An Invitation to Highbury

June 7, 2014

This little trip down memory lane comes from my brother, Jon Vines.

The story began with Arsenal’s Double cup-winning season of 1992/3. We’d beaten Sheffield Wednesday twice in both domestic cups, the Coca-Cola and the FA Cup and the club had promised a parade of both trophies after the opening home game of the new 1993/4 season.

Jon’s son, Matt was very excited at the prospect and set about investing a big effort into making an Ian Wright poster. The plan was to move right down the front of the lower tier while the cups were paraded to within touching distance and to get Wrighty to sign the aforementioned poster.

Well, the day arrived and the parade was scheduled for after the game with dodgy Midlands opponents Coventry City. However, things didn’t go as planned and Micky Quinn, later of Talkshite notoriety, scored a hat trick and the good guys got thumped three nothing. This from Wiki, “He (Quinn) attracted the crowd chant of ‘Who ate all the Pies?’ due to his physique, which he used as the title of his 2003 autobiography. Other nicknames included ‘Sumo’, ‘Hippofatamus’, and ‘Bob’, the latter from football fans who claimed that he bore a physical resemblance to the television presenter Bob Carolgees”.

Mickey Quinn: four goals on his debut.

After the game George Graham spent so much time trying to explain the result to the media that when he returned to the dressing room, the players had got changed and a message was broadcast over the tannoy that there would no longer be a parade of the cups. As a 13 year old, Matt was devastated and Jon decided, as a shot to nothing, he would express his and his son’s disappointment by writing to the club.

Within a week, Jon’s wife took a phone call at their home and called for Jon to come take the call. When he asked who was speaking, the reply came back, ‘Ken Friar, secretary of Arsenal Football Club’! (Upon being told the details of that phone call at a later date, Vines Senior (Matt’s Grandad) was particularly impressed as Ken Friar had always been one of his heroes. Friar had reportedly been given a job as a matchday messenger aged 12 when he’d kicked his football against the car of the current Arsenal manger George Allison in 1946 and then worked his way up through the ranks to eventually become Managing Director).

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The upshot of the call was an invitation, on behalf of George Graham, to visit the club and have a private audience with the manager and the cups. Jon managed to wangle an extra invite for ‘Grandad’ and the three generations of the Vines family had a guided tour of the Marble Halls, met George Graham and even got to hold the trophies. They were also the first members of the public allowed into the newly opened Arsenal Museum at Highbury.

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Matt also managed to bump into Ian Wright in the corridor and got his much desired autograph after all.

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The newspaper clipping below is from The Independent in March 2000 and the last line says “Even now, as a rising 20 year-old, Matthew would rank it as one of the best experiences of his childhood” Jon said. The day as a whole, that is, not just the bumping into Ian Wright in a corridor.

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Written by LBG via chas.    


An Arsenal Blast from the Past 1932/33 League Divison 1 Championship

March 21, 2014

The 1932/33 season saw Arsenal win it’s second League Division One Championship it was the first of three successive Championship wins 1932/33, 1933/34 and 1934/35. During the eight year period of 1930/31 to 1937/38 they won five League Championship titles. In the 1932/33 season they scored 111 goals, Cliff Bastin getting 33 of them, a record for a winger unlikely ever to be beaten. That year there was also a shock defeat in the FA Cup losing 0-2 away to Walsall, Herbert Chapman got the local underground station, Gillespie Road renamed to Arsenal, and he also introduced the now famous white sleeves in a match against Liverpool in March 1933. Unfortunately Chapman died of pneumonia in January of 1934, he was succeeded as manager by George Allison with Tom Whittaker and Joe Shaw as coaches, George went on win the League titles in both 1933/34 and 1934/35. The 1934/35 season saw Sunderland emerge as their main competitors; Arsenal lost 1-2 away then they drew 0-0 at Highbury on March 9th 1935 in front of Arsenal’s all time record crowd of 73,295.

Arsenal were the outstanding team in the Football League, early on in the1932/33 season Leeds United were one of their main competitors and they were involved in a titanic tussle for the leadership of the First Division. On Boxing Day 1932 Leeds travelled to Highbury, at the time they were six points adrift of Arsenal in the League standings and to everyone’s surprise it was Leeds who triumphed beating Arsenal by 2-1, with Charlie Keetley getting both goals in front of a huge 55,876 crowd, while Joe Hulme scored the lone Arsenal goal. Incredibly enough this set the scene for the very next day, when they played again in the return fixture at Elland Road where the crowd of the previous day was exceeded and a new record attendance for Elland Road was set at 56,796. For safety reasons the gates were locked and hundreds clambering on nearby house roofs as well as the Peacock Public House and various vantage points on Beeston Hill, in an attempt to get a glimpse of the action. Victory would have strengthened Leeds United’s championship aspirations but they were held to a goal-less draw by the star-studded Gunners and ended up the season in eighth position.

Arsenal went on to take the Football League Championship that season and were so dominant and overwhelming that they went on to become only the second team in Football League history to complete a treble by winning the Championship again in 1933-34 and 1934-35, Huddersfield Town being the first team to achieve the treble of Championships from 1924 to 1926.

In an English International game played at Highbury against Italy on November 14th, 1934 England fielded seven Arsenal Players Frank Moss in goal, George Male at right back, Edie Hapgood at left back, Wilf Copping at left half, Ray Bowden at inside right Cliff Bastin at inside left and Ted Drake at center forward. Ted Drake scored one of England’s goals in a 3-2 victory, during the 1934/35 season Ted netted 42 times for Arsenal.

players training

Arsenal training: Apr 27, 1935

The Arsenal team was chock full of Internationals and household names and their line ups at the time usually included such names as: Frank Moss; George Male, Eddie Hapgood, Frank Hill, Herbie Roberts, Bob John, Joe Hulme, David Jack, Tim Coleman, Jack Lambert, Alex James, Cliff Bastin, Wilf Copping, Ray Bowden and Ted Drake

arsenal1932-3-league

Arsenal 1932-33 Team

gn5 table 2

gn5 league standings

NB: That’s the type of League table that I like, no Manchester United, Manchester City or Tottenham Hotspur anywhere to be seen – those were the days my friends………

GunnerN5


Greatest Manager – Herbert Chapman or George Allison

May 29, 2013

Today’s post is a collaborative effort between GunnerN5 and Gooner In Exile and is the first in a series that will be profiling the best managers and players ever to represent the Arsenal.  We will publish a poll at the end of each category to allow readers to choose who they deem to be the best of all time. The end result will establish (after 8 weeks of painstakingly researched articles) who readers believe comprises the best Arsenal team of all time.  

1. Herbert Chapman: 1925-1934

He was born in Kiveton Park, near Rotherham; his father was a coal miner. One of eleven children in a keen sporting family, two of his brothers played professional football. The most successful was Harry, who played for The Wednesday in the 1900s. His older brother Tom played for Grimsby Town and yet another brother, Matthew, became a director of the same club. Herbert’s own playing career was mostly as a journeyman amateur.

His managerial career began with Northampton Town after which he joined Leeds City.

Herbert_Chapman_1During the suspension of league football, during WW1, he decided to help the war effort by becoming manager of a munitions factory in Barnbow. Soon after the end of WW1 Leeds City was accused of making illegal payments to players and as they refused to open their books for examination the club was expelled from the football league. Five officials including Chapman were banned from football for life. However the ban was overturned in 1921, when Huddersfield Town gave him a character reference, he then joined them as assistant manager on February1st 1921 and was appointed secretary/manager the following month. He went on to win the FA Cup in 1924-25 and consecutive League Titles in 1923-24 & 1924-25.

In the 1925 close season, Arsenal chairman Sir Henry Norris placed the following advertisement in the Athletic News.

“Arsenal Football Club is open to receive applications for the position of Team Manager. He must possess the highest qualifications for the post, both as to ability and personal character. Gentlemen whose sole ability to build up a good side depends on the payment of heavy and exorbitant transfer fees need not apply.”

WMHerbert moved to Arsenal soon after, attracted both by Arsenal’s larger crowds and a salary of £2,000, double what he earned at Huddersfield Town. Arsenal’s league form was indifferent but in 1927 they reached the FA Cup Final losing 1–0 to Cardiff City. That same year, Arsenal became embroiled in a scandal over illegal footballers’ pay. Sir Henry Norris was indicted for his part and banned from football, but Chapman escaped punishment.

He showed his cunning during negotiations held in a hotel when looking to buy David Jack from Bolton. Chapman met with the barman and gave him two pounds and then said “This is my assistant Mr Wall; he will drink whiskey and dry ginger. I will drink gin and tonic. Our guests will drink whatever they choose but you will give them double of everything while Mr. Wall’s drinks and mine will contain no liquor.” His cunning worked as Arsenal paid 3,000 pounds less than Bolton had first asked.

He went on to establish Arsenal as English footballs dominate force and his football concepts and ideas served as a template for teams and managers all over the globe. He won the first trophy for the club winning the FA Cup in 1930. His 1930/31 team scored an incredible 127 goals – still a club record. He championed innovations such as floodlighting, European competitions and numbered shirts.

Tragically he passed away from pneumonia in 1934 aged 55 years.

A bronze bust of Chapman stood inside Highbury as a tribute to this outstanding manager.

Herbert Chapman’s league record -

Games 336, Won 157, Drawn 84, Lost 95,

Goals for 736, Goals against 541,

Goals for per game 2.19, Goals against per game 1.61

Points won 59.3%

Average League Position 6.25

Total # of trophies won – 2 League titles, 1 FA Cup, 3 Charity Shields.

2. George Allison: 1934-1947.

Born in Hurworth-on-Tees, County Durham, he played amateur football in Stockton-on-Tees and dabbled in writing as a sideline and eventually became a full time journalist.

During WW1 he worked for the War Office and the Admiralty, producing propaganda, and later joined the Royal Fling Corps (later renamed the Royal air Force). After the war he moved into broadcasting, joining the BBC and becoming the first person to commentate on the radio on events such as The Derby and the Grand National, as well as the annual England v.Scotland international, and the 1927 FA Cup Final. By this time, he had already formed a strong association with Arsenal and he became the club’s programme editor, becoming a member of the board of directors soon after the end of the WW1; he was first club secretary and then managing director.

-Images-a-allison_georgeAfter the sudden death of Herbert Chapman in January 1934, he was appointed Chapman’s full-time successor, in the summer of that year. Arsenal had already won the League Championship twice in a row (1932-33 and 1933-34), and he made it a hat-trick, winning a third successive title in 1934-35.

He famously appeared in a 1939 movie that was set at Highbury, “The Arsenal Stadium Mystery”, where he had a speaking part as himself. Amongst his lines included one uttered at half time: “It’s one-nil to the Arsenal. That’s the way we like It.”, a line which had resonance with the team’s penchant for 1-0 score lines many decades later.

Unlike Herbert Chapman he took a hands-off approach to managing and left Joe Shaw and Tom Whittaker to take care of the training and squad discipline, while he concentrated on transfer policy and the club’s relationship with the media. He was known as being tactful, friendly and good-hearted but it was felt that he fell short in his handling of the squad and lacked a professional’s deep knowledge of the game. However his proponents have cited the amount of trophies won in his reign, although by the end of the 1930s Arsenal were no longer the all-conquering team that they had once been and he was unable to replace many of the stars from the first half of the decade. With the start of WW11 football in England was suspended; after the war ended, many of the players that had made Arsenal great had retired from playing. Arsenal finished a disappointing 13th in 1946-47, by now he was in his mid-sixties and being tired of managerial life, he decided to step down and retire from the game.

He died in 1957 after several years of illness.

George Allison’s league record -

Games 294, Won 137, Drawn 80, Lost 77,

Goals for 552, Goals against 345,

Goals for per game 1.88, Goals against per game 1.17

Points won 60.2%.

Average League Position 4.29

Total # of trophies won – 3 League titles, 1 FA Cup, 2 Charity Shields.

Written by GunnerN5 and compiled by Gooner in Exile


When Saturday Comes…..

November 30, 2012

On Saturday I am going to be making the (roughly) 7 hour round trip to the Emirates Stadium from West Yorkshire in order to watch a group of 20-30 something men kick an inflatable piece of leather in between some sticks!

Madness, some might say, but for me this is the completion of a childhood dream.

The first time i watched Arsenal on the TV was during the 1993/4 European Cup Winners Cup winning run, and I knew they were the team for me. That’s right people, I was a glory supporter! But seriously, with future club legends such as John Jensen, David Hillier and Eddie McGoldrick wearing the red and white, what wasn’t to love!?

From that day forward, even through all the grief suffered at the hands of adolescent Leeds supporters (you know the thugs that you see in the news now, imagine them as kids!), it has been my dream to watch Arsenal in the flesh, and on Saturday 1st December, at 3pm, my dream will finally come true. For that one afternoon I will forget about all the clubs current ‘issues’ and this group of finally tuned athletes will be forever etched in my memory the same way that the team of Seaman, Dixon, Winterburn, Adams, Bould, Davis, Morrow, Merson, Selley, Smith and Campbell are.

My question to you this morning, and for some of you oldies this may be a tad difficult, but can you remember when you first fell in love with the Gooners, and what was it that set them apart for you?

And on a side note, is there anything that I MUST experience on my first trip to the Emirates (apart from a win, of course!)?

Written by slimgingergooner


Was Arsenal leaving Highbury a mistake?

July 29, 2012

In the 1940’s many of us Avenell Road boys used to play football using the Avenell Road gate into Highbury as a goal.

We played with rag footballs (made by my Mum) and each of us took on the name of one of our heroes (I was Jimmy Logie), it was a great time in my life, we were so very poor monetarily but so very rich in friends, family and of course – football.

Due to a job change my family had to move from Avenell Road to Oldershaw Road, N7 (long since been demolished) and I was so distraught that I threatened to leave home and stay with my Granddad in Stavordale Road, N5, but I had second thoughts when my Dad agreed.

Being an Avenell Road boy my heart will always belong on the street where I was born, I estimate that I attended close to 1,000 games at Highbury (including reserve games) so it’s no wonder that I was upset, but understanding of our reasons, when the club decided to move to Ashburton Grove.

I always believed that our familiarity with the snugness of Highbury worked in our favour and by the same token it created big tactical issues for our opposition – this caused me to think that the sheer size of the Ashburton Grove pitch would not be suitable to the style of football that we were accustomed to playing. However looking back over our record in the first twenty seasons of the EPL some very surprising facts emerge – the Emirates has proven to be a more solid fortress than our fabled home at Highbury.

These are the statistics for home games at The Emirates vs Highbury:

We score more goals per game 2.03 vs 1.97

We have fewer goals per game scored against .79 vs .83

We have won a higher % of games 65.79% vs 62.50%

We have lost a lower % of games 11.40% vs 13.24%

We have tied fewer games 22.81% vs 24.26%

We have more points per game 2.20 vs 2.12

We have a higher % of points won 73.40% vs 70.6%

Here are the statistics for our away games, while we have been at The Emirates:

We score more goals per game 1.78 vs 1.38

We have more goals per game scored against 1.28 vs .94

We have won a higher % of games 44.74% vs 43.75%

We have lost a lower % of games 28.07% vs 29.41%

We have tied more games 27.19% vs 26.84%

We have more points per game 1.62 vs 1.61

We have a higher % of points won 54.10% vs 53.6%

The move to the Emirates has proven to be the right decision in almost every aspect with the notable exception of goals scored against in away games and the recent lack of silverware. Looking at the data I can only conclude that while we showed improvement we did not improve at a rate high enough to be consistently ahead of our opposition.

Was leaving Highbury a mistake?

Not in GunnerN5’s opinion.


Arsenal – testing your loyalty

April 7, 2012

I’m hoping the long gap between games isn’t causing the players to lose focus as badly as it has me – although it is a concern after our last performance!

This is just a bit of interactive fun to fill the time before we take on city tomorrow.

One object of the exercise is to test whether your loyalty to Arsenal might just possibly cloud your judgement in matters concerning by far the greatest team the world has ever seen……..

Try to answer the following questions honestly. It may be that your choices would be the same either way – but I doubt it.

So are you a dyed in the wool Arsenal supporter (in which case you lied in some answers) or are you one of the new breed of fan who prefers to stay seated, doesn’t sing and thinks the ref is a jolly good chap :?

Feel free to debate the questions and your choices in Comments, or maybe you can suggest similar questions that could have had you battling with your Arsenal conscience.

Written by Rasp


Simply the Best: Georgie Boy and Watson. Two Authentic Heroes. MU Pre-Match

January 22, 2012

For today’s introduction we are going back into the mists of time, when men were men and not floppy overcooked strings of spaghetti like Busquets, Nani and Pepe.

England were World Champions and Man Utd had recently won the European Cup. For the younger reader who has grown up in the Sky era, there can be no understanding of the excitement and national pride that both events stirred. Unlike today, all English football fans wanted MU to beat a brilliant Benfica team at Wembley, the scene of our only WC triumph just 2 years before. The following year (Sept ’69) when MU came to Highbury the side had already changed following the retirement of Sir Matt Busby, with younger blood joining Bobby Charlton etc.

At that time George Best was 23 years old, he had already played 300 games for MU and was the most famous footballer in the World. Moore, Charlton and Stiles may have been the faces of England’s WC victory but George was The Man. At a time when football was confined to newspaper  back pages, Best was front page headline news, top 10 songs were written about him, kids aped his clothes, copied his hair style, he was a friend of the Beatles, always had a super-model on his arm etc etc. But above all, he was a complete footballer, he was coming to Highbury and so was I.

A 60,000 crowd  in the same Highbury that was limited to under 40k a few years later. The North Bank was packed and swaying. An old man reminiscing is interminably dull so I will cut this short· Mclintock heads out a high ball to the edge of the area, Best leaps off the ground and sends a scissor kick volley flying past Bob Wilson. At first, there was stunned silence around Highbury followed by huge applause, we had witnessed a genius displaying his genius – what can be better on a football pitch? We drew 2-2 and I recall Stroller Graham scoring one for us.

George Best is the best player I have ever seen play live and I have seen Maradona, Cruyff, Van Basten, Gullit, TH, DB  (4 Dutchmen TA :-) ) etc etc  No-one could lift a crowd in the way he did, and he was a brilliant bloke to boot.

A young Best at what looks like Highbury (West Stand?)

Manchester United have always been a glamour club and their arrival at the Emirates guarantees tension and excitement, this fixture remains a highlight of  any season. Sadly, Ferguson’s MU are a pale shadow of the entertaining sides of their past; the cheating, spitting, vituperative Rooney being the emblem of their play. Yes, they thrashed a reserve AFC earlier in the season (a total freak result ), and today we could have problems due to our injury nightmare but the belief remains that a full strength Arsenal would beat this MU team with some ease.

However, we do NOT have a full strength team and are unlikely to see one for some time. Have we enough to win today? Certainly, if the players give their all and work as a team. There are fears about how our “FB’s” will cope with MU’s strength on the flanks;  the midfielders must concentrate and assist them.

My Team:

It would be brave to start with Oxlade-Chamberlain – his last outing at OT was hardly a success!

Famous Gooner: Today is all about courage, the ability to step forward when all you want to do is go home and play with the wife. One Gooner who has lived a life requiring a level of courage few of us can imagine is Michael Watson.

Having beaten Nigel Benn, Watson fought and lost to Chris Eubank for the WBO Middleweight title (1991, what great times for fans of British boxing), receiving a life-threatening injury which resulted in 6 brain operations and 40 days in a coma.  To go from being at the top of his profession with a healthy, immensely strong body to being  totally immobile must have been devastating. There followed a year in hospital during which time he couldn’t move, hear or speak, Watson spent the next 6 years in a wheelchair.  But Michael didn’t give up, he fought is disabilities and in 2003 even managed to complete the London Marathon (over the course of 6 days), being welcomed over the finish line by Eubanks and his neurosurgeon.

Not long out of hospital (1992) Michael was invited onto the hallowed grass at his beloved Highbury and at half-time was pushed in his wheel-chair to all sides of the ground – it was a highly emotional moment both for him and the fans who rose to greet him. I was there that day and am not ashamed to say shed a tear for an incredibly brave man and a true Gooner. In 2004, Watson was awarded an MBE for his charity work for Brain and Spinal Research.

Watson, wearing the Red & White he always wore in the Ring

Watson doesn’t find excuses when the odds are stacked against him. Can today’s Arsenal team win?  Ask Michael.

COYRRG

Written by Big Raddy


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