AFC Hunters and Gatherers – which are you?

October 19, 2018

I scratch my head trying to rationalize the changing moods of football fans around the world. In my youth your football team and its players were god-like figures who were held in the highest esteem.

We kids were in total awe of the players, our imaginations were stimulated by the few occasions we saw our teams on TV. Most of the families in our area were too poor to spend their hard-earned money on going to a game of football, so all we had were our scrap books which were full of black and white pictures cut from the Sunday newspapers. Each week we would cut out the latest standings and pin them up in the kitchen, and we’d spend hours figuring out where we were most likely to finish – which was usually around mid table.

When my Grandfather took me to my first game at 10 years old, I was already a seasoned supporter but getting inside Highbury changed my life and meant that I simply had to see every game, but with no money I had to be very resourceful, and I was, rarely missing a game despite getting severely scuffed knees, torn trousers and chased by stewards.

The managers were talked about with reverence and we always wondered how they could be so smart and wondered where they gained the knowledge to run a football team. Names like Herbert Chapman, George Allison and Tom Whittaker were spoken about in awe during our family discussions; their accomplishments were debated and the comparisons created much banter, most good natured, but not always.

From Tom Whittaker’s last League trophy in 1952/53 we went through an awful period of only winning 3 trophies in the next 36 seasons – until George Graham won the League title in 1988/89. It was during that period that our managers and teams came under a lot closer scrutiny and strong “anti” opinions started to form.

Team finances were never discussed, after all, we were not clever enough to understand them and it was none of our business anyway. About the only time the amount of money spent came to light was when a transfer figure was revealed. Nobody knew or even cared about team finances – that was always considered to be only the club’s business and usually it was kept under wraps. I cannot ever remember one single discussion with my family, friends or other supporters that revolved around finances.

Talking about transfers the only time we knew about them was when they were announced. There was seldom media talk about potential transfers during the season – and transfer windows never existed, players came and went at any time during the season. We were always envious of some of the wonderful teams that came to Highbury and of their great players, frequently wishing that we had been fortunate enough to have those players at Arsenal, but that was the club’s business and not ours. You see our business was to support – and that is what we were good at so we stuck to it.

So what has happened to supporters?

Today it would appear that every Arsenal supporter is an “expert” on everything and they have earned imaginary degrees in every subject pertaining to football. These are known as “Red Top” degrees, and are earned firstly by being able to read and secondly by believing everything you read.

We originate from groups of hunters and gatherers

Gatherers believe that we will only be sustainable by building a solid foundation and saving some of the yield from a good harvest in anticipation of periods where there may only be a good yield in 3 of 36 seasons.

Hunters believe that they should always have a great catch and so they save nothing for the possibility of future needs and therefore they suffer greatly during the periods when there isn’t a “Trophy Catch” to brag about.

GunnerN5

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Arsenals Top Seasons 2001-02 – Our 4th Best

April 10, 2018

2001- 02 was a very competitive season with several teams challenging for the top spot in the league. For the first 11 games an unbeaten Leeds team were the early leaders and in November they were top of the table. At the start of December Liverpool was three points clear with a game in hand, Newcastle took over as leaders at Christmas but by February Manchester United was in first place, looking to make it four titles in a row.  Arsenal was never far off the pace but they suffered their lowest point of the season during October and November taking only three points from four games. They responded to that four-game winless run in style with a 3-1 victory over Manchester United which was memorable for Freddie Ljungberg’s lob and two gift wrapped presents from Fabian Barthez which Thierry Henry happily accepted.

Notably, on the player front David Seaman, Martin Keown and Ray Parlour were still going strong, while both Tony Adams and Lee Dixons careers were winding down.

Arsene Wenger brought in Sol Campbell, Giovanni van Bronckhorst and Kole Toure while John Lukic. Sylvinho and Nelson Vivas left the club.

The Arsenal 2001- 02 Squad.

Seaman (17), Dixon (13), A. Cole (29), Vieira (36), Keown ( 21), Adams (10), Pires (28),Ljungberg (25), Bergkamp ( 33), Wiltord (33), Lauren (27), Taylor (10), Henry (33), van Bronckhorst (21), Edu (14), Grimandi (16), Upson (14), Luzhny (18) Campbell (31), Wright (12), Kanu (23), Stepanvos (8).

Four games after beating Manchester United we suffered our third defeat, at home to Newcastle but it proved to be the final loss of the season. (ed: this was the game  in which Graham Poll came close to being lynched after sending off Ray Parlour for two bookables and handing the game to Newcastle late on with a disgraceful penalty decision; it still makes my blood boil thinking about it). 

In the next two games we defeated Liverpool 2-1 at Anfield with only 10 men and followed that with a 2-1 win over Chelsea on Boxing Day with Sol Campbell scoring his first goal for Arsenal. The next six games saw us win 3 and draw 3 ending in a 1-1 draw with Southampton at Highbury on February 2 which left us toiling in 3rd position.

It would take a special effort to beat off the many competitors to the title and the draw against Southampton proved to be the game that spurred us on – it would be the last time we dropped points all season. In the final 13 games we went unbeaten, including a 2-0 win at title rivals Newcastle which will be forever remembered by Denis Bergkamp’s stunning goal. He made it look so simple, pirouetting within a split second of his flick to score the goal and leaving no doubt as to whether it was intended. Nobody has pulled off anything as special since, suggesting it was a more remarkable piece of skill than he made it appear. The fact that we all talk about it 17 years later is an indication of just how wonderful Bergkamp’s touch and intelligence was to create such an incredible goal.

Five games later we beat Tottenham 2-1 at Highbury with Lauren scoring the winning goal from a late penalty. With 2 games left in the season we met Manchester United at Old Trafford, to have any hopes of retaining their crown United had to beat Arsenal, but Sylvain Wiltord’s 55th minute winner sealed a second Premier League title for Arsene Wenger’s side. We ended the season seven points clear of second-placed Liverpool, who sneaked ahead of United on the final day.

We finished the season off in style with a 4-3 win over Everton on the final day that saw Tony Adams lift the title trophy in front of the home fans as he bowed out alongside Lee Dixon.

Credit: Stuart MacFarlane / Arsenal Football Club.

Henry, Pires and Ljungberg  all made huge contributions to our season. Henry finished the season with 24 goals in the Premier League and the Golden Boot, Pires recorded a league-high 15 assists and won the Football Writers’ Association Footballer of the Year award, Pires was so good that when he took his turn to lift the Premier League trophy on the last day, his team-mates bowed down in front of him.

Freddie Ljungberg scored 12 times in just 25 games and claimed the official Barclaycard Premier League Player of the Season honour.

We lost only three games, all at Highbury and went the full season unbeaten away from home in the league, scored in every game and finished the season with 13 consecutive wins.

Not to be forgotten is the fact that a week before the season ended we won the FA Cup Final beating Chelsea 2-0 with stunning goals from Ray Parlour and Freddie Ljungberg.

Unsurprisingly Arsene Wenger was named as the Manager of the Season after winning his second double in five seasons.

Written by GunnerN5


Arsenals Top Seasons 1990-91 – Our 5th Best

March 27, 2018

On 6 May 1990, the day he was expected at Heathrow to join his team-mates on an end-of-season tour of Singapore, Tony Adams was uninjured when he crashed his car, but after subsequent breath tests he was charged with reckless driving and driving with excess alcohol, but despite the ruling was told he was free to leave the station. A trial would be arranged and he would be required in court at a later date.

 After the heights and dramatic finish in the 1988-89 season Arsenal were disappointing in 1989-90 finishing just fourth. However in Graham’s mind Arsenal were edging closer to being ready to compete with the best throughout the coming year. In the weeks leading up to the 1990-91 season he added three new players to a squad he believed needed updating. He spent £4 million and purchased QPR goalkeeper David Seaman, Norwich City defender Andy Linighan and Swedish winger Anders Limpar from Cremonese.

Arsenal, were able to kick off their season in style, away at Wimbledon’s Plough Lane, they sauntered to a 3-0 victory, soon to be followed by a 2-0 win at home to Luton. Concerns were raised with successive draws at home to Tottenham and then away at Everton, but they bounced back emphatically when Chelsea arrived at Highbury only to be sent back to South West London on the wrong end of an assertive 4-1 loss. Two more wins were quickly earned, away to Leeds and at home to Norwich, before the unbeaten Arsenal team travelled to Old Trafford.

Arsenal fans had high hopes and confident that their squad, with their very stubborn defence (just four goals against in their opening eight league fixtures) could come away victorious. They did just that but the game had an intensity that was typical of encounters between Manchester United and Arsenal and as the hour mark approached it spilled over into an all out brawl.

Despite both clubs openly admitting their wrongdoing and fining a selection of the players involved, three days after the game the FA fined both teams £50,000 for their misconduct and for their roles in bringing the game into disrepute and both clubs had points deducted. Manchester United was deducted one point while Arsenal were handed a more severe two-point deduction.

Moving on from their success at Old Trafford Arsenal remained unbeaten with 5 wins and 3 draws including the December 15th draw against Wimbledon. Tony Adams drunken driving trial took place at Southend County Court on 19 December 1990.

He was fined £500, had his driving licence revoked for two years, and was sentenced to nine months at Chelmsford Prison; five months suspended for reckless driving and a concurrent three-month sentence for driving with excess alcohol. He was stunned by the verdict. Not once had he actually considered he could end up going to prison. On 18 February Adams’ absence came to an end as he was released from prison, his initial sentence commuted due in large part to his good behaviour while inside.

 In total he missed eight fixtures; draws against Villa and Tottenham, imposing wins against Derby, Sheffield United, Manchester City, Everton, Crystal Palace, and his side’s only loss of the entire league campaign: a tragic 2-1 defeat away at Chelsea.

He made his return to action in front of 7,000 fans at Highbury during a reserve team game against Reading the reception he received from the home fans almost reduced him to tears. After a handful more fitness-finding run-outs he made the team sheet once again, just in time for his team’s trip to Liverpool which ended in a 3 -0 win.

Arsenal’s league title triumph finally came in their penultimate game of the season, on 6 May, when they triumphed 3-1 at home to Manchester United in a match where top scorer Alan Smith scored a hat-trick. Anders Limpar then scored a hat-trick in Arsenal’s final fixture, a 6-1 victory over Coventry City at Highbury.

This was a season that was personified by our obdurate defense who only gave up eighteen goals, the lowest against in our history until our 1998/99 team let in only seventeen.

Division One appearances

Seaman 38, Dixon 38, Bould 38, Winterburn 38, Davis 36+1, Merson 36+1, Smith 35+2, Limpar 32+2, Adams 30, Thomas 27+4, Campbell 15+7, Groves 13+19, O’Leary 13+19, Rocastle 13+3, Hillier 9+7, Linighan 7+3, Jonsson 2, Cole +1, Pates +1.

Division One goals

Smith 22, Merson 13, Limpar 11, Campbell 9, Dixon 5, Davis 3, Groves 3, Rocastle 2, Thomas 2, Adams 1, O’Leary 1, own goals 2.

Also that season…

English sides were readmitted to European competition after serving a five-year ban, following the crowd disturbances at Heysel Stadium during the 1985 European Cup final between Juventus and Liverpool.

And… John Major succeeded Margaret Thatcher as Prime Minister in November 1990, bringing to an end her 11 years in office.

Written by GunnerN5


Arsenal Top Seasons – 1932-33 our 9th Best

December 5, 2017

1932-33 turned out to be the final full season that our inspirational and creative manger Herbert Chapman would manage Arsenal; he passed away from pneumonia in January 1934. He had been instrumental in many innovations at Arsenal including getting 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.

The West Stand was opened in December 1932

Arsenal was the outstanding team in the Football League, early on in the 1932/33 season they battled with Leeds United 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 they shocked the Arsenal crowd by beating Arsenal by 2-1, Charlie Keetley scored both goals in front of a huge 55,876 crowd, Joe Hulme scored the only Arsenal goal. This set the scene for the very next day, when they played 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 causing hundreds who were locked out to climb up on nearby house roofs as well as the Peacock Public House and various vantage points along Beeston Hill in order to get a glimpse of the action. Victory would have strengthened Leeds United’s championship hopes but they were held to a goal-less draw by the star-studded Gunners after which they faded away and by the end of the season they were in eighth position, 14 points adrift of Arsenal.

Arsenal went on to take the Football League Championship 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 had been the first team to achieve the feat by winning Championships in 1923-4, 1924-25, 1925-26. The Arsenal squad included many famous names including 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

The shock headline of the season was —

The Greatest FA Cup Shock In History: Arsenal Lose At Walsall On This Day, 14th January 1933

On the day Arsenal had fielded four reserve players two of whom had never played a First Division game and Arsenal ended up losing the game 2-0. One of the reserve players Tommy Black kicked a Walsall player and gave away a penalty when we were losing 1-0 the resulting goal made it 2-0. On the train back to London from the Midlands after the defeat, Herbert Chapman told Tommy Black that “he would never play for Arsenal again, as he had let our reputation down, and he need never come to the ground again, his boots would be sent round with the transfer forms”! Black was deputising on his first team debut for Eddie Hapgood he’d played 26 games for the reserves, but his Arsenal career was suddenly over.

Arsenal scored 118 goals in the season (2.8 per game) a total only exceeded by the 127 we scored in 1930-31 which included scores of 6-1 against Sunderland, 8-2 against Leicester, 9-2 against Sheffield United, 8-0 against Blackburn and on November 5th Arsenal travelled to play Wolves at Molineux Stadium and they lit up the skies by beating Wolves 7-1. Cliff Bastin scored 33 goals a record for a winger unlikely ever to be exceeded.

Written by GunnerN5


Better Days?

January 11, 2017

 

The Old Days. We always think they were better …

Would you exchange the better standard of football we see every season at The Emirates for the mud and passion of Highbury?

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Why do I long for a TA/Steve Bould  tackle which would “let the player know you are there” as opposed to the Guardiola idea of staying on your feet?

Some of the intricacy of our current teams passing football is beyond ken but I yearn for a Radford bullet header from a hopeful punt from George Armstrong. Why is hoofball so looked down upon as a short-term tactic?

Why did the architects of The Emirates build the stands so far from the pitch? It makes the paying punter spectators as opposed to being fans involved in  the play as we were at Highbury. Why can’t PL stadiums have a standing section?

Arsenal-Supporters.png

Football has become sanitised (IMO). Is the sport better for it?

p.s. This post was inspired by a photo of the tunnel at Arsenal Tube Station published by Chas.

written by Big Raddy


Bring back Highbury ……

December 11, 2015

It’s been a good week for Gooners………. great result in Greece, through to the knock out stage, literally!

But I’ve been thinking recently about the old Highbury stadium, all the times I was there, through the good and the bad, and for me Highbury will always signify the Arsenal, the greatest team in London and even greater in North London.

highbury

It got me wondering as to why the new stadium wasn’t given the same name…. why not New Highbury Emirates Stadium…. or the Emirates Highbury Stadium… or just New Highbury Stadium? Ok I know it was all to do with money and sponsorship, but a little bit of nostalgia wouldn’t have been too hard, would it?

I still say Highbury when talking of home games…. it’s been extremely difficult to say the Emirates…. I wonder if in the future they could re-think the name…. would that be possible, other stadiums have done it, haven’t they?

So my rant is bring back the great name of Highbury Stadium…. I miss it and I’m sure many others do too…..

 

northbank69


When did your love for Arsenal start?

August 20, 2015

Well mine started when I was as an infant; I was one of the few who happened to be born within the sound of Highbury roars and with my entire family steeped in Arsenal tradition it seemed as natural as drinking milk made from Cow and Gates milk powder.

Arsenal in WW11

The war years of the 30’s and 40’s were bleak times and most of the men in the family were away at war, the Arsenal players and club were also deeply involved in WW11. In fact during WW11 42 of Arsenal’s 44 full time players were drafted into service, along with most of the administration staff. Arsenal stadium itself was turned into an ARP “Air Raid Precautions) facility. Arsenal played its war time home fixtures at White Hart Lane; Tottenham had used Highbury for some of its home games during WW1.

The Arsenal stadium also paid the price when it was bombed in 1941. The North Bank was wrecked after a fire broke out and the roof collapsed and much of the terracing on the South Stand was damaged too and these had to be repaired before Arsenal could return home after the war. Another bomb, weighing 1,000lb, had fallen near the stadium in October 1940. Meanwhile tonnes of concrete that had been blown over the Clock End terraces needed to be removed.

Seven Sister Road WW11

Arsenal was one of the leading sides during the Second World War, having dominated English football for much of the 1930s. They won the League South ‘A’ title in 1939/40 but lost the League War Cup Final the following season. Leslie Compton missed a penalty in a 1-1 draw with Preston at Wembley and Arsenal lost the replay 2-1 at Blackburn. Arsenal followed the example of other clubs and used “guest players” most notably Bill Shankly, Stan Mortensen and Stanley Matthews. In 1941/42 a number of London clubs formed a breakaway London League and Arsenal romped to the title with 108 goals in 30 matches.

They returned to the Football League South a season later and, in 1942/43, won the championship and the League South Cup. Reg Lewis netted four times in that 7-1 Cup Final win over Charlton. He would of course go on to become an even more significant Wembley winner seven years later, grabbing both goals as Arsenal beat Liverpool in the 1950 FA Cup Final.

Underground during WW11

During air raids my family used to take shelter in the Arsenal Underground Station or in the Caledonian Road Underground if we were visiting family in N7.

Bombs droppd on Highbury Oct 1940 to June 1941

Even though these were very bleak years in most peoples lives to us kids it was our reality, we were poor, hungry, scruffy and always grubby; but kids being kids we made our own fun and games. Kicking our rag footballs against the chalk goalpost we drew on the Avenell Road entrance to Highbury and imaging we were Arsenal players was to us a joy and it, along with my family’s tales about the clubs history and its players made me an Arsenal fan for life……

Tell us when your love for Arsenal started?

GunnerN5