Over the 40 odd years that I’ve been an Arsenal fan, I have enjoyed and suffered many ups and downs but one of the most enjoyable ups has been witnessing the development and success of home-grown talent.
I’ve always got a ‘kick’ out of seeing one of ‘our own boys’ make the grade, it’s an essential part of our great club and I believe it makes our club a bit special…
Players that come up from ‘within’ seem to have a connection with the club, and with the fans.
When I became a regular on the North Bank in the early 1970’s, the team already contained many players who had been developed through from Apprentices and into top class 1st team players. The likes of Jon Sammels, Peter Simpson, John Radford, Ray Kennedy and George Armstrong were a major part of the squad that won 3 trophies in 2 seasons. They had all grown-up, developed and progressed through from the Youth Team and Combination Team and matured into top top players for the 1st team.
Later on and into the mid to late 1970’s I saw many others making their debuts and enjoying success like Graham Rix, Trevor Ross and Wilf Rostron. Not all of them stayed at Arsenal but they ‘cut their teeth’ at Highbury before going on to have successful careers at other First Division clubs.
Into the 1980’s and I saw other’s following the tradition like Brian McDermott and Martin Keown.
Of course, under the present ’90 minute’ rule it’s possible and even probable, that none of the above would have been allowed to join Arsenal as Apprentices or Trainees…
Imagine the Arsenal Double team of 1970-71 without Radford and Kennedy leading the attack, enjoying a constant stream of accurate crosses from Geordie Armstrong?
Who would have received Chippy Brady’s pass in added time [Graham Rix] and provided the pinpoint cross for Alan Sunderland in the 1979 FA Cup Final???
The 90 minute rule has prevented Arsenal from scouting schoolboy footballers in some of the traditionally strongest football areas in Britain. Like the North-East, Yorkshire and Lancashire but that rule is set to be scrapped as part of the new Elite Performance Plan (EPP), a plan fully supported by Arsene Wenger and Alex Ferguson.
The E.P.P. looks set to be implemented in time for next season and as I understand it [thanks to Young Guns] the players will receive many more hours of training, more in line with Spain. Equally as important, this means that Arsenal will be able to source players from anywhere within England [and Wales I guess].
So who knows, our next Jackie boy might well be a ‘Wor Jackie’ from Northumberland…. ;)
Written by Allezkev