Arsenal’s List of Honours, or What is a trophy?

A few years ago, around the 20th anniversary of Arsène Wenger becoming Arsenal manager, the BBC proclaimed that Arsène had won 15 trophies in his 20 years. By any logical counting method, that’s nonsense. They’ve clearly included the three Premier Leagues and six FA Cups, then added six Charity/Community Shields on. But what about the Emirates Cups? There are four teams in the Emirates Cup and only two in the Community Shield, so which is harder to win? Which one is more of a trophy worth counting?bbc-says-wenger-has-won-15-trophies

The Charity/Community Shield is the one that always provokes argument. For a large part of its history the match was considered barely more important than any other pre-season friendly, with very little footballing seriousness attached. No club listed it as a trophy alongside the League and FA Cup. After the League Cup was established in the 1960s, the Shield dropped further down the pecking order, to the extent that some League title and FA Cup winners started to decline the invitation to take part. When Arsenal won the Double in 1971 they went off on a pre-season tour rather than play the match. The 1972 and 1973 winners of both competitions all turned down the invitation as well.

The FA’s response to this declining interest was to move the match to Wembley in 1974 and make it compulsory for winners to play. As luck would have it, that match featured a good old-fashioned punch up between Kevin Keegan and Billy Bremner, which naturally the FA pretended to be outraged about while rubbing their hands with glee over the publicity. With Wembley and TV cameras in place, and the FA now insisting that teams actually take part, the ‘tournament’ was taken a little more seriously, but even after 42 years of ever-increasing hype my twitter poll in 2016 still showed a majority who didn’t consider it a proper trophy.  is-the-charity-shield-a-proper-trophy-poll

I redid the same poll recently and the majority had actually increased:

Arsenal didn’t include the Charity Shield in their list of honours until 1969, kept it in until 1983 and then dropped it again for another 20 years, before reintroducing it to the list in 2003. Here’s the full list of what Arsenal have considered to be ‘Honours’ over the years, as listed in the matchday programme and now on the internet.

From 1930 and the club’s first major trophy, it was FA Cup and then League Championship only all the way to 1969. Two losing League Cup finals in 1968 and ’69 seemed to persuade the programme editor that losing a final or coming second in the League was actually worth a mention. Suddenly all Arsenal’s runner-up positions also featured. 

The Fairs Cup and FA Youth Cup were added by 1971, then the Cup Winners’ Cup second place in 1980, then they forgot about runners-up, added them back in, took them out and added them back in again almost season by season.

It all went a bit mental in the late eighties and early nineties – almost ‘Norwich Hospital Cup’ mental – before the Cup Winners’ Cup victory in 1994 finally banished talk of second place as an honour. For a while, though, the likes of the Caltex Cup (a pre-season 4-team competition in Asia if I recall correctly) and losing the League Cup were still considered more worthy of mention than winning the Charity Shield.

Only since 2003 has the Charity/Community Shield been back in the list, but of course no sensible list of numbers of trophies won by a club includes it.

Despite the BBC and some other observers awarding Arsène an extra six trophies, most Arsenal fans are still more sensible. Witness this banner commissioned by Ricky G (@geezypeas), to celebrate Arsène’s 20th anniversary. Even Ricky, a great admirer of Arsène, has stuck to proper trophies. Well done sir.arsene-20-years-banner

Twitter: @P_h_i_1



6 thoughts on “Arsenal’s List of Honours, or What is a trophy?

  1. its a great trophy to win big crowd turn out, you got to win the greatest trophies in club football to get there .

  2. The only way to qualify to play in the “community Shield” is by winning the league or Fa cup so really should be really called the “winners shield” I think it’s a honour to win it

  3. It’s a kind of a Super Cup, a bit like the game between the European Cup winners and Cup Winners Cup winners etc, so I guess it’s worth putting on your honours board just don’t go overboard about winning it.

  4. As a child I saw the then 7 Charity Shields on our Honours page and the runners up in League and cups. IMO it should always remain that way. I’m a traditionalist and it is indeed, like the Super Cup, a reminder of why you are participating in the Shield.
    In addition, regardless of space available, I believe we should include the Runners Up we’ve achieved, mainly because you can have a really good season and just fall short, maybe by bad luck. Best example, being 1980. Future generations should be taught about the dramas and excitement of victories over Juventus, Liverpool, Sampdoria and Real Madrid and for one match we failed to collect the trophy. It’s an insult and disrespectful for all those involved(players and fans alike), that such seasons are not highlighted.

  5. Regarding the Caltex Cup, this was actually a post-season match, held in 1990 & 1991 in the National Stadium, Singapore. There were only two teams involved in each of them, and the Trophy was only played for on those two occasions :

    9.5.90 Arsenal 2 South Korea 1
    17.5.91 Liverpool 1 Arsenal 1 (no extra-time, Arsenal won 4-3 on a sudden-death penalty shoot-out)

    It is not true to say a trophy must be won to compete in the Charity/Community Shield; there have been plenty of occasions when a team has taken part without winning either, usually because one club has won ‘the Double’, but I agree this should be excluded from the main honours list – which, in my opinion should read :

    League Championships (inc. Premier League titles)
    FA Cups
    European Trophies
    League Cups
    FA Youth Cups (being the ‘premier’ national youth trophy to win; I include this for that reason – you may ask why winning the Youth titles that the club competes for should not then be included, but these are generally played on a regional basis and that is why I believe the Youth Cup, as a national competition, is more prestigious).

    There should be a list of ‘minor titles’ listed somewhere on the website, and in the Annual Handbook, but these do not need to be noted on a regular basis, such as a matchday programme, and this is where the Shield triumphs should be collated. But, hell, if you’re going to list minor trophies don’t stop at just the Emirates Cup; what about the Makita Trophy (originally the ‘Wembley International Challenge’), the Amsterdam Tournament, the Barclays Asia Trophy, the Herbert Chapman Trophy (competed for by Huddersfield & Arsenal in August 2008, after which Johan Djourou lofted a trinket high into the night sky). There was a pre-season tournament at Southampton, won by Arsenal, in 2012. Lets not forget two ‘trophies’ sponsored by Zenith Data Systems in 1989 (the International Challenge won in Miami v. Independiente, and the ‘British’ version won at Ibrox v. Rangers in November), I’m sure the list could go on and on (Evening Standard Five-a-sides anyone?)

    For all these weird and wonderful competitions (and many other forgotten matches) is a valuable resource for such trivialities.

    • Go back to how it was. Include Charity/Community Shields and the years of Runners Up. That was a tradition that should return. Thank You!

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