Who is Arsenal’s Hardest Hardman?

In 1995 who was fined $4,000 after pleading guilty to punching a mini cab driver in Hong Kong

On 17 September 1988 Paul Davis broke whose jaw?

Which Scottish international was banned for life by his country before he had even played a game?

These are just 3 of the questions in The Arsenal Quiz Book.

We have had our fair share of naughty boys over the years.

From Peter Storey who was convicted of various criminal offences; including keeping a brothel, and was jailed for three years for financing a plot to counterfeit gold coins, Tony Adams who was jailed for drink driving and Ray Parlour for doing whatever Ray Parlour does.

We have also had our fair share of hardmen; a tag which no player really gets anymore due to the non-contact nature of the modern game.

But who is the hardest?

Paul Davis

It was Glenn Cockerill who had his jaw broken by Paul Davis in 1988.

Davis was the enforcer to Mickey Thomas and Rocky Rocastle’s grace in the late 80s / early 90s and was integral to Arsenal’s title wins in 1989 and 1991.

That punch landed Davis with a nine-match ban and a £3,000 fine.

Patrick Vieira

Sent off 10 times in his Arsenal career, Patrick Vieira was one of the greatest all round midfielders to play the game.

He was an combative, aggressive midfielder who also graceful as a gazelle, striding across the pitch.

At 6’ 4”, he was an intimidating presence in the tunnel. With him leading the line, teams were beaten mentally before they had even stepped foot on the pitch.

A one man wrecking ball in the middle of the park. A man not to be messed with.

Martin Keown

When Martin Keown was on the pitch, attackers knew they were in for a hard day.

Considered to be one of the best man-markers of his day, he was a strong, physical presence in a strong, physical back 4 alongside Tony Adams, Lee Dixon and Nigel Winterburn.

Keown was suspended for three matches and had to pay a £20,000 fine for his role in Battle of Old Trafford.

The mild mannered football pundit is a far cry from the snarling, aggressive Keown that played over 400 times for The Arsenal.

Wilf Copping

During his playing days, Wilf Copping was well known for his quote that “the first man in a tackle never gets hurt.” He also earned the nickname of “Iron Man” because of how physical and intimidating he was on the pitch.

Copping also never shaved prior to matchdays, believing that he looked much more fearsome with a beard.

Despite being “one of the original hard men of football”, Copping was never booked or sent off in his career. Probably a sign of just how much the game has changed.

Peter Storey

The arrests came after Peter Storey had finished playing. But Storey the footballer was a hard individual.

Known as “The Hatchet Man”, Storey was a tough tackling full back known for aggressive early tackles on his opposing winger. His thinking was that a hard first tackle would make the winger think twice before trying to take him on again.

His 15 year Arsenal career led fans to joke that Peter Storey was “one Storey that belonged in the horror section.”

Storey just loved tackling. Hard.

Honourable mentions: Tony Adams, Lauren, Steve Bould, Jens Lehmann, Nigel Winterburn, Ray Parlour, Wille Young


Today sees the launch of Kick Off Merchants, a fan led merchandise shop.

Frustrated by the poor quality “official” merchandise clubs produce, 10 fans from 7 different clubs have got together to launch Kid Off Merchants.

With items aimed at the football fan on the Clapham omnibus, we design, manufacture and sell items that we would buy. Truly for the fans, by the fans.

Working exclusively with talented graphic designers, we will be producing art work, mugs, dog collars, phone covers and more.

Recent years have seen the majority of clubs change their badge to enable them to copywrite the image. Most of these new badges have gone down poorly with the common fan, and yet they plaster it over every piece of merchandise. So you will be pleased to know that none of goods will have a club badge on it.

The majority of designs based on classic kits including:

  • Arsenal’s bruised banana
  • Liverpool stripes
  • Manchester United’s green and yellow
  • Chelsea’s 1988
  • Everton 1995
  • Sheffield United’s’ “laver”

With a wide range of goods and designs, we have something for everyone – and more to come.



4 thoughts on “Who is Arsenal’s Hardest Hardman?

  1. Mitch Lawrence

    My father told me all about how hard Wilf Copping was, in the famous Battle of Highbury against World Cup Winners Italy when England paraded 7 Arsenal players plus Coach George Allison And Arsenal’s trainer/medic Copping was voted the Player of the match.

    Alex Forbes was another hard man who in the 1950 FA Cup Final against Liverpool he took out Liverpool’s star player Billy Liddell leaving him as a passenger(no substitutes in those days)


  2. Jimmy B

    Storey’s reputation’s built on his time as a midfielder. Johnny Giles is on record as stating Peter the hardest guy he ever played against. The praise simply can’t come any higher than that. I was watching a game as a kid in the old East Lower and an Arsenal player was on the receiving end of a nasty tackle. My uncle said watch Storey. Within minutes the opposing player was stretchered off. Every team had at least one player like that. The better ones, had a few.



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