By Tony Attwood
I have to admit it: I am a sucker for quizzes. Science quizzes, general knowledge quizzes, political quizzes, history quizzes, and of course Arsenal quizzes.
Which is why finding out that there was a second volume of Graham Lister’s “Never mind the Gunners: The Ultimate Arsenal Quiz Book” caused me to smile, and caused everyone else I ever travel with to Arsenal matches to groan, very, very deeply.
Of course in terms of Arsenal quizzes I am helped a little by the fact that I run the Arsenal History Society, the web site of which has over 1500 articles, some of which I have written and all of which (as editor) I’ve read. On the other hand, being now of a certain age, my memory is going, so these days I always reckon that the elderly ought to be given special privileges – like looking up the answers.
But really, these books are fun. Try this one for size:
What was unusual about Arsenal’s FA Cup campaigns in 1970/71 and 1971/72 which both culminated in Wembley finals?
That’s the sort of thing I like. I mean surely we all know that 1971 was the first Double, and that we got to the final again in 1972 but lost to the dirtiest team in the history of dirtiest teams – but we’ve had consecutive finals at other times, so what made these two runs to the final different?
Think about it… (Answer at the end in case you don’t get it – and I must admit I only got it because I’ve just spent a few weeks writing the latest in the series of Arsenal Histories that AISA publish each year – which happened to cover the first half of Mee’s tenure as manager. If you are an AISA member your copy should be with you in six weeks or so).
Coming a bit closer to the present, who scored the three goals when we beat Hull City in the FA Cup final? You ought to remember that one. What was interesting was that there was a lot of talk about a young man winning the cup for Arsenal with his goal – only to find there was exactly the same talk, concerning the same man (although the man was a little older) in 2017 when he did exactly the same thing again. There’s a question for future editions of the books.
Of course I get loads of these answers wrong, not just because my memory is going, but because I’ve not thought before of the parallels that the questions invoke. Try this one
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Which three goalkeepers have made most the competitive first team appearances for the Gunners, and which three have kept the most clean sheets?
Now the first half of that is not too hard to work out, even if you don’t actually know it. I’ve had the honour to watch all three of them in my lifetime, and all three are legends. But who had the most clean sheets? I certainly got that wrong. Very wrong.
Curiously the answer to that second part has only one of the three keepers from the most competitive first team appearances list. Odd that. Tells me something about the quality of those keepers with the clean sheets – one of whom signed a book that I’ve published, just recently. (That’s a clue and a half).
What I love in these books in fact is that they really make me think. For example, I’ve written a fair amount about Arsenal’s first season in the League in 1893/4 – but the question asking which two teams did Arsenal play that season, and again in the league in 2016/17 certainly had me pondering.
That’s the fun of these books – for even if you don’t know the answers it doesn’t matter at all – the questions themselves stretch the brain. For example, did you know that six Arsenal players had gone on to manage Tottenham? To my shame, I only got three, and the third of those took a long time. Which means, if you fancy being in charge of the AISA Arsenal History Society that’s the standard you’ve got to beat.
I have enjoyed, and am still enjoying these two books, and do recommend them for a bit of fun. A handy birthday and Xmas present too, especially for an extremely annoying youngster who starts reciting facts.
Never Mind the Gunners: The Ultimate Arsenal Quiz Book by Graham Lister.
Volume 1, £6.99. Volume 2, £7.99
Published by The History Press.
The volumes are available from bookshops, online stores, and from the distributor
Cup final answer: we were drawn away in every round for both seasons.
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