Family of Arsenal legend involved in re-designing new stadium wraps

Before going to bed in early April 2022, I noticed I had an email in my inbox from The Arsenal team, which took me by complete surprise!

I have devoured the pleasure of being a lifelong Arsenal fan and being related to one of the all-time greats of not just Arsenal but of the game of football itself.

My Great Grandfather is and will forever be striker Ted Drake who on the 14th of December 1935, whilst injured with the World’s biggest bandage attached to his leg, scored the most goals (7) in a top-flight game of English football.

During that same year, he scored the most goals in a season for Arsenal, with 44 goals to his name. Neither of his two records has been broken and probably won’t be.

In 2009, the Legend reemerged on Arsenal’s horizon during the Emirates Stadium 32 glorious Legends together display uncovering. After 13 years of weathering, Arsenal decided that the display needed to be redesigned and replaced, a process which I and my Granddad (son of Ted Drake) were a part of and were informed about after reading the email on that late April night.

In that exact email, I and my Granddad were asked to meet up on the evening of the 19th of April at the Tollington Arms alongside several Arsenal fans and the families of the legends whose backs had graced the Emirates Stadium.

The Tollington is situated just up the road from the Emirates Stadium and after I walked in, the exceptionally warm and welcoming vibe from those who worked for the club and were there like me attending completely took me aback.

Before the event began, we were all given two free drink tickets which I gladly used for two delicious Kopparbergs whilst socially getting myself involved with the other fans there too.

At the start of the event, the artists who would lay the ground for the new design, including Turner Prize-winning artist Jeremy Deller, ReubenDangoor and graphic designer David Rudnick, gave a speech about what they were planning to do to revolutionize the Emirates Stadium.

Another important person who gave a speech was Arsenal Ceo Vinai Venkkatesham, who also talked about why we were there and what our purpose was in the construction process, as well as what the club was aiming to do.

All speeches were very strong and made me feel quite emotional inside as I realized exactly what Arsenal has and will always be about, as everyone there felt instantly connected to one greater community.

We were all given different A4 cards with questions for us to answer. For example, a couple of the questions were what does Arsenal mean to you? What are Arsenal’s biggest achievements? Before I forget, the Pub handed out free meals for everyone there, which was a much-appreciated delight too.

After the event came to a close me and my Granddad safely made our way home after saying goodbye to 1930s Arsenal captain Eddie Hapgood’s daughter Lyn, who most recently published a book about her father’s life, and talking to her son Jake who’s Grandson of the ex England captain too.

I must admit there was a slight stumble in our tracks home as the pub sits on the corner of a crossroad, and we weren’t too sure for a minute which road we had come up and were meant to go down to get back to Arsenal tube station.

On the 8th of June, I rocked up at Arsenal tube station once again after having switched at Waterloo for the underground after setting off from Basingstoke with not my Granddad but my brother-in-arms George.

Unfortunately, my Granddad could not go as he was busy with my Nan celebrating their 54th wedding anniversary. That was not a problem, though. I had been to watch The Arsenal multiple times with George, who is also an Arsenal fan since birth and whose dad is a season ticket holder at the club.

George was as excited as me to go along to the Arsenal Togetherness event. As we arrived early I said to him, “do you fancy going to look at Highbury Gardens and the Stadium as we haven’t seen it together before?”

My friend accepted the request, and we went and had a walk round the gardens, which was lovely on a sunny summer’s day.

After we’d completed our walk and marveled at the ground, I went inside and asked one man at reception if we could have a tour around the now Highbury flat corridors, leading up from the Marbles hall stairs. While the bust of Herbert Chapman who put Arsenal on the global stage of football stared at me, the man declined my asking, but was in awe when I said who my Great Granddad was.

Once we’d finished at Highbury, we moved on to the Emirates Stadium, where the second meeting would take place in the Diamond club. I’d only ever been there before when I was on a stadium tour dating back to nearly a decade ago when I was 11.

There was food and drink for everyone as me and my friend helped ourselves to a couple of beers and burgers whilst we sat down at one table and spoke to a couple of fans of similar age who help with the club behind the scenes.

When we sat down, we were told not to take pictures of the designs which the artists had created, which were displayed on a large screen in front of us.

During the meeting, they showed us the first designs for the Stadium banners and asked what we thought of them, which I was over the moon with. It was great to see that the banner ideas were simply revolutionary as they differed completely from any other Premier League Stadium ones.

I was glad that the new banners weren’t just going to include the backs of Arsenal greats, as I felt we needed something different for the club and Emirates Stadium to stand out once again. I’d seen that West Hams’s ground has adorned the backs of previous legends too and I thought it was most definitely time for a change that would be revolutionary.

The final meeting occurred on the 13th of October when we saw the final designs in print at the Emirates Stadium Diamond club again. We were awarded free drinks and food again whilst also being able to watch the Arsenal and BodoGlimt Europa League game too before the meeting started.

Whilst I was watching the game, a couple of camera flashes distracted me in the background as people were having their photos taken for one banner, which includes 720 Arsenal fans. I went along to join the fun as I had my picture taken for the banner and my Granddad.

During the meeting, they introduced us to the complete designs for the all-new 8 Emirates Stadium banners.

My favorites were of course the “Remember who you are” banner with ex Legends on it including Ted Drake hanging out of one window of Highbury Stadium, and the “come to see the Arsenal” banner imprinted with “Welcome to North London home of The Arsenal”.

On Wednesday the 11th of January, the unveiling of the Emirates Stadium banner Artwork was launched at CandidsArt Trust.

It would be one of the greatest nights of my life as I finally met the Legends who have graced the club throughout the years which I have read about.

I was completely surprised by seeing the likes of George Graham, Ian Wright, Charlie George, Alan Smith, David Seaman, Jack Wilshire, Bob Wilson, and current captain Martin Odegaard. I just wasn’t expecting it at all, especially within the first few minutes, when I noticed the appearance of Pat Rice. I thought maybe he would be the only one there, but I was wrong-very wrong!

It was an immense joy to be a part of such a special Arsenal Togetherness project, which means the World to me as a man of literally Arsenal blood!

Liam Harding
Great Grandson of Ted Drake

MATCH REPORT: Man City 1 – 0 Arsenal

Manchester City (0) 1 Arsenal (0) 0

FA Cup Fourth Round

Etihad Stadium, Ashton New Road, Manchester M11 3FF

Friday, 27th January 2023. Kick-off time: 8.00pm

(4-3-3) Matt Turner; Takehiro Tomiyasu, Rob Holding, Gabriel Magalhães, Kieran Tierney; Fabio Vieira, Thomas Partey, Granit Xhaka (c); Bukayo Saka, Eddie Nketiah, Leandro Trossard.

Substitutes: Aaron Ramsdale, Ben White, Martin Ødegaard, Gabriel Martinelli, William Saliba, Jakub Kiwior, Albert Sambi Lokonga, (Marcus Vinicius Oliveira Alencar) Marquinhos, Oleksandr Zinchenko.

Yellow Cards: Rob Holding, Oleksandr Zinchenko

Arsenal Possession Percentage: 46%

Referee: Paul Tierney

Assistant Referees: Constantine Hatzidakis, Neil Davies

Fourth Official: Robert Jones

VAR Team at Stockley Park: VAR John Brook; AVAR Harry Lennard

Attendance: 51,694

For tonight’s game here at the Etihad Stadium, Mikel Arteta has made six changes from the team that beat Manchester United last Sunday. A welcome full debut from Leandro Trossard, and it is also good to see our new defender Jakub Kiwior on the substitute’s bench tonight too.

Arsenal kicked off the match and within two minutes there was a bit of an escape for us when Rob Holding and Erling Haaland were wrestling just outside our penalty area; the City man got beyond him and went down just outside the box but fortunately the referee gave the free-kick to us. A few minutes later, some wonderful play by new boy Leandro Trossard on his debut, when he left John Stones standing with some good skill and cut it back for Takehiro Tomiyasu, whose drive inside the penalty area was well saved by Stefan Ortega to deny our man the opening goal of the night. There was a bit of a drama when Erling Haaland shoved away Rob Holding and ran some forty yards towards our goal. Matt Turner raced out of his box to stop him bearing down on goal, but the ball fell to the City man though and his twenty-five yard overhead kick went over Matt Turner, but was cleared by Takehiro Tomiyasu. We were doing a good job not letting the home side settle too long on the ball, and as such, is causing them some frustration in some areas. We won a free kick on the edge of the penalty area, and as the ball came loose, Bukayo Saka’s first-time shot from twenty yards went straight at a defender, and as the game started to settle down, both sides are looking for gaps and spaces to exploit. After twenty minutes, the best chance of the match so far fell to us, when Leandro Trossard nipped into the penalty area and blasted in a shot which Stefan Ortega parried away. So close. After a Kevin de Bruyne shot that shaved Matt Turner’s right-hand post, Erling Haaland went down to the floor following a challenge from Rob Holding, and both coaches used the hiatus for some impromptu coaching on the sidelines. After the restart, we were unlucky not to score when Leandro Trossard burst down the left wing, crossed the ball into the middle for Eddie Nketiah to guide the ball narrowly past the right-hand post. A bizarre Kieran Tierney ricochet launched the ball towards his own goal, Erling Haaland barged past Gabriel but our man diid enough to put him off and the City man shot wide, thankfully. Just before half time, Rob Holding received a yellow card for holding onto Erling Haaland’s shirt; he needs to be careful, as it is the last thing we need is for him to get his marching orders from referee Paul Tierney. There were two minutes injury time, in which not too much of note happened, and we went into the break feeling that we had the run of them at places in this half.

The home side get the second half under way and unsurprisingly, William Saliba replaced Rob Holding, and in a double substitution, Albert Sambi Lokonga replaced Thomas Partey as well. Takehiro Tomiyasu did very well to head a long Stefan Ortega clearance back to Matt Turner before Erling Haaland could run on to it. City put us under pressure for the next few minutes, and after Matt Turner punched a ball clear, he went to ground in our penalty area, but after some attention to him by our medical staff, he carried on playing. Just before the hour mark, Fabio Vieira had a chance to score, but his volley went wide, and although both sides are having some good chances, the match was starting to level out a bit, and after the ferocious start to the match, things were looking a wee bit pedestrian now. Somehow, in the space of a minute, the home side hit the post, and shortly afterwards, a Nathan Ake shot beat Matt Turner to open the scoring for the Mancunians. Immediately, Mikel Arteta made two substitutions, with Kieran Tierney and Leandro Trossard being replaced by Gabriel Martinelli and Oleksandr Zinchenko. With fresh legs out there on the pitch, we came close to scoring when Eddie Nketiah had the ball taken away from him at the last minute, sadly. The goal certainly livened things up somewhat, and with twenty minutes of the match remaining, we are trying hard to get through the City defence, but we just could not break through despite all of our best efforts. Bukayo Saka was replaced by Martin Ødegaard, who unceremoniously received the captain’s armband from Granit Xhaka. Unfortunately the substitutes and stopping for fouls and the suchlike have broken the continuity of the game, and as such, the crowd are sensing that this match could still go either way tonight now. It appears to be that we are finding it hard to break out of our half, and City are applying the basic rules of game management utilising the possession game. With the clock running down, we had two corner kicks in succession, but sadly they went nowhere. Gabriel Martinelli had two really good chances to score, but was denied when Stefan Ortega flew out of his goal to save at his feet; we certainly look a different team since he came onto the pitch. Oleksandr Zinchenko received a yellow card for a messy challenge, and as the match slipped into four minutes of injury time, our chances were becoming very few and far between now. The match petered out to its natural conclusion, and with it, our exit from this year’s FA Cup.

All in all, yes, it was a bitterly disappointing result, but there was not a lot between Manchester City and ourselves when it comes right down to it. We had our chances, we played very well, particularly in the first half, and at the end of the day, a draw would have been a fairer result to take away from the Etihad Stadium tonight. There were good things to take away from the match; an impressive performance by Leandro Trossard, Matt Turner made some truly amazing saves which literally kept us in the game at one point, and Takehiro Tomiyasu’s positional play was exceptionally good. Still, all things considered, we did the best we could on a cold Friday night in Manchester. Who knows what will happen when we meet in the Premiership again in a few weeks’ time?

Remember everyone, keep the faith, get behind the team and the manager, as this season is going to be crucial for our future success in all competitions. Stick with the winners. Our next match: Everton at Goodison Park on Saturday, 4th February at 12.30pm (Premier League). Be there, if you can. Victoria Concordia Crescit.

Steve

Too Dearly Loved To Be Forgotten: Arsenal v Racing Club de Paris 1930-1962 by Steve Ingless (Rangemore Publications, ISBN 978-1-5272-0135-4) is now available on Amazon

How seriously should Arteta take the FA Cup?

Two real basic schools of thought:

1) Arteta should rest everyone. The league is our priority. No need to risk players in the FA Cup.

2) Arteta needs to play everyone. Keep the momentum. Winning breed more winning.

Rest them all

Tonight we face Manchester City away, and I really can see the pros and cons of both arguments.

We need to keep rotating the squad. Give key players a break when we can. Especially the likes of Oleksandr Zinchenko and Thomas Partey (injury issues), Gabriel Martinelli and Bukayo Saka (over playing) and Eddie Nketiah (only striker).

We need to go “all-in” on the league and give these players a weekend off.

And even if they did play, City will probably beat us anyone, which will be even more damaging.

Play them all

Winning breeds winning.

We stick out our first team and give ourselves the best chance of going through.

Beat City in the cup then confidence will be high when we play them twice in the league. Play a 2nd string and get dicked, it will eb away at that confidence.

Our last game was Sunday. That was 5 days ago. Our next game is next Saturday, over a week away. There is no need to rest players. We have a week without them playing.

And we should be looking to win as many trophies as possible. The FA Cup might end up as a consolation prize for us if we do not win the league. We have to stay in it to give ourselves the best chance of winning it.


My view? Probably half way between both.

We need to play our strongest possibile team, but also need to give a few players a break.

Matt Turner will get a run out in goal, whilst Takehiro Tomiyasu should start ahead of Ben White in defence.

White certainly does not needs a break, but right back is an area where we can make a change without seeing a drop-off in quality. A run out for Tomiyasu keeps him fresh.

Kieran Tierney should come in for Zinchenko on the left. The Ukranian has had his injury issues so two weeks without football will not be a bad thing.

Despite the accuisation of Jakub Kiwior, I would not expect him to start tonight. Nor should Rob Holding start. I would stick with William Saliba and Gabriel. Keep that strong middle.

Mohamed Elneny will come in for Thomas Partey.

Partey is the best defensive midfielder in the Premier League and our chance to be Champions is linked directly to his fitness. No need to risk him in either the FA Cup or Europa League this season. Just have him fit for the 19 remaining Premier League games.

Although this is what I had written before Elneny’s injury. I think we will see Lokonga given one last chance to show he has a future.

Martin Odegaard and Granit Xhaka should both start.

Odegaard did not play in the World Cup and the drop off from Xhaka to Albert Sambi Lokonga is too great.

Lokonga’s future needs to be questioned and we saw in the Oxford game the difference in class between him and Xhaka

I would make one change in the front 3, with Leandro Trossard coming in for either Eddie Nketiah, Bukayo Saka or Gabriel Martinelli.

You can probably make an argument for all 3.

Saka has played the most for club and country this season. Nketiah is our only out and out striker. Trossard was mainly bought in as Martinelli cover and competition.

I would probably go for the later.

I think Trossard for Martinelli will be the most likely substitution when we are chasing a game.

Left wing is Trossard’s most natural position, and Martinelli is less of a threat than Saka.

We saw the sub work to great affect against Manchester United on Sunday, and I can see if becoming a regualr 70 minute change.

So how seriously should Arteta take the FA Cup? I am 50/50, As is the team I would select:

Turner
Tomiyasu Saliba Gabriel Tierney
Lokonga
Saka Odegaard Xhaka Trossard
Nketiah

Keenos