Where’s our joker in the pack?

November 7, 2014

This isn’t a post with any weight or merit or even structure as i’m typing it as i’m about to rush out the door, but Norfolk’s post yesterday got me reminiscing, shouldn’t we just enjoy football for what it is?

In my Arsenal supporting years there have always been star players but to complete a squad there has to be a few other types of men, the dependable Mr Consistents like Nigel Winterburn, Kevin Richardson, Gilberto. But there is also the need for other types of characters that whilst not the most accomplished footballers or at least not as accomplished as we would like, they brought something to the party.

I’m thinking in no particular order of players like Perry Groves (2 Championship Winners medals and a League Cup Winner somehow!), Eboue, John Jensen, these weren’t the most gifted of footballers but somehow the fans seemed to make a connection with them, the cheers when Jensen finally got that goal which led to the club selling “I was there” T-shirts.

Andy Linnighan and Steve Morrow were neither Mr Dependable or Cult hero but they did manage to score two of the most important goals in the clubs history. How long would either have survived at the club in today’s world of non stop critique?

When did football only become about the most skilful/influential players, wasn’t it more fun laughing at Gus Caesar mis controlling a pass for the ball to go out for a corner than it is to lambast a player for failing to thread an eye of a needle pass.

I can only imagine the reaction today when Lee Dixon looked up and lobbed it back to Safe Hands only for it to sail over his head and in to the goal, I was there, we laughed with a shake of the head, half in disbelief half in a one of those things it’s football sort of ways. He hadn’t become the worst player ever overnight, although he may still have been suffering the effects of a hefty Tuesday Club session, we will never know.

Sometimes you have to just accept that the players are human, and with that accept results like Tuesday with the “sh*t happens” shake of the head grin and hope it doesn’t happen to often.

But its hard to have fun when the players are so serious all the time, Podolski and BFG seem to be our jokers in the pack, but only Podolski shows that side of his character on the pitch, everyone else is a little too serious, but maybe thats something else that is missing from the game today, the characters that make the game fun, but then maybe the pressure around the game means we are drumming any personality out of players? If a player smiles on the pitch he is considered to not care…”look at him laughing, he shouldn’t be laughing, it should hurt him like it hurts us”…..it didn’t always hurt this much though did it?

Gooner in Exile


Where were you when ….. ?

June 26, 2012

Johnny Jensen scored?  No, not the one-off on that sunny afternoon defeat to QPR, the one which prompted the ” I was there was Jensen scored”  t-shirts. No, I am talking about the one which led to our signing Mr Jensen, that phenomenal shot which won Denmark Euro ’92.

It was 20 years ago today (good opening line for a song!) in the sun of Gothenborg when John *Faxe* Jensen marmelised the ball for the first goal during the Euro ’92 Final against Germany. It was the first time I had noticed the curly haired battler in the tournament; prior to that he was just a member of a Danish team who were lucky to be at the tournament let alone in the Final. And I,like many thousand of Gooner’s thought – “Hey, here is a DM with a dynamite shot who would be great at Highbury”. Next thing we know George Graham has signed him and JJ went onto have a 4 year, 132 game career at THOF.

And what of our free-scoring new Dane, “Faxe” Jensen? Well, the nickname should have been a clue …. Faxe is an extra strong Danish beer . In fact the Brondby stadium he left now has a Faxe Jensen stand, which is testimony to John’s drinking talent!

Joining an Arsenal midfield including the mercurial talent of Rocky Rocastle, Jensen was the water-carrier. A hard working, energetic, give and go player with little pace and little creativity, but a man who would put his body on the line – he was to be the embodiment (pardon the pun) of the new George Graham Arsenal. A dull player in a dull team.

JJ is a regular commentator on Danish television and his goal has been shown countless times during the run-up to the Euro’s. When questioned in ’92  as to what he thought when the ball came to him JJ said ” I just thought, kick the thing as hard as possible in the Arse” – which immediately became another T-shirt slogan.

If ever a goal flattered to deceive, this was it.

Written by BigRaddy

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Arsenal’s Hairy Upper Lip

November 22, 2011

As many will know, we are in the middle of Movember. Yup, in the UK, Australia, New Zealand, the US, Canada, Finland, the Netherlands, Spain, South Africa and Ireland, chaps are being encouraged to let the above-the-lip stuff grow unchecked for a month.

And this has exactly what to do with the greatest football club in the world (that’s us, in case there’s any misunderstanding)? Well, it made me wonder about who the best moustachioed Arsenal players have been in my years in harness. My criteria are entirely arbitrary, frankly I don’t really understand them myself, but both the quality of the moustache and the quality of the player are somehow taken into account.  Full-on beardies are excluded.  Here’s my countdown:

10. Chris Whyte: An Islington-born centre-back in the sides of the early to mid 80s.  His patchy hair was more noted than his upper lip furniture, but he nonetheless was a proud exponent of the mou.  Whyte was an adequate defender but who also enjoyably filled in as striker for a while (easy to enjoy because we were hopelessly rubbish at the time, so playing a centre-back up front was good for a laugh).  But he left the club disconsolate when not offered a new contract, and spent two years playing US indoor footy before enjoying a renaissance with West Brom and then Leeds, culminating in being an ever present and playing alongside Cantona, McAllister and Strachan in the title-winning 1992 side.

9. Alan Sunderland: A man who sported the finest example of the white man’s afro, complemented by an unrepentant moustache. Sunderland deserves a higher profile in our history books, he was a potent striker, most famous for scoring the winning goal in 1979′s “five-minute final” against Man U – we were coasting at 2-0 before Gordon McQueen and Sammy McIlroy pulled it back to 2-2 in the closing minutes. Liam Brady then burst forward, released Graham Rix on the left, who floated over a high looping cross that Gary Bailey in the United goal flapped at, only to see Sunderland sweep it home at the back post. A mammoth moment. And it secured the only trophy we picked up between 1971 and 1987.

8. Viv Anderson: Many refuse to acknowledge Anderson on account of his enthusiastic departure for United (he was Ferguson’s first signing), but he was a great recruit from recent European Champs, Nottingham Forest.  With Sansom on the left flank, for a while we provided the England team with both their full-backs (Anderson having been the first black player to play for England).  I also remember being on the North Bank when a goal from big Viv contributed to a glorious 3-1 win over the mighty Liverpool.  Classic Phil Lynott-styke tache

7. Robert Pires: I still love Pires, he was such a fantastically creative player to watch.  The insanely good goal against Southampton stands out, but there were so many.  And with Henry, Bergkamp and Ljungberg, he was part of possibly the best attacking line Arsenal have ever had.  And the ludicrously Gallic Three Musketeers moustache that sometimes adorned his upper lip was the perfect accoutrement to the man.

6. Kevin Richardson: A man with no known nickname, a solid, dependable, no-nonsense, ego-free, moustachioed Geordie.  A real pro, George Graham loved him, and Richardson was a member of the side that won at Anfield THAT night in 1989.  His tache?  Well, it was a tache, nothing out of the ordinary, nothing extravagant, just your regular Joe moustache.  He looked like he would’ve been at ease in Edwardian England.

5. Kevin Campbell: Superkev – we loved him, but let’s be honest, for all his bustle and bulk, he wasn’t very good.  He was sometimes pretty effective, and I remember fondly the two goals he scored in the stunning six we racked up against Sheffield Wednesday in the last 18 minutes of a 1992 match, the score finishing 7-1 to the good guys.  A pretty straight forward tache, looked a bit dodgy in his early years but he grew into it.

4. Ian Allinson: “Ian who?” I hear younger fans ask.  Well, Allinson might have had all the charisma of a beige carpet, but he had a glory moment in the epic three-part League Cup semi-final against Spurs in 1987, when in he came on as a sub and scored the equaliser, before Rocky got the winner and we went to Wembley and won the Cup against then-mighty Liverpool.  That win proved to be the launch pad for our renaissance and led to our title wins in 1989 and 1991.  His terrible tache was in keeping with his Austin Allegro persona.

3. Kenny Sansom: Solid mou from the ever dependable left-back. Was he worth the bizarre swap for Clive Allen, sold twice in one summer?  You bet your Gillette Shaving Gel he was.  (Oops, apols for the betting reference, not really suitable when talking about Mr S.)  Time hasn’t been kind to Sansom (though his porky deterioration is as nothing compared to what’s happened to Dean Holdsworth – has anyone seen the state of him these days? Not good).  We’ve been lucky with left-backs down the years, but Sansom ranks right up there.

2. John Jensen: The cult hero’s cult hero, bad tache, bad curly hair, bad player. Yes, I say to you, yes.  This is a man who would have been judged to look uncool in 1970s East Germany.  He was not burdened with style.  When we signed a player who scored in the European Championships Final, we might have thought we could count on the new guy for a few each season.  It didn’t work out that way, and the fans (when they had a sense of humour) adopted “We’ll be there when Jensen scores!” as a song.  And once he did score, at Loftus Road.  We still lost.

1. David Seaman: Surely the only possible winner, top tache, culminating in the fantastic bad-taste combo with Spunky’s ponytail. Oh and the best keeper we’ve ever had.  OK, he might have suffered a bit with the aerial stuff (Nayim from the halfway line, Ronaldhino etc), but the £1m we spent on bringing him from QPR was a superb investment.  Had to leave his native Yorkshire because he can smile.

So there you have it – my Gooner Tache list.  Feel free to dispute it, suggest others I’ve missed etc.

But also think about contributing to the Movember cause: if you know someone doing the business, sponsor them, and if not, you can always donate on http://uk.movember.com/ The charitable causes relate to research and awareness raising in respect of prostate and testicular cancer.  Many of us will have experienced cancer affecting family members, and these are indisputably worthy causes.

Written by 26may1989


Arsenal to clean up Blackburn

April 2, 2011

Ready for a rant?

I have developed an irrational dislike of Blackburn Rovers. Firstly, there’s the name …. Rovers. Where do they rove,? Has Gamst Pederson roved and if so why wasn’t he arrested in the act of roving?  Blackburn, so named because it is dirty, the civil buildings are swathed in soot and the street urchins have a clear dislike of water (before I am accused of Northern-ism, I have spent many happy weekends in the town).

Then there is their football. Perhaps the club thought loaning out the odious Hadji Diouf would improve their image, but they ruined that by sacking Fat Sam in a manner which turned all the pundits against them. Installing an untried (and cheaper) manager they now face the prospect of relegation , and other than their fans, I believe you would struggle to find anyone who will be sorry to see them decline. How one can take a team full of fine footballers and turn them into the tedious, mundane cloggers seen week in week out at Ewood is a mystery known only to their manager and the Chicken men.

Seriously, if Arsene Wenger OBE managed Blackburn they would be a top 8 side. Look at the talent at their disposal. In defence, an England GK, the New Zealand Captain Nelsen, the monstrous Samba, Martin Olsson, who is getting rave reviews in Scandanavia, and the enormous experience of Salgado (over 250 games for Real Madrid). In midfield, the creativity and graft of Gamst, Emerton and Dunn. Upfront, the pace of Benjani, and MU’s young Diouf, allied to the height and movement of Santa Cruz. This SHOULD be a decent team – but they are not.

And why not? Perhaps a Blackburn fan could tell us (if they read this far without closing the page in fury).

Now I dislike Fat Sam as much as the next man, to me he is the antithesis of Wengerball, a man who believes in the Charles Hughes school of long ball, aggressive football, but whatever one thinks of him, he did a damned sight better job with this team than the current dummy whose only recommendation appears to be that he is Scottish…

John Jensen is Keen’s no.2. arriving after a disastrous time as manager of Randers in Denmark  (9 losses and 2 draws in 11 games). How on earth do these guys get their highly paid jobs??   Oh, & I was there when Jensen scored!

Enough of Blackburn, let us move onto the men in the white hats.

2 weeks break and a return to the first team for 3 players who have been sorely missed: Song, Cesc and Theo.  It appears all the players who went away on International duty have returned fit, even Chocolate Legs, so apart from the difficulties at CB and in goal, we have a proper team.

Big words those …. “apart from“…… The success of this season will turn upon the strength of our defence. We have no difficulties scoring, especially when Theo and Cesc are both fit and firing.  If Almunia and Squillaci find a decent run of form and Kosciely continues his improvement, I believe we will win the title,. The return of the very influential Song should add some much needed defensive security, but ultimately it will be the CB’s and in particular the GK who will come under immense pressure, because every T, D & H knows they are fallible.

My team:

We should even be able to have a very strong bench (apart from CB).

I expect Arsenal to come out very fast and attempt to win the game in the first 20 minutes. If we score early, B’burn are doomed. However, after the recent frustrations, a poor first half will have a detrimental effect upon the faithful and the tension will mount. That said, I am confident of 3 points.

Big Raddy is very much looking forward to meeting fellow AA’ers today and will raise a glass to absent friends.

To The Tavern …..

COYRRG