McLintock & Kelly star at AISA event
The latest AISA event was a double-header compered by Tom Watt, starting with a Q&A with Arsenal Director of Communications Mark Gonnella, and followed by a bravura performance by 1970s icons, Eddie Kelly and Frank McLintock.
One a man who had scored at Wembley and in a European final, the other the captain of Arsenal’s first ever double team and European trophy winning team, indeed Tom Watt called him Arsenal’s greatest ever captain, which is arguably true.
Dave Seagar, editor of new book Geordie Armstrong on the Wing, was also present. Part two started by discussing Geordie, stating not only was he the heartbeat of the 1970s team but was also a bloody nice bloke. Eddie said what a special debt of gratitude he had to Geordie in the Fairs Cup final at Highbury as he was always there next to him to carry the ball through into attack, and made his role much easier.
Both of the players, together with Dave, told stories of Geordie’s brilliance, and of especial note was the comparison with Cazorla’s amazing ability to take the ball and use both feet. In that, an opponent would not know which way Armstrong was going to move, either left or right, as he was at home with both feet. It is a trait that Cazorla also shows and recently to devastating effect.
Biggest laughs were set aside for Eddie who when asked how he felt scoring a 25-yard cracker in the Fairs Cup final, replied to the question that he wasn’t sure he had scored as George Graham claimed it!
Eddie also told a story of a recent conversation between Frank and Arsene Wenger at a charity event. Arsene asked Frank who he thought would win in a game between the current Arsenal team and the 1971 double winning team. After a while Frank earnestly replied: “I think it will be a draw.” To which a surprised Wenger thanked Frank for his honesty. Frank then delivered a deadpan, “but Arsene you have to remember the 1970s boys haven’t played together for at least 40 years!”
Another good line was based around the notion that Eddie’s current deafness was caused by years of having Frank shout at him to keep formation and get out of the box!
The great camaraderie of that team showed through as Frank stated his belief that as Geordie and John Radford were the biggest moaners of any players he had encountered, that they would have made a great pair of undertakers – presumably in the Fraser of Dads’ Army mould.
Personally, I could have stayed all night listening to the reminiscences of both the players about thegreat Geordie Armstrong and the early 1970s teams, but sadly it did have to come to an end and proceedings were deemed ended by Tom. A loud round of applause was given to the players and author.
After the event both Frank and Eddie stayed, and were real gentlemen in their patience and answering of any query or taking of photographs, and signing autographs.
Eddie put to bed a query about a peculiar photo we had located last year in the Daily Mail archives. It appears to show Eddie running onto Highbury in the mid 70s with a cheeky cigarette hanging from his mouth, and it was reported as such. However as Eddie has never smoked he was insistent it couldn’t be that.
After a bit of thought he realised that he was in the habit of using a small tube which he would snap in half and inhale the contents prior to a game, which was a help for his breathing. So the photo told a different story to that as reported all those years ago. It is most definitely not Eddie Kelly smoking but in fact he was using a forerunner to the stuff Vieira used to put on his shirt, also a breathing aid.
All in all an excellent evening’s entertainment and our thanks go to AISA for another well organised event with fantastic guests.
Report (slightly abbreviated) courtesy Mark Andrews - full version at The Arsenal History website.
Signed copies of Geordie Armstrong on the Wing are available at the special price of £17.50 (£15 to AISA members) from AISA, PO Box 65011, London N5 9AX. Alternatively payment can be made by PayPal to firstname.lastname@example.org