She Wore A Yellow Ribbon: The Story of Arsenalís Forgotten Season 1979/80

By David Fensome

Details of a new e-book covering a remarkable campaign

It is late in the evening on the 14th May, 1980, and The Jam, sum it up: ĎThe dying spark, you left your mark on meí, the previous three hours had indeed been The Bitterest Pill. The 1979/80 football season had been a momentous journey for the Arsenal and while it still had two more games to go of a never ending story, symbolically it ended when Carlos Pereira lurched to his left and blocked Graham Rixís penalty kick. Iíd watched it through my fingers, held up over my face with tears streaming down my cheeks Ė I knew what would happen before the penalties even started.

Details of how to buy the book below

That evening, so soon after defeat to West Ham in the FA Cup Final five days earlier, was the severest blow upon the deepest bruise. Yet less than two weeks earlier, as the non-stop Brian Talbot headed the single goal sufficient to claim a place in the Cup Final a different conclusion hung like a dream in the barmy spring night air. For in the space of nine days Arsenal had claimed two of the greatest victories in their history: 1-0 in Turin; and 1-0 in the Cup semi-final 3rd replay: nine days that represent the zenith of Terry Neillís tenure as Arsenal manager. Although we werenít to know then, the poignancy of those few days would later grow and spread exponentially, every time we saw the hazy re-runs on YouTube of Paul Vaessenís goal in the Stadio Comunale, the goal that causes Paulís star to blaze still in the Turin sky with a magnitude rarely equalled.

It was a season which taught lessons to me, the boy to the man who now writes these words that football glory can eclipse the smallness of mere trophies, that it resides in the community which exists between a club, its team, and its supporters; glory is located in the shared space where those three things overlap: in the end Turin and Highfield Road were enough, and to go with Big Willie Young, Rixy, Sunderland, Pat Rice and all the golden shirted heroes into the long night of time past was a victory of a bigger kind! Victoria Concordia Crescit.

She Wore A Yellow Ribbon: The Story of Arsenalís Forgotten Season 1979/80 is my attempt to capture the joy and the sadness of that long, long season, which now, from the viewpoint of contemporary football, seems so unimaginable. It discusses the chemistry and the football engineering of Neill and Don Howe as they built their great cup team of the late seventies, and how that side came of age in the sun at Wembley in May 1979, and started the 79/80 season as genuine pretenders to the crown. Over the longest of seasons via Europe, Swindon Town in the League Cup, Turin, Liverpool again and again and again it builds to a sustained moment of football elation courtesy of Vaessen and Talbot and then crashes with a sudden and bewildering fall, to leave its own story hidden beneath the debris of its ending. But to pick over that debris is not the act of a car-crash fascination - it is to acknowledge that the values of football surpass the littleness of defeat, that going through it trumps even victory. The tears soon dry, next season soon comes, and itís the Arsenal, itís the Arsenal! So come on you Gunners:

ďWhat did she wear?
She wore, she wore
She wore a yellow ribbon
She wore a yellow ribbon in the merry month of May
And when, I asked, oh why she wore her ribbon
She said itís for The Arsenal and were going to Wembley
Wembley, Wembley
Were the famous Arsenal and were going to Wembley.

Davidís book She Wore A Yellow Ribbon: The Story of Arsenalís Forgotten Season 1979/80 is now available for download to kindle on Amazon for £3.99. Click here to go to the page on Amazonís website.

10th February 2018 10:15:39


Comments and Reaction

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Arseneknewbest  10:44am 10th Feb 2018

Thanks David and the very best of luck with the book. Nearly 40 years on, I'm going to give it a go. I was a 15 year old boy at the time veering wildly between football (watching and playing), women and music. All while trying to get a few O levels (no, tooey, don't ask). Oh to have all those pressures again...I too remember the Rix penalty miss and feeling like the world had ended after losing to the second division's hammers the previous saturday. Losing to second division teams in the cup was what happened to leeds and manure, not us. And it spelt the beginning of another trophyless slump. Always loved singing the yellow ribbon as well - right up there with "good old Arsenal". Hope to see this atop the nonfiction charts, relegating the sanchez autobiography, "my wonderfully interesting life with atom and humber" into second place. - Post No. 112778

mbg  14:04pm 10th Feb 2018

Good piece David, something that can't be destroyed and airbrushed out of history by an old egoistic jealous manager, there's not half enough of these books regaling the good old days, keeping the good old days (and bad) history and memories alive with proper Arsenal men and supporters. We want wenger out now. - Post No. 112779

TOOAW  14:48pm 10th Feb 2018

Oops a daisy AKB. - Post No. 112782

Exiled in Pt  15:16pm 10th Feb 2018

9 years old cried my eyes out after that cup final, hated Brooking ever since! Memories of that penalty shootout my hero Brady failing to convert his penalty more tears. Following season my first attendance at Highbury with my dad and my grandad a man who had followed the Arsenal from the late twenties whose father had helped in the construction work at Highbury when Sir Henry had had his vision!! Real memories before Arsene f. C hope all goes well with the book David i for one shall be getting a copy!! - Post No. 112784

mbg  15:36pm 10th Feb 2018

Arseneknewbest, we've come full circle anyone can beat us now, and all those proud old songs, replaced with shyte like we're by far (yawn) the greatest (hee hee)team (yawn)the world has ever seen, smh, would e even dream of reviving them now, let alone singing them, we've lost such respect and become such a joke, thanks to the biggest joke of all an old arrogant weasel of a manager. Go now wenger you embarrassment. - Post No. 112785

Exiled in Pt  15:48pm 10th Feb 2018

Spot on mbg, tooaw thats twice today!! I dont understand how that is ever sung nowday's its embarrassing!! Laughing stock sh#t board sh#t manager a ground devoid of atmosphere and even the away support is becoming less vocal. Good old Arsenal such a long time ago now!! Wenger and the board out now. - Post No. 112787

!No Pasaran!  18:34pm 10th Feb 2018

I love memory lane. Back then, speaking personally victories were cherished, defeats seemed to hurt more, but within that I felt connected. Iíve been following the Arsenal since 1967, seen some highs and lows like most on here. I canít relate to what we have become over the last 8-10 years. - Post No. 112791

mbg  0:17am 11th Feb 2018

No Pasaran, great post, there's not many supporters who can, unless you think more of an old good for nothing weasel of a manager, and there's still plenty of them. Go now wenger you fooking embarrassment. - Post No. 112794

mbg  1:54am 11th Feb 2018

Lights still on in Highbury house, any white smoke yet ? wenger out now. - Post No. 112796

Moscowgooner  7:42am 11th Feb 2018

That was one amazing season: it meant more to me than 70/71 because I was at many more of the games, home and away. I made three of the semi finals: only Hillboro' was a disappointment. That night at Coventry was an incredible atmosphere; I was standing right behind the goal where 'Sunbeam' Talbot scored. Remember celebrating with the team at a service station on the way back down the M1. Juve at home was another superb night, up there with Anderlecht in 1970 in terms of the noise generated from the North Bank. Guts and character ran through every part of that team - just like the current side... - Post No. 112797

Paulward  8:15am 11th Feb 2018

Was at the West Ham final as an 8 year old with dad, and remember crying my eyes out! To lose like that to Valencia was devastating too, such a shame that team was allowed to break up with the departures of Brady and then Stapleton. Memories like this are a timely reminder that our club has a proud history long before Wenger arrived. - Post No. 112799

markymark  8:23am 11th Feb 2018

Just waiting for the ďMethuselahĒ of the Gooner, Brian Badarse to recycle his 2015 vintage argument ďWenger has no control of them when they are on the pitchĒ. Brilliant stuff Brian, you win give him 10 more years! - Post No. 112800

Badarse  9:18am 11th Feb 2018

One thought he was going on a Beano, the next thought himself a Dandy, but they were all comics. They went to the seaside, they went with the old coach, why one had appealed to the AFC manager for years to go, of course with froth on his chin he didn't cut a very convincing figure, and that coach remained. The sea was rough that day, it frothed wildly. He had a train of thought, it was the 10.55 from Euston. One stooped beneath the promenade's stoop, the other paddled in his punctured wellies, Hoddle and Waddle, the rest remained stationary on the sand, gazing upwards with their eyes and mouths wide open. My how they frothed. They dribbled on. They felt the strong wind, it was a time for change, so they took off their socks. - Post No. 112801

TonyEvans  9:32am 11th Feb 2018

Even though we ended up losing both finals I still regard 79/80 as one of my all time favourite seasons. God, I cared back then, so much so that I even took the day off work after losing to Valencia I felt so sick! A bit different now though! - Post No. 112802

John F  10:04am 11th Feb 2018

In Arsene we trust,to play players out of position it started with Mikki already.The man is a genius as the argument goes it improves their awareness of other positions,it doesn't at all destroy players confidence and it is great to try it out in big games.Well done Arsene and while you are at it keep the German league defender of the year on the bench as he may be a bit to physical to fit in with the lightweights who perform so brilliantly in away games.Pass,pass,pass,lose the ball,panic and produce one shot on target that's the Arsene way.Why would we want another manager to change that?.Be careful what you wish for. - Post No. 112803

Redshirtwhitesleeves  10:12am 11th Feb 2018

My first season of following arsenal as a kid and well remember listening to radio commentaries of the semi finals against Liverpool and the jubilation of beating them quickly turning into tears at losing those two finals. It seemed like such a long time until 87 and watching us finally win another trophy. As others have said it all seemed to matter so much more back then, the connection we all felt with the club was seemingly unbreakable. These days we have to put up with the likes of yesterday...a team devoid of passion and guts and balls meekly surrendering a NLD....and most of us on here, sickened by what our club has become, would not of lost a seconds sleep over it. How times have changed - Post No. 112805

Arseneknewbest  10:15am 11th Feb 2018

Someone on here imagines himself as a 12 year old who has just been given some English grammar homework, the task being to write something containing as many puns as possible in a paragraph designed to amuse fellow 12 year olds. It's profoundly punamusing arsebad. Your mogodon-infused and atrophied frame and brain clearly feels no pain after yesterday's shellacking. Bully for you Mr pseudo terrace hardnut. - Post No. 112806

Badarse  10:28am 11th Feb 2018

He remembers being on the North Bank with the other hard nuts. The man in the white overall would push through the throng and sell his bags of peanuts, boy were they hard nuts! Sometimes he had to jump up and down on them to break the shells. His Mothercare bootees did the trick, eventually. Ah, they were the days. If only they were still around he could buy a gross of bibs for his friends the dribblers. He was sure the WOR would get froth place this season. - Post No. 112807

Ernie71  10:42am 11th Feb 2018

The saddest thing about that season wasnt losing two cup finals it was losing a player who was up there with Bergkamp and Henry the brilliant Chippy Brady.Arsenal were losing to second division teams in cup finals and Nottingham Forest were winning their 2nd European Cup.Who says its no all about the manager? - Post No. 112808

Paulward  11:06am 11th Feb 2018

Agree with John F that Kolasinacís absence is baffling.Just a few weeks ago Wenger stated that Monreals days as an out and out left back were over, now he plays him there every week. Honestly I donít think the manager knows what heís doing anymore, 3 away wins in 14 games suggest the players donít get what heís doing either. - Post No. 112810

markymark  12:19pm 11th Feb 2018

Brian Halfarse - Iím detecting a strong relationship between your use of the word froth and a previous posting reminding you of your past foolishness Funny enough when youíve accused me of frothing Iím pretty sure I was sitting down enjoying a crumpet and having a conversation about planting in the garden with my dear wife. Iíve just got this slight feeling that actually youíre the one doing the frothing on here. - Post No. 112818

mbg  13:43pm 12th Feb 2018

Paulward, nice post, not many 8 year olds cry/crying today (maybe 80 year olds but that would be over the old weasel wenger) or any fans crying over this team and club any more thanks to this old fraud of a manager. wenger out now. - Post No. 112872

mbg  13:54pm 12th Feb 2018

John F, what did I say the other day about players who are foisted on TOF, ruined before they've even started, given no chance all because of an old arrogant egoistic c**t. Go now wenger your not wanted. - Post No. 112875

Issue #269 - Out Now!

Gooner Editorial

16th February 2018

Frozen North Provides Relief For Arsenal

Rare comfortable away win for Gunners v Ostersunds