What a lot of the Emirates new fans don’t realize is that when they go on about what Mr Wenger has done over the years on a budget and a ground move is that back in the 70’s and 80s Liverpool had the monopoly on transfers, money and the trophies.
There was only one European Cup place for the champions, a cup winners cup and if it serves my memory right three UEFA Cup places. Most transfers came from inside the UK and Ireland. to which Liverpool cherry picked the best players. Squads were a lot smaller, it was a more physical game, players played through injuries, teams had only one then two subs per game and every game was hard.
Back then Don Howe coached the side while Terry Neil was the manager and there was no better defensive coach than Don. He went onto coaching England and was well respect as a defensive coach. Don made sure The Arsenal had solid foundations and many a bigger club got relegated or struggled down the bottom of the league but not The Arsenal under Don’s coaching.
Don would always chat to Fans at the ground and training ground , we were always allowed in and Don made sure fans got a warm drink. When Terry Neil got sacked Don took over as manager and steered Arsenal to 3rd in the table 5 points behind with a game in hand.
I remember a Saturday game Vs Coventry we got a good win and we were looking good for the title. We always went around the back of the Clockend after games to chat to Don and the players, that day Don was buzzing with the day’s result but as we were driving home we got the shocking news Don had resigned. He had found out after the game that while the game was on the club was talking to Terry Venables about replacing him. Don being a proud man was not having that behind his back and left .
We always kept in touch and I could listen to his football knowledge of the games, Arsenal players, managers and formations forever. Many forget that Don was instrumental in blooding so many young homegrown players, if he liked the look of them he would back his own judement and play them, he will be credited with bringing through greats of The Arsenal like Thomas, Keown and Rocastle to name just three.
I met Don regularly back in the day, an Arsenal man through and through, a gentleman, a friend and a man who held his head up high. One of my biggest memories of Don was back in 1984 we had travelled to Preseason in Germany to watch the team train at a training ground out there, myself, my wife and our friend Carl.
After the session was over we left to start the long walk down the country lanes to the train station when the team bus pulled up, Don opened the door and said jump in we will drop you off in town. The full 1st team sat there chatting to us like old friends, Kenny Sansom, Paul Davis, Charlie Nicolas, David Rocastle etc. What a great gesture by a great man.
Thank you Don we will never forget that day R.I.P and say hello to Rocky.
Arsenal Player: 1964- 66 – 74 apps
Arsenal Coach: 1967-69
Arsenal Assistant Manager: 1969-71 winning the Fairs Cup 1970, League and FA Cup double 1971
Arsenal Head Coach: 1977-83 winning the FA Cup in 1979, runners up 1978 and 1980. Fairs Cup runners up 1980
Arsenal Manager: 1983-86
Arsenal Youth Team Coach: 1997-2003 Winning the youth FA cup 2000 and 2001
Arsenal Legend: Forever