Part 16 – use your experience

March 8, 2010

Arsene Wenger may be the public face of all that is beautiful and noble in football, but Arsenal have a proud tradition going back through generations of players. One of them is former Highbury and Scotland great Bob Wilson who spoke out in the wake of Ryan Shawcross’s horrific challenge on Aaron Ramsey, which the Arsenal midfielder was lucky to survive.

Bob Wilson called on football authorities to act in the wake of Ramsey’s horrific injury. He said: “The game has moved forward but the Football Association and the Premier League are content to have a brutal side to the game. In my opinion this is born out of most managers and coaches facing Arsenal, plus media pundits and even ex-players, instructing their players to get in their faces. Arsenal are a relatively small team. Opposing players are told to shake them up, get in their faces, tackle hard, bully them. I would defy coaches and managers to deny that is the case. The tackle by Ryan Shawcross was at best mistimed, at worst reckless and desperate.”

This is devastating stuff, especially because Wilson clearly knows what he is talking about. On 2 October 1971 he broke the leg of Southampton midfielder Hugh Fisher, putting him out of the game for nearly a year. This incident, forgotten by many, makes Wilson’s words all the more poignant, coming as they do from personal experience. Indeed Wilson made a heartfelt plea to the FA at the time to get himself banned from playing while Fisher was injured and to this day Arsene Wenger still cannot bear to refer to Wilson by his first name although he will do photo opps with him, smiling through the tears.

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