Arsenal have today unveiled a statue commemorating Ken Friar’s more than 60-years service to the club.
The long-serving director, who earned an OBE in 2000 for his services to football, already has a bust which sits just inside the Directors’ entrance at the Emirates and of course a bridge named in his honour, but now joins Thierry Henry, Tony Adams, Dennis Bergkamp and Herbert Chapman with a bronze on the stadium’s concourse.
Capturing the chance moment which led to his employment by the Gunners back in 1946 it depicts a 12-year-old Friar chasing after a football.
As the story goes, he was caught trying to retrieve his ball from under a car in front of Highbury’s Marble Halls by Arsenal’s then manager George Allison who requested that he report back to him the following morning.
“Why I went back I don’t know,” Friar told the Telegraph in 2011. “I ended up getting a job on the front door, running messages. I used to get 12 and half pence a week.”
Promoted to a full-time job in the ticket office, he became assistant secretary in 1965 and secretary in 1973 before taking on the role of Managing Director in 1983. Stepping down from his duties to focus on Arsenal’s move from Highbury to the Emirates he again took the MD position on a temporary basis before the appointment of Ivan Gazidis.
Speaking about his life in N5, Friar had these words to say a couple of years ago: “I have always felt that people like me are custodians of the heritage. I really believe that it has to be protected. It has taken 125 years to build what we have got but, if you mishandle it, you can ruin it in 10 minutes.
“This club is like your health: you don’t appreciate it until you’ve lost it. Nine out of 10 people who leave want to come back. You just have to talk to Thierry Henry or Robert Pirès.”
Tony Adams may have been feted as Mr Arsenal but it’s hard to think of a better mantle for a gentleman who has dedicated his entire adult life to the club.
Picture courtesy of @stevefoord1