Arsenal Brazilian disappointment and Barca DNA at the Confederations Cup

June 30, 2013

So, while watching various matches at the dress rehearsal for the World Cup in Brazil I found myself wondering who to root for, always a tricky task when there is no Arsenal involvement. For some reason I decided it would be the opponents of Brazil or Spain, two teams who I’d taken a dislike to for no readily apparent reason.

Now why should that be as how can any football fan dislike the Samba boys? Maybe, I thought, as a gooner my experience of our last two Brazilian imports was less than satisfactory, namely Denilson and Santos.

Denilson to me was overplayed too early in his development, and probably expected to fill a Gilberto/Flamini/Diarra sized hole in midfield and the abiding memory of him for many will be that of being outpaced by a portly referee who was keeping up with play a heck of a lot better than Denilson was.

Santos had a slow start to his Arsenal career and seemed to be filling into his left back role, as well as his ample XXL sized Arsenal top, when a string of slightly lackadaisical performances culminated in what, for me, was the cardinal sin of exchanging shirts with Van Judas on our first trip to old Toilet since the Cutch Dunt’s act of treachery. The shirt exchange on pitch was bad enough but to do it at half time showed a complete lack of awareness of the fans attitude to the aforementioned traitor!

Similarly, why did I feel an antipathy to Spain whilst they were playing the Eye-talians? There was no Nacho man or Santi on the pitch so that could explain why I didn’t warm to them.

Then it dawned on me: Barca DNA!

A side with the diving/cheating “skills” of Busquets and was bound to raise my hackles, and for Brazil the god awful play acting of Alves was what we’ve come to expect and loathe from this particular full back.

Alves alone was not enough to turn me away from the hosts – it was a Barca-to-be player who got special mention with respect to the Barcelona diving cheat award – Neymar.

I’m sure he has talent, is great on the ball, a pin up boy of Brazilian football yada yada yada, but to me he has the air of a young man who likes the look of himself too much and probably whiles away the long summer evenings gazing narcissistically at himself in the mirror.

The cherry on the cake of his Catalonian-ness was that horrendous dive when his jaw was brushed by one of the Azzurui and he flung his body into the contortions of a man who had been tazered.

3549689408_neymar dive full

Now before anyone pipes up with the “Well Pires dived to get a PK in season 2003-04 so that means no Arsenal fan can criticise anyone else subsequently for diving now or in history ever and forever more, amen!” – an argument that is older than Bruce Forsythe’s jock strap.

Marks out of ten for that lovely pirouette ?

Marks out of ten for that lovely pirouette ?

That would efffectivley mean no fan of ANY club could call out diving as every club has some who have dived, so that line of reasoning to me, like a chav with sketchy personal hygiene, just won’t wash.

For his histrionics and self-absorption I feel Neymar is a perfect fit for the Qatari boys.

Yes, you Catalans, this Neymar definitely has Barca DNA and Xavi can trumpet this fact far and wide.

By Charybdis1966


Arsenal’s Greatest Midfielders : Early Era’s Vote Time

June 29, 2013

Time for another vote in our summer quest to find our greatest squad. And as in previous weeks you have the chance today to vote for midfielders from our earlier era’s. Don’t worry your recent heroes come next week.

You can vote for up to 3 players if you find the decision difficult,

If you’ve missed out on reading the excellent articles earlier this week check out Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday’s posts.

Written by GunnerN5 and compiled by Gooner in Exile

Santi Cazorla Shows The Way To Real Madrid

June 28, 2013

There are two ways of being frustrated as an Arsenal fan during transfer windows.

The first and most obvious is the endless parade of “Arsenal on the brink of signing Player X” stories.

But equally distressing can be the stories that purport to show that our stars are wanted by teams elsewhere and, worse, may be interested in upping sticks and leaving.

We know from recent painful experience that these tales sometimes turn out to be true.

santi 1

So when news feeds started reporting earlier this week that Real Madrid had given up monkey-hunting for a while and were interested in our gifted playmaker Santi Cazorla, it will have sent a quiver through the stoutest Arsenal bottom.

But no sooner had the reports emerged than little Santi – many fans’ choice for our player of the season last year – killed them dead in the water.

While on duty with the Spanish national side he told journalists: “I have three years left on my contract and I have not thought of anything like that. My plan is to continue at the club. Arsenal are treating me very well and I want to win a title with them.”

santi 2

There you go. It’s not so hard, is it?

I often wonder why more players don’t instantly put an end to transfer speculation by categorically stating that they are not going anywhere.

Maybe they like to keep their options open: “…you never know, what if Madrid offer me 200k a week?” Or maybe they think being linked with other big clubs will help them get a better deal at Arsenal. Or maybe those mischievous imps of the modern game, their agents, advise them to say nothing.

santi 3

But Santi Cazorla has shown exactly how it should be done. He is clearly happy at Arsenal. He knows the supporters love him and he feels optimistic about our future. So it was perfectly natural for him to do the honourable thing and pledge his loyalty. I remember Thomas Vermaelen doing something similar a year or two ago when linked with Barcelona (something his current detractors might like to reflect on).

What do you think? Do we fans have a right to know what our players’ intentions for their future are? Do have they have an obligation to speak to us and, if they do, are they obliged to speak honestly?

Either way, Santi’s statement is just one more reason to love the little man.


Arsenal’s Greatest Midfielders Day 3

June 27, 2013

Continuing our Summer series of articles in search of Arsenal’s greatest ever team, this week we continue to highlight the midfielders.  Don’t forget to take the opportunity to choose your personal favourite midfielder by voting in the poll at the end of the week

7. George Eastham: 1960-1966

George played in 223 games over a six year period.

1632512_display_imageBorn in Blackpool, Lancashire, he was part of a football family — his father George Eastham, Sr., was an England international who played for Bolton Wanderers and Blackpool, while his uncle Harry Eastham played for Liverpool and Accrington Stanley.

George junior first played for Northern Irish club Ards, where his father was player-manager, and the two played together on the pitch. A skilful midfielder/inside forward, he was signed by Newcastle United in 1956, and made his debut in October 1956. He spent four seasons with the Magpies and during his time there he won caps for the Football League and the England U23 side. He played 125 games for Newcastle, scoring 34 goals.

However, during his time at Newcastle United he fell out with the club over the house they had supplied him to live in and their attempts to stop him playing for the England U23 team.

With his contract due to expire in 1959, he refused to sign a new one and requested a transfer. However, Newcastle refused to let him go. At the time, clubs operated a system known as retain-and-transfer, which meant that teams could keep a player’s registration (thus preventing them from moving) while refusing to pay them if they had requested a transfer. Unable to leave, George went on strike at the end of the 1959–60 season, eventually taking the club to the High Court in 1963. As a result, although he did not gain personally, he succeeded in reforming the British transfer market. The “retain” element of retain-and-transfer was greatly reduced, providing fairer terms for players looking to re-sign for their clubs, and setting up a transfer tribunal for disputes.

After winning his case he signed for Arsenal and made his debut in 10 December 1960, scoring twice. Throughout his six seasons at Arsenal, he was a regular for the side; though not a prolific goal scorer, George was one of the most talented players in an average Arsenal team. Under manager’s George Swindin and Billy Wright, Arsenal never finished higher than 7th during his time there. His  time at Arsenal was often turbulent; as well as the court case against Newcastle United, he fell out with Arsenal after asking for a pay rise following the maximum wage’s abolishment in 1961. In both 1963–64 and 1964–65 he scored ten goals, the most per season during his Arsenal career, which included two in a 4–4 draw in a memorable North London derby match against Tottenham Hotspur at Highbury in 1963.

It was at Arsenal that his international career flourished; he joined the England squad for the 1962 FIFA World Cup as an uncapped player; his England debut finally came in 1963, against Brazil. In the 1966 World Cup final only the 11 players on the pitch at the end of the 4–2 win over West Germany received medals. Following a Football Association led campaign to persuade FIFA to award medals to all the winners’ squad members, George was presented with his medal by Gordon Brown at a ceremony at 10 Downing Street on 10 June 2009.

In February 1971, at the age of 34, George took a break from playing in order to develop his coaching ability, with the view of going into management. He embarked on a trip to South Africa, playing on loan with Cape Town City before having a spell as player-manager of Hellenic, who had previously been managed by his father.[ He returned to Stoke in October 1971, to continue his playing career. He made 194 league appearances for Stoke City in total, scoring four goals.

George retired from playing in 1974, having been awarded the OBE for services to football the previous year.

He quit professional football completely, and emigrated to South Africa in 1978. where he set up his own sportswear business as well as being a football coach for local black children. He is also chairman of the South African Arsenal Supporters’ Club.

8. Jon Sammels: 1961-1971.

Jon appeared in 270 matched over a 10 year period.

gun__1277731613_sammels_jonBorn in Ipswich, Suffolk, Jon joined Arsenal, the club he supported as a boy, in 1961, he was a regular in the reserves and a successful youth international winning seven caps for England.

He scored on his first-team debut for the Gunners on 27 April 1963, against Blackpool. However, he only played sparingly, twice in 1963-64 and not at all in 1964-65 and he did not secure a place in the side until the departure of Geoff Strong, and later George Eastham.

Not many footballers can say they’ve scored twice in a win over Brazil but Jon can, some of the world’s finest players descended on Highbury in November 1965 (although Pele and his fellow Santos internationals did not make the trip) but Jon stole the show with a goal in either half. And he was only 20 at the time.

Noted for his accurate passing and strong shooting, he broke through in 1965-66 and was an ever-present during the 1966-67 season. As well as being a regular for Arsenal, Jon played for the England U23 side nine times. He played in both of Arsenal’s League Cup final defeats in 1968 and 1969, before finally claiming a medal in the 1970 Inter-Cities Fairs Cup; he scored Arsenal’s winning goal in their 4-3 victory on aggregate over RSC Anderlecht, after Arsenal had trailed 3-1 after the first leg.

However, he lost his first team place in the 1970-71 season, thanks to an ankle injury and the emergence of George Graham; although he played enough games to win a First Division winner’s medal, but did not take part in the Gunners’ FA Cup Final win over Liverpool that completed their Double-winning season.

He submitted a transfer request, and he was duly sold to Leicester City for £100,000, Jon was a regular in the Leicester side for the next seven seasons, playing 265 matches for the Foxes, scoring 25 goals. Under Jimmy Bloomfield, Leicester were a talented and exciting side, but the only trophy they won was the 1971 Charity Shield, and they never finished above seventh in the League. He left Leicester on a free transfer in 1978, and played for the Vancouver Whitecaps in the NASL for a single season.

After that, he retired from the game and returned to the UK.

9. George Graham: 1966-1972.

George appeared in 308 games over a 6 year period.

Born in Bargeddie, Glasgow, Scotland, the youngest of seven children, George grew up in poverty in Bargeddie, near Coatbridge. He showed considerable promise as a footballer, and clubs like Newcastle United, Chelsea and Aston Villa showed an interest in his talent.

ggrahamHe signed for Aston Villa in 1961, on his 17th birthday and spent three seasons at the Birmingham club, making only eight appearances. Chelsea signed him in 1964 for £5000.  George scored 35 goals in 72 league games for the club and won a League Cup medal in 1965, but he fell out with the Chelsea’s manager, Tommy Docherty.  At the same time, Arsenal were looking for a replacement for Joe Baker, and paid £75,000 plus Tommy Baldwin in 1966 to bring George to Highbury. He made his debut on 1 October 1966 at home to Leicester City and soon became a regular in the Arsenal side. He was Arsenal’s top scorer in both 1966–67 and 1967–68, having started out as a centre forward for the club, but later moved to inside forward.

He was a runner-up in both the 1968 and 1969 League Cup finals, before finally winning a medal in the 1969–70, Inter-Cities Fairs Cup. He followed it up with being an integral part of Arsenal’s Double-winning side of 1970–71, and even had a claim to scoring Arsenal’s equaliser in the FA Cup Final against Liverpool, although Eddie Kelly is officially credited with the goal.

Winning the “Double” brought the attention of Scotland and he was selected for the national side for the first time against Portugal in 1971. He would go on to win twelve caps over the next two years for Scotland, scoring three goals, his final one coming against Brazil, by this time he was no longer an Arsenal player. The arrival of Alan Ball made his position at Arsenal less assured so he moved to Manchester United in December 1972 for £120,000. He spent two years at United, and was relegated to Division Two, before seeing out his career in England at Portsmouth and Crystal Palace. He played the summer of 1978 in America for the California Surf.

After retiring from playing, he became a coach at Crystal Palace and then later Queens Park Rangers. With the dismissal of Don Howe as Arsenal manager in March 1986, the Arsenal directors were interested in appointing Alex Ferguson, as their new manager with Graham as his assistant. However, Ferguson decided to wait until after the World Cup that summer before making a decision on his future, and so the Arsenal directors appointed Graham as their new manager on 14 May 1986.

In total, he played 308 matches for Arsenal, scoring 77 goals.

10. Frank McLintock: 1964-1973.

Frank appeared in 403 games over a 9 year period.

Frank was born in Glasgow and brought up in the Gorbals, he started his career in the Scottish Juniors with Shawfield, before moving to Leicester City in 1957 as a wing half, making his debut for them in 1959. He spent seven years at Filbert Street and he reached, but lost, two FA Cup finals (1961 and 1963) and a winning League Cup final (1964) During this time he also made his debut for Scotland, against Norway on 4 June 1963.

frank-mclintock-arsenal-football-player-1972In October 1964, he was signed by Arsenal for a club record £80,000 and went straight into the first team. He spent the next nine seasons with the Gunners, moving from midfield to centre half. He was a first-choice player throughout, and became the club’s captain in 1967, and would go on to skipper the club during their period of success under Bertie Mee. He reached  two League Cup finals (losing both, in 1968 and 1969), and became so disheartened that he handed in a transfer request in 1969, but manager Bertie Mee persuaded him to stay, and he went on to win three major trophies in the space of two years. In 1969-70, Frank led Arsenal to an Inter-Cities Fairs Cup final win beating Anderlecht 4–3 on aggregate. The following year, 1970-71 , he lifted the club’s first League and FA Cup Double.

He went on to play for Queens Park Rangers and spent four seasons with them making a total of 127 League appearances before finally retiring from the game in the 1977 close season. In all, he played over 700 times for his three clubs combined.

After retiring from playing, he joined his old club Leicester City as manager in 1977. However, he endured a difficult time in charge, and City went through a spell where they had one win in 26 matches. He was later manager of Brentford between 1984 and 1987, and then a coach at Millwall, helping the club gain promotion to the old Division One.

In 1971 he won the Football Writers’ Association Footballer of the Year award. In 1972 he was made an MBE and in 2009 he was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame.

In total, he had played 403 matches for Arsenal, scoring 32 goals.

Written by GunnerN5 and compiled by Gooner in Exile

Arsenal’s Greatest Midfielders Day 2

June 26, 2013

Continuing our Summer series of articles in search of Arsenal’s greatest ever team, this week we continue to highlight the midfielders.  Don’t forget to take the opportunity to choose your personal favourite midfielder by voting in the poll at the end of the week

4. Alf Baker: 1919-1931.

Alf made 351 appearances over a 12 year period.

Born in Ilkeston, Derbyshire, Alf was originally a miner and played for various clubs in Derbyshire as an amateur.

ARSEbakerADuring World War I he \was a guest player for Chesterfield, Crystal Palace and Huddersfield Town, and in 1919 he turned professional signing for Arsenal; according to Arsenal folk lore, manager Leslie Knighton signed Alf  after meeting him at the pit where he worked,  beating rivals for the player’s signature who were waiting at his home. He made his debut for Arsenal in 1919 playing in the first-ever top flight game at Highbury. He played seventeen matches that season, becoming a first team regular in 1920-21.

“Doughy”, as he was nicknamed, played in every position for Arsenal, including as emergency goalkeeper, but he usually played as right half.

He was made club captain in 1924, however when new manager Herbert Chapman arrived at the end of that season, he made Charlie Buchan captain instead of Baker, but he continued to play for Arsenal for another five years.

In 1927, he played in Arsenal’s first ever FA Cup final; however Arsenal suffered an infamous 1-0 loss to Cardiff City after a mistake by Arsenal goalkeeper Dan Lewis. The following season, he was finally capped for England, appearing against Wales on 28 November 1927; England lost 2-1. It was his only international appearance.

Alf finally won a major medal when he played in Arsenal’s 1930 FA Cup final win over Huddersfield Town; by now he had nearly reached the end of his career. He played only one more game for the club (also against Huddersfield, on 7 March 1931) before retiring from the game aged 33 in the summer of 1931, later working as a scout for Arsenal.

In all, he played 351 matches for Arsenal, scoring 26 goals.

He passed away in 1955, at the age of 56.

5. Joe Mercer: 1946-1954.

Joe made 275 appearances over an 8 eight period.

gun__1279617767_mercer_joeJoe was born in Ellesmere Port, Cheshire, the son of a former Nottingham Forest and Tranmere Rovers footballer.

He first played for Ellesmere Port Town as a left half; he was a powerful tackler and good at anticipating an opponent’s moves. He joined Everton in September 1932 at the age of 18 becoming a first team regular in the 1935–36 season. He went on to make 186 appearances for Everton, scoring two goals and winning a League Championship medal in the 1938–39 season. While playing for Everton he gained five England caps between 1938 and 1939.

During WW11 he became a sergeant-major and played in 26 wartime internationals, many of them as captain. He was transferred to Arsenal for £9,000, in 1946 and commuted from Liverpool. He made his Arsenal debut against Bolton Wanderers on 30 November 1946 and soon after joining Arsenal he became club captain. As captain, he led Arsenal through their period of success in the late 1940s and early 1950s, helping to haul the side from the lower end of the table to win a League Championship title in 1947–48.

Joe went on to win an FA Cup winner’s medal in 1950 and was voted FWA Footballer of the Year the same year. He led Arsenal to Cup final in 1952, which they lost 1–0 to Newcastle United, but the following year bounced back to win his third League title with Arsenal winning the 1952–53 League Championship on goal average. Initially he decided to retire in May 1953, but soon recanted and returned to Arsenal for the 1953–54 season. However, he broke his leg in two places after a collision with team-mate Joe Wade in a match against Liverpool on 10 April 1954, and finally called time on his football career the year after.

After retiring he ran his own green grocery business in Wallasey and he became known as the Football Grocer in football annuals of the late forties and fifties.

He returned to football in 1955, becoming manager of Sheffield United, who was relegated in his first season in charge. The rest of his time as manager was spent in the Second Division and in December 1958, he resigned and moved to Aston Villa who was bottom of the First Division. Although he led them to the FA Cup semi-finals he was relegated to Division Two for a second time, but led Villa to victory in the inaugural League Cup in 1961.

He suffered a stroke in 1964 and upon his recovery he was sacked by the Aston Villa board. Despite this setback his health improved and he went on to enjoy great success as a manager with Manchester City between 1965 and 1971. In his first season at Maine Road, the club won the 1966 Second Division title to regain top-flight status. Two seasons later he led Manchester City to the 1968 First Division championship, going on to win the FA Cup in 1969, the League Cup in 1970 and European Cup Winners’ Cup in 1970. Later he became embroiled in a club takeover bid which led to his departure to become manager of Coventry City, during the same time Mercer was also caretaker manager of the England national football team for a brief period in 1974 after Sir Alf Ramsey’s resignation.

In 1976 he was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire for services to football.

Later in life he suffered from Alzheimer’s disease and passed away, sitting in his favourite armchair, on his 76th birthday.

Joe played 275 times for Arsenal and scored two goals.

6. Alex Forbes: 1948-1956

Alex appeared in 240 games over an 8 year period.

$(KGrHqF,!osE63YPy-wiBPCfQKjJt!~~60_35Born in Dundee, he started his career playing wartime matches with Dundee North End, before signing for Sheffield United. He was a regular for Sheffield in the first two seasons of competitive football after the war ended, and made his debut for Scotland, against England on 12 April 1947.

Transfer-listed by the Blades, he signed for Arsenal in 1948 for £15,000, after being persuaded by his friend, and Arsenal player, Archie Macaulay. He made his debut against Wolves on 6 March 1948. Nicknamed “Red” (for the colour of his hair) and known for his hard tackling, he picked up a First Division winners’ medal in his first season at Arsenal (1947–48), making 11 appearances that season.

He eventually managed to displace his friend Macaulay from the Arsenal side, becoming a regular for the next seven seasons. He went on to win a second title in 1952–53, and picked up an FA Cup winners’ medal in 1949-50. He continued to also play for Scotland, eventually picking up 14 caps for his country.

Injury blighted his final season with the Gunners; a problem with his knee cartilage demanded an operation, which restricted him to five appearances in 1955–56. Having lost his place to Dave Bowen, he moved to Leyton Orient in August 1956, where he spent a season before finishing his playing career with Fulham.

After retiring from playing, Alex spent time coaching the Arsenal reserves and youth teams. He later immigrated to Johannesburg, South Africa, where he now lives in retirement, to coach children at a local private school, Yeshiva College of South Africa. He is also chairman of the South African branch of the Arsenal supporters’ club.

Alex is the last surviving player from Arsenal’s 1950 FA Cup Final winning team.

In all, Alex played 240 games for Arsenal, scoring 20 goals.

Written by GunnerN5 and compiled by Gooner in Exile

Arsenal’s Greatest Midfielders Day 1

June 25, 2013

Continuing our Summer series of articles in search of Arsenal’s greatest ever team, this week we begin our quest for the greatest midfielders to include in our team.  Don’t forget to take the opportunity to choose your personal favourite defender by voting in the poll at the end of the week.

1. John Dick: 1898-1912.

John made 284 appearances over a 14 year period.

Born in Eaglesham, Renfrewshire, John first played for Airdrieonians, but in 1898 he was signed by Woolwich Arsenal as one of manager William Elcoat’s many Scottish signings. A strong muscular centre half, he made his debut for the Gunners on the first day of the season on 3 September 1898, missing only four games of his first season.

arsenal-john-dick-6-futera-promotional-copy-the-captains-of-arsenal-platinum-1998-card-45950-pHe was also a competitive cross-country runner and was known for his formidable endurance, once recording a time of 33’ 45” for a six-and-a-half mile race. He was a near constant in the Woolwich Arsenal side for the next six seasons, missing only one game in 1899-1900. Although he was not known for his scoring, he did manage to score thirteen times in his Arsenal career, including scoring twice in a 12-0 demolition of Loughborough on 12 March 1900, the Gunners’ record win in a competitive match.

He was moved to right half, in 1993 but continued to be a first team fixture as Arsenal won promotion from the Second Division to the First Division in 1903-04. In the meantime he had also become club captain, though by the time promotion had come round, fellow Scot Jimmy Jackson had taken over as skipper.

He played as first-choice right half for in Gunner’s first season in the top flight, becoming one of the first Arsenal players to play in over 200 matches. At the beginning of the 1905-06 season his place was taken by John Bigden, and he stepped down to the reserves. He continued to play sporadically for the first team for the next five years, but never regained a regular place.

In the summer of 1912 he left Arsenal to coach abroad in Prague, and became known for being one of the early pioneers of football in Czechoslovakia, where he coached Sparta Prague. Little is known about John after this period.

In all, he played 284 games for Arsenal in the League and FA Cup, and 30 in other first-class matches.

2. Roddy McEachrane 1902-1915.

Roddy made 346 appearances over a thirteen year period.

Roddy was born in Inverness and moved to Canning Town, London at the age of 20, to work at the Thames Iron Works, and joined the works football team the Thames Ironworks FC.

arsenal-roddy-mceachrane-prominent-footballers-1907-nostalgia-reprint-1992-collectable-card-53327-pHe was a left half-back with a reputation for tough tackling and was a regular for The Irons in the 1898-99 season, helping them to win the Southern League Division Two title. He was again an ever-present the following season, and again during Thames Ironworks’ first season under their new name, West Ham United.

Roddy was also one of the Irons’ first players to turn professional and during his time as a player for the club he appeared in 113 matches scoring 6 goals. In May 1902, he moved south of the River Thames to join Second Division side Woolwich Arsenal, later being joined by ex-West Ham team mates James Bigden and Charlie Satterthwaite.

He made his debut against Preston North End on 6 September 1902, which was Woolwich’ first period of success, finishing third in the 1902-03 season, and then second in 1903-04, which won them promotion to the First Division. Roddy, playing at left half, was near ever-present, and although the Gunners were only a mid-table team in their first stint in the top flight, they reached the FA Cup semi-finals in 1905-06 and 1906-07.

Roddy continued to be a stalwart in midfield for the next four seasons, as Woolwich Arsenal finished sixth in 1908-90, with him missing only two games that season, but by 1911 he was 33 and was displaced by fellow Scot Angus McKinnon. He remained at the club for another three seasons as McKinnon’s understudy, although by now the club had fallen on hard times, and were relegated in 1912-13. He played his last first-team match for Woolwich Arsenal on 22 November 1913.

The arrival of World War I suspended all first-class football in England, and with it his career finished. In all he played 346 games for Arsenal in thirteen years, every single one at left half – never scoring a goal.

He holds the Arsenal club record for the most appearances by a player without winning a cap or a medal.

He died in 1952 aged 74.

3. Billy Blyth: 1914-1929.

Billy made 343 appearances over a fifteen tear period.

Born in Dalkeith, Midlothian, Billy played as a schoolboy for local junior side Wemyss Athletic. For a short period of time he played for Manchester City before signing for Arsenal in May 1914.

arsenal-william-blyth-11-futera-promotional-copy-the-captains-of-arsenal-platinum-1998-card-45944-pHe made his debut for the Gunners, in a Second Division match against Huddersfield Town on 21 November 1914, a game that Arsenal lost 3-0. He made twelve appearances in 1914-15 but by then World War I had broken out, and he joined the Royal Army Service Corps, serving in France.

When football resumed, at the end of WW1 hostilities, he returned to Arsenal and immediately became a regular in the newly-promoted side. An energetic midfielder, he usually figured on the left of midfield, as a left half or inside left. He became a mainstay in the side, with over 300 league games in ten seasons, becoming club captain in 1925. He also played in the 1927 FA Cup Final, Arsenal’s first cup final, which they lost 1-0 to Cardiff City.

He was transferred to Birmingham in May 1929, playing his last first-team game in September 1930 before retiring at the end of the 1930–31 season. Billy also starred in one of the first football-related films, the 1930 production The Great Game. After retiring, he moved back to Scotland, and ran a pub in Port Seton.

In total, he played 343 matches for Arsenal, scoring 51 goals.

He died in Worthing, West Sussex in 1968 at the age of 73.

Written by GunnerN5 and compiled by Gooner in Exile

Tony Adams and Santi Cazorla at Loggerheads

June 24, 2013

There have been two important Arsenal-related statements this week – one from a club legend and one from a legend-in-the-making.

The interesting thing is that the two statements are diametrically opposed to each other.

The established legend – Tony Adams – says Arsenal are “miles off” winning the Premiership title.

The legend-to-be – Santi Cazorla – says the opposite. He reckons we can definitely be among the trophies next year and that our form during last season’s run-in has given the players the confidence they need to push on to glory.

So who is right? Little or Large? Rodders or Adam Sandler?

Both deserve to be listened to. Big Tone because he embodies the spirit of modern Arsenal and he knows what it takes to win the English league title; and little Santi because he knows the strengths and weaknesses of the players around him and, quite possibly, also has an inkling about our summer transfer intentions.

Tony’s exact quote was: “It’s time that Arsenal won something again, even the FA Cup or the League Cup. But, I can’t see it to be honest. They are still not good enough in certain areas of the team. And they are miles off the title.”

We can speculate about what he means by us being not good enough in certain areas. I would imagine he’s referring to not having a world class striker and, possibly, he feels there is still something lacking in our defensive play despite the successful run-in. Maybe a better goalkeeper is also part of his thinking.

Most fans would probably agree with those sentiments. It’s why we’re all anxiously scanning the news every day for the much-anticipated transfer coups which, we hope, will fix those weaknesses.

In fairness to Tony, there was no follow-up question (or at least none reported) asking him whether he thought we could compete if we made two or three good signings.

But his use of the phrase “miles off” suggests that he thinks our shortcomings are not going to be solved by the arrival of some new faces this summer. Interestingly though, he also maintained his backing of Arsene Wenger as the man to lead Arsenal to future glory.

Santi Cazorla, as you might expect from a current player, was more upbeat. He said: “When the team does not win and we do not get the results we want, the collective confidence does drop a little and that is natural.

“Now we have put in a spectacular run-in and you can see the difference in mentality. We have great players. I am sure we will be a better team and improve. This season we hope we can be even better and win trophies and the supporters can enjoy it. That is what Arsenal really wants.”

Cazorla had an outstanding first year in the English Premier League and was many fans’ choice for Player of the Season.

He has seen at first hand what we’re up against in our challenge to win the title next year. He has played against the financially-doped, overpaid stars of the Northern and Southern Oilers and against the referees’ favourite team from the red half of Manchester. He has tasted victory and defeat against our pox-ridden neighbours.

He has also seen what his team mates are capable of: the ability to grind out wins in difficult circumstances and the willingness to work for one another that was so evident in the last 10 or so games of the past season.

So whose word do we believe? Tony Adams’ or Santi Cazorla’s?

For me it has to be Santi – and not just because I am of a generally optimistic outlook regarding where Arsenal is heading.

He has been part of Spain’s all-conquering national side so – like Adams – he also knows a thing or two about winning and if he believes we can do it I am inclined to go along with him.

Tony, on the other hand, has a track record of making odd statements and, occasionally, some pretty negative comments about Arsenal.

For example, as recently as mid April he was slagging off the club’s transfer policy and confidently pronouncing that we would not make Top Four by the end of the season.

I have no doubt that he was speaking from the heart and from a desire to see Arsenal at the top again, but he was wrong about the Top Four (it may have been a squeaky-bum finish, but we did it) and his comments about our transfer policy are reflective of the ill-informed views of many fans (ie, they did not take into account the financial background of the last seven years).

It wasn’t the only occasion in recent seasons on which Tony talked down our end-of-season prospects while we are still in the thick of the fight. In fact he pops up with this sort of negativity as often as your common or garden Redknapp. And like Twitchy, he always turns out to be wrong.

If we make the sort of ambitious signings that we’re all hoping for it would be nice to hear some upbeat words from the big man before the new season begins.

If Tony thinks he should have been made Chairman of the Board at Arsenal after the news of Peter Hill-Wood stepping down, he might well reflect on what one of the principle roles of a chairman is: namely, to be the public flag-bearer of the club; to always talk it up and to keep his more pessimistic thoughts to himself.

Mind you, even if Chairman is a stretch, I think it would be a public relations masterstroke for Arsenal to invite Tony onto the Board as a non-executive director.


Youth Policy. A waste of Money?

June 23, 2013

What is happening at youth level? Why has Liam Brady who has been Head of our Youth programme decided to resign – and this after spending most of his life at Arsenal?

Is the Youth Policy a waste of Arsenal’s resources?

It must cost a great deal of money to coach all these kids from the age of 8 up to the reserve and first teams – are we getting value for money? Who have we managed to sell from this outlay in order to “balance the books”? Lansbury, Stokes, maybe a few more. And who in today’s first team has made it from the hundreds who have passed through the ranks? Wilshere, Frimpong and ……?


Academy Team 2013

Gibbs, Ramsey, Cesc, Coquelin, Theo, etc all came to AFC from other team’s youth systems. Perhaps this is the better option – to cherry pick and if this is the new Arsenal way, then why bother with the  little kids?

There has been a cull in the Academy with almost half the squad shipped out. They will be replaced by other young men pursuing their dream. Who knows, one or two of these chaps may make the first team but statistically it is highly unlikely.

However, there is another viewpoint and that is Arsenal in the Community. It is essential that at a local level Arsenal continue to be the pinnacle of youth football in North London. We have a fantastic reputation as educators of good footballers and there are many of our “rejects” who make a decent living in the lower leagues. In these days of balance sheets and “value” it is laudable that the club continues it’s traditions.

Looking back through the Wenger Years I can only think of Ashley and Jack who have risen to the top, perhaps there are others but this is a 30 minute post and I have done little/No research (sorry).

So, the Youth Policy. Value for money …. No, Valuable ….. Yes.


Direct from the Spurs Youth Policy and Just for Peaches 

written by Big Raddy

Vote for your favourite defenders from Arsenal’s modern era

June 22, 2013

Today you get to vote for your favourite defenders from Arsenal’s modern era. The articles published on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of this week provided in depth profiles on our best defenders spanning from Peter Simpson who played his first game in 1960 to the present day.

To provide a broader picture of readers’ preferences, you can vote for up to 3 players in this poll.

Thanks to GunnerN5 and Gooner In Exile for this excellent series of posts providing a forensic analysis of the best players in Arsenal’s history. Today we conclude the defence …. next week we start the midfield.

Arsenal Obsessed? Memories from a ’60’s Childhood.

June 21, 2013

Have you ever been an “anorak”? I have – I was and probably remain an Arsenal anorak. In my youth I didn’t hang around train stations or sit by airports, flask of tea and a notebook in hand obsessively writing down times and numbers – No, my obsession took it’s material form in a Scrapbook.

To those younger readers who do not know what a scrapbook is; a scrapbook is a book of empty pages into which one can stick newspaper articles, pictures, tickets and other ephemera.

This was back in the days of Yore, the pre-digital world when men were men and women were grateful. There wasn’t daily access to The Arsenal, just reports of the game in the Sunday papers and a few stories about players. There was the Charlie Buchan Football Annual and monthly magazine; it wasn’t until the late 1960’s that football magazines became popular, but given the small amount of pocket-money the young BR had available, I didn’t want to spend a weeks money on a mag. Plenty did – The Charlie Buchan Football Magazine had a monthly circulation of over 250,000, which is more than all the current football mags added together!!


So I started my own “magazine” which took the form of a scrapbook. It was an adjunct to my precious AFC programmes which were locked away in an air conditioned, humidity-controlled steel bunker outside London (in case of alien attack). I would cut out the reports from all the games, make tables of attendances,league position, player appearances, goal scorers, type of goal (head/foot). All manner of things related to The Arsenal.

I have to admit I became obsessive about my scrapbook. My family paper was The Daily Mail (he wrote in great shame) and I would cut any AFC related article or pictures out and add them to the scrapbook – though midweek there was very little. The main sources were the weekend papers. The Saturday night pink Sports edition and the Sundays. Having listened to the football scores on the radio I would be given newspaper money and sent to the local newsagent to wait for the arrival of the Evening Sports paper. There would be at least 10 men/boys eagerly awaiting it’s arrival – seems another world!

The family Sundays were the The Mirror and The Times ( 😦  ). Both to be cut to pieces on Sunday evening after a day spent playing coats for goalposts in the local park.

It wasn’t easy making a scrapbook, there were editorial decisions to be made which could affect the whole project.; layout, which glue, are there too many pics of the same player, do I write in print of joined-up?


Living with a demented younger brother and a spiteful older sister (both top chaps now – well, one of them is!!) the value of the scrapbook meant that it could be used as ransom. No blood was spilled but many an argument was started by one of the swine hiding my third most valuable possession (after my bicycle and my Dansette transistor radio).

I gave up the scrapbook collecting in my mid-teens when I started to attend Highbury on a regular basis and then away games. Plus, the newly discovered attractions of the opposite sex altered my perspective of life – and I had discovered another typical male teenage obsession (thank you Geno Washington and the Ram Jam Band). Strangely, the 3 obsessions I developed in those days still occupy most of my time today 😀

I need to point out to that I was not alone in my scrapbooking – most of my school did the same. Not only football but all sorts of subjects. My sister pressed flowers (what a pointless waste of time), my brother had a Dinosaur scrapbook, Robert over the road had a Red Indian scrapbook but mine was by far the best.

I guess I kept collecting for 6 or 7 seasons, goodness know what happened to those  oh-so-precious scrapbooks, probably thrown out in one of my house moves.

Wish I still had them.

n.b. Of course, Arsenal Arsenal is our modern digital scrapbook with all the previous info now on the righthand sidebars, and even better than my old version, this one is created by many hands.

Written by Big Raddy