An Arsenal Blast from the Past No. 9 …… George Graham – his Arsenal Years

George was the youngest of seven children, his father died of tuberculosis when he was less than a month old. He displayed considerable promise as a young footballer, and was signed by Aston Villa on his 17th birthday, in 1961, but only made eight appearances for them in three seasons. He was transferred to Chelsea in July 1964 where he scored 35 goals in 72 league games and also and won a League Cup medal in 1965, however his time at the club became uncertain after he clashed with his volatile manager Tommy Docherty.

At the time Arsenal were looking for a replacement for Joe Baker, and paid £75,000 plus Tommy Baldwin in 1966 to bring gg1Graham to Highbury and he immediately became a first team regular and was Arsenal’s top scorer in both 1966–67 and 1967–68. After being a runner-up in both the 1968 and 1969 League Cup finals, he finally won a medal with Arsenal’s victory in the1969–70 Inter-Cities Fairs Cup. He followed it up by being a key member of Arsenal’s Double-winning side of 1970–71. Midway through the 1971-72 season Alan Ball became an Arsenal Player which led George to being transferred to Manchester United in December 1972. He had played in 308 matches for Arsenal, scoring 77 goals.

After retiring as a player he turned to coaching and managed at Crystal Palace, Queens Park Rangers and then Millwall. He guided Millwall from bottom of the old Third Division to the old Second Division and after he left the club in 1986, they went on to win the Second Division gaining promotion to the First Division in 1987–88.

In the mean time Arsenal were going through a torrid period in their history and had only won 4 trophies in the 33 year period from 1953-54 to 1985/86. The European Fairs Cup in 1969/70 and the double in 1970/71, under Bertie Mee then there was an eight year wait until we won The FA Cup under Terry Neill in 1978/79. The club dismissed manager Don Howe in March 1986 following yet 3 more trophy less seasons and finishing an average of seventh in the league.

Arsenal expressed interest in appointing Aberdeen manager Alex Ferguson as their new manager with Graham as his assistant but Ferguson decided to wait until after the World Cup that summer before deciding on his future, and so the Arsenal directors gg man3appointed Graham as the new manager on 14 May 1986. Graham cleared out much of the old guard and replaced them with new signings and players promoted from the youth team, while imposing much stricter discipline than his predecessors, both in the dressing room and on the pitch. Arsenal’s form immediately improved, so much so that the club were top of the League at Christmas 1986, the club’s centenary, for the first time in a decade but they eventually finished in fourth position. The following season they went on to win the 1987 League Cup and reached the final again in 1988 where they suffered a shock 3–2 defeat to Luton Town.

His sides displayed tight defensive discipline, embodied by Captain Tony Adams, who along with Lee Dixon, Steve Bould and Nigel Winterburn, formed the basis of the club’s defence for over a decade. To compliment his stingy defence he also had capable midfielders like David Rocastle, Michael Thomas and Paul Merson, plus a prolific striker in Alan Smith.

At the end of his third season in charge (1988-89) Arsenal won their first League title since 1971, when Graham had been an Arsenal player, and they won in a highly dramatic fashion, in the final game of the season against Liverpool at Anfield; Arsenal needed to win by two goals to take the title; Alan Smith scored for Arsenal early in the second half to make it 1–0, but as time ticked down Arsenal struggled to get a second, and with 90 minutes gone on the clock, Arsenal still needed another goal. With only seconds to go, an Alan Smith flick-on found Michael Thomas surging through the Liverpool defence he calmly lifted the ball over Bruce Grobbelaar and into the net, and Arsenal were League Champions. After finishing fourth in 1990, he signed goalkeeper David Seaman and Swedish winger Anders Limpar in the close season; both players proved to be important as Arsenal went on to win Graham’s second title in 1990–91. In the autumn of 1991 season he signed Arsenal’s eventual second all-time top scorer Ian Wright and gained the club’s first entry in the European Cup for 20 years.


After the 1991-92 season he changed the teams tactics; he became more defensive and turned out far less attack-minded sides, which depended mainly on goals from Wright rather than the whole team. Between 1986–87 and 1991–92 Arsenal averaged 66 League goals a season (scoring 81 in 1991–92), but between 1992–93 and 1994–95 only averaged 48; this included just 40 in 1992–93, when Arsenal finished 10th in the inaugural season of the FA Premier League, scoring fewer than any other team in the division and 1-0 to The Arsenal began to echo around the grounds.

cc cup

In the 1992–93 season Arsenal became the first side to win the FA Cup (in a replay) and League Cup double, beating Sheffield Wednesday on both occasions by a 2–1 score. The next season they continued in the same vein, winning the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup, their second European trophy; in the final Arsenal beat favourites and holders Parma 1–0 with a typically tight defensive performance and Alan Smith’s 21st minute goal.

Unfortunately the 1994 Cup Winners’ Cup proved to be George Graham’s last trophy at the club; the following February he was dismissed by Arsenal after nearly nine years in charge. It was discovered he had accepted an illegal £425,000 payment from Norwegian agent Rune Hauge following Arsenal’s 1992 acquisition of John Jensen and Pål Lydersen, two of Hauge’s clients. After admitting he had received an “unsolicited gift” from Hauge the Football Association banned him for a year – due to his involvement in the scandal.

The Arsenal statement

“Arsenal FC has 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 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.”

It was an unpleasant way to bring his career at Arsenal to an end.


100 Responses to An Arsenal Blast from the Past No. 9 …… George Graham – his Arsenal Years

  1. gunnerpete says:

    I am still a massive GG fan and always will be. He turned round our great club despite the board….they should all have been sacked for being and insult to Arsenal. Just remember that GG was the one who notified the board of this payment and should have been given another chance..//we all know he was the one who was caught but many big names got away with it.

    If George had the squad AW has built up yet again he would have one a trophy or two every year for the past nine years because he was a tactical genius (which Aw is not) and he built great defences (which AW cannot).

    Hope you are well and happy George from a Gunner !

  2. gunnerpete says:

    Sorry it should have read WON not ONE and if George was in charge against Wigan we would win….with AW I cannot see it happening because his training seems to produce injury prone players and we never have a full team at this time of year!!!!!!!

  3. kelsey says:

    Another great write up GN5.

    We saw that GG could adapt his formation depending on the players he had during his reign.

    It was unfortunate how he had to be dismissed.I believe he payed the money back,but that is no excuse.Others one of which managed quite near us has got away with it for 30 years.

    Stroller on the pitch was class, had an arrogant way about him but nevertheless class.To me he was a firerunner to DB10 in his style of play.

    I got to know him quite well and came to my wedding.

    He isn’t in the limelight these days as he is riddled with arthiritis.

    I like this bit
    .”In the mean time Arsenal were going through a torrid period in their history and had only won 4 trophies in the 33 year period from 1953-54 to 1985/86.”

    Now many of us have lived through those times,so be carefu when many refer to our current period as being a drought.

  4. Wolfgang says:

    I agree with gunnerpete that if GG were in charge against Wigan,Arsenal will win. This is because GG knows defence is important if you want to win or win ugly.
    I fArsene want to win playing beautiful soccer,don’t be surprised Wigan will play anti soccer to win. If this happens,the fm will have lost the faith of 98% of fans and he will have to go.

  5. kelsey says:

    Palace 1 Arsenal 5. Graham’s goal of a season and George Armstrong talking to Brian Moore at the start. (dandan would love this)

  6. kelsey says:

    sorry wrong clip

  7. stevepalmer1 says:

    Very good post, brought back some happy memories. George had a fierce shot on him and was a proper tough.player. As a manager his results speak for themselves. Georges demise was welcomed by a lot of people, while others it was a warning, Personally i found his later years as our manager rather boring but he did bring us some exciting talent. George’s bung deal hit the headlines and didn’t they milk it, but George could have.said a lot more about the way football was run, but took the full hit.

    Today’s football i feel is no different than those days, only now we know it happens, not just with managers and agents but FIFA EUFA and of course the FA.but of course they all say that is a load of rubbish.

  8. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Ahhhhh, Friday and a GN5 post.

    For me these posts are pure therapy. We get all excited during the week, then along used to come Fridays which were riddled with pre weekend edginess and nerves.

    Now the soothing words of GN5, and instead of always looking ahead to the challenges of whatever fixture lies ahead, we look backwards at our glorious history.

    I love it, and probably need it as well 🙂

  9. MickyDidIt89 says:

    kelsey says: (Re: George Graham)

    April 11, 2014 at 9:57 am

    “I got to know him quite well and came to my wedding”.

    Right, that’s it. Game Set and Match to Kelsey, unless anyone here has had full sex with Charlie George 🙂


    Great stuff GN5

    I love GG and gave him the same support I give Arsene. His early teams were a breath of fresh air, fantastic.

    Though I still backed him, he made it difficult in the end. Eddie Mcgoldrick for gawds sake, Eddie Mcgoldrick. So shit he has to be mentioned twice. The guy ran like he was an extra from Thunderbirds.

    The bungs and going to Tottenham was out of order, but I forgive him.

    Micky,”full on sex with Charlie George” hahaha. I never had the pleasure Micky but did once get a funny look from Frankie Howard.

  11. Gööner In Exile says:

    Terry do you remember McGoldrick warming up in socks? Have memory of him pinging balls around with no boots on….shame his boots didn’t help him when kick off came!

    GN5 top report of a great man and a great manager for The Arsenal. George never forgets to put the “The” in when he talks about us.

  12. Wolfgang says:

    I agree with gunnerpete that if GG were in charge against Wigan,Arsenal will win. This is because GG knows defence is important if you want to win or win ugly.

    Hmmmm wonder whether Arsene has ever thought about winning defensively……

    “In fact in 2005 we did not deserve to win the final, it was the only way we could win it.

    At the start I didn’t set up like that and suddenly they were all over us. I realised that physically we were not able to compete, so I said ‘OK, let’s defend as long as we can’.”

    Right thats fallacy done with then….can we get on with supporting the team and believing rather than getting your preemptive ITYS strike in before we have even played?

  13. Vinay says:

    At the moment i wont be surprised if a lot would want GG to be in charge tomorrow than Arsene, well not me, i believe its destiny that the last trophy we won was the FA cup and we will win this to complete the full circle,

    For me GG was about our stellar defense, Ian Wright and that 89 michael thomas moment, epic

  14. RedMJ says:

    I don’t recall a great deal of free flowing football the last time we won the FA Cup. We won ugly. Who was the manager? Oh yeah, AW.

  15. Big Raddy says:

    Gn5. Another cracker. What a gift you give us every Friday.

    GG. I am torn about him. Loved hime as a player – Stroller found space and time when others sweated and he scored some superb goals. I recall a flying scissor kick vs MU at highbury.

    As a manager. He gave me some of the best footballing experiences of my life. My first trip to Copenhagen will live forever in my mind, as will 26/5/89.

    But …. his final years as manager when he became Gaddafi, and his exit from the club have tainted his memory. The football was dreadful fuelled by GG’s own fragility and his dislike of creativity. Can you imagine Ozil or a Cazorla playing in GG’s midfield? This is the man who sold Rocky because he didn’t trust him!

    And then there is his defrauding of the Arsenal. It is not true that he offered the money back to the club prior to his denouement. His crime was discovered and he responded by offering to refund his ill-gotten gains – this from a multi-millionaire. It shamed the club but every cloud has a silver lining, two years later Mr Wenger arrived.

  16. chas says:

    Great stuff, GN5.

    George gave us good times on and off the pitch.

  17. The Cockie Monster says:

    chas…..I have seen that ( 4:48pm) photo before, but it was a full ceiling to floor one and was signed….” to transplant, from one hairy hunk to another…. All the best Sean ! “…..” PS, I have enclosed my back up Mankini….wear it well ! “………..I was in his wardrobe at the time, looking out through the Louvre slits, whilst looking for a gas leak !.

  18. Big Raddy says:

    chas. 😀 😀

  19. Rasp says:

    Lovely stuff GN5, GG was as good as any IMO 😛

  20. kelsey says:


    naughty boy 🙂 but no they don’t.

  21. RA says:

    Another excellent synopsis of recent history, GN5.

    The number of comments is very low, not that that is a good measurement of quality, but as I have previously said you should not be disappointed, because your Posts are so well written and complete it is like reading a history book and does not call for comments.

    Whatever the truth of Georgie Boys involvement with slush money, I could not help liking the guy, and he was the boss at one of the most iconic moments in Arsenal history, when we won the title at Anfield.

    I will never forget that night.

    Good on you, GN5. 🙂

  22. RockyLives says:

    Great stuff Gn5

    GG’s football became really turgid in his later years as manager (although he still knew how to get some silverware).

    But his early teams! Fantastic and – as has been said – he and they gave some of us our best Arsenal memories.

    As a player I always enjoyed watching him.

    He was also one of the best headers of a ball I’ve ever seen.

  23. Is everyone behind the sofa already?

  24. chas says:

    Shite quality, but shows off the heading prowess….

  25. GunnerN5 says:

    Well that must be the record low for posts in one day and also the only time that a post contained more words than the comments.

    While I appreciate the positive comments its obvious that these blasts are not very popular. I’ve got two more in the works and after those I will close down my keyboard.

  26. Big Raddy says:

    Gn5. Don’t you dare!

  27. chas says:

    GN5, I love them.
    Most would read your excellent post but not comment.

    As GIE says, the cup semi has sent a lot scurrying for the back of the sofa. I can’t understand that attitude myself.
    What will be will be, worrying yourself stupid is a complete and utter waste of time. Hopefully an afternoon’s partying will subdue the nerves of the 50,000 gooners in attendance and produce a crackling, positive atmosphere.

  28. RockyLives says:

    Chas is right.
    The number of people who read your Friday Posts is very much in line with other days.

    There are fewer comments because the subject matter is not “topical” so, for one thing, we don’t get so many people coming on to gnash their teeth and pull their hair out over the most recent defeat/dodgy performance/perceived crap player etc etc etc.

    Basically, ‘number of comments’ is a poor barometer of the popularity of a Post.

  29. RockyLives says:

    Thanks Chas
    His timing in the air and power when he headed the ball were quite phenomenal.

  30. neamman says:

    Stroller was one of my favorite players. I remember his debut which I “think” we won 4-2 and he scored, maintaining his run of always scoring on his debut.
    Apart from being a gifted midfielder he was one of the best headers of the ball I saw.

  31. arnie says:

    Great stuff, GN5. Sorry, travelling,could not come in today. 😦

    “Arsenal’s form immediately improved, so much so that the club were top of the League at Christmas 1986, the club’s centenary, for the first time in a decade but they eventually finished in fourth position.” ha ha ha ha. COYG. 🙂

  32. arnie says:

    GN5: I appreciate that comments have been limited, an issue that reflects the level of confidence and belief in our team more than anything else. But these posts have fantastic value for the site, and is a true source of education for many young fans, including myself.

    We really need to continue with these BLASTS.

  33. kelsey says:


    I would also like to add GN5 these well researched posts of yours are factual as opposed to current posts where one will get several diverse opinions by bloggers and that escalates the comments.

    Personally, I relate to these posts of yours,especially ones like these as it reminds me of many other things apart from Arsenal as my life took different directions,as I am suredid most of us at my sort of age reflect back as well.

  34. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Oh grow up GN5

    “I will close down my keyboard”. And there was me thinking you were a bit like me. In other words, having almost zero respect for the general populus.

    Who gives a shit what they think, when for the most part all they contribute is environmental devastation simply by being alive and using air.

    It is essential people know our history, and are reminded of it. Sure, Fridays are the short straw, but please don’t cave in to fucking voters. Tossers 99% of them.

    Right Big Match Day


  35. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Wake up Chas

    We need everything this morning. I’ll dig out English Civil War vid, you pop up with Rack of The Day or something. Oh better chuck in some naked pic of that knobhead Henry for the Ladeeez, and away we go 🙂

    Back in a mo.

  36. MickyDidIt89 says:

  37. MickyDidIt89 says:

    One for Transplant

  38. chas says:

    How about a little Glory Box to get the adrenaline pumping?

  39. Gööner In Exile says:

    Sheeeeeeeee Wooooooorrrrreeeeeee……

  40. MickyDidIt89 says:


    Oooo, I thought, Glory Box. Never heard it called that before. Nice.

    Wow though, really amazing footage. Slow motion makes things look so much simpler.

  41. chas says:

    A proper train journey to see the football

  42. chas says:

    Haha, I knew you’d like RackOfTheDay too.
    Just that name makes me laugh every time I see it.

  43. chas says:

    Has George got his Red and White nappy on?

  44. MickyDidIt89 says:

    To coin a Beijing Red term, I hope we thrash these villagers or minnows 🙂

  45. chas says:

    Cmon You Gunners

  46. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Exile and Chas

    Am I right in thinking you are meeting up. Should be a great day out.

  47. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Actually, thinking of GN5’s post, it would be a good move on Arsene’s part to have some special guests in the dressing room before KO, and I’d opt for George and Tony.

  48. chas says:

    Peaches, Rasp and BR off to Wembley in 1979.

  49. chas says:

    Yep, meeting at the AwayBoyz Wembley Festival at the Green Man.

  50. chas says:

    GN5 being carried over the heads……..

  51. MickyDidIt89 says:

    That’s a great pic

  52. chas says:

    That’s what living is; the six inches in front of your face…..

  53. MickyDidIt89 says:

    brilliant. Is JC going too?

  54. chas says:

  55. chas says:

    Bit of a cock up on the JC front.
    Ant and me arranged overnight accommodation when other bro said he would take him. Then other bro realised he’d miss the game himself as on a flight back from Med.
    As it turns out, JC had a bit of a wobbly turn after being stood up for half an hour at the last home game. He’d never cope with today’s exertions.
    He’s watching on the TV.

  56. chas says:

    Right, shower and then pickled cabbage to prepare for today’s packed lunch. 🙂

  57. MickyDidIt89 says:

    I’ll be on mobile today, but would be tuning in more often if I thought there may be even a few Ant’n’Duck road comments 🙂

  58. RA says:


  59. White Bear says:

    so we are all up at the crack of dawn.
    someone mentioned AW looking very sad during some recent interviews

  60. RA says:

    Pickled cabbage, Chas?

    One of my favourites – not for breakfast mind, and I hope you will be wearing a warning badge for innocent travelling fans? 🙂

  61. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Morning RA and Evonne

    We’re in fighting mode, so no time today for that blubby “sad” emotional claptrap 🙂

  62. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Anyway Evonne, as you so rightly said: “The FA Cup is in the bag” 🙂

    Oh, and I agree with you. A walk in the park is what these two Wembley games will be. The atmosphere and occasion will lift the boys even if Arsene can’t, and also City’s experiences against The Wiganers should serve as ample warning.

  63. White Bear says:

    fighting mode? you can say that Micky. I sorted out a shifty estate agent yesterday – I have never seen anybody shake so much when I finished with him, for now. The prick decided to mark my house ‘under offer’ despite my clear instructions to take it off the market. The bank saw it ‘under offer’ on the website and refused to remortgage.

    yeah, I am up for it

  64. RA says:

    I vote Micky for the next Arsenal manager with Evonne as his aide de camp.

    Oh, and MICKY OUT.

  65. White Bear says:

    The good thing about losing so many games this season is the fact that I am well prepared for bad results – chocolates, tissues, fags and pug all at hand

  66. White Bear says:

    RA – let’s cross this bridge when we no longer have a manager in charge. I hope not for a very long time yet.

  67. chas says:

  68. RA says:

    White Bear, I would never want to cross Micky, or Pocahontas as you know him.

    Kelsey OUT — unless he gives me 10p like Micky did.

  69. chas says:

  70. RA says:


    Kevin Campbell would be perfect in this current team, if only we could turn the clock back.

  71. RA says:

    Hopefully GN5 will realise that the quality of the comments from the regulars admiring his Posts is a better indicator of the value attaching to them, and that he will continue with them.

    Go for it GN5 — quality will out! 🙂

  72. chas says:

    Beware, very bad language.

  73. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Crikey Evonne.

    The estate agent must have been a complete wreck.

    The two AA’ers I’d least like a fight with are you and LB. He’s peddling about the Med somewhere, so you’re my choice to go into the dressing room before KO.

    God have mercy on their souls 🙂

  74. kelsey says:

    I haven’t written the review as yet but have e mailed AW what to say after the game. There are two options, oh and by the way Moyes is a goner at the end of the season,that’s a certainty.

  75. kelsey says:

    Midfielders Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (groin) and Tomas Rosicky (thigh) face checks as does full-back Kieran Gibbs (ankle) before the Wembley tie. Kos is definitely out and Fab is in oal.

    I had this dream last night that Giroud scored an overhead bycycle kick, a thirty yard blaster and a 10 yard bullet header. That made the score 2-1 to Wigan.

  76. Gööner In Exile says:

  77. MickyDidIt89 says:


    Bless your bad language warning, but exactly who do you think here might be offended?

  78. Gööner In Exile says:

    Walking to bus stop thinking I’ve forgotten something, just realised it was the believe badge to complete the look 🙂

    Glad that’s all it was, can relax now.

  79. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Have a great time Exile.

  80. Big Raddy says:

    Morning All,

    Post in the making.

    Lovely pics today and when I get my next dog he is going to be called “Highbury” – brilliant name

  81. Rasp says:

    Morning all, I’m very jealous of those going to the game today. The weather makes it feel like its the final – it always seems to be sunny on cup final day 😛

    GN5, Rocky is right. Your post had many hits = readers. Your words bring pleasure to many, please don’t be disheartened.

    We’re all feeling a bit down at the moment- but we have to keep going.


  82. MickyDidIt89 says:

    You speak for yourself Rasp. We’re not feeling down today at all.

    No, we’re heaving with optimism and good vibrations.

  83. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Too right about the dog name, Raddy. Superb. Has such a noble ring to it.

  84. chas says:

    I thought peaches’ uncle’s granny might not like the banned word being sung.

    Right have a great day everyone. Pick up at 9. Ant driving, so no Ant and Duck show early on. Maybe later. 🙂

  85. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Don’t behave Chas.
    Think I can trust you on this one. Enjoy 🙂

  86. Rasp says:

    Morning Micky, I’m very upbeat about today’s game – I can only see a good performance and stylish victory 🙂

  87. kelsey says:

    I will remind you of those words at about 7.p.m. Rasp 🙂

    Of course we should win unless AW cocks up with his selection,formation or when or when not to sub.

    If Sanogo starts we will know his intentions.

  88. MickyDidIt89 says:

    That’s the one Rasp. Let’s put these minnows in their place. Let’s face it, they’re nobody’s, they devalue the tournament and should be nowhere near Wembley. They need learning 🙂

  89. Big Raddy says:

    Me too (he said in a nervous voice and with crossed fingers)

  90. Big Raddy says:

    Post done. Just needs a bit a Rasp-ing.

  91. Rasp says:

    I would start with Sanogo. I think he’ll be fine once he gets his first goal. He’s hungry for success and we need payers with that mindset – not ones who are considering leaving in the summer.

  92. Rasp says:

    OK thanks Raddy, I’m on it 🙂

  93. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Nope, did understand a word of that Kelsey.

    What comment at 7pm, and what will we know of AW’s intentions if Yaya starts, other than he thinks he’s better than Ollie?

  94. VCC says:

    Chas 7:06…….I can remember that happening………sad old bastard me.

  95. Rasp says:

    Ok guys and gals …. today we’re at Wemberleee, and we’re gonna be there again in the merry month of May …… Come on you reds ……

    ……New post ………..

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