Book Review: Arsenal Official Handbook 2003/4

Last updated : 14 September 2003 By Brian Dawes
95 pages for £2.50 and here's what you get for a booklet that costs no more than the matchday programme:

The fixtures albeit they will be totally rearranged for you by Sky but you can at least avoid promising to attend a wedding on Cup Final day. A page listing the first team squad with pictures followed by a page on each of our first team squad. Did you know for example that Jens Lehmann has an EUFA cup winners medal or that Gael Clichy signed shortly after his 18th birthday? Some twenty-eight pages later we find five pages devoted to the first team coaching staff, here we find, for example, that Gerry Peyton is the new goalkeeping coach and that Gary Lewin is closing in on 1,000 first team matches. The next five pages cover last season's appearances, goals, final tables, first team statistics including who played in which match, the attendance's, substitutes and goalscorers.

Photo action from our 59 competitive matches' cover the next four pages as we arrive midway through the handbook and a centre page spread of the first team squad for 2003-4. What else? Well it includes our complete league record since 1893/4, Our complete FA Cup record including qualifying matches, our first being an 11-0 win against Lyndhurst in 1889. Our complete League Cup record variously called the League Cup, Milk Cup, Littlewoods Cup, Rumbelows Cup, Coca-Cola Cup and Worthington Cup. Plus our complete European record which brings us on to the Young Professionals for 2003-4 which of course includes Craig Holloway, Liam Chilvers, Ryan Garry, Juan and David Bentley. Plus all their mates of course.

Reserve team statistics, Scholars (they used to be called apprentices in the good old days), Youth team coaches (including the even balder Stevie Bald). The Youth team's squad photo, Academy statistics including appearances, goals, results and tables. The Arsenal Ladies get a four page spread. There is a three-page feature on Arsenal in the Community, do you know what Arsenal and Maimondies is all about? No? Well here's your chance to learn. A page on the Ex-Professional and Celebrity XI, I didn't know Tommy Walsh (Groundforce) or Mark Ramprakash were involved did you? Junior Gunners details which looks like a very decent offer. The Travel Club details, Box office information. Did you know such vital information as the fact that the box office won't be open to personal callers for the Scum, Bluescum, Hoofers or Manure matches? The Arsenal Museum and Stadium tours information, do the tour is my tip because it's not only excellent but when I did it last the Museum was included as part of the tour. Arsenal Hospitality packages; did you know that if you have £6,000 to spare you and seven others can hire an executive box and all the trimmings for a grade 'A' match?

Top all time goalscorers follow on from some guff on the Arsenal shops and the website. Thierry by the way is 11th on the list but should overtake Alan Smith any time now. The handbook concludes with some ads for Arsenal Publications, some seriously anorak Club records to amaze your mates on the next long haul away trip and finally a list of signings and departures. Excellent value or what?
Ok so it's mainly stuffed full of statistics and player photos but I figure that if you don't get your two pounds fifty back on the bets you win as a result of buying it you just didn't do your homework.

The Arsenal Official Handbook 2003/4 price £2.50
Available from the Arsenal shops, matchday programme sellers and