Renaming Gillespie Road: Arsenal Tube Station

If you’ve ever taken the Piccadilly Line down to Highbury or Ashburton Grove you might have noticed the old tiles on the platform walls proclaiming the station to be Gillespie Road. Indeed, when you exit the station, you find yourself on Gillespie Road itself. If you know a little about the history of Arsenal, or the tube, you probably know why.

Arsenal Station, Piccadilly Line, previously known as Gillespie Road. London Underground. Source: Wikimedia

The story of the renaming of Gillespie Road station is always there, part of Arsenal folklore. It is intertwined with glorious memories of Arsenal’s ascendancy to greatness from the low point of 1913 through to success with Herbert Chapman in the late 1920s and the 1930s, and sits alongside the addition of white sleeves to the shirt or the development of the WM formation. Chapman’s infamous words on the tube, apparently, were “Whoever heard of Gillespie Road? It’s Arsenal round here!”

But how many of you have heard the full story? Recently The Arsenal History, and then the brilliant London Reconnections have featured two wonderful articles about the truth behind the renaming.

Firstly, in October, Andy Kelly of the Arsenal History revealed that the name of the station was actually changed on 31 October 1932, rather than the oft cited date of 5 November 1932.

More recently John Bull provided some fantastic insights into the renaming in his article “It’s Arsenal Round Here”. He pointed out that there is little direct evidence for the famous Chapman quote, and gives some context in terms of the development of the London Underground:

Logistically, Chapman’s timing was also perfect. With work underway to extend the (now) Piccadilly line north to Cockfosters, a complete update of all of the line’s maps, machines and other assets was already on the cards. Much has been made in some sources about Chapman persuading the Underground to foot the bill, but the reality is that they were about to (and had already budgeted for) many of those changes anyway – tweaking one more station name wouldn’t exactly break the bank.

In the end, the station officially became “Arsenal (Highbury Hill)” on the 31 October 1932. “Arsenal Stadium” had also been considered, according to a contemporary account in the Islington Gazette, but was ultimately seen as a step too far by the Combine. Eventually the “Highbury Hill” would be quietly dropped from the name by London Transport in 1960.

via @lonrec

Andy Kelly also points out that Arsenal have not one, but two stations on the London Tube Map which relate to their name, the second being the Woolwich Arsenal DLR station. This serves the area Arsenal originated in, around the The Royal Arsenal munitions factory in Woolwich, an area which they departed from in 1913 under the stewardship of Sir Henry Norris, relocating to Highbury (also originally named after Gillespie Road). The club played their first league game at home in North London on 6 September 1913, following strong opposition from Tottenham and after being relegated to the Second Division – the last time that Arsenal were relegated from the upper division of English football.

Each of these moments represents an important step in the creation of the modern Arsenal and supported their transformation into one of the most dominant club sides in England.

Recalling Rémi: Garde joins Arsenal, 1996

Today Arsène Wenger and Rémi Garde will face each other as Premier League managerial opponents for the first time when Arsenal meet Rémi’s new club, Aston Villa. This marks a significant point in the story of the Wenger’s 19 year affair with the English game, because as we will discuss, Rémi represents Wenger’s earliest influence at Arsenal.

Rémi Garde’s entry for the 1999 Panini album (Credit: @OldSchool Panini)

Rémi famously arrived at Arsenal aged 30 from Strasbourg on the same day as Patrick Vieira, 14 August 1996. Although they are hailed as Arsène’s first signings, Wenger did not actually join the club from Nagoya Grampus Eight until over a month later, on 30 September 1996. In fact, both signings were made on his recommendation.

ArseWeb’s rumour entry for 15 August 1996 provides a fascinating insight into the sentiment prior to Wenger’s announcement: the signing of the two Frenchmen added weight to the rumours that were circulating about his impending appointment. In a strange twist of fate the rumour entry for that day then mentions that Arsenal were being linked with Tim Sherwood, the very man Rémi has replaced as manager of Aston Villa:

In addition Remi Garde said something rather revealing:
“I’m glad to be signing for a club like Arsenal and working with Arsene Wenger.”
We are also still being linked with Tim Sherwood. The Mirror claims that a £4million deal is being finalised.

Rémi recalls the initial absence of Wenger, but that they were already in regular contact:

“I spent more time on the phone than face to face because as you will remember he was still in Japan. I was at the Colney training centre. He called me every night to have news and find out about how it was going in the training sessions and everything.”

This adds weight to the idea that Garde (fluent in English and his native French) was brought in as an ‘inside man’ for Wenger, allowing him to gauge rapport within the dressing room, adding an experienced Francophone ally to a mostly traditional English Arsenal team, easing the transition and inclusion of other ‘Continental’ players he was adding to the squad.

Rémi’s arrival at Arsenal did make a big impression on the players at the time, as Martin Keown comments:

“I remember when Remi Garde first arrived…you could say it was the beginning of a French revolution at the club…We watched these arrivals with great interest…you could not fail to be impressed by him and the other French players Wenger brought in. I remember training with them at the gym and thinking: ‘These guys are serious professionals. They mean business.’”

ArseWeb documented Garde’s debut, in a match report by Derek Brownjohn for the three-nil win over Leeds United at Highbury in October 1996:

“Remi Garde made his long awaited debut with about 10 minutes left, coming on for the injured Wright (a slight groin strain apparently which should only keep him out of training for a couple of days), to complete a thoroughly satisfactory day for the Highbury faithful.”

Rémi replaced Ian Wright in the eightieth minute, and was rated half a point higher that Steve Morrow in the report for the day:

“Morrow 6.0 Probably not fair to judge him on only about 10 minutes.

Garde 6.5 Ditto, though he looked to have a good confident touch.”

Garde went on to win a league winner’s medal in 1997/98, after which he announced his retirement, only to renege. He continued for another season, until finally retiring in June 1999, having been out since that February with an injury.

In total, Rémi made 43 Arsenal appearances, including 16 as a substitute. He was always a ‘squad player’, but his arrival and departure marked important moments of transition: the start and end of Arsène’s Generation 1.0 team. It was Generation 2.0 who would go on to win the 2002 double and form the foundation for the ‘Invincibles’ team of 2004.

Garde became a pundit, and subsequently worked his way up from coach to become manager at Lyon in June 2011. He left at the end of the 2013/2014 season, and took a sabbatical before joining Aston Villa on 2 November 2015.

Wenger, and his old colleague Gérard Houllier (also once of Villa), played a part in advising Garde to take the role at Villa Park. On joining Rémi reminisced about Arsenal, and Wenger’s legacy:

“I remember the club at Arsenal 20 years ago without training facilities, without a modern stadium like they have today…All this has to be credited to Arsène…A football club is not only the results you get today but also how you will build for the future for yourself or for another manager for or another chairman or owner.”

Clearly, Garde still retains great respect for his former boss. By the close of today, we’ll find out whether mentor was able to outmatch the master.

Can Wenger win the Champions League at Arsenal? Understanding Arsène and Europe through the lens of AS Monaco vs. Werder Bremen Cup Winners’ Cup Final 1992

In the final installment of Wenger: The Beginnings we bring you a tale of heartbreak and mystery. The 1992 Cup Winners’ Cup Final.

European continental competition is club football’s greatest stage, the final frontier, a pinnacle of achievement. Millions of people around the globe watched Arsenal’s 2-1 Champions League triumph over Barcelona last Wednesday night. This was Arsenal’s first against the ‘best team in history’, and most of all this was a moment to savour for Arsène Wenger. Success in Europe has consistently evaded Wenger, arguably the greatest manager never to win a European trophy.

There is no doubting Wenger’s depth of experience in Europe. Even in his modest playing career he managed to appear at centre back in a UEFA Cup tie for RC Strasbourg in 1979. His selection there was out of desperation, the youth team coach called into the side against Duisberg, only to see his side lose 4-0. As a manager though, he is a veteran, playing teams in Europe since 1988, and leading Arsenal into the Champions League every year since 1998. However, the pain of those campaigns which never quite lived up to expectation still lingers.

Wenger and Jean Petit on the bench during Monaco’s 1992 Cup Winners’ Cup final in Lisbon.

Continue reading “Can Wenger win the Champions League at Arsenal? Understanding Arsène and Europe through the lens of AS Monaco vs. Werder Bremen Cup Winners’ Cup Final 1992”

Arsène Wenger: The Nancy Years

You’ve heard the story of Wenger’s time at Monaco and some of his transfer tales. Now prepare for the latest in Wenger: The Beginnings, on his days at AS Nancy from Andrew Gibney.

Today Arsène Wenger stands as one of the most respected managers in football. When he moved into the Arsenal hot seat in 1996 no-one could have predicted the influence he would have on not just the Gunners, but the whole of English football.

His managerial career hasn’t always been full of praise and plaudits though. Pundits will always quote his time and France as the seven years he spent at Monaco from 1987, winning the league and cup and the appearance in the UEFA Cup Winners Cup final, but the story starts years earlier.

Arsène Wenger as a young coach, interviewed in 1984 on taking the job with AS Nancy. Interview and translation.

Before being handed the reins at the principality club Wenger had gone through a tough initiation. Starting as RC Strasbourg’s youth team coach in 1981, he spent two years there before joining AS Cannes as an assistant manager to Jean-Marc Guillou in 1983 (later of KSK Beveren). After just a year in Cannes it was time for Arsène to take his first senior job, at AS Nancy-Lorraine, after being offered the job by a certain Aldo Platini.

Continue reading “Arsène Wenger: The Nancy Years”

Is winning trophies important? Arsenal trophies since 1925: Graphic Data and Herbert Chapman

With Arsenal’s triumph over Huddersfield Town in the FA Cup on Sunday, passed a fixture of significance few failed to note. The name of Herbert Chapman dominates both clubs, a revolutionary manager who engineered periods of success for each in turn, and pioneered the counter-attacking W-M formation at Arsenal which culminated in back to back title wins in the 1930s, a feat never achieved since.

The great Herbert Chapman. Image courtesy of Adam Bowie under Creative Commons licence.

Not only did Chapman win an FA Cup and two titles for Huddersfield Town, but won Arsenal’s first trophy within five years, the FA Cup in 1930, oddly enough against his previous employers, Huddersfield. Although he suffered a premature death in 1934, Chapman set the side up to continue in winning ways until 1938, after which wartime interruption broke the momentum of the Arsenal.

Only one manager has exceeded Chapman’s reputation at Arsenal, and that is the current incumbent, Arsène Wenger. The first decade of Wenger’s reign was one of success, doubles and Invincibles. Since 2005 however, pundits are quick to remind Arsène that the trophy tally is zero.

In light of this I’ve developed a graphic timeline combining the competitive trophies won by Arsenal since Herbert Chapman joined the club in 1925. The achievements of the first great Arsenal manager are clear, including the first in 1930; Arsenal won five league titles and two FA Cups in eight years.

Continue reading “Is winning trophies important? Arsenal trophies since 1925: Graphic Data and Herbert Chapman”

The curious case of Alberto Méndez: An ‘Arsenal transfer’s story’

The name of Alberto Méndez is one familiar to aficionados of Premier League stars who never were, that of a Wenger signing who never quite made the grade at Arsenal. In 1997 he was ‘the craziest football story of the summer’, but joined the small list of players including the likes of Stefan Malz and Tomas Danilevicus who came from nowhere but never fulfilled the potential Wenger saw in them. For every Patrick Vieira or Thierry Henry there are hundreds of these, young men plucked from obscurity, very much a hallmark of Wenger’s successful transfer policies.

However, Alberto has a story of his own to tell. Andrey Arshavin may not know it, but this previous incumbent of the number 23 shirt also went on to become a skillful midfielder. Like Arshavin, this season has been a tumultuous one for the German of Spanish descent.

Continue reading “The curious case of Alberto Méndez: An ‘Arsenal transfer’s story’”

The Wenger Philosophy: Themes through time. The lens of AS Monaco vs. Galatasaray 1989 Part 2

We continue our in-depth look at Arsène’s time with AS Monaco, after analysing the European Cup Quarter-final his side played against Galatasaray in 1989 earlier this week. That match ended in a 1-0 defeat, even with the firepower of George Weah and Glenn Hoddle on the pitch, in what was surely a formative experience for a much younger Wenger.

The image of a frustrated Arsène Wenger on the sidelines echoes through the years, and although the context is different, and football has changed, that bespectacled visage still betrays the passionate and obsessive personality today as was clear 22 years ago. Wenger often cuts a frustrated figure on the sidelines today, water bottle moments included, and the case is no different here. The enigmatic nature of the man is notorious; as Mark Hateley said (in Jasper Rees’ biography) of Wenger “You’ll never figure him out” ; this mysticism still persists.

During the second leg of AS Monaco’s European Cup Quarter-final in 1989 Wenger cuts a frustrated figure on the bench.

Continue reading “The Wenger Philosophy: Themes through time. The lens of AS Monaco vs. Galatasaray 1989 Part 2”

Arsène Wenger: The Beginnings – Themes and Philosophy through the lens of AS Monaco vs. Galatasaray 1989 – Part 1

Twenty-two years ago Arsène Wenger’s AS Monaco were one of the best football sides in France. The manager, who had been relegated to Division 2 in 1987 at cash strapped AS Nancy-Lorraine, had led his new Monaco team to the French championship in 1988, winning Coach of the Year award and qualifying for the European Cup in the process.

The following European campaign began inauspiciously in Iceland; a 1-0 defeat to giants Valur Reykjavík was attended by only 4,000. However Wenger recovered and led his side, including an in-form Glenn Hoddle and newly signed African starlet, George Weah to a Quarter final against Galatasaray, after destroying Club Brugge 6-1 in the preceding round, with Wenger signing Jose Touré in particularly stunning form.

Continue reading “Arsène Wenger: The Beginnings – Themes and Philosophy through the lens of AS Monaco vs. Galatasaray 1989 – Part 1”

Introducing Arsène Wenger, the Early Years: Failure and success in France from Strasbourg to AS Monaco. A Call for Writers.

Arsène Wenger changed the face of English football in 1996. A controversial view, but undoubtedly the statement contains some truth. The Frenchman was one of the first successful foreign managers in the country. He can be credited with the introduction of a unique footballing philosophy which persists to this day, complemented through added nuances after years of experience at the top of the world game.

But what of the past? Much is made of the fact that Wenger managed a young Thierry Henry at AS Monaco, or that he managed Nagoya Grampus Eight in Japan, but there is little widespread coverage of his time prior to Arsenal, what he achieved, and his playing style, apart from the obligatory Wikipedia entries, and cursory histories.

Continue reading “Introducing Arsène Wenger, the Early Years: Failure and success in France from Strasbourg to AS Monaco. A Call for Writers.”

Video: Arsène Wenger at AS Nancy in the 1980s – looking very old school!

Arsène Wenger is looking rather retro in the clip below, which I believe is from his early days at AS Nancy-Lorraine. From my basic French he seems to be age 35. That would date the video to 1984, his first season as a manager.

A French Arsespeak reader has kindly translated the interview, transcript below.

Continue reading “Video: Arsène Wenger at AS Nancy in the 1980s – looking very old school!”