Old School Football – Better or Worse?

October 13, 2018

DpFP4GoW0AAYbYB.jpg

Chas published this picture of a game against Leicester in ’71 (which I attended) and it sent me into a land of memories.

Black and White photography

Players wearing the same coloured shorts

Proper numbers – none of this 54 nonsense

Uncovered Clock End

Sideburns

Standing

Leather ball, and only one per game

Mud

Jon Sammels, my one time hero (playing for LCFC)

Real Arsenal shirts

No sponsorship logos

Sensible (?) hair. Not the ridiculous shaved bonces we see today

Proper cannon on the shirt

Charlie (?) on his arse

Our real home ground

Better times? No, just different.

What do you think?

written by Grandad and BOF Big Raddy

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Arsenals Top Seasons 1970-71 – Our 3rd Best Season and First Double

April 19, 2018

Welcome to the 1970/71 season, after 18 seasons in the trophy wilderness Arsenal finally broke their duck and won a trophy – the Inter City fairs Cup in 1970. That was the end of an extremely miserable period for us Arsenal supporters and gave us hope for the next season. The last time we won the FA Cup was in 1950 and our last League Championship victory was in the 1952/53 season.

The 1970-71 season started with two wins, three draws and one loss in the opening six matches. This included the visits of Manchester United and  Leeds United to Highbury, as well as visiting the previous season’s FA Cup winners, Chelsea, and League Champions, Everton. We also visited West Ham at Upton Park and hosted Huddersfield at Highbury. To emerge from those six games with a solitary defeat – at Stamford Bridge was impressive and built a solid foundation for the season ahead.

Game seven was played before a crowd of 48,713 at Highbury where a double from George Armstrong gave Arsenal victory over Tottenham in the first north London derby of the season. After such a bright start Arsenal looked to be out of the title chase after a 5–0 away loss to Stoke in September. However we recovered and put in a strong run and did not lose again in the league until Januar, and as the season progressed we became involved in a tight race with Leeds United.  After losing away to Derby County on April 26th we went on a run of nine consecutive victories conceeding only a single goal before ending the winning run with a 2-2 draw with West Brom.

With three games left we travelled to Elland Road to face Leeds United. The game was decided in a very controversial manner – in extra time Leeds struck with a quick central attack, Billy Bremner passed to the tall long-legged Jack Charlton, who was adding his weight to the final attack. At that moment the Leeds centre-half looked a clear two or three yards offside as Bob Wilson came out at him. His shot hit the foot of the post, came back at him and rebounded into the Arsenal net for victory.

The official version (the Leeds official version), was that the ball had touched McNab before it crossed the line, which made it a good goal. For this to have happened to Arsenal in injury time was hard enough to bear but for it to happen with a goal which none of them believed was legitimate made it unbearable.

In our penultimate game of the season we beat Stoke 1-0 at Highbury. Of all places to go for the final game of the season on Monday May 3rd 1971, we had to travel to White Hart Lane. Arsenal knew that they needed either to win or secure a scoreless draw to bring the title back to Highbury for the first time since 1953. A score draw would not do as Leeds United was waiting – hoping for an Arsenal slip-up.

Programme from the first time we won the League at White Hart Lane

51,192 fans managed to squeeze into White Hart Lane with thousands of fans outside hoping to get in; Spurs were desperate to deny Arsenal the bragging rights in North London. It was a difficult situation to be in for the Gunners as oddly enough if they scored, they still couldn’t concede for as I mentioned above, a score draw would have shattered Arsenal’s dreams. A Spurs goal at any stage was most unwelcome. Tottenham goalkeeper Pat Jennings was in splendid form and made many fine saves throughout as Arsenal tried to break the deadlock.

Finally in the 88th minute Ray Kennedy headed in a George Armstrong cross via the underside of the bar. After the goal Tottenham put Arsenal under relentless pressure in the hope of preventing them from winning the title. A Tottenham goal would have been enough for Leeds to win the title, but there was limited time left for them to score. In the end Arsenal prevailed. Bob Wilson prevented any Spurs equaliser from happening and Arsenal sealed the first half of the Double by winning the league in front of Tottenham supporters at White Hart Lane, much to the delight of our ecstatic fans.

Next up was the FA Cup Final at Wembley on Saturday May 8th, 1971 – it turned out to be a classic encounter with Liverpool in front of a crowd of 100,000 frenzied supporters.

In the previous rounds Arsenal had been drawn away in every round and in the semi-final trailed Stoke City 2-0 before equalising with a very controversial last minute penalty. This forced a replay at Villa Park four days later, a game Arsenal won 2-0 with goals from George Graham and Ray Kennedy.

Now to the small matter of the most important game in our history- The FA Cup Final.

A victory over Liverpool would give us our 1st League and Cup double. Arsenal wore their away strip of yellow shirt and blue shorts. Arsenal eventually won 2–1 after extra time, with all three goals coming in the added half hour. Steve Heighway opened the scoring for Liverpool with a low drive past Bob Wilson on his near post. However, Arsenal equalised with a scrambled goal from substitute Eddie Kelly – the first time a substitute had ever scored in an FA Cup final. The goal was initially credited to George Graham, but replays showed that the decisive touch came from Kelly after Graham had struck the shot.

 

Charlie George then scored a dramatic winner late in extra time, when his long range effort flew past Ray Clemence. This prompted George into a famous celebration – lying flat on his back on the Wembley turf waiting for his team mates to pick him up.

The match was played with a great spirit of sportsmanship by the players and was responded to by the fans. Arsenal’s victory and double win, after a gruelling 64-match season, was greeted with an ovation by both sets of fans at the stadium. This was repeated when Liverpool took their lap of honour after the presentation of the trophy and medals.

One of GN5’s programme collection with some famous autographs

Wonderful memories.

Written by GunnerN5


A look at Arsenal heroes – Charlie George

August 13, 2015

I thought I would take a look back at a few of our Arsenal Heroes and I’m starting off with a local player that you will all recognize and admire – Charles Frederick “Charlie” George

Charlie George 1

Charlie was born 10 October 1950 in Islington, North London.

Brought up deep in Arsenal territory, Charlie was just a nipper when he made his first trip to Highbury to see the Gunners play. His fiery nature showed up early in his life when he was expelled from a local school. As a young boy he played for Islington Schoolboys before he realised his dream when in May 1966 he signed as an apprentice at Arsenal and turned professional eighteen months later. In a short period of three to four years he had progressed from standing on the terraces watching his heroes to actually playing among them.

He made his debut against Everton in the opening game of the 1969/70 season and scored his first goal against West Bromwich Albion two games later. Unfortunately, ill-discipline marred his initial season and as a result he spent three months in the reserves. He was reinstated in the spring and as a19-year-old he helped the Gunners to European Fairs Cup glory. He brought a swagger previously unseen in a Bertie Mee side, and his impact meant he attracted much of the pre-season hype in the summer of 1970. It wasn’t a case of if he would be good but more a case of just how good he would become. Disaster lurked just around the corner when after scoring at Goodison Park on the opening day of the League season; Charlie suffered a broken ankle which kept him out until the New Year. During his absence he was replaced up front by Ray Kennedy. His skills and creativity allowed him to thrive in his new role as an attacking midfielder and from there he gave the team an added dimension that would prove to pay the ultimate dividend on a historic day at Wembley in May 1971.

Arsenal had wrapped up the league title at Tottenham’s White Hart Lane on the Monday when Ray Kennedy headed home a cross from George Armstrong – now just a short few days later they had to face Bill Shankley’s Liverpool in the FA Cup final. After 90 minutes the game was goalless but just two minutes into extra time Liverpool were ahead through Steve Heighway. Nine minutes later Eddie Kelly started what would be a remarkable Arsenal comeback. With eight minutes to go the game looked destined for a draw with both sets of players dead on their feet until George, Arsenal’s long-haired talisman, stepped up. John Radford squared the ball just outside the box and George took a touch to steady himself before lashing a thunderbolt of a shot past Ray Clemence into the Liverpool goal.

The game commentator described the goal as follows –
Radford to George – George –

HE SCORES!
GEORGE HAS DONE IT!
GEORGE HAS DONE IT!

His celebration is almost as famous as the goal itself as he dropped to the floor in exhaustion and lay flat on his back as his team-mates celebrated. It remains one of the most rousing and lasting images in Arsenal’s history as well as the history of the FA Cup.

 

charlie george 4

With the FA Cup win Arsenal completed their first League and Cup double.

Charlie George 5
He played four more seasons at Highbury, however the latter stages of his career with Arsenal were hampered with injuries and his rebellious streak which created issues with the club’s management; during the 1971–72 season he was disciplined by the club twice, first after head butting Liverpool’s Kevin Keegan, and then for flicking a V-sign at Derby County’s fans after scoring away at the Baseball Ground. He scored eleven goals in both 1971–72 and 1972–73 but his form declined and he only scored five times in 28 matches in 1973–74 and once again ill discipline caused a problem and he was dropped from the first team in 1974–75 after falling out with manager Bertie Mee. By Christmas 1974 he had been transfer listed, and he moved to Derby County in July 1975 for £100,000.

He spent three and a half years at Derby but, predictably, he fell out with coach Don Revie after being substituted and he was never picked again. He also had a loan spell at St George’s Budapest in Australia. After Derby, he went on to play for the Minnesota Kicks in the North American Soccer League, where he made 18 appearances in the1978 season. He then returned to England with Southampton and then he had a short period on loan to Nottingham Forest in 1980, he could not agree an extension to his loan at Forest and returned to Southampton, playing his last league game for them on 14 March 1981. In the summer of 1981 he left the club to move to Bulova in Hong Kong. A year later he returned to England to have short spells with Bournemouth and Derby County for a second time, and had a short time with Scottish side Dundee United before retiring in 1983.

Always a controversial figure, Charlie had his run-ins with the game’s authorities, but his supporters loved him no less for it. Sadly for him he never got the chance to fulfil his potential on the international stage and the hour he played for England against the Republic of Ireland in 1976 was to be his only cap. A disagreement with then boss Don Revie led to his substitution and a falling out with the England set-up.
After retiring from football he moved to New Milton, Hampshire to run a pub. For some years he had joint ownership in a garage business now he is back at Arsenal where he conducts “Legends” tours, and also acts as a match day host.

charlie george 3

GunnerN5


An Arsenal Blast from the Past No. 14 Arsenal’s FA Cup Final History

May 16, 2014

Original FA Cup 001

Tomorrow Arsenal plays Hull City in their record eighteenth FA Cup Final appearance; they are tied with Manchester United. Hull City will be making their first appearance.

Here is a brief accounting of our Cup Final appearances.

 

1926-1927 – Arsenal vs Cardiff City

Arsenal’s first final, but sadly we lost 0-1 and it’s the only time the FA Cup left England.

This was also the first time that there was community signing at a FA Cup Final.

The tradition of signing “Abide with Me” which was written in 1847 by a vicar from Devon also had its debut performance.

FA Cup Song Sheet 1927 001

 

1929-1930 – Arsenal vs Huddersfield Town

Our first FA Cup victory, and first ever trophy, we won 2-0 on goals by Alex James and Jack Lambert. This was the start of one on our most successful decades, we were led by Herbert Chapman undoubtedly the greatest Manger of his time and arguably Arsenal’s best ever Manager. The Final was interrupted by a fly over of the German airship Graf Zeppelin.

 

1931-1932 – Arsenal vs Newcastle United

Our second loss we were beaten 1-2 with Bob John scoring our only goal.

In the thirty eighth minute with Arsenal winning 1-0 Newcastle attacked down the right wing, a long pass appeared to go over the line but it was hooked into the middle and they scored an easy equaliser. The linesman was ninety feet away and the referee sixty feet but the referee still gave Newcastle the goal. Newsreel confirmed that the ball had crossed the line.

 

1935-1936 – Arsenal vs Sheffield United

Our second victory we won 1-0 with Ted Drake scoring our goal.

Having won the League Championship three seasons in a row we now added our second FA Cup to our trophy collection. Herbert Chapman had died suddenly two years earlier and George Allison was now our manager. It was our sixth success in League and Cup in seven seasons.

 

1949-1950 – Arsenal vs Liverpool

Our third victory we won 2-0 with Reg Lewis scoring both goals.

This was the era of the Compton brothers, Denis and Leslie, both were famous footballers and cricketers. They played in both sports for England with Leslie not making his football debut for England until he was thirty eight years old.

 

1951-1952 – Arsenal vs Newcastle United

Our third loss we were beaten 0-1.

Newcastle became the second club to win the Cup in successive years after Blackburn Rovers in 1890 and 1891. Arsenal was down to ten men in the thirty fifth minute after Wally Barnes was injured, Newcastle scored the only goal of the game six minutes from time. Winston Churchill made the Cup presentation to Newcastle; he is the only Prime Minster to have made the presentation at Wembley.

 

1970-1971 – Arsenal vs Liverpool

Our fourth victory we won 2-0 with goals by Eddie Kelly and Charlie George.

Bertie Mee Double 001

This was indeed Red Letter day for Arsenal, having won the League Championship at White Hart Lane the victory secured our first League and Cup double. We were drawn away in every round of the competition and needed a replay to beat Leeds United in the semi-final. Charlie George scored his unforgettable winning goal from twenty five yards out in the twenty first minute of extra time.

 

1971-1972 – Arsenal vs Leeds United

Our fourth loss we were beaten 0-1.

This was a disappointing day for Arsenal but it set up the first stage of the “Double” for Leeds. They went to Wolverhampton just forty eight hours later needing only a draw to clinch the League Championship but to their disappointment they lost 2-1.

 

1977-1978 – Arsenal vs Ipswich Town

Our fifth loss we were beaten 0-1.

This was the fiftieth Cup Final and Arsenal was the odds on favourites to win their fifth FA Cup but Ipswich, managed by Bobby Robson, had other thoughts. They reduced Arsenal to nothing more than a supporting role and won the game with a goal in the seventy sixth minute but they also hit the post or bar on three other occasions.

 

1978-1979 – Arsenal vs Manchester United

Our fifth victory we won 3-2 with goals by Brian Talbot, Frank Stapleton and Alan Sunderland.

The game was described as the “Five Minute Final” a routine heavy weight bout with a finish that matched the “Matthews Final” in raw excitement. Arsenal led 2-0 with less than five minutes remaining when Manchester United scored two goals in 115 seconds. Extra-time appeared inevitable until Liam Brady, who was the architect of Arsenal’s first two goals picked up the ball straight from the re-start. He passed to Graham Rix, on the left, who centered to Alan Sunderland and he slid the ball into the net for the winning goal.

 

1979-1980 – Arsenal vs West Ham United

Our sixth loss we were beaten 0-1.

One of the most disappointed Arsenal fans on this day was GunnerN5 – I drove, on my own, four hundred miles through the mountains from Coeur D’Alene, Idaho to Cranbook, British Columbia. I had booked a hotel room in Cranbrook as the game was not being shown in the USA. Even a bottle of Macallan could not mask my disappointment and the return journey, the next day, was one of the longest and loneliest drives of my life.

 

1992-1993 – Arsenal vs Sheffield Wednesday

Our sixth victory we won 2-1 with goals by Ian Wright, Wright, Wright and Andy Linighan.

Arsenal became the first club to win both the FA Cup and the League Cup in one season but Sheffield United would prefer not to talk about that as they were the team that lost to Arsenal in both Finals. Andy Lineghan headed home the winning goal from a Paul Merson corner kick in the last minute of extra time

 

1997-1998 – Arsenal vs Newcastle United

Our seventh victory we won 2-0 with goals by Marc Overmars and Nicolas Anelka.

arsene-wenger_double

Arsenal finally beat Newcastle in a FA Cup Final having lost to them in both 1932 and 1952. This was Arsene Wengers first full season as Arsenal manager and he ended the season with a fist full of silver after winning both the FA Cup and The League Championship to secure Arsenals second “Double” season.

 

2000-2001 – Arsenal vs Liverpool

Our seventh loss we were beaten 1-2 with Freddie Ljungberg scoring our only goal.

Arsenal dominated the game but Liverpool came from behind to win 2-1, thus winning the FA Cup for the sixth time. It was the second trophy of their treble-winning season of 2000–01: they had won the Football League Cup in late February and would win the UEFA Cup four days later. As well as being the first FA Cup Final to be staged outside of England, it was also the first in which the managers of both teams were from outside the British Isles – Liverpool’s Gérard Houllier and Arsenal’s Arsène Wenger both coming from France.

 

2001-2002 – Arsenal vs Chelsea

Our eighth victory we won 2-0 with goals by Ray Parlour and Freddie Ljungberg.

Ljungberg, having also scored in the 2001 final, became the first man to score goals in successive FA Cup Finals since Tottenham Hotspur’s Bobby Smith, who scored in 1961 and 1962. The match took place with one week remaining in the Premier League calendar for the 2001–02 season. Arsenal were in first position, but still needed a point from their final two games to secure the championship, which they achieved in their next match with victory over second-placed Manchester United. It was Arsene Wengers second and Arsenals third League and Cup double.

 

2002-2003 – Arsenal vs Southampton

Our ninth victory we won 1-0 with Robert Pires scoring the only goal.

The Gunners won their second Cup in 2 years with a dominant performance over Southampton. The gulf in class between the 2 teams was not evident in the score line as Arsenal won by the single goal, a scrambled shot by Robert Pires. The last 7 minutes of the game saw Arsenal retain almost constant possession accompanied by a string of cheers from their supporters. Southampton had a mere 2 chances to score. the last of which came in the dying seconds as Ashley Cole saved the day with a goal line clearance.

 

2004-2005 – Arsenal vs Manchester United

Our tenth victory we won a penalty shootout 5-4 with Patrick Vieira scoring the decisive penalty.

The game was dominated by Manchester United who did everything but score a goal, Arsenals defence was stubborn to the end and forced the game into a penalty shootout.

Van Nistelrooy took the first penalty for Manchester United, in front of the United fans, and sent Lehmann the wrong way to give United the early advantage. Lauren then converted the next penalty for Arsenal, before Scholes stepped up to take United’s second, only to see it saved by Lehmann, diving low to his right. The next six penalties were all scored – Ljungberg, Van Persie and Cole for Arsenal, Ronaldo, Rooney and Keane for Manchester United – leaving Vieira with the opportunity to win the FA Cup for Arsenal in his last match for the club before moving to Juventus. Although Carroll guessed the correct way to dive, Vieira’s kick was just out of his reach, giving Arsenal their 10th FA Cup. Manchester felt aggrieved to have lost a game where they outplayed Arsenal – but frankly who gives a damn?

 

2013-2014 – Arsenal vs Hull City

The game is still to be played.

The Cup is still to be raised.

The story is still to be written.

FA Cup Trophy

 

GunnerN5


An Arsenal Blast from the Past No. 8 1970/71 – Arsenal’s 1st Double

April 4, 2014

Let’s start off with a picture of one of our most Famous teams.

1970 71 team photo

Arsenal’s first double in 1970/71 was a triumph for collective efficiency and steely resolution. At one point in the league they were seven points behind Leeds United and of all places to go the Gunners had to travel to White Hart Lane, for the final game of the season on Monday May 3rd, 1971. They knew that they needed either a win or to secure a scoreless draw to bring the title back to Highbury for the first time since 1953. A score draw would not do as Leeds United was waiting hoping for an Arsenal slip-up.

programme

51,192 fans managed to squeeze into White Hart Lane (The Cockerel Coop) with thousands of fans outside hoping to get in – (GN5 included, but sadly to no avail). Spurs were desperate to deny Arsenal the bragging rights in North London. It was a difficult situation to be in for the Gunners as oddly enough if they scored, they still couldn’t dare concede for as I mentioned above, a score draw would have shattered Arsenal’s dreams.

A Spurs goal at any stage was most unwelcome. Tottenham goalkeeper Pat Jennings was in splendid form and made many fine saves throughout as Arsenal tried to break the deadlock. In the end, Arsenal was the team to break that deadlock.

In the 88th minute, Ray Kennedy headed in a George Armstrong cross via the underside of the bar.

kenedy goal

The goal only meant Tottenham increased their pressure further in hopes of preventing Arsenal winning the title. A Tottenham goal would have been enough for Leeds to win the title, but there was very limited time for them to do it in.

In the end Arsenal prevailed. Bob Wilson prevented any Spurs equaliser from happening and Arsenal sealed the first half of the Double by winning the league in front of Tottenham supporters at White Hart Lane, much to the delight of our ecstatic fans.

One of GN5’s program’s from the Double season with some very famous autographs.

gn5s programme

Next up was the FA Cup Final at Wembley on Saturday May 8th, 1971 – it turned out to be a classic encounter with Liverpool in front of a crowd of 100,000 raving supporters.

Arsenal had been drawn away in every round of the Cup and in the semi-final were 2-0 down to Stoke City, before equalising with a very controversial last minute penalty.

peter storey

This forced a replay at Villa Park four days later, a game Arsenal won 2-0 with goals from George Graham and Ray Kennedy.

Now to the small matter of the most important game in our history – The FA Cup Final

A victory over Liverpool would give us our 1st League and Cup double.

Due to the clash of Liverpool’s red strip with Arsenal’s red and white colours, Arsenal wore their away strip of yellow shirt and blue shorts.

Arsenal won 2–1 after extra time, with all three goals coming in the added half hour. Steve Heighway opened the scoring for Liverpool with a low drive past Bob Wilson on his near post. However, Arsenal equalised with a scrambled goal from substitute Eddie Kelly – the first time a substitute had ever scored in an FA Cup final. The goal was initially credited to George Graham, but replays showed that the decisive touch came from Kelly after Graham had struck the shot. Charlie George then scored a dramatic winner late in extra time, when his long range effort flew past Ray Clemence. This prompted George into a famous celebration – lying on his back on the Wembley turf waiting for his team mates to pick him up.

CharlieGeorge_468x301
The match was played in a great spirit of sportsmanship by the players and was responded to as such by the fans. When Liverpool’s Lawler was floored with cramp late in extra time, he was helped to recover by two Arsenal players. Arsenal’s victory – and double win after a gruelling 64-match season – was greeted with an ovation by both their own and Liverpool’s fans at the stadium, and Liverpool were also cheered by both sets of fans as they took a lap of honour after the presentation of the trophy and medals.

c g with medals
This picture is reprinted from Gunner N5’s original copy of the Evening Standard. Boy oh boy – that’s hair to make even our own Kelsey jealous.

Finally some more details of the Double winning team.

newspaper
GunnerN5


Childhood Arsenal Heroes and Villains‏

August 9, 2012

All of us have our heroes and villains, and in every generation there are players who passionately divide opinion, causing us to dissect every possible flawed trait of the human DNA, especially those representing Arsenal.

The first conscious connection I had with Arsenal was the side that won the UEFA Fairs Cup, followed by the ‘Double’ a year later, which was particularly pleasing because we equalled what Spurs had done ten years previous, and I’m sure I read somewhere in statute law that under no circumstances are Spurs allowed to get one over Arsenal for as long as the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. I could be wrong, who knows!

Back then, just as it’s always been, it’s the flair players and goal-scorers who grab the glory and headline banners, and every time I played football I was always ‘Charlie George’ who would later morph into Liam Brady.

I was devastated when Charlie George was sold to Derby, with Brady I was more disappointed that as well as opting out to chase the Italian lira, his last act with us was to miss a penalty in our losing CWC final against Valencia. And on his return from Italy he went to West Ham!

My first ‘villain’ was Alan Ball, who was bought to replace George Graham. I had no particular affinity to Graham as a player, but he was part of our success, and not many footballers get to celebrate winning the ‘Double’. ‘Bally’ ticked all the boxes, World Cup winner, tenacious never-say-die midfielder who I’m sure Bertie Mee considered an up-grade, but not someone who would ever lift you out of your seat with a thrilling, barn-storming performance.

I remember seeing a picture on the back of the Daily Mirror, in December 1971, Alan Ball with his trademark white football boots draped over  his shoulder, looking visibly upset at leaving Everton for Arsenal. Like most kids, I was very impressionable especially when it comes to my football team, and that picture said to me that his sadness at leaving Everton out-weighed his ‘happiness’ at joining Arsenal, and I didn’t take to him. Maybe he just arrived at the wrong time and couldn’t inspire us to push on for further success. It clearly wasn’t all his fault, but he ended up captaining an Arsenal side that had been a lot better before his arrival, and that was the only excuse I needed. Well, that and being a young kid.

Jeff Blockley from Coventry was another villain who cost good money, touted as a future star, scored far too many own-goals, and was sold for half what we paid to Leicester. When it finally dawned on Bertie that Blockley wasn’t working he bought Terry Mancini, as a stop-gap to allow for the integration of David O’Leary. It’s hard to think of a good signing Bertie Mee made after the ‘Double’ and relate to them as a hero. As if to prove he’d learned nothing from the Peter Marinello experience, he went back to Hibernian and bought Alex Cropley, who just like Marinello, wasn’t good enough and was sold to Aston Villa.

Brian Kidd was a surreal signing, a European Cup winner at 19, but stalled after that, so much so that Tommy Docherty sold him to us. He was our top scorer for the two seasons he was with us, but it was over-shadowed by our lowly league positions. Certainly not a villain, but he wasn’t around long enough to be given hero status either.

While I’m on the subject of ex MU players, Denis Law is a hero. I and a few of the older generation of Arsenal fans on here were priveliged enough to witness something we’ll probably never see again. MU relegated to Division 2, and it was Denis Law’s goal for Man City against his former club that sent them down. Priceless.

One ex MU player who did do well for us, and won an England cap on the back of his performances for Arsenal was Jimmy Rimmer. He made his debut at Anfield against the all-conquering Liverpool, and had a stormer. He kept everything out and was largely responsible for us coming away with the two points in a brilliant 1-0 victory. He was later sold  (by Terry Neill) to Aston Villa and went on to help them win the title and European Cup.

Terry Neill wasn’t a villain, but then he wasn’t really a hero either. His only crime was that he wasn’t really good enough. It was a strange appointment by the Board, especially as he’d been managing Spurs for two years, and had done nothing, apart from narrowly avoiding relegation in his first season there. I can only assume that it was some sort of reward for having played for us over quite a few years.

A better, braver and more dynamic appointment would have been that of Bobby Robson from Ipswich, who I feel at a club of Arsenal’s stature would have seriously challenged Liverpool’s dominance. Although Neill did buy Pat Jennings (a bargain at £45,000)….and Willie Young!

‘SuperMac’ Malcolm Macdonald was a big terrace hero, and represented a marquee signing, a proper old-fashioned number 9, deadly pace over 100 yards, and a natural goal-scorer too. A great signing whose career was tragically cut-short through injury, which meant we only had his services for two seasons. But at least he was better than Brian Kidd!

Alan Hudson was a huge disappointment but he was originally a Chelsea product that we brought back to London from Stoke, and his heart just didn’t belong. After 36 games, no goals and no desire he was off-loaded to America.

Conversely, Alan Sunderland a midfielder bought from Wolves, converted to a striker by Neill, will forever be remembered as a hero, just for his dramatic last-minute winner against MU in the 1979 FA Cup final, and without ever being considered as a major world-class star, he served the club well, and for £240,000 was relatively good value.

A special mention too for Paul Vaessen,who scored the only goal in Arsenal’s 1-0 win against Juventus in the CWC Semi-final, which created a bit of history as we became the first English club to win away at Juve.

Growing up supporting Arsenal was hard during the turbulence of the 1970’s, especially as all the other kids around me ‘supported’ Liverpool, MU and Leeds. I remember vividly the 1972 Centenary FA Cup final against Leeds. We were under-strength because Bob Wilson was injured so reserve ‘keeper Geoff Barnett had to play in goal. Back then, Leeds were almost as hated as MU, so losing to them was too much for this particular kid to digest. Watching Allan Clarke’s diving header was like a dagger had been plunged into my heart (made even more annoying by Charlie George hitting the bar late on!!!), and it was by far the worst pain I had suffered up to that point of my young life.

At the final whistle I ran from the house, and just carried on running until I couldn’t run anymore, and I cried for what seemed like ages. There was no-one to share the pain with, or anyone who was going to make me feel better, so all the emotion poured out. Speaking strictly from a lads perspective, (and a young kid too), everybody is allowed one cry, two is pushing it, three and you need psychiatric help!

If like me, you grew up supporting Arsenal, you will have many childhood memories of your own heroes and villains. Many thanks for taking the time to share some of mine.

Written by Herb


Simply the Best. Your Favourite Goals?

November 15, 2011

“A good ball by Dixon finding Smith – onto Thomas charging through the midfield, Thomas – it’s up for grabs now. Thomas , right at the end. An unbelievable end to the season.”  My favourite goal of all time, probably every Arsenal fans favourite goal. There have been plenty  more beautiful (TH v MU 2000) but certainly none more dramatic. Those 15 odd seconds have been replayed in my mind thousands of times – times of stress, times of sorrow and times of hardship but when the muck hits the fan and I need a lift, a quick mental reference to Liverpool on the 26th May 1989, and for a few seconds all is well with the world.

Why bring that up here and now? Well, because we are in the midst of a veritable desert of football,…..and because GIE suggested I write about my favourite goals.

2nd. ” It’s all over I think. Some people are on the pitch, they think it’s all over – It is now.” Geoff Hurst 1966. I was in Switzerland at the time on a school holiday. I had attended the Quarter Finals and was in that wonderful stage of childhood when football is everything – before girls came along and ruined  changed everything. Our hotel was packed with German kids and I wish I could say we were magnanimous in our victory. Sadly, the worst of our jingoism came to the fore…….. Brilliant.  This was THE time to be English – The Beatles, The Stones, Carnaby Street, the Mini (both car and skirt!) WC Winners etc etc. A year later Sargeant Pepper was released which changed my life but nothing came near to the feeling of seeing that rocket shot fly past Tolkowski and seeing The Kaiser’s (Franz Beckenbauer) head drop.

3rd.  “Hutchison and now Bould. And it’s Tony Adams put though by Steve Bould. Would you believe it? That sums it all up”. TA Everton 1998. Perhaps my favourite day ever at Highbury. The weather was brilliant, we had a fantastic team, we had won the title, I hadn’t spent too long in the Gunners Pub, I was with all my Arsenal mates – friends with whom I had travelled all over Europe and shared pints, train journeys, thousands of motorway miles,  and all the highs and lows of following OUR team. And Tony was not just Our Leader, he was Mr Arsenal; to see him finish the season like that brought me to tears –  and I am not exaggerating.

This signed picture stands on my desk as I write

4th. “There’s Pires. He’s picked out Bergkamp, It’s Bergkamp with a chance and he’s taken it. Brilliant goal.”  DB10 Newcastle 2002. I could have picked any of DB goals – he scored so many great ones . The hatrick at Leicester  in ’97  was awesome, probably the best I have ever seen, but this goal was something spectacular. The vision, the strength to hold off some Orc, the composure of the turn and the finish, all the mark of a genius of a footballer. I recall when we signed Dennis – I was in shock. At the time we had gone through some of the worst football ever seen at Highbury – winning teams but simply dire football (apart from the best defence ever seen). Suddenly DB arrives and heralds a New Dawn. Mr Wenger came soon after and together they created something very special. Thank you Dennis.

I could go on and on. Thierry scored so many fabulous goals but 3 stand out – MU 2000 scored right in front of me at the Clock End, Spurs when he beat the whole team, and that marvel at the Bernabeu; Ray Kennedy at WHL  ’71, Charlie George at Wembley, Freddie at Cardiff, Wrighty’s lob and volley versus Everton in front of the North Bank, Smudger in Copenhagen,  Liam Brady at WHL, Kanu at the Bridge, Wiltord at OT, RvP v Barca ++++++.

Which are your favourites and why?

Written  by BigRaddy