February 18, 2010
Came the response from our legendary captain, Tony Alexander Adams, following a question from a member of the audience.
The question actually read… Who would you choose to play alongside you in a dream Arsenal side, Steve Bould or Thomas Vermalen?
Big Tone then burst into an impromptu ( and thoroughly hillarious ) about the beautiful colour of Bouldie’s eyes, and how his wife had her eye on him from the early days.
Eventually… Tone told us he would choose Bouldie by a country mile.
The media room at the Emirates, on the afternoon of the Porto away day in the Champions League 2nd Round, held the inaugural filming of a new Arsenal TV Online show entitled “An Audience with”
Arsenal legends of yester year will be wheeled out in front of a luckily selected audience of gooners, who will come prepared with questions to ask the former great.
They started at the very top of the pile with the first legend, they will be working their way down the list for future episodes.
So, I get to the media entrance, next door to the Armoury Shop, at around half one.
Show the sexy young thing at reception my confirmation email… she ticks my name off her list, and asks me to follow the path down the corridor where refreshments are being served. Darn, just spent a few quid in the Little Wonder Cafe over the road!
I walk into the waiting area outside the media/press conference room where filming is to take place, roughly 60 other fortunate gooners are sat/standing around supping Coffees and Tea’s, munching biscuits… each and every one of them looking like 5 yr olds on Christmas morning.
I swiftly make my way towards the toilets at the far end of the room, desperate to spend a penny… only a disabled toilet was available ( yes very funny, and very apt… i’m sure ) so I walk in and do the business… and rush to get back out upon hearing voices directly outside the locked door.
I turn the lock, open the door… and am presented with Mr Tom Watt and Mr Tony Adams having a natter right outside… they look me up and down… then old Lofty breaks out in “there you go tone, have a quick leak in there”
We all get seated in the steeped media room, the production guys give out some rules.. mobiles off, no flash photos etc
Tom Watt appears at the front of the room and introduces the agenda for the rest of the afternoon, then calls out Big Tone who receives rapturous applause, he takes his seat alongside TW… let the games begin.
Right, the questions kick off ( incidentally the programme should be ready to air on ATVO from next week ) and what is clear from the offset is Tone loves to go off on a tangent.
The number of times he went into a rant, off topic, and then asked Lofty “what was the question again?” was hysterical, and had the room in fits of laughter.
One of the first questions focused in on the managerial nuances of both Arsene Wenger and George Graham… they were gigantic according to TA6.
A quick dodgy Scottish accented impression of the stroller was followed by incredible praise.
He described GG as a man who had learnt a lot off Terry Venables, they had done their badges together and worked at QPR together and stayed close to one another.
GG was a workaholic, tactically astute, a hardcore disciplinarian and prepared for every game with intense and minute detail… TA6 really did go into a long speech extolling the virtues of GG’s tenure as Arsenal gaffer.
Tony then went on to discuss Wenger in a slightly different tone, less excitement, but still very respectful.
AW was a man who just let players play, he never told them how to kick, head or do whatever aside from “just go out and play with freedom”
I sensed there and then that he had a bee in his bonnet with Le Boss!
He then burst into another impromptu story about an incident between Wenger and Graham at the funeral of an Arsenal staff member a couple of years ago.
It got heated, they were at loggerheads about the way Arsenal play under Wenger.
GG apparently argued they were too open and easy to attack, whilst Wenger argued the great Arsenal of the early 90’s should have been beating teams out of sight with the quality they had and not resting on hard-fought one nils (to the ars-e-nal)
A member of the audience asked why Tony had not come back to work for the club in a coaching role… TA6 got VERY animated and screamed “here i am, take me, i love this club, i want to work for this club in any capacity, i can add value to this club”
He then went on to state Wenger is loyal and won’t change his team, he won’t allow newcomers to join his motley crew is what TA6 suggested in a round about kind of way.. and he looked very gutted about this. I can understand this.
Arsenal are his club, and he wants back in.
Adams continued by telling us he had total belief in himself, he always did as a player.. and he stated his tremendous belief in his coaching abilities… if he didn’t believe he could add value and succeed as a coach/manager he would not bother trying to work his way up the managerial ladder.
He was adamant he would succeed at the top-level in management.
Tony was asked to discuss the best Arsenal team he had played in, he evaded this question in a way.. but answered it by going off on a tangent and discussing a pre-xmas lunch he had with Patrick Vieria last year.
He stated they both agreed that following the 97/98 double success, that squad massively under achieved for a few seasons considering the wealth of talent that composed it.
Apparently Parma could still be playing up till today.. and they still would not have scored past the Arsenal defence during that final in Copenhagen back in 94.
When asked about how he felt when his name was cheered by the crowd during games.. he told a wonderful story about Paul Mariner.
During a cup tie in the early eighties (I’d guess circa 83) at Shite Hart Lane, Don Howe selected Mariner to play as a Centre Half following injuries to the first choice CB’s… TA6 said he was gutted that a centre forward was played in his position.. but that quickly changed as Mariner put in an awe-inspiring performance clearing every ball in the air, that helped the side to a clean sheet and a win against the old enemy.
He recalled the vociferous gooners chanting for Mariner following the game… and that was when the dream started for him to attain the same kind of adulation from the fans.
He then rejoiced in describing the wonderful support he got from the Highbury faithful over his 20 odd years service for The Arsenal.
There were plenty of other questions, can’t recall them all… and a plethora of jokes and laughter filled the room.
However the afternoon ended for me on a low point.
The final question posed asked for Big Tone’s view on the current team… he quickly stated they would win nothing!
It was ok for Barcelona to play this kind of football in La Liga, but you cannot win a Premiership with it.
On a final note his damning indictement of the current Wengerball side was “they play wonderful football… but… i’m a winner!”
There was no need for him to expand upon that statement.
A wonderful afternoon ended on a sombre note for me personally… as I have not given up on this team… there is something there!
Injuries have ravaged us, terrible individual errors have blighted parts of the season, pathetic referee decisions have gone against us…yet we fight on, a mere 6 points off the summit of the Premiership.
I was just as frustrated as every other die-hard gooner following the defeats to Manure and Chelski… but we have to dig in, we just have to get behind em.
We have to because we support our club through thick and thin… and let me tell you, no way is this period in our history anywhere near as thin as some would love to have you believe.
Namely the gutter press and Nuevo goons.