'I had to bring myself on as a sub!'

Remembering... Indonesia 1983

What do Bacary Sagna, Tomas Rosicky and Mikel Arteta have in common?

They are the only current Arsenal regulars who were alive when the Club last visited Indonesia - and all three would have been in nappies at the time.

It's 30 years since the Gunners embarked on a three-game tour of the south-east Asian country but they will end that wait in July when Arsene Wenger's squad touches down in Jakarta for a friendly against an Indonesia XI.

The class of 1983 started their trip in Medan, on the island of Sumatra, defeating local side VSP 3-0 before moving onto Jakarta, on Java, where VSPSSI were beaten 5-0. Arsenal's tour ended with a 2-0 defeat against NIAC Mitra in the eastern Javanese city of Surabaya.

Terry Neill was in charge 30 years ago and he has nothing but positive memories of a country that became a regular destination for him.


NIAC Mitra v Arsenal, 1983

NIAC Mitra v Arsenal


"It was a great trip and the Indonesian people were great hosts," Neill told Arsenal.com.

"We had a magnificent reception over there and I'm so delighted that the Arsenal are going back to Indonesia again. The following for the Club even back then was fantastic and it's something I'm very pleased to hear about.

 Match details

NIAC Mitra 2-0 Arsenal
June 16, 1983
Stadion 10 November, Surabaya

Scorers: Fandi Ahmad 37, Joko Malis 85

NIAC Mitra: Lee, Aswin, Diana, Latuperissa, Suryata, Kelces, Bawa (Male), Malis, Asnan (Arifin), Ahmad, Rahim (Lilipaly)

Arsenal:Jennings, Hill (Robson), O’Leary, Whyte (Chapman), Sansom, Talbot, Sunderland, Davis, McDermott, Meade (Lee), Rix

"The way we were treated, the way we were looked after, was second to none. The stadiums were very nice as well.

"We had a 2-0 defeat [in the final game] and at that time we were rather worn out, shattered after a long season. Maybe there was too much sunshine for us!"

You could forgive Neill for not remembering every detail of Arsenal's last tour of Indonesia but his connection with the country extended beyond that trip.

"I know Indonesia quite well because I had a consultancy out there after I left the Arsenal," explained Neill.

"I consulted for the main club there, Pelita Jaya [now known as Pelita Bandung Raya‎] for a year or so on their new stadium, the structure of it, the coaching and everything like that. So I got a bit of experience of the country, although I haven't been for a few years.

"I also had a consultancy with their badminton people because Indonesia are a big power in badminton. I was assisting one of two of the world's top players and some of the British players too. I was back and forward to Indonesia in football or badminton."


O'Leary exchanges pennants before NIAC Mitra game

O'Leary exchanges pennants before NIAC Mitra game


Of the three games Arsenal played in Indonesia in 1983, the defeat against NIAC Mitra is the most documented. The image above shows captain David O'Leary exchanging pennants at the start of the match.

NIAC Mitra were a young club, formed just four years previously. But a packed house in the tree-lined, 30,000-capacity Stadium 10 November were treated to a surprise home win.

"We'd got a few knocks with players in the first game so I made some substitutions in the Jakarta match and brought myself on and Terry Burton on!"

Terry Neill

Legendary Singaporean player Fandi Ahmad opened the scoring in the 37th minute, with Joko Malis securing the win five minutes from time.

The Gunners fielded a strong team, with the likes of O’Leary, Pat Jennings, Kenny Sansom, Brian Talbot, Alan Sunderland and Graham Rix all starting, but three matches in six days amid sweltering conditions appeared to take their toll.

Indeed, the effects were being felt as early as the second game of Arsenal's tour - when Neill and his coach had to make up the numbers.

"When we played in Jakarta I brought Terry Burton - now back at the Arsenal - with me," said the then manager. "In fact we'd got a few knocks with players in the first game so I made some substitutions in the Jakarta match and brought myself on and Terry Burton on!

"I gave myself most of the second half, and Terry too. We came on for two of the injured players - I was hoping that I wasn't doing anything wrong!"

Don't expect Arsene Wenger to follow suit when Arsenal return to the Indonesian capital this summer!


Terry Neill in 1983

Terry Neill in 1983


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