The first Saturday of the new football season, was once a beautiful event that saw hope and expectation within clubs of all sizes across the land. This was a time before the wealth of a select few, put them in a different stratosphere to the vast majority of clubs.
1983/84 was a season in which this gap probably existed, and had begun to grow, but not yet in the calamitous fashion that has made modern football all too predictable, and boring.
The fixture computer had seen Luton Town – who had escaped relegation on the final day of the previous season – with a tricky encounter against Arsenal at Highbury. The Gunners were showcasing their new £750,000 signing from Celtic in Charlie Nicholas.
The Arsenal programme has been re-imagined for the new season, and the aim was to keep Arsenal fans connected to the workings of the club, to a greater extent. The new editor – Kevin Connelly – went to every effort to create more of a community feel to the pages of this 24-page programme.
This edition includes a front-cover that features Tony Woodcock wearing a red and blue shirt, in a pre-season friendly against Aberdeen. This was a Jubilee match for the Boys Brigade, who supplied the kits for the afternoon. Arsenal won the match, 0-1, in case you were interested.
Peter Hill-Wood writes a message to supporters, in which he welcomes the club’s new signings – Charlie Nicholas, John Lukic and Ian Allison.
The Fanfare page mentions the novelty of fans attending matches at Highbury, from Norway, while fans were urged to send in requests for the club DJ to play before kick-off. The price of a postage stamp was all that lay between hearing your favourite song being combined with stray shot from Graham Rix.
The match mascot is featured on the Junior Gunners page, seven-year-old Daniel Quy. I would be interested in speaking with Daniel, if anyone knows where he is now. It would be interesting to hear about his experiences of the day, and whether he still follows the Gunners.
There are the usual focuses on the opponents, and a look back at previous fixtures between the clubs, before we are treated to a full-colour centre-spread featuring Charlie Nicholas. Amongst other things, we learn about his love for U2, Psychedelic Furs and Depeche Mode.
Highbury Hotline gives fans the opportunity to write letters to fellow fans, before online forums were even imagined. Fintan Bloss from Cork, was searching for a matchday programme from April 1979, between Arsenal and Norwich City. I hope his search was fruitful and his collection is now complete.
I could not let this opportunity pass, without commenting on the advertisement for JVC below. It is in incredibly bad taste and this appalling idea for an advertisement, would never receive approval nowadays in the light of concerns regarding mental health and well-being.
It is such a relief that we survived Thatcher’s consumerist Britain, although looking at the state of politics nowadays, I am not sure how far we have progressed…
The biggest scoops of the programme come on Kevin Connelly’s ‘Highbury Scene’, in which he reveals that Kenny Sansom will be sporting a beard:
“Yes it’s true, I grew a beard in Djakarta, on the Indonesian tour, and I liked it so I let it grow. My wife thought it looked good, so now I’m sticking with it!”.
Other features in the new-look programme include ‘A View from the Dressing Room‘, with David O’Leary, ‘Golden Gunner‘ that remembers the career of George Armstrong and a puzzle page that includes a crossword. I have included a scan of this below, should anyone care to try it.
This YouTube video is well worth a watch as it features coverage of the game that was broadcasted by London Weekend Television as part of their Big Match series. Unfortunately, the Arsenal line-up is missing from the beginning of the video, but you will soon pick up the players involved if you watch the video in full.
After writing this detailed review of Arsenal v Luton Town from over 30 years ago, I suddenly realised that I need to rediscover a purpose to my life. It is all well and good to have a genuine passion in life, but this cannot be all consuming. I just feel that I need to find that illustrious missing piece of my jigsaw of life, after I have enjoyed the video above that is…