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The rise and fall of Bertie Mee

Bertie Mee became manager on Arsenal on this day in 1966, and was in charge of Arsenal for 539 games of which his team won 241; a win percentage of 44.71%.  Worse than Terry Neill and Don Howe, although better than Billy Wright.

Of course what he is remembered for is ending the drought of 1953 to 1970, a drought so excellently described in Jon Sowman’s book, The Long Sleep.

But excellent though Mee’s three trophies in two seasons were, he couldn’t hold the club or the team together, and the latter part of his reign is remembered as a time of disputes with top players, the selling of our best performers and a move towards abandoning the youth teams and reducing the club to 18 professionals players.

Within three years of the double Arsenal had sunk to 10th, and in the following two seasons ended up 16th and 17th in the league, the latter in 1975/6 coinciding with elimination from both domestic cups at the first stage, the club a victim of his apparent stubbornness, his military approach to management, and the inability of a man born at the end of the first world war, to understand players born after the second world war.

Here are the anniversaries.

20 June 1900: Jim Ashcroft signed from Gravesend Utd.  He played 273 games for Arsenal and was a member of the promotion winning side in 1904.  He also made three appearances for England in 1906.

20 June 1949:  Ronnie Rooke transferred to Crystal Palace to become player-manager.  After Palace Ronnie became player manager of Bedford Town, and later worked as a porter at Luton Airport, dying of lung cancer in 1985 aged 73. 

20 June 1966: Bertie Mee became Arsenal manager.  After the experience of taking a very high profile ex-footballer as manager, Arsenal sought to repeat the success of Tom Whittaker by promoting the club’s physiotherapist. 

20 June 1984: Dave Madden was transferred to Charlton after making just two league appearances.  His career subsequently took him to Los Angeles, Reading, Crystal Palace and Maidstone.

20 June 1987: Ian Allinson released to Stoke City.  After further moves to Luton and Colchester, Ian subsequently had a career managing in non-league football, including notably at Boreham Wood, where his connection with Arsenal continued.  In February 2019, he was inducted into the Colchester United Hall of Fame

20 June 1987: Frank Boulton died.  Having left Arsenal he played for Derby in 1938/9 but missed out on their Cup Final appearance due to injury. He played for Swindon Town from 1946 to 1950 before moving on to Crystal Palace and then Bedford Town.

20 June 1989: Goalkeeper Andrew Marriott sold to Nottingham Forest.  He never played a league match for Arsenal, but between 1989 and 2011 he played for 17 clubs, with Wrexham (255 games) being his one long term playing engagement.  He has since become part of the McLaren Formula 1 team and worked with WBA.

20 June 1998: Netherlands 5 South Korea 0 Marc Overmars scored the second goal on 42 minutes, and became the first Arsenal player to score in the world cup final stages.  Bergkamp scored on 71 minutes.  Dennis also signed for Arsenal on this day but “arrived” on 21 June.   And later…

20 June 2007: Scarborough FC went out of business with debts of £2.5m.  The club was formed seven years before Arsenal and the clubs met on January 1993 with the result Scarborough Town 0 Arsenal 1.  It was Cup Match 6 of Arsenal’s Cup Double season, in the fourth round of the League Cup.  

20 June 2008: Gaël Clichy signed a new long term contract and went on to play 187 times for Arsenal in the league before moving to Manchester City in 2011. On 7 July 2017, İstanbul Başakşehir announced that Clichy had signed a 3-year contract to play for the Turkish club

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