Category Archives: History

The Fifth Statue at The Grove: Alex James?

Alex James

Arsenal’s manager Herbert Chapman, centre, has a pre-match chat with Bob John, left, and Alex James on the Wembley pitch before the 1932 FA Cup final.

Some players are great. Some – a few – are beyond greatness. We may think in the current era of Bergkamp and Henry. In the 1930s they would think of Alex James. Even today in any list of great players of Arsenal we would expect to see him in the top 5.
Andy Kelly

The quote from Andy Kelly (who was extremely helpful in writing this article) I think underlines Alex James better than I could ever say. The title “legend” is given away far too cheaply these days, but with Alex James maybe I think it has been given too rarely. Ironically, some fans will know Alex James as a member of Blur but Arsenal’s Alex James was more a virtuoso player though.

With the recent unveiling of Dennis Bergkamp, I was wondering who should be next to be enshrined? Should it be Frank McLintock for his captaincy in the 1971 double team? Ian Wright for his goal scoring exploits in the 1990’s? Or even the great Joe Mercer of the late 1940’s and early 1950’s who captain us to a league title and F.A cup when he had age against him and a successful grocer business in Liverpool;meaning he’d only come down for games and trained with Everton? All certainly deserving of it, but for me? Alex James all the way. This man changed Arsenal into one of the most successful teams of the thirties. A man who lived the high life and never saved for a rainy day and the man scored our first goal in our first trophy in our new stadium, Highbury. Alex James. Most likely the best Scottish player in an Arsenal team, if not maybe in England.

Alex James was born in Mossend, Lanarkshire in Scotland in 1901. As a child (the youngest of 6) he was always playing football, with his older brother Charlie constantly pushing him forward — even buying him proper football boots as a youngster to improve his technique. A diminutive figure who played inside forward, he also played with another Scottish legend of Hughie Gallacher as a child. As a small figure, many teams refused a punt on James and he was forced to get a ‘proper job’, although he often end up sacked because he was too busy looking forward to a game on a Saturday afternoon. Finally, Raith Rovers came in for him and he was later transferred to second division Preston North End in 1925 for £3,000.

James was a quality player and certainly knew his worth at the Preston team, especially as the F.A had a maximum wage of £8 per week [good money, but not great]. This often lead to James falling out with the board over payments. For example, when he was being transferred to Manchester City in 1928-9 for £15,000 he felt there was the chance of an under the table payment to him. So he’d asked his wife to say she didn’t like Manchester and they wouldn’t go. As recounted in John Harding’s “Alex James: Life of a Football Legend“, she refused. Alex James arguing over money was something Arsenal and Herbert Chapman would hear about a lot of in the future.

Prior to joining us, most Arsenal and English fans would know Alex James when Scotland came to Wembley and battered England by a record victory of 5-1, with what was termed the Wembley Wizards. James scored twice and Alex Jackson got a hat trick. Also in the team was his old friend Hughie Gallacher. The Atlantic News said of the game:-

Real football at last! Clockwork passing. The ‘triangle’ – prettiest of all tunes football can provide – tinkling for an hour or so on both sides of the field…..James! He needs no inspiration. But he got it and, taking the game though, was the mastermind of clockwork.

When Alex James did finally sign it came down to the money. As a Southern team, Arsenal had been seen as pretenders in the league. Prior to James joining, Arsenal had come second in the league and lost the 1927 cup final in Herbert Chapman’s tenure. If you want to know why Arsenal are hated, just look at the 1920’s and 1930’s. Here was a club that had never won trophies but spent £14,500 for David Jack, started building the new parts to Highbury stadium, and how we had become what was known as the bank of England. We had also had our chairman Henry Norris and his dodgy deals. Let’s not forget no Southern team had won the league until the 1930’s and Spurs were the only London team to win the F.A cup in 1905.

London though was financially on the rise, whilst northern England (and its press such as the Manchester Guardian) were suffering from the depression but still believing they were better than the south. Then buying Alex James changed everything. James was the quality signing we needed to make us better than the rest and hated. To underline the hatred often felt towards Arsenal, a Middlesbrough fan recalled in the 1930’s playing Arsenal :-

I saw thousands of men climb over the barriers and pour onto the field…..intending to do damage to the Arsenal team, wearing pristine red-and-white kit. This was the final explosion of hatred. I still remember the spectacle with feelings of fear and horror.

Again, signing James came down to money. Previously, Herbert Chapman (via Henry Norris as chairman) was alleged to have paid Charles Buchan under the counter payments to join us in 1925. With James, Arsenal paid him £8 per week [the maximum wage for all players], win bonuses plus expenses (he often used a taxi, much to Chapman’s anger). James being James still wanted (and deserved) more money. Arsenal, being a forward thinking club, gave James a two year contract at Selfridges as a ‘sports demonstrator’ for £250 per year. This was to circumvent the ‘illegal inducements’ the F.A was always trying to stop. This though didn’t stop the F.A investigating the transfer, and although unhappy ‘with certain things that had been said’ could prove nothing. James was signed for £9,000.

James’ beginning at Arsenal as an Arsenal legend started badly. Not only had he come with a huge transfer, in a new division, new team and new style but also with an injury. The injury had meant that his performance were below par at best and ended with him being dropped for the third round game against Chelsea in the F.A cup. Chapman asked him to say he was injured. James refused, telling Chapman :-

‘If I’m dropped say i’m dropped’ was my reply to that.

Although James came back into the squad, he had to get used to a new system. Herbert Chapman is often seen as the man who created the W-M formation. Wikipedia describes it thus:-

The WM system was created in the mid-1920s by Herbert Chapman of Arsenal to counter a change in the offside law in 1925. The change had reduced the number of opposition players that attackers needed between themselves and the goal-line from three to two. This led to the introduction of a centre-back to stop the opposing centre-forward, and tried to balance defensive and offensive playing. The formation became so successful that by the late-1930s most English clubs had adopted the WM. Retrospectively, the WM has either been described as a 3–2–5 or as a 3–4–3, or more precisely a 3–2–2–3 reflecting the letters which symbolised it. The gap in the centre of the formation between the two wing halves and the two inside forwards allowed Arsenal to counter-attack effectively. The W-M was subsequently adapted by several English sides, but none could apply it in quite the same way Chapman had. This was mainly due to the comparative rarity of Alex James in the English game. He was one of the earliest playmakers in the history of the game, and the hub around which Chapman’s Arsenal revolved.

The 1930 F.A cup was the beginning of James being held in such high esteem. After a Semi-final in which Arsenal had been 2-0 down against second division Hull to come back 2-2 and win the replay 1-0, Arsenal faced Huddersfield in the final.

Alex played and famously got the opening goal in the final. In his book “Football Ambassador”, Eddie Hapgood noted:-

Alex was fouled somewhere near the penalty area, and, almost before the ball had stopped rolling, had taken the free-kick. He sent a short pass to Cliff Bastin, moved into position to take a perfect return, and banged the ball into the Huddersfield net for the all-important first goal. Tom Crew told me that James made a silent appeal for permission to take the kick, and he waved him on. It was one of the smartest moves ever made in a big match and it gave us the Cup. I contend that it was fair tactics; for if Alex had waited a few seconds for the whistle, the Huddersfield defence would have been in position, and the advantage of the free-kick would have been lost.

Bob Wall in his book said of the goal James had told Cliff Bastin:-

‘If we get a free-kick in their half Cliff, I’ll push out a quick pass to you. Let me have it back immediately and I’ll have a shot at goal……Alex was essentially a creator rather than scorer of goals, his suggestion caused some amusement among the rest of the team.’

Arsenal went on to win the cup 2-0. Afterwards James said of the Wembley win:-

It was a glorious and pulsating from start to finish an entirely different atmosphere from that of of two internationals in which I have participated at Wembley.

The 1930 F.A cup was Arsenal’s first trophy, thanks to Alex James. In the next seven years we would win 4 league titles and another F.A cup with James captain in 1936*. James was the focal point of the team (his replacement Bryn Jones never reached James heights). His international career consisted of a mere 8 games with 4 goals. In that time he played only against home nations teams (England, Wales and N. Ireland).

If you want to see the importance of James in the team, look at the season of 1931-32 when Arsenal were going for a league and cup double. Unfortunately, in a 1-1 game against West Ham in the league James was carried off with an injured knee. The injury meant that he missed the final, even though he told Chapman (and the press) he was fit to play. Trainer Tom Whittaker had been trying to get James fit:-


Unfortunately prior to the game :-

Trainer Tom Whittaker, however, in order to be certain, lunged at ‘Wee Alec’ with a fierce tackle, which he was unable to withstand and from which he came away hobbling.

Arsenal lost the final 2-1 to Newcastle to a controversial goal, when the ball was seen to go out of play for Newcastle’s equalising goal:-

Arsenal won their next three games they had in hand to catch up with Everton, but James did not play until the following season. But by the end of the season came up two points short and won nothing.

Also, it would be wrong to say James was a loyal and obedient player. Chapman and James often argued. Famously in 1931, when Selfridges had not extended his two year contract, James refused to sign a new contract with Arsenal unless there were added ‘inducements’ to his new contract. In a fit of anger Chapman said he was sending James on a cruise in August, and proceeded to put him on a banana and general cargo boat to Bordeaux. Within a few weeks Selfridges had extended his and he’d signed for Arsenal. James said after Chapman passed away in January 1934:-

He [Chapman] was to my mind the only real genius football has ever seen. Picture a middle aged man,genial and smiling, shirt-sleeves rolled up, jacket off. Bubbling over with dynamic personality. A leader of men…[but] I did not like the way Chapman did certain things: he didn’t like me either. So we bickered on, neither giving way, both too obstinate to consider the other fellow’s point of view.

For me, James deserves that statute. He got our first trophy winning goal. He was the focal point of our team. He also brought the dapper look always dressed well off the pitch and remembered for his long shorts on it. But to me I think Cliff Bastin** sums it up well in his biography:-

Whenever the conversation turns , amongst sports lovers, to great players of the past, his name is always mentioned. And among followers of Arsenal, memories of a shuffling, Puckish little figure, trousers down to its knees and shirt-sleeves flapping hose, will be treasured to the very end.

Finally, my main reason for James as a statue? Well, like many of our top players (Bergkamp, Henry, Adams and Chapman outside the stadium) James won nothing in his first season. It took Chapman 5 years alone to win a trophy. But James, as a star player, brought our first trophy, the F.A cup to Highbury. He was dropped and lambasted at times by the press. Arsenal were seen as a team of expensive parts and that was all.

Fast forward 84 years? Arsenal, at a new stadium, no trophies, an expensive team, and an often criticised Mesut Ozil? Wouldn’t it be great if Ozil scores first for our first trophy at the Emirates and underlines to the press we are a great team, just like Alex did?

Alex James passed away from cancer in 1953, having never managed a side (accept briefly in Poland in 1939 and after the war he came back and did some coaching at Arsenal), a succession of failed businesses (a sweet shop near the Highbury stadium and a football pools business). But where he failed outside the club, he was always fondly remembered by Gooners. If any player deserves a statue its Alex James. The man who helped create a dynasty.

*This is open to debate as whether Hapgood or James were captain
**Big thanks to Andy Kelly for lending me a copy of Bastin’s book and help on the article.

Rogues Gallery: Ray Parlour

“There will always be the suspicion that he moved because he needed the cash to pay his ex missus. When Middlesbrough came to Highbury at the start of the 2004-2005 season, he got a great round of applause, but we also took the p*ss a bit by shouting: ‘Does your ex Missus know you’re here?’ at him. He turned round and gave us a slightly rueful grin. So even though he’s not with us anymore, there’s a kind of old fashioned, p*ss taking relationship between us and him which is hard to replicate in the modern era when so many players live the life of monks. Ray was probably the last of a dying breed.”

Paul Miles

Ray Parlour. The original Emmanuel Frimpong of his day minus instagram and a twitter account. In that I mean a bit of a lad who did not totally utilize his skills and loved to be the joker. Unlike Frimpong, Parlour would go on to be both a joker and a success. Also, like Frimpong (often called ‘Dench’), Ray Parlour was also remembered for his nickname as the ‘Romford Pele

Parlour shares something else with Frimpong, both had ignominious debuts against Liverpool. Arsenal lost 2-0 in January 1992 and Ray Parlour, like Frimpong, had a great debut marred by an error.

A liverpool blogger wrote:-

When Ronnie Rosenthal evaded challenges from Nigel Winterburn and substitute Steve Bould, Parlour panicked. His rash and illegal challenge was punished by Molby who sent the resulting spot-kick into the roof of the net.

Over the next few years Parlour would slowly make his way into the Arsenal squad, but he was a frustrating player. Lets not forget in season 1992-1993, when Arsenal won the double, Parlour played in the 2-1 . He then played in the first FA Cup final game in a 1-1 draw against Sheffield Wednesday. If anybody can remember the first game.

I apologise. If you ever want to understand why George Graham‘s team were often both successful and derided here’s a clue.

I remember watching it in a pub in Bath, whilst at University. It was Arsenal’s first FA Cup final in 13 years and many of us had wanted this for for so many years the tension was palpable. Then, the 1-1 draw. Easily enough to say the worst cup final I have ever seen. As for Parlour? Parlour was absolutely dreadful in the game and had been put in the team instead of Alan Smith. His performance was so poor that he was dropped for the replay (another dire game) the following Thursday. Parlour was even dropped from the bench, in which Ian Selley was installed in his place.

Although Parlour continued in and out the squad, Parlour was remembered more for his off field antics with his Essex pal at the club, Tony Adams. For example, in October 1993 Tony Adams and Ray Parlour turned a fire extinguisher on a some Spurs fans at Hornchurch Pizza Hut. Afterwards:-

George Graham savaged Parlour but simply shook his head at Adams. When Parlour complained that he was being treated unfairly, Graham explained ‘he, Adams does the business for me week in week out. You don’t.’

If you look at the last years of George Graham’s reign though, players such as Parlour represented much of the worst aspect. Under Graham in the first five years we had won 2 league titles and league cup trophy. Graham had done this with bargain buys and some homemade players. Parlour had been described in the Islington Gazette as ‘the next crop of Arsenal starlets who will take the club forward.’ The final 4 years of Graham’s reign showed players lacking direction. Anders Limpar said of Ray in the early days:-

It was clear that Ray was a talented boy, but I think we did wonder whether he could get the consistency in his game to make him a highbury regular. He could be be fantastic in one match, and anonymous in the next. And of course, he was involved in the drinking scene with Tony Adams, so if he was really going to make a name for himself, he’d need to change his lifestyle dramatically.

Then in 1995 and Ray Parlour went on tour with Arsenal in Hong Kong, ended up getting drunk with Tony Adams and throwing prawn crackers at a taxi, getting chased by the driver and Arrested by the police.

Although amusing, it was often frustrating as Parlour was some player. Things started to change when Arsene Wenger joined as manager in 1997. At first, Ray took Wengers introduction by doing impressions of the manager as Inspector Clouseau. He famously even did an impression when Arsenal had a game abandoned at Selhurst Park in the 1997-8 season when :-

When he [Wenger] asked what was happening Parlour replied ‘zair eez a burrm!’ But both men were smiling. By then Wenger’s authority was unquestioned and no disrespect was intended.

When Wenger joined though and Parlour was playing with quality players he knew he had to change. He later admitted :-

I was convinced that I’d be sold, I thought I’d be on my way out, and Paul Merson would take my place. When I heard Merse had been sold to Middlesborough, I knew then that i’d been given a second chance. I took a long, hard look at my record, and realised that I hadn’t been dedicating myself to the game. It was time to try and follow Dennis Bergkamp and Patrick Vieira. I woke up to the fact that I could be part of something very special at Arsenal.

At long last Ray started to look like a professional player, especially in season 1997-98 in the double team. If Arsenal are remembered for three games in this season its two victories over United and the infamous defeat to Blackburn at home. The famous 3-2 victory over Manchester United was followed by a defeat to Sheffield Wednesday, Liverpool and then the 3-1 defeat to Blackburn. Famously, after taking a the drubbing, Adams sat the team down and said the team was suffering and the back four were getting no protection from the midfield of Emmanuel Petit and Patrick Vieira. Arsene said of the Blackburn game:-

After the Blackburn game, I felt let down. It was a huge disappointment. I do not usually talk to the players after the game but this time I told them what I felt.

After that Arsenal went on one of their now trademark runs, overturning a 13 point lead that  Manchester United had held. The highlight being the 1-0 victory at Old Trafford:-

If there was a game though that the Romford Pele showed himself, was overturning Blackburn at Ewood Park 4-1 when he got 2 goals after Arsenal took a 4-0 half time lead. Kevin Whitcher described it as ‘possibly their best display of 1997-8 at Ewood Park’.

If one really wants to see the change in Parlour one only needs to look at his man of the match performance in the 1998 cup final, in comparison to the dire display in 1993. His pass to Anelka for the second goal, a delicate 30 yard chip into space, was pretty much pure class.

After one of Ray’s best seasons I think many felt that he was bound to go to the world cup in France. As Glenn Hoddle was in charge things, it didn’t work out that way. Hoddle felt Sick note, Darren Anderton (a player from Glenn’s team, Spurs) as the better choice. Parlour’s international career in many ways was a joke. He finally made his debut in 1999 in a 3-1 win over Poland.  Ray rarely played for Glenn Hoddle and was dropped when Glenn asked him to see a healer called Eileen Drewery for an injury. Ray said when she saw her:-

I sat in this seat, I couldn’t see her – I thought she was going to come out with no clothes on or something! Anyway, she placed her hands on my shoulders – I had long hair back then – and I just said: “short back and sides, please, Eileen”.

He was later picked for England’s first two qualifiers for the 2002 world cup against Germany (managed by Kevin Keegan) at Wembley and Finland away 5 days later (managed by Howard Wilkinson). Having been beaten at Wembley, England needed something at Helsinki. With 3 minutes Parlour took a smack outside the box, with the ball hitting the underside of the bar and crossing the line. Ray said afterwards ‘I actually ran away celebrating.’ Unfortunately the referee did not give it. Ray played one more international. Capped a mere 10 times and no goals. I still think that goal would have aided his international career.

After 1998, Ray became an integral part to the Arsenal team, but sometimes dropped for Robert Pires ot Freddie Ljungberg. Ray could have some memorable matches. I mean here was a player who scored a league hat trick against Newcastle in 2000 and a hat trick at Werder Bremen in the UEFA cup:-

The season of 2001-2002 would see Ray again be a fulcrum to the squad, but not without a few errors on the way. As said previously, look back at any Arsenal double winning team and their trophies have often based upon adversity. In 1970-71 it was the 5-0 defeat to Stoke that caused Arsenal some introspection (as they openly discussed the issues the players were facing). In 1997-8 it was the home defeat to Blackburn. For the season of 2001-2002 it was another home defeat (our last league one as well) to Newcastle. Having taken a 1-0 lead, Newcastle won thanks to a dodgy referee giving Newcastle a penalty and Ray Parlour getting sent off for a fair challenge on Alan Shearer and with Shearer telling the referee it was a fair challenge. The feeling of ‘us and them’ can certainly be remembered for Henry having a go at the referee (see below):-

Arsenal then went on to win the double, with one of the most memorable moments being Ray’s first goal of the season. In the cup final against Chelsea. I think the goal is remembered for two things. First. It was Ray’s best goal. Secondly, Tim Lovejoy, a Chelsea fan, on seeing Ray charging through the midfield saying ‘oh, its only Ray Parlour’. Check the video below.

Over the next few seasons Ray became more of a squad player or was often injured. Still important to the squad and many of the important matches. For example, when Arsenal beat Inter Milan 5-1, Ray captained the team. Ray said that this improvement was often down to Bergkamp. In his recent biography Stillness and Speed: My Story Ray said of the game he said how:-

He and Edu thoroughly outplayed the Inter midfield when Arsenal won 5-1 at the San Siro in 2003. ‘They had some very well respected players but we pulled all the strings. They couldn’t get near us. After the game the Italians were saying ‘we didn’t expect you to control the whole game.’ But at that time, technically, I was just getting better and better.’

Ray played in the Invincibles team of 2003-2004, and the only real game of worth I remember him for was the battle of Old Trafford in which Ray got a £10,000 fine and 1 match ban. Still it was sad to see Parlour go at just 30 years old.

Its not as if Ray isn’t fondly remembered. I was recently listening to the podcast a Bergkamp wonderland, in which the panel was asked who they would have as the next statue. FK [i think] said the Romford Pele.

My personal reason for liking Ray was he was the first player I saw score in a league match when we defeated Bradford at highbury in 2001. A cracking shot from outside the area. Secondly, I once mentioned Parlour’s cup winning goal on twitter and putting his twitter handle on there. Christ alive he even responded:-

@plasticspam @11cannons @PoznanInMyPants @ArsenalGent Ha Classic. Get in!

— Ray Parlour (@RealRomfordPele) December 6, 2013

Ray Parlour, a rogue but one who clearly had the hearts of the fans. Anyhow, lets hope we see a screamer tomorrow against Everton like we did at Wembley from Ray 12 years ago.


ROGUES GALLERY: The Nearly Man, Sigurdur Jonsson

Sigurdur Jonsson‘s very short career consisted of merely 10 games over a period of 1 year. Hardly a career, more a blip on the Arsenal map. Actually though he was a player that ‘might have been’ at the Arsenal. We’ve had players like that before. Alex Cropley in the 1970’s, Vladimir Petrovic in the early 1980’s and Glenn Helder in the 1990’s. Very similar to these players, but oh so different. The other three players mentioned were all attacking players who never made it at Arsenal, leaving after between 6 months to 2 years. These players were sold on for a loss. Unfortunately, Siggi joined us and suffered a back injury that ended his career at Arsenal.

Siggi Jonsson was a strong, central midfield general. In the previous 4 years we had similar players such as Stewart Robson, Steve Williams and Kevin Richardson. The last two had helped us win a league cup trophy and 1st division championship. Many (or may be just myself) felt Siggi would be the next in a successful line of defensive midfielders at Arsenal, following one from the last three as well as other such as Peter Storey in the double winning team of 1970-71.

Siggi Jonsson was an icelandic international that we had signed from Sheffield Wednesday. A season or two previously we had signed one of Arsenal’s most under rated winger in Brian Marwood. It is difficult to think that prior to the Premier League,in the old first division Wednesday were a top 6 club. In fact, sometimes Wednesday could attract players we tried to buy (Andy Sinton) in the 1980’s and early 1990’s. So, getting Siggi was a fairly good signing. Prior to joining Wednesday from his Icelandic team, Akraness, teams such as a great Liverpool side of the 1980’s had been after Siggi. Signed as a 17 year old in 1985, his four years at Sheffield Wednesday was a period marked by injuries. A back injury at the end of 1985 and a leg break whilst playing for Iceland against the Scottish and Graeme Souness  which Siggi said of the incident:-

“It was painful, to say the least,” Jonsson recalled. “I realised right away that something was wrong, that my ankle was broken.” Jonsson refuses to apportion blame to Souness, but comprehension is also beyond him. “It was one of those things,” he reflected. “I guess it taught me a lesson. I have never been a player who goes about hurting people, it’s not in my nature.” It was, though, when Souness’s went through him meant Siggi only played 67 games in those four years.

Although he made only 67 games, he scored just five goals. As a tall player, it was often a header such as this one against Charlton Athletic. He was also a player with a stinging shot from distance. When he was at Wednesday, his defensive skills and shielding the back was clear to be seen. A regular starter at Wednesday (when not injured) that when Arsenal went in for him he was one of a few signings after the Arsenal had won the league on the last game of the season against Liverpool, when it was up for grabs now.

Siggi was signed for £475,000 in July 1989 as one of our new defensive midfield players at the club. He was there to bring competition to a player like Kevin Richardson, a player who often spoke his mind. Something that did not go down too well with George Graham. In the end Richardson would be sold after calling George, and his dictatorial management style, ‘Ayatollah’.

In later years, Siggi said of his signing:-

I had followed Arsenal when I was a kid and signing for them was a dream come true,” Jonsson said. “My first season was good, but then I had a bad back injury which finished me by 1992.

Siggi was the only major signing of the season and many of us felt we certainly needed more. The opening game of the season of 1989-90 though underlined how poor we were. A first game of the season at Old Trafford, against a side that had spent money over the summer on players like Neil Webb, Mike Phelan and Danny Wallace. A 4-1 capitulation against Manchester United summed up how much more we should have brought players in.

Siggi Jonsson made his Arsenal debut against Manchester City in a 4-0 win, a game which is famous for two things: Perry Groves scoring two headed goals and Perry Groves scoring his second goal after being concussed and not remembering the goal. This would be one of 10 games that Siggi would play.

By the time he played his fourth game for us against QPR, Siggi came on as a sub and did two things for us. He scored the last goal against David Seaman before he joined us in 1990 (he wouldn’t be beaten by us until 14 years later in a 2-1 at Manchester City when Sylvain Wiltord scored). Also, the 3-0 win would put us top of the league (a rare occurrence in season 1989-90, a season in which we’d end up in 6th position).

Therefore, George Graham’s first movement into the Nordic market in buying players was in many ways a disappointment for George, Siggi and the fans. The good thing was it had not put George off the Nordic market, as in the following summer he would sign Anders Limpar out on the wing. His signing alone helped us win the 1991 league title. Although Siggi played two games in season 1990-1991, he would soon retire from Arsenal in 1992 at the age of 24. The final game that Siggi played was a 2-0 win against Norwich with Paul Davis  scoring both goals. ‘The second (was) the result of a four-man move involving Siggi Jonsson, Nigel Winterburn and Anders Limpar.’ Oddly, in 1999 Siggi came out of retirement to come back and play for Dundee United for a year.

It was always a shame about losing Siggi. George Graham would replace him with a mixed bag of defensive midfielders such as David Hillier, Mickey Thomas and Scandinivia’s finest player in John Jensen, a player who would cause the downfall of George Graham. Graham also looked into buying two divergent defensive midfielders in Geoff Thomas and Roy Keane, but refused to pay the fees (good in the Thomas case, but foolish on the Keane case).

I often think, what if Siggi had kept injury free? I reckon the early 1990’s would have been different for us. If for no other reason than the fact that Siggi would have been better than Jensen.