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That eternal desire the League and FA has to stop certain people playing football

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.


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100 Years in the First Division: the absolute complete story of Arsenal’s promotion in 1919.


If anyone held the notion that the FA was made up of people who simply wanted the game to run smoothly with matches played and records kept, were firmly disabused of that on this day in 2002 when  the FA decided to take action against Roy Keene for what he had allowed to be written by his ghost writer in his autobiography.

Indeed the whole notion that players are somehow above the petty arguments not to mention greed of the every day world is such a weird notion it is hard to imagine how the notion of “bringing the game into disrepute” could ever have been created.  But it was there, and Keene simply expressing his view that everyone had understood (that he went out on occasion to hurt players) was utterly unacceptable (according to the FA).

But this control freakery is what the FA and League have repeatedly been about in joint attempts at total restrictiveness.  One only has to look, for example, at the successful abolition of women’s football by banning it from League grounds on 5 December 1921 thus effectively bringing about its demise at a time when the women’s game would often get bigger crowds than the men’s.

Or take the Football League’s “retain and transfer” system which made it impossible for a player to leave a League club without the club’s agreement.  That was itself a form of slavery, tying the employee to the employer for life – and that lasted into the 1960s when George Eastham finally challenged it and moved to Arsennal

In 1931 the Football Association decided that in addition to banning women it would ban foreigners too.  They introduced a rule that required players to have been resident in the United Kingdom for two years before they would be able to play for an English club.  That lasted until 1978.

And now a new opportunity arises as the UK has left the EU.  There is a rule in place that controls who can come to England to play – based on how many times the player has played for his/her country, and the status of that country.   We’ll see over time how rigidly this latest bit of rule-making can be upheld.

Here are the anniversaries.

12 August 1917: Frank Boulton born.  He started out with Bristol City, before moving on to Bath City, from where he was transferred to Arsenal for £700 in October 1936. He then played in the 1937/8 title winning team

12 August 1933: Winston Churchill made his first speech warning of the dangers of German rearmament.

12 August 1949: In a fitting benefit match for Dennis Compton Arsenal played Middlesex county cricket club… at cricket… at Highbury. Exactly as his brother did in 1955.

12 August 1977: First appearance of Pat Jennings in a friendly v Luton.  Reportedly he played for the under 18 team of Shamrock Rovers while aged 11, and then moved across to Gaelic football returning to Association Football with Newry Town before moving to Watford in the third division in 1963.  And then Tottenham.

12 August 1978: In the final pre-season friendly Arsenal played a 1-1 home draw with Crystal Palace, Stapleton scoring.

12 August 1984: Armenia Bielefeld (West Germany) 0 Arsenal 1 (Anderson).  The third of five pre-season games.

12 August 1989: Arsenal lost 1-0 to Liverpool in the Charity shield.  Arsenal had won the league in the last couple of minutes of the season, but Liverpool got a tiny amount of revenge.

12 August 1994: Goalkeeper Alan Miller transferred to Middlesbrough for £500,000.  He played just nine games for Arsenal and had three separate loan spells before going on to play 57 times for Middlesbrough.

12 August 1996: After four consecutive pre-season defeats against Birmingham, Celtic, Rangers and Fiorentina, Bruce Rioch was sacked as Arsenal manager.  The only victory came in the opening game against St Albans City on 19 July – 6-0.

12 August 1996: Stewart Houston took over the management of Arsenal and immediately oversaw a 1-3 away defeat in a pre-season friendly against Northampton. He later left to be manager of QPR with Rioch as his assistant.

12 August 2002: Anyone who ever argued with the notion that the FA was made up of control freaks had their defence of the Association blown away as they demanded to see advance copies of Roy Keene’s autobiography on this day.  They subsequently gave Keene a five match ban – probably the first player ban for writing – although Henry Norris had been threatened with a life ban over a match report he wrote suggesting a game had been fixed.

12 August 2004: Francis Jeffers transferred from Arsenal to Charlton after a period on loan to Everton.   He had 11 clubs in all, retiring in 2014 before moving into coaching with Everton.

12 August 2007: Arsenal continued their unbeaten run from the end of the previous season by beating Fulham 2-1 in the opening day’s game; Van Persie and Hleb scoring.  Arsenal played 19 more games before facing defeat – in the Champions League.

12 August 2012: Arsenal beat Koln 4-0 in the final pre-season friendly having lost to Man C and drawn with Kitchee with the match in Nigeria being cancelled.

12 August 2015: Following goalkeeper Josh Vickers’ release on 10 June 2015, he signed for Swansea City.

12 August 2018: Unai Emery’s first league game as Arsenal manager – against the  reigning champions Manchester City.  Arsenal lost 2-0..

1 comment to That eternal desire the League and FA has to stop certain people playing football

  • Mark Falco

    The FA are a closed doors, underhand organization who do not run the game for the love of the game or with any respect for the people who play it. I once got sent off playing for my University after a player on the opposite side abused the referee verbally during a game and in a case of mistaken identity, the ref gave me a red. We approached him after the game with 2 of the oppositions players supporting the story but he said I would have to go to a tribunal to contest the red. So, 2 months later myself, our manager, a spectator, and one of the opposition players went to the tribunal. The referee never turned up, case dismissed although the panel took a long time talking about player responsibility and taking responsibility for the character of the game if the referee made a mistake. My Student Union Magazine ran a story about the incident (without my knowledge) and under a picture of me in my Brazil shirt (taken when we lost to Brazil 2-1 in the Quarters 1998) where a drunk me was flipping the cameraman off, used the slogan “(my name) sticks it to the FA” The Hampshire FA contacted me a week after and asked me to explain, which I did, nothing to do with me etc etc They then wrote to me and told me I had to write a letter apologizing for my behaviour to the FA – I refused, stating they needed to write to the Student union for an apology. They banned me, worldwide. I tried to register in a different county…BANNED….I even tried to register in a different country….BANNED. So, I just changed my surname to my mothers maiden name and continued to play the game I loved despite the FA’s best attempts to get me to hate it.

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