Tag Archives: Kevin Campbell

The Arsenal and Me – Hascim’s Story

I almost became a Chav. I actually thought that Zola was the best player ever to play the beautiful game. I knew about Chelsea players more than the likes of Wright, Lee Dixon, Kevin Campbell, Merson, Bould, Alan Smith, George Graham etc. for the sole reason I grew up surrounded by Chelsea fans and watched some of their matches and only the odd Arsenal game.

It was difficult to watch any Arsenal matches back then. We didn’t have that coverage to such matches easily. You know the technological problems of a 3rd world country like Kenya in the 90s and I was just 5 yrs old then! I had never heard of a mobile phone back then let alone the internet or cable television, imagine! Most of the information about the EPL came from reading the daily newspapers which will be a day or two late!

I only read about The Arsenal signing the likes of Bergkamp, AW, Petit etc. in the papers. I also read about the 1998 double in the papers though I had watched just two matches that campaign one against Southampton I remember! At least I was ten back then and running away from extra tuition and Madrassa classes to just go watch football would earn one a thorough beating.

Good thing though that was a world cup year and everyone watched the world cup. I came to know more about Bergkamp, Petit and Vieira from just watching the world cup matches. We later signed Henry and Davor Suker; Croatia and France top scorers in that tournament. Sadly, I didn’t get to watch them play for The Arsenal as I had now moved to the upper classes and needed to concentrate a lot more on my studies. Thanks goodness I only read about the 6-1 loss to Utd in the papers!

In Feb 2002, I joined a national school in Nairobi, the capital city of Kenya for my secondary school education. It was there that I met Ian Kipchirchir, a devoted Gooner and my transformation to a fully pledged Arsenal fan was complete. He sneaked a small portable radio to school and we would listen to the 5 o’clock BBC live commentary every Saturday and the midnight sports news in midweek just to know how The Arsenal had fared. It was risky as it would lead to 2 weeks suspension if we were caught but who cared!

I could now watch more games when I was on holiday or not in school. It was now easy to catch the matches at the local joint as many people now had cable television coverage. I became completely engrossed in football and The Arsenal. I didn’t want to miss a single match. I would stay late into the night or walk long distances just to find a place to watch The Arsenal play. What a team we had then.

The years 1996-2005 were great years. The squad was complete. It was composed of players with great technical ability and just sheer physical strength. It was a great blend of players who complemented one another very well. It didn’t matter whether we lost key players because they were adequately replaced. The desire and passion to win was just vivid and add to it the panache in the overall team play. Winning was the only thing.

The years that followed that very successful period were very difficult as the club underwent many changes. The summer of 2005 saw an overhaul of the squad. The old guard was replaced by unproven precocious players and saw the shift from big, tall players to small, technical players. This came just after the greatest achievement for the club and English football; going the whole season unbeaten and just before moving to the new stadium. I really thought we would dominate English football for years to come after such an achievement. I was wrong…

The approach the club took their after was not the best at least in my opinion. Trophies were replaced by the ‘top four trophy’, returning injured players became LANS which was the biggest flaw in AW’s management in that same period, average players became overpaid, signing quality players became a taboo, the young players would be killed if better and proven players were signed, the cups lost their importance, more players became susceptible to injuries and would be sidelined for longer periods leaving the squad even thinner, change of formation and we started selling our star players without adequate replacements or completely fail to replace them.

In a nutshell the winning mentality was gone. Excuses for poor performances became the order of the day. Most players were average and/or not suitable to play the Wengerball. Players started being played out of position. Same tactics were used regardless of opposition and most players were almost similar to one another with absolutely no squad depth. For eight consecutive seasons our capitulation was just as similar as the season past yet nothing was done about it. Mistakes were never learnt and have never been even this 2013/14 season.

We always dither in the transfer market. Indecision and penny-pinching takes the better of our manager in the transfer window and still refuses to address the glaring problems of the team. 9 seasons since we last won a trophy the squad still has one 2/3 players short more notably a super striker and a proper winger. OG is a good player but we will never win the league with him as our main striker even if he were to stay fit the whole season. By our own standards he is not the best out there. Can we do better? Absolutely…

This season we can win the league but let us not deceive ourselves that this already thin squad can sustain a title challenge. Let 2007/08 be a great lesson. We must sign another striker and he should be better than what we have. Hope we win something this season. The whole team and the fans deserve it.

That said it is easy to brush aside the overseas fan base just because we’ve never stood on the terraces of the North Bank at Highbury nor been to the Grove but we share the same passion. We win we bask in the same glory; we lose we share the same pain and angst. I am Arsenal and always will be…

Hascim

If you would like to tell your Arsenal story, click here

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The Arsenal and Me – Hashim’s Story

I almost became a Chav. I actually thought that Zola was the best player ever to play the beautiful game. I knew about Chelsea players more than the likes of Wright, Lee Dixon, Kevin Campbell, Merson, Bould, Alan Smith, George Graham etc. for the sole reason I grew up surrounded by Chelsea fans and watched some of their matches and only the odd Arsenal game.

It was difficult to watch any Arsenal matches back then. We didn’t have that coverage to such matches easily. You know the technological problems of a 3rd world country like Kenya in the 90s and I was just 5 yrs old then! I had never heard of a mobile phone back then let alone the internet or cable television, imagine! Most of the information about the EPL came from reading the daily newspapers which will be a day or two late!

I only read about The Arsenal signing the likes of Bergkamp, AW, Petit etc. in the papers. I also read about the 1998 double in the papers though I had watched just two matches that campaign one against Southampton I remember! At least I was ten back then and running away from extra tuition and Madrassa classes to just go watch football would earn one a thorough beating.

Good thing though that was a world cup year and everyone watched the world cup. I came to know more about Bergkamp, Petit and Vieira from just watching the world cup matches. We later signed Henry and Davor Suker; Croatia and France top scorers in that tournament. Sadly, I didn’t get to watch them play for The Arsenal as I had now moved to the upper classes and needed to concentrate a lot more on my studies. Thanks goodness I only read about the 6-1 loss to Utd in the papers!

In Feb 2002, I joined a national school in Nairobi, the capital city of Kenya for my secondary school education. It was there that I met Ian Kipchirchir, a devoted Gooner and my transformation to a fully pledged Arsenal fan was complete. He sneaked a small portable radio to school and we would listen to the 5 o’clock BBC live commentary every Saturday and the midnight sports news in midweek just to know how The Arsenal had fared. It was risky as it would lead to 2 weeks suspension if we were caught but who cared!

I could now watch more games when I was on holiday or not in school. It was now easy to catch the matches at the local joint as many people now had cable television coverage. I became completely engrossed in football and The Arsenal. I didn’t want to miss a single match. I would stay late into the night or walk long distances just to find a place to watch The Arsenal play. What a team we had then.

The years 1996-2005 were great years. The squad was complete. It was composed of players with great technical ability and just sheer physical strength. It was a great blend of players who complemented one another very well. It didn’t matter whether we lost key players because they were adequately replaced. The desire and passion to win was just vivid and add to it the panache in the overall team play. Winning was the only thing.

The years that followed that very successful period were very difficult as the club underwent many changes. The summer of 2005 saw an overhaul of the squad. The old guard was replaced by unproven precocious players and saw the shift from big, tall players to small, technical players. This came just after the greatest achievement for the club and English football; going the whole season unbeaten and just before moving to the new stadium. I really thought we would dominate English football for years to come after such an achievement. I was wrong…

The approach the club took their after was not the best at least in my opinion. Trophies were replaced by the ‘top four trophy’, returning injured players became LANS which was the biggest flaw in AW’s management in that same period, average players became overpaid, signing quality players became a taboo, the young players would be killed if better and proven players were signed, the cups lost their importance, more players became susceptible to injuries and would be sidelined for longer periods leaving the squad even thinner, change of formation and we started selling our star players without adequate replacements or completely fail to replace them.

In a nutshell the winning mentality was gone. Excuses for poor performances became the order of the day. Most players were average and/or not suitable to play the Wengerball. Players started being played out of position. Same tactics were used regardless of opposition and most players were almost similar to one another with absolutely no squad depth. For eight consecutive seasons our capitulation was just as similar as the season past yet nothing was done about it. Mistakes were never learnt and have never been even this 2013/14 season.

We always dither in the transfer market. Indecision and penny-pinching takes the better of our manager in the transfer window and still refuses to address the glaring problems of the team. 9 seasons since we last won a trophy the squad still has one 2/3 players short more notably a super striker and a proper winger. OG is a good player but we will never win the league with him as our main striker even if he were to stay fit the whole season. By our own standards he is not the best out there. Can we do better? Absolutely…

This season we can win the league but let us not deceive ourselves that this already thin squad can sustain a title challenge. Let 2007/08 be a great lesson. We must sign another striker and he should be better than what we have. Hope we win something this season. The whole team and the fans deserve it.

That said it is easy to brush aside the overseas fan base just because we’ve never stood on the terraces of the North Bank at Highbury nor been to the Grove but we share the same passion. We win we bask in the same glory; we lose we share the same pain and angst. I am Arsenal and always will be…

Hashim

If you would like to tell your Arsenal story, click here

Highbury Classics Vol 2 – The Arsenal Vs Southampton May 1992

ARSENAL v SOUTHAMPTON – MAY 1992

Great game to end an era

It’s not often that you walk away from a 5-1 victory with a feeling of sadness to go with the joy. But for thousands of Arsenal fans a sense of loss dominated a wonderful final game of the 1991-92 season. It was the last ever game of the beloved North Bank terrace which had been a place to stand and watch football for decades. The Taylor Report was soon to dictate law and top flight clubs would have to replace the standing areas with seats. After the game, a few thousand fans stayed behind for a couple of hours to remain in the old terrace for a little bit longer. Fight Sing where ever you may be – we are the North Bank Highbury was the chant heard two hours after the game, as the last fans left the stadium after a solemn sit in.

As for the match itself, there were two main focuses of attention. Firstly a win was necessary so that the old North Bank could go out in style. Secondly, there was a chance that Ian Wright could end up the league’s top goal scorer. At the start of the day he was one goal behind Tottenham’s Gary Lineker and Spurs were playing away at Old Trafford. If Lineker were to get just one goal, then Wright would need a repeat of the hat trick that he’d at scored against the Saints earlier in the season.

At Highbury in May 1992 the first half of Arsenal-Southampton was quiet and goalless, with the main highlight being a disallowed goal from Wright which looked like a harsh decision. The second half however, was symbolic of the final third of the season. Up to February, Arsenal had been inconsistent and had put up a weak defence of the title. Then everything came together with a 7-1 thrashing of a strong Sheffield Wednesday side; six of the goals coming in the space of just 20 minutes. From that point onwards Arsenal would remain unbeaten and put in a late challenge to finish third and gain a European spot. It may have been too late to get back in the title picture but Arsenal’s rampage on the final three months of the season was thrilling. In contradiction to reputation, George Graham’s team were capable of playing free flowing entertaining football, with Limpar, Merson, Wright, Rocastle, Campbell and Smith providing a formidable attacking force. If there was a fault with the 1991-92 team then it was the leaky defence. Overall they conceded 46 league goals, whereas the season before only 18 goals went past one of the meanest defences in English football history.

The walloping of Southampton began when Kevin Campbell scored from a header for his 14th goal of the season. A few minutes later and was back to square one – Glenn Cockerel scored from a Le Tissier cross to put the Saints level. Arsenal reacted quickly and Paul Merson made a run into the box and was brought down to earn a penalty. Lee Dixon would normally have taken the kick, but Wright was after the Golden boot and allowed to step up and score his 27th league goal of the season. Just like Kevin Campbell had done with the opener, Alan Smith also scored a header from a corner to for his 17th goal of the season. 3-1. Smith and Campbell had combined brilliantly as a striking partnership the previous year to help Arsenal win the league title for a tenth time. In 1990-91, Smith would earn the second golden boot of his career, but on this afternoon with the clock ticking down, it looked unlikely that his team mate Wright would achieve the same honour. With 90 minutes gone, Wrighty was still one goal behind Lineker who had managed to score for Spurs at Old

Trafford. Wright’s chances of becoming top goal league scorer in his debut Arsenal season depended on two goals in injury time. It was a farfetched dream, but for the last ever game of the North Bank terrace a miracle happened. David Seaman leaped to catch an incoming cross and fed the ball to the deadly striker. From deep in his own half Wrighty ran on goal, beat a couple of defenders and smashed the ball into the bottom corner of the Saints goal. Seaman said afterwards that he normally would have just let the ball go out for a goal kick, but in the last split second he decided to catch it and keep the ball in play. Wright was level with Lineker, but the icing on the cake hadn’t been spread just yet. A minute later, Alan Smith and Kevin Campbell made a surge into the penalty box. The ball found its way to Wright who scuffed it with his shin to make it 5-1. Of all Wright’s 29 league goals that season, it was by far the luckiest and the worst – but also the most satisfying. The North Bank went truly ballistic. Campbell lifted Wright on his shoulders in a joyous celebration that was as messy as the goal. Not only did Ian Wright win the golden boot, but Arsenal would also be the league’s top scorers. Incredibly, despite being the most lethal and exciting striker in the country, Ian Wright was not picked by Graham Taylor for the England squad that went to Euro 92. In three lacklustre games in Euro 92 England would score just the one goal which was in contrast to the Arsenal attacking force of the 1991-92 campaign. It may not have been a trophy winning season, and in the end we didn’t even achieve a European spot. But the North Bank terrace was more important than any piece of silver wear – and the attacking performances and great goals in the final games of the season were a wonderful send off. Arsenal-Southampton was a perfect conclusion to a beloved era of history. The old North Bank had seen some great moments over the decades and this Highbury classic was up there with some of the best.

Matthew Bazell

Matthew Bazell is the author of Theatre of Silence: The Lost Soul of Football

TOS

Old North Bank