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Arsenal anguish - 10/11/2002

Arsenal anguish
A player I'd have loved to have seen at Newcastle
   David Ginola
   Lee Dixon
   Warren Barton

During my Newcastle career Arsenal weren’t quite the side that they today, however that didn’t stop us having a number of tough battles with the North Londoner’s. It fair to say that they caused us on or two problems, as the following tales will explain…

10/01/96 v Arsenal (a) 0-2 1996 League Cup QF

Disgraceful refereeing saw savage tackles on Ginola go unpunished and even result in a booking for the Frenchman when brought down ! His frustration resulted in a dismissal for elbowing Lee Dixon in the face. Ian Wright scored a goal in each half. "Looking back, after this game David Ginola was never the same player he had been before. He was literally in tears in the dressing room and was just so frustrated, and felt everything was against him. Dixon had been giving him some rough treatment and then of course made the most of the elbow, and the Highbury crowd and all the press and media were accusing him of being a diver.

This was a turning point in his career at Newcastle and in many ways the beginning of the end, as he stopped being a team player and things got too personal with him. He tried to take the whole opposition team on and frustrated his team mates as much as the other team."

23/03/96 v Arsenal (a) 0-2 Premiership

A major blow to our title hopes when Barton gifted a ball for them to score. "I know that Warren won't mind telling you this one. He got caught trying to be clever instead of hoofing it away and was really upset after the match. What made it worse was that he was an Arsenal fan as a kid, and didn't know whether to laugh or cry when Keegan said to him in front of all the lads 'You're not playing for Southerners now - I didn't buy you to play football - just keep it simple'...."

That caused a bit of an awkward silence in the dressing room, and Keegan then started on the rest of the team, having a real go at people for not performing. In the middle of all this, Tino stood up and started to take his kit off and all the lads were just waiting for KK to go barmy. He asked Tino what he thought he was doing, and got a reply, 'I get changed, I catch plane'. (he was off to play for Colombia). KK couldn't cope with this, and just shook his head and let him get on with it. When Tino came out of the shower, the gaffer was still talking to us all, and again stopped when Tino pulled a pair of jeans and a thick jumper from his bag. Keegan said to him, 'Tino, you're not going anywhere - look outside, that crowd will be there for another hour.'

The dressing room at Highbury backs on to the street, and if you open the window, you can see all the fans crowded outside. Someone opened up the window and we all looked out including the gaffer, who said 'see? I told you.' Tino turned round, looked at him and said 'yes I will' then looked back out in into the street and whistled. Straight away, a guy on a massive motorbike showed up and Tino gave him the thumbs up before rushing out of the dressing room. Seconds later he appeared outside, strapped on a helmet, jumped on the back of the bike and was gone, blasting off into the crowd. We were all still looking out of the window in amazement, when KK turned round and simply said "can you believe that guy ?" or words to that effect...

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