Book Review: 'The Official Arsenal Miscellany'

Last updated : 16 November 2004 By Brian Dawes

If you've come across ‘Schott's Original Miscellany' you'll know the format, if you haven't it's rather hard to explain because it's so unlike most other publications. ‘Schott's Original Miscellany' was described as a unique collection of essential trivia, uncommon knowledge and vital irreverence and became a huge best seller. Since that book's massive success there have been any number of clones or variations on the theme. ‘The Official Arsenal Miscellany' is the latest in this line and being both a fan and a lover of Arsenal trivia this particular ‘Miscellany' is right up my street.

Basically it contains a whole load of interesting, obscure, enlightening, perverse and unusual bits and pieces about The Arsenal which are sometimes anecdotal, sometimes in a list format, occasionally common knowledge and sometimes bizarre. For example; running throughout the book are a number of series such as ‘Derby Dazzlers' which describe various classic goals against the Scum. Another series running throughout is ‘Chapman's innovations' which merely confirm just how far Herbert Chapman was ahead of his time. ‘Other Arsenals' outlines other clubs throughout the world that happen to share our illustrious name. ‘Team line-ups' gives the players and formations for major matches of note, such as our first match at Highbury or the team that won the League at WHL in 1971. ‘Rob's Recipes' includes one of the players' favourites: Banofee Pie. ‘Number crunching' and scanned copies of ancient programme pages are also scattered throughout the book. ‘Champion Gunners' provides the thirteen League tables for each of our winning seasons, while ‘Things they say' provides some notable quotes.

Over 260 such items are featured in this cornucopia of Arsenal facts. Those, other than the ones mentioned above, are far too diverse to describe in full. However if wanted to know, for example, the answers to any of the following they are all contained within the pages of this entertaining volume: All the dates of St Totteringham's day since the Premiership began, and if you don't know what St Totteringham's day is you really don't deserve to get a copy for Christmas. The full words to the Thierry Henry song. The clubs that Herbert Chapman played for both as an amateur and professional. What happened between 17th November 2001 and 9th May 2004. How it was that our Club came to be formed and who formed it, and if you don't know the answer you really should read the book. Which current player has a giant anteater at London Zoo named after him. Some names that were suggested for our new stadium, except these were for the one we moved into in 1913. Why Eddie Hapgood got an armed escort to White Hart Lane. Where we've won our many League Championships, so were you aware that we've also won it twice at a major rival's ground, other than Tottenham? Quite why Thierry Henry's sox are above his knee. The colour of Herbert Chapman's boots. Some weird and wonderful Hobbies of our 1913 side. Who it was that recently played for us and also happened to be an expert in mountain explosives specialist. How did the Paddock get its name. The five cardinal sins according to Eddie Hapgood. Just who was Arsenal's biggest fan. How did Dennis Bergkamp first meet Ian Wright. Who scored a hat-trick in three consecutive games. The Gunner who helped build Genoa Football Club. The English translation of Va-va-voom…. and as the phrase goes when you're writing a review late at night…. much, much more.

I happen to know that Dan Brennan researched this title meticulously and did so somewhat against the clock, just so you could get to read it over Christmas, which I reckon is good news. Because it will be the perfect read on Boxing Day when you return from the Fulham game, down a very large brandy and steal away from all the relations snoring around the telly in the front room. If you happen to doze off yourself it won't matter in the slightest, because this is just the sort of book you can pick up and turn to any page, at any time for a piece of enlightenment. As an added bonus, should you get to read it before your Gooner mates you'll have loads of trivia with which to astound them during your next pre-match drink.

The Official Arsenal Miscellany - Dan Brennan
Published by Hamlyn
Price £9.99

You should be able to order this title from any decent bookstore if you quote the following reference number ISBN 0600612597 or no doubt your favourite online bookstore will also be happy to oblige.