Do you think you'd have made more England appearances if you’d remained as a full back? I don’t know. When I was playing as a full back I never got into the England squad at all. It wasn’t until I played in midfield that I got called up. Then, first game, I played right back. It was the same at Arsenal, sometimes I played in midfield, sometimes I played at full back. The trouble is when you’re versatile, in a way you get mucked about. One game you’re left back, one you’re right back, next you’re in midfield. Some players come out and say ‘I only want to play one position’ and perhaps they are right, because when you’re versatile you get treated like a utility player. You have a reputation as a hard man, but did you ever deliberately target an opponent? When I was told to mark someone, I suppose it’s natural that you get a bit of bad feeling between you. Did you enjoy man to man marking? Not really. I’d have preferred to just go out and play, but I suppose I was fairly good at it and that’s what they wanted me to do. Being young, I didn’t question it, I just did what I was asked to do. I liked to try and, not break their legs, but get a couple of heavy tackles in early on because you knew the first five, ten minutes you’re not going to get your name taken. In those days anyway. If you hit them a bit too strong you’d just get a warning.
It seemed to the fans that Leeds were far dirtier than other teams. Were they really as dirty as we the fans thought? I think so, yeah. They started the trend in the ’60s. They came up into the First Division around about 1964 and I think it was down to Don Revie, because they had some very good players and I don’t think they really needed to do it, but they were really ruthless. They were quite successful and other teams thought, ‘We’d better join them, that’s the way to go forward’. Who was their dirtiest player? I wouldn’t say dirtiest. Toughest then? There was a load of them. Bremner, Giles, Jack Charlton, Norman Hunter, they could all dish it out. The whole lot of them really. Going to play at Elland Road was quite daunting actually. Did you feel that when Alan Ball joined in late 1971 he was signed to replace you? I never thought about it at the time. I don’t think he was bought to replace me because he was a different type of player entirely. I think maybe Bertie Mee thought about winning the European Cup and signing Alan Ball was signing the player he needed to win it. How did you feel about Alan Ball joining the club? On a personal level I got along with him. He was a little man with a big ego, a big personality. He
6 wanted to be the star and he was, and everyone had to fit in around him. It wasn’t the same after he signed. It was a lot to do with the money as well. He came in and we didn’t know at first. We’d only just won the Double and a lot of the players had asked for more money. Because we were on very low money actually. Big bonuses but low basic wages. And all of a sudden they brought Alan Ball in and he’s earning double what everyone else is. It caused a lot of bad feeling. How much of Arsenal's failure to go on and win more following the Double was down to Don Howe leaving and how much was down to Bertie Mee breaking up the side? The main reason was Don Howe leaving. Why he left, I don’t know. I don’t think he’s ever explained it properly. I think it must have been down to money, which most things like that are. If you’ve just won the Double as a coach, you just don’t walk out on a team and go to West Bromwich Albion. Maybe he didn’t have bonuses written into his contract, or they didn’t offer him more money, but I’m sure it was down to money. So if the board had been a bit more sensible, the team would have won more? We could have gone on to better things. We were still a good team. For a few seasons we nearly got there. We came second in the league and got to cup finals. The season after when we played in the European Cup, we lost narrowly to Ajax. I think if we’d have beaten them we’d have possibly gone on to win the trophy that year. But things kind of drifted away and we never won anything more. Were all our players back then big drinkers? I’d have said yes, most of them yeah. More after the game. We used to play at Highbury and then be up at the pub in Southgate by 6.30 and stay till closing time. Some of the players would go on to a club. So not every day, but after games, yeah. How do you think you'd have got on in the modern Arsenal set up?
We could have gone on to better things. We were still a good team. For a few seasons we nearly got there.
You couldn’t play as you did in those days, but I’d like to have played. Do you catch many Arsenal games these days on TV? Yes, but I haven’t seen that many this season, but a lot of the English games are on here. It’s too much really, I don’t watch them all. Were you surprised when George Graham became the kind of authoritarian disciplined manager he did? It wasn’t the George we all knew, no. Tell us a little about your life now. I’m in France, down towards the southwest. Towards Toulouse and it’s very quiet. A happy retirement. We’ve got a bit of land with animals – goats and chickens, dogs and cats. We’ve got a lot of vegetables in the summer, there’s a lot to do. It’s a good life. Finally, if a movie were to be made of your life story, which actor could you see playing you? Someone asked me that the other day and they came up with Vinnie Jones, but I don’t think I was like Vinnie Jones really. Maybe you’d prefer George Clooney! That’d be nice, if I was as good looking as him! True Storey: My Life and Crimes as a Football Hatchet Man by Peter Storey is published by Mainstream with an RRP of £16.99 in hardback.
Competition – Win a Copy of true Storey: my Life and CrimeS aS a footbaLL HatCHet man Mainstream Publishing have offered us two copies of Peter’s book as prizes for a Gooner competition. To enter, please answer the following question: Which club did peter move to from arsenal in 1977? Entries by email to firstname.lastname@example.org (please remember to tell us your name and address) or by post to The Gooner (Book Comp), BCM Box 7499, London WC1N 3XX. Closing date for entries is Thursday 25 November. The winners will be published in our next issue.