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Over the Bar: Memories of My Career with Arsenal FC and Wales Paperback – 31 Aug 2011
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From the Publisher
The image of Alfred John "Jack" Kelsey adorns the façade of the Emirates Stadium alongside 31 other Arsenal legends with the majority of these 32 players belonging to periods in the Club's history filled with league titles and cup final glory. Not so for Jack Kelsey. After 14 years at Highbury, he had only one league championship medal to show for his 352 club appearances. To have achieved "legend" status during such a lean period speaks volumes about his contribution to Arsenal Football Club and his ability as a goalkeeper.
Only three goalkeepers appear on the mural, the other two being the 1970's great, Bob Wilson, and David Seaman, arguably the Club's most successful keeper and the only goalkeeper to have made more Arsenal appearances than Kelsey. Excellent company indeed.
Inevitably, Jack Kelsey was also to receive international recognition and was capped 41 times for his country between 1954 and 1962. These caps included Wales' sole appearance in the World Cup Finals, in 1958, when they qualified through the back door after beating Israel in a two-leg play-off. The much maligned and unfancied Welsh team silenced their critics by reaching the quarter-finals, where a deflected shot from 18-year-old Pele resulted in a 1-0 victory for Brazil and an end to Welsh World Cup dreams.
Despite the disappointment in Sweden, Kelsey had secured his place in the annals of Welsh football history too. If the Millennium Stadium had a mural of Welsh legends you'd find his image there as well.
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He gives a very modest account of his own ability but he's certainly a goalkeeping legend and I wish I'd seen him play. Only David Seaman, we're told, played more times in goal for Arsenal.
With his image, along with Wilson and Seaman, representing Arsenal's great 'keepers on the fascade of the Emirates Stadium it's fitting that his autobiography is back in print. Well done to GCR Books for another great Arsenal republication.