115 – WWWWDDWWWDWWWDDWDWWDWWWWWWWWWDWDWDDDWW

In 1888/89, the first season of the Football League, Preston North End won the Championship going through a 22 game season unbeaten.

115 years later in the 2003/04 season Arsenal became the second English club to go a whole season undefeated.

As I mentioned yesterday the closer we get to today the harder it is to find something from my collection to show you that you can’t see in a hundred other places on the internet but here goes…

First scans are the set of cards given out by o2 at the open top bus parade, followed by the programme for Thierry Henry’s FWA Player of the Year award ceremony. Lastly I took a photo of one of my favourite things, one of the bottles of champagne that the players had when they came back on the pitch after securing the title down the road.







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114 – Double Double

As we get nearer to today trying to find something interesting that’s not plastered over the internet gets harder and harder. Every year, the evening before the FA Cup Final, the London Society of Associated Referees holds a dinner in honour of the officials and today’s scans are the programme for that event in 1998.

Also, below that is a little piece I wrote last night about winning The Double.







The Double.

Doing The Double.

I have vague memories of winning the double in 1971. I was very young and have absolutely no memory of the Championship but I certainly remember jumping around then lying on the floor imitating Lord Charlie of George one glorious Saturday afternoon. Funnily enough the gloriously technicoloured yellow of the moment was to be a later pleasure as we were still in an age where our TV lacked the colour to make Hibs not look suspiciously like The Arsenal. Sorry Hearts fans but…

Anyway, The Double. It was reverently talked about. Only the forth time ever. Only the forth club ever. It was a while before I found out how much it annoyed our friends up the road but I knew it was a serious thing. And I grew up dreaming of it happening again. As I got older and played a reasonable game obviously those dreams started to involve me being the LCoG but in the real world the double was such an elusive thing that year after year clubs failed to do it. There were times when teams came close; indeed Liverpool had a habit of winning doubles including European Cups but they were just doubles, they won a double. It wasn’t The Double. It’s the capitals. For English football it is an amazing thing to do. It is the complete mastery of all that matters in English football. For whatever reasons the FA Cup may have been devalued to some extent but win it and the League and you’ve done something proper.

Then Liverpool did it.

Bugger.

But that’s only five.

Ever.

We did win a double. The FA and League (don’t ask me what it was called that week) Cup double was amazing. It was a double that I thoroughly enjoyed, even more-so as having a May birthday my LCoG dream scenario obviously happened on my birthday. Now whilst technically we won the double that doesn’t need capitalised the day before my birthday, as I walked out of the station on the way home I looked at the time and it was exactly as it passed midnight. At that moment, although I’d sadly grown up (some may debate that) and had long since stopped dreaming of LCoGing it with a screamer the sheer rarity of The Double made me think that this was my one chance to get close to celebrating it. Only five teams had ever done The Double.

Flaming Mancs!

Then that French bloke turned up. I knew more about him than most when he took over (or rather when we knew he’d take over). I’d read an interview with Glenn Hoddle a month or two before and in it he’d mentioned this great coach called Arsene Wenger. Yes the name did stick because it sounded like Arsenal, but it stuck so I’d officially heard of him. In pre-wiki days having heard the name and knowing he had been at Monaco made me the font of all wisdom. Which can be limited.

Anyway…1998. I moved. On FA Cup semi-final day I moved to Newcastle. I hope your irony klaxon went off then. It was a near excellent day of planning apart from our Final opponents. Van loaded the day before. Went up to Villa Park with my Dad for the game. Mate drove van to Villa Park getting there during game. We won semi, met mate, he went home with my Dad and I drove the van to Newcastle. Luckily expert planning meant I didn’t have to miss any games that season, although I learnt a lot about travelling from Newcastle to London!

Everton at Highbury. It was a lovely day, it was a lovely atmosphere. We hadn’t won the league but we had three games left and not a lot of points needed. The t-shirt sellers already had champions t-shirts and people were wearing them but I thought that was too much too soon. Didn’t annoy me but I just thought it was wrong. My Dad even asked me if I wanted a shirt (bless) but I said no straight away. We weren’t chatty people about life and stuff but he just looked at me, I looked at him, and he nodded. Then the game. 1-0. We hadn’t won it yet. 2-0. We hadn’t won it yet. We celebrated the third and my Dad said something about the shirt and I said no. We hadn’t won it. Yet. Then Steve Bould strolled around midfield, pinged if forward for the runner and Tony Adams stuck it in the onion bag. After I’d indulged in the sort of Neanderthal ‘ooh ooh’ ing fist pumping celebration rarely seen outside a dystopian film my Dad rather politely asked if I wanted him to get me the shirt on the way out. Yeah, fair enough.

That day the stand really rocked. It bounced up and down. It was absolutely amazing being up there. We were fairly high up in the middle and you could feel it going up and down. For one moment I did briefly look up and think I could jump to grab a girder if it collapsed and hang on until someone got me down (yeah right) but then I thought sod it we’ve won the league. It had been seven years since we’d won the league and you know how cranky fans can get.

On to Wembley. I drove down the evening before. OK, I made my car rather red and white with a scarf out of each front window and a shirt in the hatch, but I didn’t think every single other car for one hundred miles would be full of NUFC fans! I got mooned at. More than once. You don’t need to know how many times but it was more than once. Then I stopped at some services. I was sensible about the car as I tugged the scarfs in before I stopped and yanked the shirt before I left the car but I was wearing a shirt and as I went from the car park to the services (I obviously use the term very loosely) there were dozens of stripy people around the entrance. Loud people drinking beer. Well my short time in Newcastle had, if nothing else, taught me the only way was bold and brash so I filled my lungs and gave it ‘The Arsenal’ clap clap clap which received a deserved raucous round of applause and much back slapping. Phew.

On to Wembley. It was a glorious Saturday afternoon. It was also one of those strange footballing days where every time you turn around someone you know is there. I must have seen just about everyone I’ve ever know at football ever that day. Perfect. I was with my Dad again and he was strangely confident. We did all the Wembley stuff and watched all the stuff in the ground and it was buzzy because I danced in the aisle to the Arsenal record when it was played. I don’t dance. There was a righteous confidence that the team played out. We’d actually done it. The Double. My double whoever actually scored the goals!

As we were going out of the ground my Dad turned to me. “Do you remember rolling around on the floor like Charlie George?”

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113 – Random 1990s Press Photo’s

As usual, any backslip details are below the photo scan.

“27.4.91 : London.
Arsenal’s George Armstrong crosses the ball into the Liverpool penalty area during the Ray Kennedy benefit match at Highbury today. Armstrong, a famous winger in his time, played in the Arsenal double winning side of 1970/71.”

“21-09-98.
England and Arsenal player Tony Adams kicks off the start of the new Cox’s Apple season in London.”

“21-09-98.
England and Arsenal player Tony Adams kicks off the start of the new Cox’s Apple season in London.”

“Arsenal sign headless midfielder.”

“Arsene Wenger (Manager of Arsenal FC) 22 Sept. 96.”

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112 – Arsenal Ladies

Wouldn’t be right to cover Arsenal’s history without a mention of our wonderful ladies team so here are a few programme covers of their games, including the European Champions league final programmes. Also a photo of the Arsenal Ladies wall in the ground.











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111 – In Honour Of Dinners

Have you ever wondered what the Directors like to eat for dinner? Well whenever Arsenal entertain a foreign club a dinner is held in their honour and today’s scans are of the menu fronts of a few of those. As the menu never seems to change much at all I’ve also scanned the inside of one so you can see what they would be eating.







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110 – George Graham and Silverware

I’ve tried to somewhat avoid the scanning the obvious press photo’s of people lifting trophies but it seemed like a great way of summing up George Graham’s reign which was loaded with trophies, so here are some scans of trophies being lifted! Haven’t bothered with the backslips for these as they are pretty obvious and as this post is going for the obvious I’ve included a couple of scans of classic trophy winning goals as well.











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109 – The Bond Scheme (part two)

Continuing from yesterday, the rest of the original brochure for the new North Bank Bond Scheme. I’ve also added a scan of one of the leaflets from the campaign against the changes.









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108 – The Bond Scheme (part one)

The Taylor report, rightly or wrongly, meant the end of terracing in top football. today and tomorrow I will be posting the original brochure for the North Bank Bond Scheme, with the original designs for the stand which were rather different from what was created in the end.









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Anfield – Left Holding the Baby

1988/89. What a season. For the first time since I’d started my love affair with Arsenal we were genuine title contenders. Liverpool were the pre-eminent team, but George’s mix of lower division buys and youth team graduates were the challengers that wouldn’t fall away.

I went to nearly all the games that season, but when it came to THE match I was sat at home watching it with a baby! When the game was originally scheduled, they made the mistake of playing it the same day as I was due to be best man at a wedding and there was no way I was going to be able to get out of it. At least I had the consolation that although it was a vital game, at least it wasn’t going to decide the championship, was it… Well, we all know why it was re-arranged, and there was I after over a decade of tramping up and down the country watching (often) dire performances, not able to get a ticket for the game that could bring us the title.

Well, thanks to the fact that ITV decided that this game was worthy of being broadcast live (a rare event in those days) at least I wouldn’t have to suffer following the match on the radio. It was over a week since we had walked out of Highbury after the draw against Wimbledon that meant us dropping 5 home points in 4 days, which was plenty of time for my confidence to return (mind you I was confident that we’d win the league at the start of every season Terry Neill was in charge – so maybe you shouldn’t read too much into that). Even when Liverpool spanked West Ham leaving us needing a 2 goal win at Anfield I still knew we could do it.

Although the game was being shown at my local, I wanted to watch the game at home. I don’t really know why, I guess the idea of watching Arsenal on a telly in a pub just seemed too strange for me. Mind you, I’d not watched Arsenal play live on TV at home since the 1972 final either. My partner had no interest in football, but knowing the importance of the match decided she wanted to be no where near me whilst the game was on, so she and our lodger decided to get their ‘glad-rags’ on and go out for the night which is how I was left with our 9 month old.

Being a good little chap he went to bed quietly about an hour before kick off. Excellent. Minutes before kick off he woke up and started crying. Not so excellent. Any parent out there knows the difference between the sobbing that means they’ll be asleep again in a minute, and the bawling that requires action, and this wasn’t the one where he was going back to sleep!

A lot of the first half is a bit of a blur, seeing as I was trying all the things known to parenthood to calm him down. I even considered taking him out for a drive at half time, but the Irish whiskey I was using to ‘calm my nerves’ made that a non-starter. Maybe I was more nervous that I thought and he could feel that, but he just wouldn’t settle.

As the second half started we’d seemingly reached an agreement where he’d be quiet and let me watch the football over his shoulder so long as I bounced him on my knee. Not ideal, and rather tiring, but the best on offer, so I took it. That is, until Smudger scored the first. Maybe the bouncing got a bit hectic whilst the ref and lino were chatting? Maybe I jumped up a bit too quick when they gave the goal? Maybe he just realised how relieved I was? I don’t really know which, but Jr. smiled up at me and suddenly looked ready for bed. Between the goal been given and the re-start he was there.

The remainder of the game involved me leaving the comfort of the sofa and edging closer and closer to the telly, as if my proximity to the pictures would have some bearing, and the players would respond to me imploring them to attack. Oh, and (too) regular topping up of my glass. Then with a few minutes left Mickey Thomas broke through the middle…and fluffed it. Mickey, please accept my apologies for all the names I called you at that moment.

By the time McMahon appeared on screen with a finger raised to show there was only 1 minute left (and we never let him forget that moment, did we!) even my confidence was starting to wane. Then the ball was sent forward again. As Mickey collected the ball and broke forward again I was transfixed. This was it….the last chance. And he slotted it! As Mickey was rolling around on the pitch at Anfield, I was doing the same in my front room. I even managed to knock over and rather kill a large plant the girlfriend was quite proud of, but that didn’t even register at the time (although it was pointed out the next day). Now I’m not the type who looks away when last minute penalties are given, but as Liverpool kicked off I couldn’t watch. I filled my glass and went and sat on the front doorstep. Surely we couldn’t blow it now. Surely. Please! And then I heard the final whistle. I jumped to my feet, screamed, and my glass disappeared into the sky.

Then I just felt so calm and elated. I went back in and watched the trophy being lifted and all the celebration with a strange detached calm. I remember there was a car ad at the time where the guy bet on everything 50/50 and lost, but at least had bought the right car. They’d managed to add a line in minutes saying ‘he bet on Liverpool, and Arsenal scored in the last minute’. That was cool. Then it was all over. We’d done it. For the first time I’d seen us win the title and even from miles away I felt part of it. At that moment it didn’t matter a bit that I wasn’t there. It didn’t matter I was on my own. They’d done it. We’d done it. We WERE the champions.

“Division 1, Liverpool (0) v Arsenal (2), 26-5-89, Anfield.
Michael Thomas shoots past Liverpool goalkeeper Bruce Grobbelaar to score Arsenal’s 2nd goal in the last minute of the match.
This goal clinched the League Championship for Arsenal, despite finishing level on points with Liverpool, because the Londoners had scored more goals during the season than Liverpool.”

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107 – The Defence

Quite possibly the best defensive unit in football at the time, George Graham forged the defence on the training pitch.

“25.3.91. Bisham Abbey.
Arsenal captain Tony Adams training with his international team-mates at Bisham Abbey today before Wednesday’s match against Ireland.”

“Football. Steve Bould. Arsenal FC.”

“Arsenal signing Lee Dixon. 9th March 1988.
New signing Lee Dixon makes his debut for Arsenal against Luton Town at Highbury last month.”

“Martin Keown (Arsenal FC) 10th Sept. ’95.”

“David Seaman (Arsenal FC and England) 6th Apr ’96.”

“Nigel Winterburn. Arsenal FC. 10-11-90.”

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