Tag Archives: Lee Dixon

89 The Film – An interview with the stars

We were given an opportunity to interview Lee Dixon, Amy Lawrence, Alan Smith and David O’Leary before the world premiere of 89, the film documenting Arsenal’s victory over Liverpool at Anfield in 1989.

Andy, from our friends over at The Arsenal History went along, this is his blog.

If you’re an Arsenal fan you’ve probably seen plenty of publicity around the new film “89” that recounts the story of THAT night at Anfield 28 years ago. Today I was lucky enough to be involved in a roundtable Q&A session with some of the stars of the film, along with a number of other renowned Arsenal bloggers.

The session took place at the Renaissance Hotel in St Pancras. If you’re a Harry Potter fan you will recognise it as the hotel from which Harry & Ron drove their flying car from when they missed the Hogwarts Express. It’s a fantastic building, and I expect the rooms are a little out of my budget.

With everyone having arrived on time we were kept waiting for a while, looking expectantly at every movement further along the corridor. Then Michael Thomas just strolled by. We all looked on incredulously as he gave us a smile, leaving us wondering if it was really him.

We were split into two groups, and each group was ushered into a room – Lee Dixon and Amy Lawrence were already waiting for us. I don’t think any of us knew exactly what we were supposed to be doing but having been told we only had 15 minutes we quickly set about asking questions.

I asked Lee when, following a fairly inconsistent start to the season, the team started to believe that they had a chance of winning the league. Lee said that it wasn’t until around Christmas when they were top that they thought “we’re a long way into the season and still up there so we must be doing something right.” That was a culmination of what they had been practising on the training pitch over a number months starting to come to fruition. By then they had become somewhat fearless; this mixture of one group of talented young kids from London and another of “lower league reprobates” who were keen and hungry, and happy to be disciplined by George Graham because it meant that they were winning.

And as a follow up: did they think that they had cocked it up towards the end of the season as we faltered and Liverpool finished like a steam train? “Most days” was the answer. As they got closer to the prize, fear kicked in. The Derby defeat was big but not too bad as we had Wimbledon at home. However, that draw made them think, “uh-oh” especially as that was pretty much the reaction they felt from the crowd as well. It was at this point that they thought they had messed it up because it was inevitable that Liverpool would beat West Ham leaving them with an almost impossible task.

This led into Amy talking about her experience of going to the game. There was a degree of “maybe we can” amongst the travelling Gooners as they boarded the coaches to Anfield, being cheered off by local schoolchildren and people who may not have been to a game in years, if ever. It seemed strange that they were being wished “good luck” as if the fans were actually going to take part in the game itself.

With our 15 minutes up, Lee and Amy departed, and we were then joined by Alan Smith and David O’Leary. After a couple of questions about big names that had left, the number of centre backs that George Graham bought – possibly in an attempt to replace O’Leary – and the change in tactics towards the end of the season, I asked them if the Hillsborough tragedy had affected them in any way, either personally or professionally.

Smith said that, obviously, the events on the day had upset them and he felt for Kenny Dalglish and his team who attended funeral after funeral in the ensuing weeks. There was also a break of more than two weeks before the next game against Norwich which affected them mentally and physically as they were only ticking over in training. Those two weeks also proved beneficial to Smith as it gave him time to recover from a fractured cheekbone which had been sustained in the game against Manchester United.

As our time came to a close I asked O’Leary if it was worth the wait (it was his 14th season at Arsenal). I’m not sure anyone could ask a more rhetorical question, of course it was worth the wait but he thought that they had blown it after the Derby and Wimbledon games. The final whistle at Anfield was the greatest he had ever heard in his life. I have to say that one of my own recollections of that night was of how chuffed I felt for him as he had stayed loyal to the club despite being courted by the likes of Manchester United.

And then it was all over. I would like to express my thanks to Lee, Amy, Alan and David for a fantastic time and being so candid with their answers, and to She Wore for letting me represent them. An afternoon that I will remember for the rest of my life.

89 will be released on November 20th 2017. Pre-order today.

The Arsenal History



The abuse of Arsenal legends

Over recent weeks, we have heard a lot coming from ex-players of the clubs. These ex-players are not just your average players trying to make a name for themselves (Robson) or bitter ex-players with an agenda, but bonafide legends.

Most recently, it has been Martin Keown, Lee Dixon and Tony Adams. Whether it is by tweet, by newspaper column or by interview. They have all had their say this week.

Firstly Keown had this to say on Twitter about pictures in the dressing room:

Next up was Tony Adams, who in written media for Inside Futbol discussed the reason why Arsenal have not yet won the league:

“He has got a great offensive unit, but I think he is neglecting the defensive side and I think that’s where the problem lies. If they strengthen that area I think they could go and win the league, but I think that’s the error of the team.”

And finally, we have Lee Dixon, who tweeted his opinion on the Jamie Vardy dive:

All 3 had their view on topical subjects regarding Arsenal. And all 3 created a huge debate with their comments.

Now before I go into things too much, I understand how the media works. There is often a difference between what someone says and what the media then report them to say. Things are changed to get hits. Headline’s added for controversy.

Tony Adams is a perfect example. Read the full quotes in the Express. Then look at the headline:


At no point has Adams slammed Wenger or blames him for no trophies. He just offers a view that Wenger favours attack over defence. And that many sides, not just Arsenal neglect the defensive side of the game.

Clearly the headline writer got a bit creative.

Twitter is a different story, as is radio interviews. It is the players actually view. No twist, no media spin, just their honest view (in most cases – some do tweet for attention).

What shocked me was the amount of arguments all 3 created.

Debate is good. Debate is healthy. But arguments are not. And it led to some fans throwing abuse at 3 Arsenal greats.

But you get the other side as well, who act as if everything an Arsenal legend has to say is golden. That it is fact.

Neither of these sides are correct.

A legend of the club should not be abused. Often they gave decades of service, albeit well paid, to entertaining the fans. Many of them have won everything there is to be won. Have some respect.

On the flip side, just because they played 500+ games and have medals in their pocket, does not mean their opinion is correct, or valid.

Having previously played the game does not mean your view is gospel. That it is more important than a fans. You only have to watch MOTD for that. Or listen to Thierry Henry speak.

Thierry Henry is a perfect example in fact. An Arsenal legend, but an awful pundit.

We should not support his punditry, or his view, just because he used to play for us. But likewise, the fact he is a legend means he should not get the abuse that we often give to eachother.

Should club legends talk about the club? YES. Does them being a legend add weight to what they say? YES. Are we allowed to disagree with said club legend? YES. Should the club legend be disgracefully attacked for their view? NO.

Have some respect, even if you disagree.



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…


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