Book Review:The Pocket Book of Arsenal

Last updated : 16 October 2009 By Brian Dawes

pocketbookNot only that but it's exceedingly well written and features the key elements of Arsenal's history. Essentially it is a condensed history of the greatest Club on the planet and is produced in colour throughout with the exception of some rather fine historical black and white photos. In fact it contains masses of classic old photos, plenty of Arsenal memorabilia, plus numerous hand-drawn illustrations. It's all packaged in a variable mix of period retro-styling which will appear familiar to various generations of fans both past and present.

This volume is actually one of a series, which includes inferior clubs such as Manure, Pool, Chavs, Newkie Toon & the Scum and was produced pretty much to a pre-determined format that is mirrored in the other volumes. Although obviously items such as Arsenal's Honours and Records required vastly more space than those in other title's such as the Chav's book.

Being both London's biggest and most prestigious club Arsenal has plenty of history and it's well covered here. Starting with it's formation at the Woolwich Arsenal back in 1886, covering Chapman's famous thirties sides and going right through to the Wenger years.

Included in this action packed volume quite apart from a veritable myriad of pictures are the Story of the Gunners: Early Battle 1886-1924, Rise and Fall 1925-65, Greatness Beckons 1966-95. There are four classic Comic strip Histories which pick up on some quite entertaining incidents from the past, the badge of honour (the club's badges through the ages) and also stadiums past and present. The Invincibles get their own section. Great Goals provides 7 classics goals in a diagrammatic format, including Adams v Everton and Charlie George in the '71 final. Also crammed in can be found Winning on Enemy Turf (the somewhat unique Arsenal concept of winning the league at their rival's grounds) and the Illustrated History of the Kit.

Also covered are Tactics, Great Gaffers, Memorable matches, Chapman the Innovator, the Battle of Highbury - the match where 7 Arsenal men played for England against the then world champions Italy and of course an extensive current club directory. There is also a very comprehensive Honours and Records section which covers our Major Honours, Competition and International Records, Club Records, Individual Records and also notable First and Lasts.

Although the text is superb throughout but the book itself is not quite error free. I've spotted one on a caption of a group of 1930's players. Also the Stadium layout has been quite nicely illustrated but inexplicably omits the prawn circle and private boxes. Such glitches are a shame because otherwise it looks to be quite the bees knees. I could also have lived without the 'sellotaped' effect on some pictures, but these are minor quibbles given how much has been crammed into this lively little title. It doesn't set out to supersede the classic 'Arsenal Illustrated History by Tyler and Soar' and indeed couldn't in just 160 pages, but it has resulted in a very decent all-round essence of the history of London's top club.

The Pocket Book of Arsenal
Kevin Whitcher
Recommended retail price £9.99
Published by Vision Sports Publishing

Any decent bookseller that doesn't stock it will order it in for you if you quote the following reference: ISBN 978-0-600-61875-1. Or it can of course be obtained from any of your favourite online bookstores. Including the publishers where you can acquire it for £7.99