WTTGT Writer: Kevin Cossick
Ah, July! That awful limbo period between end of season recrimination and renewed anticipation for the coming campaign. For Arsenal supporters, it is, as has become customary, also a time of embarrassment and uncertainty as we remain deafened by the relative silence coming from the Emirates regarding incoming transfer news, and we look on helplessly as the Crown Jewels are slowly sold off, plundered or simply allowed to walk out of the door.
So how do Gooners hold their heads up and get through the snide remarks and arrogance from the latest generation of Manchester Utd/Chelsea* supporters? (*Delete as applicable). Having won nothing for six years (in case you had not heard!) there really is very little to brag about… but whenever you are on the receiving end of some friendly banter, simply respond with a grossly immature but factually correct, “Look mate, we can win a trophy on any day of the week.”
How so? Read on…
MONDAY – May 3rd 1971
Football League, 1st Division
A nail-biting evening at White Hart Lane with Arsenal trailing league leaders Leeds United by a single point, but knowing that a victory or goalless draw would see the title back at Highbury after an 18 year absence.
Step forward Ray Kennedy to head the winner 3 minutes from time and untold joy for the red section of the 52,000 crowd and the assembled masses locked outside.
TUESDAY – April 28th 1970
Inter-Cities Fairs Cup Final, Second Leg
Having beaten the star-spangled Ajax team of Cruyff and Krol in the semi-finals, Arsenal must have been shocked to find themselves trailing 3-1 after the first leg of the final away to Anderlecht of Belgium.
No worries! Goals from Eddie Kelly, John Radford and Jon Sammels made it 3-0 on the night, 4-3 on aggregate and European glory for Bertie Mee’s men.
WEDNESDAY – May 4th 1994
European Cup Winners’ Cup Final
Arsenal, with 10 Englishmen and a Northern Irishman in their side, the huge underdogs, facing cup holders Parma, who themselves were looking to become the first team to retain the trophy.
So, Ian Selley, Steve Morrow et al. against the might of Zola, Asprilla, Brolin and Sensini all in their prime – never in doubt really!
A 21st minute left-foot volley from Alan Smith backed up by the legendary defence that was Seaman, Dixon, Winterburn, Bould and Adams saw the trophy heading to London later that evening.
THURSDAY – May 20th 1993
F.A. Cup Final (Replay)
Having already triumphed against Sheffield Wednesday to win the League Cup Final a month earlier, the teams met again on Saturday May 15th for the traditional end-of-season showpiece. A drab 1-1 draw after extra-time necessitated a replay (the last ever) five days later on a rainy Thursday evening at Wembley Stadium. A slightly more entertaining encounter was eventually settled in the 119th minute when Andy Linighan, freshly broken nose adorning his already agricultural features, headed home a Paul Merson corner to clinch the first ever English domestic cup double.
FRIDAY – May 26th 1989
Football League, 1st Division
Quite simply, the closest and most exciting finish to an English top-flight season ever.
Liverpool – already F.A. Cup winners and thus looking for an historic second double season, at Anfield, 3 points ahead with a goal difference of +39 compared to Arsenal’s +35… had not lost by two clear goals at home for three years!
Arsenal – had blown an end of year 15 point lead, and had not tasted victory at Anfield for 15 years.
Need I say any more? If the words of the late, great commentator, Brian Moore – “Thomas, it’s up for grabs now!” – don’t make the hairs stand up on the back of your neck, you ain’t a Gooner!
SATURDAY – May 8th 1971
F.A. Cup Final
You could of course take your pick from any of the old first division titles or F.A. Cup victories in the pre-live T.V. era. Notable finals include the 2002 double winning campaign and the famous “five minute final” of 1979 when Alan Sunderland’s last gasp winner gave a 3-2 win over Manchester United.
However, the stand-out match must surely be the conclusion to the 1971 season when Charlie George, unfeasibly large sideburns ‘n’ all, crashed in the extra-time winner and gave us the definitive “laid back” celebration as Arsenal sealed their first domestic double.
SUNDAY – April 5th 1987
Football League Cup Final
“Foul !” I hear you cry – surely there cannot be a more memorable Sunday afternoon for Arsenal fans than that spent clinching the Premiership title at White Hart Lane – thus it was on April 25th 2004 following a 2-2 draw with Spurs… the moment ever so slightly soured by Jens Lehmann doing a, well, a “Lehmann” and senselessly pushing Robbie Keane at a corner, thus allowing a 90th minute penalty equaliser. Of course, just three weeks later, a 2-1 home win over Leicester City gave Arsenal their “invincibles” legend… W26, D12, L0.
However, for the purpose of this little treatise, I want you to cast your minds back to the 1987 League Cup final where a double from “Champagne” Charlie Nicholas gave George Graham’s side a 2-1 victory over Liverpool.
So, there you have it, a trophy on any and every day of the week. Can any other team match that? I very much doubt it.
And what do these particular successes all have as a common denominator? A certain George Graham – he played in the Monday, Tuesday and Saturday games highlighted above, and was the gaffer for the Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday pot-winning occasions. Can any other player match that? I am pretty certain they cannot.