Which two of our most gifted players ever were both signed on this day in 1997?

What day contained not one but two utterly brilliant signings?   The answer is this day in 1997 when Marc Overmars, Emmanuel Petit both signed for the club.  Overmars played 100 games for Arsenal and Petit 85.  Not huge numbers but their impact in transforming the club from also-rans into double winners cannot be over-estimated.

Here are the anniversaries.

17 June 1895: William Blyth, the man who became Arsenal’s first film star, and first cup final captain, was born.   See also here.

17 June 1910: Henry Norris made it clear that he thought Arsenal deserved more support, and that although he and Hall had done their bit, there was nothing more they could do.  He stated that if people thought he was not the right person to take the club forward, all they had to do was to indicate by 17 June 1910 that they wanted to take over from his efforts, and he would leave.  No one did.

17 June 1911: The AGM of Woolwich Arsenal FC was seemingly a cautiously optimistic meeting, as well as being the first AGM with Henry Norris playing a major part.   The club, far from being relegated, which had been looking on the cards the previous season, had ended up in 10th position in the league,

17 June 1919: Tommy Rudkin born.  He joined Wolverhampton just before the second world war started, and played primarily for Peterborough during the war, and then joined Arsenal.  But only for a short while…

17 June 1919: Canadian troops, who had been getting restless after their return to their homeland had been repeatedly delayed became angry at the arrest of two of their number, attacked Epsom police station and killed a police officer.  All told about 400 soldiers were involved and a lot of property in Epsom was destroyed.

17 June 1922: Bob John signed from Barry Town.  He was perhaps Leslie Knighton’s best signing for Arsenal and went on to play 421 times for the club.  For details of  the player see here.

17 June 1952: Gerry Ward signed as an amateur.  He turned pro the next season but then had to do his national service, and so lost a lot of football time to square bashing.  But he finally went on to play 81 times for the club.

17 June 1953: Ray Daniel sold to Sunderland.  Ray played 87 league games, taking over at centre half from Leslie Compton and played every match save one in the 1953 league triumph.

17 June 1997: Marc Overmars, Emmanuel Petit, and Alberto Mendez were signed in one day!  For their first game together see here.   Mendez was discovered playing for German non-league side 1 SC Feucht  but only played four times for Arsenal.

17 June 2010: Kyle Ebecilio signed from Feyenoord on a free transfer as a youth player.  He never played for Arsenal, and despite being offered a new contract in 2013 he chose to move on to FC Twente.  In 2019 he signed for Den Haag.

17 June 2013: Geoff Strong died.  He retired from football in the summer of 1972 and ran a hotel-furnishing company and co-owned a pub.   In later life he suffered from Alzheimer’s disease, but continued to be seen at Anfield, where he played after leaving Arsenal, but maintained no connection with Arsenal.


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