Is there a Moral in story this for Fans criticizing Wenger? – Ask Joe Mercer

In or out?

In or out?

Wenger In/Wenger Out? – It is getting stale.

We need something new to remember that football is not just about the next three points or next team selection so let me lighten the mood and recall some Arsenal moments over the years. How about this Joe Mercer reminisce? – A lovely encounter with a City fan when he was manager at Maine Road.  However before that, the moment that made me a Gunner. It was April 1954 – a grey day at Highbury. We beat Liverpool 3-0, perhaps that was their year of their relegation. The ball is loose. Two of our defenders clash in an attempt to clear. One is Joe Wade, a lovely stalwart who eventually went to Cardiff City. He collided with skipper Joe Mercer. There was a loud crack. Joe’s leg was broken. On came the St John’s Ambulance men and the dreaded stretcher.

Grey clouds overhead matched by heavy hearts on the terraces and in the stands. He was 36 and he had broken his leg. The general was done. He was stretchered off and as he went he raised his right hand and waved goodbye. Grown men in tears, even now I choke. He was Arsenal. He was the Gunners spirit. It was he who famously said on 3 May 1952 after the 10 man defeat by Newcastle at Wembley “I thought the biggest honour in football was to captain England. I was wrong. It was to captain Arsenal today”. That wave made me a Gunner and many others too. Joe Wade was inconsolable.

Mercer with the fans

Mercer with the fans

Now to the fun of Mercer because he was fun – with a smile and a chuckle. He was manager of City and was walking the streets of Manchester when he was spied by an eager City fan. The team were struggling. The fan approaches the great man

“Mr Mercer, do you mind if we have a few words?”

“Not a problem – what is it son?” (knowing it was going to be a series of moans)

“I hope you don’t mind me suggesting that Oakes moves forward. Coleman comes into midfield, Bell is pushed up and Franny Lee plays in midfield.”

The lad is feeling good. He has given the manager the key to the way forward. Problems all solved.

Mercer says – “Tell me son what do you do for a living”

The fan responds “I sell cloth in the markets”

“Funny, says Mercer, I know nothing about cloth” and walks off.

Mercer was reckoned to be over the hill when Tom Whittaker signed him from Everton. He led us to the title in 1948, the Cup in 1950 and the League again in 1953. A great signing, a great leader and but for his associations with Moral Re-Armament, a fine man.

1950 FA Cup Winners

1950 FA Cup Winners

Mention of 1950 and the Cup final reminds me of Alex Forbes who died last year. Liverpool’s great player was the outside left Billy Liddell. Forbes marked him – literally. He roughed him out of the game and Reg Lewis scored two for us to win the FA Cup. It was Denis Compton’s last game for AFC. A few years later – in 1954 I saw my first sending off when Forbes and Bobby Brennan clashed and were given marching orders. It never happened – sending’s off that is. It was another grey day and we suffered a humiliating defeat. It was the beginning of the barren years which ended when Jon Sammels scored the third goal against Anderlecht forty six years ago. Memories are so important.

Now about Arsene…

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3 Responses to Is there a Moral in story this for Fans criticizing Wenger? – Ask Joe Mercer

  1. Alex Field April 18, 2016 at 1:10 pm #

    Stubborn old twonk should have gone years ago the French loon twunt

  2. Victor Thompson April 18, 2016 at 1:35 pm #

    Wonderful memories Graham. Those were different times. The fans wore flat caps at all the grounds and the players earned wages not all that more than them.We all felt part of the team.

    We felt an affinity with the players and they represented us on the pitch. There was no kissing the badge then. They didn`t have to. Our heroes played for the jersey. In some ways it was like the time when your big brother fought for you in the playground and you loved and worshipped him for it.

    Heroes came along who were out of the ordinary, such as Joe Mercer. A loveable man who would have a chuckle with you and play his heart out on the pitch. For those of the present generation, they may share great occasions in the future courtesy of Sky and they will marvel at the millionaires playing for their team, but they will have missed out on the days when Wolves, Aston Villa, Bolton, Burnley, Blackpool,Preston etc. were big clubs and the fans turned up on foggy winter days to watch them play.

    Those fans had their clubs in their blood and sadly many of their clubs are now shadows of their former selves. The ghosts of Billy Wright, Peter McParland, Nat Lofthouse, Jimmy McIlroy, Stanley Matthews and Tom Finney still inhabit those grounds.

    Arsenal has endured throughout the duration of the first division and latterly the Premiership. For you and I, and many others it has been a privilege to support our team during those years. Arsene Wenger came to Highbury to the legacy of a great club and the memories and traditions of great managers and players left behind by years of tradition. He grabbed it with both hands and raised us up to a new level in keeping with the modern game and with a certain panache which identified his philosophy of how the game was played.

    For me, I will always be grateful to him for taking us to the top, but unfortunately, he has been unable to keep us there. There are many contributors to the Arsenal Blogs who are now sadly admitting that he has come to the end of the road. For the last 10 years we have declined and in this year when we had a golden opportunity to win the Premiership, our points tally confirms that we have declined even further. If he values his own achievements he should admit to himself that he cannot produce another title winning team and leave while he still has the love and respect of the supporters. He is assured of his place in the history of Arsenal but he is risking having it devalued by obstinately refusing to recognise the interminable repeat of the team`s failings and to condemn us to mediocrity once again.

    Arsene is still saying that this team has the ability and the mental strength to fight to the end until it is impossible to win the league. We all know ( even the pro Arsenites ) that this team has no such thing, but it gives you an insight into his mindset. He hates to lose and he will not admit to defeat until it is over but for the realists, we have known since early March that with this team, it was over. He really needs to take a step back and take a look at the situation and to recognise that his best efforts are not good enough now.

    I am not going to lambast him in this reply or to revile him. I am just so sad that he cannot see what everyone else sees. I just wish that someone on the board would put his arm around him and say “Arsene, it`s come to the end of the road” and persuade him to go with dignity. David Dein may have been able to had he still been there. I believe that self interest is at play here on the board.

    In the half century that you and I have supported this great club, this is probably one of its saddest times. The decline of the club and of one of its ( if not the best ) managers has coincided. I cannot foresee any improvement in this situation which does not include Arsene`s resignation.

  3. Alex Field April 18, 2016 at 5:44 pm #

    The old Twunt needs to fuck senile old twonk

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