By Tony Attwood
Arsenal FC has a long history of supposed fans turning against their own players – a history that goes back to the 19th century. Indeed much of this early Anti-Arsenal Arsenal activity is discussed in The Crowd at Woolwich Arsenal FC: a volume which considers in detail the crowd’s behaviour at the early matches.
However there is a case to say that the modern AAA movement started on December 13, 1997, when Arsenal lost a home Premier League game against Blackburn Rovers 1-3.
The reason I pick this game is that, as the volume “The Gunners” by Lerman and Brown points out, “After the game [Ian] Wright was warned by the police about his abusive behaviour towards a group of Arsenal fans who had congregated below the players’ changing room window in the East Stand.”
That moment is also, quite possibly, the origin of Wright’s repeated criticism of the modern regime at Arsenal – although that might also have quite a bit to do with Wright being left out of the cup final in which Christopher Wreh appeared in his place.
There is a brief review of the season on this site here
But perhaps the fans were particularly annoyed by the string of results. This was Mr Wenger’s second season at the club, and already expectations were high. But then his happened
What is clear from this chart is that Mr Wenger had taken the club up to first in the league but with just one win in six games the club slipped down to fifth after the home defeat by Liverpool. A further home defeat to Blackburn on 13th suggested to these fans that we were not going to win anything.
I believe it was from that feeling that the issue under the changing rooms arose.
But it is interesting to see just how situations repeat themselves. After this Arsenal went 18 games without defeat. This run included six games in which we scored just five goals, but in letting in zero got five wins and a draw. The run also included ten straight wins.
Incidentally in this season we were knocked out of the Uefa cup after the first round we played in. Rather different from today.
- Woolwich Arsenal: The club that changed football – Arsenal’s early years
- Making the Arsenal – how the modern Arsenal was born in 1910
- “The Crowd at Woolwich Arsenal”: crowd behaviour at the early matches
- Untold Arsenal
- Referee Decisions – just what are the refs up to this season?
- The weight loss programme: The only guaranteed way to stay fit