Arsenal unveil Ken Friar statue at the Emirates

Arsenal unveil Ken Friar statue at the Emirates

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. 

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You can read a full interview with Ken Friar in ‘So Paddy Got Up’ – the Arseblog book, available now in digital format for just 1.99 from Amazon, iTunes or Kobo.

Picture courtesy of @stevefoord1

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27 COMMENTS

    • I, like the Arsenal Gentleman, will not be satisfied until a statue of the incomparable Dick Law is commissioned and unveiled, although a statue honouring Mr Friar will most certainly be welcome in the interim.

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  1. I’m really pleased that his services to Arsenal is being rewarded. It’s so easy to forget about the people behind the scenes that are not on the pitch. He was a vital cog in the wheel in moving from Highbury to Emirates.

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    • There’s more to supporting a football club, than just waiting for transfer news. Ken has spent his entire life doing his bit to make Arsenal the club it is today, and this bit of recognition is more than deserved. Grow Up, and show some respect while you’re at it.

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    • What a childish and immature comment. An organization, a football club, is more than just 11 players on the pitch. People who work in the security, people who maintain the silky pitch of ours, custodians who keep our home clean, etc., they all work for and are part of our club in their respective roles. This is a very proper and classy gesture by the board. Seriously, grow up.

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    • Does your daddy know you’re using his computer? Grow the fuck up, you self-centred little ingrate. Your comment is in extremely poor taste. Ken Friar has devoted nearly seventy years of his life to Arsenal FC and he is the epitome of everything this club stands for. Arsenal’s recognition of this is an elegant and classy tribute. And FYI, the cost to the club of minting a statue is less than what the average player earns in a day, so you’re not going to buy too many new players with it. Really, give your head a shake and clear out the cobwebs. Idiot.

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  2. Absolutely love that he’s been given such fantastic recognition for his devotion to Arsenal Football Club.
    Such a great statement; “It has taken 125 years to build what we have got but, if you mishandle it, you can ruin it in 10 minutes”,
    Something that some other “big clubs” could really learn from!

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  3. I really Love Arsenal and recoganisation of the legend.. Mr Ken Friar statue at the Emirates…we appreciate your good services….

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  4. It’s about damn time. Ken Friar is one of the longest serving and most versatile employees in the entire world.

    This is why I love Arsenal.

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  5. Love the idea of the statue! Slightly worried that a wander around the stadium in 10 years will make it look like the stadium of lost souls though!

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  6. I have known Mr Friar since 1975 when I wrote to the club grumbling about anti-Arsenal/pro-Liverpool bias on the BBC World Service which was our only source of football information at the time. The club graciously replied and I have met him thrice in the last 39 years or so. I will keep my fund of KJF stories for a later date but after the Tsunami hit Sri Lanka, he wrote to me saying that some of those working at the club had seen the devastation on TV and would like to help. I sent him information on three orphanages, he selected one and agreed to buy land for a Boy’s Home. Eight years years on, there is a fully equipped Boys home and a Girls Home. Generations of young orphans will grow up as Arsenal fans–and rightly so. Much of the money was generated by private funds of those working at AFC or friends of the club–not from the clubs resources. KJF worked tirelessly to collect this money. Such a man more-than-deserves a bust, a bridge and a statue.

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    • We all know of not just our, but countless other clubs who do a superb bit of charity work. I love every aspect of it, never get tired of hearing about the good deeds of football clubs. Especially first-hand accounts like this, greatly appreciate this bit mate.

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  7. a truly wonderful man a credit to his club his country and his family ..no one at arsenal deserves this tribute more than Ken Friar thank you Sir for everything

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