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.

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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

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

June 29, 2013

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

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

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

Written by GunnerN5 and compiled by Gooner in Exile


Arsenal’s Greatest Midfielders Day 3

June 27, 2013

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

7. George Eastham: 1960-1966

George played in 223 games over a six year period.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

8. Jon Sammels: 1961-1971.

Jon appeared in 270 matched over a 10 year period.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

9. George Graham: 1966-1972.

George appeared in 308 games over a 6 year period.

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

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

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

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

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

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

10. Frank McLintock: 1964-1973.

Frank appeared in 403 games over a 9 year period.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Written by GunnerN5 and compiled by Gooner in Exile


Arsenal’s 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


New Captain for Arsenal?

December 31, 2010

Is it time Arsenal had a new captain?

And if so, who should it be? Someone already in the squad? Or a transfer market move for the missing leader so many people have been craving?

This debate has been prompted by some of the points raised in response to Micky’s “Looking Ahead – 2nd Half Term” post.

Micky felt we needed Cesc and Robin van Persie to stay fit for the rest of the season if we’re to have a realistic chance of silverware.

But he also said he would approve of a dip into the January transfer window for a World Class Leader in the mould of Tony Adams or Franck McLintock.

Leaving aside the issues of whether a WCL would be available in January and whether, even if he was, we would be remotely likely to pay the World Class Price Tag that would come with him, Micky’s post raises the vexing question of whether we currently have the right captain at Arsenal.

I can see two arguments against Cesc Fabregas being our captain. The first is that he has missed too much time out through injury in recent seasons. Not his fault, of course, but you really want your captain to be playing in the vast majority of games throughout a season.

The second, more problematic argument against Cesc’s captaincy is whether he is a sufficiently good leader on the pitch.

No-one disputes the supreme level of his skills (or his ability to win games almost single-handedly). The question is, is he the right man to drag his colleagues by the scruffs of their necks to grind out wins in adversity? Is he the sort of person you would want beside you in the trenches like an Adams, a Vieira, a McLintock, a Silvestre? OK, in Silvestre’s case you’d fill in the trench and run away, but you get the point.

It was clear from some of the posts that many Arsenal supporters don’t believe Cesc is that kind of leader and that their preferred captain in our current squad would be Vermaelen.

Cesc is perceived to not be a shouter, to not talk enough to his team mates during the game, to not give sufficient encouragement and bollockings.

Sometimes, in those games where we have been misfiring as a team, I find myself fantasising about how TA6 would have reacted had he been playing.

You know the games I’m talking about – the ones where Song has vanished upfield with a head full of dreams of being Thierry Henry; where Clichy is wandering around picking his nose; where Eboue is running up and down the line grinning at the happiness fairies that only he can see; where Diaby is being out-jumped by midgets; where Walcott is racing up the wing with the speed of a locomotive and a touch to match; where Rosicky has all the shooting prowess of an empty water pistol…

We all know how Tony would react.

He would go ABSOLUTELY FLIPPING MENTAL.

He would need new boots for the second half because his original pair would have been planted so far up the arses of his team mates during the half time team talk that they would have studs for teeth.

Which brings us back to Cesc. It seems clear that, like Thierry before him, he was given the armband as part of a strategy to keep him at the club.

I can understand Arsene Wenger’s reasons for doing this, but it devalues the job of captain. Unfortunately this is not something that the boss seems to particularly care about if his past comments are anything to go by: “I think the captain is an important position, but it is not as important as the team spirit. You do not have to over-emphasise the importance of the captaincy.”

He has also said that he has a team of captains on the pitch and has done his best to demonstrate this by passing around the captain’s armband as if it were radioactive. In recent times the following players have all stepped out as Captain of The Arsenal: Fabianksi, Almunia, Nasri, Silvestre, Campbell, Rosicky, Clichy, Squillaci, van Persie and probably others too that I can’t recall.

Obviously part of this is because we have had so many injuries, but it’s a sad state of affairs that one of the great offices available to man has been reduced to this.

I would much prefer us to have a clear structure of captain and vice captain, which should cover us for most games.

My own view is that Cesc can be a great captain for us. He does more talking and encouraging on the pitch than he is given credit for and leads by example with his own bravery and skill.

Where I think he struggles as captain is when his own form is off, as it has been in some of his recent outings. At these times he seems to go more introspective and quiet, which doesn’t help the rest of the team.

But when he’s on fire I believe he has all the required attributes and I hope that in the second half of the season we will come to see him as the inspirational captain for whom we have been waiting. Of course, this also depends on him managing to stay injury-free, which is not a foregone conclusion.

Vermaelen’s day will come, but for now the right role for him (when he returns from injury) is as vice captain to Cesc.

RockyLives


Peter Simpson Remembered – written by dandan

September 3, 2010

Written by dandan

Peter was an original, an Arsenal man through and through, a man without any visible fear and who would, as they say, run through brick walls for the club he served with such distinction. He joined the ground staff at 15, signed as an apprentice at 16 and was a gooner for 14 years.

Far and away the best defender never to play for England despite being called up several times to Ramsey’s squads. He played in every outfield position for the club before establishing himself at centre half alongside Frank McLintock. They, together with Peter Storey, Pat Rice and Bob Macnab had many an epic battle with the hard men of Liverpool and Leeds. From whom they took the cup at Wembley and the title at White Hart Line in that never to be forgotten week in 1971.

His first start for the first team wasn’t too auspicious and is remembered as being the last time an opposition player scored all four of his teams goals at Highbury, worse still Peter was marking him. The team, Chelsea, the player, Bobby Tambling we lost 4-2.

A quiet man renowned for enjoying a fag at half time, he never the less, was immense for Arsenal. The possessor of a crunching tackle, the abiding memory of Simpson was to see him sliding through the Highbury mud causing many an opposition star to jump in the air and forget the ball that Peter would collect on the way through. Then again when all seemed lost, and a striker was about to pull the trigger, out would go the elastic leg of the man they called Stan to effortlessly remove the ball and the danger.  Before starting the next attack with a telling pass.

Arsène would give his right arm to have him, as a defensive midfielder today. Patrick Vieira at his very best would recognise him as a kindred spirit, he was that good.

Besides the 71 double, he won the Fairs Cup and played in the two infamous league cup defeats.  He made 370 appearances and scored ten goals for Arsenal before moving on to play in America. No doubt many an older supporter will smile at the memory of that tall angular frame with its instantly recognisable gait, side by side with his Scottish mate, loving the battles as week in week out the leagues hard men bounced off them.


Captain Material – sorry, not Cesc any more….

June 9, 2010

I’m a great admirer of Arsène Wenger, but apart from his apparent myopia when it comes to assessing goalkeepers, it has been some of his choices for captain that have perplexed me the most. It’s as if he doesn’t really respect the status of captain. It should be the pinnacle of any player’s career to captain his club. To use the captaincy as a tool to boost a player’s confidence (Almunia) or to help persuade a want-away to stay at the club (TH14) devalues it’s standing.

We’ve had some magnificent captains over the years peaking (in my opinion) with Tony Adams followed by Patrick Vieira, but I’m sure some of our long-standing supporters will tell me I’m wrong.

Here is a list of our captains since the 1960’s, excluding stand-ins when the captain was unable to play.

Terry Neill N. Ireland Defender 1962 – 1967
Frank McLintock Scotland Defender 1967 – 1973
Allan Ball England Midfielder 1973 – 1975
Eddie Kelly Scotland Midfielder 1975 – 1976
Pat Rice N. Ireland Defender 1976 – 1980
John Hollins England Midfielder 1980 – 1981
David O’Leary Eire Defender 1981 – 1983
Graham Rix England Midfielder 1983 – 1986
Kenny Sanson England Defender 1986 – 1988
Tony Adams England Defender 1988 – 2002
Patrick Vieira France Midfielder 2002 – 2005
Thierry Henry France Striker 2005 – 2007
William Gallas France Defender 2007 – 2008
Cesc Fabregas Spain Midfielder 2008 – 2010

Adams and Vieira had it all. They possessed the qualities I expect from an Arsenal captain. They were inspirational leaders, father figures to the younger players, big buggers, onfield enforcers, not afraid to take a red card for the cause. They were world class players who led from the front. When they spoke, the players listened. When they stood opposite their opposing counterpart in the tunnel, you felt confident. They epitomised what a captain should be and unsurprisingly, they held trophies aloft at the end of the season.

Some would say that being British is important but I don’t agree, the majority of the squad are foreign – which British player could captain our side at the moment?

All this brings me to our last 3 captains; taking them in order:

Theirry Henry: Vieira was a tough act to follow. Henry was already the subject of transfer speculation. As a striker he wasn’t best placed for the captain’s role and his increasingly petulent displays towards the end of his time were not the conduct expected from a leader. His performances would often lift the team, but he was not ideal captain material. There weren’t that many other candidates for captain in the side, but I’d probably have given it to Gilberto up until his departure.

William Gallas: He didn’t last very long and we all know why – a quite appalling dereliction of duty. Did it even occur to him while he was sulking on the halfway line that if the ball had rebounded off the post from the penalty, that he should be hovering to make the clearance?  I’m not sure he ever commanded the respect of  all the players, but he would have lost it after that Birmingham game. He should have been stripped of the captaincy immediately, not at the end of the season.

Cesc Fabregas: As with TH14, I believe Arsène used the captaincy to help keep him at Arsenal – and if it gave us a year or two more it would have been worth it. He is a born leader – more by example, but what an example? The burning passion with which he despatched that penalty against Barca was awe inspiring; the way he ran through the entire totnum defence from the halfway line to score, was magnificent;  coming off the bench against Villa with a 25 minute 2 goal cameo to win us the game showed how he could pick up the team by the scruff of the neck and almost singlehandedly turn things around.

Should Cesc remain captain if he stays? In my opinion no. Although I would expect him to give his all for the Arsenal for as long as he wears the shirt, I don’t see how he can command the full respect of the other players when they know his heart is elsewhere. Who would be a worthy recipient? I would give the armband to Vermaelen or van Persie.

If you wish to give your opinion please place your vote in the poll below.

Footnote: all the best to Swiss Phil, had things been different, he could have been a great player for us. Maybe the way his confidence was destroyed by Drogbreath is a lesson on how fragile a young player can be when put into the spotlight too early.