Boo Boys at Arsenal are nothing new
By Brian Dawes
Eboue stick was not without precedent
Jon Sammels was a neat tidy cultured player who scored one of the best goals I've ever seen at Highbury from 30 odd yards, 40 yards according to some. But just before he shot I can distinctly remember the moans of 'move it', 'get on with it', 'shift your arse' as he shuffled forward a step, looked up shuffled forward again and then finally let rip with a stonking shot that the United keeper hardly saw. Jon was a classy player and one of the best in our team at a time when we were not all that. This was in the period prior to our first double, yet despite his ability not everyone appreciated him. His goal against Anderlecht in the Fairs Cup Final, our third, was a major highlight in Arsenal footballing history for all those at the game, but it didn't stop him being barracked.
There were those who felt he slowed our game down and wasn't tough enough in the heat of battle. Neither did he exactly brim with confidence nor was he as mentally tough as some of his colleagues. Jon was a nice young man, Arsenal through and through, but for whatever reason he copped loads of stick from a minority of idiot Arsenal fans. Many fans however really rated Jon and were really sad to see him go. But whichever way he was regarded it is a simple fact of life that Jon was hounded out of Highbury by barrackers.
Jon was on a par with Eboue for crowd abuse although did not receive the sort of outright booing stupidity we saw during the Wigan match. If you believe that players are not effected by such abuse try reading the following two passages from "Double Champions - Playing the Arsenal Way" by Jon Sammels.
1 - "I had a constant feeling of frustration. I went out in matches, tried to do my best and, to my horror, began to realise that the crowd was getting at me. It was a terrible feeling. Today I can put my finger on the trouble. If there was a crowd of fifty thousand at Highbury I would be trying to please every man-jack of them. Of course this is impossible. If a player satisfies only half of the fans he can consider he has done well. At the time I was unmarried and had no one to whom I could confide my inner thoughts. I simply went home and worried. It all seemed so unfair. If only I had not been trying on the field, I could have understood it, but I had always given a hundred per cent".
"Then came a match against Wolves at Highbury. Even as we were kicking in, I realised that I was being booed by a section of the crowd. The noise went on through the match. Every time I had the ball there was a howl. I wanted nothing so much as to get off the field and be finished with it. We lost 2-0, which is hardly surprising."
2 - "Indeed, on the very day that every newspaper carried pictures of the triumphal procession through Highbury and Islington, with untold thousands saluting the Arsenal team, the Telegraph was carrying a piece saying that I was being driven away from Highbury by Barrackers. Perhaps I could be forgiven for feeling bitter. I knew, because Bertie and Don Howe had never left me in any doubt, that I had the ability to play a full part in Arsenal's successes".
"Instead, the Highbury crowd made life impossible for me, and stole away the prizes which, from the beginning of organised soccer, countless players had striven to earn".
"Why did it happen, and how did it happen? Perhaps the player who suffers from the jeers of the crowd is the last one capable of analysing this peculiar quirk of crowd behaviour. there is one thing I should, however, say at the start. I have heard it said that there is something unprofessional about a player who finds that his game has been effected by the crowd's attitude. This is a theory which anyone who has been through it will angrily refute."
"I would defy any player, who needs the approval and sympathy of the crowd in his efforts to play effective football, to remain unmoved when he hears the roar of anger as someone gives him the ball. Unfortunately, the loudest mouth is always heard when the genuine supporter is silent".
This I believe clearly shows that in the late 60's and early 70's the Highbury crowd destroyed a loyal Arsenal man by their attitude towards him on match days. They were wrong then and those prats at Ashburton repeating the abuse on our current players are wrong now. Either that or they don't give a f*** about Arsenal.
So there you go. Proof if proof was needed that slagging your own players is not a new phenomenon - neither does it help. As Gus Caesar, Jon Sammels, Kevin Campbell, Perry Groves, Andy Linegan, Igors Stepanovs, Lee Chapman, Eddie McGoldrick and others can all testify.
10th December 2008
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20th May 2013
Online Ed: 4th place trophy and CL qualifier secured