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Terry Neill’s signings: Graham Rix

This is part of the continuing series of articles looking back at Arsenal from the perspective of the managers.  There is an index to the series at “The Managers”

At the moment we are currently looking at the Terry Neill era, you can see exactly how Terry Neill got on as a manager from these two pieces…

We’re looking here at the players that Terry Neill brought through as he refreshed the team after the downturn in the latter part of the Bertie Mee era.

Graham Rix joined Arsenal in 1974 while Bertie Mee was still manager, and turned pro in 1975.   His first ever match for Arsenal was against Leicester on 2 April 1977.  It was a rather curious 3-0 win, for Graham scored the first and David O’Leary scored the other two.  The match marked the end of an awful 11 match run without a victory – a run which had included seven successive defeats.  That run not only saw the entry of Rix but also David Price and Willie Young.

It is sometimes suggested that Rix replaced the long time player George Armstrong, but this is not how it started – for in this first season both players were on the pitch.  It was in fact a time of chopping and changing.

It was only in the next season – 1977-78 that Rix replaced Armstrong, giving Arsenal a new attacking midfield and forward line of Brady McDonald Stapleton and Rix – with Sunderland joining the quartet in November of that season.

This was in fact the team that got to the League Cup semi-final and FA Cup final in 1978.

Graham Rix was a regular in the team until 1984, playing just 18 games in 1984/5, returning for 38 games the following season, and then having two years of occasional games, before ending in 1988 having played 388 league games and scoring 41 goals (464 games including cup matches).

He played in the three FA Cup finals (putting in the cross for Sunderland to score the winner against Man U), and in the Cup Winners’ Cup final against Valencia, where his missed penalty kick lost Arsenal the game.

His highest position in the league was 3rd in 1981.  In 1983 he became club captain but was unable to claim any trophies.  During the 1980s he also played for England including in the 1982 World Cup.

After he was replaced by Martin Hayes, Graham Rix moved to Brentford on loan and then surprisingly (for the era) went to Caen in France, followed by Le Havre and then Dundee.   He retired in 1993 from playing.  I must admit I would love to know what was behind the Caen move – I am sure it is common knowledge and in a book somewhere, but I just haven’t seen it.

After retiring from playing Graham went to Chelsea where he became youth team coach, and also played once in an end of season game in 1995 against Arsenal (Chelsea having run out of players at the time).  When Ruud Gullit became manager Rix became assistant in 1996 and he stayed there during the Vialli reign, when Chelsea won the FA Cup, League Cup and Cup Winners’ Cup.

However in March 1999, Graham Rix was found guilty of having sex with a 15 year old girl, and was sentenced to a year in prison.  The FA banned him from working with under 16 year olds.  Chelsea however did take him back, and he stayed there until 2000 when Vialli left the club.  He then managed Portsmouth in 2001/2 and Oxford United (2004) which was undoubtedly the lowest point in his managerial career.  In November 2005 he returned to Scotland as manager of Hearts who were run by Vladimir Romanov – a man who was deeply involved in the day to day running of the club and who got through a whole host of managers.  After four months Rix left.

To the best of my knowledge he now works at the Glenn Hoddle Academy in Spain along with Nigel Spackman, Dave Beasant and Enrique Caballero.  The Academy works to help young players who have been rejected by their clubs get back into football, and also runs (or ran, sorry I am not sure) Jerez Industrial – a club that was bankrupt, and which the Academy took over.

The Academy has recently launched GHA Arabia which is creating ways for young players in Dubai to progress in football via the Initiative for the Development of Health, Physical Education and School Sports and the Dubai Educational Zone.  There is also a partnership with Cape United FC in South Africa.

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The Updated Database of Arsenal Anniversaries

How it all began: the book that re-writes Arsenal’s history

When Arsenal almost died.  The story of 1910:  “Making the Arsenal”

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9 comments to Terry Neill’s signings: Graham Rix

  • nicky

    Who will ever forget his sublime cross (from a Brady pass) to allow Alan Sunderland to convert and beat one of the Manchester Clubs (not City but the other lot) in the 1979 FA Cup Final, in the closing minutes of normal time.
    I’ve often wondered what Alan shouted as he peeled away in triumph.
    My Mum used to say that it was “Thank you, Graham” but I believe it was somewhat stronger than that”.

  • Andy Kelly

    Rix, along with Kenny Sansom, was the first Arsenal player to play for England in the World Cup finals when they started the game aginst France on 16 June 1982. A quite staggering fact when you consider that England had qualified on 6 previous occasions.

    He probably holds the record for the longest time taken to be awarded a testimonial after leaving a club. He had been promised a testimonial long before leaving in June 1988 but a suitable date could never be arranged. A game against Tottenham was finally played in October 1990.

    In November 1983 he suffered an achilles injury which meant that his first team appearances were rather sporadic from that point onwards.

  • Arsenal1Again

    Sorry, when I see Rix’s name I see Pedophile. When you become a disgrace to society you remain a disgrace until such time you redeem yourself. The former player of ours has never done this, so why pretend he didn’t go to prison for having sex with a child?

    Maybe it’s the father in me, but if Thierry Henry was ever guilty of such sick stuff, I would also forget everything he did in an Arsenal shirt.

  • nicky

    @Andy,
    Your reference to Alan’s delayed testimonial reminds me of the rather parsimonious way in which Eddie Hapgood, Arsenal and England Captain, was treated when he retired. I think our Club, on occasion, was not the most generous of employers.

  • @Arsenal1Again
    As far as I’m aware, the girl told Rix that she was 16 when they had sex.

    Tony’s article doesn’t shirk from the fact that he was put in prison for the offence and the repurcussions of being found guilty of such a crime.

  • Arsenal1Again

    Indeed Andy, Tony does mention about Rix’s crime and you’re right, the girl did say she claimed to be 16 like many girls have done when paid to say such a thing. I am showing approval of Tony’s inclusion of Rix’s crime and thinking out aloud regarding the crime perpetrated by a long serving former Arsenal player. I’m also highlighting the most important part of the article.

    People lie about their age to get in the armed services, they lie about their age to get served in a pub, some girls will lie about their age to sleep with famous men but in all cases, it is the responsibility of adults to check if these people are lying about their ages, otherwise we have soldiers at risk, children dying of alcohol poisoning and exposed to dangerous drunken men, plus underage sex becomes encouraged and subsequently taken advantage of when combined with the lies told in a bar, since opportunistic men will sniff out the poor girls and plead they assumed the girls were of legal age since they were drinking in the bar, and so on. There are no circumstances where it is acceptable to excuse the actions of Rix regardless of what the child says. If she admitted she lied about her age then she had zero chance of being believed in a court after that. One lie told in a court dismisses any subsequent claims. Not many people know this.

  • kenneth Widmerpool

    At the time it was fascinating to see the inter play between Rix and Brady,pure intelligent magic.The old guys who’d been going from the 30s, used to moan about the play being “all down the left hand side”. Those old timers didn’t ever really shout out loud though, just loud enough for a few around them to hear. At one game I recall Pat Rice taking a throw parallel with the D, and starting to walk further down the touchline, at once the old guys realised what he was doing you could start to hear “keep walking Pat, keep walking,go on Pat keep walking”, Pat ended up near the centre circle before he threw it. It was hilarious. Great characters.
    I don’t think Rix was them same after the penalty miss against Valencia. What a horrible season that was!The AAA don’t even know they’re born!!
    Rix was always an intelligent player though, and his passing skills and reading of the game were often a delight to watch.

  • mark andrews

    Kenneth,

    Was this period covered in “A Dance to the Music of Time”?

  • keith comley

    Graham Rix, that gorgeous near post free kick away at Manchester City in the cup – is that right?

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