Here we are at the front door of my 71st season and I’m feeling uncertain about my feelings. (After hearing of Kronke taking full control of Arsenal I’m even more apprehensive).
What has happened in my first 70 seasons, well I’ve seen 2,876 league games, thousands of different players, 19 or 20 managers, experienced us winning 8 League Titles, 11 FA Cups, 10 Charity Shields, 1 Cup Winners Cup, I Fairs Cup, 2 League Cups and 2 Doubles. All in all I’ve been around for 33 out of our total 41 trophy seasons.
I’ll attempt to encapsulate my 70 seasons into one post.
Of the players that I have seen, my top team would be –
David Seaman, Goalkeeper (1990-2003), 564 games
Nigel Winterburn, Defence (1987-2000), 584 games
Tony Adams, Defence (1983–2002), 669 games
Lee Dixon, Defence (1988-2002), 619 games
Patrick Vieira, Midfield (1996-2005), 406 games
Freddie Ljungberg, Midfield (1998-2007), 328 games
Robert Pires, Midfield (2000-2006), 284 games
Frank McLintock, Midfield (1964-1973), 403 games
Ian Wright, Striker (1991-1998), 288 games
Denis Bergkamp, Striker (1995-2006), 423 games
Thierry Henry, Striker (1999-2012), 377 games
My bench would be –
Jack Kelsey, Goalkeeper (1949-1962), 352 games
Peter Storey, Defence (1961-1977), 501 games
David O’Leary, Defence (1973-1993), 701 games
Joe Mercer, Midfield (1946-1954), 275 games
Liam Brady, Midfield (1974-1980), 307 games
Robin van Persie, Striker (2004-2012), 278 games
Doug Lishman, Striker (1948-1956), 244 games
My top managers would be –
Arsene Wenger (1996-2018) 13 trophies, average league position 2.95
George Graham (1986-1995) 7 trophies, average league position 5.1
Tom Whittaker (1947-1956) 5 trophies, average league position 5.2
The worst managers would be –
Jack Crayston (1956-1958) Zero trophies, average league position 8.5
George Swindin (1958-1962) Zero trophies, average league position 9.4
Billy Wright (1962-1966) Zero trophies, average league position 10.5
Bertie Mee (1966-76) 3 trophies, average league position 8.3
Terry Neill (1976-1983) 1 trophy, average league position 6.0
Don Howe (1983-86) Zero trophies, average league position 6.7
Their joint ineptitude covered 1,260 league games (33 seasons) they had an average league position of 8.4 and they won just 4 trophies. That’s 432 more games than Arsene Wenger managed – give that some thought?
My top seasons would be –
1947-48 – This was my first season and we won both the League and the Charity Shield.
1969-70 – After 16 seasons in the trophy wilderness we won the Fairs Cup.
1970-71 – We won our first League and Cup double.
1997-98 – We won our second League and Cup double.
2001-02 – We won our third League and Cup double.
2003-04 – The year of the Invincibles
2016-17 – We won our record 13th FA Cup.
It was sad, for me, to see the end of the Arsene Wenger era, as his teams and achievements brought me more joy than all of the other managers I’ve witnessed.
But the memories of his players and style of football are etched in my brain forever,
Who can forget Dennis Bergkamp’s wonderfully incisive passes, Thierry Henry’s runs and goals or our wonderful Invincibles – far too many memories to list.
I hope that Unai Emery brings us some of the same calibre of football that I’ve enjoyed for the last 21 seasons.
I miss being in the crowd on game days, I miss the banter in the pubs, I miss the banter with my family, I guess I miss the overall English Arsenal atmosphere. But I have my memories to fall back on and I look forward to more great times ahead supporting the Arsenal.
Written by GunnerN5
Gunner N5, thanks and echoed respect.
I am 14 seasons behind you and always interested in “best ever” games. My team would be very similar to yours with the exceptions of Kenny Sansom and Rocky Rocastle.
Excellent, GN5, there’s a fair amount of history there!
I think Bertie Mee should have been 4th in the best managers rather than included in the worst managers list, but as it’s your selection ….. 🙂
Sorry, just before my Bros start having a heart attack…..also missing Liam Brady.
So Kenny for Nutty and Rocky for Freddie?
Brady for Bobby Pires or one less striker?
Spot on Chas. No Ian Wright, Wright,Wright.
That Freddie photo above is from the game below.
An amazing Arsenal performance winning at Anfield, playing with 10 men for an hour.
Durkin was at his hideous worst, sending off Gio Van Bronkhorst on 35 minutes for a second yellow for diving.
“Van Bronckhorst went to ground as he raced for the ball alongside Hyppia, although there was no hint he was seeking a free-kick as he sprang instantly to his feet.”
Freddie was like a man possessed after that injustice, won the penalty right at the end of the first half and then scored what turned out to be the winner, not long after the 2nd half started after an amazing assist from Pires.
The goal celebration after that goal is one of my all-time favourites.
aaaaahhh what a tear jerker
thank you GN5 for sharing your formidable memories with us.
RvP on the bench? No, in the physio room more likely.
one of best seasons 2016/2017 – really? I thought it was one of the worst.
I have no idea what the new season would bring, but that i guess is exciting. Sadly, with Wenger the outcome was guaranteed until last season.
I have noticed that with all the years, all the games and all the trophies there is one missing on your list. I so hope that we will win the CL sooner rather than later. but somehow I doubt it, the team is ok, but doesn’t scare the opposition like Tony Adams’ boys would.
and that clip from yesterday with them dancing holding hands is just terrifying!! Fred was right – what are they actually doing, ffs?
how many followers do you have on social media?
I have 4 🙂
this pug has over 8 millions!!
I agree with you but no team can be complete without King Nicklas Bendtner , the best striker to ever wear an Arsenal shirt, in the mix. You are warned!
Danny Dyer after the “twat”. Brilliant!
The work of this chap on twitter…..
That Liverpool/Arse game I remember so well because I was on the golf course with a host of my Scouser relatives who found the result difficult to believe/take. I also finished my round on a significant high.
Pires’ skinning of Gerard, a pleasure to behold.
Great read GN5
I would swap Brady for Freddie. Liam was a true world class player. And perhaps Sansom for Nutty
Wright was a wonderfulplayer and carried our attack for years. Superb video
Morning all, thank you all for your comments,
A big thank you to Chas for adding the appropriate images and prepping my post.
The “top/best” selections are always subjective and we would all make different choices.
Selecting top seasons and best and worst managers was straight forward for me as statistics tell their own story. ( But I did make an error as I’ve only seen 10 managers and not 19/20).
Chas, Bertie Mee would be the 6th worst out of the 10 I’ve seen – he only had 1 or 2 good seasons out of his 10.
Selecting players was very difficult as I’ve seen so many – some of our all time greats I only saw for a few games in the late 40’s early 50’s.
I agree with only having 2 strikers but there was no chance of me leaving out either Bergkamp, Henry, or Wright – all three were wonderfully natural goal scorers but were totally different in their unique styles of play.
Only choosing 18 out of thousands of players was an impossible task so I’m happy to see others add their input.
Strangely enough one of my most difficult choices was leaving out Ray Parlour, a little known fact is that he played in more games (466) than any midfielder in our history.
He was also involved in many of our great years and games- who can forget his 25 yard curler in the 2002 FA Cup final against Chelsea?
His medal haul.
Premier League: 1997–98, 2001–02, 2003–04
FA Cup: 1993, 1998, 2002, 2003
Football League Cup: 1993
FA Community Shield: 1998, 1999, 2002
UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup: 1994
Ray’s still got it!
He can never resist a good pint or a bad woman.
Ah. The approach of the new season. Once redolent of the smell of freshly mown grass on the playing field as we returned reluctantly for the first day of school, now a distant memory. All the playing fields have gone to new housing estates and small industry; the season now starts shortly after the schools have closed for the summer.
But one thing surely remains in the heart of every football supporter – the hopes for the forthcoming battles: that we will do a bit better than last year, or at least no worse; that we will trounce our great rivals/noisy neighbours; that we will bounce back from the drop; survive the relegation maze; sustain our promotion hopes; win more at home than we lose; uncover a magical talent from our terraced backstreets.
For every supporter of every club, each wish may be different, tailored to the size and position of the club. It’s a wonderful, almost religious experience that we Arsenal fans share with Spuds, Mancs, Poolers, Geordies and Stanleys (from Accrington of course). Etc.
However, there’s something else, not so sublime.
A sense of Entitlement.
It’s why I loathe Man U supporters. It’s why I despise Liverpool supporters. It’s why I’m ashamed of far too many Arsenal supporters. They all believe they’re entitled to be top of the pile, Kings of the Hill.
It’s why a small part of me wishes the Arsenal project to crash and burn, another nineteen years of mediocrity or worse, to ram their sense of entitlement down their throats. Maybe they’d learn a little humility. A sense of proportion. Not that it worked for Liverpool or Man U, who remain arrogant as ever. (Needless to say, the massively bigger part of me wants us to win every single game!)
It’s also why I don’t hate Spurs fans. Because they’ve never had sustained success at the very top, they’ve never acquired the entitlement bacterium. They have only hope, which they ride like a surf board in a tsunami.
So will we do better? Will we do worse? As the wise one wrote, “As long as you TRY, boys”… and we’ll go on loving you, anyway.
Bring it on!
Didn’t expect bertie mee to be one of the worse managers, I quite liked the blook
Was not Frank McLintock a centre back?
Fred – As I said Bertie Mee was the 6th worst of the 10 managers that I have seen, another way of looking at it was that he was the 4th best.
This will help to answer your question Jigsol
When the Scottish international arrived in north London for less than £100,000, manager Billy Wright believed the lean wing-half to be a sound bit of business. He was, eventually. It took five years and a switch of roles for the promise to come to fruition.
In his original position McLintock’s tireless work rate, enthusiasm and commitment could not be questioned. But it was that very same anxiety to contribute all over the field which often proved his downfall, his ill-advised wanderings over-burdening his team-mates.
Then came an injury crisis in 1969/70 and coach Don Howe drafted a somewhat reluctant McLintock into the heart of defence. It was a masterstroke in every sense. The Scot thrived and swiftly earned the captain’s armband.
I’m off out shopping with my wife for a few hours, amid a major thunder storm. At least the car will get a good wash.
Enjoyable read and a great save with the honorable mention.
Thanks for refreshing some memories that I have long not thought of.
Loved the first 3 paragraphs.
Agree about MU fans, not so much about the Scousers and certainly not what you write about Spurs.
Why? Because it clearly shows you are a young man who has no conception of how arrogant our NL neighbours are when they manage to creep above us for a season or two. Dreadful club, awful fans.
Part of the essence of being a Gooner is an active dislike of The Miscreants. (Read yesterday’s post)
After Arsene’s successes in his first 8 seasons a group of our fans most certainly caught the arrogance bug and took for granted that a new normal had arrived. The more seasoned supporters were used to the up’s and down’s of football took the subsequent downturn in their stride, although by the end of his tenure AW had lost a lot of his supporters – only a few old fools hid their heads in the sand (guilty as charged).
However I will maintain in my dying day that Arsenal fans may never see another manager of his caliber, or who will have his levels of achievement.
Excellent stuff, GN5, a top ranking Post! 😀
Stirring from my afternoon kip, and ignoring the nurses, I felt lifted by the memories you invoked. Thank you.
It is no surprise to me, that other than the inclusion of Frank McLintock, in your best players selection, all the others are from the best and most successful period in Arsenal’s long history.
There is still room for others to add or amend player selections in that selection, as is right and proper, but that is only a matter of subjective opinion.
Loved the Post, and cannot find any good reason for inclusion/exclusion, myself.
Only slight foible I have is the mention of Ray ‘Romford Pele’ Parlour by someone as one of the best players. I really like Ray as a person with a very good sense of humour, but he was so fortunate to play in a team/squad that was so brilliant that he benefitted from their —–mutual success.
[I am prepared to admit that is yet another subjective opinion — and I genuinely like the naughty Ray — so benefit of any doubt should go his way — especially after THAT goal against Chelsea in the FA Cup called by a Chelsea supporting idiot — Oh, it’s only Ray Parlour —- Nooooo — GOALLLLLLLLL.
Yep, OK – that does make a difference!! 😀
Hi BR. Thank you – I am a young man. Well, compared to GN5! I was released into the world as recently as 1952. I confess that I grew up a rugby man, and my epiphany wasn’t until after Bertie Mee’s double. I only started attending regularly in Brady’s time.
I understand the antagonism between close rivals, but can’t really share it. I have had many Spud friends down the years, and two of my all-time favourite players were Hoddle and Ardiles.
On the other hand, my first ever First Division game was West Ham vs Tottenham – and it’s the most scared I’ve ever been. Three of us sixteen year olds and two girlfriends – why we ever went I can’t imagine now fifty years on. The two biggest bunches of thugs I’ve ever been amongst. No one was wearing colours, so we didn’t dare cheer any good play, until Spurs scored, and the shaven-headed mob around us erupted triumphantly. I regret to admit I cheered Spurs for the rest of the game. That was the only time. Confession over!
I liked Ray Parlour even though he was considered to be a journeyman. I understand that he lacked the skill or finesse of the other players but to have played in more games than any other midfielder in our history demands some respect.
Wenger showed another side to his personality offering Ray a contract extension when he became aware that Ray had been picked clean in a divorce court appeal.
Thank you for your reasoned reply, however I will maintain my dislike of “them” until my final breath. I would never have a navy blue and white car, never use a navy blue toothbrush etc.
Like you I have many misguided friends (my father and nephew amongst them).I can only assume they suffered poor parenting.
I am not surprised by your experience at WHU. The Chicken Run was a frightening stand and the Boleyn one of the most violent grounds in the land.
Great post –
My top team: Seaman – Lauren, Adams, Campbell, Cole – Ljunberg, Vieira, Parlour – Bergkamp, Henry – Wright
My starting line up this week end:
Leno – Bellerin, Mustafi, Sokratis, Holding, AMN – Ramsey, Xhaka, LT – Ozil, Auba
oi RC, is it true that French want Pogba to join a club with a manager who has a more positive outlook 🙂 Mourinho negative? never
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