Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Arsenal In South East Asia
Given that Arsenal have announced they would play a friendly in Malaysia in July, given I am an Arsenal fan and given that it's my website I thought I write something about Arsenal's previous visits to the region.
First time here was 1968 after a game in Tokyo. We were three years short of a famous double and that team was slowly taking shape under Bertie Mee. We beat a President's XI 6-2 which is interesting because Malaysia is of course a constitutional monarchy so I'm guessing it refers to the President of the Football ssociation.
Arsenal won 6-2 with David Jenkins getting a hat trick, Bobby Gould, David Court and Gordon Simmons? In our line up that day was current assistant manager Pat Rice, currently assisting Liam Brady is David Court, former managers Terry Neill and George Graham plus former Reserve Team manager George Armstrong (RIP).
David Jenkins is one of the few players who made the move from Highbury to White Hart Lane, he was swapped for winger Jimmy Robertson. Also playing in that historic game was John Radford, Bob McNab, Peter Storey, Frank McLintock and Peter Simpson and it you need to Google any of them hang your head in shame!
We returned to Malaysia in 1975 after a season when we nearly suffered the ignominy of relegation. This trip was like a poorly organised backpackers trip with games in KL, Penang, Singapore and Bangkok.
First up in KL was a game against a Malaysian XI and we lost 2-0. Up the road to Penang and a 1-1 against Malaysian Select, Brian Kidd netting for us. Then we were down the peninsula to Singapore and a narrow 3-2 win with Kidd, Alex Cropley, who we spent 18 months trying to sign, and John Radford in front of 40,000.
The tour ended in Bangkok against the Thai national team and e won 3-0. Cropley scored once while Kidd got two.
These were turbulent times in South east Asia, the tour coming hot on the heels of the murderous Khmer Rouge taking over the country and beginning their genocidal regime just hours from Bangkok while Thailand itself was fill with American soldiers and diplomats licking their wounds after having their butts whooped in Vietnam.
July 1977 saw us back in Singapore as part of a trip that took in Australia and saw player indiscipline lead to some players sent home.
We lost 3-1 to Red Star Belgrade in Singapore with our goal coming from Malcolm MacDonald. Pat Rice was back having missed the 1975 trip while Liam Brady, head of youth development today, was in the team. Next game we beat Singapore 5-1 with MacDonald getting a hat trick, Brady and the abominable traitor Stapleton getting one each.
Also featuring on that tour were Sammy Nelson, Richie Powling, John Matthews, and, on his third far east tour George Armstrong.
Details of our tour of Indonesia in 1983 can be found here with some background here but this link leads to rare pictures of the game featuring a young looking Arsenal team plus some Singaporean called Fandi...while pictures of our game in Thailand in 1999, our last tour of the region before Arsene Wenger opted for leisurely outings in the Alps, can be found on Asian Football Pictures. We also played in KL that year but it's a sorry state of affirs when I can recall 1975, Pol Pot and Brian Kidd but can't remember 12 years ago...
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