Liam Brady and me … a personal story

July 13, 2019

A personal tale of my earliest Arsenal experience, and my favourite  player.

“My first game to watch The Arsenal was in season 61-2, and the match programme was presented to me by Chas a good few years ago now. I stood on the South Bank, on my home made wooden stool, and waved enthusiastically to our Dad as he sat in his West Stand seat.

The opposition had two players who played a significant part in North London football in the years that followed. In defence was a big, blonde centre back called Ian Ure, and in attack a tall streak of p*** ( sorry, old habits) called Alan Gilzean.”

My blog initials stand for LiamBradyGod. Needless to say my favourite player of all time.

He signed this black and white photo for my Bros at an Arsenal event, but only if they could name the other players in the picture. They could. Can you?”

I have one other story about Liam that I would share since it also illustrates what a good lad he was/is.

Twenty years ago my son was travelling to Loughborough Uni for an interview and spotted Liam in the queue for a taxi to the University. ( He was going to a conference  himself at the University). Matt plucked up courage to talk to Liam mainly to tell him I was his greatest fan. Liam chatted with Matt about the Arsenal, offered to share his taxi (and paid for it), and wished him good luck with his interview on arrival at the University.

A story Matt relayed to me with glee on his return, almost surpassing for me the news he had been accepted to read a degree at the University.

Written by LBG


Arsenal’s Greatest Midfielders – Day 4

July 2, 2013

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

11. Liam Brady: 1971-1980.

Liam appeared in 307 games over a 9 year period 

Liam-Brady-ArsenalBorn in Dublin, he started his career at Arsenal, joining the club on schoolboy forms in 1971, at the age of 15, turning professional on his 17th birthday in 1973.

He made his debut on 6 October 1973 against Birmingham City as a substitute. Manager Bertie Mee decided to use him sparingly and Liam ended the 1973–74 season with just 13 appearances, four as a substitute.

In 1974–75 he was a first-team regular and shone a bright light in a side that hovered close to relegation. He found his best form under new manager, Terry Neill – his passing provided the ammunition for Arsenal’s front men and Arsenal reached three FA Cup finals in a row between 1978 and 1980. Arsenal won only the middle of the three, against Manchester United in the 1979 final, with Liam starting the move that ended in Alan Sunderland’s famous last-minute winner. He was nicknamed “Chippy”, not for his ability to chip the ball but for his fondness for fish and chips.

Liam was now at the peak of his form and during this time he was voted the club’s player of the year three times, and chosen as the PFA Player of the Year in 1979. Being from the Republic of Ireland, he was the first player from beyond Britain’s borders to win that award. He was the most talented player in what was then a promising young Arsenal side, which was looking to consistently challenge for honours like the Division One title.

But rumours persisted that he was unhappy. And in 1980, Juventus, who were impressed with his performances against them in the semi-finals of the Cup Winners Cup, signed him in for just over £500,000. He spent two seasons with Juventus, picking up two Italian Championship medals, in 1981 and 1982 and he scored the only goal (a penalty) in the 1–0 win against Catanzaro that won the 1982 title. After the arrival of Michel Platini in summer 1982, he moved to Sampdoria, and went on to play for Internazionale (1984–1986) and Ascoli (1986–1987), before returning to London to play for West Ham United.

He won 72 international caps for the Republic of Ireland, 70 in the starting line-up, scoring 9 goals.

After retiring from playing in 1990, he managed Celtic between 1991 and 1993, and then Brighton & Hove Albion between 1993 and 1995.  He rejoined Arsenal in July 1996, as Head of Youth Development and Academy Director. On 30 January 2013, Arsenal announced that he would leave his role as Director of the Arsenal Youth Academy in May 2014.

He is fondly remembered as one of Arsenal’s all-time greats, playing 307 matches for the Gunners, scoring 59 goals and setting up many more.

12. Brian Talbot: 1979-1985

Brian made 327 appearances over a 6 year period.

Born in Ipswich, Brian was a midfielder and began his football career as an apprentice with Ipswich Town in 1968, turning professional in 1972; in the meantime he had spent two seasons on loan with Canadian club Toronto Metros.

BrianTalbotShootPlace.ashxHe made 227 appearances for Ipswich winning the 1978 FA Cup, in the semi-final against West Bromwich Albion, he scored Ipswich’s first goal after just eight minutes. However he was injured on the play when he collided head-to-head with Albion’s skipper, John Wile and he left the field on a stretcher.

In January 1979, he was transferred to Arsenal for a fee of £450,000, immediately becoming first-team player. He played for the Gunners in the FA Cup final of that year, scoring a goal in a 3–2 victory over Manchester United; Brian thus achieved the unique distinction of winning the FA Cup with two different teams in consecutive seasons. The following year he set a club record, as an ever-present in Arsenal’s marathon 1979–80 season, when he played a total of 70 matches in a single season (the club reached the finals of both the FA Cup and the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup, but lost them both).

His impressive stamina and fitness meant he played nearly every Arsenal first-team game for the next five seasons, missing fewer than half a dozen League games. In all, the strong and sturdy midfielder played 327 first-team matches for the Gunners, scoring 49 goals. He also played for England, five times while at Ipswich and once as an Arsenal player.

He left Arsenal in June 1985 and joined Watford, he spent a season and a half at Vicarage Road before joining Stoke City in October 1986. His presence helped to inspire the side as Stoke climbed the table and fell six points short of a play-off place. In 1987–88 he made 27 appearances before he left in January 1988 after being offered a player-manager role at West Bromwich Albion. He spent two and a half years in that role before leaving for Fulham in March 1991. After a short spell there he ended his playing career at Aldershot.

He then moved abroad and managed Maltese club Hibernians, where his team won the island’s Premier League in 1993 and 1994, returning to English club football as part of the coaching staff of Rushden and Diamonds, then in the Football Conference, in 1997. After a spell as head coach he was appointed club manager, and at the end of the 2000–01 season Rushden secured promotion to the Football League. In March 2004 he left the club to take over at Oldham Athletic, his spell there ended with him resigning at the end of February 2005.

In 2011, he joined English Premier League side Fulham as a scout where he mostly watches matches in the top leagues for the London club, for example in France or Germany.

13. David Rocastle: 1982-1992

David made 277 appearances over a 10 year period.

gun__1301406982_rocastle12David was born in Lewisham, he spent the majority of his football career playing for Arsenal, joining in May 1982 and turning professional in December 1984. In his early career he faced problems with his eyesight, according to his team mate Martin Keown “They couldn’t work out why David was running around dribbling with his head down. So they took him to the halfway line and said: ‘Can you see the goal?’ and he couldn’t. His eyesight was terrible. They sorted him out with contact lenses and his career took off.”

He made his Arsenal debut against Newcastle United in the 1985-86 season and made 26 league appearances, scoring once. He remained a regular player in the first team following the departure of Don Howe and the appointment of George Graham as manager at the end of the 1985–86 season.  In 1987, just before his 20th birthday, he won a League Cup winners medal after Arsenal beat Liverpool in the final at Wembley. He was a member of the Arsenal side which reached the final against Luton Town the following year and he was ever present in the league in 1987–88.

“Rocky” won two league championship medals with Arsenal. The first came in 1989, when he played in every game. Arsenal’s success was sealed when they beat Liverpool 2–0 in the final game of the season at Anfield, snatching the title from the hosts on goals scored. But Arsenal were unable to compete in the 1989–90 European Champions Cup because the ban on English clubs in European competition after the 1985 Heysel tragedy still had one year to run. In 1990–91, a knee injury restricted him to just 18 league appearances but he still played his part in Arsenal winning the league championship – losing only one league game all season. The following season he only missed three out of 42 league games.

On 23 July 1992, after nearly a decade at Arsenal, he was sold to league champions Leeds United in a £2million deal, making him their most expensive signing. But the good form of Gordon Strachan and injuries kept him out of the side. He was transferred to Manchester City for £2million, but the move to Maine Road was not a success for him and he only managed two goals from 21 Premier League games. At the start of the 1994–95 season, he was transferred to Chelsea in a £1.25million deal.

In 1994–95, David played in nearly 40 games for Chelsea and scored two goals in the European Cup Winners Cup. The following season his injuries returned, and he played just one more game for the club, in October 1995. On completing his contract with Chelsea in 1998, he joined the Malaysian team Sabah on a free transfer but was unable to stay clear of injury and retired in December 1999.

During his time with Arsenal, David was capped 14 times for England, but did not make the squad for either 1990 World Cup or Euro 92.

In February 2001, he announced that he was suffering from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, an aggressive form of cancer which attacks the immune system. He underwent a course of chemotherapy and was hopeful of a recovery. He died in the early hours of 31 March 2001, aged 33.

The David Rocastle Trust is a charity based in London, England founded in memory of Rocastle.

Written by GunnerN5 and compiled by Gooner in Exile


Youth Policy. A waste of Money?

June 23, 2013

What is happening at youth level? Why has Liam Brady who has been Head of our Youth programme decided to resign – and this after spending most of his life at Arsenal?

Is the Youth Policy a waste of Arsenal’s resources?

It must cost a great deal of money to coach all these kids from the age of 8 up to the reserve and first teams – are we getting value for money? Who have we managed to sell from this outlay in order to “balance the books”? Lansbury, Stokes, maybe a few more. And who in today’s first team has made it from the hundreds who have passed through the ranks? Wilshere, Frimpong and ……?

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Academy Team 2013

Gibbs, Ramsey, Cesc, Coquelin, Theo, etc all came to AFC from other team’s youth systems. Perhaps this is the better option – to cherry pick and if this is the new Arsenal way, then why bother with the  little kids?

There has been a cull in the Academy with almost half the squad shipped out. They will be replaced by other young men pursuing their dream. Who knows, one or two of these chaps may make the first team but statistically it is highly unlikely.

However, there is another viewpoint and that is Arsenal in the Community. It is essential that at a local level Arsenal continue to be the pinnacle of youth football in North London. We have a fantastic reputation as educators of good footballers and there are many of our “rejects” who make a decent living in the lower leagues. In these days of balance sheets and “value” it is laudable that the club continues it’s traditions.

Looking back through the Wenger Years I can only think of Ashley and Jack who have risen to the top, perhaps there are others but this is a 30 minute post and I have done little/No research (sorry).

So, the Youth Policy. Value for money …. No, Valuable ….. Yes.

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Direct from the Spurs Youth Policy and Just for Peaches 

written by Big Raddy


The revolving door – Where’s the legacy?

August 23, 2012
“…let us sit upon the ground
And tell sad stories of the death of kings”
                                    ~King Richard, Richard II

What a start to the season last weekend. It started with the heir apparent running off before his coronation, continued through a war of attrition in our first game, and ended with us Songless. It’s the two men who’ve left I’d like to address as one word has been bothering me with regards to the way players seem to leave us these days…

Legacy.

I go to games with my dad, who drives 300 miles to games and has been going to the Arsenal for 50 years. I learned a lot about the history of the club, the players who’ve passed through and the managers who’ve overseen it all from him. My dad always…ALWAYS… speaks well of the players of the ‘60s, ‘70s, early ‘80s even…and the late ‘80s, ‘90s and early 2000s he gets misty eyed about them. Players like McLintock, Radford, George, Graham, Rix, Brady, Nicholas, Merson (responsible for a haircut my dad made me have that I’ve never lived down) and more are remembered very fondly……but time moved on and so did they.

Over the last few years we’ve seen a procession of players sold by Wenger. This is nothing new, he did it before the oil barons started throwing their cash at him. Shockingly, even Rioch, Graham, Howe and Neill sold players. The managers before them sold players, too. Were we angry? Rarely. Why do we get so angry now? It’s how they leave.

Brady left us way too early…my dad was gutted, not angry (even though he’d named my brother after him in ‘78!). McLintock went off to ply his trade in west London just two years after captaining us to the Double. George…Derby….Graham? Manchester United. Were people angry? No…disappointed. When Frank Stapleton went to Manchester United, though…that’s recalled with some resentment as he forced through a move to Old Trafford, with the fee having to be set by a tribunal…he was top scorer for three years, part of a team that went to Wembley three seasons on the spin, scoring in game against Man Utd…but now? Persona non grata as far my old man is concerned.

More recently, in the Wenger era, we’ve become Barcelona’s favourite shop. Hleb and Song have left in acrimonious circumstances…Henry and Fabregas only slightly less so, with their moves to Catalonia seen as inevitable by most, although neither move was welcomed. But what about the first two they bought? Overmars and Petit left us in 2000 for the Nou Camp. It was dealt with quietly – we got a pile of cash (by 2000 standards) for two of our best players – and it was very much in the traditional manner of moves, nothing but a sense of disappointment and a shout of “good luck” from Arsenal fans.

Then there’s the moves of Adebayor, Nasri, Flamini and most of all Ashley Cole to make my point. Cole…who admitted to nearly crashing when heard of a derisory £3m a year contract offer from Arsenal is now busy revising history to suit his new, 2012 version of events…it’s no longer about the money, y’see, he left to “win the European Cup”. So what if it’s 6 years later? From his armchair made of cash he laughs and shouts “F*** you, Cole don’t care…whatever…you’ll believe any old crap”. The other three, too, have been portrayed as mercenaries. Adebayor seems all set to fill Bogarde’s place in the record books as most expensive reserve team player ever.

Nasri…same as Cole. Bleats about leaving to win things when everybody knows the truth…otherwise why does he feel the need to go on? Two others have made the same move to Eastlands in the Wenger era…both are recalled fondly, neither encounter the boos and vitriol that the other three do. Clichy and Toure. Why? Because they were “good leavers”. When asked about our club, they’re always complementary. They didn’t force through moves publicly, didn’t badmouth the manager, the board, the fans and have acted with humility. See! It can be done!

RVP is a tough one…can see why he left (29, last big contract, wants trophies…*pukes*…), but not the ridiculous statement made on his website. Did he tarnish his legacy? Will it always be one of injuries and treachery or will we remember the glorious goal at Charlton, his magic 2011 and his decent captaincy?

If he went abroad…I’m sure it would be the latter. But Man Utd?! Sure we’ll find out at OT when 4,000 away fans get to vent their feelings…

As for Song – I remember (although I may be mistaken) early on in his Arsenal days, Wenger tried to sign one of the de Boers from Barca. Bid was turned down and he “threatened to go on strike” according to reports. Wenger refused to sign him after that…honourable. Is a player ever right to force through a move? Will Song’s legacy at Arsenal be one of a bad attitude, laziness and forcing his way out?

With all the transfers out of club over the years…which have left you with the worst memories? And which players do you think handled their exits in a way that didn’t tarnish your memory of them?

Written by Rhyle


If You know Your History Pt.1. Youth Policy?

March 20, 2012

We have talked the Youth Policy completely to death ….. or have we?

To people of my generation the Youth Policy was the only way to establish a top team. Have a look at the FA Youth Cup winning team of 1966: Peter Simpson, Jon Sammels, George Armstrong, Peter Storey, Ray Kennedy, Sammy Nelson, Pat Rice and John Radford were all in the team, and all went on to have fine careers at AFC. – 5 years later they won the Double under Bertie Mee. 8 players made the leap into the first team!

Our 1987 FA Youth Cup winning team was not so fortunate with only Kevin Campbell making a successful jump to fame, though the team did include David Hillier and Steven Morrow who went on to be first team players (in the worst AFC team I have seen).

Of our 1994 winning team only Stephen Hughes made the first team.

The 2000 & 2001 winning team had a little more luck with Alladiere,  Stephen Sidwell, Moris Volz, Jermaine Pennant and Justin Hoyte becoming PL players though none made the grade at THOF.

We won the cup again in 2009. Can this group achieve success? In the team were Frimpong, Bartley, Coquelin, Lansbury and Jack Wilshere. LJW seems assured a bright future at Arsenal but the prospects hang in the balance for the others. The influx of ready made stars severely curtailing their chances.

So what is a successful youth policy? Is it enough that Wilshere has come through the ranks? Should AFC sell him he will attract the kind of fee which makes the youth team economically worthwhile (as did the sale of Cesc). Liam Brady is not only bringing through fine players, he is also creating a handsome income stream.

Arsenal generate a huge amount of money and perhaps, like the rest of the top 6 ,we should rely entirely on mercenaries. Looking at our rivals, how many have home grown players?

MU  Cleverley, Welbeck and … erm (let’s discount the wrinkles)

Chelsea … Josh Mcreachran (and JT)

MC …. Micah Richards

Liverpool … the 32 y.o Gerrard and the 34 y.o Carragher – young players, none.

Spurs …..  none, that’s right – zip!

What does that tell us? Well, one thing is obvious – there is a huge gap in skills between the Youth and the first teams in the PL. Furthermore, clubs are unwilling to take the punt on players developing over time in the PL; we cherry pick our kids from the youth academies all around Europe and still do not let them get a run of games  – unless they come to us from Southampton. Our rivals do not have any interest in developing kids – Chelsea’s lack of kids is a terrible indictment.

Will Financial FairPlay make a difference and force teams to focus upon youth development? It would be great but I have a feeling FFP will be just another money earner for bean counters (sorry to you bean counters!)

Sadly, the days of picking up great players like Charlie George and Pat Rice from the Holloway Road are long gone, the Youth team of ’66 are a distant memory. We should be grateful to Arsène Wenger and Arsenal that they continue to pour money and time into one of Europe’s finest Youth projects.

Let us hope that the 2009 FA Youth Cup Winners take us to another Double in 5 years.

COYRRG

Written by Big Raddy

Great News

Most will have heard by now that Fabrice Muamba is conscious, able to speak and is surrounded by his family. He is still seriously ill but on the long road to recovery. We wish Fabrice and all our friends on AA who are suffering problems at present a speedy return to full health.


Simply the Best. Your Favourite Goals?

November 15, 2011

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

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

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

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

This signed picture stands on my desk as I write

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

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

Which are your favourites and why?

Written  by BigRaddy


Jack Wilshere: The Surprise Star Of Arsenal’s Season

October 10, 2010

Yes, we’re only a few games into the season, and despite thumping Braga and Blackpool at home, it hasn’t being all that impressive. We’re still suspect at the back, and tending to play a pass too many in front of goal. It makes one wonder have any lessons from last season been learnt?! Well, one player who has learnt buckets from last season is our whizzkid Jack Wilshere. Chamakh has been very good, Koscielny better (but far from what we need) than what I thought and Squillaci looks like he could form a nice partnership with Vermaelen when he returns.  So while all these have been relatively nice surprises, the nicest and best for me have come from this young man:

Don’t worry, I can hear ye all from here! “What planet have you been on for the last few seasons? We all knew Jack Wilshere was going to make it, the young lad is a genius, future Liam Brady so he is.”

Yes, I’ve been well aware of Jack for some time now, just like the rest of ye. The wonder goals he has scored for the reserve and youth sides, he always playing one level ahead of his age group, but none of us are as green to not understand that it is a completely different kettle of fish playing in the Premier League and Champions League against some of the best players in the world. The acid test would always be how he would compare against them, and to date he hasn’t looked out of place.

He has already formed a great relationship with Arshavin, and this gives me such confidence on Wilshere’s footballing brain. This 18-year-old kid is already able to link up and read the thoughts of our Russian star in his prime?! If he can do that at 18, what will he be capable of at 23/24? Already he demands the ball, and his colleagues are so confident in his ability they make no qualms of giving it to him. Something Theo could learn from Jack is to have confidence in your own ability – we could perhaps name at least five examples that show Jack playing some wonderful passes that have either created goals or great goalscoring chances – the type of passes we are used to seeing from Cesc. That’s just the passes, there have been some clever flicks too.

However, the best thing about Jack to date has been his maturity, and it is because of this I mention he has learnt buckets from last season. Before he went on loan to Bolton there were a small couple of question marks regarding his temperament. There were suggestions he was getting a bit above himself and lacked some maturity (I can’t say this is 100% true and am not trying to portray Jack as a moany kid, just going on the information coming out at the time).

It personally shocked me to see Wilshere be sent on loan to Bolton last season, but it has to be classed as another stroke of genius by Wenger, or maybe by Liam Brady who may have had input in the decision. Either way, Jack was removed from the cotton wool effect of the Emirates and sent to Bolton were no inch is given. No doubt he was thought how to knuckle down and get work done by Davies and Co. None of us may be fans of Bolton, but for me at least I am grateful for the couple of months of footballing education Jack got from them. Already this season we’ve seen him getting kicked lumps out of, but Jack just dusts himself down and gets on with the game, none of this moaning.

It will be interesting to see how much game time Wilshere will get when Fabregas comes back from injury against Birmingham. Cesc probably won’t be a 100% match fit, so perhaps Cesc to start and Wilshere to replace him on the 60/70min mark, although Wenger may start the two of them in midfield with Song as DM? We’ll see next week, but for now Jack is developing very nicely as a player, one needed by Arsenal, and dare I say it, very much so by England.

Written by Irishgunner