Tag Archives: Liam Brady

The Arsenal and Me – Mo’s Story (Part II)

1980 and 1981 has  many similarities with similar to 2011  and 2012.

The great Liam Brady departed , the team coming in to a new season following two cup final defeats in five days. The team and fans were on the floor, like 2011/12 when Cesc and Nasri went and the shambles of the start of that season.

My memory of 80/81 was the team had taken a step back. We still had the bullet forehead of frank Stapleton up front. We sang Rixy was better than Hoddle (even if we didn’t quite believe it!). The crowds dropped and the games were dull! But we had great times off the pitch…

There was so much going on to deflect from the poor show on the pitch. The young teens of 1978 were growing up! Going to games was about dressing up. Our meetings with the Scousers of 1980 spawned copycat wedge haircuts, Adidas track tops, kickers. Winter of that year was a sea of ski jumpers in then clock end.

Musically, we had a new wave band to follow, the 4 be 2’s , our own Arsenal band at a time when West Ham had the Cockney Rejects!

The 4 be 2’s stable created an Arsenal record ‘Crack Away on the Beano’ and a Celtic London Irish spin off (Pope Paul and the Romans) brought out a song ‘Why won’t Rangers sign a Catholic!’. It was rumoured that the lads behind the above went down the lane and sold the records to gullible fans in a Tottenham cover sleeve!

Richard Jobson of the Skids as well as the Lydons were seen in the Clock Cnd! The soul and dance music side of our fans was also in evidence. The Clock End was a great place to be. It wasn’t so for away fans. For some reason,they were placed in the middle of the clock end fenced on both sides, but how were they to get there?

Through the home fans!! Unless away fans came in great numbers, eg Leeds in spring 81, they had a torrid time! Whilst, Arsenal is proudly a broad church in the best traditions of a rebellious movement, the first item on the agenda was the split!

The growing identity of the Clock End ,gradually to be dubbed by hooligan opponents as the Gooners saw them to grow apart from the greater mass of fans in the North Bank. At the Christmas North London Derby, the /Clock End decided to stay put and not help the North Bank with the annual Tottenham incursion.

It was a bit of  a cut of nose to spite thy face gesture, which wasn’t repeated. We had  a great run  towards the end of 81 season, I went to Brighton, Norwich, Ipswich, and Wolves towards the
end of that season. We were unbeaten again like the run ins of the last two years! We had a big away following.

We beat Aston Villa at home on  a mad day to end the season. They still won the league that day, Pele, the real, not the Romford one, did a lap of honour on the pitch pre game and there was a mass pitch invasion by our fans at the end of the game. Villa came on as well, but the police horses get the fans apart!

1981/82 and like the Van Persie sale to Man U, we sold our main striker Stapleton to them! We couldn’t score  a goal that year! Well, we had Raphael Meade and even tried out Chris Whyte up front!

We were poor, Boring ARSENAL was in! Off the field, the casual dress scene exploded!! The Gooners dressed like middle aged golf club members, diamond pringles, farrah slacks, polonecks, deer stalker hats. Others dressed like Wimbledon wannabies, fila bord, Tacchini, etc.

My best mate wore the legendary La Coste “ANDY PANDY”  rain jacket through the winter!! The trouble  at matches was getting nastier. We had paranoia about the newly promoted West Ham. For the away game in December 1981, as much for perceived self protection then anything else, a huge gathering met up at the Arsenal Tavern to go to East London. Many of whom lived out there,so had to go East to West and back again!!

There was the usual group paranoid about the police presence at the Arsenal Tavern. How did they know were here?eehh.. All they needed to do was look out the window of Highbury Vale police station!

The West Ham home game for those who were there was a day when the violence got out of hand, but a day when Arsenal would no longer roll over in the North Bank. Any sense of group pride that night was replaced by shock when the news came in that John Dickinson RIP was stabbed to death at Arsenal station after the game. The trouble that increasingly followed football at that time became something that was less abstract and much more serious!!

1982/83 was another lean season.We signed Woodcock which kind of worked and Lee Chapman who was like Bambi on stilts!! There was little patience with Lee and he got the Eboue treatment! We got to two semis, beaten in both by  a much stronger physically Man U side. It was the year of the departure from the norm, the Green away kit!

I remember going to Leeds for an FA cup replay,where a young West Indian kid on the terraces sang all through the game. I still remember “Green is the new colour for me, green is the turf at Wembley and that is where the Arsenal will be in the FA cup in 83!”.

Even the casuals starrted wearing green hats to away games! We also got beat 5-0 at the lane!!
After that  dour season,the club needed a lift, An Ozil type lift you might say!

Well the club did make the marquis signing in the summer, the best young talent in Scotland! He looked like Bono,could he play like Bono sang?

We had  a new king,Charlie Nicholas!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Mo
Part I here

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The Arsenal and Me – Stephen’s Story

I came from a family with no interest in football. I was at primary school it was 1971 and cup final time. Everyone was supporting one of the teams and I choose Arsenal for no reason that I can remember. I do remember the final. The only televised game of the year. Crying when we went behind and then Charlie George. How many people became hooked after that lying on their back re-enact ing the goal. That moment shaped my football life. The period after that has been better and more eloquently discussed than I ever could by Nick Hornby in Fever Pitch. Odd Cup finals few highlights and not much success was my childhood. There was of course Liam Brady. The highlight of a mediocre side, a joy every time you saw him play and probably still my favourite all time player. A left foot that could do anything. Only Thierry of Arsenal players since have created that same buzz of excitement in the crowd every time he touched the ball expectantly waiting for him to deliver.

liam

After years of mediocrity came George Graham. My first Wembley final was Charlie Nicholas Littlewoods Cup 1987. What a day that was. It showed we were on the up and finally heading for titles and proper success. In my mind it was the moment we overtook Liverpool and that has continued to this day. Obviously the later frustrations of losing to Luton (terrible day that was) although we laughed about how hopeless Gus Cesar was even on the day.

We all then have great memories of Anfield 1989 and then later Wenger’s early years. Finally league titles.The move to The Emirates has been a joy and a frustration but like Charlie Nicholas Littlewoods Cup perhaps the time has finally come when we will challenge again. Shame that the Birmingham final happened when we were overdue a trophy unlike Luton when it happened after a success.

The greatest thing that Arsenal has given me apart from the stress and the upset is the memories. My first Arsenal game with George Armstrong running up and down the wing in front of me. Getting the train to Highbury aged 15. Standing at Middlesbrough as Martin Hayes scored the winner running terrified back to the car as we thought that we would be murdered, my nephews first game with Ian Wright scoring, standing in the rain at Charlton and my then girlfriend and now wife looking at me saying she loved me and was never coming again, a College night watching Charlie Nicholas (again)scoring at Villa Park in an evening match. There were the joys of Denis and Thierry and despite my move to the North East I have managed plenty of memories. The Invincibles, our last Cup Final with my 3 year old twins lifting pretend Cups and Thierry’s final Arsenal goal at The Stadium of Light. Now we get to see Ozil and Jack Wilshire who I really hope will get fit get better and become a legend. No reason why not.

My first real boss was an Arsenal fan. Came up at the interview and probably helped me get the job. Also made my boss a friend as we often talked football.

My best mate is a United fan and got me a ticket with him for the Old Trafford 8-2 humiliation. After our heaviest post war defeat I managed to run into the back of a United fans car on the way out of the car park. Typical United fan was on his way back to South London. Cost me £1800 in total to watch that. and pay for car repairs. It’s almost funny now and a memory to let my children laugh at me for.

The thing I like most is that if we have a triumph or disaster people think of me. I often get calls after/before big games and when we sit at the top of the league I know that friends and family around the country with only a passing interest in football pass a thought my way. When I die I expect and know that my children will do the same after an Arsenal win and raise a glass my way celebrating. Raise a memory to me.

I have got no less obsessive as I have got older even though I forget about losses more quickly now. I remain impossibly pessimistic.Twitter lets me watch other fans thoughts and laugh at those forever in our shadow and minding the gap more than is probably healthy. But the die has been cast for far too long now. Arsenal and me are stuck together. No doubt about it Charlie George changed my life.

Stephen

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Paul Davis set to become Arsenal’s new Director of the Arsenal Youth Academy

With Liam Brady set to step down as current Director of the Arsenal Youth Academy, the club are currently looking at numerous names to step into the boots of the Arsenal legend.

Brady has been in charge of the Arsenal Youth Academy since 1996. After a review by The FA last year which saw them warn Arsenal that they were at risk of losing Academy status, and with it the prestige and funding that go’s with the status, changes had to be made. One of the area’s where The FA were reportedly heavily critical was in the management and leadership of the academy, with Brady taking the brunt of that blame. A decision was then made that the Academy needed new leadership, a new direction and that Brady would leave Arsenal when his contract expires in May 2014.

This move was enough to satisfy The FA to allow Arsenal to keep their academy status, with another review set after May 2014 to see how the new Director has changed things. Arsenal being the classy club they are have allowed Brady to leave on his own terms, with Brady announcing himself that he will leave the roll, rather than it appearing he is being pushed aside by the club. It is likely that Brady will be offered another role with the club, potentially on the media side, or a match day ambassadorial role.

This leaves Arsenal with a big hole to fill, one which they have to start filling now to ensure they not only secure the future of Arsenal’s academy, but ensure that future Jack Wilshere’s come through at a more consistent rate.

A few early names have already been mooted as his replacement.

Dennis Bergkamp is seemingly the fans favourite, but this is unlikely. Whilst fans will do anything to see the Dutchman back at the club, it is unlikely that the role of Director of the Arsenal Youth Academy will suit him. After working as assistant manager to Frank De Boer at Ajax, a move to oversee the academy would be a step down. He see’s himself as a manager, however his fear of flying means it is more likely that he will have a career as a very good assistant manager. He will join Arsenal in the future, but will be with the 1st team set up, not with the academy.

There are a few names from within the club currently who could be promoted within.

Liam Brady’s right hand man is David Court. He has also been with the academy since 1996 and is the most natural successor to Brady within the club. However, after stinging criticism from The FA, the question mark above him is would he just be Brady Mark II, and not actually move the academy forward as required? A brilliant servant to the club, he is more likely to remain as the new academy director’s number 2, ensuring that despite the big change at the top, there is some continuity underneath.

First team coach Neil Banfield has previously managed various youth teams at Arsenal winning two FA Youth Cups, an FA Premier Academy League U17 title in 1999-00 and an Academy League U19 title in 2003–04. Whilst he certainly has the track record for the role, he provides an important link between the youth sides and the 1st team, often being the 1st team coach who puts the arm around the youngsters and ensures that they feel comfortable when joining the first team. His role as that link is perhaps too important to see him become Director of the Arsenal Youth Academy.

Terry Burton, who replaced Neil Banfield as Reserves & Head Development coach in 2012 is another name in the frame. With a long association with Arsenal – having been captain of the Youth Cup winning side back in 1971 – he certainly has the credentials for the job. Whilst he never made it as a professional football, this enabled him to go into coaching early, seeing him return to Arsenal in 1979 as youth team coach. He was in charge of the set up as reserve team coach the last time Arsenal had a top academy, when the likes of Tony Adams, Paul Davis, Martin Keown, Paul Merson and Rocky Rocastle were breaking through. He would be a very good choice as Brady’s replacement. Whether at the age of 60, he is the man who would be a solid, long term option, is the only negative.

The last name in the frame, and perhaps the favourite for the job, is former Arsenal player Paul Davis. A surprising inclusion, mainly due to the fact that many people will not know what Davis has been doing since leaving Arsenal in 1995.

In 1996, he became a youth coach within Arsenal, where he remained until 2003. He went on to join The Professional Footballers’ Association coaching department, where he now holds the role of Regional Coach Educator for London and the South East. He has gained the FA and Pro UEFA Coaching awards, the highest in British coaching, as well as the UEFA ‘A’ Licence and the FA Diploma in Football Management.

He certainly has the qualifications and foresight, but it is the fact he is already involved in coaching coaches that is important.

Being the Director of an academy is less about coaching the youngster’s and more about overseeing the coaches coaching them. It involves man management and being able to direct and better those coaches. It is also important that they can oversee the entire academy. With Davis already employed as a coach’s coach, he would be the ideal candidate to come in and take over from Brady as new Director of the Arsenal Youth Academy.

Add in the fact he has played over 400 times for the club, he would be comfortable and fit in seamlessly within the staff, At 51, he has both the experience and time ahead of him to make real improvements to the academy.

With Brady not due to leave Arsenal until May 2014, there is still plenty of time for the club to discuss other candidates. But as it stands, top of the list will be Paul Davis.

Keenos