The decline and fall of a cup finalist

By Tony Attwood

Today’s highlight…

Some players don’t make it, we know that of course, and some do make it but fade away quickly.  But few that I have seen have slipped so quickly and so far as Christopher Wreh.  Signed in 1997 he scored the only goal in the cup semi-final against Wolverhampton in 1998, and went on to start the cup final ahead of Ian Wright.

And yet four years after leaving Arsenal in 2000, by the age of 29, he was playing for Buckingham Town, his sixth club after leaving Arsenal – and with quite a few of those clubs he never played a game.   What happened to him I really don’t know, but it is a story of very quick decline.

He does now however have what looks like a more solid job… he is head coach of the Liberian under 20s team.

Here are the anniversaries – details of publications and what is on the site, below.

14 May 1894: James Crozier signed from Partick Thistle.  He played just once for Woolwich Arsenal on 10 September 1894 against Grimsby and moved back to Partick in 1895.

14 May 1910 The Times reported that the new share issue in Woolwich Arsenal had failed leaving the club teetering on the edge of administration.

14 May 1918: Much of our understanding of the political thought of Sir Henry Norris comes from the way he voted in council and parliamentary debates.  On this day he voted with the minority to raise the salaries of women teachers in a London County Council meeting.

14 May 1922: Arsenal began a tour of Scandinavia with a game against IFK Göteborg – who finished their season in mid-table in the Swedish Division 1.  The team included Frank Townrow who joined Arsenal in November 1920, signing as a professional in April 1921.

14 May 1931: Danish XI 0 Arsenal 2 (15,000).  Williams and Thompson got games; Jack and Bastin got the goals.

14 May 1935: Mel Charles born.  He started in football on the ground staff of Leeds before signing for Swansea for whom he played 223 league games.  He then signed for Arsenal which he called the worst decision of his life.

14 May 1937: Alf Kirchen scored on his international début, one of two goals in three games for England.

14 May 1938: Eddie Hapgood captained England in the notorious game against Germany in Berlin, where the players were ordered to give the Nazi salute before the game.  Bastin also played and Tom Whittaker was the trainer.  England won 6-3.

14 May 1952: Alex Forbes played his 14th and last game for Scotland.

14 May 1960: Anderlecht 1 Arsenal 4.  Bill Dodgin’s last senior appearance for Arsenal.  He moved to Fulham the following March before moving into management, and won the League Cup with QPR in 1967.

14 May 1964:  Arsenal 2 Transvaal Orange Free State 0.   Don Howe’s first game for Arsenal.  He moved to Arsenal having played 342 league games for WBA.

14 May 1971: Arsenal’s Cup Final record, “Good Old Arsenal” entered the charts.  It is perhaps best not to dwell on this for too long.  Jimmy Hill claimed to have written it, but contemporary reports show this is not true.

14 May 1975: Christopher Wreh born. He was a cousin of former superstar George Weah, and played for several Liberian clubs before signing for AS Monaco as a youth player in 1989.

14 May 1975: 14 May 1975: Malaysian Select XI 1 Arsenal 1 (Kidd).  Arsenal’s second game in the post season tour.

14 May 1977: Man U 3 Arsenal 2 left Arsenal without a win in the final three games as they finished the season in eighth position – a significant improvement on the 16th and 17th of the two previous seasons. Brady and Stapleton scored.

14 May 1979: Chelsea 1 Arsenal 1.  Paul Vaessen’s league debut. He went on to play 32 times for Arsenal, in a career cut short by injury.  Having won the Cup two days before, this game ended with five league matches without a win.  Macdonald scored in what was his last league game, as Arsenal ended the season in 7th.

14 May 1980: Arsenal v Valencia, Cup winners cup final.  After a 0-0 draw the game went to penalties.  Rix was the man whose penalty was saved to lose the tie, but it was Brady’s miss at the start of the round that put Arsenal into that position.

14 May 1983:  Aston Villa 2 Arsenal 1  leaving Arsenal 10th at the end of Neill’s last complete season as manager.  Last appearance of Vladimir Petrovic

14 May 1986: George Graham became manager of Arsenal.  He managed more games than Chapman, but had a lower win percentage than Chapman.  Overall he won six major trophies.

14 May 1995: Following the dismissal of George Graham mid-season, Chelsea 2 Arsenal 1 concluded the season with Arsenal finishing 12th in the league.  It was the lowest finish since 1976, when Arsenal finished 17th.

14 May 2000: Newcastle 4 Arsenal 2.  The season ended with Arsenal secure in second for the second season running, following eight straight wins from March to May.

14 May 2009: Darwen FC, the club that Arsenal beat 11-1 on 9 Jan 1932, was wound up in the courts, after 134 years of football.

14 May 2013: David Platt, the player who joined Arsenal along with Dennis Bergkamp, was sacked as assistant manager at Man City.  In 2015, Platt was announced as the head coach of FC Pune City of the Indian Super League.  He left the club after one season.

14 May 2013: Arsenal 4 Wigan 1.  Wigan were relegated as a result, but had already won the FA Cup.  Podolski (2), Walcott and Ramsey scored, leaving Arsenal needing a win in the remaining game to secure fourth place.



I’ve just discovered another box of copies of the book “Woolwich Arsenal, the club that changed football” our store room, having previously said it was out of print.  So both this book and “Making the Arsenal” are now available as printed books, and on Kindle.    Please see here for more details.



Looking for Arsenal men lost to history:  Arsenal’s lost players: John William Anderson

Henry Norris at the Arsenal:  There is a full index to the series here.

Arsenal in the 1930s: The most comprehensive series on the decade ever

Arsenal in the 1970s: Every match and every intrigue reviewed in detail.


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