit of fisticuffs. Still, there’s no question that it’s a good thing those days have long gone and most people now go to football for the football, not the fighting.