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From Everton to Arsenal, from Kendall to Wenger

By Walter Broeckx

Every now and then I get some interesting things sent to me from other Arsenal supporters. So with the death of Howard Kendall I got send a copy of a letter that someone sent to a newspaper. It was an Everton fan who expressed his gratitude towards Howard Kendall and thanked him for not only being a great player in the seventies but also for being the most successful manager in the history of Everton. Everton who happen to be our opponent next Saturday.

In short this person was there when Kendall won the league in 1970 with Everton. But when later Kendall returned to Everton as a manager the writer of the piece wasn’t that happy at first. Because in the first years Everton wasn’t that good and finished below the expectation level of this Everton supporter. He then wrote a letter to Kendall. A not too friendly letter. He just didn’t write “Kendall Out!” literally but that was the feeling he had being a young man in his early twenties.

Howard Kendall reacted to the letter by inviting that young man to the club and gave him a trial. A trial that he failed as he was just a pub footballer. But the way Kendall acted in response to him without ever blaming him for the letter and his feelings was extraordinary. He even offered him tickets for a next home match but as the young man was a season ticket holder he declined and so got offered tickets for the next away match….against Arsenal.

Now I must admit that I never have known Howard Kendall in person, only from the images I saw on TV in Match of the Day or any other football show. But it looked as if he was a rather classy person. And when we use the word class we come to our manager.

Because that is one of the attributes Wenger has shown over the years a lot. Class when handling journalists (who are not worth it in my opinion). And also lots of class towards our own supporters.

I don’t know any manager that would have stayed at our club or at any other club after getting so much abuse from his own fans. Fans I write, not supporters. Let the difference be clear.

The way the media and that small but noisy part of our fans have behaved over the last years was terrible. But Wenger always stayed the same polite person to no matter who. I probably would have kicked a few reporters had I received the abuse he had to stick up with.

Did Wenger make mistakes in this long period of time as an Arsenal manager? Of course he made them. If he hadn’t he would be god-like, not a normal person. Now he is for me only a half-god person. An idol. Yes even older people have idols, that I admire. Admire a lot.

The writer of the letter I mentioned  said in his final words that he thanked Howard Kendall for having taught him the value of humility. And I think that is why I love Wenger so much. Because when you look at him and what he does and how that he does it, you can learn a lot from him.

The hate he gets from the media and that noisy part of our fans is terrible. But yet he never shows it. In fact he even talks about understanding them. That is even more than I can do to be honest. Because I cannot understand them when they attacked him at the train station last season and called him names.

He has survived all the other managers in the game by now and is the most senior managers of all the managers in the PL.  And today he is celebrating his birthday. He is now 66 years old or can I say, 66 years young? Wenger will one day leave our great club. And I dread the day he will do it. Not because there are no other good managers around but will we ever have a manager who is so one with the club than Wenger?

Arsène has become Arsenal over the years and Arsenal has become a bit Arsène FC. They sometimes blame us for supporting Arsène FC and not Arsenal FC. Well if you don’t understand by now that those two names are somehow melded together you probably never will.

Arsène is not just a manager of Arsenal. NO, Arsène is so much more to Arsenal than his job. His loyalty to this club in the days when we had nothing to offer him and other clubs came banging at his door to offer him piles of money is something that we never should forget. He could have walked out in the barren years and nobody would have blamed him for walking away.

But as he is a man of honour he wanted to fulfil the task he had taken upon him when we first started planning and building the Emirates. A daring plan. A risky plan. Wenger knew what was expected of him and knew what he would have to face. And he did it. Against all odds and fighting against money teams that came above water during those years he kept us near and close to the top. We lost a few trophies, or had a few taken away by strange events on the field. It would have made it much easier on him and on the noisy part of our fans.

But he never gave up on Arsenal. I know some fans did. But us real supporters of Arsenal never gave up. And because of Wenger also not giving up I consider him to be one of our greatest supporters. I think any defeat hurt him as much as it hurts you and me.

What I have personally learned from Wenger is not only a big belief in the future of our club. But Wenger has also given me something else. The attitude of never giving up. In football terms of course but a lesson I have learned to put in practice in my personal life. Never give up hope. Always keep on fighting. Always believing in better things ahead of us even in the darkest moments we face. Both in football and in our daily life.

Wenger is more than a manager to this club. He is a beacon of light for this club and for all who want to see it. So on this day when he celebrates his 66th birthday I not only want to congratulate him but also want to thank him. Thank him for the lessons of life he has given those who want to see it.

Happy Birthday, Mr. Wenger. May you stay with us for many, many years.

Hope to see you (from a distance) next Saturday when we will try to move in to the 1st position in the league when I come over with the rest of the Arsenal Belgium supporters for our match against…. Everton.

Happy Birthday Arsene: The Arsenal History Society tribute to Arsene Wenger

 

35 comments to From Everton to Arsenal, from Kendall to Wenger

  • proudkev

    Walter.

    Great comments.

    The day Arsene Wenger arrived the club was transformed.

    – From our boring football to the swashbuckling entertainment of Wengaball.
    – From our shared training facility with University College London to the state of the art facility at London Colney.
    – From a 40,000 seater stadium to a 60,000 seater stadium.
    – From bungs to undying loyalty.
    – From Alan Smith to Thierry Henry.
    – From one double to two doubles.
    – From 6 FA Cups to 12 FA Cups.
    – From 12th place and lower finishes to never finishing below 4th.
    – To the Invincibles.

    Thank you Arsene Wenger.

    Have a great birthday.

  • Jambug

    Walter

    Beautifully put, and I for one would endorse every single word.

    Happy Birthday Arsene and thank you.

  • colario

    Happy Birthday Arsene.

    Thank you for another great year.

    Long may your time as our manager continue.

  • Josif

    Wonderful piece, Walter. 🙂

    I’ve been watching Season 8 of Doctor Who and can’t help myself thinking how Arsene and Peter Capaldi look like brothers.

    Happy birthday Arsene, may health and luck be always with you.

  • Shakabula Gooner

    Happy Birthday Arsene.
    A good man,inside and outside.
    That is what you are
    More so, in comparison to your detractors,
    Everyone of them.

  • Nonny

    Happy birthday cheers to the man who not only made me become an Arsenal fan through and through but is a symbol of modesty and brought so much joy to my heart. Because of him, I am grateful I am an Arsenal fan.

    Many happy cheers Arsene Wenger.

  • bjtgooner

    An excellent article Walter, I am not going to try to add to it – but fully endorse the views expressed.

  • gouresh

    I am a great fan of Michael Schumacher, but I did not feel sad when he retired. Just accepted it. The day AW retires I wont feel sad but I will certainly have tears in my eyes. Hope he had a great day with his family.

  • Menace

    Happy Birthday Professor Arsene Wenger. The teacher of humility, morality, good health & football to youth & to all who care about themselves.

    Your dedication to football & to Arsenal is a legacy that will live forever.

  • SamuelAkinsolaAdebosin.

    Happy Birthday Day To You Manager Asene Wenger And Many Happy Returns! Let the Lord of Favour grant you peace of mind and success in your wishes and plans this season. And also grant you total victory in your quest to win all the fifthruple titles this season, having already won the Charity Shield. Have a great victory over Everton on Saturday. Be blessed and be more blessed.

  • Florian

    Happy Birthday Mr. Wenger! May the coming years bring what you set out for, and what we all desire in every moment – a new PL title, and many other trophies down the road. To paraphrase Queen Isabel when she sent Christopher Columbus to discover America: “Even if that trophy doesn’t exist, may God create it to reward your endeavor”.

  • Ando

    Walter,
    A lovely article, well expressed and from the heart.
    M. Wenger – bonne anniversaire!
    Thank you for bringing all that you do to our beloved club.
    Salute!

  • Damilare

    Mr Broeckx, thanks for the article that fits the occasion perfectly.

    Thanks Prof. Arsene Wenger and have a wonderful birthday with many more successes at Arsenal in the coming years.

    I’m hoping the boys will dispatch Everton with another victory on Saturday, sending us top of the league while the Manchester’s derby ends in a gruelling draw.

    COYG

  • Jerry

    Excellent Article Walter!! And Happy Birthday to the great Arsene Wenger!

  • omgarsenal

    Two things to say to Mr.Football……….

    66 is not old so maybe another 10 years at AFC?

    Bonne fete, frohe geburstag, felice cumpleanos and a very Happy birthday to you from every true Gooner on UA and everywhere else!

  • Al

    Happy Birthday, Arsene.

  • Jerry

    Also congratulations to Tony for his “Happy birthday Arsene Wenger” article making it to the best of the blogs on Arsenal.com

    http://www.arsenal.com/news/news-archive/20151022/happy-birthday-arsene-wenger

  • Rantetta

    Hear, hear, Walter.

    Happy Birthday Mr Wenger.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY , BOSS .
    MAY YOU REIGN LONG .
    FORWARDS AND ONWARD !

  • apo Armani

    Excellent article Walter…absolutely spot on!!!

    Since the early years of supporting Arsenal (during my idol Charly George era), I always felt the Gunners were different to the rest. The cannon, the red and white strip, the way we played – all were different – stand out different; in my mind!

    That difference went to a light years ahead level when this man Arsène Wenger took charge. He took with him my level of love and support to the club…and to this day I have not faltered in my support one bit!!! I believe in him and what he is doing.

    His birthday closely coincides with my late brother by one day and my daughter who has hers today – mine follows on the 27th – he (Wenger in the centre it seems) – of what I love most!!

    Happy Birthday Great Man!!

  • fabrechenko

    i started supporting arsenal right from my formative years and i can’t deny the impact of the club in my life, from meticulous planning to a never give up attitude and many other attributes associated with this great club. I don’t believe in having mentors but i’ve been receiving mentorship subliminally from Arsene wenger over the years as he’s the only Arsenal manager i’ve known, he’s been more than an a manager to me, may God reward him accordingly.

  • Pat

    Brought a tear to my eye, Walter!

    When Arsene Wenger was asked in a recent interview whether he would go through the ‘lean years’ again he said: I would say, let another man do it.

    This man has sacrificed a lot for our club. Proudkev has given a list of what he has given us.

    Happy birthday, Arsene!

  • nicky

    @Phil,
    Another featherbed at the Emirates I think (and I don’t mean North London). )

  • apo Armani

    This article together with all the comments needs to be sent to AFC/Wenger

  • Eric

    Happy birthday mr. Wenger.
    A great man, greater then all of us put together.
    Thank you for everything.

  • Andy Mack

    As you say, a remarkable Arsenal Man.

    Although we’ll have some poor managers in the future, I’m sure we’ll get some more good mangers as well and when they have success, It’ll have been earned off the back of Arsene Wenger.

    Such a shame we have so many loud but simple minded ‘followers’ that can’t understand that now and may not understand it even then.

  • Michael Ram

    Happy birthday to the greatest inspiration in football!

  • Bobome

    Arsene, Sorry this is coming very late but it is better than never. The exciting way your team play’s football convinced me to be an even more ardent supporter of AFC. May your shadow never grow less as you continue to steer the team to its destination of bountiful trophies even long after you leave. Your legacy would be a tough act to follow, I won’t envy the manager who comes after you; the size of the shoes he has to fill are way way way too large for any mere mortal. God bless you as you continue to give your all in managing the club. Happy birthday.

  • Tim Charlesworth

    Great article Walter. Reminds me of my nagging fear about what will happen post-Wenger. Look what happened to Man U post SAF, and Man U was less personalised to him than we are to Arsene. You also reminded me of my hope that he is not in his last contract. But lets not worry about tomorrow’s problems (yet).

    So to Arsene: joyeux anniversaire

    To everyone else, I hope you are still enjoying the Bayern afterglow.

  • finsbury

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vEjs9zwRfz0&feature=youtu.be

    A damning inditement of the farce conducted by harringey council and THFC in their perverse efforts to rip off the taxpayer for the benefit of offshore scammers who donate to various politicians.

    be under no illusion. This project is the antithisis of the joint efforts of the local authority and AFC, of local democracy in action, that we all witnessed behind the project in N5. The evidence for that is there in concrete (and the refusal of the new tower proposed recently, rightfully so!). Sure there were issues in re-locating industrial sites in N5, not ideal when you want to create jobs, but at least they weren’t burning people’s workshops down!

  • Andy Mack

    Thanks finsbury. Very interesting.
    To be fair, Tinys are the only option to improve that area from a hell hole into a cr4p hole. No one else will do anything for the area. I can’t see them making a mega profit from the new-builds either as it’ll still be a cr4p hole area, but better than it is now, so they’ll definitely make money from it.

    If you watch it, give the youtube a ‘thumbs up’ if you can (if you’re a member/whatever it’s called) as the more thumbs up, the more others will see it.

  • finsbury

    Your welcome Andy

    I agree with you. But then again Holloway is not exactly the same as Canonbury. And Tottenham has been attracting people that wouldn’t have lived there twenty years ago the area was changing anyway. There’s no need to follow the N.American neo-liberal model so discredited by so many stadium builds out there. The Wembley model!

    By incrementally squirming out of the planning constraints this development is following a process that has been called out and discredited by civil servants, academics, journalists etc. These developments have been a disaster for London, there are some very good articles and a quick google search should throw them up. Some developments are 60% empty! Incredible, but true!

    London has a unique character for a global mega city and was the most dynamic city as a result of its housing policies over the last seventy odd years, that is being changed by this current extremist (off the edge of the right wing) government.

    Late chunks I your city owned by offshore entities that don’t answer to government is corporatism or fascism by definition. It’s a practice of a dystopian vision, a neo-Dickensian philosphopy, against history, and I’m happy to call such beliefs and practices out for the regressive sociopathy that they are.

  • finsbury

    Your welcome Andy

    I agree with you. But then again Holloway is not exactly the same as Canonbury. And Tottenham has been attracting people that wouldn’t have lived there twenty years ago the area was changing anyway. There’s no need to follow the N.American neo-liberal model so discredited by so many stadium builds out there. The Wembley model!

    By incrementally squirming out of the planning constraints this development is following a process that has been called out and discredited by civil servants, academics, journalists etc. These developments have been a disaster for London, there are some very good articles and a quick google search should throw them up. Some developments are 60% empty! Incredible, but true!

    London has a unique character for a global mega city and was the most dynamic city as a result of its housing policies over the last seventy odd years, that is being changed by this current extremist (off the edge of the right wing) government.

    Large chunks of a city owned by offshore entities that don’t answer to government is corporatism or fascism by definition. It’s a practice of a dystopian vision, a neo-Dickensian philosphopy, against history, and I’m happy to call such beliefs and practices out for the regressive sociopathy that they are.