Arsenal’s Century Club – Cliff Bastin

May 16, 2019

Nineteen players have achieved the feat of scoring 100 goals for the Club over the past 96 years. The players are sorted by the number of games taken to reach the 100 goal mark. Cliff Bastin sits at number 10

Born in Heavitree near Exeter, Cliff started his career at Exeter City, making his début for the club in 1928, at the age of 16. Despite only playing 17 games and scoring 6 goals in his time at Exeter, he was spotted by Arsenal manager Herbert Chapman in a match against Watford; Chapman was attending to keep tabs on a Watford player, but the 17-year-old Bastin’s ability was so evident that Chapman decided to sign him at the end of the 1928-29 season.

Alex James and Cliff Bastin – a deadly duo

He made his début against Everton on 5 October 1929 and was immediately a first team regular, making 21 appearances that season. He went on to become an integral player in the side over the next decade, playing over 35 matches for every season up to and including 1937-38. His play was characterised by a remarkable coolness, and deadly precision in front of goal; he also became Arsenal’s regular penalty taker. Cliff’s scoring feats are all the more remarkable considering he played on the left wing rather than as centre forward; at the time Arsenal’s strategy depended heavily on their wingers cutting into the penalty box, and the supply of passes from Alex James was the source of many of his goals.

Cliff won the FA Cup twice, in 1929-30 and 1935-36, and the First Division title five times, in 1930-31, 1932-33, 1933-34, 1934-35 and 1937-38 and by the age of nineteen he had won a League title, FA Cup and been capped for England, making him the youngest player ever to do all three. Cliff also finished as Arsenal top scorer twice (1932–33 and 1933–34, though after centre-forward Ted Drake arrived in March 1934, Cliff was no longer Arsenal’s number one target man.

With Drake scoring the lion’s share of the goals and Alex James increasingly unavailable due to injury and age, Cliff was moved to inside-forward to replace James for much of the 1935-36 season but he still scored 17 goals, including six in Arsenal’s run to the 1936 FA Cup Final, which they won 1-0. After a stint at right half to cover for Jack Crayston, he was eventually restored to the left wing and scored 17 goals in the 1937-38 title-winning season.

Cliff was a key part of the side that dominated English football in the 1930s. He scored 178 goals in 396 games, which made him Arsenal’s all-time top goal scorer from 1939 until 1997, when his total was surpassed by Ian Wright. In 2005 Thierry Henry passed both Bastin and Wright’s totals, thus meaning Bastin is currently Arsenal’s third-top goal scorer of all time. His record of 150 league goals for Arsenal stood for slightly longer, until it was equalled by Thierry Henry on 14 January 2006 and surpassed on 1 February.

During his career Cliff also played for England between 1931 and 1938, winning 21 caps and scoring 12 goals. Cliff played in the notorious friendly against Germany in May 1938 when the players gave the Nazi salute in the pre-game ceremonies. England won 3-6 against a side that had a 16 game winning streak – Cliff scored the first goal.

Less controversially, Bastin appeared in the film “The Arsenal Stadium Mystery” in 1939. The last game at Highbury, before the outbreak of the Second War against Brentford was used for filming the shots of the game in the film. The war intervened when he was only 27. He was excused war service for failing the army hearing test, and served as an ARP Warden at the Highbury Stadium. His film appearance in 1939 was not his last – in 1942, Cliff Bastin played a footballer in the classic British war film “One of our aircraft is missing”. He continued to play football in the war-time league that was instituted for raising civilian morale. Bizarrely, Mussolini’s Fascist Italian Radio claimed in 1941 that he had been captured in the Battle for Crete. He didn’t play football again until after the war, when he played 6 times, to retire in January 1947, having suffered with an injury to his right leg in the 1938/9 season.

Cliff scored his 100th goal for Arsenal on October 28th, 1933 against Aston Villa in an away game at Villa Park.

Cliff in 1946 – how many goals would he have scored for The Arsenal if the War hadn’t intervened?

After retirement, Cliff returned to his native Exeter and became landlord of The Three Tuns at Silverton, and then ran the Horse & Groom public house in Heavitree, Exeter. A stand at St James Park, Exeter’s home ground, is named in his honour and in 2009 he was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame.

click to see image expanded

He died in 1991 at the age of 79.

As a kid I was familiar with the name Cliff Bastin as my family often spoke about him at their “discussions” after each game. I had his picture in my scrap book, (cut out of newspapers) but unfortunately he retired after the 1946/47 season, one season before I started to go to games.

GunnerN5

Bonus picture

A still from The Arsenal Stadium Mystery – Highbury’s West Stand with terracing below and the North Bank in the background

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What is the one thing most likely to get us 4th?

January 14, 2019

It’s a slow day on the Arsenal front.

Saturday’s limp and pitiful performance has left everyone in a state of ‘Meh, whatever’.

Let’s have a poll to relieve this listlessness ….

(Photo by PA Images via Getty Images)

Please add any other (more sensible) answers to the question in the comments below.

chas


An Arsenal Blast from the Past 1932/33 League Divison 1 Championship

March 21, 2014

The 1932/33 season saw Arsenal win it’s second League Division One Championship it was the first of three successive Championship wins 1932/33, 1933/34 and 1934/35. During the eight year period of 1930/31 to 1937/38 they won five League Championship titles. In the 1932/33 season they scored 111 goals, Cliff Bastin getting 33 of them, a record for a winger unlikely ever to be beaten. That year there was also a shock defeat in the FA Cup losing 0-2 away to Walsall, Herbert Chapman got the local underground station, Gillespie Road renamed to Arsenal, and he also introduced the now famous white sleeves in a match against Liverpool in March 1933. Unfortunately Chapman died of pneumonia in January of 1934, he was succeeded as manager by George Allison with Tom Whittaker and Joe Shaw as coaches, George went on win the League titles in both 1933/34 and 1934/35. The 1934/35 season saw Sunderland emerge as their main competitors; Arsenal lost 1-2 away then they drew 0-0 at Highbury on March 9th 1935 in front of Arsenal’s all time record crowd of 73,295.

Arsenal were the outstanding team in the Football League, early on in the1932/33 season Leeds United were one of their main competitors and they were involved in a titanic tussle for the leadership of the First Division. On Boxing Day 1932 Leeds travelled to Highbury, at the time they were six points adrift of Arsenal in the League standings and to everyone’s surprise it was Leeds who triumphed beating Arsenal by 2-1, with Charlie Keetley getting both goals in front of a huge 55,876 crowd, while Joe Hulme scored the lone Arsenal goal. Incredibly enough this set the scene for the very next day, when they played again in the return fixture at Elland Road where the crowd of the previous day was exceeded and a new record attendance for Elland Road was set at 56,796. For safety reasons the gates were locked and hundreds clambering on nearby house roofs as well as the Peacock Public House and various vantage points on Beeston Hill, in an attempt to get a glimpse of the action. Victory would have strengthened Leeds United’s championship aspirations but they were held to a goal-less draw by the star-studded Gunners and ended up the season in eighth position.

Arsenal went on to take the Football League Championship that season and were so dominant and overwhelming that they went on to become only the second team in Football League history to complete a treble by winning the Championship again in 1933-34 and 1934-35, Huddersfield Town being the first team to achieve the treble of Championships from 1924 to 1926.

In an English International game played at Highbury against Italy on November 14th, 1934 England fielded seven Arsenal Players Frank Moss in goal, George Male at right back, Edie Hapgood at left back, Wilf Copping at left half, Ray Bowden at inside right Cliff Bastin at inside left and Ted Drake at center forward. Ted Drake scored one of England’s goals in a 3-2 victory, during the 1934/35 season Ted netted 42 times for Arsenal.

players training

Arsenal training: Apr 27, 1935

The Arsenal team was chock full of Internationals and household names and their line ups at the time usually included such names as: Frank Moss; George Male, Eddie Hapgood, Frank Hill, Herbie Roberts, Bob John, Joe Hulme, David Jack, Tim Coleman, Jack Lambert, Alex James, Cliff Bastin, Wilf Copping, Ray Bowden and Ted Drake

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Arsenal 1932-33 Team

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gn5 league standings

NB: That’s the type of League table that I like, no Manchester United, Manchester City or Tottenham Hotspur anywhere to be seen – those were the days my friends………

GunnerN5


An Arsenal Blast from the Past No.6 …… 1947/48 League Division 1 Championship

March 14, 2014

One night during WWII I was lying in bed when the room was suddenly lit up with a nearby searchlight coming on. Thinking it was a raid coming, I jumped out of bed and I started to get dressed. Looking out of the window, I saw dozens of searchlights sweeping the sky and waving backwards and forwards. I went into the front room where Mum and Dad had the radio on and they were just announcing the end of the war in Europe. Our next-door neighbour rushed in and everybody sat talking until the early hours of the morning. The next day nobody went to work and we had an impromptu party down at the corner of the road. People took cakes and sandwiches down to be shared out and a radiogram was fixed up to provide music for people to dance to.

Germany had officially surrendered and Londoners could now try to rebuild their damaged City and lives. Life was still very difficult, good jobs were scarce, food was still rationed, we still used Cow and Gate powered milk, and bomb sites were scattered all over town. But gradually life was returning to the streets and the daily fear of bombing raids, and having to dash to air raid shelters for safety, was now just a horrible memory.

The Arsenal ground in North London was not spared from war damage as the North Stand was extensively damaged by fire and the roof had collapsed, the South Stand terracing was also badly damaged and in need of repair. The debts from the construction of Highbury and the costs of repairing the war damage were a heavy financial burden, and Arsenal struggled when competitive football resumed. The war had cut short the careers of many of the club’s star players, including Bastin and Drake and nine of the pre-WW11 had been lost during the war.. They lost 6-1 on aggregate to West Ham United in the third round of the 1945-46 FA Cup, and upon the league’s resumption in 1946-47 the club finished a disappointing 13th.

allison_georgeAfter close to forty years with the Arsenal George Allison decided to retire from football at the end of that season, and was replaced by his assistant Tom Whittaker, who had been the clubs trainer under Herbert Chapman. So Tom Whittaker took over the reigns at Highbury with Joe Shaw joining him from Chelsea. Arsenal kicked off the1947/48 season with a 3-1 victory over Sunderland at Highbury, an ideal start for the new management team. Leslie Compton, the previous club Captain who had been playing cricket for Middlesex Cricket club, returned to Arsenal and they won the next six games. Joe Mercer had been Arsenal’s Captain in Compton’s absence but Whittaker felt that now Compton was back he should, once again, lead the team but Compton felt differently and persuaded him to keep Joe on as the clubs Captain.

1947 was a milestone year in the life of GunnerN5, I was nine years old and, for as long as I could remember I’d spent endless hour’s playing football on Avenell Road with my mates and kicking a rag football (made by my Mum) about and using the main gate into Highbury as our goal. We were in awe of all the grown ups as they streamed in and out of Highbury on Saturday afternoon’s and wished we had the few pennies it cost to get inside. The different noises coming from the ground always left us wondering what was happening inside but we always knew when the Gunners had scored as that caused the biggest roar of all.

My maternal Grandfather then changed my life and gave me the best present I have ever received, for my 10th birthday he took me to my very first Arsenal game it was November 22nd 1947 Arsenal vs Huddersfield Town and we won 2-0. My memories of the game are somewhat of a blur but we stood, in what was our family section under the Clock, (you see nobody ever told my Grandfather to move – he was a 6”5” local coalman and made of steel). I often feel that the young Paul Ashworth, in the movie “Fever Pitch”, was none other than a young GunnerN5 because after being inside Highbury for the first time there was nothing that was going to keep me out, lack of money, broken glass topped brick walls, turnstiles, stewards, were just mere obstacles to be overcome – I was hooked for life.

arsenal_champions_1947_1948

Tom Whittaker enjoyed immediate success with the club, winning the League in 1947-48; led by Captain Joe Mercer and with goals from the attacking front two of Reg Lewis and Ronnie Rooke, Arsenal topped the table from October and never looked back beating second place Manchester United by seven points. Given the age of the Arsenal side at the time (Rooke and Mercer were both over thirty, as were Denis and Leslie Compton), it was a remarkable achievement however long-term success was never on the cards. In response, Whittaker started to rebuild the team with younger players and brought in Doug Lishman, Alex Forbes and Cliff Holton.

In a remarkable family double Denis and Leslie Compton played alongside each other at football in Arsenal’s League Championship of 1947/48 and at cricket in Middlesex’s County Championship title in 1947.

The highest ever Football League attendance was on Saturday January 17th 1948 when a crowd of 83,260 watched Manchester United play Arsenal at Maine Road the game ended in a 1-1 draw.

gn5 table 2

gn5 table

GunnerN5


Arsenal’s Greatest Forwards – Day 3

July 11, 2013

Continuing our Summer series of articles in search of Arsenal’s greatest ever team, this week we begin our quest for the greatest forwards to include in our team.  Don’t forget to take the opportunity to choose your personal favourite striker from an earlier era by voting in the poll on Saturday.

7. Cliff Bastin: 1929-1946.

Cliff appeared in 396 games over a 17 year period and scored 178 goals.

cliff bastinBorn in Heavitree near Exeter, Cliff started his career at Exeter City, making his début for the club in 1928, at the age of 16. Despite only playing 17 games and scoring 6 goals in his time at Exeter, he was spotted by Arsenal manager Herbert Chapman in a match against Watford; Chapman was attending to keep tabs on a Watford player, but the 17-year-old Bastin’s ability was so evident that Chapman decided to sign him at the end of the 1928-29 season.

He made his début against Everton on 5 October 1929 and was immediately a first team regular, making 21 appearances that season. He went on to become an integral player in the side over the next decade, playing over 35 matches for every season up to and including 1937-38. His play was characterised by a remarkable coolness, and deadly precision in front of goal; he also became Arsenal’s regular penalty taker. Cliff’s scoring feats are all the more remarkable considering he played on the left wing rather than as centre forward; at the time Arsenal’s strategy depended heavily on their wingers cutting into the penalty box, and the supply of passes from Alex James was the source of many of his goals.

Cliff won the FA Cup twice, in 1929-30 and 1935-36, and the First Division title five times, in 1930-31, 1932-33, 1933-34, 1934-35 and 1937-38 and by the age of nineteen he had won a League title, FA Cup and been capped for England, making him the youngest player ever to do all three. Cliff also finished as Arsenal top scorer twice (1932–33 and 1933–34, though after centre-forward Ted Drake arrived in March 1934, Cliff was no longer Arsenal’s number one target man. With Drake scoring the lion’s share of the goals and Alex James increasingly unavailable due to injury and age, Cliff was moved to inside-forward to replace James for much of the 1935-36 season but he still scored 17 goals, including six in Arsenal’s run to the 1936 FA Cup Final, which they won 1-0. After a stint at right half to cover for Jack Crayston, he was eventually restored to the left wing and scored 17 goals in the 1937-38 title-winning season.

Cliff formed an integral part of the side that dominated English football in the 1930s. He scored 178 goals in 396 games, which made him Arsenal’s all-time top goal scorer from 1939 until 1997, when his total was surpassed by Ian Wright. In 2005 Thierry Henry passed both Bastin and Wright’s totals, thus meaning Bastin is currently Arsenal’s third-top goal scorer of all time. His record of 150 league goals for Arsenal stood for slightly longer, until it was equalled by Thierry Henry on 14 January 2006 and surpassed on 1 February.

During his career Cliff also played for England between 1931 and 1938, winning 21 caps and scoring 12 goals.  Highlights of his England career included the famous “Battle of Highbury”, where England defeated 1934 World Cup winners Italy 3-2, and a notorious

match against Germany in Berlin in 1938, when the England team was ordered to give the Nazi salute before the match.

His career was cut short at its peak when WW11 started; he was excused military service as he failed the army hearing test owing to his increasing deafness. Thus, during the war, he served as an ARP Warden, being stationed on top of Highbury stadium. After the war was over, Cliff, by now in his thirties, would only play seven more times before retiring in January 1947.

After retirement, he returned to his native Exeter and ran a pub.  A stand at St James Park, Exeter’s home ground, is named in his honour and in 2009 he was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame.

He died in 1991 at the age of 79

8. Reg Lewis: 1935-1953

Reg appeared in 176 games over an 18 year period and scored 118 goals.

Reg LewisBorn in Bilston, Staffordshire, Reg spent his entire career at Arsenal. He joined the club as a schoolboy in 1935, and scored on his debut against Everton on January 1, 1938. He made only four appearances in 1937-38, however, and as a result missed out on a League Championship winners’ medal. He broke into the first-team more in 1938-39, making 16 appearances in league and cup, scoring 7 goals, but the advent of the WW11 interrupted his career.

During the war he continued to play for Arsenal and shone as a natural goal scorer; although wartime appearances and goals are not officially counted, he scored 143 goals in 130 games, including four in the 1943 War Cup Southern Final, in a 7-1 demolition of Charlton Athletic. Towards the end of the war he served in the British Army of the Rhine in Occupied Germany, but returned to play for Arsenal once first-class football resumed in 1946. Although most of the Arsenal side of the 1930s were past their best by this time, Reg was still only 26 and he continued to be a regular in the first team throughout the remainder of the 1940s. He was the club’s top scorer in 1946-47 with 29 goals, and the following season (1947-48), he partnered new signing Ronnie Rooke and between them they scored 47 goals as Arsenal won the First Division title.

He continued to be a regular for the rest of the decade and he enjoyed arguably his best season in 1949-50; he scored 19 goals in 31 league games, played twice for the England B team. However, during the early 1950s, Reg became constantly afflicted with injuries, and he made only 12 appearances in 1951-52 and none at all in 1952-53.

His tally of 118 in 176 first-team games puts him 13th in the all-time list but his total figure from 1935 to 1953 was a staggering 392 in 451 matches. His finest hour came in the 1950 FA Cup final, when he scored both goals in a 2-0 win over Liverpool.

In the close season of 1953, he retired from the game at the age of 33. After retiring, Reg first ran a pub, and then worked in insurance.

Reg passed away in 1997 aged 77 years.

9. Jimmy Logie: 1939-1955 

Jimmy appeared in 328 games over a 16 year period and scored 76 goals.

Born in Edinburgh and raised in the city’s Grassmarket, Jimmy first played for Scottish junior side Lochore Welfare, before being signed by Arsenal in June 1939. Soon afterwards World War II broke out, and he was called up; he served in the Royal Navy for the entire duration of the conflict.

JImmy LogieAfter being demobbed he rejoined Arsenal, playing several wartime matches, before making his full first-team debut against Wolves on 31 August 1946. Jimmy was a talented and creative player (many observers likened him to his fellow countryman Alex James, who had played for Arsenal in the 1930s), and for the next eight seasons he was a regular in the Arsenal side, playing at inside forward.

He took part in all of Arsenal’s early post-war successes; winning two First Division titles in 1947-48 and 1952-53.  He also lifted the 1950 FA Cup (setting up both goals in the 2-0 win over Liverpool) and played in the 1952 final when the Gunners were beaten 1-0 by Newcastle after playing 55 minutes with just 10 men. In the latter stages of his career he also served as Arsenal vice-captain, behind Joe Mercer.

In all he played 328 matches for Arsenal, scoring 76 goals and after a distinguished career with Arsenal, he was transferred to Gravesend and Northfleet for £2,000 in February 1955.

Despite his success at Arsenal, Jimmy only ever won a single a cap for Scotland, playing against Northern Ireland on 5 November 1952.

After retirement Jimmy fell on hard times; football was not the lucrative profession it is currently, and he was a keen gambler. He eventually ended up working for a newsagent in Piccadilly Circus.

Jimmy Logie dedicated almost 16 years of his life to Arsenal.

He died in 1984, aged 64.

10. Doug Lishman: 1948-1956.

Doug appeared in 244 games over an 8 year period and scored 137 goals.

Born in Birmingham, Doug first played as a centre forward for non-league Paget Rangers, before signing as a professional for Third Division South Walsall in August 1946. In two seasons with the Saddlers, Lishman scored 26 goals in 59 league appearances.

Doug LishmanHe was signed by Arsenal in the summer of 1948 for £10,500, as backup for Reg Lewis, who was only 28 but was injured frequently, Doug made his debut against Sheffield United on September 4, 1948, but after a promising first season (scoring 13 goals in 25 appearances), and his 1949-50 and 1950-51 seasons were marred by injuries. He was passed over for the 1950 FA Cup final (which Arsenal won 2-0), in favour of Lewis and Peter Goring, and then just as he came back into the Arsenal first team, he broke his leg playing against Stoke City in December 1950.

However, he recovered to become Arsenal’s top scorer in 1950-51, and the next season hit 30 goals, including three hat-tricks in three successive home matches; Arsenal finished third that season. The following season (1951-52) they reached the FA Cup final, only to lose to Newcastle United; a series of injuries meant only eight fit players finished the match (no substitutes were allowed in those days). Doug came close for Arsenal with a header, which clipped the crossbar, but Arsenal lost 1-0.

His disappointment was soon forgotten, as Arsenal won the League Championship in 1952-53. He was again Arsenal’s top scorer, this time with 26, and with every goal proving vital, Arsenal won the title on goal average above Preston North End. His form was good enough for him to be picked for an England B match against Scotland B in March 1953, although he was never capped for the full national side.

Doug was top scorer for another two seasons after that, making it five successive seasons as the club’s top scorer in total. He scored 137 goals in 244 appearances, making him the club’s tenth-highest goal scorer of all time. However with younger men like Derek Tapscott and David Herd taking over goal scoring duties for Arsenal, Doug was dropped from the first team in 1955-56.

In March 1956 he was sold to Second Division Nottingham Forest. He scored a hat-trick in the match that got Forest promoted (a 4-0 win over Sheffield United) to Division One in 1956-57, but decided to retire in the summer of 1957. He left the game entirely after retiring. He joined his father-in law in business (furniture retail) in Stoke on Trent, later taking over the business himself.

He continued to live in Stoke on Trent until his death in 1994.

Written by GunnerN5 and compiled by Gooner in Exile


Arsenal’s Best Signing Ever

June 27, 2011

Who is the best player ever to have been signed by Arsenal?

Last summer I wrote a post about ‘Arsenal’s Best Transfer News Ever’. The point of that piece was to determine which piece of transfer news was the most exciting when it was announced, regardless of how that player went on to perform for the club.

So, for example, Clive Allen was on that list even though he never played a game in anger for Arsenal and so was Davor Suker, who was never more than a bit part player.

This time I want to know which signing (as opposed to home grown player) has been the best piece of business we have ever done.

You may want to weigh up factors such as what they cost, what their impact was on the team, what legacy, if any, they left behind, their achievements versus the expectations we had when they arrived and so on.

I’m not including anyone who has come through the Arsenal ranks from apprentice up, or has been recruited at too young an age to be considered a mature signing (so there’s no room for Cesc Fabregas).

For starters, here are what I consider to be some of the main contenders:

Cliff Bastin

Cliff was spotted by Herbert Chapman playing for Exeter away at Watford. Chapman had gone along to keep tabs on a promising Watford player but was so impressed by Cliff that he snapped him up at the end of the 1928/29 season. It was an inspired piece of business and was crucial to the Chapman revolution that led Arsenal to dominate English football in the 1930s. Bastin’s scoring record for the Gunners was not outdone until Ian Wright surpassed it in 1997.

Ronnie Rooke

Arsenal’s dominance in the Chapman era was ended not by any other team, but by the Second World War. When football began again afterwards we returned as a severely weakened side and narrowly avoided relegation in 1947. But the following year we bounced back to reclaim our crown – and the vital ingredient was a tough, experienced centre forward called Ronnie Rooke. He was nearly 35 when we signed him from Second Division Fulham and he had never played in the top flight – so he was a real gamble. However, his 21 goals in 1946/47 helped stave off relegation and he followed that with 33 more the next season as we marched to the title.

Frank McClintock

Our Double-winning hard man was brought up in the Gorbals area of Glasgow, which explains a lot. He was signed in 1964 after seven successful years at Leicester. Starting off in midfield before moving to the CB role (and the captaincy) he was a rock throughout the relatively fallow years of the late 1960s and, of course, led Arsenal to the Double in 1971.

Alan Smith

Another Leicester stalwart, signed in 1987. “Smudger” was an awkward-looking, ungainly centre forward, but there was no-one better at holding up the ball and bringing others into play – skills that, along with his eye for a goal, proved to be vital in our title-winning seasons of 1989 and 1991.

David Seaman

After winning the league in ’89 most of us were happy with John Lukic between the sticks, but George Graham decided that he wanted the best and went out and got Safe Hands from QPR in 1990. It’s no exaggeration to say that Seaman was an essential ingredient in every subsequent success achieved by the club during his time with us.

Ian Wright

Although he would not win a champions medal until 1998 and the arrival of Arsene Wenger, Wrighty was a mainstay of the Arsenal team in the later George Graham era, when we stopped winning championships and started winning cups and when our flamboyant attacking midfield was replaced by pragmatic journeymen. Arguably, without Wright’s goals during that period, we might really have struggled.

Dennis Bergkamp

I’ll admit to being biased here. Dennis is my all-time favourite Arsenal player – but what a signing he was in terms of ambition and imagination. Bruce Rioch was the boss when Dennis arrived in 1995 but his signing is widely attributed to David Dein. The English league did not have much in the way of foreign superstars at that time (Eric Cantona apart) and Dennis showed the way forward for many of the great foreign players that followed. His touch, vision, passing and reading of the game was a damning indictment of the type of players being produced by English clubs in the Route One era.

Sol Campbell

Sol’s signing from the N17 knuckle-draggers was the sensation of the close season in 2001. The fabled Adams-Keown-Bould back three was near the end of its days and a significant reinforcement was needed. You don’t get more significant than Big Sol, who went on to become an immense figure in our defence, even if he did go a bit loopy at the end.

Patrick Vieira

Signed in 1996 from Milan, Paddy took the EPL by storm and is arguably still the greatest midfielder to have strut his stuff since the Premiership was formed. Arsenal captain, Arsenal legend, fearless, tireless, gifted… what more is there to say?

Thierry Henry

After Arsene Wenger’s first Double in 1998, we were all gutted when young goal machine Nicolas Anelka was persuaded by his greedy agents (his brothers, no less) to walk out on us the following year. But we need not have worried. Arsene went one better, bringing in Thierry Henry fresh from France’s 1990 World Cup triumph. He was a winger with va-va-voom, but Arsene converted him into the deadliest striker the Premier League has ever known.

That’s it.

My choice would be Dennis, because he completely transformed Arsenal and helped transform English football. He also stayed with us until the end of his career and is clearly still a devoted Gooner.

What do you think?

RockyLives


Could Cesc become a Legend?

June 3, 2010

Posted by andy

This post was written by andy before Barcelona made their offer and Arsenal told them where to shove it .

What makes a legend ?

All this talk of Cesc leaving got me thinking of his standing in comparison to some of his predecessors. Is Cesc a legend ? and what makes a legend ?

I was born in 1972 so my opinion of The Arsenal greatest players probably varies from that of some of the older and some of the younger guys (and girls) on here, but here goes…

I probably really started taking an interest in the team in the mid eighties and can remember Sansom and Anderson but to me then the heroes started to emerge. O’leary as a father figure bringing on the ultimate in Tony Adams.

If I had to name legends to me it would be Adams, O’Leary,  Merse, Rocky, Bergkamp, Pires, Freddie, Bould, Smith, wright, Parlour, Dixon, Vieira, Henry but why ?

Is it just the time that you were at your most interested or is it that they were better than what we have now. My thirteen year old son thinks Cesc is the best thing ever but to me I personally wouldnt put him up there with the greats that I remember. If I think back to the side of the late nineties i’d struggle to fit him in. It may be that as we get older we think of the past greats with far higher esteem than perhaps they deserve and I do remember old guys talking to me as a young man about players of the past who were legends at the time but quite frankly look s**t compared to the players of today.

Maybe its attitude, I’m not great with stats so dont bother to dis-prove me but O’Leary played over 600 games for us, Adams his entire career. Dixon, Winterburn, bould, Seaman over 400 games each.The likes of Bergkamp, Pires. Henry and Llungberg were foreigners who made The Arsenal their club and we made them heroes.

So is it this that makes you a legend or winning trophies?

Do I remember Rocky because he won ‘X’ number of cups? No.  Could I tell you how many winners medals Adams has? No. So is it about being successful?

Is it commitment? Adams = Arsenal, Pires , Bergkamp and Thierry still talk of the Arsenal with absolute love, not for the honours, but for the memories.

In my opinion there is no rule for whether you are a legend or not. It isn’t about success, it isn’t just about time served. I personnally think it’s about belonging. As a fan its about a player looking like he’s fulfilling your dreams (sounds a bit wanky I know but thats the best way i can descriibe it).

If i could have 1 wish it would be to play for The Arsenal (It could never happen coz im crap) but I want to see those there play like its an honour to wear the shirt.

Is Cesc a legend. IMO not yet. But he could be ? Who would be your Arsenal Legend?