The Curse Of The Mural

This weekend we play Norwich. Remember when we played them on the opening day of the 1992 season and got stuffed 4-2? The North Bank was literally silenced.

More nostalgia, this time from The Gooner issue 116.

During the 1992-93 season the North Bank was even more quiet than it is now. However, there was a good reason: the terrace was being rebuilt and to hide the work the club put up a picture of some of us, thinking this might have a positive effect. It didn’t. Arsenal were 2/1 title favourites, but on the opening day we were mugged 4-2 at home by Norwich*. Two-nil up at half-time, we conceded four in the second half – and every goal went in at the non-mural Clock End.

Two away games followed: we lost to Blackburn and beat Liverpool. Then we won at home against both Oldham and Sheffield Wednesday, but still couldn’t score at the mural end, though Wednesday did. By this time media comment ensured that some black and female faces were added to the mural’s original all white male ones. That didn’t help either – Blackburn paid a visit and beat both us and the mural, with their second 1-0 win against Arsenal in a month. The papers had great fun pointing out the curse as we slid into the bottom half of the table.

It was 28 September before Ian Wright finally stared down the 8,000 silent faces and broke the hoodoo. Nineteen minutes into the game against Man City, Kevin Campbell’s cross was met by Wright’s head for the game’s only goal. After so long I almost expected the mural itself to start cheering. At this stage we’d already completed five home games, including failing to beat Millwall in the Coca-Cola Cup, and dropped to thirteenth in the league.

Things did get better and we ended the season with two cups. But the mural’s early work and continuing mixed league form meant a finishing position of tenth and considerable room for improvement.

*  *  *  *

* I originally said that Norwich were newly-promoted in 1992. They weren’t, as a helpful commenter has pointed out.

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