Joe Baker Remembered

Joe Baker

Just as Bruce Rioch will always be remembered by newer Arsenal fans as the man who brought Dennis Bergkamp to Highbury, just in time for the Wenger revolution. So older fans will smile at the memory of our Scottish pocket battleship Joe Baker who was Billy Wright’s claim to fame.

Billy a gentleman of a manager, struggled in the hurly burly of running so large a club as Arsenal and was never able to build a defence to match the superb attack he created, by buying Joe from Italian side Torino to play as a twin centre forward alongside his strike partner Geoff Strong,(later sold to Shankly’s all conquering Liverpool) and just in front of the elegant master passer George Eastham, who has his own place in the history books as the first ever £100 a week footballer.

These three terrorised defences and scored for fun, with Joe the top marksman for all four years he was with the club, scoring exactly 100 goals in 156 matches between 1962/66

Joe was an England player with a difference, the owner of the broadest Scottish accent ever heard in an England dressing room. Born in Liverpool of Scottish parents at a time when the only thing that counted was where you were born, he wastherefore English and for England he played. Truth to tell he hated it because he was a Scot at heart. But still ever the professional Scored 3 goals in eight appearances

5’8” tall he was fast, courageous, a tigerish tackler with an exquisite touch and a fine passer of the ball, who finished equally well with either foot and would go in where it hurts to head home with no fear.

His courage was legendary likewise his fiery temper as when on a cold and filthy day on a quagmire of a  Pitch he was dumped in the mud by 6’2” Ron “Rowdy” Yeats the Liverpool Centre back, picking himself up complete with a muddy divot, Joe threw it at Yeats filling his ear and followed that up with a smack from a clenched fist, he didn’t wait for the referee but walked off for an early bath.

The nearest to him in recent years must be Ian Wright, his wicked humour and all round ability endeared him to the fans and his four years at Highbury was never long enough as he left at 25 and scored plenty of goals for Nottingham Forest, Sunderland and then back to Scotland to play and briefly manage.

Joe died on the golf course in 2003.

91 Responses to Joe Baker Remembered

  1. Morning all

    This post feels like I’ve taken a dip in a warm spa, a welcome respite from the hurly burly of the transfer shenanigans – thankyou dandan.

  2. Just had a quick read through NN and is there no way that we can put some kind of block on all the rubbish thats being printed about Cesc now feeling stressed about not being able to move to Barcelona – if I were Arsene I’d be furious about all this b*ll*cks.

    Actually if I were Cesc and didn’t feel stressed I’d be furious too.

  3. Big Raddy says:

    Lovely read.

    I saw Joe play and he was an early hero of mine. I always thought of him as taller…. but I guess I was much smaller.

    So long ago that my memory is in Black and White. And it should be remembered when looking at the pic of Joe that it was taken AFTER the last time Spuds won the League 😀

  4. London says:

    Morning all

    Hi Dandan, that is a excellent little summary. There are so many things I didn’t know about Joe Baker, like we signed him from Torino? My only memories of the man are from listening to my Dad and Grand Dad talk about him…..always in excited tones I may add.

    In the back of the picture above in the right hand corner I can see one of the art deco stands but what end are the fans standing in, I mean, is it the Clock end or the North Bank, was it even called the North Bank then or was it still the Laundry End?

  5. kelsey says:

    Great memories dandan.100 goals in 156 starts is some stat.i remember his first game away at orient, and i seem to recall his first home game, he got injured and was carried off on a stretcher,or am I wrong.So long ago.

  6. mikeB says:

    My first ever Arsenal hero, and a wonderful memory.
    Let’s have more of this reverence, for those who have graced the shirt, and less of the negativity that seems so fashionable these days.

  7. Rasp says:

    Morning,

    What a lovey read dandan, maybe we should re-brand AA as an educational site? 😉

    Joe Baker was only a ‘name’ to me that was bandied about by the old guard. I realised when reading what great characters we’d had at the club over the years and how the game lacks such figures today.

  8. Rasp says:

    Actually its a good time to reflect on the past, there is unlikely to be any dependable transfer news over the weekend and the WC is a week away.

    Cesc no doubt is aware of our illustrious history and also that of Barcelona. Maybe the likes of Wilshere, Gibbs and Eastmond will feel the history and heritage Arsenal has a similar magnetic draw upon them.

    I strongly believe we should only entertain players who want to play for us – on that basis I would not consider Yaya, but maybe Micah Richards who is a born and bred gooner.

  9. dandan says:

    Morning all, London, Joe shared a flat in Torino with another half decent player Dennis Law, that’s what reminded me of Bergy named after Scots Dennis of course.
    As for the picture is it the clock end before the flats were built

  10. kelsey says:

    rasp,

    I am sorry but I have lost a lot of respect for Cesc. he is the captain of Arsenal,one of the top three clubs in standing in the world.He is under contract, and yet not a word in public from him to the people who matter the Arsenal fans. The whole business is messy(no pun intended) and to me shows a weakness in the man himself.We all know he will eventually go back to Barca, but if barca can’t match our asking price, he should just come out and say he is completely focused on playing for us, which he clearly is not.

    Whatever happens, the gifted player that he is, he will never go down as one of our great captains IMO

  11. jack says:

    London

    that will be the East stand (I’m sure) because I can see Hornsey Rise in the background. Also if it were the Clock End (on his right) there would be a structure behind it which was used for indoor training etc.
    I walked passed Joe & Alan Skirton in St. Thomas’s Road once and he looked really short compared to Daisy.
    He had the most marvellous on field understanding with George Eastham which often resulted in multiple one/two moves through opponents defences.
    I’d actually forgotten that he was English.

  12. Rasp says:

    I agree in principla kelsey although it does seem a bit harsh. Cesc is 23, ambitious and about to play in the word cup so I’d forgive him for focusing on playing with the Spanish squad at the moment. He is a pawn in all this, in suspended animation between Barca, Arsenal, agents, the media etc etc. Whenever he has been the subject of speculation in the past, he has been quick to release a definitive statement that he is staying with us.

    We have to accept that he has asked to leave – I think that is a fact. We can only allow him to go if Barca make a realistic offer. Unlike the likes of Hleb or Flamini, he will not be a ‘bench warmer’ at Barca and will go on to become one of the greatest players of his generation. If we get the right money I will wish him well and thanks for the great memories he has given us.

  13. mikeB says:

    If I had been Wemger, I would have sat him down and explained the reality of transfer money. If Barca only come in at thirty or forty million it means he’s not that critical to their plans and therefore destined for a lotta time on the bench. If they start getting serious, and by that I mean fifty plus, it means they seriously want him to augment the first team. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Wenger said pretty much that, which would explain Cesc keeping quiet on it all. The rest is just media hype from a bunch of overpaid hacks and headline writers with nothing better to do.

  14. Rasp says:

    Well said mike,

    I feel that after the supporters, Cesc is the ‘victim’ in all this. Even though he’s at the centre of the controversy, he won’t know what is being said behind closed doors and what the hidden agendas are – in that cicumstance it is best to keep silent …. if only AA followed suit!

  15. EAC3 says:

    Joe Baker was my hero during a period of supporting the Arse which was difficultand frustrating. He rose to cult hero status when he polaxed Ron Yeats \nd I remember him walking off even before the Referee got his book out…. the roar from the crowd was deafening and every time Joe played after this the crowd would encourage him to “deck him Joe”everytime he was fouled.
    Its an old gits habit to compare players of the past with their modern day counterparts but what would be the Transfer fee for JB..lightning speed, great first touch , good finisher very brave and took no prisoners….do I hear £50m??
    EAC3

  16. Padre Pio says:

    A good read, I was there when he decked Yeats oh how we cheered.
    Slight error Johnny Haynes was the first £100 pw player, but Eastham’s victory in court over contracts made it possible.

  17. Rasp says:

    Welcome EAC3,

    Jack Wilshere is a spunky little player. There is something about his swagger and the way he wears his shorts that reminds me of players from yesteryear.

  18. dandan says:

    Welcome EAC and Padre I to was there that day and can remember the mud splattering on Rowdy like it was yesterday.
    If you would like to write about anything Arsenal old or new, we would pleased to have you. Just click on the be my guest tab at the top and drop us a line

  19. Irishgunner says:

    Nice write up.

    I’m one of the new folks who’ll love Rioch forever for bringing in Bergkamp 😀

  20. jack says:

    Another player mentioned here today is Geoff Strong. I have never before or since seen anyone who could jump as high (from a standing position) to head the ball. He was incredible, like he had an invisible ladder, and went on to great things with Liverpool.
    I remember Joe saying (towards the end of his Arsenal stay) that he felt the club were not completely happy with him and that they were looking for a Bobby Smith type CF. I think the action with Rowdy disproved that.
    We also had our cowboy hero. Billy “Flint’ McCullough anyone?

  21. Rasp says:

    Welcome Jack,

    Flint McCullough is a blogger on here (in blogname only) – perhaps one of you should write a couple of paragraphs to fill us in on his exploits?

    Morning irish – that was about the only good thing Rioch did!

  22. jack says:

    I remember Flint as a flying left back who didn’t just overlap but kept on going till he ran out of pitch and ended up in the crowd. Sometime he managed to slow down enough to get a decent cross in, and the supporters loved him.

  23. Irishgunner says:

    Morning Rasp – but what a good thing to do 🙂 I’m going to do a post on Bergkamp real soon and why he’s so wonderful, it’ll be poetic.

    What do you think is better guys:

    Spain to win and RvP as top goalscorer = 85/1
    Brazil to win and RvP as top goalscorer = 100/1
    Spain to win and Rooney as top goalscorer = 50/1

    I’m a bit worried about RvP picking up an injury…

  24. Irishgunner says:

    I’m going to book with Paddy Power and want a good “winner and top goalscorer” combo. Tips welcome 😀

    http://www.paddypower.com/football/international-football/world-cup-betting?ev_oc_grp_ids=280302

  25. Hi Irish

    Spain to win and RVP as top goal scorer looks good to me except now we’ve advertised it the odds will probably drop 😦

  26. Irishgunner says:

    Sheesh Peaches.

    My mother wants to put a few bob on the World Cup and I’m trying to get her good odds. I asked her who she thought who’d win and I got the reply “Sure I don’t even know who’s playing” Me: “Just pick a country” Her: “France”

    FFS I told her go away 👿 France!!!

  27. Geoff says:

    Baker Eastham great players.Once saw them against Wolves when Arsenal won 5 – 4 Baker scoring 3 Eastham 2 .Another unsung hero of the time was winger John Macleod.I still have the programme for this game,great memories.

  28. Irishgunner says:

    * I meant “sheesh” as be quite don’t tell them 😀

    I’m not logged into wordpress so can’t edit – suppose I could just log in 😆

  29. Geoff says:

    Baker Eastham great players.Once saw them against Wolves when Arsenal won 5 – 4 with Baker scoring 3 Eastham 2.Another unsung hero was winger John Macleod.Istill have the programme for this match great memories.

  30. Irishgunner says:

    My sister wants to put a bet on too to get in on the act.

    Paddy Powers will be getting a lot of €5 today 😆

  31. DAVID WHEELER says:

    JOE BAKER SCORED A GREAT GOAL AGAINST MAN UTD IN THE EARLY SIXTIES AT HIGHBURY HE WAS 20 YARDS OUT RECEIVED THE BALL WITH HIS BACK TO THE GOAL ON HIS CHEST TURNED AND VOLLEYED IT HOME, IT WAS VERY SIMILAR TO KANU’S GOAL AT SPURS IN 1999 BUT FURTHER OUT, I REMEMBER HIS DEBUT AT ORIENT WHERE HE SCORED
    THOSE WERE THE DAYS WHERE WE HAD TO SCORE 3 TO GET A DRAW.FLINT CAME FROM PORTADOWN IRELAND AS A YOUNNGSTER WITH JIMMY MAGILL TO BE BRUTLLY HONEST THEY WERE BOTH USELESS, BUT EVERYONE LOVED MCCULLOUGH, WHAT A CHARACTER, IN GOAL WE HAD THE ONLY WORLD CLASS PLAYER ON OUR BOOKS AND THAT WAS JACK KELSEY.

  32. andy says:

    Nice read DD. I must confess to having never heard of him before though. After all the chat yesterday i went home and started watching the official history DVD that my son bought me ages ago but I skipped to 1976.

  33. Irishgunner says:

    I think I have that DVD Andy – is it the one with the red cover and crest on the front?

  34. andy says:

    Yeah thats the one Irish.

  35. Irishgunner says:

    Good DVD – I watched it all through once – lot of information to take in though.

  36. andy says:

    I’ve watched it a couple of times but have to confess to getting a bit bored during the black and white bits and skipping to my era.

  37. Irishgunner says:

    I’m nearly the opposite – I like watching the black & white bits ha ha particularly the Chapman era.

    I like watching the 1997/1998 season as well.

  38. andy says:

    It was a totally different game though wasn’t it ? 22 blokes just fighting for the ball on a muddy pitch and it looks like they are kicking around a medicine ball. Defo a mans game back then.

  39. Irishgunner says:

    Ha ha yeah – tactics weren’t even heard of then. Poor Mourinho would never have lasted 😆

  40. andy says:

    Mourinho… what about poor little Theo.

  41. Irishgunner says:

    He could just have run away…least his speed would have been of some use to him!

  42. Irishgunner says:

    Drogba out of the World Cup

  43. charybdis1966 says:

    So the turtle-faced drug-cheat has left the hospital in Rustenburg on crutches?

    Don’t worry, he’s a manc, the cnut will be back playing within a week, just like Rooney did after being on crutches after the Bayern game.

  44. Irishgunner says:

    Chary you really need to stop being nice to Manchester United players 😆

  45. charybdis1966 says:

    I was being nice about his recuperative powers !

  46. Irishgunner says:

    LOL at North Korea – they named a striker as a goalkeeper hoping to take an extra forward along and that FIFA wouldn’t notice – but they did 😆

    Kim Myong-won is down in all my World Cup preview magazines as a striker and now the poor gopshite won’t see a World Cup game ha ha ha ha ha

  47. charybdis1966 says:

    He could be like a reverse Chilavert type, Maire.
    Annoyed if turtle face and Drogbreath do miss the World Cup – the gits will be rested and fresh for the 2010-11 season then, the total bastards.

  48. Irishgunner says:

    Oh noooooooooer its hans blix

  49. Irishgunner says:

    Ferdinand has been crap all season anyway when he wasn’t injured he’s past it.

  50. Big Raddy says:

    Ferdinand, Terry,Lampard, Ashley, Joe Cole, the Granny Shagger,……

    Thank goodness Theo isn’t going to be influenced by these immoral, unethical, self-centred egoists.

    A few weeks at home with Mum & Dad will do him the power of good.

  51. dandan says:

    Have had a tip from Liverpool to back Harry Rednapp evidently he is wanted by Dalglish and is not happy at the bonus he got for Euro Qualifying LOL

    Now wouldnt that be fun

  52. Big Raddy says:

    Off to Gay Paree until Monday.

    Fight the Good Fight and have a fine weekend

    UTG

    Big Raddy

  53. charybdis1966 says:

    I think, Radders, on order of being all-round disgraceful human beings in the Ingerrland team I would place them thusly: John mates-bird shagger/cash tips Terry, Cashley “Only £55k/week” serial slapper-shagger cole, Drug cheat, night club scrapper Gerrard, granny shagger shrek boy, west ham traitor Lumpus maximus and toilet seat thief Johnson.
    I don’t think Joe Cole is so bad, rumours of his arrival at the Grove notwithstanding.

  54. SharkeySure says:

    Didnlt read this in full until just now, wot a lovely Frida afternoon read that was.

    My only very minor gripe might just be the brevity of it. Perhaps do a couple of players at a time, ie a defensive partnership, or the strike trio you mentioned above.

    All in all though Dandan – another great post *tips hat*

  55. SharkeySure says:

    “is it the one with the red cover and crest on the front?”

    Does that really narrow it down irish 😉

  56. dandan says:

    Sharkey I am never sure if old players from that era would be of interest to today’s posters.

  57. charybdis1966 says:

    Nicely written Dandan but my oldest memory is of the Alan Sunderland FA Cup winning goal, hence I couldn’t really offer much feedback about Joe Baker.

    I’m not that young but my memory is crap.

    Wasn’t Bastin a veggie, before he joined us?

  58. charybdis1966 says:

    Actually I also remember the big hullabaloo about us signing “SuperMac” and then wondering why he never seemed to play for us. I think her was the prototype Rosicky of the ‘70s – always injured.

  59. charybdis1966 says:

    *HE was the prototype…..

  60. Marbleballs says:

    I was going to reply re that wonderful Joe Baker goal against manu as it’s still my all time favourite but David Wheeler beat me to it. My own hazy recollection is a bit different though. In my version the ball and his chest never met, he just swivelled on the ball and hit it at chest height and it rocketed at the same height to the back of the net. I have never seen any recording of it but will never forget it. RIP Joe and very big thanks for making the 60’s a bit bearable Arsenal-wise.
    My favourite Geoff Strong memory is the final equaliser in a 4-4 against the scum in 1963. He seemed to hover about 3 feet off the ground for ages before heading it in. The queue to get into Highbury that night started on the Tube platform and over 66,000 got in before they locked the gates. Geoff also used to often pretend he was injured so the opposition would ignore him for a while until he popped up with a goal.

    Billy McCullough used to act as minder for the young Geordie Armstrong and would sort out any fullback giving Geordie a hard time. One time this happened and Billy and the fullback ended up on the deck. Billy looks up, sees the play has gone down the other end so rolls over, thumps the fullback then rolls back again. The half of Highbury that saw it pissed ourselves laughing but the ref didn’t see it and there were no tv cameras.

  61. SharkeySure says:

    Marbles…brilliant !!!!

  62. kelsey says:

    Vic Groves ……….. anyone 😉

    great username Marble…..

  63. jack says:

    Vic Groves was a useful goal scoring injury prone inside forward during the mid/late fifties who had a bit of a renaissance as half back in the early sixties. A bit of a warrior who would now be defined as a good DM. Can’t remember anything exceptional about him other than he was related in some way to Perry.

  64. dandan says:

    My memory of Vic is as a centre forward, he did indeed move back and captained the club from there, Perry was his nephew.

  65. kelsey says:

    That’s why i mentioned him, jack and dandan.I remember him as left half and being captain the very first time I went to Arsenal and they lost 4-5 to United, the last game in England by the busby babes before the fatal air crash.

  66. jack says:

    Marbleballs

    I was at that 4 all with Spuds. Can you remember the name of our keeper? I think Kelsey had retired or left and we had this really crap Scottish bloke who everyone called fat boy. He was probably our worst ever GK. McKenzie was it?

  67. dandan says:

    Mckecknie I think

  68. dandan says:

    He Mckechnie started as an outside left, LOL There was also Mclelland around that time and Fingers Furnell, Bugger where have the years all gone

  69. Rasp says:

    Message to Geoff who posted a couple of comments at 12:00 – very sorry your comments went into moderation, there is no apparent reason, it should not have happened. Unfortunately there have been no administrators in attendance today. Thank you for visiting the site, I hope we get to hear from you again in the future.

  70. Marbleballs says:

    It was Jim McKechnie, Jack McClelland and Jim Furnell. With any of them, or even all 3, in goal and McCullough and (Jimmy) Magill as fullbacks no wonder we conceded a lot and needed (Johnny) McLeod, Strong, Baker, Eastham and Armstrong up front!

  71. kelsey says:

    Christ, we have had some shite keepers these last fifty years, but jack kelsey was a true gentleman and of course David Seamen played 12 years for England.

    I mentioned a few weeks ago, that the one real weakness we have with Wenger,is buying a top class keeper.We have had 10 play in goal in the time Wenger has been with us.

    Going down memory lane, does anyone remember us losing 7-2 at leicester, I can’t remember who was in goal, though it might have been Bob Wilson.

  72. jack says:

    That’s him: Jim (fat boy) McKechnie. Well remembered.
    Furnell was decent enough but eventually lost out to Wilson.
    Any views on Alan (Daisy) Skirton?

  73. dandan says:

    Jack….Alan Skirton was a winger. My recollection is that he was tall and skinny and didn’t play a lot. Because i cant remember much about him.

  74. jack says:

    Re the keepers over the years, yes we’ve had our share of rubbish, but on the whole we’ve done OK. Swindon, Kelsey of course, Wilson, Jennings, Lukic, Seaman & Jens.Some of the very best in that list. Where’s the next one coming from though?

  75. dandan says:

    Liverpool with luck LOL

  76. Irishgunner says:

    Chesney will be another goalkeeping legend.

    I’ve all my world cup bets on – just hoping for no injuries now.

  77. jack says:

    Yes I remember Skirton.He played with Joe and at his best he was devastatingly fast (like Theo if the ball was put into space), and often took the left back with him if they dared to tackle. Scored a few and almost got into the England team.He got the nick name Daisy from the popular music hall & radio comedy duo Gert & Daisy. Some wag called him Skirton Daisy and it stuck. At least that was my understanding of it, although some other of the oldies here may have another explanation.

  78. gnarleygeorge9 says:

    Heres an interesting read for all you in Blighty, & ofcourse Raddy up there in Skandi. Enjoy 😆

    There is the very real possibility Australia could meet England, By David Penberthy
    We shouldn’t get ahead of ourselves. There is a long way to go but, just for a moment, lie down, close your eyes, and think of England.

    In the same way that Aussies will be fantasising about the prospect of playing England in the second stage at the World Cup, the Poms will be having quiet nightmares about being knocked off by their nemesis in the one sport where they can boast historical superiority.

    The Socceroos have beaten the Mother Country just once – a 3-1 win in a 2003 friendly at London’s Upton Park. And didn’t we gloat?

    England have every right to be unnerved by the prospect, for a number of reasons.

    The first is that it is in no way a remote fantasy.

    The way our two groups fall, there is a very real chance that it could happen.

    In our group, Group D, its Germany and daylight for the top spot. But second place is looking more and more like a coin toss.

    The Socceroos, under the dour command of Pim Verbeek, are unlikely to release a commemorative highlights reel from their friendly matches this past week, but who cares.

    They came from behind to beat the Kiwis 2-1 and dispatched Denmark 1-0 in a match which stood as a testament to our defensive depth.

    Our group D rivals have had a shocking run – Ghana has come off a 4-1 thumping by the Netherlands in Amsterdam, while unpredictable Serbia lost 0-1 to New Zealand’s All Whites and drew 0-0 with the unfancied Poland.

    Friendlies don’t count for much but they do point to cohesion and momentum and of the three teams in Group D you would currently be just as happy, and marginally happier, wearing the Green and Gold than going for the Ghanians or the Serbs.

    England, in contrast, have no real worries in terms of second-round qualification.

    Pitted against the USA, Algeria and Slovenia, the Poms should be able to top the group while standing on their hanky-hatted heads. It will be deeply surprising if they lose a single first stage game.

    It’s here where the fun will begin. The winner of Group C plays the runner up from Group D.

    From a psychological point of view, I know which team I would prefer to be on.

    Australia will have absolutely nothing to lose. No sane punter will be putting serious money on us. Given our forward structure there will be no weight of expectation that we will win; given our defensive strength, there will be no real fear that we will be smashed or humbled.

    Having gone as close as we did to knocking Italy out of the tournament in 2006, cruelled in the final minute by Lucas Neill’s minor tangle with the leaping Grosso, the Socceroos will approach the game aiming to go one better as a rank New World outsider taking on another giant of the game.

    England, conversely, will be a bundle of nerves. Aside from having a strange natural disposition towards heroic defeat in the sporting arena – Tim Henman being the epitome of the gallant Englishman who has mastered the art of almost making the semis at every Wimbledon – there are two deeply unnerving historical facts that will gnaw at the English team, its feral media and its zealous fans.

    The first is the fact that Australia has consistently grown an extra yard for any sporting contest with the Brits. Like some murderous Oedipal complex, winning seems to mean more to us than it does to them.

    While the past couple of Ashes series do not warrant lengthy mention – except to poke fun at the English for knighting its entire team, such was their surprise at having finally won a series after an almost 20-year drought – the historical ledger falls massively in our favour.

    It was for this reason that the Beijing Olympics were such an aberration, where the English, having embraced a Soviet-era sports funding model, managed to pip us in the medal tally – a result which will hopefully never be repeated, now that our own government has made the welcome decision to channel obscene amounts of cash back into elite sport rather than wasting extra money on luxuries such as hospitals or schools.

    The second is that, aside from our own history of beating the Poms at games that they themselves invented, the English football team has an unfortunate tradition of finding heart-breakingly creative ways to exit the World Cup.

    In 1986 they were trundled out by two goals from Diego Maradona, the first with his hand – he later explained that it seemed fair revenge for the War in the Falklands – the second from a pirouetting solo miracle run which made the English defence look like fools and was so mind-blowingly good that it almost erased the controversy surrounding the Hand of God outrage.

    In 1990 they almost lost to Cameroon, led by an aged pensioner called Roger Milla, only to lose on penalties to Germany in the semis.

    In 2002 they lost to Brazil when goalkeeper David Seaman was standing off his line and watched a cheeky lob from Ronaldinho float gently over his head.

    In 2006 Wayne Rooney stomped on Portugal defender Ricardo Carvalho’s wedding tackle and was red-carded – but only after his Manchester United teammate Cristiano Ronaldo brought the incident to the referee’s attention. Ten-man England lost.

    Again, this supposedly cruel exit gave the Brits plenty of excellent material for a lengthy period of maudlin national introspection, and ruminations as to what might have been.

    The Sun labelled Ronaldo a slippery Portuguese winker after he playfully winked at his teammates as Rooney marched off. The newspaper even went to the trouble of providing pull-out Ronaldo dartboards so that the fans could vent their anger before getting back to watching Coronation Street and eating hot chips.

    Losing to the likes of Argentina, Germany and Portugal is one thing. At least they’re proper footballing nations.

    This is only our third World Cup. We spent much of the last one celebrating the fact that, unlike in 1974, we had actually managed to score a goal.

    It’s for that reason that we won’t fear the English. And given their track record, losing to Australia in South Africa seems an almost predictable next chapter in the very British tale of continuous sporting heartbreak.

  79. dandan says:

    Hope he has kept some ink and his prayer mat dry cos his peed off readers over there aint gonna like Aussie doing a no win double at both footy and cricket this ashes year. Oh dear gg9 you gonna have your christmas ruined at the MCG, believe me.

  80. Morning gnarley – wow that guy is really gonna whip you all up into a Pom-bashing frenzy isn’t he?

    Football is only a week away – I realised last night how much I miss Arsenal TV. I sent all my Arsenal DVD’s to storage when I moved 😦

  81. gnarleygeorge9 says:

    So Rio is KO.

    Evening peaches. We don’t pommy bash so much anymore coz there is a fair chance that your neighbour is a new pom arrival. Blimey, they are everywhere here nowadays, so we show the poms respect 😛

  82. Bless you gnarley, of course you do 😀

  83. Rasp says:

    New post….

  84. Joe says:

    Just wanted to correct one thing in this piece. Joe was my cousin – we were both named after our grandfather. Joe’s father was English – George (known as Reg) Baker. His mother, Elizabeth, was Scottish. I only met him a handful of times at weddings and 21st parties. I never met his dad, uncle Reg, who died in the late 50’s as a consequence of a war wound. I was very proud (illogically) to be related to him. Let’s not forget his brother Jerry – in the family it was said that he was at least as good as Joe – who was born in the US, and therefore could NOT play for England. He did play for the USA in the 60’s, as well as First Division teams in England however. Both were really scousers, with scottish accents! Jerry is still alive and well in Coventry. Cheers.

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