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Arsenal News



By SAMUEL MOWBRAY

In one of those propitious moments, Samuel Mowbray was bullied into supporting a football club by his older brother.

Not knowing who to support, he picked the team first in the alphabet and narrowly avoided lifelong trips up to Birmingham supporting Aston Villa.

The year was 1961 - and said brother finished up supporting...... Blackpool!

His first scrapbook cutting was from the Daily Express in November that year when George Swindin purchased Eddie Clamp from Wolves for £35,000.

His first game came in 1963 and a 2-3 defeat at Bloomfield Rd  with his father and brother.

He has lost track of the number of games he has seen but is grateful for the hours spent knowing that sport informs life and Arsenal has informed his life.

Ten years waiting to win anything - nad that includes losing to Swindon in the 1969 League Cup Final - is a valuable lesson in today's instant-glory culture.

His favourite players over the years have been the Georges - Eastham and Charlie, 'Chipper' Brady, the other Charlie - Nicholas.

Arguably the most important player in the club's history: Denis Bergkamp. And the man-child - if he stays; Cesc who could become the greatest Gooner ever.

And as sport is about adversity no true Gooner can ever overlook Tony A. These are players who have shown him that the fine line between skill, celebrity, belief, dignity and discipline is an art - and the ability to express those is something never to be underestimated.

He cannot recall when he last had his recurring adolescent dream of scoring at Highbury - but hopes it will happen again before he shuffles off this soccer-shaped planet.

 

Thursday
Aug282008

Veteran's View - how bad is Nicklas Bendtner? (Updated)

By Samuel Mowbray

Virtually 26 years to the day, Arsenal signed whom I consider to be one of the worst players I have ever seen grace the red and white shirt.

His name: Lee Chapman and the fact that he then went on to win a Divison One Champions' medal with Leeds shows you how much I know about football and footballers.

Stop reading now if you want - as I am sure many readers from my generation have their own differing views (about our worst ever player). According to records, he played 23 games for us and scored 4 goals. He cost the very princely sum (in those days) of £500,000.

I don't mention all of this as a rant against Terry Neill, the manager at the time who signed him - but the fact that I'm writing this after returning from the Twente FC match - and I think I have seen a player who runs him close.

Yes, stand up Nicklas Bendtner!

Checking records, we took on Spartak Moscow at Highbury on September 29, 1982 in the first round of the UEFA Cup. I was there. We had lost the first leg in Moscow 2-3. Creditable.

In those days, for reasons, I don't think I have ever know, the home teams played in their away strip.

Someone that year had decided our away strip was green and blue. Yes, green and blue. Far worse than any concoction of yellow and blue - and we know there have been some bad ones in my time - which at least have been associated with our away strips.

I won't go on.

I have always loved European football. If I read the stats right, it was our first at Highbury for four years.

We lost 2-5. Somehow playing in green and blue shirts made the defeat even worse.

I don't recall the scoring sequence. But I do recall the fact that Lee Chapman was dreadful. Dreadful. Even though he scored one of our goals.

At least, last night we won.

Bendtner scored too. I rest my case.

If this player ever scores 20 goals in a season for us, I will gladly write again on Arsenal Addict that I know little of football and footballers after watching for 45 years.

I truly hope he does - and proves me wrong.

Does Arsene (always) know?

Samuel Mowbray responds to comments:

Fellow Addicts. I never suggested NB was the worst ever player I have seen play for our team. I suggested, on the evidence of last night's game, he was running Lee Chapman, on his current form, close.
 
Evidence?
 
Put through by Cesc in a pass of sublime vision and precision, he failed in a relatively simple one on one. Watch his assist for Theo's goal, and it is clearly a fortuitous stumble/mis-kick. Unlike many I have never and I will never leave a game early or boo an Arsenal player. I just don't think he is a talented enough player in a small squad to win us the title
 
Of course he will have his moments. He is a professional sportsman. An international. He's young. We didn't pay much for him. These shouldn't be excuses - they highlight part of our dilemma.
 
I truly hope I am wrong but I doubt he will ever score 20 goals for us. If he does, I will post on AA out of joy - and humiliation. It will be a pleasure. But I don't see what Arsene sees him - any more than I ever understood what he saw in Aliadiere.
 
My opinion. 
 

Monday
Jul282008

Veteran's view: Charlie George - an Arsenal legend

I was born in 1950. A child of the sixties.

Charlie G was Everyman to Gooners. The kid from the local comprehensive who had stood on the North Bank (did I ever stand next to him!!!!?) - but the first long hair to play for us.

If he didn't smoke dope, like me as a middle class privately educated person going through university as the time, he looked like he did.

He resonated with Islington kids - but he also resonated with home counties' Gooners. Ten years in to my following this team - ten years of nothing, and with the Kings Road recently becoming achingly cool - being at Wembley on May 8, 1971 will be one of the greatest days of my life. CG - prostrate, in one of THE great "I-have-just-scored-a-goal" moments "and-this-is-how-I-CG-celebrate-because-this-is-my-Gooner-world" celebrations!

This was the confluence of joy and football and 'sex-drugs-and-rock'nroll' that was and is mystical to me. This was my generation casting off the shackles of the thirties.

Approaching fifty years of support for this team - and knowing as well (as we all do) that it's a (joyous) life sentence - I pay my money because my team, as sport does, informs my life. We take the highs - but know there has to be trials and tribulations along the way. CG will always be very special.

To watch 'Fever Pitch' with Tim Hardin's 'How Can We Hang On To A Dream' (a man whom I was fortunate to see live at the Royal Albert Hall in 1968) still reduces me to tears. I guess at this point I should confess that I have dabbled in the music business and freelanced back in the seventies where and when I could for the weeklies and anyone else that would take and pay me for my copy!

Music and football are lynchpins in my life. It's hard to explain how much CG means to people of my generation. I could relate to my daughter's tears when Thierry left - because when Charlie left in July 1975, it was a dark,dark moment for me. Dark because here was a player who encapsulated my life and its values (forget the dreadful perm!) but dark because clearly Bertie Mee was a man out of his depth. I mean here was a man who had sold Frank McLintock (amongst many) and who then couldn't be replaced by two of his several dreadful buys - Jeff Blockley and Terry Mancini! The break-up of the '71 double side is a shameful moment in the club's history.

I digress.

Charlie was special. My favourite goal of his at Highbury was against Newcastle on April 17, 1971. The championship race was becoming tense - and Newcastle had basically come to defend. Charlie unleashed a shot that was unstoppable - and stood arms in the air taking the acclaim like the star he was. He knew what it meant to the team - and to its fans. The relief was immense - the release of joy immeasurable!

In a nutshell Charlie was an incredible footballer because he was blessed, with his whippet slim frame, with a wonderful centre of gravity. He was hard to shake off the ball and he did the unexpected. And after my ten years of the expected, he was a revelation. That he threw up before every game merely made him more of a hero; his achievements greater because he had weaknesses. But he cared. He cared passionately.

And we should treasure the players who really care about our club.

Not all of them do.
Monday
Jul142008

Remember George Eastham

I've made the summer more bearable by avoiding the sports pages of the red-tops.

Well, marginally more bearable - because it's impossible, if you love the club, to wean yourself completely off the constant drip-drip-drip of news.

The addiction to Arsenal!

And of course that's one of the huge differences between way back at the beginning of the sixties when I first started following the club - and now: the plethora of news. Back then I kept an Arsenal scrapbook - I still have them. Match reports stuck in from the papers that I could get at the time - all dated and labelled.

But come the summer - there's virtually nothing. Why? Not because my love for the club died during those months - but because the papers back then - pre-red-top, pre-tabloid - really didn't cover the game in any great detail once the Cup final was over and only returned the week of the opening game of the season.

I only mention this because, yes, of course, the game has changed in the last fifty years - but so has the coverage. Not just back page, but front page. Constant choice of live games, 24 hour sports news coverage, dedicated TV channels, specials, blogs (!), supplements, online - and so on. Is it any wonder that the players then changed as their enhanced public profiles fuelled egos fuelled salary demands.....!?

Actually this summer has been marginally better than the last few miserable summers of stories about the comings and goings of Arsenal players - which really started at the beginning of the decade when Vieira was in his pomp and everyday there seemed to be stories about transfers, his loyalty to the club, his wage demands, his respect for Wenger, his love of Italy, the importance of the captaincy and so on. In other words, arrant nonsense to fill the acreage of space that the media now gives football...

But it's better (marginally) this summer (well at least Flamini had the good grace to bugger off as the kit from his last game was still in the spin dryer) because the rubbish being written about Hleb and Ade is still rubbish - but there's better rubbish being written about Him from Manchester, the Slave, and Mourinho's badge-kissing love child wavering at the Bridge. And don't we all love schadenfreude!

But when I say rubbish - I mean rubbish! Rubbish because editors have space to fill and will fill it with gossip, half-truths, lies, fiction, scandal. But rubbish because footballers (and their agents) become willing partners in this media dance. Did Hleb say all that rubbish about Arsene and Cesc that he then so quickly denied and retracted?

Yes! He probably did on some Belarus website. Did he then - and, oh, the delicious echo of Reyes (!) - spout some inanities about his sufferings at living in London! Yes - I am sure he did. Vacuous rubbish to fill back pages to hasten his exit... negotiations being conducted in public. Do I care if he goes? No!

At least Ade had some engagement of the brain - or PR company - to stage manage a quick philanthropic trip to Togo to display his love of his homeland as he courted any club in Spain or Italy and at least make his exit look like it was coming from a man that had a heart, that cared….

But cared about what? Cared about the club? The fans? And after all that the club and Arsene have given him to read his rubbish about wanting to be loved more – for which read paid more – I’d be quite happy never to see a player kiss a badge again. I don’t care if he goes too…. but I can only laugh louder at the more blatant infidelities from the Slave and the already grossly overpaid Bridge-Waverer.

Some of the earliest cuttings in my scrapbook are about George Eastham. One of the most elegant players ever to play for the club and to whom most modern players owe a huge debt of gratitude. Here was a man who wanted out of Newcastle so much that he put his career on hold and temporarily became a cork salesman before being allowed to join Arsenal and in the process helped to break the ‘retain and transfer’ system - and in part gave today’s players so much freedom.

Slavery? Let’s all laugh. At least this summer there are more laughs to be had at other clubs and the hollow whoring of other players. If Flamini, Hleb, Ade want to go, I don’t care. If they can’t appreciate that the Arsenal Academy and the alchemy that Arsene has applied to them, spare me at least their pathetic outbursts in the media.

I’m an Arsenal Addict and I sleep easy at night.


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