Pele, Bobby Moore, Perry Groves

I once described Eboue as a clown, and got lambasted like mad for it.  What I actually meant to say was that I thought he had a wicked sense of humour like the best clowns – but no one wanted to know about my excuses and I was denounced repeatedly as a racist.

Perry Groves is another guy I’d describe in the same way, and fortunately he’s white, so I’m on safer territory here.  But calling Perry a clown really annoyed my mate Roger, who thought there was no room for humour on the pitch, and by and large thought P Groves to be a prat.    I would argue that we won more games when he was on the pitch than when he wasn’t – Roger accused me of including days when Arsenal weren’t playing in my calculations, just to boost the numbers.

I’m not sure when the song  “We all live in a Perry Groves World” (to the tune of Yellow Sub) actually started – I obviously went to the wrong pub because I never heard it in the Duke of Edinburgh – but it suddenly started happening at the away games and I thought, “yeah – other people recognise him as a clown too,” and I meant it in the best possible meaning of the word.

Then a while back he made a revelation: when he was brought onto the pitch 20 years ago for the final game against Liverpool, George Graham gave him a detailed team talk which basically was: “Go out there and run around a lot”.

Perry did that very well – especially after the second goal went in.

Since then he has turned up on my radar next on two fronts.  First his “We all live” book, which rightly was the football book of the year, and second his appearances on Arsenal TV, where instead of him burbling incoherently as I had expected (I just somehow never thought of him as an intellectual) he turned out to be one of the most astute analysts of the game in motion that I have ever heard.

Not knowing his voice I listened to his co-commentary and thought “bugger me” (not literally you understand) “who is this guy?  He’s bleedin’ brilliant”).   Step up Mr Groves.

So now we have a new book: Perry Groves’ Football Heroes. Subtitled “Twenty of the greatest goal-scorers, hardest tacklers and biggest rogues ever to grace the game.”

Having myself just finished writing “Making the Arsenal” (due for publication later this year, roll up roll up) I look on all new football books with disdain, proving to myself endlessly that I would have writ it better like.

But P Groves is fun.  More, he’s funny.  More still, he’s informative, and he brings back great memories.  Take the chapter on Anders Limpar.   Talking of the summer after beating Liverpool 2-0 in the last game Perry says, “George Graham realised he had to bring in new players, so he made three £1 million signings in the summer of 1990: David Seaman, Andy Linighan (neither of whom were going to keep me out the side) and Anders Limpar).”

In that little sentence you get the essence of the book.  Maybe you remember that Linighan cost the same as Limpar and Seaman.  Maybe you realised that Limpar arrived just when Groves was establishing himself as a central part of Arsenal.   If so, clever you, cos I had forgotten.

There’s bits I am sure you won’t know though, even if you know everything.  When the handbags game at Manchester came along and Arsenal got docked two points for pushing and shoving, lots of players got fined.  George Graham (according to Perry) persuaded the board to fine him (George) too – to send out the right messages.   Now that I definitely did not know.  Nor did I know that when Limpar was at Everton he was idolised by one Wayne Rooney.

Tiny details, just bits and pieces, but that is what P Grove, writer, does as he tells you his story.  He gives you the details that you missed in a way that very few footballers ever managed to.  It’s good stuff.

Of course I hope “Making the Arsenal” outsells “Football Heroes” 10 to 1, but maybe you can afford to buy both.  And “We all live in a Perry Groves World” as well.   He is, as they say, the proverbial breath of fresh air.

Good on you Perry.  I enjoyed every word.

“Perry Groves Football Heroes” published by John Blake Publishing  £17.99 hardback.

(c) Tony Attwood 2009

7 Replies to “Pele, Bobby Moore, Perry Groves”

  1. I am getting nervous about the team Wenger will put out at OT for our CL Semi Final. With Clichy out is a big blow as he is the only LB i know who consistantly plays well against Ronaldo. I hope Djourou comes back to full fitness this weekend so he can play against Boro’ and then subsequently on Wed against Utd. I’ll have him all day long over Silvestre who has looked so dodgy in there. Gibbs was horribly exposed time and again at Anfield, this may be due to AA’s lack of presence in tracking back on the LM in that game, so someone like Nasri in front of Gibbs at OT would be more effective in giving him protection. Unquestionably he’ll go with 5 in midfield, which I’d think will be Nasri, Song Fabregas, Diaby/Denilson, Walcott with Ade up top. Diaby and Denilson have both been poor in recent games so this weekend’s match could decide AW decision as who plays. We need at least a draw coming away from OT I think. Come on you Gunners

  2. I look forward to reading your book before the end of this year, Tony!
    (not so sure abour PG’s book though)

  3. Agreed, I was pleasantly surprised when I first heard Groves as a pundit and at first I didn’t realize who it was. He’s refreshingly honest and incisive. I loved his “We All Live” book, bought it immediately when I heard about it. I very much look forward to this new one, as I do your own. You keep mentioning it, I’m impatient to read it.

    Another reason to be thoroughly disgusted with the FA today: Cesc has gotten a 2-match ban due to spitgate. Brown has also been charged. Cesc has 2 charges against him, one of which is especially ridiculous: coming onto the pitch after the final. So we won’t have RVP or Cesc on Sunday. And Wenger’s never won against Southgate.

  4. CORRECTION: “coming onto the pitch after the final whistle” is what I meant.

  5. Achieving success is a fine line but it helps if you don’t opt out. We had a glorious chance to win the FA Cup this season, it was ours to be had if we really wanted it. Sadly Arsene Wenger decided to opt against trying to win both the FA Cup and the Champions League and concentrate efforts on the latter.

    Wenger is determined to win that Champions League. While all Arsenal fans would rejoice like frankly never before if we could achieve the previously unachieved, a huge majority would at least like to have seen our best team on display in the FA Cup semi final against Chelsea, to give us a chance to win both competitions.

    Given recent form, it is indefensible on the surface to leave out Andrey Arshavin, Alexandre Song and Samir Nasri from that semi final team. But Wenger has a priority list: win the Champions League, finish third in the Premier League to avoid playing a qualifier and win the FA Cup. Priority three was jettisoned by Wenger in favour of priority two and in turn priority one. That is not to say that Wenger wanted to lose, or that he was to know that some of his players would let him down, but he picked the team and he took the risk.

    Seeing as Arshavin cannot play for us in the Champions League it was unnecessary to leave him out of the FA Cup semi final. It was practically the game he was signed for. But no, he can play at Anfield against Liverpool on Tuesday and the chance to pull back Liverpool in the league and Chelsea in a few weeks’ time could help us to finish third. Unless Arshavin is injured, you can take out a loan for £100,000 and lay it safely on Arshavin playing in both of those games. Song has improved enormously lately and Nasri is highly capable of creating goals or scoring them. All three should have played at Wembley.

    Still, despite poor team selection and an odd formation, we have good players and it was up to them to make a better fist of the semi final than they did. It is not directly Wenger’s fault that Emmanuel Eboue defended badly to let in Florent Malouda for Chelsea’s first goal, or that Lucasz Fabianski let in the predictable shot inside his near post. It also is not Wenger’s direct fault that Fabianski has the lunatic tendency to race out of his goal; although he has done it before and it should have been sufficiently addressed not to happen again. Why do keepers do this?

    Goalkeepers have the wonderful advantage inside the penalty area that they are allowed to handle the ball but nobody else is. Once they venture outside their own area however they lose that privilege and are in the manor of the outfield player, people with skill and technique. The odds have got to be heavily in the keeper’s favour that he is going to win the ball if he’s willing to risk leaving his patch, otherwise you cannot risk it.

    Fabianski gave Chelsea all the research they needed when he leapt out of his area early on for a through-ball he was never going to reach. He’s lucky Kieran Gibbs saved his ass then. Chelsea watched, repeated the trick later and Fabianski takes the bait, roaring acres out of his goal, allowing Drogba to hold back his laughter just long enough to score an easy goal. I’ve said it a trillion and 8 times: if you show a soft underbelly to a top side they will note it and punish you for it.

    At Liverpool we will put ourselves out because Wenger wants us to finish third. Admirable, but I reckon 98% of Arsenal fans prefer that we put every ounce of everything we have left into the Champions League games. While we’re still in the competition there is the vaguest craziest of chances that we could be the last team standing. In the Premier League, we will finish at least fourth now anyway and I don’t agree that we could afford to drop the FA Cup to hold back players in the quest to finish third. Playing a Champions League qualifier is little to be scared of: if we are good enough to be one of the four best teams in Europe, technically, given that we have reached this season’s semi finals, we should be able to get through a qualifier.

    The best twist of events this weekend was that Manchester United also messed with their FA Cup semi final line-up and paid the price. Any advantage dropped into their lap by our defeat was equalled by their outcome. Let’s hope that the much-improved Manuel Almunia is in goal for the rest of the season as that at least removes one soft underbelly. If we want to win the Champions League that Wenger craves, then he and we had better hope that the rest of the players develop in the next few weeks the football equivalent of a six-pack

  6. Good summary of the charges against Fabregas and AW’s arguments in the Times (written by Russell Kempson). Ridiculous. Farcical. Absurd. Just a few words that come to mind. AW was almost sarcastic in response “what is the proper dress code?”. “I thought he was properly dressed!”. “I won’t implement a new dress code”. “Shouldn’t a 21 yr old be dressed in a relaxed manner?”

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