Never one to miss a bandwagon when it is passing, I thought it was time to share the contents of my Arsenal scrapbook with the world.
Back in the summer of 1995 I decided to start collecting Arsenal newspaper stories.
|My Arsenal scrapbook, complete with badly drawn club crest|
Usually you associate this with the 1950s and 60s, or at a push the 1970s, when people were so impressed with the invention of colour they thought they needed to store it away in case it disappeared.
But no, aged 14 – when there were almost certainly better things I should have been doing with my free time – I thought it was a good idea to start cutting and sticking the main news stories from the day.
And it turned out to be decent timing: I have a record of some pivotal years in Arsenal’s modern history and there are some fascinating, hilarious, and prescient comments in just the first few pages.
I confess I have only rooted out the first few editions and can’t remember how long I did it for but hopefully you’ll enjoy the trips down memory lane before I run out of material in a couple of years…
Bruce Rioch arrives: June 9 to June 15, 1995
I distinctly remember when George Graham was sacked in February 1995 that, probably for the first time in my life, I checked the league table to see how likely it was Arsenal would be relegated. On the day he went, we were 13th, just four points better off than West Ham who occupied the highest spot in the relegation zone at 19th. We finished 12th, six points from the relegation zone, and then lost our Cup Winners’ Cup crown after Nayim’s freak last minute goal in the final.
In short, while not a total disaster, in comparison to the title and cup-winning seasons that had gone before it, the season was nothing to be proud of and the star names like Tony Adams, David Seaman, Ian Wright and Paul Merson had collectively failed to live up to expectations.
While Stewart Huston led the team for the rest of the 94/95 season after George departed, I don’t think anyone felt he was genuine manager material. If he had won that CWC final, perhaps the Board would have felt duty-bound to give him a shot full-time, who knows.
I have no cuttings from earlier in the summer but my scribblings in the front say there were rumours Bobby Robson was the first choice but his then employers Porto wouldn’t let him go. So in the end they opted for Bruce Rioch, who had just led Bolton Wanderers to the top flight via the playoffs, and who was unveiled as Arsenal manger on Thursday, June 8, 1995.
|Daily Mirror, June 9, 1995|
The general theme was one of him imposing some law and order, rather than introduce sexier football as he gradually did.
|Sunday Times, June 11, 1995|
|Daily Telegraph, June 9, 1995|
|Daily Telegraph, June 9, 1995|
For now, let’s look at Rioch’s obvious pride at being given the job which is clear in all of these stories and would be through the rest of the single season he was in charge. In fact, that pride has come through even after he was replaced by Arsene Wenger, as I’ve never seen him say a bad word against the Club since then.
|The Sun, June 15, 1995|
|Letter to me, June 15, 1995|
In terms of transfer speculation, there were – and would be for the rest of the summer – rumours that Rioch would revisit Bolton to buy ‘classy’ centre back Alan Stubbs and/or midfielder Jason McAteer.
|Daily Mirror, June 13, 1995|
They were not particularly exciting rumours at the time. For that, we would have to wait a few days more, as the next batch of stories on the arrival of a certain Dutch legend will illustrate.