We want our Arsenal back: time to choose –

By Walter Broeckx and Tony Attwood

As I started following Arsenal in a season where they finished 7th in the league I find it sometimes hard to understand the “we want our Arsenal back”.

Because for me “my Arsenal” is something from the 70ties. And for someone else it might be something of the 60ties.

People sometimes forget easily and think that Arsenal always has been a top 4 team. Well we weren’t at all.

In the period 1905 – 1995 we finished 24 times in the top 4 in 90 years of top division football. Since 1997 we always finished in the top 4.

So what Arsenal do we want back? The one before 1997? To help you pick “your Arsenal” that you want back I will now show you our league position since 1905.  Just look and think which Arsenal you want back….

Do you want the 66 times back we finished outside the top 4. Because well that is in general “our Arsenal”.

So it is time to say which Arsenal you prefer.

There is also the question of ownership implied in this issue of “our Arsenal back”.   There was an Arsenal run by members of the local community – it was the Arsenal until 1893.  If you know your Arsenal you will know that this was the year the club split and the more middle class clique forced the club out of its ground, and set up Royal Ordnance Factories FC.   They entered the Southern League and lasted just a few seasons.

Arsenal continued but from that point on as a limited company – it could still be “our Arsenal” for anyone who wanted to join for the price of £1.  Indeed a committee even selected the team and as the review of managers on the Arsenal History site shows, they did quite well

In 1910 Arsenal went into administration, and this is where the picture changed.  After the arrival of Henry Norris there were dominant shareholders who directed the club, but it was still possible to be part of “our Arsenal” because Norris spent three years trying to sell the club back to the local supporters through £1 shares.  Anyone who did buy a share and held on to it would have done rather well.

But when the local faithful failed to support the club with shares, he moved Arsenal to Highbury, and again offered shares in the club (with discounts for entry if you bought a share – see the first programme at Highbury in 1913).

But in reality with the dominant shareholding of Norris and his associates “our Arsenal” died in 1910, and it became a club run by a benefactor – and this is how it has been for the past 102 years.

Just how far back do you want to go?

You can read more about this in three books:

53 Replies to “We want our Arsenal back: time to choose –”

  1. We want the Invincibles back – we want a squad that gives us £ 143 millions worth of quality. Enough pain already – Wenger is a spent force – the sooner he goes, the sooner you’ll realise it.

  2. Fantastic. This should be medicine enough for the Anti-Wenger / Wenger Out / Kroenke Out Brigade.

    Aresenal fans has been spoilt by Wenger over the last 14 years, and now they are crying out like children whose favorite toy has been snatched away by the very person who gave it to them in the firt place.

    Get intelligent people!

  3. By the way it is interesting to see that in the chapman era we only managed to be in the top 4 for 5 consecutive years.

    In the 1989 era we also only managed to end in the top 4 for 4 consecutive years

    Other titles were won coming out of the blue and after that going back to more mid table finishes

    And as far as I know but I could be wrong about this : before 2002 there were no billionaires throwing money around as if it was nothing that could buy any player under the sun they wanted. So making a top 4 finish even more difficult these days.

  4. A nice piece no doubt but one got to ask himself what it means to be ambitious. Arsenal is the 4th largest club in the world as at 2012 as such, our ambition muat match our size and not only our history. Looking backward periodically while driving forward is normal but keeping one’s eyes permanently focused on the rearview mirror would never make for good progress.

    A good point to note is the fact that prior to Ferguson taking over the managerial role at Manchester United, they had only won the Premier League title 8 times but over the past 20 years, they have won it 12 more times and have become one of the only 3 clubs that are currently bigger than our Arsenal in whole world. Now, if their performance fall below expectation, would it be wrong for their supporters to ask for their club back or would that mean taking them back to the Stone Age? Everton have not won anything since David Moyes took over, yet he’s not been under much pressure because they realize that their expectations have been exceeded year in year out. I don’t ever think a situation where we would only be struggling to qualify for the CL each season would be just satisfactory.

    We have seen how good we can be and that should remain the reference point of Our Arsenal, not to be returned to the period of mediocrity when we ranked alongside some BIG club that have only won the League Cup twice in 50 years!

  5. Well said and thank you Walter Broeckx and Tony Attwood for putting this together! Perspective is a wonderful thing!

  6. Your article is irrelevant. Liverpool, Man U and to a much greater extent Chelsea and Man City ALL used to be mediocre before their clubs were transformed in their various ways. Would any of their supporters accept a return to the way it used to be for their clubs.

  7. I believe the ‘We want our Arsenal back’ brigade want to get rid of the prawn sandwich brigade and feel valued to the club rather than being cast aside for the continental fans and Emirates tourists.

    The Americanisation if you like…blue bands on our red and white shirt? Uncle Sam will be proud.

  8. I like your web site and your books. However you do not know what THE BSM is against. I have been an Arsenal fan for 7 years. I go to see us playing live about once a month. I do not know what it was like at Highbury but even though i am new to being a gooner something has to change.I attended the march and i have to say it finally felt like being a proper supporter! We were well behaved, organised and you could feel that those who attended used to be around THE AFC for a while. It’s not anti Wenger. It’s not about finishing in top 4 places every year. It’s about the sense of belonging and knowing that our clubs board is there to pursue the same goal. THE BSM wants cheaper tickets, standing terraces and a board which respects the history of the Arsenal and their supporters. Rob The Czech Gooner

  9. In my view this article is looking through the wrong end of the telescope. The fact is that we are the 4th richest club in the Premiership and our team should reflect that on the pitch. It doesn’t. The Arsenal I want back is the one that maximises its potential, not the one that underperforms week after week.

    With a new manager using modern methods that shouldn’t be beyond our expectations.

  10. what billionaire sponsors swansea city???? Wenger didnt manage the squad well over the last years. fact. even if the times are harder.

    Gazidis what to fook do u do????? we cant compete but we pay the idiot who sells rvp to united 2 million a year??? i dont like 24 million in the bank an dwould prefer his 35 goals a year!!!!

  11. Well said Yommex.

    We want our Arsenal back is a phrase that means different things to different people.

    What I want to see is an Arsenal that isn’t afraid to every once in a while pay 25 million plus for a player. If you pay peanuts on the whole you get monkeys. I want to see a club who does not tolerate anyone saying such nonsense as fourth is a trophy. Fergie wouldn’t get away with it. I want to see us compete with conviction in every game and I want to see us put out an effective squad in the FA Cup. If AFC are happy to raise ticket prices and drink and food prices I want to see some proper activity in the transfer market. I want the best players kept and I don’t want inefficient players on ridiculous wages.

    Far-fetched? Probably.

  12. @rupert

    You’ll know what it is to “want” then.

    Good luck with your Xmas list, hopefully Santa can satisfy you.

  13. when will people see arsenal for what they are? on average we win the league every 9-10 years (13 titles in 125 seasons) we win the fa cup every 12-13 years (10 in 125 seasons) we win the league cup every 62-63 years and pick up a european trophy every 62-63 years.

    why is it then having not won a trophy for 7 seasons is such a disaster?

    the invincibles season was a complete freak, i doubt that any club will pull that off again, ffp will see to that. people need to move on and accept that asrsenal are one of 85 english teams that have not won a major trophy during the last 7 seasons, however they are not one of the 84 teams that have not won a trophy during the last 8 seasons. shit happens!

  14. @ rupert…

    Cazorlas price on the lesser side of the 20 doesnt make him a monkey. Same goes for Giroud and Poldi.
    Look around a bit and you will also find Carol, Downing and Toress. OR say Hazard, hes gone missing too.

    AND for your “day trippers” comment elsewhere. We supporters from afar deserve better. Those day trippers are not here to look at some Victorian architecture. They are here to watch the ARSENAL play at home.

  15. Oh, that’s great then! It’s OK to be mediocre… I understand now! The last 14 years have been the exception, otherwise, Arsenal has generally been a mid table team. We should simply lay down and accept poor performances as they come.

    I hope that’s not what you mean.

  16. Yommex, You also forget that Sir F went a better part of 7 years without winning a trophy at Old Tafford. Had the management then been trigger happy, may be they would not have seen the success as you see ManUre now. Yes, we’re under performing now, but the shift in outlook by the Arsenal to buy experienced players, you would argue, will only make us better in the short run. Just hung in there mate.All Arsenal need now are small changes, adding a few players who have that never say die attitude, a good striker, and instilling a culture of ‘hot pressing’ on and off the ball just like Barcelona is.

  17. Sammy,

    Maybe I wanted people to realize and to think about: why do you like Arsenal?

    Do you like Arsenal because it is Arsenal? or…
    Do you like Arsenal for the trophies?

    I like Arsenal because they are what they are. Sometimes good, sometimes bad, sometimes excellent and sometimes completely sh*t.

    I always remember that if I would have been a fan of just winning things I now would be…a Wolverhampton supporter….Despite Wolverhampton playing in the colours of my own local team that day, despite Arsenal playing in the same colours as one of the fiercest local rivals of my local team…despite Arsenal losing at home to Wolverhampton… I just felt that Arsenal was “my Arsenal” that day.

  18. @bc, why bother then? And we don’t win an European trophy every 63 years. We have a poor record in Europe but we have won two trophies.

    And yes it’s poor not to have won a trophy in seven years because according to many on here we have the best manager that ever lived. And if we’re not interested in winning trophies why didn’t we just stay at Highbury?

    @Arsenal 13, Cazorla is a good player but he has not played well in the last two games. Maybe because he has so little quality back up. Pod is extremely erratic and Giroud does not have the service as he seems to be strongest in the air.

    Downing is very average. The only reason he costs money is because he’s subject to the over inflated prices English clubs will pay for any nine day wonder. But Downing is on AW’s radar so we may see him at Arsenal.

    I’ve no problem with anyone supporting Arsenal from afar but you might only have to pay for a couple of games a season, the home supporter has to stump up a lot more and I for one can’t afford it and pay a mortgage too.

  19. Rupert cook
    You’re not a home supporter, you go to the cinema when Arsenal are playing cos it’s much more fun. You also have lots and lots of money, living as you do in an affluent area of London in a four bed house (which, for the ladies and gents who don’t now much about London house prices, would cost in excess of £1.5 million) but you can’t afford £1,000 for a season ticket!?!? Someone is telling porkies mr cook… Oops, that mask has just slipped a bit further…

  20. Some of you need to grow up and learn to be more constructive in your criticism/arguments. Arsenal have been poor for a while. It wasn’t sudden but rather a steady descent into Shytdom. Arsene is Stubborn and Tired – that’s a dangerous combination for any manager. I honestly believe some control at the club has to be wrested from the man and that air of invincibility (based on his getting the sack) has to be shattered if the club is to start winning again. Else its all downhill. Liverpool, anyone?

  21. in reply to Vishal the gifted ass.
    What do you mean by having been spoilt by Wenger? Trophyless for the last seven years?
    Spoilt by being forced to watch Djourou, Silvestre, Chamack, Squillaci, Denilson, Santos, the crocked Diaby, unconsistant Theo, the lazy Arshavin, injury prone Gibbs play? Spoilt also by watching the panic buys of last year?, Spoilt by seeing Van Persie sold to our rival and not replacing our defensive midfielder which is one of the main reason for today’s mess? Spoilt by Wenger constantly replacing key players with lesser ones and being unable to keep a stable line up for more than a year?
    Spoilt by witnessing AFC without a replacement/cover for Giroud?
    Yes we are probably not as intelligent as you since these things are too trivial for a smart ass like you.

  22. I think it is also important to remember that for the first half of Wengers reign, top 4 was not good enough for Champions league

  23. many of us don’t seem to realize that The Invincibles didn’t just fall from the sky. they all were the result of years of planning, training and making all of them players who can play with 100% full potential. also almost all were at the peak of their powers. and most of all they trusted wenger.
    during these trophyless years wenger was trying hard to build another great arsenal team despite financial constraints. we were in fine form, even contesting for the title dyuring 07/08 and 09/10 . but some players had other ideas about where they wanted to go and how they want to win. if all of the players whom we sold during those years had stayed together, there’s no doubt we would have won something of great significance. but sadly it wasn’t meant to be. and every year we are assembling new players gelling them, familiarize them with our tactics and so on.
    I want my arsenal to go forward. not look back.

  24. Thought provoking post Walter, thank you. I guess the answer to your question is different to different people. For me, i would go back to the 2001/2 season.

    Prices at Highbury went up 23% from the previous season, with David Dein saying “if you want the best players then you have to pay”. In that pre season both Sol Campbell and Jens Lehmann joined us.

    What we have seen in the last 5 / 6 years is a continuous stream of top players leave the club and these have either not been replaced or been replaced by players at a much lower level.

    We finished 3rd last season and were very lucky not to be punished for dropped points in the last games at home to Wigan and Norwich. It was apparent to all that we had failings, but the club decided to sell both our goal scorer and defensive midfielder.

    I don’t mind paying the prices that the club charges, but i do want value for money. I don’t mind being beaten by Swansea as its part of football. But i do mind being ripped off by the club, season after season. If the club has to sell to survive with the cost of the move to The Emirates then that is OK by me. But £1,400 for a season ticket in the North Upper, £4.20 for a pint, £2.50 for a coke, it’s all one way at the moment.

  25. @ian

    I wouldn’t disagree with many of your points. Football in the EPL is expensive compared to other countries.

    I personally think that’s a “football” problem though, rather than solely an Arsenal problem.

    Finally, next season all EPL clubs will receive a large sum of money from TV rights. It would be nice to think they(the clubs) could reach a compromise and put some of that cash towards subsidizing the price of season tickets.

    Its never gonna happen though.

  26. For me, its “I want my Arsenal back… the old Wenger (pre-2005)way”.:-)

    Really missed those swashbucking days… the feel of invincibility

  27. Do you know what it feels like swaggering into Devil’s Bar (that’s our local MU den/pub) donning the ‘Bergkamp’ jersey

  28. This is an example of the little things we Arsenal fans look forward to week after week… not corporate greed over football and fan disconnect

  29. I don’t see how regular top 4 finishes for 15 years running can be called mediocrity. How many other clubs have achieved that? Just because the team is going through the roughest patch in its recent history doesn’t mean it’s the time to slam it to get things right. “Don’t kick a man unless he’s down” seems to be the motto of the so-called supporters, that we could do much better without. I wonder how many times in their own lives the AAA members have experienced such times on their own skin.

  30. its only MANUre who have achieved remaining in the top four for 15 years beside Arsenal in the PL era.

  31. I take it that you are both in favour of the club selling its soul to the first Billionaire that came along.When Kroenke starts taking huge amounts of money out of Arsenal,which WILL happen,i hope you will grant those whose are brave enough to voice their concerns an apology.BTW WHY are the club building a towerblock near the Emirates? Any money earned cannot be counted towards FFP,i have checked UEFAS FFP document and article 58 states that income from nonfootballing operations does not count.How is the club paying for this and where does the money earned go?I hate what Arsenals become;i hate the Emirates,i hate all the crap for sale in the Armoury,i hate Gazidis who only EVER talks about money(where is he btw? He cannot wait to shout about his new sponsorship deal,but when the team are dying on the pitch,where is he? Nowhere to be seen.Pathetic.) I hate all the poor foreign players that Wenger is obsessed with buying,who have no ambition other than to spend years on the Arsenal bench(Arshavin,Chamackh,Squillaci,Djourou don’t you want to play football somewhere,even if you have to take a pay cut)and i hate Kroenke who does not give a fig about anything other than the value of his investment.I hate the fact we have a manager who has become bigger than the club and is unsackable,and i hate the fact that local working class people,you know the sort of folk who formed Arsenal as a works team all those years ago,feel unwanted by the club.Oh yeah and i hate that revolting Disney badge we are forced to endure because some marketing person told the club it would be more popular abroard.We were known throughout football for having one of the iconic badges and we sold it down the river just like everything else that once made this club great.

  32. Linz….is there anything you love about the Arsenal? You have oversimplified, exaggerated and twisted everything about AFC just to show how much you ¨hate¨ your Club! Now that’s a supporter the AAA are proud to show off as their model!
    Try finding another Club mate as we’d be far better off without the haters, who by the way offer zero constructive suggestions and positive support for our Club in its time of trial….Glory hunt somewhere else mate as you’ll never be a true supporter hating everyone and anything Arsenal and living in the past all at the same time!

  33. Most of the posters here very demanding of what they want but no one seems to give any credible plan or commitment on ‘rightening ‘things .No solid plan ,no answers ,just pot shots at the manager ,board and shareholders .
    I ask you , what are you bringing to the table ?What are you willing to do to better the Arsenal ? I’m asking you ,the die hard fans, what are you willing to invest ?
    Are you willing to join likeminded fans to become shareholders ? Buy out this lot and run the club as you would like it ? This is not one of my wind -ups , but a serious challenge – do you have the guts and gumption to follow this through ?
    Just as JFK said,” Ask not what your country can do for you ,but you can do for your country .’I’m calling your bluff and am willing to put my money where my mouth by pledging 1,000 Pounds to any proposal by fans or any credible body to raise money to take over this club .Are you in ?
    As a fan of 43 years ,and having seen Arsenal play live only once (in 1975 ),but with a love for this club that no bounds,
    and also to put paid tothe notion that we are plastic fans worshiping from afar ,I ‘m putting up what amounts to a seson ticket without any conditions .I don’t want voting rights or any special privilages.
    As I sit back and await an avalanche of money come flooding in as the millions of ‘true ‘ Arsenal fans support me ! If this doesn’t happen , then I’m willing to donate the same to the club to add to their transfer kitty – no strings attached .

  34. Hello ? Where’s everybody ? No takers ? And here I was thinking that a tsunami was afoot !

  35. @Stevie E, I’m not one who gets particularly riled by being called a liar but let me put you straight on a few things.

    I have a four bed house near Ealing. It cost £432,000. I say the area is affluent although I am in a part where prices are not too bad as we’re based a good twenty minute walk away from Ealing Broadway.

    We have a £1100 a month mortgage. We have to live quite frugally to manage bills, food etc. The cost of an Arsenal game is prohibitive, never mind a season ticket.

    Whether you think I’m a supporter or not I could care less.

  36. @Brickfields, sure I’ll give you £500, I can’t really stump up a thousand, but if you come up with enough investors I’ll find the rest somehow.

  37. @ Rupert , thanks ,that’s a start.Lets see if this snowballs into something sustantial.Any amount woulld be welcome .I don’t beleive in just talking and sometimes my rashness does cost me ! But in this case I’ll put it down adue payment for wonderful services rendered and for that roller coaster ride we are take every season.
    Up the Gunners !

  38. @Sav, yes very good mate. Now how about stumping up a bit of money to help Brickfields and I buy a piece of the club.

  39. We need back our old Arsenal?? I wonder why people always smoke stuff they canot afford.
    We have 21 points and chelski, spurs have 26 yeah we are dead and we are buried?? Stop Smoking WEED all the time.

  40. The silence from the previously rabid and braying ‘true fans’ is really deafening ! And here I was thinking and hoping that by my gesture ,we’d raise millions on this blog and go on to take over and run the club ‘as it should be’.I was under the impression that my offer yesterday would inspire like minded fans and that it would go viral and get the money rolling in .
    So far other than my offer ,we have Rupert pledging 500 Pounds .Tony ,Walter , could to keep a daily record on some corner of this blog to update fans on our collection progress ( not that I think it will be ticking over !)
    The old adage was correct – a barking dog seldom bites (or takes out its wallet !).All that crap about the the club belongs to the fans ! Really ?
    My offer is still on the table – 1,000 Pounds as a start up fund either to buy out the present lot ,or failing which , it would go to AW’s transfer kitty to strengthen the team in the coming transfer window .We only need a million fans to bring about the change you demand !
    So come on guys ,your generosity may determine if we get Demba Ba , Hunterlar ,Bent ,etc, as well as can be used to be the deal breaker to keep TW14 ! So dig deep lads ,and show your love for the club !
    In the event this does not come to pass (duh !) ,I’ll donate it to the Arsenal to add on to the transfer kitty or to a charity of their choice in the name of Untold Arsenal .

  41. He who can ,does .He who cannot , teaches .
    I’d replace the teaches with preaches ,or bitches ,or talks shite or as they say in my country talkingcock (or talkingkok),probably the Manglish (Malay & English)version of poppycock !

  42. Yep, seems like people won’t put their money where their rather loud mouths are. As Brickfields said it would only take a few thousand gooners to stump up a £1,000 and we’d have a million. Now we can’t buy anyone decent for that but we could buy shares in the club and then we’d have a voice.

    Even if 1,000 people stumped £500 that would be half a million.

  43. An interesting take on things from one of the better journalists


    Makes more sense than the bitter agenda driven bile spouted by the likes of Stewart Robson. He claims insider knowledge, but never has anything good or balanced to say about anything to do with the club…and he did once leave us for his beloved Hammers. Ray Parlour regularly visits the training pitch, knows some of the players. He does question some aspects, but nothing like Robson. He passionately believes Wenger is the man to take the club forward, as does the likes of John Cross, an Arsenal supporting journalist.
    Some, on both sides and all shades inbetween are open to rational debate on Wenger and the club. Others want Wenger, IG, SK gone, without considering the reasons …or the collateral damage. They just see a perfect future with them gone. Usmanov spending the cash, Dein back. May even work, but highly unlikely it is ever going to happen. But Arsenal could in the next 6-18 months be without Wenger, but it is highly unlikely we will be without Kronke and Gazidis. Then, things could get really interesting….in a good way? I have my sincere doubts. Wenger is his own man, a strong character. I just hope their next appointment is allowed to be the same.

  44. @Mandy Dodd


    A somewhat different take on your point about Kroenke outlasting Wenger. Usmanov is within 50 shares of being able to (in fact having to) make a takeover bid. If he really wanted to buy the club and Kroenke was happy to take a nice profit, who knows?

    I don’t see Kroenke and the current Board forcing Wenger out, the only way that would happen would be if he decides to call it a day himself. Even then I would expect him to give the club enough notice to line up a replacement. In fact the only person I would trust to identify his replacement is AW himself.

  45. Interesting Stroller. Stan claims he is in it for the long haul, and that he has never sold a share in any of his sports clubs, but who knows. If FFP does not bite, maybe he will reconsider IF we cannot compete on our current model.
    Agree also on your points on Wenger, they will not sack him, but I suspect he could become disillusioned – and maybe not renew, or if things went really badly, leave in the summer if he felt he could not contribute, or if he really is not being backed as maybe he should. I am convinced his restrictions are…or have been far greater than anyone is letting on, my main evidence – the start of the prev season, whereby, despite the fact everyone knew Cesc/ Nasri were going and money was coming in, he still had to wait until the last minute , and UCL qualification before he could buy. Wenger has not come out and said anything directly, but he has given more than enough hints. I know he is financially cautious, but that summer and maybe this last one surely went beyond caution. This Jan will tell all.
    Think Bould will be the choice to replace him, in complete contrast to the unfounded comments of Stewart Robson.

  46. I guess that it’s a cocktail of all who you list Mandy. However I am with Rosicky in believing that fan negativity doen’t help. I’ve yet to see a player improve during a game as the result of getting abuse from the crowd. Booing seems to be the norm at the end of any match that isn’t won. Criticism seems to be aimed at almost all areas of the club from the owner, chairman, board, CEO, manager, players through to the facilites at the ground and the cost of everything.

    But as one who doesn’t go in for these public displays of dissatisfaction I do recognise that the situation won’t improve until the side gets back to winning ways. It’s poor results that drag out all of the other criticisms. People would carp much less about Stan and Co. if the team gives them something to cheer about.

    So yes, Tomas is right but it’s largely down to the players to trigger a change in the match day atmosphere.

  47. Arsenal is one of the giant team in English primer league.It is created so much talented player all time.It have own style for soccer play.I respect this club.I hope they will come back in their best format.

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