The danger of the footballer who becomes a journalist: Arsenal anniversaries 18 July

The Arsenal History Society is part of the Arsenal Independent Supporters Association – a body which gives positive support to the club, and has regular meetings with directors and senior officials of the club to represent the views of its members to the club.  You can read more about AISA on its website.

Below you will find today’s feature, and the list of anniversaries for today.  But first…

We currently have two books available.

“Woolwich Arsenal, the club that changed football” is the definitive history of Arsenal from its inception, and “Making the Arsenal” is a novel which tells the story of Arsenal in 1910.

Both books are now available on Kindle and in print.    Please see here for more details.   

On this site we have hundreds of series of articles on Arsenal history and a full list of the various series of articles on Arsenal’s history can be found here.    Three particular highlights are…

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.

Today’s feature…. the danger of the footballer who becomes a journalist

The history of retired footballers is a history of men in their 30s trying to find something else to do with the rest of their lives.  Research by Xpro—a charity for former players—claims that three out of every five Premier League players declare bankruptcy after retirement.  Elsewhere reports show that the vast majority of players have no idea that they lose half their income to tax and national insurance payments, before it even reaches their bank account.  Many seem to feel that if they are paid £50,000 a week, that is what they should receive.

So after retirement, they find they need money – and becoming a pundit or TV commentator or, (if literate) becoming a journalist, is one of the few areas of work they feel they might be qualified for.

The trouble is, these people have no training for the job – they are there to provide the instant comment that makes the headline, which means they need wilder and wilder stories to outdo whatever tale they proclaimed yesterday, (and whatever the other guy has just said) and so the link between the football media and reality, always tenuous, declines ever further, year by year.

However not every ex-player is ill-equipped for a serious understanding of the past and the possible future.   The England and Arsenal amateur player Bernard Joy (who died on this day in 1984) was captain of the Great Britain side at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, gained a degree at the University of London and qualified as a teacher, and then after giving up playing, went into football journalism.

Thus because of his background he was that rare thing: an ex-footballer who really could write without needing a ghost writer handling the story for him, and so his book “Forward Arsenal” published in 1952 became seen as a definitive source of information on Arsenal from its origins to 1953.   Unfortunately it was packed full of errors, with Joy obviously taking what others had written and said of Arsenal’s past (without checking any original material), and then for his own time at Arsenal simply using his (often inaccurate) memory.

As such the book served to mislead a generation of writers and fans who felt that someone as esteemed as Joy must have done his homework.  Indeed from that point on, even Arsenal’s own annual handbook, which for many years carried a potted history of the club, reprinted his errors, year after year.

In fact this single volume probably did as much to hinder an understanding of Arsenal’s past as the flagrantly biased and self-serving “Behind the scenes in Big Football” published in 1948 by Leslie Knighton (who had been Arsenal’s manager from 1919 to 1925).  For both volumes appear to have been written from memory, without recourse to any source material.

Fortunately today, a certain amount of checking is undertaken, and any errors that remain can be resolved once they are found.

Here are today’s anniversaries.


18 July 1870: The infallibility of the Pope proclaimed by the Vatican Council

18 July 1919: The Cenotaph in London 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 1925: The first part of “Mein Kampf” published.

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.  Unfortunately it repeated many serious errors and omissions found in earlier histories – and invented quite a few new ones which then became part of the standard Arsenal story.

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 116 games as well as having two loan spells with Milan and Everton.  He played with Houston Dynamo until 2018 and joined Chiasso of the Swiss League in 2019, finally retiring from football on 16 December that year.

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 and in 2020 Olimpia of Paraguay.

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

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 and in 2019 joined Japanese team Vissel Kobe 

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.  In 2019 he played for Inter in Brazil.

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