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Few people epitomised the early 1970s quite like Charlie George did. Alongside David Bowie, Michael Jackson, Mick Jagger and perhaps Donny Osmond, 1971 belonged to Arsenal’s talented number 11. His hair, swagger and on-pitch genius is forever etched into that time. While it may be approaching 50 years since he secured his boyhood club a famous double by scoring the winning goal at Wembley, we have not forgotten him. Most of us weren’t alive to see it, but we can still picture the idol of Highbury’s North Bank revelling in this career-defining moment by lying on his back, arms outstretched in a Christ-like pose as he waited for his team-mates to pull him to his feet. Magic.
To mark the upcoming 50th anniversary of that special football season and to toast the maverick’s own 70th birthday, Lack of Guidance and Eighteen86 have teamed up on a 100% unofficial celebration of Charlie George. Released as part of 10.10, the project reworks the iconic 1970-71 Arsenal home kit along with a T-shirt and fanzine dedicated to the King of Islington himself. As we share the Theo Cottle-shot campaign visuals, Eighteen86 talk us through the collaboration.
Firstly, why did you choose King of Islington and Highbury Hero Charlie George to be the focus of this collaboration?
Last year Rens and Akaar at Lack of Guidance approached us and asked if we were up for a collaboration. They wanted to remake a classic Arsenal shirt from the 70s. We all quickly decided it only made sense for it to be the 70-71 double winning home kit. Possibly the cleanest iteration of an Arsenal home kit. Red with white collar, white sleeves with red cuffs.
And when you think of that kit, you think of Charlie George...
That kit exists in Arsenal fan’s memories on the body of Charlie George of Holloway, Islington. The Arsenal legend. From then on we decided that this project should be a tribute to and a celebration of the kind of player that rarely gets to the top level at his boyhood club; a local fan.
As a young Arsenal fan, my Dad recounted that 71 Cup Final goal and many more Charlie moments. What was your introduction to Charlie George?
Even though we never saw him play (missed it by 20 plus years) like any young Arsenal fans, we were made aware of him early on by parents/family/osmosis. You can’t remember not knowing that image of him lying on his back arms held up over his head after scoring the FA Cup Final winner in 1971.
Why do you think his appeal is so enduring?
He is almost the antithesis of the modern day footballer - outspoken, sometimes confrontational, rock and roll - but able to back it up with supreme talent. Living and growing up in Islington it’s hard not to know who he is as he still lives here and is out and about any given day chatting to people and getting 100s of “Alright Charlie!”s. And if you spent any time playing football at the JVC Centre at the old stadium or did tours as a kid he’d always be there. Equally if you are a young fan today he’s the one taking you on the Emirates Stadium tour. He has been a permanent presence at Arsenal throughout our lives and a thread that connects generations of Gooners and reminds us that for some players it really is that special to put on the shirt. Because first and foremost he’s an Arsenal fan, like us.
Creative Direction: @Eighteen86 & @Lack of Guidance
Photographer: Theo Cottle (@theo.cottle)
Art Director: Max Giles (@maxwellgiles1886)
Creative Producer: Ed Fenwick (@edfenwick)
Stylist: Calvin How (@calvinhow)
Models: Corey, Billy, Daya
Special thanks to the Prince Edward Pub and Carmen McIlveen