100 years of hating the Arsenal part 4: innovation is bad for you

By Tony Attwood

An article has appeared today on the Untold Arsenal site under the heading, “Is the media out to get us, no its far worse than that” It is an excellent piece and I thoroughly recommend it.

But there is something beyond the article I want to turn to, and which has made me tear up my notes for part four of the 100 Years of Hating the Arsenal Series that I was going to publish today.

Here is the comment from Untold Arsenal, in full.  It is from Nicky.

Many years ago, a very astute Arsenal Manager said “If Arsenal isn’t in the news, it’s bad news”.

From the early 30′s the Club has made news,viz,

  • Numbered shirts
  • Floodlit games
  • Midweek matches
  • Murder film involving the Club
  • Tube Station named after the Club
  • World record signing

How true this is – and how much further we could go with this list.  I mean no criticism of Nicky by saying that he could have taken the list further – for it is easy for me since I have just written another “Arsenal Uncovered” article and in the course of that I realised just how much the BBC has relied on the Arsenal for its technological developments.

  • The first ever radio commentary: Arsenal
  • The first ever live TV game: Arsenal
  • The first ever Match of the Day: Arsenal
  • The first ever result announced on Sports Report: Arsenal

In fact that whole of Uncovered is becoming a list of the experimentation that Arsenal has engaged in since it was founded.    Take the development of the WM formation by Chapman as just one example – it totally transformed football after decades of stagnation.

We could go so much further with this.

  • Woolwich Arsenal was the first ever club to have season tickets.
  • We were the club that established the freedom of clubs in the Football League days to move from one ground to another to offer our fans better facilities.
  • We were the club that with George Eastham ended the ludicrous retain and transfer system that really did make players slaves of the clubs.
  • We put up the first ever clock showing how long was left in the game (the league made us take it down).
  • We were the first club to have a system for announcing the scores to home supporters when the first team was away.

Because of these initiatives and so many others the media with their allies, the directors of other clubs, launched their endless campaign against Arsenal – a campaign that continues until today.

I personally believe there is something more – something strange about the UK today with its dislike of innovation and creativity.  I don’t know what it is, but it is there, and the media use it endlessly to knock the new and the inventive all the time.  I think it started when the government got seriously worried by the inventiveness of the British during the second world war, with our developments of radar through the “Tizard Committee” and the evolution of basic computer systems that broke enemy codes at Bletchley, and so replaced this with the notion that we won because we are the salt of the earth.   (My point is that at the end of the war the British ruled the world in computerisation, but the government shut the whole project down, and refused to develop it further, probably because they couldn’t understand how it all worked).

That of course is a debate for elsewhere, and is not a football matter, but whether this is true or no, the phrase, “Do we really want all this clever-clever stuff?” came in in the 1950s, and journalists and their masters started to see new developments as dangerous, stupid and part of the problem, instead of being part of the solution.

Arsenal, as a highly innovative club, has been caught up in that ever since.

Making the Arsenal

Arsenal Uncovered

Is the media out to get us?  No, it is far worse than that

Evidence, who needs evidence?  The Guardian knows that Wenger is ill but insists on doing all transfer deals himself!

3 Replies to “100 years of hating the Arsenal part 4: innovation is bad for you”

  1. Hey Tony

    We are the first club to try goal line technology and were stopped by FIFA. So that is another first.

  2. “It must be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to plan, more doubtful of success nor more dangerous to manage than the creation of a new system. For the initiator has the enmity of all who profit by the preservation of the old institution and merely lukewarm defenders in those who would gain by the new one.”
    Nicolo Machiavelli (1469-1527)

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