Today of all days

Arsenal’s history one day at a time

This series takes a look at what was happening to Arsenal and in the world around them on this day at one point in Arsenal’s past.

The series has articles for each day from 21 October onward – just scroll down the page to find the date you want

12 November 1894

On 12 November 1894 Arsenal player David Howat had a benefit match – and rather curiously it was played against a team that was run by a leading referee of his own team.  And this was not a one-off match, for Roston Bourke’s XI was well known in the late 19th century.

What’s more later in life Roston Bourke continued to be well known in footballing circles as he became the football correspondent of the Islington Gazette (Arsenal’s local paper).  On this day  Arsenal beat the refs 6-2 and the game was attended by 1200 people.

Later the great, great nephew of Roston Bourke (1866-1955) got in touch with the AISA Arsenal History Society and wrote an article for us about his great great uncle.  Part of that article is republished below…

After playing as a forward and half-back for Old Holloway Collegians, Arthur Roston Bourke  joined the joined the ranks of referees. A newspaper at the time recorded “he was not one of those clever individuals who think themselves born referees and quite capable of taking charge of most important matches straightaway. He had two years’ apprenticeship among the juniors and started at the very bottom of the ladder in 1892. In this season, however, senior clubs in the Southern League became well acquainted with the referee with a curious name.”

In that year in fact he joined the London Football Association Council and was asked to organise teams of London players to oppose clubs at some distance from town – hence the formation of A. Roston Bourke’s XI.

In 1893, (the year Woolwich Arsenal became a league club) the FA formed the first referees’ society and Arthur Roston Bourke was appointed as Honorary Secretary. Its prime purpose was to examine the qualification of referees orally and appoint them to matches. This later became the Referees’ Association and he is mentioned in the history section of their website.

Moving on, in 1896 Mr Bourke’s team played against Reading at their first game at their new ground in Elm Park, Reading on 5 September.

However because A. Roston Bourke’s XI was a scratch team from Holloway College and thus not registered with the Football Association, Reading were later fined £5 and suspended for playing against an unregistered team. The match was abandoned due to torrential weather; Reading were leading 7–1 when the match ended!

In 1898, during a Cup Tie between QPR and Richmond, he ordered one of the Rangers players, Sammy Brooks, off the field and was then himself subjected to a gross assault on the part of one or more of the spectators. The FA decreed that Rangers’ Club Ground should be closed for two weeks and that during that period the Rangers ‘should not play within a radius of seven miles of their own ground.’ Sammy Brooks was also suspended for a month.   (You may also recall that Woolwich Arsenal’s ground was closed because of a crowd incident although Arsenal’s ground was closed for six weeks, after the initial sentence of “the rest of the season” was reduced – there are more details here).

Arthur Roston Bourke was also a keen cricketer, playing at Lord’s for Middlesex Colts in 1887, and worked as a schoolmaster at Holloway College, founded by his father William Roston Bourke, close to Arsenal’s ground. He was secretary of Holloway College Cricket and Football Clubs and the Amateur Dramatic Society.

And as we noted above he later became a sports writer (under the name of Norseman) for the Islington Daily Gazette where he devoted a lot of energy in reporting on Arsenal, sometimes critically, but always constructively, as a life-time fan.

11 November 2001

During 1993/4 reports in many sources suggested that Osama Bin Laden was an occasional visitor to Arsenal, and a supporter of the club – particularly being seen at the European Cup-Winners’ Cup campaign which of course resulted in victory.

Indeed there are reports of him buying a replica shirt for one of his sons in the club shop at Highbury.

Of course there is no verification other than the fact that the story does turn up in a number of books including several biographies of him including “Bin Laden: Behind The Mask Of Terror”, by Adam Robinson.  

If he was indeed at Arsenal, there was nothing that Arsenal or the forces of law and order could have done about it at the time, since Bin Laden was at that moment a citizen of Saudi Arabia and in the UK legally. He had indeed previously studied English at a course in Oxford.

Then on 11 November 2001, the BBC reported that Arsenal had barred the terrorist from Highbury.  In their commentary they suggest Bin Laden favoured the Clock End.  So that’s all right.  I was in the East at the time.

Then, as the story came out, so did the chant,

Osama, woah-woah,

Osama, woah-waoh,

He’s hiding in Kabul,

He loves the Arsenal

The only problem apparently was his tendency to come out of his cave shouting “Come on you gunners”.

There was a certain amount of buoyancy in the air for the 1993/4 season in that Arsenal had just completed a unique FA Cup and Football League Cup double, just two years after winning the league in 1991. And the winning wasn’t over as Arsenal then went on to win the Cup Winners Cup in 1994 beating Parma.

In the Cup Double season Ian Wright was the top scorer with 30 goals.  The following season he exceeded himself by being top scorer with 35 goals – his highest ever number of goals for Arsenal.

Arsenal then had three more years of waiting before winning their second League and Cup double in 1998 to give Mr Wenger his first trophies at Arsenal.  He went on (as you may well recall) to win the League twice more, and the FA Cup six times more, to give him the all-time individual record of seven FA Cup wins.

As for Osama bin Laden, he was killed in Abbottabad, Pakistan, on 2 May 2011, by a United States military special operations unit in an operation code-named Operation Neptune Spear, which was ordered by President Obama and carried out in a CIA operation.

10 November 1969

On 10 November 1969 Jens Lehmann was born.  Happy birthday Jens!

He played for Schalke, Milan and Borussia Dortmund before becoming the only player ever to play in every single top division game in one season without once being on the losing side.

He joined Arsenal on 25 July 2003, filling the vacancy left by David Seaman who had just left the club – just in time for the Unbeaten Season.   

But more than being a member of the Unbeaten squad, Jens was the only man who played in every match of that season. 

He is however remembered for his occasionally erratic style and eccentric manner, as when for example having won the league at White Hart Lane he was the only member of the squad who felt unable to come out and celebrate with the fans after the game, having made an error that led to a Tottenham goal.

But despite being the only ever-present member of the 2003/4 squad, criticisms of him always continued, and by 2004/5 he was occasionally replaced by Almumia – although errors by Almunia eventually led to Lehmann’s return.

There was also endless commentary surrounding whether Lehmann and Wenger actually got on, but despite the criticism and commentary, he was man of the match in the 2005 FA Cup final which Arsenal won 5-4 on penalties, following his saving of a shot from Scholes.

He continued to play into the 2005/6 season and ensured Arsenal achieved the record for the most successive clean sheets in the Champions League (ten).  However in the 2006 Champions League final he was sent off against Barcelona and eventually Arsenal lost.  But he was named Champions League Goalkeeper of the Year for 2005/6 for those 853 minutes without conceding.

n 2008 Lehmann went to Stuttgart and  returned to Arsenal after retiring, due to a goalkeeper injury crisis at Arsenal.  With Wojciech Szczesny, Lukasz Fabianski and Vito Mannone all injured on 17 March 2011 Lehmann re-signed on a rolling contract until the end of the season and was a substitute in Arsenal’s match against WBA  on 19 March 2011.

He played again on 10 April 2011 in the away game at Blackpool when Almunia was injured in the warm up, making it 200 games for the club and the oldest player to play for Arsenal in the Premier League.

In the summer of 2017 he was confirmed as Arsenal’s assistant coach, a post he held until Arsene Wenger left Arsenal in the summer of 2018, at which time all his backroom staff left with him. Which is a shame because it would have been so much fun to see how Jens developed over the years to come.

We wish him well, and thank him totally for the unique achievement of being omnipresent in the Unbeaten Season.

9 November 1914

November 1914: the country was at war.  And yet the Football League continued for the whole season.  At the start this was because of the feeling that “it would all be over by Christmas”.  By Christmas the feeling was “we’ve got this far, we might as well finish.”

By 1 November 1914 the war had reached the eastern Pacific where a Royal Navy squadron was defeated by superior German forces.  It was the first British naval defeat of the war losing two ships.  But the war did not directly affect that many people in Britain.  There was no conscription, no rationing, no air attacks.

There was however, on 3 November by a German naval raid on Yarmouth.  Little damage was done to the town since shells only landed on the beach, as German ships laying mines offshore were interrupted by British destroyers.   On 5 November, Britain annexed Cyprus and declared war on the Ottoman Empire, while the following day Carl Hans Lody became the first spy to be executed for treason during the War.  He was shot by firing squad in the Tower of London.  It was the first execution for treason on UK soil since 1747.

And so amidst this changing background, but not much change in day to day life, football did continue.   On 7 November Arsenal lost 3-0 away to Birmingham in front of 15,000.  But that was not the only Arsenal news for on Monday 9 Novemberit was announced that the most recent Arsenal share issue had resulted in the sale of 276 new shares had been sold to individuals. 

So why were Arsenal selling shares?

It is something that most Arsenal history books ignore, largely because it goes against the standard narrative of Henry Norris the businessman crook.

In fact, the truth is that having rescued Arsenal in 1910 and built a new stadium at Highbury in 1913 using his own money, Henry Norris was now executing the third and final part of this plan, to create a club owned by the fans, not by businessmen or those with inherited wealth.

This was indeed a revolutionary model, and no one was quite sure how it would look.  But Norris was also willing to look to the future.  He constantly spoke out for votes for women, equal property rights for women, pensions for injured soldiers returning from the war, and state subsidized rail fares for commuters – among other radical changes.

The government were not of the same mind for the following Monday income tax was doubled, meaning that the working men were now fighting the government’s war and having to pay for it as well.  (Those with inherited wealth that earned interest via investments paid no tax on investments, nor on any property sold at a profit).

And not everyone was in favour of football continuing at this time however, although they supported the continuance of horse racing (for the sake of the horses).  And it was this attitude that led to one of the most amusing episodes in football reporting, as the Times ordered one of its staff to attend the next Arsenal match to report on what was happening, as part of their anti-football propaganda.

Unfortunately, what the hapless reporter did not know was that the game he went to was not a League match but a reserve game played at Highbury on 21 November.  His subsequent rampant, raging piece said that the crowd was tiny (which it was being a reserve match) and that there was no attempt to recruit men into the army (which there wasn’t since it was a reserve match).  

In fact what was happening was the Henry Norris was himself encouraging Arsenal supporters to sign up at first team games, and when they did, he set up and funded a training camp for them, where they worked until the Middlesex Regiment was ready to receive them – a long term project for which he was knighted in 1917.

His success in recruiting volunteers was such that he himself was recruited by the War Office.  Starting with no rank at all, by the end of the was he had become a Lt Colonel and was put in charge of conscription when that was introduced in 1917, and at the end of the war he was in charge of overseeing demobilisation.  

As for Norris’ dream of selling Arsenal to its supporters, this continued until the boardroom coup of 1925 at which point he was removed from the club.  The Hill-Wood clan took over, and immediately set about reversing the Norris policy of a club owned by the fans, and from here on shares were primarily bought by directors.  This was the policy that allowed the club in the 21st century to be sold to the Kroenke family with no fans as shareholders at all.

8 November 2003

8 November 2003: Arsenal beat Tottenham 2-1 in the 11th league match of the Unbeaten season.  The Observer in its review called it “another stuttering performance” from Arsenal.  It was, you may recall, the unbeaten season. (Oh sorry, I just said that).

In fact this negativity against Arsenal was a constant theme in the press in the early parts of the unbeaten season. For example, on 31 August 2003 The Times reported the league match against Man City as containing “the worst 45 minutes [by Arsenal] that any of their fans could remember”.   It ended Man City 1 Arsenal 2 and was the 4th league match of the unbeaten season. I would love to know who those fans were.

Indeed even at the end of the season some of the newspaper journalists could not set their dislike of all things Arsenal aside, telling anyone interested that this was not really an unbeaten season, because Arsenal hadn’t won the cups as well. And anyway it had been done before, by Preston NE. That was somewhere around the 13th century I think.

But really, what was so extraordinary during this time was the absolute inability of the media to see that Arsenal had something going for them at this time. True Arsenal had lost the Community Shield game in August against Manchester United – but that only on penalties, and that had been followed by four straight wins and a draw in the league.

Then had come the first defeat – losing 0-3 at Highbury to Inter Milan. Indeed it was as if from the start that the players knew that the league was the thing they were after, because at the end of September we could only draw with Lokomotiv Moscow away, and that was followed by a defeat to Dynamo Kiev.

Even the League Cup offered only slight respite in that we had to use penalties to be Rotherham United at home (we won the shoot out 9-8).

But all the while it was going rather well in the League.. Not every performance was magical, of course, but some were sublime, and most who were at Leeds on 1 November to see a 4-1 away victory will hold that in the memory still.

The defeat of Tottenham on this day in 2003 may not have been our finest performance but it was important – and that wasn’t just because it was Tottenham. It was the start of the return of the confidence.

Beating Birmingham away 3-0 in the next match was enjoyable but not necessarily one to remember forever … were it not for the fact that it was followed by a 5-1 away win against Inter. Even the media struggled a little to knock Arsenal after that match. Yes there were still hiccups, such as a tedious goalless draw with Fulham in the next game, but slowly the recognition arose that alone among the teams in the Premier League we were unbeaten.

“Of course it won’t last all season,” the commentators said, and indeed they were still saying that in April, but we know what happened.

After the victory on this day however we were top of the League four points ahead of Chelsea in second and 18 points ahead of Tottenham who were undoubtedly having fun even though they were 13th just four points above relegation.

Thus far we had played 12, won nine, drawn three. Defeats would come the press told us. Going unbeaten all season was impossible.

7 November 1896

7 November 1896: Notts C 7 Arsenal 4.  Only 3000 witnessed Arsenal’s biggest league aggregate game thus far. 

The game was part of an amazing 11 league game sequence in which 76 goals were scored – fractionally under 7 per game.  The run included the 0-8 defeat to Loughboro and two games in which Arsenal scored six.

What makes the match even more interesting is that this game came in a sequence of 12 games in the League and the FA Cup in which there were at least five goals scored in every game.  And in fact in the game immediate after the sequence Arsenal only let the scoring slip a little: they won 4-0.

The run started on 17 October with a 5-3 away defeat to Walsall.  The next game was a 6-1 home win against Gainsborough Trinity.  Then came the 7-4 defeat, followed by a 5-2 defeat.

Out of the 12 games Arsenal did however win seven including a 6-2 win on Christmas Day over Lincoln City in the league.

But at this point despite having three successive wins in which the club scored a total of 15 goals and conceded just four (“just” being an appropriate term during this run), Arsenal then lost successive league games 4-1 against Gainsborough Trinity and Darwen, before beating Chatham 4-0 in the cup.

What makes all this scoring even more extraordinary than it might already sound is the fact that at this time, the offside rule required three defensive players to be between the attacking player and the goalline at all times – even if the attacking player was nowhere near the ball.

Mind you the rules also allowed the goalkeeper to handle the ball anywhere in his own half, rather than just within the penalty area, and while most keepers tended to stay behind the posts, there are reports of some keepers occasionally running the length of their half with the ball to release it to their forwards who were making a quick dash to the opposition goal.

The only problem with this approach however was that play could be so rough at times that the keeper could readily be tripped, the ball released and then booted towards the unguarded goal.

Woolwich Arsenal came 10th out of 16 in the second division this season – their fourth in the football league division 2.  In 30 games they scored 68 and conceded 70.  An average of 4.6 goals being scored per game.

6 November 1976

At the end of October 1976 Arsenal found themselves having won two and lost four of the last six games.  Even Norwich in 18th had a better record in that period of games.  Arsenal were 13th and not in danger of relegation, but certainly nowhere near challenging for a trophy.

And strangely by being in 13th Arsenal were London’s top club. QPR were 15th, Tottenham were 17th and West Ham were bottom of the 1st Division.

The talk in the media was that London clubs were not suited for football, because the players indulged themselves in London’s night life, whereas life was simpler, tougher and grittier in the north, and managers were stricter and better able to control their players.  London footballers were soft.

But all bad runs come to an end one way or another and Arsenal had a decent November, starting with this win over Birmingham City on 6 November.  The crowds, mostly in the 20,000s, had shrunk back to the levels of Bertie Mee’s latter years but with Nelson back in defence and Simpson and O’Leary re-established at centre back, things started to look up. Indeed even Macdonald scored, albeit with a penalty.

In this game on our chosen day, Gary Jones was sent off on 37 minutes when he fouled Stapleton.  He’d already been booked, and seemed to have with him an I Spy Book of Fouls, as it looked as if he was going for the world record.

The penalty itself was not without incident.  With Ball, the regular penalty taker, not on the pitch because of injury it looked for all the world as if no one quite knew who should take the shot – something that most certainly did not reflect well on Neill’s management preparations.  Then with Brady and Ross having a row over who was going to take it, Macdonald nicked the ball from both of them and set himself up to take the kick.

In the second half Nelson and Ross added to the score.  But most attention came with the managerial interview afterwards in which the Birmingham manager Willie Bell said he would appeal the sending off, as the ref had let so many fouls go before, it was ludicrous to give that one.  It was a novel approach, and one that, not surprisingly, did not actually result in the sending off being rescinded.  But the media lapped it up and the problem was presented as Arsenal’s fault!

But although Arsenal’s win got some attention in the media it was Ipswich Town’s move up to second in the First Division with a 7–0 thrashing of West Bromwich Albion and Tottenham Hotspur’s 5–3 defeat at struggling West Ham United that got the headlines.  Of Tottenham, Frank McGhee, pompously proclaimed in the Daily Mirror as “the voice of sport”, wrote the headline “So Pathetic”.  He was referring to Tottenham, not his own writing, and for once his pomposity could be excused.

With England achieving nothing in world football since the 1966 world cup, matches were now stopped in order to allow the internationals to take place.   Arsenal use the time to fix up two friendlies

  • 12 November A’Naser  1 Arsenal 3 (Mathews, Macdonald, Radford)
  • 15 November Dubai National Civil Service 0 Arsenal 3. (Macdonald, Rostron 2)

Arsenal returned to England to find that on 17 November 1976 England suffered a set-back in their attempt to reach the World Cup Finals being beaten 2–0 by Italy in Rome and thus the interruption to events looked to be for nought.

Indeed Arsenal were not too worried about such matters as up next was Liverpool at Highbury, and not surprisingly the crowds returned, 45,016 being in the ground for the 1-1 draw.

Arsenal ended the season in 8th, as London’s top club.  Tottenham ended up bottom of the league and were relegated.

5 November 1983

On 5 November 1983 Tony Adams made his league début for Arsenal in a game against Sunderland which  Arsenal 1 Sunderland 2.  Tony Woodcock scored – it was his eighth goal in three consecutive games.

But although we remember Woodcock it is Tony Adams who we think of more often as he was part of the “famous back four” which became legendary in the football of the era. Indeed it is said that when Arsenal Wenger joined Arsenal the one instruction everyone said to him was, “don’t touch the defence”.

And yet, in many ways the back four was something of a journalistic shorthand, and as so often when we find ourselves talking of Arsenal and journalists, the facts and the reality don’t quite mix.

After all, was it really a back four of Adams, Bould, Winterburn and Dixon?  Or was it a back five, which also included Keown? Or even a back six also including Seaman? For those players most certainly played their part.

Obviously you can pick and choose any way you want to say it, but the question I asked myself recently was, how did they come together?  And I found that although I had a fair idea, I could not bring all the dates to mind, until I started looking a few things up.

Here’s what I got…

PlayerSignedSigned by…
AdamsSigned as a schoolboy 1980 (first game 5 November 1983)Neil
KeownSigned as a schoolboy 1980 left June 86 re-signed February 1993Neil, Graham
WinterburnSummer 1987Graham
DixonJanuary 1988Graham
BouldSummer 1988Graham
SeamanSummer 1990Graham

So here they are…  the earliest date (1980) to the last (1993, the re-signing of Keown) were 13 years apart, but if we leave schoolboy signings out of this for a moment, the actual spread of time in terms was 1983 to 1990.  Seven years.  Or excluding the goal keeper, 1983 to 1988 – five years. And yet the way they are talked about today one might have the impression that they were all signed at around the same time and played for a generation.

It is interesting to remember that two of these players were signed by Terry Neil, and that Graham let Keown go, and then brought him back again – something else that doesn’t quite fit the narrative.

Here is another set of data that took me by surprise.  And this perhaps explains why the notion of the back four, five or six has become such an enduring legend… The number of games each man played:

PlayerGames
Adams504
Keown333
Winterburn440
Dixon458
Bould267
Seaman405

These are astonishing numbers, and seeing those it is no wonder that we revere these players and the back four, five or six that they created.

When one sees those numbers it is clear why these players became such a legend. Finding one or two players who play 250 games or more for the club is one thing. Finding six who all played in the defence during the same era and who all played over 250 games, that is something else. And that is why the legend of the back four lives on. It doesn’t matter if it is four, or five or six, they really were part of something utterly remarkable.

4 November 2001

On this day, in 2001, Arsenal went four down in 20 minutes in the worst half at home in Arsène Wenger years. It ended  Arsenal 2 Charlton 4. 

So why am I mentioning this on our site that promotes all the glory of Arsenal?

Because despite this being a catastrophe this was nonetheless League match 11 of the third Double season.  Which just goes to show – you can’t base everything on one game – although a lot of supporters seem to like doing that.

This was the season that Sol Campbell joined Arsenal, playing his first game for us on 18 August 2001.  We beat Middlesbrough away 4-0.

After that game Thierry Henry said, “I saw something today I never saw last season – we played as a team.  It’s the most important thing in football.”

Thierry Henry, Robert Pires and two late goals from Dennis Bergkamp had got the season going against Middlesbrough who had Steve McLaren as their new manager.

This result raised some eyebrows because the previous season, Arsenal had had a poor away form losing seven matches, and failing to win a single game against any of the top 12 clubs in the league!  How the press and broadcasters had loved that stat – it was quoted day after day, week after week rather like Arsenal’s failure to beat the rest of the “top 6” in recent times.

In fact in 2000/1 Arsenal only won five away games – failing even to beat Bradford City who came bottom.  But this double season of 2001/2 was to be the reverse.

For while in 2000/1 Arsenal lost only one and drew just three home games, in the Double season of 2001/2 the home and away results were… lost three at home, lost zero away.   It was the Unbeaten Away Season.

Arsenal started their romp through the Boro defence because Pires and Henry had found out exactly how to play together.  The ball was crossed to Henry, Ehiogu headed it (which simply ensured it reached Henry perfectly), Henry chested it down and volleyed it in.

Even Parlour’s sending off  for two yellows didn’t hurt and Arsenal kept pressing.  Cole was tripped by Ehiogu who was sent off, Pires scored from the spot and that was that.

Except Denis Bergkamp who came on as a sub wanted to make his mark.  His first goal was from a tap in after a cross from Cole, his second was a tap in after a cross from Pires.

The team:

Seaman,

Cole, Adams, Campbell, Lauren

Vieira, Pires, Ljungberg, Parlour,

Wiltord, Henry.

Subs: Jeffers, Bergkamp, van Bronckhorst, Grimandi, Wright

As a season’s opener, it all looked so fine and promising with that away form jinx of the previous season now put to bed once and for all.

Except… Arsenal don’t do it by the book.  In the next game we had a 1-2 home defeat to Leeds.

In fact although Arsenal went top of the league after the 5th match – a 3-1 away win over Fulham on 15 September, it wasn’t until game 32 that Arsenal hit top spot for good, staying there until the end of the season.  The final run involved 20 games without defeat, and 12 straight victories to end the season.

But the strangeness of that season, with its magnificent away record, were the three defeats.  Not defeats against top teams but home defeats to Leeds, as noted above, and then Charlton 2-4 on this day, 4 November, and Newcastle on 18 December, 1-3.

Which really does prove the point.  If you draw conclusions based on one, two or even three defeats, you might not necessarily draw the right conclusions.

3 November 1963

Today is the birthday of Ian Edward Wright MBE.   We all wish Ian a very happy birthday. 

Ian Wright played for Arsenal for seven years clocking up 128 league goals in 221 games.  During his time with us he won the Premier League, the FA Cup, the League Cup, and the Cup Winners Cup (although he was suspended for the final).  In his total career he played 581 league games, scoring 387 goals.  He also got 33 caps for England.

In terms of Arsenal goalscoring Ian Wright is second in Arsenal’s goalscoring list, having scored 185 league and cup goals in 288 games.  His 100th goal came in his 143 game – an achievement only beaten by Ted Drake who got his 100th goal in 108 games.

Top of the list, not surprisingly, is Thierry Henry with 228 goals in 377 games – but he took 181 games to get to 100.

All told 19 players have got 100 or more goals for Arsenal – among the more recent names in that august chart we have John Radford, Robin van Persie, Dennis Bergkamp, Alan Smith, Frank Stapleton and Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud.

The remarkable thing about Ian Wright’s footballing career always seems to me that when he first tried to get a professional contract with clubs like Southend and Brighton, he failed, and so went back to paying amateur football.

Eventually he got signed as a semi-pro with Greenwich Borough and after a handful of games was seen by Crystal Palace, and then signed for them aged 21. In his second season with the club he knocked in 33 goals in all competitions as Palace were promoted.

As he got towards 100 goals for Palace he was selected for England, before coming to Arsenal in 1991, for a club record fee at the time of £2.5m

He scored a hat trick in his league debut for us (against Southampton) and another in the last match of the season, making it 31 league goals in that season including the five scored for Palace before the transfer.  He was the League’s top scorer and was Arsenal’s top scorer for six seasons in a row.

When Arsène Wenger came to Arsenal. Wright was 33, but with the change of diet and training regime he was able to become the second highest scorer in the Premier League in 1996/7 scoring against 17 of Arsenal’s 19 opponents in the League, a record for a 20 team Premier League season that was later equalled by van Persie.

He became the top scorer by scoring a hat-trick against Bolton, and memorably removed his Arsenal shirt to reveal a t-shirt bearing the logo “Just Done It” one goal too soon.  But he did get the second goal in the same game, and took off the Arsenal shirt again to make “just done it” a valid claim.

He retired from playing in 2000 and later moved into punditry.  He has never hidden his support for Arsenal and it is said that his shouts from the broadcasting gantry when Arsenal scored in the 2020 Cup Final in front of an empty stadium, were heard by every Arsenal player on the pitch.