Translate This Page
'Queen of Cups' by James Durose-Rayner
Published August 2017.
The Third and final part of the Arsenal Trilogy (in two parts)
Queen of Cups: Part 1
Queen of Cups: Part 2
The truth behind the façade
The Ultimate Story to tell a Story
Genre: Fiction based on fact, Humour
Get ready for it.
Queen of Cups Part 1 takes you behind the scenes of ITV 7 - the 24-hour weekend football channel, whilst following the life of its extremely forthright and candidly spoken numero uno, Lee Janes - both through the man himself and through the eyes of both his best friend and Assistant Producer.
A quick fast-forward to July 2015, and the main man takes stock at what has passed, before embarking on what is to come - and what is to come, he certainly isn't expecting! However, somewhere in between, he gets cajoled by ITV 7's rather colourful Head of Security, into doing a job on the side - a football documentary that covers the Terry Neill Years - from his appointment as fifteenth choice in the summer of 1976 to the beginning of his downfall and forced resignation in December 1983. This includes the lies and deceit from inside the club, the failed transfers and indecisiveness that stopped Arsenal competing at the very, very top, along with the scheming nature of the former Arsenal player who only a couple of years earlier had been facing the sack as manager of Hull City, only to be handed a lifeline as manager of Arsenal's fierce North London rivals, Tottenham Hotspur - a club he helped save from relegation, but also a club whose board he totally rubbed up the wrong way - handing in his resignation on more than a few occasions, whilst at the same time it was being suggested - not only by the media, that he had been making illegal or improper payments to players.
Queen of Cups Part 2. Neill had not only been player, captain and manager of Northern Ireland, he had also captained Arsenal at just 20 years of age. However, he had gone on to be relieved of the role, before dropping down the pecking order and being made twelfth man for Arsenal's biggest game in 16 years - the 1968 League Cup Final - a match where he publicly snubbed Princess Alexandria, before going on record stating that the whole business had truly "sickened" him and that he would have to re-assess his future. He did. He and his manager Bertie Mee would never see eye to eye again, with Neill being fined on numerous occasions for breaching club discipline, before realising that he had no future at the club, duly leaving for Hull City in the summer of 1970.
Whilst the main character in the story is trying to control a life that is continually spiralling out of control, he wants to find out more about what made Neill tick and through a journalist he falls in with ex-England and Arsenal midfielder, Alan Hudson, who immediately gave him the answer to a question that had been nagging at him: "Why did an amiable player such as George Armstrong, fall out with Neill?" The honesty and candidness of the man he becomes to know as 'Huddy' helps not only give him an insight to Neill's lack of man-management, it also helps form a friendship between the two and is the catalyst for some hilarious consequences. However, the story doesn't end there, as it was Alan Hudson who Neill turned to, to help save his job in December 1983... but by then it was too late.
‘Queen of Cups’ will fill a lot of the holes from ‘I Am Sam’ and 'ITV 7', with part of the narrative told by his ex-business partner and best friend Sooty, and Abi - his No. 2.
However that doesn't even scratch the surface of the story that is 'Queen of Cups'.
Photograph. Alan Hudson in the 1978 F.A Cup Final. One of only a few Arsenal players who did himself justice
Photograph. Alan Hudson - The Erratic Genius. Good man management and ambition could have catapulted Arsenal to even greater heights.
The front cover of Queen of Cups. Hunting in packs. Alan Hudson slides in to take the ball and Malcolm Macdonald comes away with it. Versus Aston Villa, January 1978. (Colourisation: Andy Imrie)