George G …. From Stroller to Sergeant

Sometimes it is tough finding things to write about, especially on a deathly quiet Glastonbury Sunday.

Is Wimbledon more interesting than an news-shy Arsenal newsnow? Not since the Crazy Gang has Wimbledon held any interest to the football lover.

Those were the days – the George Graham era. A team developed and moulded by one man’s discipline and vision.

How could it be that George Graham whose nickname was “Stroller” thanks to his lacksadaisical style became Sergeant George? In his early days the ex-Bargeddie boy was notorious for the fact that he spent all his money on clothes and cars , yet was totally averse to buying a round in  the post match pub environment. Little changed when he became a manager – his control of the purse strings caused the departure of many a fine player e.g. Keown wanted an extra few pounds a week, GG refused his request, sold him  and then was forced to buy him back from Everton for 2 million of her Majesty’s finest.

Another mystery is how George, who was a “luxury” player developed his dislike of players in a similar vein. One of his first acts was the removal of Champagne Charlie, a fan’s favourite and a player capable of flashes of brilliance – the antithesis of the GG player.

Furthermore, George hated to get dirty so sliding tackles were rarely seen, his idea of defensive duties was trotting back from the half-way line for corners, so how did he develop the best back 5 ever seen on an English football pitch? How could it be that a player whose speciality was spectacular scissor kicks and volleys become a coach whose heritage is “1-0 to the Arsenal”?

It was tragic that George’s Arsenal career ended thanks to his avarice. Tragic that a manager who was so successful had his legacy tarnished. He brought disgrace to the club he loved (and loves) so passionately.

I loved those early GG teams which brimmed both attacking intent and defensive prowess, it was only when he came under pressure and doubt that GG sought to pack the midfield with artisans as opposed to artists. Gone were Rocky, the Merse, Micky T Paul Davis etc to be replaced by Selley, Morrow, Johny J. McGoldrick etc. We won but we had lost the ability to entertain …..

…… something that George Graham in his playing career could never be accused of.


39 Responses to George G …. From Stroller to Sergeant

  1. goonermichael says:

    Are you all still sleeping or enjoying the sun?

  2. Big Raddy says:

    GM. Not sunny here. but just spoke to the folks back home and understand it is boiling in London.

    Nice …..

  3. dandan says:

    Interesting post BR well done… Yes he was a stroller whether it was down the kings road in his Chelsea days or around the pitch at Highbury, Bertie Mee would get mad and sub him or not play him and bring him off the bench.

    He did this late on in a game at Highbury, when we were struggling towards a 0-0 draw against Liverpool, Graham scored almost with his first touch of the ball and then made one for Big Raddy. 2-0 was almost robbery, but then it was GG and he made a habit of it, claiming Kelly’s goal in the cup final was another notable occasion.

    But on his day he was an elegant classy player, it was was just a pity he didn’t practice what he later preached and demanded from others, in which case he would have been world class.

  4. Jamie says:

    I’ll never know why he sold, Thomas, Rocky and later Limpar. I have always thought though that maybe after the success of 1991 he got a bit scared that the team were not listening to him. 92 was the most un GG like season in terms of goals for and against. I think looking back they needed to raise money for the North Bank.

    He was slightly unlucky that he timed a row with Davis at the same time, who then got injured. I love the way though that he wheeled Davis out for the cup finals in 93 and 94 just for his experience.

    He was a great manager. He broke Liverpools long held dominance and put the club back on the map.

    Before my time bad wasn’t Bertie Mee a disciplinarian? Monkey see monkey do?

  5. chas says:

    Definitely an enigma, BR.

    I never understood how he could have loved Arsenal (or still loves, as you say) and then go off and manage the spuds. Purely revenge, perhaps, though I thought the case against him bung-wise was pretty watertight.

    Again his career as manager at Arsenal is strange in that those early goalscoring teams relying on many youth system products were replaced by the dour 1-0 to the Arse teams that you mention.

    I suppose many of the youngsters in GG’s early teams were brought on by Don Howe, although it’s George who gets the credit for them.

    I always felt a bit sorry for Wrighty that his magnificent talents weren’t exploited to an even greater extent by having a more expansive team around him. At least he had a couple of seasons under AW and hung on for a Championship winners medal in 1998.

  6. gunnerN5 says:

    Just how folks can reminisce in glowing terms about GG is simply beyond my comprehension.

    He was a low life crook who took advantage of his privileged position to line his pockets with bungs.

    He bought players that we didn’t need as long as it met his personal needs. He was caught on the one occasion but just how long it had been going on will always be open to conjecture – however to think it was a one off would be naive.

    In my opinion his contributions will be forever tarnished by his inferior character.

  7. TotalArsenal says:

    Thanks BR, a very intersting and balanced post about an era I am less familiar with. It only underlines to me again what a transformation we have made since the GG days; not just in terms of football philosophy, but also in terms of personal ethics.

  8. Big Raddy says:

    GN5. I hardly think that “tainted, disgrace and avarice” are “glowing terms”

    If I understand you correctly, all the work that GG did for and with the club is destroyed by his greed and his final denouement, in which case I disasgree completely.

  9. Jamie says:

    It might be 6 throphies in 8 and a half season. That could be the reason i remeber it in glowing terms,

    The bung scandal was a disgrace but every manager was at it back then. Not saying that makes it right, It is never right to go to Spurs. Tainted certainly.

    Arsenal were going nowhere when he took over.

    As for Don Howe’s “golden legacy”, I don’t remember Dixon, Winterburn, Richardson, Marwood, Limpar, Bould, Smith, Groves, Wright being left behind. There were some great youngsters, i’ll give yout that. He also left Arsenal with a load of over paid has beens.

    He was given no money to spend and had to sell to buy. He won two titles and fa cup, 2 league cups and the cup winners cup.

    I just think we should be thankful for what he did but i do remember the miserable later years where scoring once in a home game was a big deal.

  10. gunnerN5 says:


    You are both taking things far too personally.
    My comments were in general terms and not specific to today’s article or your post.

    Here is the Arsenal statement on the demise of GG.

    ” Arsenal FC have now been informed by the FA Premier League Inquiry of the results of their investigations into alleged irregularities concerning certain transfers and the Board have concluded that Mr.Graham did not act in the best interests of the club.
    The Board have therefore terminated Mr. Graham’s contract as Arsenal manager. The chairman said that it was sad that Mr. Graham’s distinguished career with Arsenal FC should have to end in this way and he paid tribute to Mr. Graham for the success that he had brought to the club over the past eight and a half years. Stewart Houston will assume the responsibilities of manager.” End of statement.

    It was found that GG had accepted over 400, 000 quid from Norwegian agent Rune Hauge relating to the transfers of John Jensen and Pal Lydersen, 75, 000 of which was discovered in his office at Arsenal – I guess that was his lunch money?

  11. gunnerN5 says:


    To have you disgree with me is certainly no surprise.

    You either ignore my articles or take the time to disagree with my comments.

    Frankly i don’t give a monkey”s

  12. chas says:

    I see your point, Jamie.

    I was thinking more of Adams, O’Leary, Davis, Rocastle, Thomas, Merson, Quinn and Hayes being replaced by Hillier and Selley as products of the youth system rather than the players that were bought from elsewhere that you mention. AW had to rebuild from the bottom up.

  13. Jamie says:

    haha, thats some lunch!

    I did make the point that all managers were at it then but that doesn’t excuse it.

    I was trying to point out there was much good and some bad.

    No worries GoonerN5, everyone has an opinion.

  14. Jamie says:

    Chas, all of the Arsenal youth players you mention were great i wasn’t debating that. A lot were my heroes growing up. But GG should get a lot of credit there too. TA was hardly the finished article in 1986 was he? just as an example.

    I’m not deabting the worth of Don Howe down the years either.

    However GG was also left some over the hill players and no money.

    AW has done a great job, i just think GG did too. AW in more difficult circumstances, stadium, finance etc.

    AW job was to add flair and imagination to a great back line which he did. But what he has done for the club since has been outstanding.

    There you go, i love them all.

  15. Gooner in Exile says:

    Chas I tend to agree re Howe and Graham. My Dad was always of the opinion that GG inherited the good work of Howe.

    To be fair he did get them playing to their potential, but as you say players who came through after were not of the same calibre and as manager he has to be responsible.

  16. evonne says:

    Raddy – very, very interesting stuff. I didn’t know about most of it. Thank you Raddy

  17. Johnny says:

    Blindin article, it`s interesting to read some of the comments as well. I first started going to The Arsenal in 83 and we were absolute garbage. We had a team of gutless players who played when they wanted too. George came in and kicked out the dead wood and gave the young lads their chance. We played some great stuff in those early years, I can`t remember any team bullying us or kicking us off the park in george`s time at the club, it wouldn`t have been allowed. However, people tend to forget the mess he left, he took over a golden youth policy(from don howe)and left a complete shambles. The 1st team were piss poor as well, the season he left we were heading for a relegation dogfight. It took 3 good wins over the easter period to pull us out the shit. When I look back at some of those league games we watched between 92-95, I feel lucky too be able to watch the current side, I just wish they had some of the steel of past Arsenal sides. Anyway cheers for the article, I always enjoy reading the posts on this site.

  18. Gooner in Exile says:

    Amen to that Johnny.

  19. Big Raddy says:

    GIE. Amen to your amen.

  20. Big Raddy says:

    Ladies and Gentleman. Raddy is heading off to sunnier climes for his summer R & R. Back for the start of the season, a season in which our new players will be spectacularly successful and all will be well in GoonerWorld..

    Raddy will attempt to blog from Internet Cafe’s when he sees one.

    I wish you all a fantastic summer.

    Come on You Rip Roaring Gunners.

  21. dandan says:

    Good luck raddy have a great time

  22. evonne says:

    All the best Raddy xxx

  23. evonne says:

    Johnny – I like you no nonsense comment 🙂

  24. SharkeySure says:

    Cracking read that BR.

    I’m now trying to think of any other mangers who’ teams play in a style or manner that would not have suited them as a player.

    Most managers tend to reflect their own playing styles, or so it seems.

    You might think a player who enjoyed relatively little success (whatever that is?!) might change his ‘outlook’ as a manager. Thats not the case for George though is it..?? Perhaps he looked back and felt he’d underachieved.

    Anyway, bon voyage mom ami.

  25. Gooner in Exile says:

    Sharkey im sure there must be some. And I’ve had that thought …. Why does he manage like that when he played like this? But now im struggling to think of one.

    Owen Coyles Burnley side perhaps the only one I can think of.

  26. dandan says:

    Fat Sam says the Hammers are gonna play football 🙂

  27. evonne says:

    Morning all

    The best Spuds joke is their manager Arry. Have you seen this?

  28. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Sorry to have missed the “good bye’s”. Have a great summer, and if it involves that bike of yours and some mountains, say “no” to drugs!

  29. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Harry does come out with some classics. Some new signing said to him: “Boss, I see myself as a No.10”. He replied along the lines of: “Maradona, Pele and Messi are No.10’s. You will be No.27”.

  30. evonne says:

    Micky – ha ha ha, brilliant 🙂

  31. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Sounds to me like the transfer merrygoround boots up on friday, July 1, so we have a very dull week ahead of us. Where are the end of term AA Awards? Obviously there would be the boring stuff like most hits, most comments and so on, but there must be room for some more creative awards. Worst Shoes seen at The Tavern and so on.

  32. You devise it and I’ll publish it 😉

  33. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Oh dear,
    BR is a gonna.
    Rasp is sun burnt.
    Rocky still floating around with 2,000 people wearing man made fibres.
    Next year I am moving my summer holiday forwards to the fortnight before July 1.

  34. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Walked headlong into that one!

  35. New Post

    I’m very busy designing some seriously scary steps for a sloping garden but I’m watching xx

  36. ernest claridge says:

    What a great player he was, but always looked knackered when he walked on the pitch!!!. Graham for Baldwin and what..25thousand? What a deal and one of the best headers of the ball I have seen.

  37. treatment ocean rehab

    George G …. From Stroller to Sergeant | Arsenal Arsenal

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