There I was, in lockdown, doing my utmost to be productive and to make some good use of the time I have to spend indoors by having the old clear out, it’s always good for the soul to have a clear out, you know out with the old making room for the new.
Anyway as I sorted through some old papers, mostly from the last century, I found an old Arsenal reserve programme, although programme isn’t really accurate as it was a single sheet, but it was a record of the game and it showed that Arsenal Reserves vs Chelsea Reserves played at Highbury in the Avon Insurance Combination, Saturday (yes Saturday!) 10th September 1994, kick off: 3pm (yes 3pm!). How quaint I thought.
It must have been an entertaining game as I wrote the score down as 3-3, but obviously after over 25 years I have no recollection of the game, how the scoring went or how either team played tactically, although you can hazard a guess by the line ups.
Did Arsenal play with a back four or a back three as that was in vogue at the time in England? Oh yes a back three, very continental…
The Chelsea team was a mixture of youngsters, old timers and the odd big signing probably trying to regain some fitness after injury or form after being dropped. That’s what I liked about the Comb’ it allowed experienced players to play with, guide and impart their knowledge onto the youngsters, all the training sessions in the world can’t replicate that.
The Chelsea line up was Kevin Mitchell in goal, then Terry Shiverton, Scott Minto (a biggish signing from Charlton) Craig Norman, Michael Duberry, Andy Dow, David Hopkin, Robert Fleck (a big signing from Glasgow Rangers), Zeke Rowe, Mussie Izzet and Darren Barnard. On the bench was Paul Hughes and Graham Rix!
For Arsenal, our line up was Lee Harper in goal, then Matthew Rose, Gavin McGowan, Paul Davis (changed before kick off to Adrian Clarke), Graeme Hill, Stephen Morrow, Jimmy Carter, Paul Shaw, Paul Dickov, Paul Read, and Stephen Hughes – our subs were Mark Flatts and Chris McDonald, Flatts replacing Clarke during the game.
I didn’t record who scored for Chelsea but Paul Read scored one goal for us and Paul Dickov got a brace. For some obscure reason I seem to recall an Arsenal come back, so it’s possible we were losing.
I’m sure that you all know what happened to many of those 26 players, so I’ll leave it for your good selves to comment on, but for Arsenal Reserves at the time the star man to me was Stephen Hughes, we all predicted big things for him, I also liked McGowan, Read and Shaw, but none of them made it at Arsenal.
The Arsenal Reserve Coach at the time was none other than the legend that was George Armstrong and in the previous season the Arsenal Youths coached by Pat Rice had won the FA Youth Cup, beating Millwall 5-3 in a two – legged final. McGowan, Hall, McDonald, Rose and Hughes were all involved.
Just to put some context as to where Arsenal were at the time, the previous season an injury hit Arsenal team coached by George Graham had beaten Parma 1-0 in Copenhagen to lift the European Cup Winners Cup; it was probably one of George Graham’s finest achievements in beating an exciting Parma team with a midfield of Paul Davis, Ian Selley and Stephen Morrow.
Graham became only the second and last Arsenal manager to win a European trophy for the club and was gone before 1994/95 season was concluded.