1980 and 1981 has many similarities with similar to 2011 and 2012.
The great Liam Brady departed , the team coming in to a new season following two cup final defeats in five days. The team and fans were on the floor, like 2011/12 when Cesc and Nasri went and the shambles of the start of that season.
My memory of 80/81 was the team had taken a step back. We still had the bullet forehead of frank Stapleton up front. We sang Rixy was better than Hoddle (even if we didn’t quite believe it!). The crowds dropped and the games were dull! But we had great times off the pitch…
There was so much going on to deflect from the poor show on the pitch. The young teens of 1978 were growing up! Going to games was about dressing up. Our meetings with the Scousers of 1980 spawned copycat wedge haircuts, Adidas track tops, kickers. Winter of that year was a sea of ski jumpers in then clock end.
Musically, we had a new wave band to follow, the 4 be 2’s , our own Arsenal band at a time when West Ham had the Cockney Rejects!
The 4 be 2’s stable created an Arsenal record ‘Crack Away on the Beano’ and a Celtic London Irish spin off (Pope Paul and the Romans) brought out a song ‘Why won’t Rangers sign a Catholic!’. It was rumoured that the lads behind the above went down the lane and sold the records to gullible fans in a Tottenham cover sleeve!
Richard Jobson of the Skids as well as the Lydons were seen in the Clock Cnd! The soul and dance music side of our fans was also in evidence. The Clock End was a great place to be. It wasn’t so for away fans. For some reason,they were placed in the middle of the clock end fenced on both sides, but how were they to get there?
Through the home fans!! Unless away fans came in great numbers, eg Leeds in spring 81, they had a torrid time! Whilst, Arsenal is proudly a broad church in the best traditions of a rebellious movement, the first item on the agenda was the split!
The growing identity of the Clock End ,gradually to be dubbed by hooligan opponents as the Gooners saw them to grow apart from the greater mass of fans in the North Bank. At the Christmas North London Derby, the /Clock End decided to stay put and not help the North Bank with the annual Tottenham incursion.
It was a bit of a cut of nose to spite thy face gesture, which wasn’t repeated. We had a great run towards the end of 81 season, I went to Brighton, Norwich, Ipswich, and Wolves towards the
end of that season. We were unbeaten again like the run ins of the last two years! We had a big away following.
We beat Aston Villa at home on a mad day to end the season. They still won the league that day, Pele, the real, not the Romford one, did a lap of honour on the pitch pre game and there was a mass pitch invasion by our fans at the end of the game. Villa came on as well, but the police horses get the fans apart!
1981/82 and like the Van Persie sale to Man U, we sold our main striker Stapleton to them! We couldn’t score a goal that year! Well, we had Raphael Meade and even tried out Chris Whyte up front!
We were poor, Boring ARSENAL was in! Off the field, the casual dress scene exploded!! The Gooners dressed like middle aged golf club members, diamond pringles, farrah slacks, polonecks, deer stalker hats. Others dressed like Wimbledon wannabies, fila bord, Tacchini, etc.
My best mate wore the legendary La Coste “ANDY PANDY” rain jacket through the winter!! The trouble at matches was getting nastier. We had paranoia about the newly promoted West Ham. For the away game in December 1981, as much for perceived self protection then anything else, a huge gathering met up at the Arsenal Tavern to go to East London. Many of whom lived out there,so had to go East to West and back again!!
There was the usual group paranoid about the police presence at the Arsenal Tavern. How did they know were here?eehh.. All they needed to do was look out the window of Highbury Vale police station!
The West Ham home game for those who were there was a day when the violence got out of hand, but a day when Arsenal would no longer roll over in the North Bank. Any sense of group pride that night was replaced by shock when the news came in that John Dickinson RIP was stabbed to death at Arsenal station after the game. The trouble that increasingly followed football at that time became something that was less abstract and much more serious!!
1982/83 was another lean season.We signed Woodcock which kind of worked and Lee Chapman who was like Bambi on stilts!! There was little patience with Lee and he got the Eboue treatment! We got to two semis, beaten in both by a much stronger physically Man U side. It was the year of the departure from the norm, the Green away kit!
I remember going to Leeds for an FA cup replay,where a young West Indian kid on the terraces sang all through the game. I still remember “Green is the new colour for me, green is the turf at Wembley and that is where the Arsenal will be in the FA cup in 83!”.
Even the casuals starrted wearing green hats to away games! We also got beat 5-0 at the lane!!
After that dour season,the club needed a lift, An Ozil type lift you might say!
Well the club did make the marquis signing in the summer, the best young talent in Scotland! He looked like Bono,could he play like Bono sang?
We had a new king,Charlie Nicholas!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!