Tuesday 15 May 2012

Arsenal – last day of the season 1986

5 May 1986 – Oxford U (a) 0-3 – finished 7th – Lukic, Anderson, Samson, Keown, O’Leary (Allinson), Adams, Robson, Davis, Nicholas, Woodcock, Rix.

Looking at that line-up, how did that Arsenal team lose? Well, let’s not forget: Oxford were the League Cup winners that season and we had a caretaker boss in charge.

By that time, I was preparing to leave UK for sojourn abroad with Bacchus International as a DJ. It was too good an offer to turn down: a four-month contract in Oslo, Norway starting on 15th July with all expenses paid. I would have to defer my BEd in Drama place at Roehampton for that opportunity, but little did I know what awaited me in what I later came to know as Noggieland! (Not my word, I hasten to add, as I find it mildly offensive.)

Returning to Arsenal, this era was full of disappointments. We’d been knocked out of the FA Cup on Luton’s plastic pitch and now our empty trophy cabinet and absence from cup finals since 1980 was reminding many of the 1953-1968 ‘Long Sleep’.

That season, I remember Terry Venables being linked with the Arsenal manager’s job but, in the end, ex-Gunner and Double-winner George Graham stepped into manager Don Howe’s shoes. It’s hard to imagine, but only about 17,000 turned out for Howe’s last game in charge: a 3-0 win in March over Coventry which put Arsenal eight points behind the league leaders, Everton, with two games in hand. Howe resigned and Steve Burtenshaw took over the reins until the end of the season.

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