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From Gunners in Arms, to Gooners in Arms

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By Walter Broeckx

I recently read a book, written by Bernard Joy, a former Gunner in the 1930-1940’s called Forward Arsenal and in this book Bernard Joy is talking about the players in those days also being more than just Gunners. Players who are ready to set their personal ambitions aside for the benefit of the team. It was in the years we were managed by Chapman, Allison and Whitakker. It felt a bit that the players also really had the club in their hearts. If you haven’t read the book yet, I can recommend it and really enjoyed reading it.

While reading the book it felt as if it was like in the lyrics I once wrote on the tune of the, in my humble opinion, best song ever “Brothers in arms” from the Dire Straits. I called it “Gooners in arms”, (how original), and it had a phrase in it where I wrote:

“We sing for you Gunners, to be Gooners in arms”

So in those lyrics I asked the players to not only be a player that is passing by, but I ask them to be more than passing players, I ask them to be fans like we are. So it struck me a bit when I read this in that book over our earlier history as it was what I was meaning.

On a few occasions over the last years Arsène Wenger has mentioned in interviews a few times the fact that he wants to build a club with youth coming to its own ranks who are not only players (Gunners) but who eat, drink, love and live the Arsenal.

We all eat, drink, love and live Arsenal and therefore we are called Gooners. And Wenger actually is trying to do that with the current youth team players.

I also think that the way he has been buying players during the last few seasons, most of them at a young age shows he is trying to educate them and trying to make them feel more than Gunners. I really think that Arsène Wenger is trying to bring back the days described in the book Forward Arsenal and wants the players to be fans.

Today when looking for more Arsenal news I ran into the story on arsenal.com where Alex Song was describing how he went totally mad when he was watching the Hull game at home. He said he was jumping around in joy when Bendtner scored the late winner and his little son not knowing why he was running all over the room in joy.

This is just an example I think of what our great managers in the past wanted from the players, what I as a fan once wrote down, and what Arsène Wenger wants from our players.

I really think that Arsène Wenger knows our history and knows about the way Arsenal have wanted to develop and to give a special bond between the players and the club and he really is trying to give this to the players, the club and the fans.

Also the fact that most of our players are rather dull in their private lives means that Wenger not only is bringing players in for  their football skills but also he keeps a firm eye on the personality behind the player. Like Vermaelen had discovered they even came to see him training when there were only 8 players in training, just to see what kind of character he had.

Most of our players seem to behave themselves in public and are, apart from a car accident or so, not interesting for the tabloids to make up some juicy story’s. Is it a co-incidence that some of the players Arsène Wenger has let go have had problems with the law? Did Wenger feel that they were missing the attitude he thinks is required, not only to be a professional football player but also to be an Arsenal player in his team?

Maybe this is something to which some could say: so what? It may not be a big deal but as other clubs have to bond their players with high wages this could mean for the young Arsenal players that they not only play for the wages – which aren’t that bad at all in fact – but that they maybe will not leave for another £10.000 a week more to another club.

Yes there have been and there always will be players that want to leave for more money. We all can give examples of this. But the fact that over 15 players, mostly young or brought in at a young age,  have agreed new and long term contracts in the last season could mean that they realise that the fact of being a Gunner is more than earning 50.000 pounds a week.

What’s the use of going to Barcelona for £60.000 a week when you sit on the bench week in week out?  Maybe we have been lucky with the fact that our latest players that have gone to top clubs in Europe have rather failed. This could have shown to some players who might be tempted to go after the cash that the safe home and the guidance from Arsène Wenger is so important for their future and for the club that they would rather stay at The Arsenal.

And when you stay at your job, even if you could earn more money in another company, you mostly stay for the work itself (the beautiful football we play), for the friends you have in your team (Arsène has got rid of some bad influences in the dressing room), and maybe because you love your company. Because you are no longer just a Gunner but you have become a Gooner.

This is a hidden process we cannot see for the moment, but the future will tell if my thoughts have become a fact. Will Arsène Wenger have succeeded in the most difficult thing in these modern times with money grabbing players all over football?

Will our Gunners in arms, all become Gooners in Arms?

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For the Untold Arsenal review of Bernard Joy’s book click here

You can buy the book direct from the publishers, GCR Books.

Back to Untold Arsenal home page and a list of recent articles

12 comments to From Gunners in Arms, to Gooners in Arms

  • Abhishek

    Absolutely great article Walter..

    Even I read somewhere in Wenger’s interview when asked about so much media attention and money floating around..he said the best way to secure a player was to bring them young in the club and have a special bond with the club…

    Keep writing..

  • ibbs

    Larger seats required at the emirates,certain fans are eating too much humble pies.Song’s young son will realise what arsenal means to his dad,that story made me laugh.
    Verminator and Sol have shown how dumb Paul merson and others are to even question the professor.
    United would have been destroyed at the emeirates if Arshavin had his shooting boots on,bring em on.
    Think Hleb is sick of ice-cream by now.

  • IndianGooner

    Nice article, Walter.

    It does seems that Wenger wants to make the players feel Arsenal in themselves than just to play for Arsenal. He wants to make the players bleed Arsenal.

    Reg Song’s interview, the best quote for me was “It is very difficult to watch your friends when you don’t play. But I had confidence in my team. We have the players to come in and do well.”. This not only shows that these players love to play the Arsenal way but have belief in other’s ability. The way he refers his teammates as friends is the icing on the cake..

    And your analogy with our own work is the best.

  • Phil

    Totally agree with you Walter. Not only are we trailblazing in regards to style of play and financial management, but we have a squad of players who were made by, and therefore love the club. Naturally, this doesn’t work out everytime (Flamini and co can attest to that) but a more secure playerbase in this age will help us out no end as well as being exactly what the fans want to see

  • The closing scene of Stoke game is answer. Al what should be said is said than.

  • RVP

    Is it me or does anyone else get goosebumps watching us celebrate after the Stoke game when Vermaelen scored. Sol made a big difference in that game, man i love that guy!

  • tim

    Walter, nice article. Yes, AW is trying to make every player live and breath Arsenal. (This is why I give Adebayor the benefit of the doubt whenever he claims that he never wanted to leave).

    There’s a culture within the club that can’t be matched anywhere else. The only thing I fear is that there’s so much talent coming through that certain players will lose patience and be tempted away (like Fran…).

    RVP — Yes, my eyes teared when that happened.

    As AW says, “Our team has great spirit,” and it will carry us through to the end.

  • LRV

    I absolutely agree with you Walter. Our club is breeding a cast of players who not only love to play Wengerball, but resolutely love Arsenal football club to bits.

    Even those who have left still feel the love. Look at Sol prancing like a teenager when we scored. His love for the club did not in the least diminish after his sojourn to Portsmouth and back. Look at Henry still bleeding Gunner. Despite being at Man Shitty, Adebayor still talks as like a jilted lover about Arsenal.

    Van Persie said that approaches were made to lure him away in the Summer, but his heart could never leave Arsenal. That’s what Arsenal tries to achieve with every player.

  • walter

    The Traore story is a bit of support for my article, I like to think.
    The last 24 hours all over the media there was talk of Traore wanting to go to PSG. And he was so upset by this reports he wanted to get it right and did it on arsenal.com.
    He isn’t first choice and he accept that Clichy is better than him for the moment but he just wants to stay and do what ever he can to get a chance. He said he wants to stay until the moment Arsenal tell him he is not wanted anymore.
    And he’s just 20 so his best years still have to come.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Spot on Walter !Our love and loyalty for and to this club is absolute.It
    is heartening to note that the feelings are mutual with the staff and players.
    As I have remarked before ,”love is not love that alters when it alteration finds”[Shakespear].
    “Arise ,awake and rest not till the goal is reached “[Swami Vivekananda ],
    who although lived a hundred years ago ,remarked that you can get to heaven
    playing football.
    Keep the faith and hope for a double success this season.Cheers!

  • MelburnianGooner

    Spot on Walter. I have the feeling these same reasons are why Adebayor was sold. he could not get it. He thought being Superstar was more important than being a Gunner/Gooner and he is bigger than club. I can only imagine what used to happen in the dressing room everytime we lose and how he would blame others for the defeats. Sorry this is an assumption from my end, but when you read carefully his statements and see his actions on the pitch, you can pretty much guess his character “never accept you mistakes it is someone else’s fault”

  • well-endowed gooner

    Our wage bill is similar to Man Utd’s, but we overpay our youngsters to entice them to the Arsenal. Whether it means they’ll accept less money to stay at our club once they’re established, that’s the big question. I think they might stay for a while if we start winning things, but past history shows that we’re not going to pay them enough to entice them to stay.

    I’ve got to admit that I like that our players are all nice boys.