Monday, July 02, 2007


Terry Neill, Charlie Nicholas and Indonesia

A few months back I did an article about Arsenal’s post season tour to Indonesia in 1983. at the time I meant to try and contact Ken Friar and find out more information but I didn’t. just as well really, he never went!

At the time the media was in a frenzy. Celtic prodigy Charlie Nicholas was being chased by the big 3, Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United and Liverpool, then the biggest club in the world, were favourites. After all they had Charlie’s hero, Kenny Dalglish. Terry Neill, our manager at the time and the man who got Spurs relegated, was quietly confident Charlie would come to London but for a couple of weeks the hunter and the huntee would be half a world apart with Charlie on tour with Scotland in Canada. Ken Friar stayed in London to deal with the Celtic board, Charlie and Neill.

On the 8th June Arsenal played Medan and won comfortably despite the conditions. Coach Terry Burton and Terry Neill both had run outs and apparently even Don Howe was impressed.

A couple of days later Arsenal flew to Jakarta with Nicholas still undecided. On the 13th he announced in The Sun he had decided to join Arsenal and Ken Friar was soon on the phone to Neill at the Arsenal hotel in Jakarta with the good news. Naturally he was delighted so he joined the directors in the hotel bar and ordered champagne. Initially he told them Nicholas had decided on Liverpool, he was sorry but hey let’s get wasted but he soon relented. It cannot be understated just what this signing meant to Arsenal and the fans. This was a lad of immense ability, a glamour figure and his arrival lifted everyone at Arsenal after years of stagnation and signing players of average abilty. It was a shot in the arm for the club and proof that we were still a big club, though admittedly one in the doldrums.

The directors set about the champagne with gusto. Partly because they had secured the services of this talented player but also partly because it may have been a rare sight to see their manager dig deep at the bar! They had an official do at another hotel with the Indonesian FA at which they arrived late and a little bit the worse for wear before continuing the party later on.

Of course Charlie never really worked out but the fans loved him. He was our first real star since Liam Brady. He couldn’t run, he couldn’t head the ball but he was Charlie and he could score against Spurs! And yes, I had a Charlie haircut!

Much of the info in this article comes from Terry Neill’s autobiography

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