'A great trip… and we signed Charlie'

Charlie Nicholas

Arsenal's manager had more than football on his mind during the Club's last visit to Indonesia.

Terry Neill was in charge when the Gunners embarked on a three-match tour of the south-east Asian country in 1983 and saw his team win twice before suffering defeat in their final friendly.

As injuries and fatigue took their toll, Neill even enjoyed some playing time as a substitute in Arsenal's second fixture. And he was kept busy off the pitch too with the marquee signing of Charlie Nicholas high on the agenda - day and night.

"Ken Friar produced two pennies from his pocket, put them on the boardroom table and said 'gentlemen, I think this takes our bid ahead of everyone else's!"

Terry Neill

"It was an eventful trip," Neill told

"[Current club director and then club secretary] Ken Friar was due to come on the trip with us but I was trying to do the Charlie Nicholas deal so Ken quite rightly said he'd stay in London, keep in touch with the Celtic people and ring me with updates.

"I found myself in various hotels while Charlie was on an end-of-season tour with Celtic around Canada. With the time difference, trying to keep in touch with the Scotland camp and also Ken in London, I was making or receiving phone calls around 4 o'clock in the morning in Indonesia!"

With Neill in Indonesia, Ken Friar sealed the deal for Nicholas before the Scot's new team-mates flew home.

"Ken, with his inimitable style and panache, flew up to Parkhead," recalled Neill. "We had a great relationship with the Celtic board and between the two clubs, and Ken was sitting with the Celtic directors.

"They were honourable enough not to have a Dutch auction and they had set the fee at £650,000. Ken was up there and he produced two pennies from his pocket, put them on the boardroom table and said 'gentlemen, I think this takes our bid ahead of everyone else's!'.

"They loved that so much and I think they took the money as well. That clinched the deal and it was all down to Ken Friar. It was a great trip to Indonesia, they were great hosts and at the end of it we managed to sign Charlie."


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