Posts Tagged ‘ Arsenal ’

Arsenal Kit Pod

sam-collection

Arsenal Kit Pod

My brother Sam came back on the SoccerNomad podcast to discuss his Arsenal kit collection and Gunner kits through the years. We talked about the best and the worst, unicorn kits and more.

Images of kits we discussed:

FAVES

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Arsenal's Thierry Henry celebrates at the end of the game after the 1-0 win against Southampton

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WANT LIST

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

WORST

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mid-90s-change  purple-reignblue-bottle   15-16-3rd

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Arsenal kit history resources

Historical Football Kits

Design Football pods

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The Arsenal Shirt: Iconic match worn shirts from the history of the Gunners by James Elkin (Author) and Simon Shakeshaft (Author)

Museum of Jerseys blog

SoccerNomad blog posts

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Thanks for listening! You can also subscribe via iTunes and please leave a rating and review. Follow me on twitter @austinlong1974.

ATL Gooners

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SoccerNomad podcast: ATL Gooners

Some of the Atlanta Gooners came on the SoccerNomad podcast to talk about the Supporters Group and the club. From the 2016 Summer Tour to Highbury to the classic Manchester United/Arsenal games of the late 90s/early 2000s to kits, we covered a lot of ground and had a great conversation.

Find out more about the group on their various platforms:

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Learn more about Arsenal Football Club from the following resources:

Books

  • Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby
  • Invincible by Amy Lawrence
  • Addicted by Tony Adams

Blogs

SoccerNomad Blog posts on Arsenal

Arsenal America Supporter Groups

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Thanks for listening! You can also subscribe via iTunes and please leave a rating and review. Follow me on twitter @austinlong1974.

Invincible: Inside Arsenal’s Unbeaten 2003-2004 Season

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Invincible: Inside Arsenal’s Unbeaten 2003-2004 Season, Amy Lawrence

The unbeaten league season from Arsenal during the 2003/04 season was a truly remarkable achievement by a remarkable group of players, and Amy Lawrence’s book did an amazing job of capturing that season. She utilized two things that help structure and add depth to the book.

One, she put not only that season but Arsenal Football Club into context. The Gunners were a much different organization in the years following the remarkable league championships of 1989 and 1991 and the transition from George Graham’s 1-0 to the Arsenal to Arsene Wenger’s continental, artistic Arsenal is quite the story. Wenger changed the identity of the club and Lawrence highlighted some of the elements of that change. Plus that season was part of a bigger Arsenal story. The Double of 2002 was followed by a disappointing campaign which left the players, staff and fans unsatisfied and the club looked to push on.

Two, Lawrence used an interesting approach to her book. Rather than a strict pattern of each game and result in chronological order, she identified key attributes of the team and explored the development and impact of leadership, culture, and so on. Players and staff were open with their memories and reflections from that time period and these gave real insight into the mood and environment of a team on a mission. The book ends with an extended one and one interview with Wenger and a recap of what happened to the players in the following ten years. The Wenger interview was particularly compelling due to his philosophy toward management and the game.

I really enjoyed this book. It was a quick read due to the quality of the writing, the insight and the appreciation of the Invincible season. Full access to the team and club gave this book a intimacy that would have been severely lacking had it just been a recap of the 2003/04 season. Worth a read whether you’re a Gunner or not.

Summer of Soccer

Another busy, wonderful, hot summer is in the books. 2016 truly was the summer of soccer with Copa America Centenario, Euro 2016, and the Olympics, plus all the levels of US Soccer in season. Here’s a quick look back at my summer.

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(photo courtesy of Forrest Collins)

May saw me check another team off of the list. I headed to Birmingham to see the Hammers first ever NPSL home game. They hosted Chattanooga FC and fell 1-0, but something special is in place both for the team and the supporters group Magic City Brigade.

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(photo courtesy of Atlanta Manchester United Supporters)

The following weekend was exhausting as I watched the FA Cup Final at Fado Midtown with the Atlanta Manchester United Supporters and Crystal Palace ATL. An amazing crowd and a thrilling victory for the Reds. Voice gone, memories made.

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(photo courtesy of Soccer in the Streets)

The next day was the Atlanta Champions League, a fundraiser for Soccer in the Streets. I played with Madridistas ATL and while the results didn’t go our way, we had a great day.

The month wrapped up with the Champions League Final, which I watched downtown at Bottle Rocket with my friends from Castleberry Hill. Real Madrid secured Una Decima on penalties with CR7 sealing the victory.

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Started June by taking in another NPSL games. Larry and I headed to Knoxville for the Force against Nashville FC. A spectacular goal won the three points for the hosts and earned them a Volunteers Shield win as well. Despite the weather, we had a great time and met some great people.

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(photo of Alex Quispe)

Big tournaments on two continents kicked off, with the United States hosting Copa America Centenario and France welcoming Euro 2016. Work got in the way and I tried to catch as much as I could. Besides watching the summer tournaments at home, I was able to catch games at Rose and Crown and even got to watch Germany v Italy at Der Biergarten with Mia San ATL. I watched the final of both competitions at Fado Buckhead with hundreds of soccer fans.

With the Euros and Copa America in full swing, Erin and I joined Terminus Legion at Wild Heaven Brewery and then went to the Georgia Revolution/Knoxville Force friendly in Conyers. It was a full day of beer, Panini sticker albums, fellowship and footy.

Saw the Revolution again the following weekend against the Atlanta Silverbacks at Silverbacks Park. The Silverbacks won the game and eventually made it all the way to the Regional Semi Finals before losing to Miami FC.

I celebrated five years of the SoccerNomad blog in July. Hard to believe it’s been that long. The blog has seen several changes in terms of frequency and topics but two topics are always on tap: memories and kits.

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(photo courtesy of Lariana Michelle Photography)

Towards the end of the month, I was lucky enough to be part of the organizing committee for the first ever #ATLSoccerCon. This event brought together soccer fans from around Atlanta andthem  a chance to look at kits, play Subbuteo and hang out. The afternoon was highlighted by a Meet and Greet with the US Paralympic National Team. Photos here.

The month ended with the MLS All Star game in San Jose. Terminus Legion got together at Rose and Crown to watch the Gunners defeat the best of MLS 2-1.

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August saw the Terminus Legion soccer team win their first ever playoff game in the Sons of Pitches Sunday Supporters League. We defeated LFC Atlanta in the quarter finals after a penalty shootout. Unfortunately we lost in the next round but another great session for the team. Later that month, European soccer started back up and I watched the Community Shield with the Manchester United Supporters of Atlanta the Brewhouse.

A great summer of footy action and looking forward to another great season. Have a couple of trips in the works so look for posts on those.

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Check out more posts on my trips, research and memories on the MatchDay Memories page.

Arsenal Change Shirts-Premier League Era

My typical modus operandi is to spout off without information or consideration, and I have always claimed that Arsenal and Chelsea have had the ugliest change shirts in the Premier League era. In the last two decades, the two London teams have been United’s biggest rivals for hardware, so I have had a keen interest in their sporting and fashion performance. With all that said, I decided to look at each team’s away kit collection and make an informed, well-reasoned claim to their kit ugliness.

Here are my thoughts on Chelsea change kits.

As I skimmed Arsenal’s away shirts through the years, I was surprised by how much the Gunners used white as a change strip but now almost never use it. I also learned the backstory of the club’s yellow and blue kit:

In 1968 the FA banned navy shirts (they looked too similar to referees’ black kit) so the Gunners turned out in yellow shirts and blue shorts for the first time in November, an outfit that recalled that FA Cup win of almost 20 years previous.

Finally, the navy blue shirt that I like so much hearkens back to an option used in the first quarter of the 20th century.

Going through the kits, I was reminded of some really nice strips, including their third strip from 07/08 and the current 15-16 away, while the 97-99 away kit will be always locked in my brain as the moment Overmars bore down on Schmeichel and scored to give the Gunners a 1-0 victory and swung the momentum to London for that season’s Premier League. (Check out Historical Kits link for the visual.)

As for the Premier League shirts, honorable mention for the worst strip goes to. . .

2007-08 Third

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This one should be so great, combining my favored navy blue with the red currant shade used for the 2005-06 home shirt. The result is blech and is made even worse with the red Arsenal badge jarring against the darker red.

2015-16 Third
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Is it black? Is it blue? (According to Footy Headlines the color is anthracite.) Is it Newcastle in disguise? Why the alternating bands start below the sponsor logo is beyond me. Plus three different colors? Plus the bands are at angle? Clearly out of ideas on this one. (Although the monochromatic gold badge is quite nice.)

2009-10 Third

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Plain but not. The pin stripes are less visible at greater distances but close up create a very weird look. Nike and the club have used pinstripes on different kits over the last dozen years or so but not to great effect.

THE WORST

2014-15 Third

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This kit is the continual regression of the navy blue and turquoise kit introduced in 94-95. The next version in 95-96 wasn’t too bad, and Nike reintroduced the color combination in 11-12 with a Monaco-esque verion, but Puma just took the design and crapped all over it with more stripes and lime green accents.

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2012-13 Away

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Nike introduced their Purple Reign (Pain) line for the Gunners and Portuguese power Porto. Why? I have no idea? Purple belongs to Anderlecht, Real Madrid, Fiorentina and Orlando City. (Probably others that I’m forgetting.) The choice seemed to out of left field, much like the 82-83. From Historical Football Kits:

In 1982 Umbro introduced what became known as the “bluebottle strip,” a mirror image of their new home kit but in green and navy blue. The kit proved unpopular with supporters and was replaced the following season by a rather more traditional affair that substituted navy for royal blue and, for the first time, incorporated red trimmings.

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1991-93 Away

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The bruised banana. A yellow and blue based away strip. Check. JVC sponsor. Check. Old school adidas logo. Check. Short shorts check. Unsettling geometric pattern that captures 90’s kit design. Check. Simply doesn’t work for me although it is iconic.

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As with Chelsea, maybe I hate Arsenal’s third shirts more. Their 90’s designs really weren’t that bad (considering what was going on around them) but the travashamockeries of the last 20 years overshadow everything else.

Arsenal fans, how do you defend your club? Those with anti-Gooner bias, what did I miss? Let me know in the comments below.

Special thanks to Historical Kits for the images.

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If you want to learn more about Arsenal wearing variants of their change strips, check out this post from Cork City Kits.

For a detailed look at Arsenal kits from the adidas years (1986-1994), read more at Museum of Jerseys.

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Read the rest of my Strip Club posts here and follow me on twitter @austinlong1974.

Atlanta Supporter Groups

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I’ve been in Atlanta for over two years and have run into tons of passionate and knowledgeable soccer fans, many of whom have formed official and unofficial supporters groups for their favorite clubs. I started jotting down a list and was surprised how many teams were represented throughout the city. Below is what I’ve come up with so far. If I missed a group or got something wrong, let me know.

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English Premier League
Team Nickname Twitter Facebook Bar
Arsenal (Official) ATL Gooners @ATLGooners Facebook Brewhouse
Chelsea (Official) ATL Blues @ATLBlues  Facebook Hudson FC
Chelsea GA Blues @georgia_blues Facebook Ri Ra
Crystal Palace Crystal Palace ATL @CPFC_ATL Facebook Fado Buckhead
Everton (Official) ATL Evertonians @atlevertonians Facebook Fado Buckhead
Leicester Atlanta Foxes @LCFCAtlanta Facebook Brewhouse
Liverpool (Official) LFC ATL @LFCAtlanta Facebook Meehans Downtown
Manchester City ATL Cityzens @MCATLCityzens Facebook Brewhouse
Man Utd (Official) ATL MUFC @atlmufc Facebook Fado Midtown
Man Utd (Unofficial) MUFC ATL (Brew Crew) @ManUtdScAtl  Facebook Brewhouse
Swansea Atlanta Jacks @Atlanta_Jacks Facebook Meehans Vinings
Tottenham (Official) ATL Spurs @ATLSpurs Facebook Meehans Atlantic Station
West Ham (Official) Atlanta Ironworks @IronsAtlanta Facebook Brewhouse
Europe
Team Nickname Twitter Facebook Bar
Bayern Munich (Official) Mia San ATL @miasanatl  Facebook Der Biergarten
FC Barcelona FC Barcelona Atlanta @barca_atl Facebook Fado Buckhead
Real Madrid (Official) Madridistas ATL @MadridistasATL Facebook Olde Blind Dog
South America
Supporter Group Twitter Facebook Bar
Corinthians Fiel Torcida USA @FielAtlanta Facebook
Atlanta United FC
Supporter Group Twitter Website
Footie Mob @FootieMob Website Midway
Resurgence @ResurgenceATL Website Brewhouse
Terminus Legion @TerminusLegion Website Fado Buckhead
Faction @TheFactionATL Website Fado Midtown
Atlanta Silverbacks
Supporter Group Twitter Facebook Bar
Westside 109 ATLWestside109 Facebook
Atlanta Ultras AtlantaUltras Facebook
Georgia Revolution
Supporter Group Twitter Facebook Bar
The Uprising @TheUprisingRevs Facebook
United States National Teams
Supporter Group Twitter Facebook Bar
America Outlaws ATL @atlantaoutlaws Facebook RiRa

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Top Ten Posts of 2014

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2014 was a great year for the SoccerNomad blog.  Visitors from all over the world read about kits, memories and more.  Here are the ten most read posts from 2014. Thanks to everyone for visiting, sharing and commenting on the blog and it’s on to 2015.

10   1988/89 English First Division

9     Trip to FC Dallas Game

8     From my Year in Soccer 1974 Series, Johan Cruyff’s impact at FC Barcelona

7     Memorial Day Weekend in Detroit

6     Lansing Kit Nerd (September 2014)

5     World Cup 2014 Kit Preview Part 1

4     Germany Euro 2000 Away shirt

3     2014/15 Kit Preview

2     World Cup 2014 Kit Preview Part 2

1     Going Hollywood (Soccer Player Look-a-likes)

Thanks to everyone for visiting, sharing and commenting on the blog and it’s on to 2015.  Follow me on twitter @austinlong1974 and don’t forget to visit my podcast or subscribe via iTunes.

Copa Libation–Arsenal v Manchester United

Rooney (bottom right) is mobbed by his United team-mates after putting them 2-0 ahead in the 85th minute

Drink:    Pint of Kronenbourg Blanc and Sweetwater 420

Snack:   Chicken Tenders and French Fries

The old adage “It’s better to be lucky than good” definitely applied to the game today.  United were outplayed for long stretches of the game yet somehow left the Emirates with three points.

Headed down to the Brewhouse where a large crowd gathered for the big game.  LvG reverted to the 3-5-2 from earlier in the season but any formation would have been undone by De Gea’s distribution as he played the ball to Arsenal on several occasions, which allowed the pressure to build.    One of these chances eventually led to a chance by Wilshere and his failure to convert early in the match was a key moment, as it would have given the home side the momentum over an United team that was thoroughly out of sorts.

The visitors came into the match towards the end of the half as they settled down and maintained possession.  Di Maria moved into the middle and was more involved, giving a better performance than recent matches.  Shaw’s injury inserted Young into the match and to be fair, he wasn’t awful, but didn’t give the Reds the dynamism of the transfer from Southampton.

The second half saw the Gunners take control again but poor finishing kept the scores level. Let’s face it if Arsenal had placed any of their shots (Wilshere, Welbeck or Sanchez) to a post this game would have gone to the Gunners.  Eventually United took the lead as Szczesny didn’t do enough on a cross, with the ball falling to Valencia.  Tony did what Tony V does and smashed the ball across the face of goal.  Unfortunately for Arsenal, it ricocheted off Gibbs and opened the scoring.

From there the hosts pressed forward and had United on the ropes.  The equalizer never came and United could have had more than a second as Rooney chipped back up keeper Martinez but Di Maria fluffed his lines.  Giroud made things interesting as he smashed one in but it wasn’t enough.  And can I say that Giroud is fine looking Frenchman with a great head of hair, yet he is tempting fate by doing whatever it is he is doing with his coiffure.

Neither team was particularly good. Wilshere put in a decent shift before his injury; Ramsey was a non factor; and Sanchez did not have the impact I thought he would.  As for the Reds, time is ticking on RvP,   as Wilson came on and played defense, held the ball and caused havoc.  Rooney put in a solid effort, while McNair struggled after several decent performances.

Maybe some of the bad luck and dropped points from previous games got paid back today.  We’ll see.

Dennis Bergkamp Stillness and Speed: My Story

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Stillness and Speed: My Story, Dennis Bergkamp

Dennis Bergkamp went under my radar for a long time.  Only now am I getting a sense of how amazing he was.  Yes I saw the goal against Argentina and the goal against Newcastle and the incredible control against Leicester.  But recently I have seen several other examples of control and finishing and the ability to create for his teammates.  Bergkamp was a gifted player that slotted in at Arsenal and raised the level of the Gunners, allowing them to push several versions Manchester United from 1997 to 2004 and the book, Stillness and Speed: My Story, focuses on this a great deal.

Bergkamp’s books is unusual in that it is not a straightforward recap of the Dutchman’s career—born, played at Ajax, moved to Inter, transferred to Arsenal, retired.  Bergkamp, along with David Winner, explains all of these checkpoints but uses a series of interviews with key people in each of those stages to unpack the events.  The style takes getting used to yet it allows for the subjects to share their thoughts in long responses instead of summarizing and merely recounting history.  The result creates a context and aura for a very special player.

Yes, the player had success at Ajax and struggled at Inter, but at Arsenal, there was a fusion of desire and technique that created a historic era at the club.  Bergkamp and Winner do a wonderful job of framing a situation and letting Bergkamp share his thoughts, along with other participants to give a deeper understanding.  This is where the book shines.

In the end, three things stuck out to me after reading this book: Bergkamp was held in high esteem by his teammates, especially at Arsenal and especially Thierry Henry; his pursuit of perfection was relentless; and Ajax is a unique club with a history and culture different than many of the clubs I have read about.

This book is well worth reading if you love Bergkamp or Arsenal, but it is really worth it for the artistic beauty of soccer, of a game that can transcend mere sport.

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For a full list of my book reviews, please visit the Recommended Reading page. And reach out to me with your suggestions as well.

MatchDay Memory–Goals Galore

Due to my technological backwardness, my family has a functioning VHS player that we still use.  I mean how else am I going to watch Batman: The Movie (1966) or my Euro 2000 tapes or both tapes of Titanic?  (Please note, the Titanic reference is made for comedic effect.  I have never watched, nor ever will watch, James Cameron’s multimillion dollar epic about an incident in which everyone is fully aware of the outcome.)  Going through old VHS tapes, I came across one called Goals Galore.  I don’t even know where I picked it up, but the tape is full of goals from the 1988-89 English First Division season, which came down to the last moment of the last game of the season.  Watching the video again, I couldn’t help but notice the 80’s graphics and music—alternating synthesizer and electric guitar.  Timeless.  The 20 minute show (there is only one replay of a goal) captures a time that featured the following:

  • A skinnier Le Tissier and a young Tony Cottee
  • Ugly unis and short shorts.  The unis can still be ugly at times but the nuthuggers are a thing of the past.
  • The Chris Waddle mullet
  • Crisp handshakes and jubilant jumping for celebrations
  • Roy Wegerle
  • “very tidy finish”
  • Awful pitches, especially through the middle and in the penalty areas
  • Steve McMahon:         Had a professor at GLCC who found out I liked soccer and he asked how Steve McMahon was doing.  I was like Steve MacManaman?  Great.  No, he said, McMahon. Me, shrug of shoulders. That’s the last time we talked about soccer.
  • Glenn Cockerill.  Every time I watch this video I am struck by two things about this player: he had a cannon for a shot and always seemed to be angry.

 

The video climaxed with a goal scored on May 26th 1989, which is probably not an important date to American sports fans.  A quick google search produced this selective list of significant sporting moments on that date:

1911 – 1st Indianapolis 500 auto race is run

1925 – Detroit Tigers’ Ty Cobb is 1st to collect 1,000 extra-base hits (ends 1,139)

1973 – Chicago White Sox beat the Cleveland Indians, 6-3, in 21 innings

1984 – Frisbee is kept aloft for 1,672 seconds in Philadelphia, PA

1990 – Philadelphia Phillies retire Mike Schmidt’s uniform #20

1992 – Carlos Martinez hits a ball off Jose Canseco’s head for a home run

For European soccer fans, the date might be of some significance:

1982 – Aston Villa wins 27th European Cup in Rotterdam

1993 – Olympique Marseille wins 38th European Cup in Munich

In fact, I get the sense that Americans don’t really do dates.  References are typically to Super Bowl whatever or game such and such of a series, or simply the Greatest Game Ever Played (1958 NFL Championship Game).  But I’m sure if you asked any long term (and long suffering) Arsenal or Liverpool fan what happened on May 26th 1989, they can probably tell you where they were, what the lineups were and what their reaction was at full time.

Looking at the final table from that campaign there were plenty of names that I recognized from my early days of following the game, some of which have since disappeared from the top flight—Derby County, Nottingham Forest, Wimbeldon, and Luton Town (who finished 16th and I don’t know anything about them).  Then there was Newcastle United, who were relegated that season.  Further research revealed that Chelsea won promotion from League Two (now the sponsored Championship) for the 1989/90 season and the Blues haven’t looked back since.

On the transfer front, several moves caught my eye:

  • Ian Rush back at Liverpool (to help fire in the goals)
  • Gazza moved from Newcastle to Spurs (first of many moves in an unfulfilled career)
  • Mark Hughes returned to Manchester United from Barca (part of the attack that would end years of frustration)
  • Gordon Strachan went to Leeds from Manchester United (would help the Yorkshire club claim the last First Division title in 1992)
  • Chris Waddle went to Marseille (part of a wave of English players abroad, a trend that has since been reversed)

This was also the season that ITV started showing live Sunday afternoon games, which would eventually led to the television explosion, the formation of the Premier League, and a totally different footballing landscape in 20 years.  But really the 88/89 season was about the tragedy of Hillsborough.  That afternoon unfortunately overshadowed one of the greatest finishes in sporting history.

Setting the stage . . .

Arsenal had two wobbles during their season.  (Tangent: One interesting fact that I found in my research was that Arsenal have not been relegated since 1919, which is impressive.)  In late November and early December the Gunners lost away to Derby and drew at home with Liverpool and away to Norwich.  From there they had an impressive run of seven wins and one draw until their next dip in form in February and March, only winning once in six matches, with two losses and three draws.

Reviewing the roster, interesting to see how many of that team have gone into broadcasting and coaching:

  • Steve Bould                coach in Arsenal youth set up; assistant to Wenger
  • Lee Dixon                   pundit for ITV
  • Nigel Winterburn        TV
  • David O’Leary            coach at Leeds, Aston Villa and Al-Ahli
  • Brian Marwood           executive at MCFC
  • Alan Smith                  game announcer for Sky Sports
  • Paul Merson                Young Player of the Year  for 1988-89 and now a match reporter and pundit for Sky Sports

Liverpool were the defending Division One Champions and going for the Double again, having been denied the previous season by Wimbledon’s Crazy Gang in the FA Cup Final.  What a team: John Barnes, Bruce Grobbelaar, Alan Hansen, Steve Nicol, Ray Houghton, Steve McMahon, John Aldridge, Peter Beardsley and Ian Rush.

A string of five straight draws early in the season created the gap the Reds would try to overcome the entire season.  After a 3-1 loss at Old Trafford at the halfway point of the campaign, Liverpool won 15, drew 3 and lost once, but it was the one loss (and the margin of defeat) that cost them the crown.

The aftermath of Hillsborough led to a fixture pile up for the Champions, with the Reds having to play eight games in the month of May as they fought on two fronts in search of both major domestic trophies.

LFC run-in:

League                        03/05/1989      Everton                       Away D         0-0

FA Cup SF                 07/05/1989      Nottingham Forest      N         W        3-1

League                        10/05/1989      Nottingham Forest      Home W        1-0

League                        13/05/1989      Wimbledon                 Away W        2-1

League                        16/05/1989      Queens Park Rangers  Home W        2-0

FA Cup Final             20/05/1989      Everton                       N         W        3-2

League                         23/05/1989      West Ham United       Home W        5-1

League                        26/05/1989      Arsenal                        Home L          0-2

For a long time I thought Arsenal won the game 1-0 because I only saw Michael Thomas’ last gasp goal over and over and over again.  Only years later did I learn that Arsenal had to win by 2 clear goals.

Explanation of criteria via wikipedia

A victory for Arsenal would have brought both teams level on points. Arsenal’s victory by two clear goals meant that they won the title on goals scored. A three-goal deficit or more would have won Arsenal the title on goal difference. Any other result (i.e. a Liverpool victory, a draw, or an Arsenal win by one goal) would have secured the title for Liverpool. Liverpool had not lost by two or more goals at Anfield in three years, and Arsenal had not won there in fifteen.  Furthermore, Liverpool had never previously been defeated when playing forwards John Aldridge and Ian Rush together.  Liverpool were therefore the overwhelming favourites to win the title – the Daily Mirror’s sports sections led with the headline “You Haven’t Got A Prayer, Arsenal”.

I cannot examine this moment in time without referencing Nick Hornby’s Fever Pitch.  As a lifelong Arsenal fan, he had achieved one of his goals by moving near Highbury during the winter of this amazing season.  Hornby’s account of this dramatic day is in contrast to the movie interpretation.  In the book there is excitement, even hope, especially after Smith’s goal, while in the movie, Colin Firth’s recreation of Paul from the film version is nervous and negative yet clinging to a sliver of hope.  I could totally relate and watching the scene from the film took me back to 1999 and United’s Great Escape against Bayern Munich.  The minutes at Anfield ticked away and even after Smith’s early second half goal, Arsenal still had everything to do.  And just when all was lost, this happened. Nothing can beat the announcer’s comment in the moment—“An unbelievable climax to the league season.”

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George Graham’s men won the First Division for the first time since 1971 and took the title out of the city of Liverpool for the first time in seven years.  Liverpool would rebound and win the title in 1990 with Arsenal reclaiming the throne in 1991.  And then both teams went silent.  One more than the other.  As I was dinking around, it occurred to me that Liverpool last won the title in 1990.  The Reds from Liverpool are near the dreaded number 26 that the Reds from Manchester suffered through.  Maybe they will have a rebirth like United, who went 26 without the trophy, then couldn’t stop winning them.  Let’s hope not.