If you think you know your Arsenal history – it is time to think again. Woolwich Arsenal, the club that changed football.
By Tony Attwood
These days we often spend our time on Untold Arsenal telling players that if they leave Arsenal life will never be so good. We’ve charted the career of player after player who has decided to try the other side of the meadow, from Hleb to Henry, from Flamini to Vieira and they have all found that their new lives have been nothing like what they had at Arsenal. (The Flamini Fallacy)
Many have popped back whenever they could, some desperately looking for a return to life in the old home, but very few have made it. Martin Keown is one exception.
He signed in 1980 under Terry Neill and made his début during Don Howe’s reign, went on loan to Brighton in 1985, and then was transferred to Aston Villa after George Graham had come to power. He was re-signed by Graham near the end of his (Graham’s) reign, and then strode into his pomp as a player of supreme brilliance. He played 311 league games for Arsenal after his return, including one against Manchester United which none of us will ever forget.
If a player ever showed desire, commitment and utter, total and absolute belief in our club it was Martin Keown having a nice little chat on September 21 2003 with that Van Nistelroy fellow. To take the issue of a player cheating, and of him being supported in this endeavour by the ref, and let the player and the world know what he thinks takes courage, and Martin showed it that day.
He was, and forever will be, one of us.
Martin was born in 1966, and won nine trophies with Arsenal as well as getting 43 caps for England. He now works for Arsenal as a coach and scout, and is a pundit on a whole variety of stations. He is also playing this season for Wembley FC in the FA Cup, which is wonderful.
He joined Arsenal in 1980 as a schoolboy and after the Brighton affair started out for Arsenal for the first time on 23 November 1985 but only got 22 games before Graham moved him on. Villa were in a state of near terminal decline, having won the league and Euro Cup they were within a couple of years fighting relegation and sacking managers. Martin played for Villa in the second division and got them back into the first, before being sold to Everton. They meandered around mid-table and eventually Graham brought Martin back.
The club had Linighan, Bould, Adams and Keown at this time and at first Martin missed out on the Cup Double (he was cup tied) and the Cup Winners Cup final. But then came Mr Wenger.
Martin won the Double in 1998 and 2002 and of course won the league in 2004. His last season gave us all a lot of good feeling for him as he was regularly brought on in the last ten seconds of a match in order to qualify for his 10 games to get a medal. Quite often as he would prepare to come on at the end, one of the other subs would run on instead and then feign surprise that it was Martin and not he who was being invited to play for ten seconds.
He subsequently had a few games for Leicester and Reading, before finally retiring from playing – at least until this season’s FA Cup (an issue we recently covered on Untold) wherein he will play with Ray Parlour and have David Seaman as goalkeeping coach. The only black spot in this bit of fun is the fact that Venables is involved – Venables who utterly ignored Martin’s claim for a position in the England team.
Although of course I don’t know Martin at all, I love the way he talks on TV, his calmness and knowledge, and the fact that he has never tried to push himself as a big time operator. After retiring, for example, he went to coach for Newbury FC, and I believe he also coaches the Oxford University team. OK not my favourite University but still, a great thing to do, without fuss, just done because he lives there and he can help. And of course he is giving guidance and thought to Arsenal’s defence.
And now the roll call of honours – the roll call of a man who was shipped off to the sinking Aston Villa, but a man who never once stopped believing.
- Every one of these honours is with Arsenal – the other clubs never got a look in.
- Premier League: 1997–98, 2001–02, 2003–04
- FA Cup: 1997–98, 2001–02, 2002–03
- UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup: 1993–94
- FA Community Shield: 1998, 1999, 2002
Martin – everyone who loves Arsenal owes you. You were a wonderful player, and from what we can observe at a distance you seem a really good bloke.