Tag Archives: Alan Smith

JW Diaries: Meeting Smudger Part 1

She Wore had an exclusive interview with ex Arsenal legend Alan Smith in Waterstones, Leadenhall Market last Thursday; Alan was there signing copies of his excellent autobiography Heads Up which details Alan’s start in non-league football through to his heady heights with The Arsenal.

In this first part, Alan spoke of the changes currently happening at the Club:

“I don’t believe anybody expects things to change too quickly. Twenty-Two years under one man (Arsene Wenger) and his methods, it’s a lot to change, a culture becomes ingrained in the Club along with attitudes to a certain extent”

“Emery will want to try to turn that around, he will want to bring in some more of his own players and pick the team on merit rather than reputation”

“What we need to see is a different approach and an improvement to the latter years of Arsene, more determination and organisation against the bigger sides”

“Against Chelsea it was disappointing that we were conceding chances, but at least we were creating quite a lot in the first half. Now we need to put the first two matches to bed; the season starts from here, start winning matches and try to go on a run”

“This season I believe a top four finish would be a great achievement, perhaps win a cup which of course will add to a decent season, but it won’t be easy, we need to have a bit more steel and a team which won’t rollover”

Next week, what Alan had to say about “the honour” of signing for Arsenal.

JW

Advertisements

JW Diaries: 4 more games & meeting Smudger

Following 5 days without any football, last Saturday saw me going to Hale End to watch our U15’s, followed by a mad dash home, drop the car off and head over to West London.

When we play Chelsea Away, it’s one of a few grounds where I drink mostly with good friends who are not Gooners. I arrived to my usual pub around 2:15 and spent nearly 3 hours there before the 15 minute walk to the stadium.

I thought that we played well in the middle and top end of the pitch; with better finishing, we would have got something from the match. Once again the defence was suspect but I felt it was a vast improvement on the previous Sunday.

Having got back to the pub, all of my Chelsea friends thought we played well and was unlucky-praise indeed!

Having left the pub around 10 pm, I should have been home just after 11. Wrong! I fell asleep on my train from West Brompton and was awoken about 11:45 at Clapham Junction which is completely the wrong direction and must have meant I went up and down the line! With the help of all night tubes and buses, I eventually got in just before 2am.

On Monday, I went to the Emirates to watch my first reserve match of the season where our U23s drew 1-1 against Brighton, both goals were in the last 5 minutes of the match, we went 1 up on 90 minutes with the visitors equalising deep into stoppage time, I thought it was a fair result.

Thursday saw a visit to Waterstones in Leadenhall Market, where I was able to spend 10 minutes exclusively speaking to ex Arsenal legend Alan Smith who was there signing his new book ‘Heads Up’.

Alan spoke to me about his thrill of signing for Arsenal, as well as his experiences of both Anfield ‘89 and Copenhagen ‘94, which incidentally are my top 2 matches that I have witnessed live!

‘Smudger’ also gave me his thoughts on the new set up; I will start to write these up and a series of blogs will be posted starting next week.

Today will see me watching the U23s for a second time in 4 days with a trip to the London Stadium, the home of West Ham, where last season we managed to win the U23 league there!

Who knows what tomorrow will bring, but the team need our support, make sure you sing & shout, loud & proud!

JW

Book Review: Heads Up: My Life Story – Alan Smith

OK, here we go: that passage of play embedded in Arsenal folklore. The most famous moment in English club football history? Well, I think so. Tell me of another that tops this goal for spine-tingling drama. People talk about Sergio Agüero’s last-gasp effort for Manchester City, the goal that won the title in 2012. Of course, it was sensational, the Premier League’s standout moment, but that came against QPR, fighting relegation, not the champions of England in a straight shoot-out when everyone else had packed up and gone home. Because of those unique circumstances, there really is no contest. Agüero’s winner doesn’t even come close.

Lukey says he was shattered, lacking the strength to punt the ball upfield, so threw it out to Dicko, who didn’t want it either. But with the ball at his feet, Lee couldn’t understand why I showed for his pass, rather than spinning for a big hoof. But show I did, out of habit more than anything, knowing Lee would try and hit me, as he always did. And what a pass it was, fizzed in at pace. As it flew my way, I knew I simply had to take a chance by trying to turn first-time, otherwise run the risk of getting crowded out in a congested midfield. Luckily, this was one of those nights when everything came off, my ball control as good as it had ever been. As one Liverpool player flatteringly put it later, ‘If they’d have fired a cannonball at Smith that night he would have brought it down first time.’ Well, this wasn’t a cannonball but it was a tricky pass all right. Thankfully, my first touch worked out perfectly, allowing me to swivel in one movement thirty-five yards out. A flash of yellow reared up in my peripheral vision. All I could do was try and find this shirt that, as it turned out, belonged to Mickey, making a run, going for broke. An instinctive poke fell into his path as Steve Nicol rushed across to cut it out. But a fortunate break of the ball saw it rebound right where he wanted.

‘It was actually a crap touch by me,’ Mickey told me years later. ‘I knew Steve Nicol was the last man so I tried to dink it over his head and run round the other side. But I didn’t get it right and the ball hit him.’

I know it sounds corny but everything, at this point, seemed to go into slow motion. I jogged helplessly behind, praying for Mickey to shoot, as Ray Houghton sprinted up from behind, unbearably close to making a tackle. I could see the whole picture and it didn’t look pretty. Our last chance of glory was about to be smothered. We all knew what Mickey was like. As stubborn as they came. Never did anything in a hurry if it didn’t suit and that trait to his character looked like costing us dearly.


Alan Smith is the unsung hero from that night at Anfield.

Whilst everyone remembers the winning goal, Thomas charging through the midfield leading to one of the most famous goals, commentaries and moments in sporting history, none of it would have been possible without Alan Smith heading in a 52nd minute goal to take Arsenal 1-0 up.

Having joined Arsenal in 1987 from Leicester City, Smith scored 115 goals in 347, winning the Golden boot in Arsenal’s title winning seasons of 1989 and 1991.

Smith’s greatest moment in his Arsenal career came when he struck the sole goal in Arsenal’s 1994 European Cup Winners’ Cup Final victory against Parma.

Legend is thrown around too quickly in the modern era.

Anfield ’89. Copenhagen ’94. Two of Arsenal’s greatest triumphs in the modern era. Both matches defined by the goal-scoring prowess of one man – Alan ‘Smudger’ Smith.

He is an Arsenal legend.

The memoir of former Leicester, Arsenal and England footballer, Alan Smith is available to buy now.

Heads Up: My Life’s Story bey Alan Smith from Amazon.

Keenos