Book Review: The Arsenal Collection

Last updated : 23 September 2003 By Brian Dawes

It includes a number of classic Arsenal photos alongside many that either haven't seen the light of day, or at least certainly haven't surfaced, for quite some time. In decades past football photographs were not at all uncommon, but they never reached the saturation levels of today's TV, newspapers, magazines, club magazine, fanzines and website bombardment that assaults us on an almost hourly basis today. The somewhat rarer archive photographs often produce some very interesting glimpses into the past and the further they go back the fresher they seem.

As a reminiscence for older Gooners like myself this book should prove to be a pleasant saunter through the memory banks. A lot of fans will be able to relive personal memories of the Gunners as the pictures take them back in time, although I'm fairly confident that no one will actually claim to have been in the crowd at Plumstead. It's a racing certainty however that many will recall at least some of the players of the 40's, 50's, 60's, 70's and 80's which accounts for a bulk of this book.

The mix of photos is good as it includes team photos, including some in a white-shirted away kit, famous individuals, the odd crowd scene, a certain amount of silverware raising, some great action shots and any number of shots, saves, goals and close shaves. Interestingly a picture of Chelsea's ground in 1930 proves that Arsenal fans have always been entertained in a hovel at Stamford Bridge. Peter Storey is pictured looking just as mean as I recall him, while John Radford is seen leaping just as high as I recall him. The current day Liam Brady has gained a lot of weight since his memorable 1979 Cup final triumph while the ever slim Frank McLintock looks almost unchanged since his celebrations at White Hart Lane in 1971. Jack Kelsey and Bob Wilson are both photographed as I recall them in action, namely making suicidal dives at the feet of onrushing forwards. So far as I can tell the captions are all accurate although at least one stretches incredulity. I cite as an example a photo on page eighty-six which shows a mob from the filthiest Leeds side ever to walk the planet along with such Arsenal choir-boys as Frank McLintock and Ian Ure. The caption reads ‘… Billy Bremner appears to be acting as peacemaker'. Bremner as peacemaker! That's almost as likely as Anal Fergusmoan turning up at the next Arsenal AGM!

The pictures, not credited within the book, are from a variety of sources including out-of-copyright material, photographic agencies and Breedon's own picture archive. I'm fairly sure that one or two appeared in some past programmes but some certainly wouldn't have been included by your average Arsenal fan, historic though they may be. I cite Dan Lewis letting in ‘that' goal in the 1927 Final, a Chelsea Cup goal in 1931 or Everton scoring in 1938. Swindon I could certainly have lived without, but with most of the action pictures being centred around the goalmouths perhaps it's only to be expected.

This book is one of a small series, which so far includes West Ham, Aston Villa and Liverpool. But you won't be interested in any of the others will you?

The Arsenal Collection
Breedon Books
Price £12.99

You should be able to order this title from any decent bookstore if you quote the following reference number ISBN 1 85963 390 X

Your favourite online bookstore will no doubt also oblige but if you're off to Highbury in the near future the Matchday Fanzine & Memorabilia Stall in Gillespie Road, opposite the North Bank entrance, will be selling this title at bargain £12.00