Unless you’ve been living under a rock or believe every word a certain America guy called Donald says and believe all news is Fake News, you will be aware that The Arsenal arrive in Sydney next week for a double header against the current A league champions and the 2014 Asian Champions League winners.
What you might not be aware of is that this is not Arsenal’s first pre-season foray to the land down under and the last visit, 40 years ago, was a much different affair.
Terry Neill brought The Arsenal to Australia (via two qualifying games in Singapore) for the ‘World of Soccer Cup’ in July 1977, playing an Australian select XI, Celtic and Red Star Belgrade.
The tour ended in two defeats, followed by an old school drinking spree in Sydney and culminated in end of two Arsenal players’ careers.
Arsenal started on 20th July at the Sydney Sports Ground (now the Sydney Football Stadium) and were ceremoniously thumped 3-1 by an Australian XI, with Arsenal’s only goal scored by Geordie Armstrong.
Arsenal then took the long trip to the SCG to take on Celtic on 24th July. Things deteriorated as Arsenal lost 3-2 and to commiserate the team went out drinking in Kings Cross and apparently caused havoc. Terry Neill decided to make an example of Alan Hudson and ‘he did a reverse convict’ and sent him back to England. The stories go that things were never the same between Hudson and his manager after this point and Alan was offloaded to Seattle Sounders a year later.
Arsenal then took a flight over to the Hindmarsh Stadium in Adelaide and in front of a massive 12,000 fans scraped a 1-0 over Red Star Belgrade. This turned out to be the afore mentioned Geordie Armstrong’s last game for the club as he was sold to Leicester City on the clubs return to Blighty.
Arsenal arrive on Monday 10th July and let’s hope the results go better than last time The Arsenal set foot on these shores, that the players avoid Kings Cross for their post-match celebrations (and stick to the obligatory selfie) and Australia doesn’t end up being the last port of call for any of the current Arsenal players.
More to come before during in my Arsenal Down Under series – Steve