Arsenal were always considered a different club to most. The term “Més que un club” is the motto of Barcelona. It means “More than a club”. From even before Herbert Chapman took over Arsenal in 1925, Arsenal were more than a club.
From the marble hall’s at Highbury; with a proud commissionaire standing guard waiting to greet guests, the police band that played before games and the match day flowers in the directors boxes being in the visitors teams colours. Arsenal just did things differently. They were more than a club.
The way you presented yourself was also key. You represented the club at every step. Not being allowed into the club offices without a jacket and tie on, travelling to every game (home and away) in a suit. The red and white or yellow and blue shirt to be tucked in at all time. The captain choosing the length of the players shirts sleeves and every player clapping the fans before and at the end of the game win lose or draw. These are some of the traditions that made us The Arsenal.
Former Arsenal goal keeper Alan Miller, who was at the club for 11 years having joined as a 16 year old described about the respect that the club once commanded throughout the game;
“When I was elsewhere, the likes of Bryan Robson, Graham Souness, Mike Kelly all talked about THE Arsenal.”
Over time, a lot of these traditions have gone. Some due to circumstances, some due to changes in taste, and some due to those at the club no longer being bothered about ensuring that we were more than a club.
The police band made way for a DJ, the marble halls remain as part of the Highbury housing development, but nothing similar was developed in the new ground. But these days, The Arsenal are no different to any other club throughout the UK.
It has now been confirmed by officials within Arsenal that the captains choice on length of shirt is no more.
We have all known that the tradition has been ignored for some years.
After 3 years of one mans fight against this Arsenal heritage being trampled over, friend of the site John O’Connell finally got the confirmation from the club that the tradition was no more.
After 3 years of emailing more or less everyone who works for Arsenal PLC (it’s just not The Arsenal Football Club anymore) and getting some very obnoxious replies John has finally got a reply from Arsenal PLC which explains the situation, kind of.
The Captain’s choice tradition was so that everyone looked uniform on the pitch, but now that is out the window. Going by the email above a few things now make a mockery of this great tradition.
If the Captain decides short sleeve the players can wear a long sleeve base layer, so they wont look uniform. If the Captain’s choice is long sleeves often players would rollup or pin up the sleeves. If the Captain decides its ‘wear what you like Sunday’ the players can choose themselves, do they have to put a £1 into the jar for The Arsenal Foundation ?
I would pay good money to see Charlie George explain this new Captain’s choice rule on a tour of the ground as proudly as he explained it before it was abolished.
Other clubs and players used to look up to The Arsenal. They knew we were something special. Ian Wright said the day he signed for The Arsenal he sat up till the early hours of the following morning with David Rocastle just talking about the club. Players used to be proud to put on an Arsenal shirt, proud to follow the little traditions and regulations that made our club special.
To even quote Jimmy Greaves, the greatest player to play for Tottenham “Arsenal have class. I remember when I was at Spurs, the Arsenal players would arrive for matches in their navy blazers with the gold gun emblem sewn into their pockets and grey slacks. We couldn’t match their ground with that beautiful main entrance, marble halls and spiral staircase. Even in 1961 when we won the Double, we were never as big a club as Arsenal.”
Sadly we no longer have that class.
One of my biggest bug bearers is the lack of suits at away games. These days, a whistle is only worn by players for games at home.
Mr George Graham used to make them wear suits and ties to and from every game, home, away, European games and world tours. He was very strict on this due to his time as a player at The Arsenal, George Knew. Mr Graham made sure we turned up looking ready for business, other clubs used to look on knowing The Arsenal are here. Now we turn up at away games looking like extras for some kind of grime music gig.
I understand completely why wearing suites and ties is not the greatest idea in the world when travelling longer than an hour. Most of us have “travel clothes” that we put on for flying to ensure comfort. But these days players stay in a hotel the night before with a very short travel time from the hotel to the ground. Often at away games they stay closer to the away ground than they do than the hotel they use for home games.
I understand that players want to travel in some comfort to perform (bless em eh). But for the varst majority of games we play, there is not justifiable reason to not wear a suit.
Players should wear the suits from the hotel to the ground for all games, lets once more turn up with a bit of class and looking ready for business !
“The Arsenal” was always more than a club.
We were the ones that did things right on and off the pitch. We had the traditions that the footballing word looked up to. Even in the barren trophyless years in the 60s, 70s & 80s, we held our heads up high. We were the Arsenal.
Growing up young supporters have been told about these traditions often passed down the generations and have grown to love “The Arsenal” as we had that bit of class that was lacking in other clubs. We were taught to be proud of our great club.
As more and more of our much loved traditions slip, more and more fans become disillusioned with the club they grew up loving.
Now I know that these traditions slipping isn’t the main reason why the grounds not been packed recently nor is it why we have been doing so badly. I know that sleeve length does not win you games. I know that Manchester City do not wear suits to away games. But the traditions are beyond trophies.
The traditions slipping is one of the reasons (alongside ticket prices) that many of the fans who have been going to games for decades no longer feel a strong attachment to the club. why they are no less likely to attend. They no longer feel that it is their club, the club they grew up loving. The club they were proud of no matter the result.
The players need to feel more pride to pull on an Arsenal shirt and to remember who they are and who they represent. The basic discipline of things such as suits and shirt lengths builds a solid foundation for this.
Turn up in suits – Wear the same length shirt sleeves – Clap the fans before the game – Clap the fans after the game – Go over to the fans if its an away game. It’s really not too much to ask !
Let’s hope the powers that be read this and restore these some traditions. Lets turn up for games ready for business, show the opposition that it’s not just another club that they are playing for, but The Arsenal are here and as one, players and fans.
CLASS PRIDE TRADITION
GC / John
P.S I’d like to thank John for the time he has put in over the shirt sleeve issue, we have been emailing each other for the best part of 3 years now on the day after games and he has been emailing everyone and i do mean everyone at the club to get clarification on the clubs rules. Sadly its finally been the outcome we feared.