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The Arsenal player and journalist for whom fact and fiction merged

How much harm can one man’s carelessness do to a club’s reputation?

Quite a lot it seems, if we take a look at the writing of Bernard Joy.   Joy had been an Arsenal player, an England international, and a famous journalist, so when he produced the book “Foreword Arsenal!” it became something of a footballing best seller, tracing as it did the history of the club, with a lot of inside information in it as well.

And it says something for his reputation that those who read the volume that no one actually questioned any of the facts that Joy paraded along the way.  But a careful examination of the book reveals that Joy is mistaken in many, many instances.  And not just for repeating old errors, such as the tales about Arsenal being shunned by local clubs after the Gunners turned professional, and thus leading them to the brink of financial ruin (totally untrue as a quick look at the subsequent season’s fixture list will show), but also for getting facts about his own career, and those with whom he played, totally wrong.   To mention just one: he cites a player with whom he played as the “penalty king” – yet the records show he only ever took two penalties.  That sort of problem continues throughout the book.

It is reported that as his fame as a writer grew, Joy would hosts evening soirées at his house, to which invitations were eagerly sought.  Everyone, it appeared hung on his every word.   But a very simple review of his tales and historic “facts” shows that they really were completely untrue.

Bernard Joy died on this day in 1984, and he was indeed a fine player and great servant of Arsenal, and England.   And for that he should be remembered with warmth and affection.  But his book did Arsenal a sad misservice.

Here are the anniversaries.

18 July 1919: The Cenotaph was unveiled and the following day was designated Peace Day with victory parades in many towns.  Unfortunately it didn’t always go smoothly as rioting ex-servicemen burned down Luton Town Hall.

18 July 1971: Ray Parkin died aged 60.  He played 25 games for Arsenal from 1925 to 1936 and scored 11 goals.  He also played 232 games for the reserves winning the Football Combination five times at a time when Combination games regularly got crowds of 7000, sometimes far more.

18 July 1984: Bernard Joy died in Kenton, London aged 72.  He moved into journalism after giving up playing, and his book “Forward Arsenal!” became a  definitive guide to the club’s progress until 1954, although it did repeat many serious errors and omissions found in earlier histories – and invented quite a new few false tales.

18 July 1987: George Graham signed a new five year contract as Arsenal manager, having taken the club to 7th in 1986/7, the highest position since 1982.

18 July 1998: 18 July 1998: Enfield 0 Arsenal 0.  The second of a six match pre-season run which ended with Arsenal winning the charity shield 3-0 against Man United.

18 July 2003: Philippe Senderos joined Arsenal from Servette.  He stayed with Arsenal until 2010 and played 84 league games as well as having two loan spells with Milan and Everton.  His final club was Houston Dynamo whom he left in 2018.

18 July 2005: Emmanuel Adebayor joined Manchester City for £25 million.  He played 34 times for them, which when salary is included works out at over £1m per game – even more than Barce paid per game for Henry.  He later moved to Tottenham. In 2017 he joined İstanbul Başakşehir

18 July 2005: Ashley Cole signed a new contract extension for Arsenal but it didn’t stop him subsequently and illegally negotiating his own move to Chelsea just one year later.  In 2019 he was reported as playing for Derby County.

18 July 2009: Tomáš Rosický played 45 minutes against Barnet, following an absence of 18 months due to successive injuries following a game against Newcastle on 26 January 2008.  The score was 2-2 with goals from Arshavin and Barazite.

18 July 2009: Thomas Vermaelen made his début in the match at Barnet.  He played 100 league matches for Arsenal and became captain but was seriously hampered by injury before moving on to Barcelona.  Vermaelen married in 2017 at what seems to have been the end of his playing career.

18 July 2015: Arsenal beat Everton 3-1 in the final of the Asia Trophy with Walcott, Cazorla and Ozil scoring.  It was the second of five consecutive wins pre-season.

18 July 2016: After a long run over loan spells Wellington Silva was finally transferred to  Fluminense.

There are details of the AISA Arsenal History Society and the many series of articles that we have created over the years, on the home page of this site.

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