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May 2021

Laurent Koscielny, the President of France, me and the accordionist.

By Tony Attwood

There is story often told among Morris Men (dancers and musicians who perform a peculiarly English set of folk dances dating back to the Mediaeval era) about four people being stuck in a lift.  One is Stalin, one is Hitler, one is an accordionist and the final one has a gun with two bullets.  The question is asked, what should the person with the gun do?

The answer, as told in Morris Men circles, is shoot the guy with the accordion twice, as you can never trust these fucking accordion players.

It is a story that has often been told to me, given that I have often played the accordion (and indeed the penny whistle) with Rutland Morris – an ensemble of Morris dancers from the East Midlands.

And given the way people think of accordion players, it is not a peculiarity of mine that I have felt like mentioning on Untold.  But now it seems I might have an ally within the ranks of the Arsenal – in none other than the mighty Laurent Koscielny.

For it seems that our Laurent has joined an investment consortium to save France’s oldest accordion factory which is based in Laurent’s home town of Tulle (“the town on the seven hills” – population 15,000), capital of the Corrèze département in the Limousin region of France.

OK, you may be thinking, this is boring detail, but let me tell you this.  Near to the accordion factory there was until quite recently a major armaments manufacturing business.  Now it is an armaments museum.  Rather like the Woolwich Arsenal from whence our club came.   Yup – Laurent really is a Gunner.

Maugein – the accordion making firm – was founded in 1919.  There’s no article on the factory on the internet in English that I can find but there is one in French here.

Anyway, the long and the short is that our player has helped stump up around half a million quid to save the factory, after the local mayor, Bernard Combes, an adviser to President Hollande, contacted our Laiurent about the issue.

The President’s constituency includes the factory, and after being elected as President in 2012 he was serenaded in the town by a local accordionist playing a locally made instrument.   Apparently no gunfire was heard all of which puts the President, the Mayor and Laurent on my side of the fence when it comes to accordion playing

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The point about the Maugein factory is that it is one of those rare places that makes accordions from scratch, but like all instrument manufacturers in Europe it has been challenged by cheap East European and Chinese imports.  These can be ok, but many of them don’t stand up to the stress and strain of public performance, which the European accordions do.

I wish I could add here that I have a Maugein accordion, but in fact mine is a Honer which means it was made in Germany.  I’ve tried one of the non-EU machines and really there is no comparison.

We all know that footballers earn fortunes that we can’t even dream of – but at least we have one guy here who thinks carefully and sensibly about his money and his heritage.

Well done Laurent.  My heart is with you on this.


24 comments to Laurent Koscielny, the President of France, me and the accordionist.

  • Robl

    Sorry Tony, but according players are only one up from mime artists.

  • HenryB

    Interesting and informative Post, Tony.

    The point here is that Kozzer has invested a lot of money to help save the ‘Rolls Royce’ of accordion makers.

    It does not matter whether or not the accordion is someone’s thang, or not, what is important is that this investment is protecting the jobs of many people who have specialist skills and who would have difficulty in finding new jobs.

    Chapeau to Kozzer! 🙂

  • Mick

    Being of a musical bent (guitar playing) I am particularly impressed by the benevolence shown by Kos. It is nice to read of these sort of things emanating from within the ranks of our professional footballers who all too often hit the headlines for less noble reasons. Well done to him.

  • colario

    Off subject but thought you might want to hear this. You can listen online at 20 hours Uk time or for the next 7 days when when you want, an interview with Thiery Henre on BBC Radio 5. Here is the link.

  • WalterBroeckx

    I remember from being a little kid (4-5 years old) and the man and woman who lived upstairs in our house were rather nice people. The most impressive thing about the man apart from the fact he had a scooter was that he played the accordion.
    I still remember that whenever there was something to celebrate he brought along his accordion and played tunes that all the people sang along. He must have been my first musical idol…. 🙂 Not as cool as Mark Knopfler but I was only a kid … 🙂

    But I hold these memories and they remind me of days without worry or fear and so are good memories. And so for me accordions and accordion players are classified as on the good side of things. I even wanted to play it myself one day. But alas… my musicality is so so bad that I even snore out of tune. Well that is what my wife tells me…. 😉

    Thanks for this post Tony and for showing us that Kos is not only a magnificent defender but also a person who cares for his surrounding and the place he comes from.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Ah Mick you and Tony playing together (I know Tony also is a multi-instrumentalist) any drummer around here? We could start a band. The Untold band 🙂

  • Chris McGivern

    Yeah, accordions aren’t my Thang either despite being something of an expert in my Yoot!

  • Ian Jenkinson

    Great to see a footballer’s money going to some good use for once! I play the guitar also and have been known to play the mandolin. Can i join the band? 🙂

  • bjtgooner

    Nice article; well done Kos.

  • Mick

    I am just trying to imagine Tony dressed up in the Morris dancers gear complete with breeches and waving his hankies above his head!!

  • soglorious

    Walter, won’t there be too many guitarist on the untold’s band, cos I can help in the Bass guitar too. Who knows, Arsenal and Arsene could hire us for the team’s parade after we’ve won the league! 🙂

  • Pat

    Nothing better than the sound of a nice accordion, Tony. I went to a morris dancing and clog dancing festival on the South Bank a couple of years ago. Very enjoyable! Still, this is a side of you I hadn’t guessed till now!

    Anyway, good for Laurent!

  • Micheal Ram

    Good luck to Kosielny. A whole new respect for him now. Would make a wonderful president bytheway.

  • Asif

    Good Work Kos! We are all very proud of you…

  • WalterBroeckx

    I like guitar bands a lot. Mark Knopfler from Dire Straits being my own ‘local hero’. For those who know him and his records, I think that is a pretty clever line from me 😉

  • It is strange – I wrote this little piece because it struck me as a really good thing that LK had done, and because of my interest in the accordion – but didn’t really expect any comments. Thanks for sharing my pleasure at the story.

    Incidentally I do dance a lot – but never Morris – I just play for them. I dance jive – but did you know Arsene Wenger is a top ballroom dancer? Honest. He said it once on a Q&A session I was involved with.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Well it would surprise me to see Wenger dance on punk music to be honest… 🙂

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Being myself a history buff , a collector of antiques and being interested in the preservation of artifacts and places of historical/cultural importance , I was really glad to read of his efforts to save and maintain his town’s musical and cultural legacy.
    Well done,Kos .We are proud of you and the fine and noble example you have set out to do.
    As for you ,Tony , do hope that your playing , jiving and your arthritic joint noises are all in sync !

  • Rupert Cook

    Mark Knopfler cool! Only in Belgium. I do like Sultans of Swing though. And accordions aren’t so bad, it’s bagpipes that are horrible.

    I was a singer in a band back in the nineties, a riot grrl band which will mean little to most of you, and we even got reviewed in the two biggest selling music weeklies. One review was extremely dismissive but quite correct, unfortunately.

    Are you ever in a Mummer play Tony? There is one every Christmas in Headington, Oxford which is performed outside several pubs. My wife and I always go and watch and drink a pint or two.

  • Kenneth Widmerpool

    Rupert, what about a “town with no cheer by Tom Waits,?- the bagpipes sound pretty good on that imo. If you stretch the definition of bagpipes there are lots of related instruments in Medieval music that sound pretty good. There was( might still be) a big underground scene in Berlin with bagpipe instruments that were used as a kind of trance dance music. But its all subjective and context in the end I suppose.
    Mummers plays are good though. I love all those plays and mystery plays too, and saw the Medieval players three times when they were still going.
    King of the accordion though for me is Gus Viseur!
    As for the Untold Band (Tony and the Untolders) I play the drums and guitar.

  • Rupert Cook

    @Kenneth Widmerpool, I had a brief interest in Tom Waits around the Swordfish Trombones period but though I admired his lyricism I found his voice a little jarring. I’ll give the lp another go and I’ll even brave the bagpipes.

    With Tony’s connections I reckon the Untold Band could get a gig at the Emirates.

  • Menace

    Wow! Wenger a ringer in Strictly Come Dancing!! That would be a good draw for the ladies to AFC.

  • ARSENAL 13

    I am not a music buff. I am more into metal. But I also like old world melodic songs. And this is where accordion comes in. People from India will remember, almost all of the ‘evergreen’ music hits of the Indian film industry has accordion……

    I am proud to have such a player at our club. I believe good traditions should be protected/saved/upheld for the future generations to savor. Keep up the good work Boss.

  • Ray from Norfolk, Virginia

    Looking at the numbers, with a production of only 600 accordions per year,it looks like you have to order a Maugein directly from the company.

    As to Francois Hollande, he is actually from Upper Normandy. Interestingly, Jacques Chirac, though born in Paris, is from Sainte-Fereole, only minutes from Tulle, Koscielny’s hometown.