Arsenal have recently been running a poll about what 1970’s legend’s name should be engraved on a bench that will go outside the stadium.
This led to a reopening of a debate as to who should be next when it comes to statues outside the ground.
As you are probably aware, currently there are 4 statues around the ground. Herbert Chapman, Tony Adams, Dennis Bergkamp and Thierry Henry. Following the bench naming, there has been a lot of talk about who should be next. GC had his opinion:
This led to an afternoon long debate in a WhatsApp group as to who should be next. GC was adamant that it should be Rocky and Wrighty. A few disagreed, a few put forward other suggestions.
Now with being too disrespectful, I questions why Rocky should have a statue. Why not Paul Merson or Ray Parlour? Two players who were at Arsenal longer, won and contributed more.
Why not Robert Pires? He might not have been home grown but he actually ended up playing more games than Rocky.
GC was adamant, Rocky should be next. And this where the issue now arises.
Everyone has their own legends. Icons. Greats.
Now if you look into it, the majority of these will be from their adolescence. When they were a late teen or early 20s. When they were growing up and have an idol, a role model, was a thing. When they were going week in, week out, before they had other priorities like families.
Ask someone what music they love, I bet they usually say it was the music of their youth. That current bands were not the same. They were inferior. Nothing will beat The Who, Weller, Oasis or Arctic Monkeys, depending on what era you are from.
Football is the same.
And this is where the problem is when it comes to statues.
GC will ask for Rocky, as he is the icon of that generation. Someone older will be asking for Liam Brady, Charlie George or Frank McLintock. An even older generation (possibly no longer with us) would ask for Clif Bastin or Alex James. Someone my generation already has their hero, Tony Adams.
Ask a 14 year old in 8 years time who they want and they might say Alexis Sanchez.
We all have different ideas on who should be the next statue.
What is the criteria? Is it objective? Is it subjective? Is a player who played for us 7 years deserving of a statue? How about David O’Leary? Our record appearance holder?
If someone breaks Thierry Henry’s goal scoring record, do they automatically get one? It really is a minefield.
Herbert Chapman is perhaps the most important man in Arsenal’s history. He deserves his. Adams as our greatest ever player and most successful captain, he is Mr Arsenal and fully deserving. Likewise Henry, our top scorer, and perhaps the best player most of us have ever seen.
We then get to Dennis Bergkamp. What is the reasoning behind him having a statue? Yes, he was a great player, a modern day great, but was he any more deserving then Bastin, James, Brady or Rocky? I honestly do not know.
Outside of statues, Geordie Armstrong has a pitch at Arsenal’s London Colney training ground named in his memory. Should he be in the hat for a statue? What about Kenny Sansom?
Then we come to Rocky himself.
The Hale end Academy in Walthamstow has already named after Rocastle. The David Rocastle indoor centre was opened up in August 2006. So Rocky already has an honour within Arsenal, and taking into account he was an academy graduate, it is a very touching one.
Now this is not to say Rocky, Armstrong, Brady, Bastin or anyone else is not deserving on an honour, or are more deserving than others in the list. It is simply a show of how problematic it can be if you open up a discussion on who should be next to get a statue.
And if you leave it in the hands of fans to decide, it will be even worse. We all remember the Gunners Greatest Players list. It was horrendous. Marc Overmars above Rocky, Sylvian Wiltord above Geordie Armstrong, Anelka above Ted Drake (another who is in the statue hat) and Kanu above Alan Smith.
We can not be trusted to make a decision.
I am of the simple opinion that no one should be next. That the more statues you have, the less value each one has. That if you accept what everyone wants, you will end up with 100 statues all around the ground.
There is one statue that does need to go up, however. Or when I say a statue, I mean a bust. George Graham deserves his place next to Herbert Chapman and Arsene Wenger.