Bolton Wanderers

Bolton Wanderers slideshow

US national security adviser John Bolton was chairman of ‘anti-Muslim’ think tank
US national security adviser John Bolton was chairman of ‘anti-Muslim’ think tank
US national security adviser John Bolton was chairman of ‘anti-Muslim’ think tank
US national security adviser John Bolton was chairman of ‘anti-Muslim’ think tank
US national security adviser John Bolton was chairman of ‘anti-Muslim’ think tank
US national security adviser John Bolton was chairman of ‘anti-Muslim’ think tank
I had driven way out along lanes no straighter than a ram’s horn to Red Bank Farm, at Bolton-le-Sands, near Lancaster. The farm, and its café, were poised at that point where farmland, salt meadows, marshes and incoming tides all met. The many signs were clear: these were lethal surroundings for the stupid. I ordered a coffee, took it outside to the farm garden and asked if I might join a senior lady at her table. “That’s a small coffee,” she said. It was. Finding an espresso here on the rim of the North West was like finding a Scotch egg in Haifa. “Me, I need more volume.” She giggled. We talked. I told her that, though a Lancastrian, I hadn’t been near the Morecambe Bay coast for years. Decades. “I’m awestruck. I’d forgotten the scale. The grandeur.” I had. I’d burst from the high-hedged lanes to immense meadows speckled with sheep, to mud and marshes, a forever sea, and a vast sky which did as it damned well pleased – black cloud to dun hues, then blue and back again, in 10 minutes flat. “It’s stunning,” I said. “Yes,” she said. “It is very nice.” I’d forgotten, also, the Lancastrian way with superlatives. “We often have a run out here.” Then she paused. “Are you sure that coffee’s big enough?” Blackpool is more than just the Big Dipper Credit: Getty The untutored limit the Lancashire coast to Blackpool, Morecambe and other resorts. This is wrong, but it wouldn’t bother me if it were right. These are places you plunge into for raucous experiences. At Blackpool’s Pleasure Beach, the Big One is like going over the Andes in a coal scuttle. A jet-propelled coal scuttle. There are piers and slot machines, award-winning double burger outlets and all-you-can-eat pizza restaurants – for a population that might (Lord knows, it’s none of my business) better profit from a least-you-can-eat salad bar. Popular culture is popular for a reason. There was a three-hour wait for the Big One when I was through. Real popularity, though, sometimes embarrasses clever people within local authorities. In line with contemporary mores, they like to culture up their towns, perhaps by emphasising a Victorian past. Or slotting in sculpture. Or reworking the prom. Some of this looks jolly good, but Lancastrians resist overt gentrification. Theirs – ours – is a meat-pie culture. As one fellow with whom I broached the subject in Cleveleys put it: “B----- the statues, give us the chips.” The ultimate UK bucket list: 29 things to do in your lifetime At the edges, liveliness like that fosters tat. The resorts boast much in the way of glaring signs in orange and yellow (“All items 60p!!”, “All day breakfast! £2.95!!”) and a world-class collection of budget stores smelling jauntily of despair. Fleetwood’s famous market, and that in Morecambe on a Sunday, would dispirit shoppers from Somalia. But it is this uncertainty – the bouncing between acute popularity, attempted culture and the frankly tawdry – that has the resorts keeping calm and carrying on, against the odds, in an intriguing manner. I licked through them at a fair old pace, particularly taken with Cleveleys, where sculptures indeed punctuated the seafront and sands. They’re inspired by characters from a children’s book, The Sea Swallow (Gareth Thompson; Foxtail, £9.99), itself inspired by folk tales from this Fylde coast. The idea is a belter. The artworks – sea swallows atop a beacon, a 13ft sea shell, a sea ogre hiding among groynes and rocks – urge you along the front. It was a terrific walk, even as the wind blew my eyebrows off. Windswept trees on the Lancaster coast Credit: Getty So over the Wyre to Over Wyre. Here the world changes. Lanes drawn by a fellow following cows lead to little-ruffled villages – Pilling, Cockerham – and out to the sense-smacking immensity of the Morecambe Bay seaside. You roll past hedges and cattle-heavy fields, then surge through to the coast, John Denver ceding to Van Morrison. This is huge, outlandish, not just stirring but nourishing. Drive out to Lane Ends – a distant gathering point-cum-picnic area beyond Pilling – park, walk and tell me I’m wrong. Outside the old farms and village centres, folk have reacted to the elemental power with bungalows, semis and other bits from suburbia. This is the British way. We don’t go bonkers. We settle down. And certainly, in Hambleton, many will require “Woof ’n’ Puss Pet Supplies”. I now skipped to the Lune estuary. Overton is the last, stone-built, outpost before the mile-long causeway to Sunderland Point. The causeway crosses marsh, mudflats and channels which fill up at high tide, overspilling to flood the road and ambush motorists. I really needed a tide table. A sign in the Overton car park indicated such was available at the village’s Globe pub. “Nah, sorry, love. Not here.” I set out anyway, taking my mind off watery death by trying to spot the heavily advertised wading birds. I’d got right across and parked up on the beach stones and had seen nothing but a dunlin. Or it could have been a chicken. Ornithology is not my strong suit. Around the corner, Trevor Owen and his team were coming ashore, across the mud from little boats, with two sackfuls of salmon. Sundered from land, the semi-island of Sunderland Point is about a mile by a half-mile. Some 67 people live there, in 35 houses – mainly drawn up in two distinguished seafront terraces. It’s been a proper little port, home to ship owners, sea captains, farmers and Sambo, a black fellow who may or may not have been a slave. He died there in 1736; his grave has been honoured since. Then there are the fishermen. Or there were. Trevor, 69, is among the last. Certainly his wife, Margaret, 63, is the last fisherwoman. This may be because young ladies no longer consider standing up to their chests in estuary water, wielding a 13ft haaf net, an attractive career option. Sunderland Point at dusk Credit: ©2630ben - stock.adobe.com At different seasons, the Owens fish shrimp, cockles, whitebait, bass – and sprats for the sea lions at Blackpool Zoo. Their activity is tenaciously regulated. Margaret fights the more formidable idiocies of officialdom. Trevor plays in blues bands. You think you’re at the end of the world, but you’re right in the middle of theirs. “Visitors? We love them,” cried Margaret. I hopped back to the car and beat the tide, easy. Heysham has the advantage of being one of the few places around Morecambe Bay from where, if you’re smart, you can’t see Heysham power station. I’ve nothing against power stations, would be lost without them, but they don’t embellish a coast. Up on the headland, there are heath, wind, rocks and a sense of eternity. The distant Lakeland fells make things perfect. What’s left of the wrecked, eighth-century St Patrick’s chapel stands stout near older rock-hewn graves. “The scale of the bay has always inspired spiritual reflection,” said Susannah Bleakley of the Morecambe Bay Partnership. Vikings worshipped Norse gods here. The coast is punctuated with barrows, chapels, nunneries – and Black Sabbath fans seeking the rock-hewn graves: they’re on the cover of the band’s 2000 Best Of album. Down below, Heysham village is Miss-Marple-by-the-Sea, a delight distinguished by native nettle tea, which I have drunk once and probably shan’t again. Beyond is Morecambe and, beyond that, Hest Bank and Bolton-le-Sands, where windsurfers dart about like dragonflies on a gunmetal sea sheened silver where there are shafts of light. Right out beyond the fields, there are Lancashire’s most remote farms, a café or two, people sitting in their cars staring out and – a surprise, this – an abundance of residential caravan sites. On the edge of nowhere. At one, a chap was watering a herbaceous border. The vast bay was feet away. I heard his wife call him in for tea. Natural splendour of international class, and a nice cup of tea: the English truly are unbeatable. Britain's 40 best beaches – according to our experts By Silverdale, the coast has sprouted more rocks, rounded hills, little cliffs, thick woodland, drystone walls and the thinnest country lanes of all. They go up and down and round and round. Farm boys on big tractors could slaughter the tourist trade in an afternoon. There’s an Iron Age fort up on Warton Crag and, out on Jenny Brown’s Point, a terribly isolated chimney whose function no one really knows. The walking is wonderful. The village itself is overcome with stone, flowers and a sense of centuries. Elizabeth Gaskell holidayed and wrote there, but who else has even heard of it? There’s no space here to do justice either to this district or the bay in general. It’s the coast of my home county and, now I’ve been back, I’m as proud as hell. I shall go on talking about it until everyone has been. The essentials Where to stay The Cartford Inn, in Little Eccleston, is the most beguiling gastro-pub-hotel in Lancashire – run by a Lancastrian from, um, Bordeaux (01995 670166, thecartfordinn.co.uk); b&b doubles from £100. As a base for the north of the area, head for Hipping Hall at Cowan Bridge, whose restaurant will shortly be harvesting Michelin stars (0152 427 1187; hippinghall.com); b&b doubles from £179. Cycling there Morecambe Bay Partnership has inaugurated an 80-mile cycleway from Barrow to Glasson Dock and are creating map-guides for walking and cycling under the heading Seldom Seen (morecambebay.org.uk). More details visitlancashire.com More from Anthony Peregrine • The Franco-American love-fest • Napoleon or Wellington - who was better? • Why I’m embarrassed to be a non-smoker • The fêtes of our nations: bullfighting or tombola? • The perils of holidaying with friends • Why I love motorways • The joy of dining alone - and why my satnav is the perfect woman I had driven way out along lanes no straighter than a ram’s horn to Red Bank Farm, at Bolton-le-Sands, near Lancaster. The farm, and its café, were poised at that point where farmland, salt meadows, marshes and incoming tides all met. The many signs were clear: these were lethal surroundings for the stupid. I ordered a coffee, took it outside to the farm garden and asked if I might join a senior lady at her table. “That’s a small coffee,” she said. It was. Finding an espresso here on the rim of the North West was like finding a Scotch egg in Haifa. “Me, I need more volume.” She giggled. We talked. "Finding an espresso here on the rim of the North West was like finding a Scotch egg in Haifa" I told her that, though a Lancastrian, I hadn’t been near the Morecambe Bay coast for years. Decades. “I’m awestruck. I’d forgotten the scale. The grandeur.” I had. I’d burst from the high-hedged lanes to immense meadows speckled with sheep, to mud and marshes, a forever sea, and a vast sky which did as it damned well pleased – black cloud to dun hues, then blue and back again, in 10 minutes flat. “It’s stunning,” I said. “Yes,” she said. “It is very nice.” I’d forgotten, also, the Lancastrian way with superlatives. “We often have a run out here.” Then she paused. “Are you sure that coffee’s big enough?” The untutored limit the Lancashire coast to Blackpool, Morecambe and other resorts. This is wrong, but it wouldn’t bother me if it were right. These are places you plunge into for raucous experiences. At Blackpool’s Pleasure Beach, the Big One is like going over the Andes in a coal scuttle. A jet-propelled coal scuttle. There are piers and slot machines, award-winning double burger outlets and all-you-can-eat pizza restaurants – for a population that might (Lord knows, it’s none of my business) better profit from a least-you-can-eat salad bar. Popular culture is popular for a reason. There was a three-hour wait for the Big One when I was through. • Would you take your family to Blackpool? At Blackpool?s Pleasure Beach, the Big One is like going over the Andes in a coal scuttle Photo: AP/FOTOLIA Real popularity, though, sometimes embarrasses clever people within local authorities. In line with contemporary mores, they like to culture up their towns, perhaps by emphasising a Victorian past. Or slotting in sculpture. Or reworking the prom. Some of this looks jolly good, but Lancastrians resist overt gentrification. Theirs – ours – is a meat-pie culture. As one fellow with whom I broached the subject in Cleveleys put it: “B----- the statues, give us the chips.” At the edges, liveliness like that fosters tat. The resorts boast much in the way of glaring signs in orange and yellow (“All items 60p!!”, “All day breakfast! £2.95!!”) and a world-class collection of budget stores smelling jauntily of despair. Fleetwood’s famous market, and that in Morecambe on a Sunday, would dispirit shoppers from Somalia. But it is this uncertainty – the bouncing between acute popularity, attempted culture and the frankly tawdry – that has the resorts keeping calm and carrying on, against the odds, in an intriguing manner. "Fleetwood’s famous market, and that in Morecambe on a Sunday, would dispirit shoppers from Somalia" I licked through them at a fair old pace, particularly taken with Cleveleys, where sculptures indeed punctuated the seafront and sands. They’re inspired by characters from a children’s book, The Sea Swallow (Gareth Thompson; Foxtail, £9.99), itself inspired by folk tales from this Fylde coast. The idea is a belter. The artworks – sea swallows atop a beacon, a 13ft sea shell, a sea ogre hiding among groynes and rocks – urge you along the front. It was a terrific walk, even as the wind blew my eyebrows off. So over the Wyre to Over Wyre. Here the world changes. Lanes drawn by a fellow following cows lead to little-ruffled villages – Pilling, Cockerham – and out to the sense-smacking immensity of the Morecambe Bay seaside. You roll past hedges and cattle-heavy fields, then surge through to the coast, John Denver ceding to Van Morrison. This is huge, outlandish, not just stirring but nourishing. Drive out to Lane Ends – a distant gathering point-cum-picnic area beyond Pilling – park, walk and tell me I’m wrong. Outside the old farms and village centres, folk have reacted to the elemental power with bungalows, semis and other bits from suburbia. This is the British way. We don’t go bonkers. We settle down. And certainly, in Hambleton, many will require “Woof ’n’ Puss Pet Supplies”. • Midland Hotel, Morecambe: review • Lancaster: 10 reasons to visit I now skipped to the Lune estuary. Overton is the last, stone-built, outpost before the mile-long causeway to Sunderland Point. The causeway crosses marsh, mudflats and channels which fill up at high tide, overspilling to flood the road and ambush motorists. I really needed a tide table. A sign in the Overton car park indicated such was available at the village’s Globe pub. “Nah, sorry, love. Not here.” I set out anyway, taking my mind off watery death by trying to spot the heavily advertised wading birds. I’d got right across and parked up on the beach stones and had seen nothing but a dunlin. Or it could have been a chicken. Ornithology is not my strong suit. Around the corner, Trevor Owen and his team were coming ashore, across the mud from little boats, with two sackfuls of salmon. The coast near Heysham: "Heysham village is Miss-Marple-by-the-Sea, a delight distinguished by native nettle tea, which I have drunk once and probably shan?t again" Photo: AP/FOTOLIA Sundered from land, the semi-island of Sunderland Point is about a mile by a half-mile. Some 67 people live there, in 35 houses – mainly drawn up in two distinguished seafront terraces. It’s been a proper little port, home to ship owners, sea captains, farmers and Sambo, a black fellow who may or may not have been a slave. He died there in 1736; his grave has been honoured since. Then there are the fishermen. Or there were. Trevor, 69, is among the last. Certainly his wife, Margaret, 63, is the last fisherwoman. This may be because young ladies no longer consider standing up to their chests in estuary water, wielding a 13ft haaf net, an attractive career option. At different seasons, the Owens fish shrimp, cockles, whitebait, bass – and sprats for the sea lions at Blackpool Zoo. Their activity is tenaciously regulated. Margaret fights the more formidable idiocies of officialdom. Trevor plays in blues bands. You think you’re at the end of the world, but you’re right in the middle of theirs. “Visitors? We love them,” cried Margaret. I hopped back to the car and beat the tide, easy. Heysham has the advantage of being one of the few places around Morecambe Bay from where, if you’re smart, you can’t see Heysham power station. I’ve nothing against power stations, would be lost without them, but they don’t embellish a coast. Up on the headland, there are heath, wind, rocks and a sense of eternity. The distant Lakeland fells make things perfect. What’s left of the wrecked, eighth-century St Patrick’s chapel stands stout near older rock-hewn graves. “The scale of the bay has always inspired spiritual reflection,” said Susannah Bleakley of the Morecambe Bay Partnership. Vikings worshipped Norse gods here. The coast is punctuated with barrows, chapels, nunneries – and Black Sabbath fans seeking the rock-hewn graves: they’re on the cover of the band’s 2000 Best Of album. Down below, Heysham village is Miss-Marple-by-the-Sea, a delight distinguished by native nettle tea, which I have drunk once and probably shan’t again. Beyond is Morecambe and, beyond that, Hest Bank and Bolton-le-Sands, where windsurfers dart about like dragonflies on a gunmetal sea sheened silver where there are shafts of light. Right out beyond the fields, there are Lancashire’s most remote farms, a café or two, people sitting in their cars staring out and – a surprise, this – an abundance of residential caravan sites. On the edge of nowhere. At one, a chap was watering a herbaceous border. The vast bay was feet away. I heard his wife call him in for tea. Natural splendour of international class, and a nice cup of tea: the English truly are unbeatable. • Britain's best seaside hotels "By Silverdale, the coast has sprouted more rocks, rounded hills, little cliffs, thick woodland, drystone walls and the thinnest country lanes of all" Photo: AP/FOTOLIA By Silverdale, the coast has sprouted more rocks, rounded hills, little cliffs, thick woodland, drystone walls and the thinnest country lanes of all. They go up and down and round and round. Farm boys on big tractors could slaughter the tourist trade in an afternoon. There’s an Iron Age fort up on Warton Crag and, out on Jenny Brown’s Point, a terribly isolated chimney whose function no one really knows. The walking is wonderful. The village itself is overcome with stone, flowers and a sense of centuries. Elizabeth Gaskell holidayed and wrote there, but who else has even heard of it? There’s no space here to do justice either to this district or the bay in general. It’s the coast of my home county and, now I’ve been back, I’m as proud as hell. I shall go on talking about it until everyone has been. More from Anthony Peregrine • The Franco-American love-fest • Napoleon or Wellington - who was better? • Why I’m embarrassed to be a non-smoker • The fêtes of our nations: bullfighting or tombola? • The perils of holidaying with friends • Why I love motorways • The joy of dining alone - and why my satnav is the perfect woman
Is the north-west Britain's most underrated coastline?
I had driven way out along lanes no straighter than a ram’s horn to Red Bank Farm, at Bolton-le-Sands, near Lancaster. The farm, and its café, were poised at that point where farmland, salt meadows, marshes and incoming tides all met. The many signs were clear: these were lethal surroundings for the stupid. I ordered a coffee, took it outside to the farm garden and asked if I might join a senior lady at her table. “That’s a small coffee,” she said. It was. Finding an espresso here on the rim of the North West was like finding a Scotch egg in Haifa. “Me, I need more volume.” She giggled. We talked. I told her that, though a Lancastrian, I hadn’t been near the Morecambe Bay coast for years. Decades. “I’m awestruck. I’d forgotten the scale. The grandeur.” I had. I’d burst from the high-hedged lanes to immense meadows speckled with sheep, to mud and marshes, a forever sea, and a vast sky which did as it damned well pleased – black cloud to dun hues, then blue and back again, in 10 minutes flat. “It’s stunning,” I said. “Yes,” she said. “It is very nice.” I’d forgotten, also, the Lancastrian way with superlatives. “We often have a run out here.” Then she paused. “Are you sure that coffee’s big enough?” Blackpool is more than just the Big Dipper Credit: Getty The untutored limit the Lancashire coast to Blackpool, Morecambe and other resorts. This is wrong, but it wouldn’t bother me if it were right. These are places you plunge into for raucous experiences. At Blackpool’s Pleasure Beach, the Big One is like going over the Andes in a coal scuttle. A jet-propelled coal scuttle. There are piers and slot machines, award-winning double burger outlets and all-you-can-eat pizza restaurants – for a population that might (Lord knows, it’s none of my business) better profit from a least-you-can-eat salad bar. Popular culture is popular for a reason. There was a three-hour wait for the Big One when I was through. Real popularity, though, sometimes embarrasses clever people within local authorities. In line with contemporary mores, they like to culture up their towns, perhaps by emphasising a Victorian past. Or slotting in sculpture. Or reworking the prom. Some of this looks jolly good, but Lancastrians resist overt gentrification. Theirs – ours – is a meat-pie culture. As one fellow with whom I broached the subject in Cleveleys put it: “B----- the statues, give us the chips.” The ultimate UK bucket list: 29 things to do in your lifetime At the edges, liveliness like that fosters tat. The resorts boast much in the way of glaring signs in orange and yellow (“All items 60p!!”, “All day breakfast! £2.95!!”) and a world-class collection of budget stores smelling jauntily of despair. Fleetwood’s famous market, and that in Morecambe on a Sunday, would dispirit shoppers from Somalia. But it is this uncertainty – the bouncing between acute popularity, attempted culture and the frankly tawdry – that has the resorts keeping calm and carrying on, against the odds, in an intriguing manner. I licked through them at a fair old pace, particularly taken with Cleveleys, where sculptures indeed punctuated the seafront and sands. They’re inspired by characters from a children’s book, The Sea Swallow (Gareth Thompson; Foxtail, £9.99), itself inspired by folk tales from this Fylde coast. The idea is a belter. The artworks – sea swallows atop a beacon, a 13ft sea shell, a sea ogre hiding among groynes and rocks – urge you along the front. It was a terrific walk, even as the wind blew my eyebrows off. Windswept trees on the Lancaster coast Credit: Getty So over the Wyre to Over Wyre. Here the world changes. Lanes drawn by a fellow following cows lead to little-ruffled villages – Pilling, Cockerham – and out to the sense-smacking immensity of the Morecambe Bay seaside. You roll past hedges and cattle-heavy fields, then surge through to the coast, John Denver ceding to Van Morrison. This is huge, outlandish, not just stirring but nourishing. Drive out to Lane Ends – a distant gathering point-cum-picnic area beyond Pilling – park, walk and tell me I’m wrong. Outside the old farms and village centres, folk have reacted to the elemental power with bungalows, semis and other bits from suburbia. This is the British way. We don’t go bonkers. We settle down. And certainly, in Hambleton, many will require “Woof ’n’ Puss Pet Supplies”. I now skipped to the Lune estuary. Overton is the last, stone-built, outpost before the mile-long causeway to Sunderland Point. The causeway crosses marsh, mudflats and channels which fill up at high tide, overspilling to flood the road and ambush motorists. I really needed a tide table. A sign in the Overton car park indicated such was available at the village’s Globe pub. “Nah, sorry, love. Not here.” I set out anyway, taking my mind off watery death by trying to spot the heavily advertised wading birds. I’d got right across and parked up on the beach stones and had seen nothing but a dunlin. Or it could have been a chicken. Ornithology is not my strong suit. Around the corner, Trevor Owen and his team were coming ashore, across the mud from little boats, with two sackfuls of salmon. Sundered from land, the semi-island of Sunderland Point is about a mile by a half-mile. Some 67 people live there, in 35 houses – mainly drawn up in two distinguished seafront terraces. It’s been a proper little port, home to ship owners, sea captains, farmers and Sambo, a black fellow who may or may not have been a slave. He died there in 1736; his grave has been honoured since. Then there are the fishermen. Or there were. Trevor, 69, is among the last. Certainly his wife, Margaret, 63, is the last fisherwoman. This may be because young ladies no longer consider standing up to their chests in estuary water, wielding a 13ft haaf net, an attractive career option. Sunderland Point at dusk Credit: ©2630ben - stock.adobe.com At different seasons, the Owens fish shrimp, cockles, whitebait, bass – and sprats for the sea lions at Blackpool Zoo. Their activity is tenaciously regulated. Margaret fights the more formidable idiocies of officialdom. Trevor plays in blues bands. You think you’re at the end of the world, but you’re right in the middle of theirs. “Visitors? We love them,” cried Margaret. I hopped back to the car and beat the tide, easy. Heysham has the advantage of being one of the few places around Morecambe Bay from where, if you’re smart, you can’t see Heysham power station. I’ve nothing against power stations, would be lost without them, but they don’t embellish a coast. Up on the headland, there are heath, wind, rocks and a sense of eternity. The distant Lakeland fells make things perfect. What’s left of the wrecked, eighth-century St Patrick’s chapel stands stout near older rock-hewn graves. “The scale of the bay has always inspired spiritual reflection,” said Susannah Bleakley of the Morecambe Bay Partnership. Vikings worshipped Norse gods here. The coast is punctuated with barrows, chapels, nunneries – and Black Sabbath fans seeking the rock-hewn graves: they’re on the cover of the band’s 2000 Best Of album. Down below, Heysham village is Miss-Marple-by-the-Sea, a delight distinguished by native nettle tea, which I have drunk once and probably shan’t again. Beyond is Morecambe and, beyond that, Hest Bank and Bolton-le-Sands, where windsurfers dart about like dragonflies on a gunmetal sea sheened silver where there are shafts of light. Right out beyond the fields, there are Lancashire’s most remote farms, a café or two, people sitting in their cars staring out and – a surprise, this – an abundance of residential caravan sites. On the edge of nowhere. At one, a chap was watering a herbaceous border. The vast bay was feet away. I heard his wife call him in for tea. Natural splendour of international class, and a nice cup of tea: the English truly are unbeatable. Britain's 40 best beaches – according to our experts By Silverdale, the coast has sprouted more rocks, rounded hills, little cliffs, thick woodland, drystone walls and the thinnest country lanes of all. They go up and down and round and round. Farm boys on big tractors could slaughter the tourist trade in an afternoon. There’s an Iron Age fort up on Warton Crag and, out on Jenny Brown’s Point, a terribly isolated chimney whose function no one really knows. The walking is wonderful. The village itself is overcome with stone, flowers and a sense of centuries. Elizabeth Gaskell holidayed and wrote there, but who else has even heard of it? There’s no space here to do justice either to this district or the bay in general. It’s the coast of my home county and, now I’ve been back, I’m as proud as hell. I shall go on talking about it until everyone has been. The essentials Where to stay The Cartford Inn, in Little Eccleston, is the most beguiling gastro-pub-hotel in Lancashire – run by a Lancastrian from, um, Bordeaux (01995 670166, thecartfordinn.co.uk); b&b doubles from £100. As a base for the north of the area, head for Hipping Hall at Cowan Bridge, whose restaurant will shortly be harvesting Michelin stars (0152 427 1187; hippinghall.com); b&b doubles from £179. Cycling there Morecambe Bay Partnership has inaugurated an 80-mile cycleway from Barrow to Glasson Dock and are creating map-guides for walking and cycling under the heading Seldom Seen (morecambebay.org.uk). More details visitlancashire.com More from Anthony Peregrine • The Franco-American love-fest • Napoleon or Wellington - who was better? • Why I’m embarrassed to be a non-smoker • The fêtes of our nations: bullfighting or tombola? • The perils of holidaying with friends • Why I love motorways • The joy of dining alone - and why my satnav is the perfect woman I had driven way out along lanes no straighter than a ram’s horn to Red Bank Farm, at Bolton-le-Sands, near Lancaster. The farm, and its café, were poised at that point where farmland, salt meadows, marshes and incoming tides all met. The many signs were clear: these were lethal surroundings for the stupid. I ordered a coffee, took it outside to the farm garden and asked if I might join a senior lady at her table. “That’s a small coffee,” she said. It was. Finding an espresso here on the rim of the North West was like finding a Scotch egg in Haifa. “Me, I need more volume.” She giggled. We talked. "Finding an espresso here on the rim of the North West was like finding a Scotch egg in Haifa" I told her that, though a Lancastrian, I hadn’t been near the Morecambe Bay coast for years. Decades. “I’m awestruck. I’d forgotten the scale. The grandeur.” I had. I’d burst from the high-hedged lanes to immense meadows speckled with sheep, to mud and marshes, a forever sea, and a vast sky which did as it damned well pleased – black cloud to dun hues, then blue and back again, in 10 minutes flat. “It’s stunning,” I said. “Yes,” she said. “It is very nice.” I’d forgotten, also, the Lancastrian way with superlatives. “We often have a run out here.” Then she paused. “Are you sure that coffee’s big enough?” The untutored limit the Lancashire coast to Blackpool, Morecambe and other resorts. This is wrong, but it wouldn’t bother me if it were right. These are places you plunge into for raucous experiences. At Blackpool’s Pleasure Beach, the Big One is like going over the Andes in a coal scuttle. A jet-propelled coal scuttle. There are piers and slot machines, award-winning double burger outlets and all-you-can-eat pizza restaurants – for a population that might (Lord knows, it’s none of my business) better profit from a least-you-can-eat salad bar. Popular culture is popular for a reason. There was a three-hour wait for the Big One when I was through. • Would you take your family to Blackpool? At Blackpool?s Pleasure Beach, the Big One is like going over the Andes in a coal scuttle Photo: AP/FOTOLIA Real popularity, though, sometimes embarrasses clever people within local authorities. In line with contemporary mores, they like to culture up their towns, perhaps by emphasising a Victorian past. Or slotting in sculpture. Or reworking the prom. Some of this looks jolly good, but Lancastrians resist overt gentrification. Theirs – ours – is a meat-pie culture. As one fellow with whom I broached the subject in Cleveleys put it: “B----- the statues, give us the chips.” At the edges, liveliness like that fosters tat. The resorts boast much in the way of glaring signs in orange and yellow (“All items 60p!!”, “All day breakfast! £2.95!!”) and a world-class collection of budget stores smelling jauntily of despair. Fleetwood’s famous market, and that in Morecambe on a Sunday, would dispirit shoppers from Somalia. But it is this uncertainty – the bouncing between acute popularity, attempted culture and the frankly tawdry – that has the resorts keeping calm and carrying on, against the odds, in an intriguing manner. "Fleetwood’s famous market, and that in Morecambe on a Sunday, would dispirit shoppers from Somalia" I licked through them at a fair old pace, particularly taken with Cleveleys, where sculptures indeed punctuated the seafront and sands. They’re inspired by characters from a children’s book, The Sea Swallow (Gareth Thompson; Foxtail, £9.99), itself inspired by folk tales from this Fylde coast. The idea is a belter. The artworks – sea swallows atop a beacon, a 13ft sea shell, a sea ogre hiding among groynes and rocks – urge you along the front. It was a terrific walk, even as the wind blew my eyebrows off. So over the Wyre to Over Wyre. Here the world changes. Lanes drawn by a fellow following cows lead to little-ruffled villages – Pilling, Cockerham – and out to the sense-smacking immensity of the Morecambe Bay seaside. You roll past hedges and cattle-heavy fields, then surge through to the coast, John Denver ceding to Van Morrison. This is huge, outlandish, not just stirring but nourishing. Drive out to Lane Ends – a distant gathering point-cum-picnic area beyond Pilling – park, walk and tell me I’m wrong. Outside the old farms and village centres, folk have reacted to the elemental power with bungalows, semis and other bits from suburbia. This is the British way. We don’t go bonkers. We settle down. And certainly, in Hambleton, many will require “Woof ’n’ Puss Pet Supplies”. • Midland Hotel, Morecambe: review • Lancaster: 10 reasons to visit I now skipped to the Lune estuary. Overton is the last, stone-built, outpost before the mile-long causeway to Sunderland Point. The causeway crosses marsh, mudflats and channels which fill up at high tide, overspilling to flood the road and ambush motorists. I really needed a tide table. A sign in the Overton car park indicated such was available at the village’s Globe pub. “Nah, sorry, love. Not here.” I set out anyway, taking my mind off watery death by trying to spot the heavily advertised wading birds. I’d got right across and parked up on the beach stones and had seen nothing but a dunlin. Or it could have been a chicken. Ornithology is not my strong suit. Around the corner, Trevor Owen and his team were coming ashore, across the mud from little boats, with two sackfuls of salmon. The coast near Heysham: "Heysham village is Miss-Marple-by-the-Sea, a delight distinguished by native nettle tea, which I have drunk once and probably shan?t again" Photo: AP/FOTOLIA Sundered from land, the semi-island of Sunderland Point is about a mile by a half-mile. Some 67 people live there, in 35 houses – mainly drawn up in two distinguished seafront terraces. It’s been a proper little port, home to ship owners, sea captains, farmers and Sambo, a black fellow who may or may not have been a slave. He died there in 1736; his grave has been honoured since. Then there are the fishermen. Or there were. Trevor, 69, is among the last. Certainly his wife, Margaret, 63, is the last fisherwoman. This may be because young ladies no longer consider standing up to their chests in estuary water, wielding a 13ft haaf net, an attractive career option. At different seasons, the Owens fish shrimp, cockles, whitebait, bass – and sprats for the sea lions at Blackpool Zoo. Their activity is tenaciously regulated. Margaret fights the more formidable idiocies of officialdom. Trevor plays in blues bands. You think you’re at the end of the world, but you’re right in the middle of theirs. “Visitors? We love them,” cried Margaret. I hopped back to the car and beat the tide, easy. Heysham has the advantage of being one of the few places around Morecambe Bay from where, if you’re smart, you can’t see Heysham power station. I’ve nothing against power stations, would be lost without them, but they don’t embellish a coast. Up on the headland, there are heath, wind, rocks and a sense of eternity. The distant Lakeland fells make things perfect. What’s left of the wrecked, eighth-century St Patrick’s chapel stands stout near older rock-hewn graves. “The scale of the bay has always inspired spiritual reflection,” said Susannah Bleakley of the Morecambe Bay Partnership. Vikings worshipped Norse gods here. The coast is punctuated with barrows, chapels, nunneries – and Black Sabbath fans seeking the rock-hewn graves: they’re on the cover of the band’s 2000 Best Of album. Down below, Heysham village is Miss-Marple-by-the-Sea, a delight distinguished by native nettle tea, which I have drunk once and probably shan’t again. Beyond is Morecambe and, beyond that, Hest Bank and Bolton-le-Sands, where windsurfers dart about like dragonflies on a gunmetal sea sheened silver where there are shafts of light. Right out beyond the fields, there are Lancashire’s most remote farms, a café or two, people sitting in their cars staring out and – a surprise, this – an abundance of residential caravan sites. On the edge of nowhere. At one, a chap was watering a herbaceous border. The vast bay was feet away. I heard his wife call him in for tea. Natural splendour of international class, and a nice cup of tea: the English truly are unbeatable. • Britain's best seaside hotels "By Silverdale, the coast has sprouted more rocks, rounded hills, little cliffs, thick woodland, drystone walls and the thinnest country lanes of all" Photo: AP/FOTOLIA By Silverdale, the coast has sprouted more rocks, rounded hills, little cliffs, thick woodland, drystone walls and the thinnest country lanes of all. They go up and down and round and round. Farm boys on big tractors could slaughter the tourist trade in an afternoon. There’s an Iron Age fort up on Warton Crag and, out on Jenny Brown’s Point, a terribly isolated chimney whose function no one really knows. The walking is wonderful. The village itself is overcome with stone, flowers and a sense of centuries. Elizabeth Gaskell holidayed and wrote there, but who else has even heard of it? There’s no space here to do justice either to this district or the bay in general. It’s the coast of my home county and, now I’ve been back, I’m as proud as hell. I shall go on talking about it until everyone has been. More from Anthony Peregrine • The Franco-American love-fest • Napoleon or Wellington - who was better? • Why I’m embarrassed to be a non-smoker • The fêtes of our nations: bullfighting or tombola? • The perils of holidaying with friends • Why I love motorways • The joy of dining alone - and why my satnav is the perfect woman
I had driven way out along lanes no straighter than a ram’s horn to Red Bank Farm, at Bolton-le-Sands, near Lancaster. The farm, and its café, were poised at that point where farmland, salt meadows, marshes and incoming tides all met. The many signs were clear: these were lethal surroundings for the stupid. I ordered a coffee, took it outside to the farm garden and asked if I might join a senior lady at her table. “That’s a small coffee,” she said. It was. Finding an espresso here on the rim of the North West was like finding a Scotch egg in Haifa. “Me, I need more volume.” She giggled. We talked. I told her that, though a Lancastrian, I hadn’t been near the Morecambe Bay coast for years. Decades. “I’m awestruck. I’d forgotten the scale. The grandeur.” I had. I’d burst from the high-hedged lanes to immense meadows speckled with sheep, to mud and marshes, a forever sea, and a vast sky which did as it damned well pleased – black cloud to dun hues, then blue and back again, in 10 minutes flat. “It’s stunning,” I said. “Yes,” she said. “It is very nice.” I’d forgotten, also, the Lancastrian way with superlatives. “We often have a run out here.” Then she paused. “Are you sure that coffee’s big enough?” Blackpool is more than just the Big Dipper Credit: Getty The untutored limit the Lancashire coast to Blackpool, Morecambe and other resorts. This is wrong, but it wouldn’t bother me if it were right. These are places you plunge into for raucous experiences. At Blackpool’s Pleasure Beach, the Big One is like going over the Andes in a coal scuttle. A jet-propelled coal scuttle. There are piers and slot machines, award-winning double burger outlets and all-you-can-eat pizza restaurants – for a population that might (Lord knows, it’s none of my business) better profit from a least-you-can-eat salad bar. Popular culture is popular for a reason. There was a three-hour wait for the Big One when I was through. Real popularity, though, sometimes embarrasses clever people within local authorities. In line with contemporary mores, they like to culture up their towns, perhaps by emphasising a Victorian past. Or slotting in sculpture. Or reworking the prom. Some of this looks jolly good, but Lancastrians resist overt gentrification. Theirs – ours – is a meat-pie culture. As one fellow with whom I broached the subject in Cleveleys put it: “B----- the statues, give us the chips.” The ultimate UK bucket list: 29 things to do in your lifetime At the edges, liveliness like that fosters tat. The resorts boast much in the way of glaring signs in orange and yellow (“All items 60p!!”, “All day breakfast! £2.95!!”) and a world-class collection of budget stores smelling jauntily of despair. Fleetwood’s famous market, and that in Morecambe on a Sunday, would dispirit shoppers from Somalia. But it is this uncertainty – the bouncing between acute popularity, attempted culture and the frankly tawdry – that has the resorts keeping calm and carrying on, against the odds, in an intriguing manner. I licked through them at a fair old pace, particularly taken with Cleveleys, where sculptures indeed punctuated the seafront and sands. They’re inspired by characters from a children’s book, The Sea Swallow (Gareth Thompson; Foxtail, £9.99), itself inspired by folk tales from this Fylde coast. The idea is a belter. The artworks – sea swallows atop a beacon, a 13ft sea shell, a sea ogre hiding among groynes and rocks – urge you along the front. It was a terrific walk, even as the wind blew my eyebrows off. Windswept trees on the Lancaster coast Credit: Getty So over the Wyre to Over Wyre. Here the world changes. Lanes drawn by a fellow following cows lead to little-ruffled villages – Pilling, Cockerham – and out to the sense-smacking immensity of the Morecambe Bay seaside. You roll past hedges and cattle-heavy fields, then surge through to the coast, John Denver ceding to Van Morrison. This is huge, outlandish, not just stirring but nourishing. Drive out to Lane Ends – a distant gathering point-cum-picnic area beyond Pilling – park, walk and tell me I’m wrong. Outside the old farms and village centres, folk have reacted to the elemental power with bungalows, semis and other bits from suburbia. This is the British way. We don’t go bonkers. We settle down. And certainly, in Hambleton, many will require “Woof ’n’ Puss Pet Supplies”. I now skipped to the Lune estuary. Overton is the last, stone-built, outpost before the mile-long causeway to Sunderland Point. The causeway crosses marsh, mudflats and channels which fill up at high tide, overspilling to flood the road and ambush motorists. I really needed a tide table. A sign in the Overton car park indicated such was available at the village’s Globe pub. “Nah, sorry, love. Not here.” I set out anyway, taking my mind off watery death by trying to spot the heavily advertised wading birds. I’d got right across and parked up on the beach stones and had seen nothing but a dunlin. Or it could have been a chicken. Ornithology is not my strong suit. Around the corner, Trevor Owen and his team were coming ashore, across the mud from little boats, with two sackfuls of salmon. Sundered from land, the semi-island of Sunderland Point is about a mile by a half-mile. Some 67 people live there, in 35 houses – mainly drawn up in two distinguished seafront terraces. It’s been a proper little port, home to ship owners, sea captains, farmers and Sambo, a black fellow who may or may not have been a slave. He died there in 1736; his grave has been honoured since. Then there are the fishermen. Or there were. Trevor, 69, is among the last. Certainly his wife, Margaret, 63, is the last fisherwoman. This may be because young ladies no longer consider standing up to their chests in estuary water, wielding a 13ft haaf net, an attractive career option. Sunderland Point at dusk Credit: ©2630ben - stock.adobe.com At different seasons, the Owens fish shrimp, cockles, whitebait, bass – and sprats for the sea lions at Blackpool Zoo. Their activity is tenaciously regulated. Margaret fights the more formidable idiocies of officialdom. Trevor plays in blues bands. You think you’re at the end of the world, but you’re right in the middle of theirs. “Visitors? We love them,” cried Margaret. I hopped back to the car and beat the tide, easy. Heysham has the advantage of being one of the few places around Morecambe Bay from where, if you’re smart, you can’t see Heysham power station. I’ve nothing against power stations, would be lost without them, but they don’t embellish a coast. Up on the headland, there are heath, wind, rocks and a sense of eternity. The distant Lakeland fells make things perfect. What’s left of the wrecked, eighth-century St Patrick’s chapel stands stout near older rock-hewn graves. “The scale of the bay has always inspired spiritual reflection,” said Susannah Bleakley of the Morecambe Bay Partnership. Vikings worshipped Norse gods here. The coast is punctuated with barrows, chapels, nunneries – and Black Sabbath fans seeking the rock-hewn graves: they’re on the cover of the band’s 2000 Best Of album. Down below, Heysham village is Miss-Marple-by-the-Sea, a delight distinguished by native nettle tea, which I have drunk once and probably shan’t again. Beyond is Morecambe and, beyond that, Hest Bank and Bolton-le-Sands, where windsurfers dart about like dragonflies on a gunmetal sea sheened silver where there are shafts of light. Right out beyond the fields, there are Lancashire’s most remote farms, a café or two, people sitting in their cars staring out and – a surprise, this – an abundance of residential caravan sites. On the edge of nowhere. At one, a chap was watering a herbaceous border. The vast bay was feet away. I heard his wife call him in for tea. Natural splendour of international class, and a nice cup of tea: the English truly are unbeatable. Britain's 40 best beaches – according to our experts By Silverdale, the coast has sprouted more rocks, rounded hills, little cliffs, thick woodland, drystone walls and the thinnest country lanes of all. They go up and down and round and round. Farm boys on big tractors could slaughter the tourist trade in an afternoon. There’s an Iron Age fort up on Warton Crag and, out on Jenny Brown’s Point, a terribly isolated chimney whose function no one really knows. The walking is wonderful. The village itself is overcome with stone, flowers and a sense of centuries. Elizabeth Gaskell holidayed and wrote there, but who else has even heard of it? There’s no space here to do justice either to this district or the bay in general. It’s the coast of my home county and, now I’ve been back, I’m as proud as hell. I shall go on talking about it until everyone has been. The essentials Where to stay The Cartford Inn, in Little Eccleston, is the most beguiling gastro-pub-hotel in Lancashire – run by a Lancastrian from, um, Bordeaux (01995 670166, thecartfordinn.co.uk); b&b doubles from £100. As a base for the north of the area, head for Hipping Hall at Cowan Bridge, whose restaurant will shortly be harvesting Michelin stars (0152 427 1187; hippinghall.com); b&b doubles from £179. Cycling there Morecambe Bay Partnership has inaugurated an 80-mile cycleway from Barrow to Glasson Dock and are creating map-guides for walking and cycling under the heading Seldom Seen (morecambebay.org.uk). More details visitlancashire.com More from Anthony Peregrine • The Franco-American love-fest • Napoleon or Wellington - who was better? • Why I’m embarrassed to be a non-smoker • The fêtes of our nations: bullfighting or tombola? • The perils of holidaying with friends • Why I love motorways • The joy of dining alone - and why my satnav is the perfect woman I had driven way out along lanes no straighter than a ram’s horn to Red Bank Farm, at Bolton-le-Sands, near Lancaster. The farm, and its café, were poised at that point where farmland, salt meadows, marshes and incoming tides all met. The many signs were clear: these were lethal surroundings for the stupid. I ordered a coffee, took it outside to the farm garden and asked if I might join a senior lady at her table. “That’s a small coffee,” she said. It was. Finding an espresso here on the rim of the North West was like finding a Scotch egg in Haifa. “Me, I need more volume.” She giggled. We talked. "Finding an espresso here on the rim of the North West was like finding a Scotch egg in Haifa" I told her that, though a Lancastrian, I hadn’t been near the Morecambe Bay coast for years. Decades. “I’m awestruck. I’d forgotten the scale. The grandeur.” I had. I’d burst from the high-hedged lanes to immense meadows speckled with sheep, to mud and marshes, a forever sea, and a vast sky which did as it damned well pleased – black cloud to dun hues, then blue and back again, in 10 minutes flat. “It’s stunning,” I said. “Yes,” she said. “It is very nice.” I’d forgotten, also, the Lancastrian way with superlatives. “We often have a run out here.” Then she paused. “Are you sure that coffee’s big enough?” The untutored limit the Lancashire coast to Blackpool, Morecambe and other resorts. This is wrong, but it wouldn’t bother me if it were right. These are places you plunge into for raucous experiences. At Blackpool’s Pleasure Beach, the Big One is like going over the Andes in a coal scuttle. A jet-propelled coal scuttle. There are piers and slot machines, award-winning double burger outlets and all-you-can-eat pizza restaurants – for a population that might (Lord knows, it’s none of my business) better profit from a least-you-can-eat salad bar. Popular culture is popular for a reason. There was a three-hour wait for the Big One when I was through. • Would you take your family to Blackpool? At Blackpool?s Pleasure Beach, the Big One is like going over the Andes in a coal scuttle Photo: AP/FOTOLIA Real popularity, though, sometimes embarrasses clever people within local authorities. In line with contemporary mores, they like to culture up their towns, perhaps by emphasising a Victorian past. Or slotting in sculpture. Or reworking the prom. Some of this looks jolly good, but Lancastrians resist overt gentrification. Theirs – ours – is a meat-pie culture. As one fellow with whom I broached the subject in Cleveleys put it: “B----- the statues, give us the chips.” At the edges, liveliness like that fosters tat. The resorts boast much in the way of glaring signs in orange and yellow (“All items 60p!!”, “All day breakfast! £2.95!!”) and a world-class collection of budget stores smelling jauntily of despair. Fleetwood’s famous market, and that in Morecambe on a Sunday, would dispirit shoppers from Somalia. But it is this uncertainty – the bouncing between acute popularity, attempted culture and the frankly tawdry – that has the resorts keeping calm and carrying on, against the odds, in an intriguing manner. "Fleetwood’s famous market, and that in Morecambe on a Sunday, would dispirit shoppers from Somalia" I licked through them at a fair old pace, particularly taken with Cleveleys, where sculptures indeed punctuated the seafront and sands. They’re inspired by characters from a children’s book, The Sea Swallow (Gareth Thompson; Foxtail, £9.99), itself inspired by folk tales from this Fylde coast. The idea is a belter. The artworks – sea swallows atop a beacon, a 13ft sea shell, a sea ogre hiding among groynes and rocks – urge you along the front. It was a terrific walk, even as the wind blew my eyebrows off. So over the Wyre to Over Wyre. Here the world changes. Lanes drawn by a fellow following cows lead to little-ruffled villages – Pilling, Cockerham – and out to the sense-smacking immensity of the Morecambe Bay seaside. You roll past hedges and cattle-heavy fields, then surge through to the coast, John Denver ceding to Van Morrison. This is huge, outlandish, not just stirring but nourishing. Drive out to Lane Ends – a distant gathering point-cum-picnic area beyond Pilling – park, walk and tell me I’m wrong. Outside the old farms and village centres, folk have reacted to the elemental power with bungalows, semis and other bits from suburbia. This is the British way. We don’t go bonkers. We settle down. And certainly, in Hambleton, many will require “Woof ’n’ Puss Pet Supplies”. • Midland Hotel, Morecambe: review • Lancaster: 10 reasons to visit I now skipped to the Lune estuary. Overton is the last, stone-built, outpost before the mile-long causeway to Sunderland Point. The causeway crosses marsh, mudflats and channels which fill up at high tide, overspilling to flood the road and ambush motorists. I really needed a tide table. A sign in the Overton car park indicated such was available at the village’s Globe pub. “Nah, sorry, love. Not here.” I set out anyway, taking my mind off watery death by trying to spot the heavily advertised wading birds. I’d got right across and parked up on the beach stones and had seen nothing but a dunlin. Or it could have been a chicken. Ornithology is not my strong suit. Around the corner, Trevor Owen and his team were coming ashore, across the mud from little boats, with two sackfuls of salmon. The coast near Heysham: "Heysham village is Miss-Marple-by-the-Sea, a delight distinguished by native nettle tea, which I have drunk once and probably shan?t again" Photo: AP/FOTOLIA Sundered from land, the semi-island of Sunderland Point is about a mile by a half-mile. Some 67 people live there, in 35 houses – mainly drawn up in two distinguished seafront terraces. It’s been a proper little port, home to ship owners, sea captains, farmers and Sambo, a black fellow who may or may not have been a slave. He died there in 1736; his grave has been honoured since. Then there are the fishermen. Or there were. Trevor, 69, is among the last. Certainly his wife, Margaret, 63, is the last fisherwoman. This may be because young ladies no longer consider standing up to their chests in estuary water, wielding a 13ft haaf net, an attractive career option. At different seasons, the Owens fish shrimp, cockles, whitebait, bass – and sprats for the sea lions at Blackpool Zoo. Their activity is tenaciously regulated. Margaret fights the more formidable idiocies of officialdom. Trevor plays in blues bands. You think you’re at the end of the world, but you’re right in the middle of theirs. “Visitors? We love them,” cried Margaret. I hopped back to the car and beat the tide, easy. Heysham has the advantage of being one of the few places around Morecambe Bay from where, if you’re smart, you can’t see Heysham power station. I’ve nothing against power stations, would be lost without them, but they don’t embellish a coast. Up on the headland, there are heath, wind, rocks and a sense of eternity. The distant Lakeland fells make things perfect. What’s left of the wrecked, eighth-century St Patrick’s chapel stands stout near older rock-hewn graves. “The scale of the bay has always inspired spiritual reflection,” said Susannah Bleakley of the Morecambe Bay Partnership. Vikings worshipped Norse gods here. The coast is punctuated with barrows, chapels, nunneries – and Black Sabbath fans seeking the rock-hewn graves: they’re on the cover of the band’s 2000 Best Of album. Down below, Heysham village is Miss-Marple-by-the-Sea, a delight distinguished by native nettle tea, which I have drunk once and probably shan’t again. Beyond is Morecambe and, beyond that, Hest Bank and Bolton-le-Sands, where windsurfers dart about like dragonflies on a gunmetal sea sheened silver where there are shafts of light. Right out beyond the fields, there are Lancashire’s most remote farms, a café or two, people sitting in their cars staring out and – a surprise, this – an abundance of residential caravan sites. On the edge of nowhere. At one, a chap was watering a herbaceous border. The vast bay was feet away. I heard his wife call him in for tea. Natural splendour of international class, and a nice cup of tea: the English truly are unbeatable. • Britain's best seaside hotels "By Silverdale, the coast has sprouted more rocks, rounded hills, little cliffs, thick woodland, drystone walls and the thinnest country lanes of all" Photo: AP/FOTOLIA By Silverdale, the coast has sprouted more rocks, rounded hills, little cliffs, thick woodland, drystone walls and the thinnest country lanes of all. They go up and down and round and round. Farm boys on big tractors could slaughter the tourist trade in an afternoon. There’s an Iron Age fort up on Warton Crag and, out on Jenny Brown’s Point, a terribly isolated chimney whose function no one really knows. The walking is wonderful. The village itself is overcome with stone, flowers and a sense of centuries. Elizabeth Gaskell holidayed and wrote there, but who else has even heard of it? There’s no space here to do justice either to this district or the bay in general. It’s the coast of my home county and, now I’ve been back, I’m as proud as hell. I shall go on talking about it until everyone has been. More from Anthony Peregrine • The Franco-American love-fest • Napoleon or Wellington - who was better? • Why I’m embarrassed to be a non-smoker • The fêtes of our nations: bullfighting or tombola? • The perils of holidaying with friends • Why I love motorways • The joy of dining alone - and why my satnav is the perfect woman
Is the north-west Britain's most underrated coastline?
I had driven way out along lanes no straighter than a ram’s horn to Red Bank Farm, at Bolton-le-Sands, near Lancaster. The farm, and its café, were poised at that point where farmland, salt meadows, marshes and incoming tides all met. The many signs were clear: these were lethal surroundings for the stupid. I ordered a coffee, took it outside to the farm garden and asked if I might join a senior lady at her table. “That’s a small coffee,” she said. It was. Finding an espresso here on the rim of the North West was like finding a Scotch egg in Haifa. “Me, I need more volume.” She giggled. We talked. I told her that, though a Lancastrian, I hadn’t been near the Morecambe Bay coast for years. Decades. “I’m awestruck. I’d forgotten the scale. The grandeur.” I had. I’d burst from the high-hedged lanes to immense meadows speckled with sheep, to mud and marshes, a forever sea, and a vast sky which did as it damned well pleased – black cloud to dun hues, then blue and back again, in 10 minutes flat. “It’s stunning,” I said. “Yes,” she said. “It is very nice.” I’d forgotten, also, the Lancastrian way with superlatives. “We often have a run out here.” Then she paused. “Are you sure that coffee’s big enough?” Blackpool is more than just the Big Dipper Credit: Getty The untutored limit the Lancashire coast to Blackpool, Morecambe and other resorts. This is wrong, but it wouldn’t bother me if it were right. These are places you plunge into for raucous experiences. At Blackpool’s Pleasure Beach, the Big One is like going over the Andes in a coal scuttle. A jet-propelled coal scuttle. There are piers and slot machines, award-winning double burger outlets and all-you-can-eat pizza restaurants – for a population that might (Lord knows, it’s none of my business) better profit from a least-you-can-eat salad bar. Popular culture is popular for a reason. There was a three-hour wait for the Big One when I was through. Real popularity, though, sometimes embarrasses clever people within local authorities. In line with contemporary mores, they like to culture up their towns, perhaps by emphasising a Victorian past. Or slotting in sculpture. Or reworking the prom. Some of this looks jolly good, but Lancastrians resist overt gentrification. Theirs – ours – is a meat-pie culture. As one fellow with whom I broached the subject in Cleveleys put it: “B----- the statues, give us the chips.” The ultimate UK bucket list: 29 things to do in your lifetime At the edges, liveliness like that fosters tat. The resorts boast much in the way of glaring signs in orange and yellow (“All items 60p!!”, “All day breakfast! £2.95!!”) and a world-class collection of budget stores smelling jauntily of despair. Fleetwood’s famous market, and that in Morecambe on a Sunday, would dispirit shoppers from Somalia. But it is this uncertainty – the bouncing between acute popularity, attempted culture and the frankly tawdry – that has the resorts keeping calm and carrying on, against the odds, in an intriguing manner. I licked through them at a fair old pace, particularly taken with Cleveleys, where sculptures indeed punctuated the seafront and sands. They’re inspired by characters from a children’s book, The Sea Swallow (Gareth Thompson; Foxtail, £9.99), itself inspired by folk tales from this Fylde coast. The idea is a belter. The artworks – sea swallows atop a beacon, a 13ft sea shell, a sea ogre hiding among groynes and rocks – urge you along the front. It was a terrific walk, even as the wind blew my eyebrows off. Windswept trees on the Lancaster coast Credit: Getty So over the Wyre to Over Wyre. Here the world changes. Lanes drawn by a fellow following cows lead to little-ruffled villages – Pilling, Cockerham – and out to the sense-smacking immensity of the Morecambe Bay seaside. You roll past hedges and cattle-heavy fields, then surge through to the coast, John Denver ceding to Van Morrison. This is huge, outlandish, not just stirring but nourishing. Drive out to Lane Ends – a distant gathering point-cum-picnic area beyond Pilling – park, walk and tell me I’m wrong. Outside the old farms and village centres, folk have reacted to the elemental power with bungalows, semis and other bits from suburbia. This is the British way. We don’t go bonkers. We settle down. And certainly, in Hambleton, many will require “Woof ’n’ Puss Pet Supplies”. I now skipped to the Lune estuary. Overton is the last, stone-built, outpost before the mile-long causeway to Sunderland Point. The causeway crosses marsh, mudflats and channels which fill up at high tide, overspilling to flood the road and ambush motorists. I really needed a tide table. A sign in the Overton car park indicated such was available at the village’s Globe pub. “Nah, sorry, love. Not here.” I set out anyway, taking my mind off watery death by trying to spot the heavily advertised wading birds. I’d got right across and parked up on the beach stones and had seen nothing but a dunlin. Or it could have been a chicken. Ornithology is not my strong suit. Around the corner, Trevor Owen and his team were coming ashore, across the mud from little boats, with two sackfuls of salmon. Sundered from land, the semi-island of Sunderland Point is about a mile by a half-mile. Some 67 people live there, in 35 houses – mainly drawn up in two distinguished seafront terraces. It’s been a proper little port, home to ship owners, sea captains, farmers and Sambo, a black fellow who may or may not have been a slave. He died there in 1736; his grave has been honoured since. Then there are the fishermen. Or there were. Trevor, 69, is among the last. Certainly his wife, Margaret, 63, is the last fisherwoman. This may be because young ladies no longer consider standing up to their chests in estuary water, wielding a 13ft haaf net, an attractive career option. Sunderland Point at dusk Credit: ©2630ben - stock.adobe.com At different seasons, the Owens fish shrimp, cockles, whitebait, bass – and sprats for the sea lions at Blackpool Zoo. Their activity is tenaciously regulated. Margaret fights the more formidable idiocies of officialdom. Trevor plays in blues bands. You think you’re at the end of the world, but you’re right in the middle of theirs. “Visitors? We love them,” cried Margaret. I hopped back to the car and beat the tide, easy. Heysham has the advantage of being one of the few places around Morecambe Bay from where, if you’re smart, you can’t see Heysham power station. I’ve nothing against power stations, would be lost without them, but they don’t embellish a coast. Up on the headland, there are heath, wind, rocks and a sense of eternity. The distant Lakeland fells make things perfect. What’s left of the wrecked, eighth-century St Patrick’s chapel stands stout near older rock-hewn graves. “The scale of the bay has always inspired spiritual reflection,” said Susannah Bleakley of the Morecambe Bay Partnership. Vikings worshipped Norse gods here. The coast is punctuated with barrows, chapels, nunneries – and Black Sabbath fans seeking the rock-hewn graves: they’re on the cover of the band’s 2000 Best Of album. Down below, Heysham village is Miss-Marple-by-the-Sea, a delight distinguished by native nettle tea, which I have drunk once and probably shan’t again. Beyond is Morecambe and, beyond that, Hest Bank and Bolton-le-Sands, where windsurfers dart about like dragonflies on a gunmetal sea sheened silver where there are shafts of light. Right out beyond the fields, there are Lancashire’s most remote farms, a café or two, people sitting in their cars staring out and – a surprise, this – an abundance of residential caravan sites. On the edge of nowhere. At one, a chap was watering a herbaceous border. The vast bay was feet away. I heard his wife call him in for tea. Natural splendour of international class, and a nice cup of tea: the English truly are unbeatable. Britain's 40 best beaches – according to our experts By Silverdale, the coast has sprouted more rocks, rounded hills, little cliffs, thick woodland, drystone walls and the thinnest country lanes of all. They go up and down and round and round. Farm boys on big tractors could slaughter the tourist trade in an afternoon. There’s an Iron Age fort up on Warton Crag and, out on Jenny Brown’s Point, a terribly isolated chimney whose function no one really knows. The walking is wonderful. The village itself is overcome with stone, flowers and a sense of centuries. Elizabeth Gaskell holidayed and wrote there, but who else has even heard of it? There’s no space here to do justice either to this district or the bay in general. It’s the coast of my home county and, now I’ve been back, I’m as proud as hell. I shall go on talking about it until everyone has been. The essentials Where to stay The Cartford Inn, in Little Eccleston, is the most beguiling gastro-pub-hotel in Lancashire – run by a Lancastrian from, um, Bordeaux (01995 670166, thecartfordinn.co.uk); b&b doubles from £100. As a base for the north of the area, head for Hipping Hall at Cowan Bridge, whose restaurant will shortly be harvesting Michelin stars (0152 427 1187; hippinghall.com); b&b doubles from £179. Cycling there Morecambe Bay Partnership has inaugurated an 80-mile cycleway from Barrow to Glasson Dock and are creating map-guides for walking and cycling under the heading Seldom Seen (morecambebay.org.uk). More details visitlancashire.com More from Anthony Peregrine • The Franco-American love-fest • Napoleon or Wellington - who was better? • Why I’m embarrassed to be a non-smoker • The fêtes of our nations: bullfighting or tombola? • The perils of holidaying with friends • Why I love motorways • The joy of dining alone - and why my satnav is the perfect woman I had driven way out along lanes no straighter than a ram’s horn to Red Bank Farm, at Bolton-le-Sands, near Lancaster. The farm, and its café, were poised at that point where farmland, salt meadows, marshes and incoming tides all met. The many signs were clear: these were lethal surroundings for the stupid. I ordered a coffee, took it outside to the farm garden and asked if I might join a senior lady at her table. “That’s a small coffee,” she said. It was. Finding an espresso here on the rim of the North West was like finding a Scotch egg in Haifa. “Me, I need more volume.” She giggled. We talked. "Finding an espresso here on the rim of the North West was like finding a Scotch egg in Haifa" I told her that, though a Lancastrian, I hadn’t been near the Morecambe Bay coast for years. Decades. “I’m awestruck. I’d forgotten the scale. The grandeur.” I had. I’d burst from the high-hedged lanes to immense meadows speckled with sheep, to mud and marshes, a forever sea, and a vast sky which did as it damned well pleased – black cloud to dun hues, then blue and back again, in 10 minutes flat. “It’s stunning,” I said. “Yes,” she said. “It is very nice.” I’d forgotten, also, the Lancastrian way with superlatives. “We often have a run out here.” Then she paused. “Are you sure that coffee’s big enough?” The untutored limit the Lancashire coast to Blackpool, Morecambe and other resorts. This is wrong, but it wouldn’t bother me if it were right. These are places you plunge into for raucous experiences. At Blackpool’s Pleasure Beach, the Big One is like going over the Andes in a coal scuttle. A jet-propelled coal scuttle. There are piers and slot machines, award-winning double burger outlets and all-you-can-eat pizza restaurants – for a population that might (Lord knows, it’s none of my business) better profit from a least-you-can-eat salad bar. Popular culture is popular for a reason. There was a three-hour wait for the Big One when I was through. • Would you take your family to Blackpool? At Blackpool?s Pleasure Beach, the Big One is like going over the Andes in a coal scuttle Photo: AP/FOTOLIA Real popularity, though, sometimes embarrasses clever people within local authorities. In line with contemporary mores, they like to culture up their towns, perhaps by emphasising a Victorian past. Or slotting in sculpture. Or reworking the prom. Some of this looks jolly good, but Lancastrians resist overt gentrification. Theirs – ours – is a meat-pie culture. As one fellow with whom I broached the subject in Cleveleys put it: “B----- the statues, give us the chips.” At the edges, liveliness like that fosters tat. The resorts boast much in the way of glaring signs in orange and yellow (“All items 60p!!”, “All day breakfast! £2.95!!”) and a world-class collection of budget stores smelling jauntily of despair. Fleetwood’s famous market, and that in Morecambe on a Sunday, would dispirit shoppers from Somalia. But it is this uncertainty – the bouncing between acute popularity, attempted culture and the frankly tawdry – that has the resorts keeping calm and carrying on, against the odds, in an intriguing manner. "Fleetwood’s famous market, and that in Morecambe on a Sunday, would dispirit shoppers from Somalia" I licked through them at a fair old pace, particularly taken with Cleveleys, where sculptures indeed punctuated the seafront and sands. They’re inspired by characters from a children’s book, The Sea Swallow (Gareth Thompson; Foxtail, £9.99), itself inspired by folk tales from this Fylde coast. The idea is a belter. The artworks – sea swallows atop a beacon, a 13ft sea shell, a sea ogre hiding among groynes and rocks – urge you along the front. It was a terrific walk, even as the wind blew my eyebrows off. So over the Wyre to Over Wyre. Here the world changes. Lanes drawn by a fellow following cows lead to little-ruffled villages – Pilling, Cockerham – and out to the sense-smacking immensity of the Morecambe Bay seaside. You roll past hedges and cattle-heavy fields, then surge through to the coast, John Denver ceding to Van Morrison. This is huge, outlandish, not just stirring but nourishing. Drive out to Lane Ends – a distant gathering point-cum-picnic area beyond Pilling – park, walk and tell me I’m wrong. Outside the old farms and village centres, folk have reacted to the elemental power with bungalows, semis and other bits from suburbia. This is the British way. We don’t go bonkers. We settle down. And certainly, in Hambleton, many will require “Woof ’n’ Puss Pet Supplies”. • Midland Hotel, Morecambe: review • Lancaster: 10 reasons to visit I now skipped to the Lune estuary. Overton is the last, stone-built, outpost before the mile-long causeway to Sunderland Point. The causeway crosses marsh, mudflats and channels which fill up at high tide, overspilling to flood the road and ambush motorists. I really needed a tide table. A sign in the Overton car park indicated such was available at the village’s Globe pub. “Nah, sorry, love. Not here.” I set out anyway, taking my mind off watery death by trying to spot the heavily advertised wading birds. I’d got right across and parked up on the beach stones and had seen nothing but a dunlin. Or it could have been a chicken. Ornithology is not my strong suit. Around the corner, Trevor Owen and his team were coming ashore, across the mud from little boats, with two sackfuls of salmon. The coast near Heysham: "Heysham village is Miss-Marple-by-the-Sea, a delight distinguished by native nettle tea, which I have drunk once and probably shan?t again" Photo: AP/FOTOLIA Sundered from land, the semi-island of Sunderland Point is about a mile by a half-mile. Some 67 people live there, in 35 houses – mainly drawn up in two distinguished seafront terraces. It’s been a proper little port, home to ship owners, sea captains, farmers and Sambo, a black fellow who may or may not have been a slave. He died there in 1736; his grave has been honoured since. Then there are the fishermen. Or there were. Trevor, 69, is among the last. Certainly his wife, Margaret, 63, is the last fisherwoman. This may be because young ladies no longer consider standing up to their chests in estuary water, wielding a 13ft haaf net, an attractive career option. At different seasons, the Owens fish shrimp, cockles, whitebait, bass – and sprats for the sea lions at Blackpool Zoo. Their activity is tenaciously regulated. Margaret fights the more formidable idiocies of officialdom. Trevor plays in blues bands. You think you’re at the end of the world, but you’re right in the middle of theirs. “Visitors? We love them,” cried Margaret. I hopped back to the car and beat the tide, easy. Heysham has the advantage of being one of the few places around Morecambe Bay from where, if you’re smart, you can’t see Heysham power station. I’ve nothing against power stations, would be lost without them, but they don’t embellish a coast. Up on the headland, there are heath, wind, rocks and a sense of eternity. The distant Lakeland fells make things perfect. What’s left of the wrecked, eighth-century St Patrick’s chapel stands stout near older rock-hewn graves. “The scale of the bay has always inspired spiritual reflection,” said Susannah Bleakley of the Morecambe Bay Partnership. Vikings worshipped Norse gods here. The coast is punctuated with barrows, chapels, nunneries – and Black Sabbath fans seeking the rock-hewn graves: they’re on the cover of the band’s 2000 Best Of album. Down below, Heysham village is Miss-Marple-by-the-Sea, a delight distinguished by native nettle tea, which I have drunk once and probably shan’t again. Beyond is Morecambe and, beyond that, Hest Bank and Bolton-le-Sands, where windsurfers dart about like dragonflies on a gunmetal sea sheened silver where there are shafts of light. Right out beyond the fields, there are Lancashire’s most remote farms, a café or two, people sitting in their cars staring out and – a surprise, this – an abundance of residential caravan sites. On the edge of nowhere. At one, a chap was watering a herbaceous border. The vast bay was feet away. I heard his wife call him in for tea. Natural splendour of international class, and a nice cup of tea: the English truly are unbeatable. • Britain's best seaside hotels "By Silverdale, the coast has sprouted more rocks, rounded hills, little cliffs, thick woodland, drystone walls and the thinnest country lanes of all" Photo: AP/FOTOLIA By Silverdale, the coast has sprouted more rocks, rounded hills, little cliffs, thick woodland, drystone walls and the thinnest country lanes of all. They go up and down and round and round. Farm boys on big tractors could slaughter the tourist trade in an afternoon. There’s an Iron Age fort up on Warton Crag and, out on Jenny Brown’s Point, a terribly isolated chimney whose function no one really knows. The walking is wonderful. The village itself is overcome with stone, flowers and a sense of centuries. Elizabeth Gaskell holidayed and wrote there, but who else has even heard of it? There’s no space here to do justice either to this district or the bay in general. It’s the coast of my home county and, now I’ve been back, I’m as proud as hell. I shall go on talking about it until everyone has been. More from Anthony Peregrine • The Franco-American love-fest • Napoleon or Wellington - who was better? • Why I’m embarrassed to be a non-smoker • The fêtes of our nations: bullfighting or tombola? • The perils of holidaying with friends • Why I love motorways • The joy of dining alone - and why my satnav is the perfect woman
I had driven way out along lanes no straighter than a ram’s horn to Red Bank Farm, at Bolton-le-Sands, near Lancaster. The farm, and its café, were poised at that point where farmland, salt meadows, marshes and incoming tides all met. The many signs were clear: these were lethal surroundings for the stupid. I ordered a coffee, took it outside to the farm garden and asked if I might join a senior lady at her table. “That’s a small coffee,” she said. It was. Finding an espresso here on the rim of the North West was like finding a Scotch egg in Haifa. “Me, I need more volume.” She giggled. We talked. I told her that, though a Lancastrian, I hadn’t been near the Morecambe Bay coast for years. Decades. “I’m awestruck. I’d forgotten the scale. The grandeur.” I had. I’d burst from the high-hedged lanes to immense meadows speckled with sheep, to mud and marshes, a forever sea, and a vast sky which did as it damned well pleased – black cloud to dun hues, then blue and back again, in 10 minutes flat. “It’s stunning,” I said. “Yes,” she said. “It is very nice.” I’d forgotten, also, the Lancastrian way with superlatives. “We often have a run out here.” Then she paused. “Are you sure that coffee’s big enough?” Blackpool is more than just the Big Dipper Credit: Getty The untutored limit the Lancashire coast to Blackpool, Morecambe and other resorts. This is wrong, but it wouldn’t bother me if it were right. These are places you plunge into for raucous experiences. At Blackpool’s Pleasure Beach, the Big One is like going over the Andes in a coal scuttle. A jet-propelled coal scuttle. There are piers and slot machines, award-winning double burger outlets and all-you-can-eat pizza restaurants – for a population that might (Lord knows, it’s none of my business) better profit from a least-you-can-eat salad bar. Popular culture is popular for a reason. There was a three-hour wait for the Big One when I was through. Real popularity, though, sometimes embarrasses clever people within local authorities. In line with contemporary mores, they like to culture up their towns, perhaps by emphasising a Victorian past. Or slotting in sculpture. Or reworking the prom. Some of this looks jolly good, but Lancastrians resist overt gentrification. Theirs – ours – is a meat-pie culture. As one fellow with whom I broached the subject in Cleveleys put it: “B----- the statues, give us the chips.” The ultimate UK bucket list: 29 things to do in your lifetime At the edges, liveliness like that fosters tat. The resorts boast much in the way of glaring signs in orange and yellow (“All items 60p!!”, “All day breakfast! £2.95!!”) and a world-class collection of budget stores smelling jauntily of despair. Fleetwood’s famous market, and that in Morecambe on a Sunday, would dispirit shoppers from Somalia. But it is this uncertainty – the bouncing between acute popularity, attempted culture and the frankly tawdry – that has the resorts keeping calm and carrying on, against the odds, in an intriguing manner. I licked through them at a fair old pace, particularly taken with Cleveleys, where sculptures indeed punctuated the seafront and sands. They’re inspired by characters from a children’s book, The Sea Swallow (Gareth Thompson; Foxtail, £9.99), itself inspired by folk tales from this Fylde coast. The idea is a belter. The artworks – sea swallows atop a beacon, a 13ft sea shell, a sea ogre hiding among groynes and rocks – urge you along the front. It was a terrific walk, even as the wind blew my eyebrows off. Windswept trees on the Lancaster coast Credit: Getty So over the Wyre to Over Wyre. Here the world changes. Lanes drawn by a fellow following cows lead to little-ruffled villages – Pilling, Cockerham – and out to the sense-smacking immensity of the Morecambe Bay seaside. You roll past hedges and cattle-heavy fields, then surge through to the coast, John Denver ceding to Van Morrison. This is huge, outlandish, not just stirring but nourishing. Drive out to Lane Ends – a distant gathering point-cum-picnic area beyond Pilling – park, walk and tell me I’m wrong. Outside the old farms and village centres, folk have reacted to the elemental power with bungalows, semis and other bits from suburbia. This is the British way. We don’t go bonkers. We settle down. And certainly, in Hambleton, many will require “Woof ’n’ Puss Pet Supplies”. I now skipped to the Lune estuary. Overton is the last, stone-built, outpost before the mile-long causeway to Sunderland Point. The causeway crosses marsh, mudflats and channels which fill up at high tide, overspilling to flood the road and ambush motorists. I really needed a tide table. A sign in the Overton car park indicated such was available at the village’s Globe pub. “Nah, sorry, love. Not here.” I set out anyway, taking my mind off watery death by trying to spot the heavily advertised wading birds. I’d got right across and parked up on the beach stones and had seen nothing but a dunlin. Or it could have been a chicken. Ornithology is not my strong suit. Around the corner, Trevor Owen and his team were coming ashore, across the mud from little boats, with two sackfuls of salmon. Sundered from land, the semi-island of Sunderland Point is about a mile by a half-mile. Some 67 people live there, in 35 houses – mainly drawn up in two distinguished seafront terraces. It’s been a proper little port, home to ship owners, sea captains, farmers and Sambo, a black fellow who may or may not have been a slave. He died there in 1736; his grave has been honoured since. Then there are the fishermen. Or there were. Trevor, 69, is among the last. Certainly his wife, Margaret, 63, is the last fisherwoman. This may be because young ladies no longer consider standing up to their chests in estuary water, wielding a 13ft haaf net, an attractive career option. Sunderland Point at dusk Credit: ©2630ben - stock.adobe.com At different seasons, the Owens fish shrimp, cockles, whitebait, bass – and sprats for the sea lions at Blackpool Zoo. Their activity is tenaciously regulated. Margaret fights the more formidable idiocies of officialdom. Trevor plays in blues bands. You think you’re at the end of the world, but you’re right in the middle of theirs. “Visitors? We love them,” cried Margaret. I hopped back to the car and beat the tide, easy. Heysham has the advantage of being one of the few places around Morecambe Bay from where, if you’re smart, you can’t see Heysham power station. I’ve nothing against power stations, would be lost without them, but they don’t embellish a coast. Up on the headland, there are heath, wind, rocks and a sense of eternity. The distant Lakeland fells make things perfect. What’s left of the wrecked, eighth-century St Patrick’s chapel stands stout near older rock-hewn graves. “The scale of the bay has always inspired spiritual reflection,” said Susannah Bleakley of the Morecambe Bay Partnership. Vikings worshipped Norse gods here. The coast is punctuated with barrows, chapels, nunneries – and Black Sabbath fans seeking the rock-hewn graves: they’re on the cover of the band’s 2000 Best Of album. Down below, Heysham village is Miss-Marple-by-the-Sea, a delight distinguished by native nettle tea, which I have drunk once and probably shan’t again. Beyond is Morecambe and, beyond that, Hest Bank and Bolton-le-Sands, where windsurfers dart about like dragonflies on a gunmetal sea sheened silver where there are shafts of light. Right out beyond the fields, there are Lancashire’s most remote farms, a café or two, people sitting in their cars staring out and – a surprise, this – an abundance of residential caravan sites. On the edge of nowhere. At one, a chap was watering a herbaceous border. The vast bay was feet away. I heard his wife call him in for tea. Natural splendour of international class, and a nice cup of tea: the English truly are unbeatable. Britain's 40 best beaches – according to our experts By Silverdale, the coast has sprouted more rocks, rounded hills, little cliffs, thick woodland, drystone walls and the thinnest country lanes of all. They go up and down and round and round. Farm boys on big tractors could slaughter the tourist trade in an afternoon. There’s an Iron Age fort up on Warton Crag and, out on Jenny Brown’s Point, a terribly isolated chimney whose function no one really knows. The walking is wonderful. The village itself is overcome with stone, flowers and a sense of centuries. Elizabeth Gaskell holidayed and wrote there, but who else has even heard of it? There’s no space here to do justice either to this district or the bay in general. It’s the coast of my home county and, now I’ve been back, I’m as proud as hell. I shall go on talking about it until everyone has been. The essentials Where to stay The Cartford Inn, in Little Eccleston, is the most beguiling gastro-pub-hotel in Lancashire – run by a Lancastrian from, um, Bordeaux (01995 670166, thecartfordinn.co.uk); b&b doubles from £100. As a base for the north of the area, head for Hipping Hall at Cowan Bridge, whose restaurant will shortly be harvesting Michelin stars (0152 427 1187; hippinghall.com); b&b doubles from £179. Cycling there Morecambe Bay Partnership has inaugurated an 80-mile cycleway from Barrow to Glasson Dock and are creating map-guides for walking and cycling under the heading Seldom Seen (morecambebay.org.uk). More details visitlancashire.com More from Anthony Peregrine • The Franco-American love-fest • Napoleon or Wellington - who was better? • Why I’m embarrassed to be a non-smoker • The fêtes of our nations: bullfighting or tombola? • The perils of holidaying with friends • Why I love motorways • The joy of dining alone - and why my satnav is the perfect woman I had driven way out along lanes no straighter than a ram’s horn to Red Bank Farm, at Bolton-le-Sands, near Lancaster. The farm, and its café, were poised at that point where farmland, salt meadows, marshes and incoming tides all met. The many signs were clear: these were lethal surroundings for the stupid. I ordered a coffee, took it outside to the farm garden and asked if I might join a senior lady at her table. “That’s a small coffee,” she said. It was. Finding an espresso here on the rim of the North West was like finding a Scotch egg in Haifa. “Me, I need more volume.” She giggled. We talked. "Finding an espresso here on the rim of the North West was like finding a Scotch egg in Haifa" I told her that, though a Lancastrian, I hadn’t been near the Morecambe Bay coast for years. Decades. “I’m awestruck. I’d forgotten the scale. The grandeur.” I had. I’d burst from the high-hedged lanes to immense meadows speckled with sheep, to mud and marshes, a forever sea, and a vast sky which did as it damned well pleased – black cloud to dun hues, then blue and back again, in 10 minutes flat. “It’s stunning,” I said. “Yes,” she said. “It is very nice.” I’d forgotten, also, the Lancastrian way with superlatives. “We often have a run out here.” Then she paused. “Are you sure that coffee’s big enough?” The untutored limit the Lancashire coast to Blackpool, Morecambe and other resorts. This is wrong, but it wouldn’t bother me if it were right. These are places you plunge into for raucous experiences. At Blackpool’s Pleasure Beach, the Big One is like going over the Andes in a coal scuttle. A jet-propelled coal scuttle. There are piers and slot machines, award-winning double burger outlets and all-you-can-eat pizza restaurants – for a population that might (Lord knows, it’s none of my business) better profit from a least-you-can-eat salad bar. Popular culture is popular for a reason. There was a three-hour wait for the Big One when I was through. • Would you take your family to Blackpool? At Blackpool?s Pleasure Beach, the Big One is like going over the Andes in a coal scuttle Photo: AP/FOTOLIA Real popularity, though, sometimes embarrasses clever people within local authorities. In line with contemporary mores, they like to culture up their towns, perhaps by emphasising a Victorian past. Or slotting in sculpture. Or reworking the prom. Some of this looks jolly good, but Lancastrians resist overt gentrification. Theirs – ours – is a meat-pie culture. As one fellow with whom I broached the subject in Cleveleys put it: “B----- the statues, give us the chips.” At the edges, liveliness like that fosters tat. The resorts boast much in the way of glaring signs in orange and yellow (“All items 60p!!”, “All day breakfast! £2.95!!”) and a world-class collection of budget stores smelling jauntily of despair. Fleetwood’s famous market, and that in Morecambe on a Sunday, would dispirit shoppers from Somalia. But it is this uncertainty – the bouncing between acute popularity, attempted culture and the frankly tawdry – that has the resorts keeping calm and carrying on, against the odds, in an intriguing manner. "Fleetwood’s famous market, and that in Morecambe on a Sunday, would dispirit shoppers from Somalia" I licked through them at a fair old pace, particularly taken with Cleveleys, where sculptures indeed punctuated the seafront and sands. They’re inspired by characters from a children’s book, The Sea Swallow (Gareth Thompson; Foxtail, £9.99), itself inspired by folk tales from this Fylde coast. The idea is a belter. The artworks – sea swallows atop a beacon, a 13ft sea shell, a sea ogre hiding among groynes and rocks – urge you along the front. It was a terrific walk, even as the wind blew my eyebrows off. So over the Wyre to Over Wyre. Here the world changes. Lanes drawn by a fellow following cows lead to little-ruffled villages – Pilling, Cockerham – and out to the sense-smacking immensity of the Morecambe Bay seaside. You roll past hedges and cattle-heavy fields, then surge through to the coast, John Denver ceding to Van Morrison. This is huge, outlandish, not just stirring but nourishing. Drive out to Lane Ends – a distant gathering point-cum-picnic area beyond Pilling – park, walk and tell me I’m wrong. Outside the old farms and village centres, folk have reacted to the elemental power with bungalows, semis and other bits from suburbia. This is the British way. We don’t go bonkers. We settle down. And certainly, in Hambleton, many will require “Woof ’n’ Puss Pet Supplies”. • Midland Hotel, Morecambe: review • Lancaster: 10 reasons to visit I now skipped to the Lune estuary. Overton is the last, stone-built, outpost before the mile-long causeway to Sunderland Point. The causeway crosses marsh, mudflats and channels which fill up at high tide, overspilling to flood the road and ambush motorists. I really needed a tide table. A sign in the Overton car park indicated such was available at the village’s Globe pub. “Nah, sorry, love. Not here.” I set out anyway, taking my mind off watery death by trying to spot the heavily advertised wading birds. I’d got right across and parked up on the beach stones and had seen nothing but a dunlin. Or it could have been a chicken. Ornithology is not my strong suit. Around the corner, Trevor Owen and his team were coming ashore, across the mud from little boats, with two sackfuls of salmon. The coast near Heysham: "Heysham village is Miss-Marple-by-the-Sea, a delight distinguished by native nettle tea, which I have drunk once and probably shan?t again" Photo: AP/FOTOLIA Sundered from land, the semi-island of Sunderland Point is about a mile by a half-mile. Some 67 people live there, in 35 houses – mainly drawn up in two distinguished seafront terraces. It’s been a proper little port, home to ship owners, sea captains, farmers and Sambo, a black fellow who may or may not have been a slave. He died there in 1736; his grave has been honoured since. Then there are the fishermen. Or there were. Trevor, 69, is among the last. Certainly his wife, Margaret, 63, is the last fisherwoman. This may be because young ladies no longer consider standing up to their chests in estuary water, wielding a 13ft haaf net, an attractive career option. At different seasons, the Owens fish shrimp, cockles, whitebait, bass – and sprats for the sea lions at Blackpool Zoo. Their activity is tenaciously regulated. Margaret fights the more formidable idiocies of officialdom. Trevor plays in blues bands. You think you’re at the end of the world, but you’re right in the middle of theirs. “Visitors? We love them,” cried Margaret. I hopped back to the car and beat the tide, easy. Heysham has the advantage of being one of the few places around Morecambe Bay from where, if you’re smart, you can’t see Heysham power station. I’ve nothing against power stations, would be lost without them, but they don’t embellish a coast. Up on the headland, there are heath, wind, rocks and a sense of eternity. The distant Lakeland fells make things perfect. What’s left of the wrecked, eighth-century St Patrick’s chapel stands stout near older rock-hewn graves. “The scale of the bay has always inspired spiritual reflection,” said Susannah Bleakley of the Morecambe Bay Partnership. Vikings worshipped Norse gods here. The coast is punctuated with barrows, chapels, nunneries – and Black Sabbath fans seeking the rock-hewn graves: they’re on the cover of the band’s 2000 Best Of album. Down below, Heysham village is Miss-Marple-by-the-Sea, a delight distinguished by native nettle tea, which I have drunk once and probably shan’t again. Beyond is Morecambe and, beyond that, Hest Bank and Bolton-le-Sands, where windsurfers dart about like dragonflies on a gunmetal sea sheened silver where there are shafts of light. Right out beyond the fields, there are Lancashire’s most remote farms, a café or two, people sitting in their cars staring out and – a surprise, this – an abundance of residential caravan sites. On the edge of nowhere. At one, a chap was watering a herbaceous border. The vast bay was feet away. I heard his wife call him in for tea. Natural splendour of international class, and a nice cup of tea: the English truly are unbeatable. • Britain's best seaside hotels "By Silverdale, the coast has sprouted more rocks, rounded hills, little cliffs, thick woodland, drystone walls and the thinnest country lanes of all" Photo: AP/FOTOLIA By Silverdale, the coast has sprouted more rocks, rounded hills, little cliffs, thick woodland, drystone walls and the thinnest country lanes of all. They go up and down and round and round. Farm boys on big tractors could slaughter the tourist trade in an afternoon. There’s an Iron Age fort up on Warton Crag and, out on Jenny Brown’s Point, a terribly isolated chimney whose function no one really knows. The walking is wonderful. The village itself is overcome with stone, flowers and a sense of centuries. Elizabeth Gaskell holidayed and wrote there, but who else has even heard of it? There’s no space here to do justice either to this district or the bay in general. It’s the coast of my home county and, now I’ve been back, I’m as proud as hell. I shall go on talking about it until everyone has been. More from Anthony Peregrine • The Franco-American love-fest • Napoleon or Wellington - who was better? • Why I’m embarrassed to be a non-smoker • The fêtes of our nations: bullfighting or tombola? • The perils of holidaying with friends • Why I love motorways • The joy of dining alone - and why my satnav is the perfect woman
Is the north-west Britain's most underrated coastline?
I had driven way out along lanes no straighter than a ram’s horn to Red Bank Farm, at Bolton-le-Sands, near Lancaster. The farm, and its café, were poised at that point where farmland, salt meadows, marshes and incoming tides all met. The many signs were clear: these were lethal surroundings for the stupid. I ordered a coffee, took it outside to the farm garden and asked if I might join a senior lady at her table. “That’s a small coffee,” she said. It was. Finding an espresso here on the rim of the North West was like finding a Scotch egg in Haifa. “Me, I need more volume.” She giggled. We talked. I told her that, though a Lancastrian, I hadn’t been near the Morecambe Bay coast for years. Decades. “I’m awestruck. I’d forgotten the scale. The grandeur.” I had. I’d burst from the high-hedged lanes to immense meadows speckled with sheep, to mud and marshes, a forever sea, and a vast sky which did as it damned well pleased – black cloud to dun hues, then blue and back again, in 10 minutes flat. “It’s stunning,” I said. “Yes,” she said. “It is very nice.” I’d forgotten, also, the Lancastrian way with superlatives. “We often have a run out here.” Then she paused. “Are you sure that coffee’s big enough?” Blackpool is more than just the Big Dipper Credit: Getty The untutored limit the Lancashire coast to Blackpool, Morecambe and other resorts. This is wrong, but it wouldn’t bother me if it were right. These are places you plunge into for raucous experiences. At Blackpool’s Pleasure Beach, the Big One is like going over the Andes in a coal scuttle. A jet-propelled coal scuttle. There are piers and slot machines, award-winning double burger outlets and all-you-can-eat pizza restaurants – for a population that might (Lord knows, it’s none of my business) better profit from a least-you-can-eat salad bar. Popular culture is popular for a reason. There was a three-hour wait for the Big One when I was through. Real popularity, though, sometimes embarrasses clever people within local authorities. In line with contemporary mores, they like to culture up their towns, perhaps by emphasising a Victorian past. Or slotting in sculpture. Or reworking the prom. Some of this looks jolly good, but Lancastrians resist overt gentrification. Theirs – ours – is a meat-pie culture. As one fellow with whom I broached the subject in Cleveleys put it: “B----- the statues, give us the chips.” The ultimate UK bucket list: 29 things to do in your lifetime At the edges, liveliness like that fosters tat. The resorts boast much in the way of glaring signs in orange and yellow (“All items 60p!!”, “All day breakfast! £2.95!!”) and a world-class collection of budget stores smelling jauntily of despair. Fleetwood’s famous market, and that in Morecambe on a Sunday, would dispirit shoppers from Somalia. But it is this uncertainty – the bouncing between acute popularity, attempted culture and the frankly tawdry – that has the resorts keeping calm and carrying on, against the odds, in an intriguing manner. I licked through them at a fair old pace, particularly taken with Cleveleys, where sculptures indeed punctuated the seafront and sands. They’re inspired by characters from a children’s book, The Sea Swallow (Gareth Thompson; Foxtail, £9.99), itself inspired by folk tales from this Fylde coast. The idea is a belter. The artworks – sea swallows atop a beacon, a 13ft sea shell, a sea ogre hiding among groynes and rocks – urge you along the front. It was a terrific walk, even as the wind blew my eyebrows off. Windswept trees on the Lancaster coast Credit: Getty So over the Wyre to Over Wyre. Here the world changes. Lanes drawn by a fellow following cows lead to little-ruffled villages – Pilling, Cockerham – and out to the sense-smacking immensity of the Morecambe Bay seaside. You roll past hedges and cattle-heavy fields, then surge through to the coast, John Denver ceding to Van Morrison. This is huge, outlandish, not just stirring but nourishing. Drive out to Lane Ends – a distant gathering point-cum-picnic area beyond Pilling – park, walk and tell me I’m wrong. Outside the old farms and village centres, folk have reacted to the elemental power with bungalows, semis and other bits from suburbia. This is the British way. We don’t go bonkers. We settle down. And certainly, in Hambleton, many will require “Woof ’n’ Puss Pet Supplies”. I now skipped to the Lune estuary. Overton is the last, stone-built, outpost before the mile-long causeway to Sunderland Point. The causeway crosses marsh, mudflats and channels which fill up at high tide, overspilling to flood the road and ambush motorists. I really needed a tide table. A sign in the Overton car park indicated such was available at the village’s Globe pub. “Nah, sorry, love. Not here.” I set out anyway, taking my mind off watery death by trying to spot the heavily advertised wading birds. I’d got right across and parked up on the beach stones and had seen nothing but a dunlin. Or it could have been a chicken. Ornithology is not my strong suit. Around the corner, Trevor Owen and his team were coming ashore, across the mud from little boats, with two sackfuls of salmon. Sundered from land, the semi-island of Sunderland Point is about a mile by a half-mile. Some 67 people live there, in 35 houses – mainly drawn up in two distinguished seafront terraces. It’s been a proper little port, home to ship owners, sea captains, farmers and Sambo, a black fellow who may or may not have been a slave. He died there in 1736; his grave has been honoured since. Then there are the fishermen. Or there were. Trevor, 69, is among the last. Certainly his wife, Margaret, 63, is the last fisherwoman. This may be because young ladies no longer consider standing up to their chests in estuary water, wielding a 13ft haaf net, an attractive career option. Sunderland Point at dusk Credit: ©2630ben - stock.adobe.com At different seasons, the Owens fish shrimp, cockles, whitebait, bass – and sprats for the sea lions at Blackpool Zoo. Their activity is tenaciously regulated. Margaret fights the more formidable idiocies of officialdom. Trevor plays in blues bands. You think you’re at the end of the world, but you’re right in the middle of theirs. “Visitors? We love them,” cried Margaret. I hopped back to the car and beat the tide, easy. Heysham has the advantage of being one of the few places around Morecambe Bay from where, if you’re smart, you can’t see Heysham power station. I’ve nothing against power stations, would be lost without them, but they don’t embellish a coast. Up on the headland, there are heath, wind, rocks and a sense of eternity. The distant Lakeland fells make things perfect. What’s left of the wrecked, eighth-century St Patrick’s chapel stands stout near older rock-hewn graves. “The scale of the bay has always inspired spiritual reflection,” said Susannah Bleakley of the Morecambe Bay Partnership. Vikings worshipped Norse gods here. The coast is punctuated with barrows, chapels, nunneries – and Black Sabbath fans seeking the rock-hewn graves: they’re on the cover of the band’s 2000 Best Of album. Down below, Heysham village is Miss-Marple-by-the-Sea, a delight distinguished by native nettle tea, which I have drunk once and probably shan’t again. Beyond is Morecambe and, beyond that, Hest Bank and Bolton-le-Sands, where windsurfers dart about like dragonflies on a gunmetal sea sheened silver where there are shafts of light. Right out beyond the fields, there are Lancashire’s most remote farms, a café or two, people sitting in their cars staring out and – a surprise, this – an abundance of residential caravan sites. On the edge of nowhere. At one, a chap was watering a herbaceous border. The vast bay was feet away. I heard his wife call him in for tea. Natural splendour of international class, and a nice cup of tea: the English truly are unbeatable. Britain's 40 best beaches – according to our experts By Silverdale, the coast has sprouted more rocks, rounded hills, little cliffs, thick woodland, drystone walls and the thinnest country lanes of all. They go up and down and round and round. Farm boys on big tractors could slaughter the tourist trade in an afternoon. There’s an Iron Age fort up on Warton Crag and, out on Jenny Brown’s Point, a terribly isolated chimney whose function no one really knows. The walking is wonderful. The village itself is overcome with stone, flowers and a sense of centuries. Elizabeth Gaskell holidayed and wrote there, but who else has even heard of it? There’s no space here to do justice either to this district or the bay in general. It’s the coast of my home county and, now I’ve been back, I’m as proud as hell. I shall go on talking about it until everyone has been. The essentials Where to stay The Cartford Inn, in Little Eccleston, is the most beguiling gastro-pub-hotel in Lancashire – run by a Lancastrian from, um, Bordeaux (01995 670166, thecartfordinn.co.uk); b&b doubles from £100. As a base for the north of the area, head for Hipping Hall at Cowan Bridge, whose restaurant will shortly be harvesting Michelin stars (0152 427 1187; hippinghall.com); b&b doubles from £179. Cycling there Morecambe Bay Partnership has inaugurated an 80-mile cycleway from Barrow to Glasson Dock and are creating map-guides for walking and cycling under the heading Seldom Seen (morecambebay.org.uk). More details visitlancashire.com More from Anthony Peregrine • The Franco-American love-fest • Napoleon or Wellington - who was better? • Why I’m embarrassed to be a non-smoker • The fêtes of our nations: bullfighting or tombola? • The perils of holidaying with friends • Why I love motorways • The joy of dining alone - and why my satnav is the perfect woman I had driven way out along lanes no straighter than a ram’s horn to Red Bank Farm, at Bolton-le-Sands, near Lancaster. The farm, and its café, were poised at that point where farmland, salt meadows, marshes and incoming tides all met. The many signs were clear: these were lethal surroundings for the stupid. I ordered a coffee, took it outside to the farm garden and asked if I might join a senior lady at her table. “That’s a small coffee,” she said. It was. Finding an espresso here on the rim of the North West was like finding a Scotch egg in Haifa. “Me, I need more volume.” She giggled. We talked. "Finding an espresso here on the rim of the North West was like finding a Scotch egg in Haifa" I told her that, though a Lancastrian, I hadn’t been near the Morecambe Bay coast for years. Decades. “I’m awestruck. I’d forgotten the scale. The grandeur.” I had. I’d burst from the high-hedged lanes to immense meadows speckled with sheep, to mud and marshes, a forever sea, and a vast sky which did as it damned well pleased – black cloud to dun hues, then blue and back again, in 10 minutes flat. “It’s stunning,” I said. “Yes,” she said. “It is very nice.” I’d forgotten, also, the Lancastrian way with superlatives. “We often have a run out here.” Then she paused. “Are you sure that coffee’s big enough?” The untutored limit the Lancashire coast to Blackpool, Morecambe and other resorts. This is wrong, but it wouldn’t bother me if it were right. These are places you plunge into for raucous experiences. At Blackpool’s Pleasure Beach, the Big One is like going over the Andes in a coal scuttle. A jet-propelled coal scuttle. There are piers and slot machines, award-winning double burger outlets and all-you-can-eat pizza restaurants – for a population that might (Lord knows, it’s none of my business) better profit from a least-you-can-eat salad bar. Popular culture is popular for a reason. There was a three-hour wait for the Big One when I was through. • Would you take your family to Blackpool? At Blackpool?s Pleasure Beach, the Big One is like going over the Andes in a coal scuttle Photo: AP/FOTOLIA Real popularity, though, sometimes embarrasses clever people within local authorities. In line with contemporary mores, they like to culture up their towns, perhaps by emphasising a Victorian past. Or slotting in sculpture. Or reworking the prom. Some of this looks jolly good, but Lancastrians resist overt gentrification. Theirs – ours – is a meat-pie culture. As one fellow with whom I broached the subject in Cleveleys put it: “B----- the statues, give us the chips.” At the edges, liveliness like that fosters tat. The resorts boast much in the way of glaring signs in orange and yellow (“All items 60p!!”, “All day breakfast! £2.95!!”) and a world-class collection of budget stores smelling jauntily of despair. Fleetwood’s famous market, and that in Morecambe on a Sunday, would dispirit shoppers from Somalia. But it is this uncertainty – the bouncing between acute popularity, attempted culture and the frankly tawdry – that has the resorts keeping calm and carrying on, against the odds, in an intriguing manner. "Fleetwood’s famous market, and that in Morecambe on a Sunday, would dispirit shoppers from Somalia" I licked through them at a fair old pace, particularly taken with Cleveleys, where sculptures indeed punctuated the seafront and sands. They’re inspired by characters from a children’s book, The Sea Swallow (Gareth Thompson; Foxtail, £9.99), itself inspired by folk tales from this Fylde coast. The idea is a belter. The artworks – sea swallows atop a beacon, a 13ft sea shell, a sea ogre hiding among groynes and rocks – urge you along the front. It was a terrific walk, even as the wind blew my eyebrows off. So over the Wyre to Over Wyre. Here the world changes. Lanes drawn by a fellow following cows lead to little-ruffled villages – Pilling, Cockerham – and out to the sense-smacking immensity of the Morecambe Bay seaside. You roll past hedges and cattle-heavy fields, then surge through to the coast, John Denver ceding to Van Morrison. This is huge, outlandish, not just stirring but nourishing. Drive out to Lane Ends – a distant gathering point-cum-picnic area beyond Pilling – park, walk and tell me I’m wrong. Outside the old farms and village centres, folk have reacted to the elemental power with bungalows, semis and other bits from suburbia. This is the British way. We don’t go bonkers. We settle down. And certainly, in Hambleton, many will require “Woof ’n’ Puss Pet Supplies”. • Midland Hotel, Morecambe: review • Lancaster: 10 reasons to visit I now skipped to the Lune estuary. Overton is the last, stone-built, outpost before the mile-long causeway to Sunderland Point. The causeway crosses marsh, mudflats and channels which fill up at high tide, overspilling to flood the road and ambush motorists. I really needed a tide table. A sign in the Overton car park indicated such was available at the village’s Globe pub. “Nah, sorry, love. Not here.” I set out anyway, taking my mind off watery death by trying to spot the heavily advertised wading birds. I’d got right across and parked up on the beach stones and had seen nothing but a dunlin. Or it could have been a chicken. Ornithology is not my strong suit. Around the corner, Trevor Owen and his team were coming ashore, across the mud from little boats, with two sackfuls of salmon. The coast near Heysham: "Heysham village is Miss-Marple-by-the-Sea, a delight distinguished by native nettle tea, which I have drunk once and probably shan?t again" Photo: AP/FOTOLIA Sundered from land, the semi-island of Sunderland Point is about a mile by a half-mile. Some 67 people live there, in 35 houses – mainly drawn up in two distinguished seafront terraces. It’s been a proper little port, home to ship owners, sea captains, farmers and Sambo, a black fellow who may or may not have been a slave. He died there in 1736; his grave has been honoured since. Then there are the fishermen. Or there were. Trevor, 69, is among the last. Certainly his wife, Margaret, 63, is the last fisherwoman. This may be because young ladies no longer consider standing up to their chests in estuary water, wielding a 13ft haaf net, an attractive career option. At different seasons, the Owens fish shrimp, cockles, whitebait, bass – and sprats for the sea lions at Blackpool Zoo. Their activity is tenaciously regulated. Margaret fights the more formidable idiocies of officialdom. Trevor plays in blues bands. You think you’re at the end of the world, but you’re right in the middle of theirs. “Visitors? We love them,” cried Margaret. I hopped back to the car and beat the tide, easy. Heysham has the advantage of being one of the few places around Morecambe Bay from where, if you’re smart, you can’t see Heysham power station. I’ve nothing against power stations, would be lost without them, but they don’t embellish a coast. Up on the headland, there are heath, wind, rocks and a sense of eternity. The distant Lakeland fells make things perfect. What’s left of the wrecked, eighth-century St Patrick’s chapel stands stout near older rock-hewn graves. “The scale of the bay has always inspired spiritual reflection,” said Susannah Bleakley of the Morecambe Bay Partnership. Vikings worshipped Norse gods here. The coast is punctuated with barrows, chapels, nunneries – and Black Sabbath fans seeking the rock-hewn graves: they’re on the cover of the band’s 2000 Best Of album. Down below, Heysham village is Miss-Marple-by-the-Sea, a delight distinguished by native nettle tea, which I have drunk once and probably shan’t again. Beyond is Morecambe and, beyond that, Hest Bank and Bolton-le-Sands, where windsurfers dart about like dragonflies on a gunmetal sea sheened silver where there are shafts of light. Right out beyond the fields, there are Lancashire’s most remote farms, a café or two, people sitting in their cars staring out and – a surprise, this – an abundance of residential caravan sites. On the edge of nowhere. At one, a chap was watering a herbaceous border. The vast bay was feet away. I heard his wife call him in for tea. Natural splendour of international class, and a nice cup of tea: the English truly are unbeatable. • Britain's best seaside hotels "By Silverdale, the coast has sprouted more rocks, rounded hills, little cliffs, thick woodland, drystone walls and the thinnest country lanes of all" Photo: AP/FOTOLIA By Silverdale, the coast has sprouted more rocks, rounded hills, little cliffs, thick woodland, drystone walls and the thinnest country lanes of all. They go up and down and round and round. Farm boys on big tractors could slaughter the tourist trade in an afternoon. There’s an Iron Age fort up on Warton Crag and, out on Jenny Brown’s Point, a terribly isolated chimney whose function no one really knows. The walking is wonderful. The village itself is overcome with stone, flowers and a sense of centuries. Elizabeth Gaskell holidayed and wrote there, but who else has even heard of it? There’s no space here to do justice either to this district or the bay in general. It’s the coast of my home county and, now I’ve been back, I’m as proud as hell. I shall go on talking about it until everyone has been. More from Anthony Peregrine • The Franco-American love-fest • Napoleon or Wellington - who was better? • Why I’m embarrassed to be a non-smoker • The fêtes of our nations: bullfighting or tombola? • The perils of holidaying with friends • Why I love motorways • The joy of dining alone - and why my satnav is the perfect woman
I had driven way out along lanes no straighter than a ram’s horn to Red Bank Farm, at Bolton-le-Sands, near Lancaster. The farm, and its café, were poised at that point where farmland, salt meadows, marshes and incoming tides all met. The many signs were clear: these were lethal surroundings for the stupid. I ordered a coffee, took it outside to the farm garden and asked if I might join a senior lady at her table. “That’s a small coffee,” she said. It was. Finding an espresso here on the rim of the North West was like finding a Scotch egg in Haifa. “Me, I need more volume.” She giggled. We talked. I told her that, though a Lancastrian, I hadn’t been near the Morecambe Bay coast for years. Decades. “I’m awestruck. I’d forgotten the scale. The grandeur.” I had. I’d burst from the high-hedged lanes to immense meadows speckled with sheep, to mud and marshes, a forever sea, and a vast sky which did as it damned well pleased – black cloud to dun hues, then blue and back again, in 10 minutes flat. “It’s stunning,” I said. “Yes,” she said. “It is very nice.” I’d forgotten, also, the Lancastrian way with superlatives. “We often have a run out here.” Then she paused. “Are you sure that coffee’s big enough?” Blackpool is more than just the Big Dipper Credit: Getty The untutored limit the Lancashire coast to Blackpool, Morecambe and other resorts. This is wrong, but it wouldn’t bother me if it were right. These are places you plunge into for raucous experiences. At Blackpool’s Pleasure Beach, the Big One is like going over the Andes in a coal scuttle. A jet-propelled coal scuttle. There are piers and slot machines, award-winning double burger outlets and all-you-can-eat pizza restaurants – for a population that might (Lord knows, it’s none of my business) better profit from a least-you-can-eat salad bar. Popular culture is popular for a reason. There was a three-hour wait for the Big One when I was through. Real popularity, though, sometimes embarrasses clever people within local authorities. In line with contemporary mores, they like to culture up their towns, perhaps by emphasising a Victorian past. Or slotting in sculpture. Or reworking the prom. Some of this looks jolly good, but Lancastrians resist overt gentrification. Theirs – ours – is a meat-pie culture. As one fellow with whom I broached the subject in Cleveleys put it: “B----- the statues, give us the chips.” The ultimate UK bucket list: 29 things to do in your lifetime At the edges, liveliness like that fosters tat. The resorts boast much in the way of glaring signs in orange and yellow (“All items 60p!!”, “All day breakfast! £2.95!!”) and a world-class collection of budget stores smelling jauntily of despair. Fleetwood’s famous market, and that in Morecambe on a Sunday, would dispirit shoppers from Somalia. But it is this uncertainty – the bouncing between acute popularity, attempted culture and the frankly tawdry – that has the resorts keeping calm and carrying on, against the odds, in an intriguing manner. I licked through them at a fair old pace, particularly taken with Cleveleys, where sculptures indeed punctuated the seafront and sands. They’re inspired by characters from a children’s book, The Sea Swallow (Gareth Thompson; Foxtail, £9.99), itself inspired by folk tales from this Fylde coast. The idea is a belter. The artworks – sea swallows atop a beacon, a 13ft sea shell, a sea ogre hiding among groynes and rocks – urge you along the front. It was a terrific walk, even as the wind blew my eyebrows off. Windswept trees on the Lancaster coast Credit: Getty So over the Wyre to Over Wyre. Here the world changes. Lanes drawn by a fellow following cows lead to little-ruffled villages – Pilling, Cockerham – and out to the sense-smacking immensity of the Morecambe Bay seaside. You roll past hedges and cattle-heavy fields, then surge through to the coast, John Denver ceding to Van Morrison. This is huge, outlandish, not just stirring but nourishing. Drive out to Lane Ends – a distant gathering point-cum-picnic area beyond Pilling – park, walk and tell me I’m wrong. Outside the old farms and village centres, folk have reacted to the elemental power with bungalows, semis and other bits from suburbia. This is the British way. We don’t go bonkers. We settle down. And certainly, in Hambleton, many will require “Woof ’n’ Puss Pet Supplies”. I now skipped to the Lune estuary. Overton is the last, stone-built, outpost before the mile-long causeway to Sunderland Point. The causeway crosses marsh, mudflats and channels which fill up at high tide, overspilling to flood the road and ambush motorists. I really needed a tide table. A sign in the Overton car park indicated such was available at the village’s Globe pub. “Nah, sorry, love. Not here.” I set out anyway, taking my mind off watery death by trying to spot the heavily advertised wading birds. I’d got right across and parked up on the beach stones and had seen nothing but a dunlin. Or it could have been a chicken. Ornithology is not my strong suit. Around the corner, Trevor Owen and his team were coming ashore, across the mud from little boats, with two sackfuls of salmon. Sundered from land, the semi-island of Sunderland Point is about a mile by a half-mile. Some 67 people live there, in 35 houses – mainly drawn up in two distinguished seafront terraces. It’s been a proper little port, home to ship owners, sea captains, farmers and Sambo, a black fellow who may or may not have been a slave. He died there in 1736; his grave has been honoured since. Then there are the fishermen. Or there were. Trevor, 69, is among the last. Certainly his wife, Margaret, 63, is the last fisherwoman. This may be because young ladies no longer consider standing up to their chests in estuary water, wielding a 13ft haaf net, an attractive career option. Sunderland Point at dusk Credit: ©2630ben - stock.adobe.com At different seasons, the Owens fish shrimp, cockles, whitebait, bass – and sprats for the sea lions at Blackpool Zoo. Their activity is tenaciously regulated. Margaret fights the more formidable idiocies of officialdom. Trevor plays in blues bands. You think you’re at the end of the world, but you’re right in the middle of theirs. “Visitors? We love them,” cried Margaret. I hopped back to the car and beat the tide, easy. Heysham has the advantage of being one of the few places around Morecambe Bay from where, if you’re smart, you can’t see Heysham power station. I’ve nothing against power stations, would be lost without them, but they don’t embellish a coast. Up on the headland, there are heath, wind, rocks and a sense of eternity. The distant Lakeland fells make things perfect. What’s left of the wrecked, eighth-century St Patrick’s chapel stands stout near older rock-hewn graves. “The scale of the bay has always inspired spiritual reflection,” said Susannah Bleakley of the Morecambe Bay Partnership. Vikings worshipped Norse gods here. The coast is punctuated with barrows, chapels, nunneries – and Black Sabbath fans seeking the rock-hewn graves: they’re on the cover of the band’s 2000 Best Of album. Down below, Heysham village is Miss-Marple-by-the-Sea, a delight distinguished by native nettle tea, which I have drunk once and probably shan’t again. Beyond is Morecambe and, beyond that, Hest Bank and Bolton-le-Sands, where windsurfers dart about like dragonflies on a gunmetal sea sheened silver where there are shafts of light. Right out beyond the fields, there are Lancashire’s most remote farms, a café or two, people sitting in their cars staring out and – a surprise, this – an abundance of residential caravan sites. On the edge of nowhere. At one, a chap was watering a herbaceous border. The vast bay was feet away. I heard his wife call him in for tea. Natural splendour of international class, and a nice cup of tea: the English truly are unbeatable. Britain's 40 best beaches – according to our experts By Silverdale, the coast has sprouted more rocks, rounded hills, little cliffs, thick woodland, drystone walls and the thinnest country lanes of all. They go up and down and round and round. Farm boys on big tractors could slaughter the tourist trade in an afternoon. There’s an Iron Age fort up on Warton Crag and, out on Jenny Brown’s Point, a terribly isolated chimney whose function no one really knows. The walking is wonderful. The village itself is overcome with stone, flowers and a sense of centuries. Elizabeth Gaskell holidayed and wrote there, but who else has even heard of it? There’s no space here to do justice either to this district or the bay in general. It’s the coast of my home county and, now I’ve been back, I’m as proud as hell. I shall go on talking about it until everyone has been. The essentials Where to stay The Cartford Inn, in Little Eccleston, is the most beguiling gastro-pub-hotel in Lancashire – run by a Lancastrian from, um, Bordeaux (01995 670166, thecartfordinn.co.uk); b&b doubles from £100. As a base for the north of the area, head for Hipping Hall at Cowan Bridge, whose restaurant will shortly be harvesting Michelin stars (0152 427 1187; hippinghall.com); b&b doubles from £179. Cycling there Morecambe Bay Partnership has inaugurated an 80-mile cycleway from Barrow to Glasson Dock and are creating map-guides for walking and cycling under the heading Seldom Seen (morecambebay.org.uk). More details visitlancashire.com More from Anthony Peregrine • The Franco-American love-fest • Napoleon or Wellington - who was better? • Why I’m embarrassed to be a non-smoker • The fêtes of our nations: bullfighting or tombola? • The perils of holidaying with friends • Why I love motorways • The joy of dining alone - and why my satnav is the perfect woman I had driven way out along lanes no straighter than a ram’s horn to Red Bank Farm, at Bolton-le-Sands, near Lancaster. The farm, and its café, were poised at that point where farmland, salt meadows, marshes and incoming tides all met. The many signs were clear: these were lethal surroundings for the stupid. I ordered a coffee, took it outside to the farm garden and asked if I might join a senior lady at her table. “That’s a small coffee,” she said. It was. Finding an espresso here on the rim of the North West was like finding a Scotch egg in Haifa. “Me, I need more volume.” She giggled. We talked. "Finding an espresso here on the rim of the North West was like finding a Scotch egg in Haifa" I told her that, though a Lancastrian, I hadn’t been near the Morecambe Bay coast for years. Decades. “I’m awestruck. I’d forgotten the scale. The grandeur.” I had. I’d burst from the high-hedged lanes to immense meadows speckled with sheep, to mud and marshes, a forever sea, and a vast sky which did as it damned well pleased – black cloud to dun hues, then blue and back again, in 10 minutes flat. “It’s stunning,” I said. “Yes,” she said. “It is very nice.” I’d forgotten, also, the Lancastrian way with superlatives. “We often have a run out here.” Then she paused. “Are you sure that coffee’s big enough?” The untutored limit the Lancashire coast to Blackpool, Morecambe and other resorts. This is wrong, but it wouldn’t bother me if it were right. These are places you plunge into for raucous experiences. At Blackpool’s Pleasure Beach, the Big One is like going over the Andes in a coal scuttle. A jet-propelled coal scuttle. There are piers and slot machines, award-winning double burger outlets and all-you-can-eat pizza restaurants – for a population that might (Lord knows, it’s none of my business) better profit from a least-you-can-eat salad bar. Popular culture is popular for a reason. There was a three-hour wait for the Big One when I was through. • Would you take your family to Blackpool? At Blackpool?s Pleasure Beach, the Big One is like going over the Andes in a coal scuttle Photo: AP/FOTOLIA Real popularity, though, sometimes embarrasses clever people within local authorities. In line with contemporary mores, they like to culture up their towns, perhaps by emphasising a Victorian past. Or slotting in sculpture. Or reworking the prom. Some of this looks jolly good, but Lancastrians resist overt gentrification. Theirs – ours – is a meat-pie culture. As one fellow with whom I broached the subject in Cleveleys put it: “B----- the statues, give us the chips.” At the edges, liveliness like that fosters tat. The resorts boast much in the way of glaring signs in orange and yellow (“All items 60p!!”, “All day breakfast! £2.95!!”) and a world-class collection of budget stores smelling jauntily of despair. Fleetwood’s famous market, and that in Morecambe on a Sunday, would dispirit shoppers from Somalia. But it is this uncertainty – the bouncing between acute popularity, attempted culture and the frankly tawdry – that has the resorts keeping calm and carrying on, against the odds, in an intriguing manner. "Fleetwood’s famous market, and that in Morecambe on a Sunday, would dispirit shoppers from Somalia" I licked through them at a fair old pace, particularly taken with Cleveleys, where sculptures indeed punctuated the seafront and sands. They’re inspired by characters from a children’s book, The Sea Swallow (Gareth Thompson; Foxtail, £9.99), itself inspired by folk tales from this Fylde coast. The idea is a belter. The artworks – sea swallows atop a beacon, a 13ft sea shell, a sea ogre hiding among groynes and rocks – urge you along the front. It was a terrific walk, even as the wind blew my eyebrows off. So over the Wyre to Over Wyre. Here the world changes. Lanes drawn by a fellow following cows lead to little-ruffled villages – Pilling, Cockerham – and out to the sense-smacking immensity of the Morecambe Bay seaside. You roll past hedges and cattle-heavy fields, then surge through to the coast, John Denver ceding to Van Morrison. This is huge, outlandish, not just stirring but nourishing. Drive out to Lane Ends – a distant gathering point-cum-picnic area beyond Pilling – park, walk and tell me I’m wrong. Outside the old farms and village centres, folk have reacted to the elemental power with bungalows, semis and other bits from suburbia. This is the British way. We don’t go bonkers. We settle down. And certainly, in Hambleton, many will require “Woof ’n’ Puss Pet Supplies”. • Midland Hotel, Morecambe: review • Lancaster: 10 reasons to visit I now skipped to the Lune estuary. Overton is the last, stone-built, outpost before the mile-long causeway to Sunderland Point. The causeway crosses marsh, mudflats and channels which fill up at high tide, overspilling to flood the road and ambush motorists. I really needed a tide table. A sign in the Overton car park indicated such was available at the village’s Globe pub. “Nah, sorry, love. Not here.” I set out anyway, taking my mind off watery death by trying to spot the heavily advertised wading birds. I’d got right across and parked up on the beach stones and had seen nothing but a dunlin. Or it could have been a chicken. Ornithology is not my strong suit. Around the corner, Trevor Owen and his team were coming ashore, across the mud from little boats, with two sackfuls of salmon. The coast near Heysham: "Heysham village is Miss-Marple-by-the-Sea, a delight distinguished by native nettle tea, which I have drunk once and probably shan?t again" Photo: AP/FOTOLIA Sundered from land, the semi-island of Sunderland Point is about a mile by a half-mile. Some 67 people live there, in 35 houses – mainly drawn up in two distinguished seafront terraces. It’s been a proper little port, home to ship owners, sea captains, farmers and Sambo, a black fellow who may or may not have been a slave. He died there in 1736; his grave has been honoured since. Then there are the fishermen. Or there were. Trevor, 69, is among the last. Certainly his wife, Margaret, 63, is the last fisherwoman. This may be because young ladies no longer consider standing up to their chests in estuary water, wielding a 13ft haaf net, an attractive career option. At different seasons, the Owens fish shrimp, cockles, whitebait, bass – and sprats for the sea lions at Blackpool Zoo. Their activity is tenaciously regulated. Margaret fights the more formidable idiocies of officialdom. Trevor plays in blues bands. You think you’re at the end of the world, but you’re right in the middle of theirs. “Visitors? We love them,” cried Margaret. I hopped back to the car and beat the tide, easy. Heysham has the advantage of being one of the few places around Morecambe Bay from where, if you’re smart, you can’t see Heysham power station. I’ve nothing against power stations, would be lost without them, but they don’t embellish a coast. Up on the headland, there are heath, wind, rocks and a sense of eternity. The distant Lakeland fells make things perfect. What’s left of the wrecked, eighth-century St Patrick’s chapel stands stout near older rock-hewn graves. “The scale of the bay has always inspired spiritual reflection,” said Susannah Bleakley of the Morecambe Bay Partnership. Vikings worshipped Norse gods here. The coast is punctuated with barrows, chapels, nunneries – and Black Sabbath fans seeking the rock-hewn graves: they’re on the cover of the band’s 2000 Best Of album. Down below, Heysham village is Miss-Marple-by-the-Sea, a delight distinguished by native nettle tea, which I have drunk once and probably shan’t again. Beyond is Morecambe and, beyond that, Hest Bank and Bolton-le-Sands, where windsurfers dart about like dragonflies on a gunmetal sea sheened silver where there are shafts of light. Right out beyond the fields, there are Lancashire’s most remote farms, a café or two, people sitting in their cars staring out and – a surprise, this – an abundance of residential caravan sites. On the edge of nowhere. At one, a chap was watering a herbaceous border. The vast bay was feet away. I heard his wife call him in for tea. Natural splendour of international class, and a nice cup of tea: the English truly are unbeatable. • Britain's best seaside hotels "By Silverdale, the coast has sprouted more rocks, rounded hills, little cliffs, thick woodland, drystone walls and the thinnest country lanes of all" Photo: AP/FOTOLIA By Silverdale, the coast has sprouted more rocks, rounded hills, little cliffs, thick woodland, drystone walls and the thinnest country lanes of all. They go up and down and round and round. Farm boys on big tractors could slaughter the tourist trade in an afternoon. There’s an Iron Age fort up on Warton Crag and, out on Jenny Brown’s Point, a terribly isolated chimney whose function no one really knows. The walking is wonderful. The village itself is overcome with stone, flowers and a sense of centuries. Elizabeth Gaskell holidayed and wrote there, but who else has even heard of it? There’s no space here to do justice either to this district or the bay in general. It’s the coast of my home county and, now I’ve been back, I’m as proud as hell. I shall go on talking about it until everyone has been. More from Anthony Peregrine • The Franco-American love-fest • Napoleon or Wellington - who was better? • Why I’m embarrassed to be a non-smoker • The fêtes of our nations: bullfighting or tombola? • The perils of holidaying with friends • Why I love motorways • The joy of dining alone - and why my satnav is the perfect woman
Is the north-west Britain's most underrated coastline?
I had driven way out along lanes no straighter than a ram’s horn to Red Bank Farm, at Bolton-le-Sands, near Lancaster. The farm, and its café, were poised at that point where farmland, salt meadows, marshes and incoming tides all met. The many signs were clear: these were lethal surroundings for the stupid. I ordered a coffee, took it outside to the farm garden and asked if I might join a senior lady at her table. “That’s a small coffee,” she said. It was. Finding an espresso here on the rim of the North West was like finding a Scotch egg in Haifa. “Me, I need more volume.” She giggled. We talked. I told her that, though a Lancastrian, I hadn’t been near the Morecambe Bay coast for years. Decades. “I’m awestruck. I’d forgotten the scale. The grandeur.” I had. I’d burst from the high-hedged lanes to immense meadows speckled with sheep, to mud and marshes, a forever sea, and a vast sky which did as it damned well pleased – black cloud to dun hues, then blue and back again, in 10 minutes flat. “It’s stunning,” I said. “Yes,” she said. “It is very nice.” I’d forgotten, also, the Lancastrian way with superlatives. “We often have a run out here.” Then she paused. “Are you sure that coffee’s big enough?” Blackpool is more than just the Big Dipper Credit: Getty The untutored limit the Lancashire coast to Blackpool, Morecambe and other resorts. This is wrong, but it wouldn’t bother me if it were right. These are places you plunge into for raucous experiences. At Blackpool’s Pleasure Beach, the Big One is like going over the Andes in a coal scuttle. A jet-propelled coal scuttle. There are piers and slot machines, award-winning double burger outlets and all-you-can-eat pizza restaurants – for a population that might (Lord knows, it’s none of my business) better profit from a least-you-can-eat salad bar. Popular culture is popular for a reason. There was a three-hour wait for the Big One when I was through. Real popularity, though, sometimes embarrasses clever people within local authorities. In line with contemporary mores, they like to culture up their towns, perhaps by emphasising a Victorian past. Or slotting in sculpture. Or reworking the prom. Some of this looks jolly good, but Lancastrians resist overt gentrification. Theirs – ours – is a meat-pie culture. As one fellow with whom I broached the subject in Cleveleys put it: “B----- the statues, give us the chips.” The ultimate UK bucket list: 29 things to do in your lifetime At the edges, liveliness like that fosters tat. The resorts boast much in the way of glaring signs in orange and yellow (“All items 60p!!”, “All day breakfast! £2.95!!”) and a world-class collection of budget stores smelling jauntily of despair. Fleetwood’s famous market, and that in Morecambe on a Sunday, would dispirit shoppers from Somalia. But it is this uncertainty – the bouncing between acute popularity, attempted culture and the frankly tawdry – that has the resorts keeping calm and carrying on, against the odds, in an intriguing manner. I licked through them at a fair old pace, particularly taken with Cleveleys, where sculptures indeed punctuated the seafront and sands. They’re inspired by characters from a children’s book, The Sea Swallow (Gareth Thompson; Foxtail, £9.99), itself inspired by folk tales from this Fylde coast. The idea is a belter. The artworks – sea swallows atop a beacon, a 13ft sea shell, a sea ogre hiding among groynes and rocks – urge you along the front. It was a terrific walk, even as the wind blew my eyebrows off. Windswept trees on the Lancaster coast Credit: Getty So over the Wyre to Over Wyre. Here the world changes. Lanes drawn by a fellow following cows lead to little-ruffled villages – Pilling, Cockerham – and out to the sense-smacking immensity of the Morecambe Bay seaside. You roll past hedges and cattle-heavy fields, then surge through to the coast, John Denver ceding to Van Morrison. This is huge, outlandish, not just stirring but nourishing. Drive out to Lane Ends – a distant gathering point-cum-picnic area beyond Pilling – park, walk and tell me I’m wrong. Outside the old farms and village centres, folk have reacted to the elemental power with bungalows, semis and other bits from suburbia. This is the British way. We don’t go bonkers. We settle down. And certainly, in Hambleton, many will require “Woof ’n’ Puss Pet Supplies”. I now skipped to the Lune estuary. Overton is the last, stone-built, outpost before the mile-long causeway to Sunderland Point. The causeway crosses marsh, mudflats and channels which fill up at high tide, overspilling to flood the road and ambush motorists. I really needed a tide table. A sign in the Overton car park indicated such was available at the village’s Globe pub. “Nah, sorry, love. Not here.” I set out anyway, taking my mind off watery death by trying to spot the heavily advertised wading birds. I’d got right across and parked up on the beach stones and had seen nothing but a dunlin. Or it could have been a chicken. Ornithology is not my strong suit. Around the corner, Trevor Owen and his team were coming ashore, across the mud from little boats, with two sackfuls of salmon. Sundered from land, the semi-island of Sunderland Point is about a mile by a half-mile. Some 67 people live there, in 35 houses – mainly drawn up in two distinguished seafront terraces. It’s been a proper little port, home to ship owners, sea captains, farmers and Sambo, a black fellow who may or may not have been a slave. He died there in 1736; his grave has been honoured since. Then there are the fishermen. Or there were. Trevor, 69, is among the last. Certainly his wife, Margaret, 63, is the last fisherwoman. This may be because young ladies no longer consider standing up to their chests in estuary water, wielding a 13ft haaf net, an attractive career option. Sunderland Point at dusk Credit: ©2630ben - stock.adobe.com At different seasons, the Owens fish shrimp, cockles, whitebait, bass – and sprats for the sea lions at Blackpool Zoo. Their activity is tenaciously regulated. Margaret fights the more formidable idiocies of officialdom. Trevor plays in blues bands. You think you’re at the end of the world, but you’re right in the middle of theirs. “Visitors? We love them,” cried Margaret. I hopped back to the car and beat the tide, easy. Heysham has the advantage of being one of the few places around Morecambe Bay from where, if you’re smart, you can’t see Heysham power station. I’ve nothing against power stations, would be lost without them, but they don’t embellish a coast. Up on the headland, there are heath, wind, rocks and a sense of eternity. The distant Lakeland fells make things perfect. What’s left of the wrecked, eighth-century St Patrick’s chapel stands stout near older rock-hewn graves. “The scale of the bay has always inspired spiritual reflection,” said Susannah Bleakley of the Morecambe Bay Partnership. Vikings worshipped Norse gods here. The coast is punctuated with barrows, chapels, nunneries – and Black Sabbath fans seeking the rock-hewn graves: they’re on the cover of the band’s 2000 Best Of album. Down below, Heysham village is Miss-Marple-by-the-Sea, a delight distinguished by native nettle tea, which I have drunk once and probably shan’t again. Beyond is Morecambe and, beyond that, Hest Bank and Bolton-le-Sands, where windsurfers dart about like dragonflies on a gunmetal sea sheened silver where there are shafts of light. Right out beyond the fields, there are Lancashire’s most remote farms, a café or two, people sitting in their cars staring out and – a surprise, this – an abundance of residential caravan sites. On the edge of nowhere. At one, a chap was watering a herbaceous border. The vast bay was feet away. I heard his wife call him in for tea. Natural splendour of international class, and a nice cup of tea: the English truly are unbeatable. Britain's 40 best beaches – according to our experts By Silverdale, the coast has sprouted more rocks, rounded hills, little cliffs, thick woodland, drystone walls and the thinnest country lanes of all. They go up and down and round and round. Farm boys on big tractors could slaughter the tourist trade in an afternoon. There’s an Iron Age fort up on Warton Crag and, out on Jenny Brown’s Point, a terribly isolated chimney whose function no one really knows. The walking is wonderful. The village itself is overcome with stone, flowers and a sense of centuries. Elizabeth Gaskell holidayed and wrote there, but who else has even heard of it? There’s no space here to do justice either to this district or the bay in general. It’s the coast of my home county and, now I’ve been back, I’m as proud as hell. I shall go on talking about it until everyone has been. The essentials Where to stay The Cartford Inn, in Little Eccleston, is the most beguiling gastro-pub-hotel in Lancashire – run by a Lancastrian from, um, Bordeaux (01995 670166, thecartfordinn.co.uk); b&b doubles from £100. As a base for the north of the area, head for Hipping Hall at Cowan Bridge, whose restaurant will shortly be harvesting Michelin stars (0152 427 1187; hippinghall.com); b&b doubles from £179. Cycling there Morecambe Bay Partnership has inaugurated an 80-mile cycleway from Barrow to Glasson Dock and are creating map-guides for walking and cycling under the heading Seldom Seen (morecambebay.org.uk). More details visitlancashire.com More from Anthony Peregrine • The Franco-American love-fest • Napoleon or Wellington - who was better? • Why I’m embarrassed to be a non-smoker • The fêtes of our nations: bullfighting or tombola? • The perils of holidaying with friends • Why I love motorways • The joy of dining alone - and why my satnav is the perfect woman I had driven way out along lanes no straighter than a ram’s horn to Red Bank Farm, at Bolton-le-Sands, near Lancaster. The farm, and its café, were poised at that point where farmland, salt meadows, marshes and incoming tides all met. The many signs were clear: these were lethal surroundings for the stupid. I ordered a coffee, took it outside to the farm garden and asked if I might join a senior lady at her table. “That’s a small coffee,” she said. It was. Finding an espresso here on the rim of the North West was like finding a Scotch egg in Haifa. “Me, I need more volume.” She giggled. We talked. "Finding an espresso here on the rim of the North West was like finding a Scotch egg in Haifa" I told her that, though a Lancastrian, I hadn’t been near the Morecambe Bay coast for years. Decades. “I’m awestruck. I’d forgotten the scale. The grandeur.” I had. I’d burst from the high-hedged lanes to immense meadows speckled with sheep, to mud and marshes, a forever sea, and a vast sky which did as it damned well pleased – black cloud to dun hues, then blue and back again, in 10 minutes flat. “It’s stunning,” I said. “Yes,” she said. “It is very nice.” I’d forgotten, also, the Lancastrian way with superlatives. “We often have a run out here.” Then she paused. “Are you sure that coffee’s big enough?” The untutored limit the Lancashire coast to Blackpool, Morecambe and other resorts. This is wrong, but it wouldn’t bother me if it were right. These are places you plunge into for raucous experiences. At Blackpool’s Pleasure Beach, the Big One is like going over the Andes in a coal scuttle. A jet-propelled coal scuttle. There are piers and slot machines, award-winning double burger outlets and all-you-can-eat pizza restaurants – for a population that might (Lord knows, it’s none of my business) better profit from a least-you-can-eat salad bar. Popular culture is popular for a reason. There was a three-hour wait for the Big One when I was through. • Would you take your family to Blackpool? At Blackpool?s Pleasure Beach, the Big One is like going over the Andes in a coal scuttle Photo: AP/FOTOLIA Real popularity, though, sometimes embarrasses clever people within local authorities. In line with contemporary mores, they like to culture up their towns, perhaps by emphasising a Victorian past. Or slotting in sculpture. Or reworking the prom. Some of this looks jolly good, but Lancastrians resist overt gentrification. Theirs – ours – is a meat-pie culture. As one fellow with whom I broached the subject in Cleveleys put it: “B----- the statues, give us the chips.” At the edges, liveliness like that fosters tat. The resorts boast much in the way of glaring signs in orange and yellow (“All items 60p!!”, “All day breakfast! £2.95!!”) and a world-class collection of budget stores smelling jauntily of despair. Fleetwood’s famous market, and that in Morecambe on a Sunday, would dispirit shoppers from Somalia. But it is this uncertainty – the bouncing between acute popularity, attempted culture and the frankly tawdry – that has the resorts keeping calm and carrying on, against the odds, in an intriguing manner. "Fleetwood’s famous market, and that in Morecambe on a Sunday, would dispirit shoppers from Somalia" I licked through them at a fair old pace, particularly taken with Cleveleys, where sculptures indeed punctuated the seafront and sands. They’re inspired by characters from a children’s book, The Sea Swallow (Gareth Thompson; Foxtail, £9.99), itself inspired by folk tales from this Fylde coast. The idea is a belter. The artworks – sea swallows atop a beacon, a 13ft sea shell, a sea ogre hiding among groynes and rocks – urge you along the front. It was a terrific walk, even as the wind blew my eyebrows off. So over the Wyre to Over Wyre. Here the world changes. Lanes drawn by a fellow following cows lead to little-ruffled villages – Pilling, Cockerham – and out to the sense-smacking immensity of the Morecambe Bay seaside. You roll past hedges and cattle-heavy fields, then surge through to the coast, John Denver ceding to Van Morrison. This is huge, outlandish, not just stirring but nourishing. Drive out to Lane Ends – a distant gathering point-cum-picnic area beyond Pilling – park, walk and tell me I’m wrong. Outside the old farms and village centres, folk have reacted to the elemental power with bungalows, semis and other bits from suburbia. This is the British way. We don’t go bonkers. We settle down. And certainly, in Hambleton, many will require “Woof ’n’ Puss Pet Supplies”. • Midland Hotel, Morecambe: review • Lancaster: 10 reasons to visit I now skipped to the Lune estuary. Overton is the last, stone-built, outpost before the mile-long causeway to Sunderland Point. The causeway crosses marsh, mudflats and channels which fill up at high tide, overspilling to flood the road and ambush motorists. I really needed a tide table. A sign in the Overton car park indicated such was available at the village’s Globe pub. “Nah, sorry, love. Not here.” I set out anyway, taking my mind off watery death by trying to spot the heavily advertised wading birds. I’d got right across and parked up on the beach stones and had seen nothing but a dunlin. Or it could have been a chicken. Ornithology is not my strong suit. Around the corner, Trevor Owen and his team were coming ashore, across the mud from little boats, with two sackfuls of salmon. The coast near Heysham: "Heysham village is Miss-Marple-by-the-Sea, a delight distinguished by native nettle tea, which I have drunk once and probably shan?t again" Photo: AP/FOTOLIA Sundered from land, the semi-island of Sunderland Point is about a mile by a half-mile. Some 67 people live there, in 35 houses – mainly drawn up in two distinguished seafront terraces. It’s been a proper little port, home to ship owners, sea captains, farmers and Sambo, a black fellow who may or may not have been a slave. He died there in 1736; his grave has been honoured since. Then there are the fishermen. Or there were. Trevor, 69, is among the last. Certainly his wife, Margaret, 63, is the last fisherwoman. This may be because young ladies no longer consider standing up to their chests in estuary water, wielding a 13ft haaf net, an attractive career option. At different seasons, the Owens fish shrimp, cockles, whitebait, bass – and sprats for the sea lions at Blackpool Zoo. Their activity is tenaciously regulated. Margaret fights the more formidable idiocies of officialdom. Trevor plays in blues bands. You think you’re at the end of the world, but you’re right in the middle of theirs. “Visitors? We love them,” cried Margaret. I hopped back to the car and beat the tide, easy. Heysham has the advantage of being one of the few places around Morecambe Bay from where, if you’re smart, you can’t see Heysham power station. I’ve nothing against power stations, would be lost without them, but they don’t embellish a coast. Up on the headland, there are heath, wind, rocks and a sense of eternity. The distant Lakeland fells make things perfect. What’s left of the wrecked, eighth-century St Patrick’s chapel stands stout near older rock-hewn graves. “The scale of the bay has always inspired spiritual reflection,” said Susannah Bleakley of the Morecambe Bay Partnership. Vikings worshipped Norse gods here. The coast is punctuated with barrows, chapels, nunneries – and Black Sabbath fans seeking the rock-hewn graves: they’re on the cover of the band’s 2000 Best Of album. Down below, Heysham village is Miss-Marple-by-the-Sea, a delight distinguished by native nettle tea, which I have drunk once and probably shan’t again. Beyond is Morecambe and, beyond that, Hest Bank and Bolton-le-Sands, where windsurfers dart about like dragonflies on a gunmetal sea sheened silver where there are shafts of light. Right out beyond the fields, there are Lancashire’s most remote farms, a café or two, people sitting in their cars staring out and – a surprise, this – an abundance of residential caravan sites. On the edge of nowhere. At one, a chap was watering a herbaceous border. The vast bay was feet away. I heard his wife call him in for tea. Natural splendour of international class, and a nice cup of tea: the English truly are unbeatable. • Britain's best seaside hotels "By Silverdale, the coast has sprouted more rocks, rounded hills, little cliffs, thick woodland, drystone walls and the thinnest country lanes of all" Photo: AP/FOTOLIA By Silverdale, the coast has sprouted more rocks, rounded hills, little cliffs, thick woodland, drystone walls and the thinnest country lanes of all. They go up and down and round and round. Farm boys on big tractors could slaughter the tourist trade in an afternoon. There’s an Iron Age fort up on Warton Crag and, out on Jenny Brown’s Point, a terribly isolated chimney whose function no one really knows. The walking is wonderful. The village itself is overcome with stone, flowers and a sense of centuries. Elizabeth Gaskell holidayed and wrote there, but who else has even heard of it? There’s no space here to do justice either to this district or the bay in general. It’s the coast of my home county and, now I’ve been back, I’m as proud as hell. I shall go on talking about it until everyone has been. More from Anthony Peregrine • The Franco-American love-fest • Napoleon or Wellington - who was better? • Why I’m embarrassed to be a non-smoker • The fêtes of our nations: bullfighting or tombola? • The perils of holidaying with friends • Why I love motorways • The joy of dining alone - and why my satnav is the perfect woman
I had driven way out along lanes no straighter than a ram’s horn to Red Bank Farm, at Bolton-le-Sands, near Lancaster. The farm, and its café, were poised at that point where farmland, salt meadows, marshes and incoming tides all met. The many signs were clear: these were lethal surroundings for the stupid. I ordered a coffee, took it outside to the farm garden and asked if I might join a senior lady at her table. “That’s a small coffee,” she said. It was. Finding an espresso here on the rim of the North West was like finding a Scotch egg in Haifa. “Me, I need more volume.” She giggled. We talked. I told her that, though a Lancastrian, I hadn’t been near the Morecambe Bay coast for years. Decades. “I’m awestruck. I’d forgotten the scale. The grandeur.” I had. I’d burst from the high-hedged lanes to immense meadows speckled with sheep, to mud and marshes, a forever sea, and a vast sky which did as it damned well pleased – black cloud to dun hues, then blue and back again, in 10 minutes flat. “It’s stunning,” I said. “Yes,” she said. “It is very nice.” I’d forgotten, also, the Lancastrian way with superlatives. “We often have a run out here.” Then she paused. “Are you sure that coffee’s big enough?” Blackpool is more than just the Big Dipper Credit: Getty The untutored limit the Lancashire coast to Blackpool, Morecambe and other resorts. This is wrong, but it wouldn’t bother me if it were right. These are places you plunge into for raucous experiences. At Blackpool’s Pleasure Beach, the Big One is like going over the Andes in a coal scuttle. A jet-propelled coal scuttle. There are piers and slot machines, award-winning double burger outlets and all-you-can-eat pizza restaurants – for a population that might (Lord knows, it’s none of my business) better profit from a least-you-can-eat salad bar. Popular culture is popular for a reason. There was a three-hour wait for the Big One when I was through. Real popularity, though, sometimes embarrasses clever people within local authorities. In line with contemporary mores, they like to culture up their towns, perhaps by emphasising a Victorian past. Or slotting in sculpture. Or reworking the prom. Some of this looks jolly good, but Lancastrians resist overt gentrification. Theirs – ours – is a meat-pie culture. As one fellow with whom I broached the subject in Cleveleys put it: “B----- the statues, give us the chips.” The ultimate UK bucket list: 29 things to do in your lifetime At the edges, liveliness like that fosters tat. The resorts boast much in the way of glaring signs in orange and yellow (“All items 60p!!”, “All day breakfast! £2.95!!”) and a world-class collection of budget stores smelling jauntily of despair. Fleetwood’s famous market, and that in Morecambe on a Sunday, would dispirit shoppers from Somalia. But it is this uncertainty – the bouncing between acute popularity, attempted culture and the frankly tawdry – that has the resorts keeping calm and carrying on, against the odds, in an intriguing manner. I licked through them at a fair old pace, particularly taken with Cleveleys, where sculptures indeed punctuated the seafront and sands. They’re inspired by characters from a children’s book, The Sea Swallow (Gareth Thompson; Foxtail, £9.99), itself inspired by folk tales from this Fylde coast. The idea is a belter. The artworks – sea swallows atop a beacon, a 13ft sea shell, a sea ogre hiding among groynes and rocks – urge you along the front. It was a terrific walk, even as the wind blew my eyebrows off. Windswept trees on the Lancaster coast Credit: Getty So over the Wyre to Over Wyre. Here the world changes. Lanes drawn by a fellow following cows lead to little-ruffled villages – Pilling, Cockerham – and out to the sense-smacking immensity of the Morecambe Bay seaside. You roll past hedges and cattle-heavy fields, then surge through to the coast, John Denver ceding to Van Morrison. This is huge, outlandish, not just stirring but nourishing. Drive out to Lane Ends – a distant gathering point-cum-picnic area beyond Pilling – park, walk and tell me I’m wrong. Outside the old farms and village centres, folk have reacted to the elemental power with bungalows, semis and other bits from suburbia. This is the British way. We don’t go bonkers. We settle down. And certainly, in Hambleton, many will require “Woof ’n’ Puss Pet Supplies”. I now skipped to the Lune estuary. Overton is the last, stone-built, outpost before the mile-long causeway to Sunderland Point. The causeway crosses marsh, mudflats and channels which fill up at high tide, overspilling to flood the road and ambush motorists. I really needed a tide table. A sign in the Overton car park indicated such was available at the village’s Globe pub. “Nah, sorry, love. Not here.” I set out anyway, taking my mind off watery death by trying to spot the heavily advertised wading birds. I’d got right across and parked up on the beach stones and had seen nothing but a dunlin. Or it could have been a chicken. Ornithology is not my strong suit. Around the corner, Trevor Owen and his team were coming ashore, across the mud from little boats, with two sackfuls of salmon. Sundered from land, the semi-island of Sunderland Point is about a mile by a half-mile. Some 67 people live there, in 35 houses – mainly drawn up in two distinguished seafront terraces. It’s been a proper little port, home to ship owners, sea captains, farmers and Sambo, a black fellow who may or may not have been a slave. He died there in 1736; his grave has been honoured since. Then there are the fishermen. Or there were. Trevor, 69, is among the last. Certainly his wife, Margaret, 63, is the last fisherwoman. This may be because young ladies no longer consider standing up to their chests in estuary water, wielding a 13ft haaf net, an attractive career option. Sunderland Point at dusk Credit: ©2630ben - stock.adobe.com At different seasons, the Owens fish shrimp, cockles, whitebait, bass – and sprats for the sea lions at Blackpool Zoo. Their activity is tenaciously regulated. Margaret fights the more formidable idiocies of officialdom. Trevor plays in blues bands. You think you’re at the end of the world, but you’re right in the middle of theirs. “Visitors? We love them,” cried Margaret. I hopped back to the car and beat the tide, easy. Heysham has the advantage of being one of the few places around Morecambe Bay from where, if you’re smart, you can’t see Heysham power station. I’ve nothing against power stations, would be lost without them, but they don’t embellish a coast. Up on the headland, there are heath, wind, rocks and a sense of eternity. The distant Lakeland fells make things perfect. What’s left of the wrecked, eighth-century St Patrick’s chapel stands stout near older rock-hewn graves. “The scale of the bay has always inspired spiritual reflection,” said Susannah Bleakley of the Morecambe Bay Partnership. Vikings worshipped Norse gods here. The coast is punctuated with barrows, chapels, nunneries – and Black Sabbath fans seeking the rock-hewn graves: they’re on the cover of the band’s 2000 Best Of album. Down below, Heysham village is Miss-Marple-by-the-Sea, a delight distinguished by native nettle tea, which I have drunk once and probably shan’t again. Beyond is Morecambe and, beyond that, Hest Bank and Bolton-le-Sands, where windsurfers dart about like dragonflies on a gunmetal sea sheened silver where there are shafts of light. Right out beyond the fields, there are Lancashire’s most remote farms, a café or two, people sitting in their cars staring out and – a surprise, this – an abundance of residential caravan sites. On the edge of nowhere. At one, a chap was watering a herbaceous border. The vast bay was feet away. I heard his wife call him in for tea. Natural splendour of international class, and a nice cup of tea: the English truly are unbeatable. Britain's 40 best beaches – according to our experts By Silverdale, the coast has sprouted more rocks, rounded hills, little cliffs, thick woodland, drystone walls and the thinnest country lanes of all. They go up and down and round and round. Farm boys on big tractors could slaughter the tourist trade in an afternoon. There’s an Iron Age fort up on Warton Crag and, out on Jenny Brown’s Point, a terribly isolated chimney whose function no one really knows. The walking is wonderful. The village itself is overcome with stone, flowers and a sense of centuries. Elizabeth Gaskell holidayed and wrote there, but who else has even heard of it? There’s no space here to do justice either to this district or the bay in general. It’s the coast of my home county and, now I’ve been back, I’m as proud as hell. I shall go on talking about it until everyone has been. The essentials Where to stay The Cartford Inn, in Little Eccleston, is the most beguiling gastro-pub-hotel in Lancashire – run by a Lancastrian from, um, Bordeaux (01995 670166, thecartfordinn.co.uk); b&b doubles from £100. As a base for the north of the area, head for Hipping Hall at Cowan Bridge, whose restaurant will shortly be harvesting Michelin stars (0152 427 1187; hippinghall.com); b&b doubles from £179. Cycling there Morecambe Bay Partnership has inaugurated an 80-mile cycleway from Barrow to Glasson Dock and are creating map-guides for walking and cycling under the heading Seldom Seen (morecambebay.org.uk). More details visitlancashire.com More from Anthony Peregrine • The Franco-American love-fest • Napoleon or Wellington - who was better? • Why I’m embarrassed to be a non-smoker • The fêtes of our nations: bullfighting or tombola? • The perils of holidaying with friends • Why I love motorways • The joy of dining alone - and why my satnav is the perfect woman I had driven way out along lanes no straighter than a ram’s horn to Red Bank Farm, at Bolton-le-Sands, near Lancaster. The farm, and its café, were poised at that point where farmland, salt meadows, marshes and incoming tides all met. The many signs were clear: these were lethal surroundings for the stupid. I ordered a coffee, took it outside to the farm garden and asked if I might join a senior lady at her table. “That’s a small coffee,” she said. It was. Finding an espresso here on the rim of the North West was like finding a Scotch egg in Haifa. “Me, I need more volume.” She giggled. We talked. "Finding an espresso here on the rim of the North West was like finding a Scotch egg in Haifa" I told her that, though a Lancastrian, I hadn’t been near the Morecambe Bay coast for years. Decades. “I’m awestruck. I’d forgotten the scale. The grandeur.” I had. I’d burst from the high-hedged lanes to immense meadows speckled with sheep, to mud and marshes, a forever sea, and a vast sky which did as it damned well pleased – black cloud to dun hues, then blue and back again, in 10 minutes flat. “It’s stunning,” I said. “Yes,” she said. “It is very nice.” I’d forgotten, also, the Lancastrian way with superlatives. “We often have a run out here.” Then she paused. “Are you sure that coffee’s big enough?” The untutored limit the Lancashire coast to Blackpool, Morecambe and other resorts. This is wrong, but it wouldn’t bother me if it were right. These are places you plunge into for raucous experiences. At Blackpool’s Pleasure Beach, the Big One is like going over the Andes in a coal scuttle. A jet-propelled coal scuttle. There are piers and slot machines, award-winning double burger outlets and all-you-can-eat pizza restaurants – for a population that might (Lord knows, it’s none of my business) better profit from a least-you-can-eat salad bar. Popular culture is popular for a reason. There was a three-hour wait for the Big One when I was through. • Would you take your family to Blackpool? At Blackpool?s Pleasure Beach, the Big One is like going over the Andes in a coal scuttle Photo: AP/FOTOLIA Real popularity, though, sometimes embarrasses clever people within local authorities. In line with contemporary mores, they like to culture up their towns, perhaps by emphasising a Victorian past. Or slotting in sculpture. Or reworking the prom. Some of this looks jolly good, but Lancastrians resist overt gentrification. Theirs – ours – is a meat-pie culture. As one fellow with whom I broached the subject in Cleveleys put it: “B----- the statues, give us the chips.” At the edges, liveliness like that fosters tat. The resorts boast much in the way of glaring signs in orange and yellow (“All items 60p!!”, “All day breakfast! £2.95!!”) and a world-class collection of budget stores smelling jauntily of despair. Fleetwood’s famous market, and that in Morecambe on a Sunday, would dispirit shoppers from Somalia. But it is this uncertainty – the bouncing between acute popularity, attempted culture and the frankly tawdry – that has the resorts keeping calm and carrying on, against the odds, in an intriguing manner. "Fleetwood’s famous market, and that in Morecambe on a Sunday, would dispirit shoppers from Somalia" I licked through them at a fair old pace, particularly taken with Cleveleys, where sculptures indeed punctuated the seafront and sands. They’re inspired by characters from a children’s book, The Sea Swallow (Gareth Thompson; Foxtail, £9.99), itself inspired by folk tales from this Fylde coast. The idea is a belter. The artworks – sea swallows atop a beacon, a 13ft sea shell, a sea ogre hiding among groynes and rocks – urge you along the front. It was a terrific walk, even as the wind blew my eyebrows off. So over the Wyre to Over Wyre. Here the world changes. Lanes drawn by a fellow following cows lead to little-ruffled villages – Pilling, Cockerham – and out to the sense-smacking immensity of the Morecambe Bay seaside. You roll past hedges and cattle-heavy fields, then surge through to the coast, John Denver ceding to Van Morrison. This is huge, outlandish, not just stirring but nourishing. Drive out to Lane Ends – a distant gathering point-cum-picnic area beyond Pilling – park, walk and tell me I’m wrong. Outside the old farms and village centres, folk have reacted to the elemental power with bungalows, semis and other bits from suburbia. This is the British way. We don’t go bonkers. We settle down. And certainly, in Hambleton, many will require “Woof ’n’ Puss Pet Supplies”. • Midland Hotel, Morecambe: review • Lancaster: 10 reasons to visit I now skipped to the Lune estuary. Overton is the last, stone-built, outpost before the mile-long causeway to Sunderland Point. The causeway crosses marsh, mudflats and channels which fill up at high tide, overspilling to flood the road and ambush motorists. I really needed a tide table. A sign in the Overton car park indicated such was available at the village’s Globe pub. “Nah, sorry, love. Not here.” I set out anyway, taking my mind off watery death by trying to spot the heavily advertised wading birds. I’d got right across and parked up on the beach stones and had seen nothing but a dunlin. Or it could have been a chicken. Ornithology is not my strong suit. Around the corner, Trevor Owen and his team were coming ashore, across the mud from little boats, with two sackfuls of salmon. The coast near Heysham: "Heysham village is Miss-Marple-by-the-Sea, a delight distinguished by native nettle tea, which I have drunk once and probably shan?t again" Photo: AP/FOTOLIA Sundered from land, the semi-island of Sunderland Point is about a mile by a half-mile. Some 67 people live there, in 35 houses – mainly drawn up in two distinguished seafront terraces. It’s been a proper little port, home to ship owners, sea captains, farmers and Sambo, a black fellow who may or may not have been a slave. He died there in 1736; his grave has been honoured since. Then there are the fishermen. Or there were. Trevor, 69, is among the last. Certainly his wife, Margaret, 63, is the last fisherwoman. This may be because young ladies no longer consider standing up to their chests in estuary water, wielding a 13ft haaf net, an attractive career option. At different seasons, the Owens fish shrimp, cockles, whitebait, bass – and sprats for the sea lions at Blackpool Zoo. Their activity is tenaciously regulated. Margaret fights the more formidable idiocies of officialdom. Trevor plays in blues bands. You think you’re at the end of the world, but you’re right in the middle of theirs. “Visitors? We love them,” cried Margaret. I hopped back to the car and beat the tide, easy. Heysham has the advantage of being one of the few places around Morecambe Bay from where, if you’re smart, you can’t see Heysham power station. I’ve nothing against power stations, would be lost without them, but they don’t embellish a coast. Up on the headland, there are heath, wind, rocks and a sense of eternity. The distant Lakeland fells make things perfect. What’s left of the wrecked, eighth-century St Patrick’s chapel stands stout near older rock-hewn graves. “The scale of the bay has always inspired spiritual reflection,” said Susannah Bleakley of the Morecambe Bay Partnership. Vikings worshipped Norse gods here. The coast is punctuated with barrows, chapels, nunneries – and Black Sabbath fans seeking the rock-hewn graves: they’re on the cover of the band’s 2000 Best Of album. Down below, Heysham village is Miss-Marple-by-the-Sea, a delight distinguished by native nettle tea, which I have drunk once and probably shan’t again. Beyond is Morecambe and, beyond that, Hest Bank and Bolton-le-Sands, where windsurfers dart about like dragonflies on a gunmetal sea sheened silver where there are shafts of light. Right out beyond the fields, there are Lancashire’s most remote farms, a café or two, people sitting in their cars staring out and – a surprise, this – an abundance of residential caravan sites. On the edge of nowhere. At one, a chap was watering a herbaceous border. The vast bay was feet away. I heard his wife call him in for tea. Natural splendour of international class, and a nice cup of tea: the English truly are unbeatable. • Britain's best seaside hotels "By Silverdale, the coast has sprouted more rocks, rounded hills, little cliffs, thick woodland, drystone walls and the thinnest country lanes of all" Photo: AP/FOTOLIA By Silverdale, the coast has sprouted more rocks, rounded hills, little cliffs, thick woodland, drystone walls and the thinnest country lanes of all. They go up and down and round and round. Farm boys on big tractors could slaughter the tourist trade in an afternoon. There’s an Iron Age fort up on Warton Crag and, out on Jenny Brown’s Point, a terribly isolated chimney whose function no one really knows. The walking is wonderful. The village itself is overcome with stone, flowers and a sense of centuries. Elizabeth Gaskell holidayed and wrote there, but who else has even heard of it? There’s no space here to do justice either to this district or the bay in general. It’s the coast of my home county and, now I’ve been back, I’m as proud as hell. I shall go on talking about it until everyone has been. More from Anthony Peregrine • The Franco-American love-fest • Napoleon or Wellington - who was better? • Why I’m embarrassed to be a non-smoker • The fêtes of our nations: bullfighting or tombola? • The perils of holidaying with friends • Why I love motorways • The joy of dining alone - and why my satnav is the perfect woman
Is the north-west Britain's most underrated coastline?
I had driven way out along lanes no straighter than a ram’s horn to Red Bank Farm, at Bolton-le-Sands, near Lancaster. The farm, and its café, were poised at that point where farmland, salt meadows, marshes and incoming tides all met. The many signs were clear: these were lethal surroundings for the stupid. I ordered a coffee, took it outside to the farm garden and asked if I might join a senior lady at her table. “That’s a small coffee,” she said. It was. Finding an espresso here on the rim of the North West was like finding a Scotch egg in Haifa. “Me, I need more volume.” She giggled. We talked. I told her that, though a Lancastrian, I hadn’t been near the Morecambe Bay coast for years. Decades. “I’m awestruck. I’d forgotten the scale. The grandeur.” I had. I’d burst from the high-hedged lanes to immense meadows speckled with sheep, to mud and marshes, a forever sea, and a vast sky which did as it damned well pleased – black cloud to dun hues, then blue and back again, in 10 minutes flat. “It’s stunning,” I said. “Yes,” she said. “It is very nice.” I’d forgotten, also, the Lancastrian way with superlatives. “We often have a run out here.” Then she paused. “Are you sure that coffee’s big enough?” Blackpool is more than just the Big Dipper Credit: Getty The untutored limit the Lancashire coast to Blackpool, Morecambe and other resorts. This is wrong, but it wouldn’t bother me if it were right. These are places you plunge into for raucous experiences. At Blackpool’s Pleasure Beach, the Big One is like going over the Andes in a coal scuttle. A jet-propelled coal scuttle. There are piers and slot machines, award-winning double burger outlets and all-you-can-eat pizza restaurants – for a population that might (Lord knows, it’s none of my business) better profit from a least-you-can-eat salad bar. Popular culture is popular for a reason. There was a three-hour wait for the Big One when I was through. Real popularity, though, sometimes embarrasses clever people within local authorities. In line with contemporary mores, they like to culture up their towns, perhaps by emphasising a Victorian past. Or slotting in sculpture. Or reworking the prom. Some of this looks jolly good, but Lancastrians resist overt gentrification. Theirs – ours – is a meat-pie culture. As one fellow with whom I broached the subject in Cleveleys put it: “B----- the statues, give us the chips.” The ultimate UK bucket list: 29 things to do in your lifetime At the edges, liveliness like that fosters tat. The resorts boast much in the way of glaring signs in orange and yellow (“All items 60p!!”, “All day breakfast! £2.95!!”) and a world-class collection of budget stores smelling jauntily of despair. Fleetwood’s famous market, and that in Morecambe on a Sunday, would dispirit shoppers from Somalia. But it is this uncertainty – the bouncing between acute popularity, attempted culture and the frankly tawdry – that has the resorts keeping calm and carrying on, against the odds, in an intriguing manner. I licked through them at a fair old pace, particularly taken with Cleveleys, where sculptures indeed punctuated the seafront and sands. They’re inspired by characters from a children’s book, The Sea Swallow (Gareth Thompson; Foxtail, £9.99), itself inspired by folk tales from this Fylde coast. The idea is a belter. The artworks – sea swallows atop a beacon, a 13ft sea shell, a sea ogre hiding among groynes and rocks – urge you along the front. It was a terrific walk, even as the wind blew my eyebrows off. Windswept trees on the Lancaster coast Credit: Getty So over the Wyre to Over Wyre. Here the world changes. Lanes drawn by a fellow following cows lead to little-ruffled villages – Pilling, Cockerham – and out to the sense-smacking immensity of the Morecambe Bay seaside. You roll past hedges and cattle-heavy fields, then surge through to the coast, John Denver ceding to Van Morrison. This is huge, outlandish, not just stirring but nourishing. Drive out to Lane Ends – a distant gathering point-cum-picnic area beyond Pilling – park, walk and tell me I’m wrong. Outside the old farms and village centres, folk have reacted to the elemental power with bungalows, semis and other bits from suburbia. This is the British way. We don’t go bonkers. We settle down. And certainly, in Hambleton, many will require “Woof ’n’ Puss Pet Supplies”. I now skipped to the Lune estuary. Overton is the last, stone-built, outpost before the mile-long causeway to Sunderland Point. The causeway crosses marsh, mudflats and channels which fill up at high tide, overspilling to flood the road and ambush motorists. I really needed a tide table. A sign in the Overton car park indicated such was available at the village’s Globe pub. “Nah, sorry, love. Not here.” I set out anyway, taking my mind off watery death by trying to spot the heavily advertised wading birds. I’d got right across and parked up on the beach stones and had seen nothing but a dunlin. Or it could have been a chicken. Ornithology is not my strong suit. Around the corner, Trevor Owen and his team were coming ashore, across the mud from little boats, with two sackfuls of salmon. Sundered from land, the semi-island of Sunderland Point is about a mile by a half-mile. Some 67 people live there, in 35 houses – mainly drawn up in two distinguished seafront terraces. It’s been a proper little port, home to ship owners, sea captains, farmers and Sambo, a black fellow who may or may not have been a slave. He died there in 1736; his grave has been honoured since. Then there are the fishermen. Or there were. Trevor, 69, is among the last. Certainly his wife, Margaret, 63, is the last fisherwoman. This may be because young ladies no longer consider standing up to their chests in estuary water, wielding a 13ft haaf net, an attractive career option. Sunderland Point at dusk Credit: ©2630ben - stock.adobe.com At different seasons, the Owens fish shrimp, cockles, whitebait, bass – and sprats for the sea lions at Blackpool Zoo. Their activity is tenaciously regulated. Margaret fights the more formidable idiocies of officialdom. Trevor plays in blues bands. You think you’re at the end of the world, but you’re right in the middle of theirs. “Visitors? We love them,” cried Margaret. I hopped back to the car and beat the tide, easy. Heysham has the advantage of being one of the few places around Morecambe Bay from where, if you’re smart, you can’t see Heysham power station. I’ve nothing against power stations, would be lost without them, but they don’t embellish a coast. Up on the headland, there are heath, wind, rocks and a sense of eternity. The distant Lakeland fells make things perfect. What’s left of the wrecked, eighth-century St Patrick’s chapel stands stout near older rock-hewn graves. “The scale of the bay has always inspired spiritual reflection,” said Susannah Bleakley of the Morecambe Bay Partnership. Vikings worshipped Norse gods here. The coast is punctuated with barrows, chapels, nunneries – and Black Sabbath fans seeking the rock-hewn graves: they’re on the cover of the band’s 2000 Best Of album. Down below, Heysham village is Miss-Marple-by-the-Sea, a delight distinguished by native nettle tea, which I have drunk once and probably shan’t again. Beyond is Morecambe and, beyond that, Hest Bank and Bolton-le-Sands, where windsurfers dart about like dragonflies on a gunmetal sea sheened silver where there are shafts of light. Right out beyond the fields, there are Lancashire’s most remote farms, a café or two, people sitting in their cars staring out and – a surprise, this – an abundance of residential caravan sites. On the edge of nowhere. At one, a chap was watering a herbaceous border. The vast bay was feet away. I heard his wife call him in for tea. Natural splendour of international class, and a nice cup of tea: the English truly are unbeatable. Britain's 40 best beaches – according to our experts By Silverdale, the coast has sprouted more rocks, rounded hills, little cliffs, thick woodland, drystone walls and the thinnest country lanes of all. They go up and down and round and round. Farm boys on big tractors could slaughter the tourist trade in an afternoon. There’s an Iron Age fort up on Warton Crag and, out on Jenny Brown’s Point, a terribly isolated chimney whose function no one really knows. The walking is wonderful. The village itself is overcome with stone, flowers and a sense of centuries. Elizabeth Gaskell holidayed and wrote there, but who else has even heard of it? There’s no space here to do justice either to this district or the bay in general. It’s the coast of my home county and, now I’ve been back, I’m as proud as hell. I shall go on talking about it until everyone has been. The essentials Where to stay The Cartford Inn, in Little Eccleston, is the most beguiling gastro-pub-hotel in Lancashire – run by a Lancastrian from, um, Bordeaux (01995 670166, thecartfordinn.co.uk); b&b doubles from £100. As a base for the north of the area, head for Hipping Hall at Cowan Bridge, whose restaurant will shortly be harvesting Michelin stars (0152 427 1187; hippinghall.com); b&b doubles from £179. Cycling there Morecambe Bay Partnership has inaugurated an 80-mile cycleway from Barrow to Glasson Dock and are creating map-guides for walking and cycling under the heading Seldom Seen (morecambebay.org.uk). More details visitlancashire.com More from Anthony Peregrine • The Franco-American love-fest • Napoleon or Wellington - who was better? • Why I’m embarrassed to be a non-smoker • The fêtes of our nations: bullfighting or tombola? • The perils of holidaying with friends • Why I love motorways • The joy of dining alone - and why my satnav is the perfect woman I had driven way out along lanes no straighter than a ram’s horn to Red Bank Farm, at Bolton-le-Sands, near Lancaster. The farm, and its café, were poised at that point where farmland, salt meadows, marshes and incoming tides all met. The many signs were clear: these were lethal surroundings for the stupid. I ordered a coffee, took it outside to the farm garden and asked if I might join a senior lady at her table. “That’s a small coffee,” she said. It was. Finding an espresso here on the rim of the North West was like finding a Scotch egg in Haifa. “Me, I need more volume.” She giggled. We talked. "Finding an espresso here on the rim of the North West was like finding a Scotch egg in Haifa" I told her that, though a Lancastrian, I hadn’t been near the Morecambe Bay coast for years. Decades. “I’m awestruck. I’d forgotten the scale. The grandeur.” I had. I’d burst from the high-hedged lanes to immense meadows speckled with sheep, to mud and marshes, a forever sea, and a vast sky which did as it damned well pleased – black cloud to dun hues, then blue and back again, in 10 minutes flat. “It’s stunning,” I said. “Yes,” she said. “It is very nice.” I’d forgotten, also, the Lancastrian way with superlatives. “We often have a run out here.” Then she paused. “Are you sure that coffee’s big enough?” The untutored limit the Lancashire coast to Blackpool, Morecambe and other resorts. This is wrong, but it wouldn’t bother me if it were right. These are places you plunge into for raucous experiences. At Blackpool’s Pleasure Beach, the Big One is like going over the Andes in a coal scuttle. A jet-propelled coal scuttle. There are piers and slot machines, award-winning double burger outlets and all-you-can-eat pizza restaurants – for a population that might (Lord knows, it’s none of my business) better profit from a least-you-can-eat salad bar. Popular culture is popular for a reason. There was a three-hour wait for the Big One when I was through. • Would you take your family to Blackpool? At Blackpool?s Pleasure Beach, the Big One is like going over the Andes in a coal scuttle Photo: AP/FOTOLIA Real popularity, though, sometimes embarrasses clever people within local authorities. In line with contemporary mores, they like to culture up their towns, perhaps by emphasising a Victorian past. Or slotting in sculpture. Or reworking the prom. Some of this looks jolly good, but Lancastrians resist overt gentrification. Theirs – ours – is a meat-pie culture. As one fellow with whom I broached the subject in Cleveleys put it: “B----- the statues, give us the chips.” At the edges, liveliness like that fosters tat. The resorts boast much in the way of glaring signs in orange and yellow (“All items 60p!!”, “All day breakfast! £2.95!!”) and a world-class collection of budget stores smelling jauntily of despair. Fleetwood’s famous market, and that in Morecambe on a Sunday, would dispirit shoppers from Somalia. But it is this uncertainty – the bouncing between acute popularity, attempted culture and the frankly tawdry – that has the resorts keeping calm and carrying on, against the odds, in an intriguing manner. "Fleetwood’s famous market, and that in Morecambe on a Sunday, would dispirit shoppers from Somalia" I licked through them at a fair old pace, particularly taken with Cleveleys, where sculptures indeed punctuated the seafront and sands. They’re inspired by characters from a children’s book, The Sea Swallow (Gareth Thompson; Foxtail, £9.99), itself inspired by folk tales from this Fylde coast. The idea is a belter. The artworks – sea swallows atop a beacon, a 13ft sea shell, a sea ogre hiding among groynes and rocks – urge you along the front. It was a terrific walk, even as the wind blew my eyebrows off. So over the Wyre to Over Wyre. Here the world changes. Lanes drawn by a fellow following cows lead to little-ruffled villages – Pilling, Cockerham – and out to the sense-smacking immensity of the Morecambe Bay seaside. You roll past hedges and cattle-heavy fields, then surge through to the coast, John Denver ceding to Van Morrison. This is huge, outlandish, not just stirring but nourishing. Drive out to Lane Ends – a distant gathering point-cum-picnic area beyond Pilling – park, walk and tell me I’m wrong. Outside the old farms and village centres, folk have reacted to the elemental power with bungalows, semis and other bits from suburbia. This is the British way. We don’t go bonkers. We settle down. And certainly, in Hambleton, many will require “Woof ’n’ Puss Pet Supplies”. • Midland Hotel, Morecambe: review • Lancaster: 10 reasons to visit I now skipped to the Lune estuary. Overton is the last, stone-built, outpost before the mile-long causeway to Sunderland Point. The causeway crosses marsh, mudflats and channels which fill up at high tide, overspilling to flood the road and ambush motorists. I really needed a tide table. A sign in the Overton car park indicated such was available at the village’s Globe pub. “Nah, sorry, love. Not here.” I set out anyway, taking my mind off watery death by trying to spot the heavily advertised wading birds. I’d got right across and parked up on the beach stones and had seen nothing but a dunlin. Or it could have been a chicken. Ornithology is not my strong suit. Around the corner, Trevor Owen and his team were coming ashore, across the mud from little boats, with two sackfuls of salmon. The coast near Heysham: "Heysham village is Miss-Marple-by-the-Sea, a delight distinguished by native nettle tea, which I have drunk once and probably shan?t again" Photo: AP/FOTOLIA Sundered from land, the semi-island of Sunderland Point is about a mile by a half-mile. Some 67 people live there, in 35 houses – mainly drawn up in two distinguished seafront terraces. It’s been a proper little port, home to ship owners, sea captains, farmers and Sambo, a black fellow who may or may not have been a slave. He died there in 1736; his grave has been honoured since. Then there are the fishermen. Or there were. Trevor, 69, is among the last. Certainly his wife, Margaret, 63, is the last fisherwoman. This may be because young ladies no longer consider standing up to their chests in estuary water, wielding a 13ft haaf net, an attractive career option. At different seasons, the Owens fish shrimp, cockles, whitebait, bass – and sprats for the sea lions at Blackpool Zoo. Their activity is tenaciously regulated. Margaret fights the more formidable idiocies of officialdom. Trevor plays in blues bands. You think you’re at the end of the world, but you’re right in the middle of theirs. “Visitors? We love them,” cried Margaret. I hopped back to the car and beat the tide, easy. Heysham has the advantage of being one of the few places around Morecambe Bay from where, if you’re smart, you can’t see Heysham power station. I’ve nothing against power stations, would be lost without them, but they don’t embellish a coast. Up on the headland, there are heath, wind, rocks and a sense of eternity. The distant Lakeland fells make things perfect. What’s left of the wrecked, eighth-century St Patrick’s chapel stands stout near older rock-hewn graves. “The scale of the bay has always inspired spiritual reflection,” said Susannah Bleakley of the Morecambe Bay Partnership. Vikings worshipped Norse gods here. The coast is punctuated with barrows, chapels, nunneries – and Black Sabbath fans seeking the rock-hewn graves: they’re on the cover of the band’s 2000 Best Of album. Down below, Heysham village is Miss-Marple-by-the-Sea, a delight distinguished by native nettle tea, which I have drunk once and probably shan’t again. Beyond is Morecambe and, beyond that, Hest Bank and Bolton-le-Sands, where windsurfers dart about like dragonflies on a gunmetal sea sheened silver where there are shafts of light. Right out beyond the fields, there are Lancashire’s most remote farms, a café or two, people sitting in their cars staring out and – a surprise, this – an abundance of residential caravan sites. On the edge of nowhere. At one, a chap was watering a herbaceous border. The vast bay was feet away. I heard his wife call him in for tea. Natural splendour of international class, and a nice cup of tea: the English truly are unbeatable. • Britain's best seaside hotels "By Silverdale, the coast has sprouted more rocks, rounded hills, little cliffs, thick woodland, drystone walls and the thinnest country lanes of all" Photo: AP/FOTOLIA By Silverdale, the coast has sprouted more rocks, rounded hills, little cliffs, thick woodland, drystone walls and the thinnest country lanes of all. They go up and down and round and round. Farm boys on big tractors could slaughter the tourist trade in an afternoon. There’s an Iron Age fort up on Warton Crag and, out on Jenny Brown’s Point, a terribly isolated chimney whose function no one really knows. The walking is wonderful. The village itself is overcome with stone, flowers and a sense of centuries. Elizabeth Gaskell holidayed and wrote there, but who else has even heard of it? There’s no space here to do justice either to this district or the bay in general. It’s the coast of my home county and, now I’ve been back, I’m as proud as hell. I shall go on talking about it until everyone has been. More from Anthony Peregrine • The Franco-American love-fest • Napoleon or Wellington - who was better? • Why I’m embarrassed to be a non-smoker • The fêtes of our nations: bullfighting or tombola? • The perils of holidaying with friends • Why I love motorways • The joy of dining alone - and why my satnav is the perfect woman
I had driven way out along lanes no straighter than a ram’s horn to Red Bank Farm, at Bolton-le-Sands, near Lancaster. The farm, and its café, were poised at that point where farmland, salt meadows, marshes and incoming tides all met. The many signs were clear: these were lethal surroundings for the stupid. I ordered a coffee, took it outside to the farm garden and asked if I might join a senior lady at her table. “That’s a small coffee,” she said. It was. Finding an espresso here on the rim of the North West was like finding a Scotch egg in Haifa. “Me, I need more volume.” She giggled. We talked. I told her that, though a Lancastrian, I hadn’t been near the Morecambe Bay coast for years. Decades. “I’m awestruck. I’d forgotten the scale. The grandeur.” I had. I’d burst from the high-hedged lanes to immense meadows speckled with sheep, to mud and marshes, a forever sea, and a vast sky which did as it damned well pleased – black cloud to dun hues, then blue and back again, in 10 minutes flat. “It’s stunning,” I said. “Yes,” she said. “It is very nice.” I’d forgotten, also, the Lancastrian way with superlatives. “We often have a run out here.” Then she paused. “Are you sure that coffee’s big enough?” Blackpool is more than just the Big Dipper Credit: Getty The untutored limit the Lancashire coast to Blackpool, Morecambe and other resorts. This is wrong, but it wouldn’t bother me if it were right. These are places you plunge into for raucous experiences. At Blackpool’s Pleasure Beach, the Big One is like going over the Andes in a coal scuttle. A jet-propelled coal scuttle. There are piers and slot machines, award-winning double burger outlets and all-you-can-eat pizza restaurants – for a population that might (Lord knows, it’s none of my business) better profit from a least-you-can-eat salad bar. Popular culture is popular for a reason. There was a three-hour wait for the Big One when I was through. Real popularity, though, sometimes embarrasses clever people within local authorities. In line with contemporary mores, they like to culture up their towns, perhaps by emphasising a Victorian past. Or slotting in sculpture. Or reworking the prom. Some of this looks jolly good, but Lancastrians resist overt gentrification. Theirs – ours – is a meat-pie culture. As one fellow with whom I broached the subject in Cleveleys put it: “B----- the statues, give us the chips.” The ultimate UK bucket list: 29 things to do in your lifetime At the edges, liveliness like that fosters tat. The resorts boast much in the way of glaring signs in orange and yellow (“All items 60p!!”, “All day breakfast! £2.95!!”) and a world-class collection of budget stores smelling jauntily of despair. Fleetwood’s famous market, and that in Morecambe on a Sunday, would dispirit shoppers from Somalia. But it is this uncertainty – the bouncing between acute popularity, attempted culture and the frankly tawdry – that has the resorts keeping calm and carrying on, against the odds, in an intriguing manner. I licked through them at a fair old pace, particularly taken with Cleveleys, where sculptures indeed punctuated the seafront and sands. They’re inspired by characters from a children’s book, The Sea Swallow (Gareth Thompson; Foxtail, £9.99), itself inspired by folk tales from this Fylde coast. The idea is a belter. The artworks – sea swallows atop a beacon, a 13ft sea shell, a sea ogre hiding among groynes and rocks – urge you along the front. It was a terrific walk, even as the wind blew my eyebrows off. Windswept trees on the Lancaster coast Credit: Getty So over the Wyre to Over Wyre. Here the world changes. Lanes drawn by a fellow following cows lead to little-ruffled villages – Pilling, Cockerham – and out to the sense-smacking immensity of the Morecambe Bay seaside. You roll past hedges and cattle-heavy fields, then surge through to the coast, John Denver ceding to Van Morrison. This is huge, outlandish, not just stirring but nourishing. Drive out to Lane Ends – a distant gathering point-cum-picnic area beyond Pilling – park, walk and tell me I’m wrong. Outside the old farms and village centres, folk have reacted to the elemental power with bungalows, semis and other bits from suburbia. This is the British way. We don’t go bonkers. We settle down. And certainly, in Hambleton, many will require “Woof ’n’ Puss Pet Supplies”. I now skipped to the Lune estuary. Overton is the last, stone-built, outpost before the mile-long causeway to Sunderland Point. The causeway crosses marsh, mudflats and channels which fill up at high tide, overspilling to flood the road and ambush motorists. I really needed a tide table. A sign in the Overton car park indicated such was available at the village’s Globe pub. “Nah, sorry, love. Not here.” I set out anyway, taking my mind off watery death by trying to spot the heavily advertised wading birds. I’d got right across and parked up on the beach stones and had seen nothing but a dunlin. Or it could have been a chicken. Ornithology is not my strong suit. Around the corner, Trevor Owen and his team were coming ashore, across the mud from little boats, with two sackfuls of salmon. Sundered from land, the semi-island of Sunderland Point is about a mile by a half-mile. Some 67 people live there, in 35 houses – mainly drawn up in two distinguished seafront terraces. It’s been a proper little port, home to ship owners, sea captains, farmers and Sambo, a black fellow who may or may not have been a slave. He died there in 1736; his grave has been honoured since. Then there are the fishermen. Or there were. Trevor, 69, is among the last. Certainly his wife, Margaret, 63, is the last fisherwoman. This may be because young ladies no longer consider standing up to their chests in estuary water, wielding a 13ft haaf net, an attractive career option. Sunderland Point at dusk Credit: ©2630ben - stock.adobe.com At different seasons, the Owens fish shrimp, cockles, whitebait, bass – and sprats for the sea lions at Blackpool Zoo. Their activity is tenaciously regulated. Margaret fights the more formidable idiocies of officialdom. Trevor plays in blues bands. You think you’re at the end of the world, but you’re right in the middle of theirs. “Visitors? We love them,” cried Margaret. I hopped back to the car and beat the tide, easy. Heysham has the advantage of being one of the few places around Morecambe Bay from where, if you’re smart, you can’t see Heysham power station. I’ve nothing against power stations, would be lost without them, but they don’t embellish a coast. Up on the headland, there are heath, wind, rocks and a sense of eternity. The distant Lakeland fells make things perfect. What’s left of the wrecked, eighth-century St Patrick’s chapel stands stout near older rock-hewn graves. “The scale of the bay has always inspired spiritual reflection,” said Susannah Bleakley of the Morecambe Bay Partnership. Vikings worshipped Norse gods here. The coast is punctuated with barrows, chapels, nunneries – and Black Sabbath fans seeking the rock-hewn graves: they’re on the cover of the band’s 2000 Best Of album. Down below, Heysham village is Miss-Marple-by-the-Sea, a delight distinguished by native nettle tea, which I have drunk once and probably shan’t again. Beyond is Morecambe and, beyond that, Hest Bank and Bolton-le-Sands, where windsurfers dart about like dragonflies on a gunmetal sea sheened silver where there are shafts of light. Right out beyond the fields, there are Lancashire’s most remote farms, a café or two, people sitting in their cars staring out and – a surprise, this – an abundance of residential caravan sites. On the edge of nowhere. At one, a chap was watering a herbaceous border. The vast bay was feet away. I heard his wife call him in for tea. Natural splendour of international class, and a nice cup of tea: the English truly are unbeatable. Britain's 40 best beaches – according to our experts By Silverdale, the coast has sprouted more rocks, rounded hills, little cliffs, thick woodland, drystone walls and the thinnest country lanes of all. They go up and down and round and round. Farm boys on big tractors could slaughter the tourist trade in an afternoon. There’s an Iron Age fort up on Warton Crag and, out on Jenny Brown’s Point, a terribly isolated chimney whose function no one really knows. The walking is wonderful. The village itself is overcome with stone, flowers and a sense of centuries. Elizabeth Gaskell holidayed and wrote there, but who else has even heard of it? There’s no space here to do justice either to this district or the bay in general. It’s the coast of my home county and, now I’ve been back, I’m as proud as hell. I shall go on talking about it until everyone has been. The essentials Where to stay The Cartford Inn, in Little Eccleston, is the most beguiling gastro-pub-hotel in Lancashire – run by a Lancastrian from, um, Bordeaux (01995 670166, thecartfordinn.co.uk); b&b doubles from £100. As a base for the north of the area, head for Hipping Hall at Cowan Bridge, whose restaurant will shortly be harvesting Michelin stars (0152 427 1187; hippinghall.com); b&b doubles from £179. Cycling there Morecambe Bay Partnership has inaugurated an 80-mile cycleway from Barrow to Glasson Dock and are creating map-guides for walking and cycling under the heading Seldom Seen (morecambebay.org.uk). More details visitlancashire.com More from Anthony Peregrine • The Franco-American love-fest • Napoleon or Wellington - who was better? • Why I’m embarrassed to be a non-smoker • The fêtes of our nations: bullfighting or tombola? • The perils of holidaying with friends • Why I love motorways • The joy of dining alone - and why my satnav is the perfect woman I had driven way out along lanes no straighter than a ram’s horn to Red Bank Farm, at Bolton-le-Sands, near Lancaster. The farm, and its café, were poised at that point where farmland, salt meadows, marshes and incoming tides all met. The many signs were clear: these were lethal surroundings for the stupid. I ordered a coffee, took it outside to the farm garden and asked if I might join a senior lady at her table. “That’s a small coffee,” she said. It was. Finding an espresso here on the rim of the North West was like finding a Scotch egg in Haifa. “Me, I need more volume.” She giggled. We talked. "Finding an espresso here on the rim of the North West was like finding a Scotch egg in Haifa" I told her that, though a Lancastrian, I hadn’t been near the Morecambe Bay coast for years. Decades. “I’m awestruck. I’d forgotten the scale. The grandeur.” I had. I’d burst from the high-hedged lanes to immense meadows speckled with sheep, to mud and marshes, a forever sea, and a vast sky which did as it damned well pleased – black cloud to dun hues, then blue and back again, in 10 minutes flat. “It’s stunning,” I said. “Yes,” she said. “It is very nice.” I’d forgotten, also, the Lancastrian way with superlatives. “We often have a run out here.” Then she paused. “Are you sure that coffee’s big enough?” The untutored limit the Lancashire coast to Blackpool, Morecambe and other resorts. This is wrong, but it wouldn’t bother me if it were right. These are places you plunge into for raucous experiences. At Blackpool’s Pleasure Beach, the Big One is like going over the Andes in a coal scuttle. A jet-propelled coal scuttle. There are piers and slot machines, award-winning double burger outlets and all-you-can-eat pizza restaurants – for a population that might (Lord knows, it’s none of my business) better profit from a least-you-can-eat salad bar. Popular culture is popular for a reason. There was a three-hour wait for the Big One when I was through. • Would you take your family to Blackpool? At Blackpool?s Pleasure Beach, the Big One is like going over the Andes in a coal scuttle Photo: AP/FOTOLIA Real popularity, though, sometimes embarrasses clever people within local authorities. In line with contemporary mores, they like to culture up their towns, perhaps by emphasising a Victorian past. Or slotting in sculpture. Or reworking the prom. Some of this looks jolly good, but Lancastrians resist overt gentrification. Theirs – ours – is a meat-pie culture. As one fellow with whom I broached the subject in Cleveleys put it: “B----- the statues, give us the chips.” At the edges, liveliness like that fosters tat. The resorts boast much in the way of glaring signs in orange and yellow (“All items 60p!!”, “All day breakfast! £2.95!!”) and a world-class collection of budget stores smelling jauntily of despair. Fleetwood’s famous market, and that in Morecambe on a Sunday, would dispirit shoppers from Somalia. But it is this uncertainty – the bouncing between acute popularity, attempted culture and the frankly tawdry – that has the resorts keeping calm and carrying on, against the odds, in an intriguing manner. "Fleetwood’s famous market, and that in Morecambe on a Sunday, would dispirit shoppers from Somalia" I licked through them at a fair old pace, particularly taken with Cleveleys, where sculptures indeed punctuated the seafront and sands. They’re inspired by characters from a children’s book, The Sea Swallow (Gareth Thompson; Foxtail, £9.99), itself inspired by folk tales from this Fylde coast. The idea is a belter. The artworks – sea swallows atop a beacon, a 13ft sea shell, a sea ogre hiding among groynes and rocks – urge you along the front. It was a terrific walk, even as the wind blew my eyebrows off. So over the Wyre to Over Wyre. Here the world changes. Lanes drawn by a fellow following cows lead to little-ruffled villages – Pilling, Cockerham – and out to the sense-smacking immensity of the Morecambe Bay seaside. You roll past hedges and cattle-heavy fields, then surge through to the coast, John Denver ceding to Van Morrison. This is huge, outlandish, not just stirring but nourishing. Drive out to Lane Ends – a distant gathering point-cum-picnic area beyond Pilling – park, walk and tell me I’m wrong. Outside the old farms and village centres, folk have reacted to the elemental power with bungalows, semis and other bits from suburbia. This is the British way. We don’t go bonkers. We settle down. And certainly, in Hambleton, many will require “Woof ’n’ Puss Pet Supplies”. • Midland Hotel, Morecambe: review • Lancaster: 10 reasons to visit I now skipped to the Lune estuary. Overton is the last, stone-built, outpost before the mile-long causeway to Sunderland Point. The causeway crosses marsh, mudflats and channels which fill up at high tide, overspilling to flood the road and ambush motorists. I really needed a tide table. A sign in the Overton car park indicated such was available at the village’s Globe pub. “Nah, sorry, love. Not here.” I set out anyway, taking my mind off watery death by trying to spot the heavily advertised wading birds. I’d got right across and parked up on the beach stones and had seen nothing but a dunlin. Or it could have been a chicken. Ornithology is not my strong suit. Around the corner, Trevor Owen and his team were coming ashore, across the mud from little boats, with two sackfuls of salmon. The coast near Heysham: "Heysham village is Miss-Marple-by-the-Sea, a delight distinguished by native nettle tea, which I have drunk once and probably shan?t again" Photo: AP/FOTOLIA Sundered from land, the semi-island of Sunderland Point is about a mile by a half-mile. Some 67 people live there, in 35 houses – mainly drawn up in two distinguished seafront terraces. It’s been a proper little port, home to ship owners, sea captains, farmers and Sambo, a black fellow who may or may not have been a slave. He died there in 1736; his grave has been honoured since. Then there are the fishermen. Or there were. Trevor, 69, is among the last. Certainly his wife, Margaret, 63, is the last fisherwoman. This may be because young ladies no longer consider standing up to their chests in estuary water, wielding a 13ft haaf net, an attractive career option. At different seasons, the Owens fish shrimp, cockles, whitebait, bass – and sprats for the sea lions at Blackpool Zoo. Their activity is tenaciously regulated. Margaret fights the more formidable idiocies of officialdom. Trevor plays in blues bands. You think you’re at the end of the world, but you’re right in the middle of theirs. “Visitors? We love them,” cried Margaret. I hopped back to the car and beat the tide, easy. Heysham has the advantage of being one of the few places around Morecambe Bay from where, if you’re smart, you can’t see Heysham power station. I’ve nothing against power stations, would be lost without them, but they don’t embellish a coast. Up on the headland, there are heath, wind, rocks and a sense of eternity. The distant Lakeland fells make things perfect. What’s left of the wrecked, eighth-century St Patrick’s chapel stands stout near older rock-hewn graves. “The scale of the bay has always inspired spiritual reflection,” said Susannah Bleakley of the Morecambe Bay Partnership. Vikings worshipped Norse gods here. The coast is punctuated with barrows, chapels, nunneries – and Black Sabbath fans seeking the rock-hewn graves: they’re on the cover of the band’s 2000 Best Of album. Down below, Heysham village is Miss-Marple-by-the-Sea, a delight distinguished by native nettle tea, which I have drunk once and probably shan’t again. Beyond is Morecambe and, beyond that, Hest Bank and Bolton-le-Sands, where windsurfers dart about like dragonflies on a gunmetal sea sheened silver where there are shafts of light. Right out beyond the fields, there are Lancashire’s most remote farms, a café or two, people sitting in their cars staring out and – a surprise, this – an abundance of residential caravan sites. On the edge of nowhere. At one, a chap was watering a herbaceous border. The vast bay was feet away. I heard his wife call him in for tea. Natural splendour of international class, and a nice cup of tea: the English truly are unbeatable. • Britain's best seaside hotels "By Silverdale, the coast has sprouted more rocks, rounded hills, little cliffs, thick woodland, drystone walls and the thinnest country lanes of all" Photo: AP/FOTOLIA By Silverdale, the coast has sprouted more rocks, rounded hills, little cliffs, thick woodland, drystone walls and the thinnest country lanes of all. They go up and down and round and round. Farm boys on big tractors could slaughter the tourist trade in an afternoon. There’s an Iron Age fort up on Warton Crag and, out on Jenny Brown’s Point, a terribly isolated chimney whose function no one really knows. The walking is wonderful. The village itself is overcome with stone, flowers and a sense of centuries. Elizabeth Gaskell holidayed and wrote there, but who else has even heard of it? There’s no space here to do justice either to this district or the bay in general. It’s the coast of my home county and, now I’ve been back, I’m as proud as hell. I shall go on talking about it until everyone has been. More from Anthony Peregrine • The Franco-American love-fest • Napoleon or Wellington - who was better? • Why I’m embarrassed to be a non-smoker • The fêtes of our nations: bullfighting or tombola? • The perils of holidaying with friends • Why I love motorways • The joy of dining alone - and why my satnav is the perfect woman
Is the north-west Britain's most underrated coastline?
I had driven way out along lanes no straighter than a ram’s horn to Red Bank Farm, at Bolton-le-Sands, near Lancaster. The farm, and its café, were poised at that point where farmland, salt meadows, marshes and incoming tides all met. The many signs were clear: these were lethal surroundings for the stupid. I ordered a coffee, took it outside to the farm garden and asked if I might join a senior lady at her table. “That’s a small coffee,” she said. It was. Finding an espresso here on the rim of the North West was like finding a Scotch egg in Haifa. “Me, I need more volume.” She giggled. We talked. I told her that, though a Lancastrian, I hadn’t been near the Morecambe Bay coast for years. Decades. “I’m awestruck. I’d forgotten the scale. The grandeur.” I had. I’d burst from the high-hedged lanes to immense meadows speckled with sheep, to mud and marshes, a forever sea, and a vast sky which did as it damned well pleased – black cloud to dun hues, then blue and back again, in 10 minutes flat. “It’s stunning,” I said. “Yes,” she said. “It is very nice.” I’d forgotten, also, the Lancastrian way with superlatives. “We often have a run out here.” Then she paused. “Are you sure that coffee’s big enough?” Blackpool is more than just the Big Dipper Credit: Getty The untutored limit the Lancashire coast to Blackpool, Morecambe and other resorts. This is wrong, but it wouldn’t bother me if it were right. These are places you plunge into for raucous experiences. At Blackpool’s Pleasure Beach, the Big One is like going over the Andes in a coal scuttle. A jet-propelled coal scuttle. There are piers and slot machines, award-winning double burger outlets and all-you-can-eat pizza restaurants – for a population that might (Lord knows, it’s none of my business) better profit from a least-you-can-eat salad bar. Popular culture is popular for a reason. There was a three-hour wait for the Big One when I was through. Real popularity, though, sometimes embarrasses clever people within local authorities. In line with contemporary mores, they like to culture up their towns, perhaps by emphasising a Victorian past. Or slotting in sculpture. Or reworking the prom. Some of this looks jolly good, but Lancastrians resist overt gentrification. Theirs – ours – is a meat-pie culture. As one fellow with whom I broached the subject in Cleveleys put it: “B----- the statues, give us the chips.” The ultimate UK bucket list: 29 things to do in your lifetime At the edges, liveliness like that fosters tat. The resorts boast much in the way of glaring signs in orange and yellow (“All items 60p!!”, “All day breakfast! £2.95!!”) and a world-class collection of budget stores smelling jauntily of despair. Fleetwood’s famous market, and that in Morecambe on a Sunday, would dispirit shoppers from Somalia. But it is this uncertainty – the bouncing between acute popularity, attempted culture and the frankly tawdry – that has the resorts keeping calm and carrying on, against the odds, in an intriguing manner. I licked through them at a fair old pace, particularly taken with Cleveleys, where sculptures indeed punctuated the seafront and sands. They’re inspired by characters from a children’s book, The Sea Swallow (Gareth Thompson; Foxtail, £9.99), itself inspired by folk tales from this Fylde coast. The idea is a belter. The artworks – sea swallows atop a beacon, a 13ft sea shell, a sea ogre hiding among groynes and rocks – urge you along the front. It was a terrific walk, even as the wind blew my eyebrows off. Windswept trees on the Lancaster coast Credit: Getty So over the Wyre to Over Wyre. Here the world changes. Lanes drawn by a fellow following cows lead to little-ruffled villages – Pilling, Cockerham – and out to the sense-smacking immensity of the Morecambe Bay seaside. You roll past hedges and cattle-heavy fields, then surge through to the coast, John Denver ceding to Van Morrison. This is huge, outlandish, not just stirring but nourishing. Drive out to Lane Ends – a distant gathering point-cum-picnic area beyond Pilling – park, walk and tell me I’m wrong. Outside the old farms and village centres, folk have reacted to the elemental power with bungalows, semis and other bits from suburbia. This is the British way. We don’t go bonkers. We settle down. And certainly, in Hambleton, many will require “Woof ’n’ Puss Pet Supplies”. I now skipped to the Lune estuary. Overton is the last, stone-built, outpost before the mile-long causeway to Sunderland Point. The causeway crosses marsh, mudflats and channels which fill up at high tide, overspilling to flood the road and ambush motorists. I really needed a tide table. A sign in the Overton car park indicated such was available at the village’s Globe pub. “Nah, sorry, love. Not here.” I set out anyway, taking my mind off watery death by trying to spot the heavily advertised wading birds. I’d got right across and parked up on the beach stones and had seen nothing but a dunlin. Or it could have been a chicken. Ornithology is not my strong suit. Around the corner, Trevor Owen and his team were coming ashore, across the mud from little boats, with two sackfuls of salmon. Sundered from land, the semi-island of Sunderland Point is about a mile by a half-mile. Some 67 people live there, in 35 houses – mainly drawn up in two distinguished seafront terraces. It’s been a proper little port, home to ship owners, sea captains, farmers and Sambo, a black fellow who may or may not have been a slave. He died there in 1736; his grave has been honoured since. Then there are the fishermen. Or there were. Trevor, 69, is among the last. Certainly his wife, Margaret, 63, is the last fisherwoman. This may be because young ladies no longer consider standing up to their chests in estuary water, wielding a 13ft haaf net, an attractive career option. Sunderland Point at dusk Credit: ©2630ben - stock.adobe.com At different seasons, the Owens fish shrimp, cockles, whitebait, bass – and sprats for the sea lions at Blackpool Zoo. Their activity is tenaciously regulated. Margaret fights the more formidable idiocies of officialdom. Trevor plays in blues bands. You think you’re at the end of the world, but you’re right in the middle of theirs. “Visitors? We love them,” cried Margaret. I hopped back to the car and beat the tide, easy. Heysham has the advantage of being one of the few places around Morecambe Bay from where, if you’re smart, you can’t see Heysham power station. I’ve nothing against power stations, would be lost without them, but they don’t embellish a coast. Up on the headland, there are heath, wind, rocks and a sense of eternity. The distant Lakeland fells make things perfect. What’s left of the wrecked, eighth-century St Patrick’s chapel stands stout near older rock-hewn graves. “The scale of the bay has always inspired spiritual reflection,” said Susannah Bleakley of the Morecambe Bay Partnership. Vikings worshipped Norse gods here. The coast is punctuated with barrows, chapels, nunneries – and Black Sabbath fans seeking the rock-hewn graves: they’re on the cover of the band’s 2000 Best Of album. Down below, Heysham village is Miss-Marple-by-the-Sea, a delight distinguished by native nettle tea, which I have drunk once and probably shan’t again. Beyond is Morecambe and, beyond that, Hest Bank and Bolton-le-Sands, where windsurfers dart about like dragonflies on a gunmetal sea sheened silver where there are shafts of light. Right out beyond the fields, there are Lancashire’s most remote farms, a café or two, people sitting in their cars staring out and – a surprise, this – an abundance of residential caravan sites. On the edge of nowhere. At one, a chap was watering a herbaceous border. The vast bay was feet away. I heard his wife call him in for tea. Natural splendour of international class, and a nice cup of tea: the English truly are unbeatable. Britain's 40 best beaches – according to our experts By Silverdale, the coast has sprouted more rocks, rounded hills, little cliffs, thick woodland, drystone walls and the thinnest country lanes of all. They go up and down and round and round. Farm boys on big tractors could slaughter the tourist trade in an afternoon. There’s an Iron Age fort up on Warton Crag and, out on Jenny Brown’s Point, a terribly isolated chimney whose function no one really knows. The walking is wonderful. The village itself is overcome with stone, flowers and a sense of centuries. Elizabeth Gaskell holidayed and wrote there, but who else has even heard of it? There’s no space here to do justice either to this district or the bay in general. It’s the coast of my home county and, now I’ve been back, I’m as proud as hell. I shall go on talking about it until everyone has been. The essentials Where to stay The Cartford Inn, in Little Eccleston, is the most beguiling gastro-pub-hotel in Lancashire – run by a Lancastrian from, um, Bordeaux (01995 670166, thecartfordinn.co.uk); b&b doubles from £100. As a base for the north of the area, head for Hipping Hall at Cowan Bridge, whose restaurant will shortly be harvesting Michelin stars (0152 427 1187; hippinghall.com); b&b doubles from £179. Cycling there Morecambe Bay Partnership has inaugurated an 80-mile cycleway from Barrow to Glasson Dock and are creating map-guides for walking and cycling under the heading Seldom Seen (morecambebay.org.uk). More details visitlancashire.com More from Anthony Peregrine • The Franco-American love-fest • Napoleon or Wellington - who was better? • Why I’m embarrassed to be a non-smoker • The fêtes of our nations: bullfighting or tombola? • The perils of holidaying with friends • Why I love motorways • The joy of dining alone - and why my satnav is the perfect woman I had driven way out along lanes no straighter than a ram’s horn to Red Bank Farm, at Bolton-le-Sands, near Lancaster. The farm, and its café, were poised at that point where farmland, salt meadows, marshes and incoming tides all met. The many signs were clear: these were lethal surroundings for the stupid. I ordered a coffee, took it outside to the farm garden and asked if I might join a senior lady at her table. “That’s a small coffee,” she said. It was. Finding an espresso here on the rim of the North West was like finding a Scotch egg in Haifa. “Me, I need more volume.” She giggled. We talked. "Finding an espresso here on the rim of the North West was like finding a Scotch egg in Haifa" I told her that, though a Lancastrian, I hadn’t been near the Morecambe Bay coast for years. Decades. “I’m awestruck. I’d forgotten the scale. The grandeur.” I had. I’d burst from the high-hedged lanes to immense meadows speckled with sheep, to mud and marshes, a forever sea, and a vast sky which did as it damned well pleased – black cloud to dun hues, then blue and back again, in 10 minutes flat. “It’s stunning,” I said. “Yes,” she said. “It is very nice.” I’d forgotten, also, the Lancastrian way with superlatives. “We often have a run out here.” Then she paused. “Are you sure that coffee’s big enough?” The untutored limit the Lancashire coast to Blackpool, Morecambe and other resorts. This is wrong, but it wouldn’t bother me if it were right. These are places you plunge into for raucous experiences. At Blackpool’s Pleasure Beach, the Big One is like going over the Andes in a coal scuttle. A jet-propelled coal scuttle. There are piers and slot machines, award-winning double burger outlets and all-you-can-eat pizza restaurants – for a population that might (Lord knows, it’s none of my business) better profit from a least-you-can-eat salad bar. Popular culture is popular for a reason. There was a three-hour wait for the Big One when I was through. • Would you take your family to Blackpool? At Blackpool?s Pleasure Beach, the Big One is like going over the Andes in a coal scuttle Photo: AP/FOTOLIA Real popularity, though, sometimes embarrasses clever people within local authorities. In line with contemporary mores, they like to culture up their towns, perhaps by emphasising a Victorian past. Or slotting in sculpture. Or reworking the prom. Some of this looks jolly good, but Lancastrians resist overt gentrification. Theirs – ours – is a meat-pie culture. As one fellow with whom I broached the subject in Cleveleys put it: “B----- the statues, give us the chips.” At the edges, liveliness like that fosters tat. The resorts boast much in the way of glaring signs in orange and yellow (“All items 60p!!”, “All day breakfast! £2.95!!”) and a world-class collection of budget stores smelling jauntily of despair. Fleetwood’s famous market, and that in Morecambe on a Sunday, would dispirit shoppers from Somalia. But it is this uncertainty – the bouncing between acute popularity, attempted culture and the frankly tawdry – that has the resorts keeping calm and carrying on, against the odds, in an intriguing manner. "Fleetwood’s famous market, and that in Morecambe on a Sunday, would dispirit shoppers from Somalia" I licked through them at a fair old pace, particularly taken with Cleveleys, where sculptures indeed punctuated the seafront and sands. They’re inspired by characters from a children’s book, The Sea Swallow (Gareth Thompson; Foxtail, £9.99), itself inspired by folk tales from this Fylde coast. The idea is a belter. The artworks – sea swallows atop a beacon, a 13ft sea shell, a sea ogre hiding among groynes and rocks – urge you along the front. It was a terrific walk, even as the wind blew my eyebrows off. So over the Wyre to Over Wyre. Here the world changes. Lanes drawn by a fellow following cows lead to little-ruffled villages – Pilling, Cockerham – and out to the sense-smacking immensity of the Morecambe Bay seaside. You roll past hedges and cattle-heavy fields, then surge through to the coast, John Denver ceding to Van Morrison. This is huge, outlandish, not just stirring but nourishing. Drive out to Lane Ends – a distant gathering point-cum-picnic area beyond Pilling – park, walk and tell me I’m wrong. Outside the old farms and village centres, folk have reacted to the elemental power with bungalows, semis and other bits from suburbia. This is the British way. We don’t go bonkers. We settle down. And certainly, in Hambleton, many will require “Woof ’n’ Puss Pet Supplies”. • Midland Hotel, Morecambe: review • Lancaster: 10 reasons to visit I now skipped to the Lune estuary. Overton is the last, stone-built, outpost before the mile-long causeway to Sunderland Point. The causeway crosses marsh, mudflats and channels which fill up at high tide, overspilling to flood the road and ambush motorists. I really needed a tide table. A sign in the Overton car park indicated such was available at the village’s Globe pub. “Nah, sorry, love. Not here.” I set out anyway, taking my mind off watery death by trying to spot the heavily advertised wading birds. I’d got right across and parked up on the beach stones and had seen nothing but a dunlin. Or it could have been a chicken. Ornithology is not my strong suit. Around the corner, Trevor Owen and his team were coming ashore, across the mud from little boats, with two sackfuls of salmon. The coast near Heysham: "Heysham village is Miss-Marple-by-the-Sea, a delight distinguished by native nettle tea, which I have drunk once and probably shan?t again" Photo: AP/FOTOLIA Sundered from land, the semi-island of Sunderland Point is about a mile by a half-mile. Some 67 people live there, in 35 houses – mainly drawn up in two distinguished seafront terraces. It’s been a proper little port, home to ship owners, sea captains, farmers and Sambo, a black fellow who may or may not have been a slave. He died there in 1736; his grave has been honoured since. Then there are the fishermen. Or there were. Trevor, 69, is among the last. Certainly his wife, Margaret, 63, is the last fisherwoman. This may be because young ladies no longer consider standing up to their chests in estuary water, wielding a 13ft haaf net, an attractive career option. At different seasons, the Owens fish shrimp, cockles, whitebait, bass – and sprats for the sea lions at Blackpool Zoo. Their activity is tenaciously regulated. Margaret fights the more formidable idiocies of officialdom. Trevor plays in blues bands. You think you’re at the end of the world, but you’re right in the middle of theirs. “Visitors? We love them,” cried Margaret. I hopped back to the car and beat the tide, easy. Heysham has the advantage of being one of the few places around Morecambe Bay from where, if you’re smart, you can’t see Heysham power station. I’ve nothing against power stations, would be lost without them, but they don’t embellish a coast. Up on the headland, there are heath, wind, rocks and a sense of eternity. The distant Lakeland fells make things perfect. What’s left of the wrecked, eighth-century St Patrick’s chapel stands stout near older rock-hewn graves. “The scale of the bay has always inspired spiritual reflection,” said Susannah Bleakley of the Morecambe Bay Partnership. Vikings worshipped Norse gods here. The coast is punctuated with barrows, chapels, nunneries – and Black Sabbath fans seeking the rock-hewn graves: they’re on the cover of the band’s 2000 Best Of album. Down below, Heysham village is Miss-Marple-by-the-Sea, a delight distinguished by native nettle tea, which I have drunk once and probably shan’t again. Beyond is Morecambe and, beyond that, Hest Bank and Bolton-le-Sands, where windsurfers dart about like dragonflies on a gunmetal sea sheened silver where there are shafts of light. Right out beyond the fields, there are Lancashire’s most remote farms, a café or two, people sitting in their cars staring out and – a surprise, this – an abundance of residential caravan sites. On the edge of nowhere. At one, a chap was watering a herbaceous border. The vast bay was feet away. I heard his wife call him in for tea. Natural splendour of international class, and a nice cup of tea: the English truly are unbeatable. • Britain's best seaside hotels "By Silverdale, the coast has sprouted more rocks, rounded hills, little cliffs, thick woodland, drystone walls and the thinnest country lanes of all" Photo: AP/FOTOLIA By Silverdale, the coast has sprouted more rocks, rounded hills, little cliffs, thick woodland, drystone walls and the thinnest country lanes of all. They go up and down and round and round. Farm boys on big tractors could slaughter the tourist trade in an afternoon. There’s an Iron Age fort up on Warton Crag and, out on Jenny Brown’s Point, a terribly isolated chimney whose function no one really knows. The walking is wonderful. The village itself is overcome with stone, flowers and a sense of centuries. Elizabeth Gaskell holidayed and wrote there, but who else has even heard of it? There’s no space here to do justice either to this district or the bay in general. It’s the coast of my home county and, now I’ve been back, I’m as proud as hell. I shall go on talking about it until everyone has been. More from Anthony Peregrine • The Franco-American love-fest • Napoleon or Wellington - who was better? • Why I’m embarrassed to be a non-smoker • The fêtes of our nations: bullfighting or tombola? • The perils of holidaying with friends • Why I love motorways • The joy of dining alone - and why my satnav is the perfect woman
I had driven way out along lanes no straighter than a ram’s horn to Red Bank Farm, at Bolton-le-Sands, near Lancaster. The farm, and its café, were poised at that point where farmland, salt meadows, marshes and incoming tides all met. The many signs were clear: these were lethal surroundings for the stupid. I ordered a coffee, took it outside to the farm garden and asked if I might join a senior lady at her table. “That’s a small coffee,” she said. It was. Finding an espresso here on the rim of the North West was like finding a Scotch egg in Haifa. “Me, I need more volume.” She giggled. We talked. I told her that, though a Lancastrian, I hadn’t been near the Morecambe Bay coast for years. Decades. “I’m awestruck. I’d forgotten the scale. The grandeur.” I had. I’d burst from the high-hedged lanes to immense meadows speckled with sheep, to mud and marshes, a forever sea, and a vast sky which did as it damned well pleased – black cloud to dun hues, then blue and back again, in 10 minutes flat. “It’s stunning,” I said. “Yes,” she said. “It is very nice.” I’d forgotten, also, the Lancastrian way with superlatives. “We often have a run out here.” Then she paused. “Are you sure that coffee’s big enough?” Blackpool is more than just the Big Dipper Credit: Getty The untutored limit the Lancashire coast to Blackpool, Morecambe and other resorts. This is wrong, but it wouldn’t bother me if it were right. These are places you plunge into for raucous experiences. At Blackpool’s Pleasure Beach, the Big One is like going over the Andes in a coal scuttle. A jet-propelled coal scuttle. There are piers and slot machines, award-winning double burger outlets and all-you-can-eat pizza restaurants – for a population that might (Lord knows, it’s none of my business) better profit from a least-you-can-eat salad bar. Popular culture is popular for a reason. There was a three-hour wait for the Big One when I was through. Real popularity, though, sometimes embarrasses clever people within local authorities. In line with contemporary mores, they like to culture up their towns, perhaps by emphasising a Victorian past. Or slotting in sculpture. Or reworking the prom. Some of this looks jolly good, but Lancastrians resist overt gentrification. Theirs – ours – is a meat-pie culture. As one fellow with whom I broached the subject in Cleveleys put it: “B----- the statues, give us the chips.” The ultimate UK bucket list: 29 things to do in your lifetime At the edges, liveliness like that fosters tat. The resorts boast much in the way of glaring signs in orange and yellow (“All items 60p!!”, “All day breakfast! £2.95!!”) and a world-class collection of budget stores smelling jauntily of despair. Fleetwood’s famous market, and that in Morecambe on a Sunday, would dispirit shoppers from Somalia. But it is this uncertainty – the bouncing between acute popularity, attempted culture and the frankly tawdry – that has the resorts keeping calm and carrying on, against the odds, in an intriguing manner. I licked through them at a fair old pace, particularly taken with Cleveleys, where sculptures indeed punctuated the seafront and sands. They’re inspired by characters from a children’s book, The Sea Swallow (Gareth Thompson; Foxtail, £9.99), itself inspired by folk tales from this Fylde coast. The idea is a belter. The artworks – sea swallows atop a beacon, a 13ft sea shell, a sea ogre hiding among groynes and rocks – urge you along the front. It was a terrific walk, even as the wind blew my eyebrows off. Windswept trees on the Lancaster coast Credit: Getty So over the Wyre to Over Wyre. Here the world changes. Lanes drawn by a fellow following cows lead to little-ruffled villages – Pilling, Cockerham – and out to the sense-smacking immensity of the Morecambe Bay seaside. You roll past hedges and cattle-heavy fields, then surge through to the coast, John Denver ceding to Van Morrison. This is huge, outlandish, not just stirring but nourishing. Drive out to Lane Ends – a distant gathering point-cum-picnic area beyond Pilling – park, walk and tell me I’m wrong. Outside the old farms and village centres, folk have reacted to the elemental power with bungalows, semis and other bits from suburbia. This is the British way. We don’t go bonkers. We settle down. And certainly, in Hambleton, many will require “Woof ’n’ Puss Pet Supplies”. I now skipped to the Lune estuary. Overton is the last, stone-built, outpost before the mile-long causeway to Sunderland Point. The causeway crosses marsh, mudflats and channels which fill up at high tide, overspilling to flood the road and ambush motorists. I really needed a tide table. A sign in the Overton car park indicated such was available at the village’s Globe pub. “Nah, sorry, love. Not here.” I set out anyway, taking my mind off watery death by trying to spot the heavily advertised wading birds. I’d got right across and parked up on the beach stones and had seen nothing but a dunlin. Or it could have been a chicken. Ornithology is not my strong suit. Around the corner, Trevor Owen and his team were coming ashore, across the mud from little boats, with two sackfuls of salmon. Sundered from land, the semi-island of Sunderland Point is about a mile by a half-mile. Some 67 people live there, in 35 houses – mainly drawn up in two distinguished seafront terraces. It’s been a proper little port, home to ship owners, sea captains, farmers and Sambo, a black fellow who may or may not have been a slave. He died there in 1736; his grave has been honoured since. Then there are the fishermen. Or there were. Trevor, 69, is among the last. Certainly his wife, Margaret, 63, is the last fisherwoman. This may be because young ladies no longer consider standing up to their chests in estuary water, wielding a 13ft haaf net, an attractive career option. Sunderland Point at dusk Credit: ©2630ben - stock.adobe.com At different seasons, the Owens fish shrimp, cockles, whitebait, bass – and sprats for the sea lions at Blackpool Zoo. Their activity is tenaciously regulated. Margaret fights the more formidable idiocies of officialdom. Trevor plays in blues bands. You think you’re at the end of the world, but you’re right in the middle of theirs. “Visitors? We love them,” cried Margaret. I hopped back to the car and beat the tide, easy. Heysham has the advantage of being one of the few places around Morecambe Bay from where, if you’re smart, you can’t see Heysham power station. I’ve nothing against power stations, would be lost without them, but they don’t embellish a coast. Up on the headland, there are heath, wind, rocks and a sense of eternity. The distant Lakeland fells make things perfect. What’s left of the wrecked, eighth-century St Patrick’s chapel stands stout near older rock-hewn graves. “The scale of the bay has always inspired spiritual reflection,” said Susannah Bleakley of the Morecambe Bay Partnership. Vikings worshipped Norse gods here. The coast is punctuated with barrows, chapels, nunneries – and Black Sabbath fans seeking the rock-hewn graves: they’re on the cover of the band’s 2000 Best Of album. Down below, Heysham village is Miss-Marple-by-the-Sea, a delight distinguished by native nettle tea, which I have drunk once and probably shan’t again. Beyond is Morecambe and, beyond that, Hest Bank and Bolton-le-Sands, where windsurfers dart about like dragonflies on a gunmetal sea sheened silver where there are shafts of light. Right out beyond the fields, there are Lancashire’s most remote farms, a café or two, people sitting in their cars staring out and – a surprise, this – an abundance of residential caravan sites. On the edge of nowhere. At one, a chap was watering a herbaceous border. The vast bay was feet away. I heard his wife call him in for tea. Natural splendour of international class, and a nice cup of tea: the English truly are unbeatable. Britain's 40 best beaches – according to our experts By Silverdale, the coast has sprouted more rocks, rounded hills, little cliffs, thick woodland, drystone walls and the thinnest country lanes of all. They go up and down and round and round. Farm boys on big tractors could slaughter the tourist trade in an afternoon. There’s an Iron Age fort up on Warton Crag and, out on Jenny Brown’s Point, a terribly isolated chimney whose function no one really knows. The walking is wonderful. The village itself is overcome with stone, flowers and a sense of centuries. Elizabeth Gaskell holidayed and wrote there, but who else has even heard of it? There’s no space here to do justice either to this district or the bay in general. It’s the coast of my home county and, now I’ve been back, I’m as proud as hell. I shall go on talking about it until everyone has been. The essentials Where to stay The Cartford Inn, in Little Eccleston, is the most beguiling gastro-pub-hotel in Lancashire – run by a Lancastrian from, um, Bordeaux (01995 670166, thecartfordinn.co.uk); b&b doubles from £100. As a base for the north of the area, head for Hipping Hall at Cowan Bridge, whose restaurant will shortly be harvesting Michelin stars (0152 427 1187; hippinghall.com); b&b doubles from £179. Cycling there Morecambe Bay Partnership has inaugurated an 80-mile cycleway from Barrow to Glasson Dock and are creating map-guides for walking and cycling under the heading Seldom Seen (morecambebay.org.uk). More details visitlancashire.com More from Anthony Peregrine • The Franco-American love-fest • Napoleon or Wellington - who was better? • Why I’m embarrassed to be a non-smoker • The fêtes of our nations: bullfighting or tombola? • The perils of holidaying with friends • Why I love motorways • The joy of dining alone - and why my satnav is the perfect woman I had driven way out along lanes no straighter than a ram’s horn to Red Bank Farm, at Bolton-le-Sands, near Lancaster. The farm, and its café, were poised at that point where farmland, salt meadows, marshes and incoming tides all met. The many signs were clear: these were lethal surroundings for the stupid. I ordered a coffee, took it outside to the farm garden and asked if I might join a senior lady at her table. “That’s a small coffee,” she said. It was. Finding an espresso here on the rim of the North West was like finding a Scotch egg in Haifa. “Me, I need more volume.” She giggled. We talked. "Finding an espresso here on the rim of the North West was like finding a Scotch egg in Haifa" I told her that, though a Lancastrian, I hadn’t been near the Morecambe Bay coast for years. Decades. “I’m awestruck. I’d forgotten the scale. The grandeur.” I had. I’d burst from the high-hedged lanes to immense meadows speckled with sheep, to mud and marshes, a forever sea, and a vast sky which did as it damned well pleased – black cloud to dun hues, then blue and back again, in 10 minutes flat. “It’s stunning,” I said. “Yes,” she said. “It is very nice.” I’d forgotten, also, the Lancastrian way with superlatives. “We often have a run out here.” Then she paused. “Are you sure that coffee’s big enough?” The untutored limit the Lancashire coast to Blackpool, Morecambe and other resorts. This is wrong, but it wouldn’t bother me if it were right. These are places you plunge into for raucous experiences. At Blackpool’s Pleasure Beach, the Big One is like going over the Andes in a coal scuttle. A jet-propelled coal scuttle. There are piers and slot machines, award-winning double burger outlets and all-you-can-eat pizza restaurants – for a population that might (Lord knows, it’s none of my business) better profit from a least-you-can-eat salad bar. Popular culture is popular for a reason. There was a three-hour wait for the Big One when I was through. • Would you take your family to Blackpool? At Blackpool?s Pleasure Beach, the Big One is like going over the Andes in a coal scuttle Photo: AP/FOTOLIA Real popularity, though, sometimes embarrasses clever people within local authorities. In line with contemporary mores, they like to culture up their towns, perhaps by emphasising a Victorian past. Or slotting in sculpture. Or reworking the prom. Some of this looks jolly good, but Lancastrians resist overt gentrification. Theirs – ours – is a meat-pie culture. As one fellow with whom I broached the subject in Cleveleys put it: “B----- the statues, give us the chips.” At the edges, liveliness like that fosters tat. The resorts boast much in the way of glaring signs in orange and yellow (“All items 60p!!”, “All day breakfast! £2.95!!”) and a world-class collection of budget stores smelling jauntily of despair. Fleetwood’s famous market, and that in Morecambe on a Sunday, would dispirit shoppers from Somalia. But it is this uncertainty – the bouncing between acute popularity, attempted culture and the frankly tawdry – that has the resorts keeping calm and carrying on, against the odds, in an intriguing manner. "Fleetwood’s famous market, and that in Morecambe on a Sunday, would dispirit shoppers from Somalia" I licked through them at a fair old pace, particularly taken with Cleveleys, where sculptures indeed punctuated the seafront and sands. They’re inspired by characters from a children’s book, The Sea Swallow (Gareth Thompson; Foxtail, £9.99), itself inspired by folk tales from this Fylde coast. The idea is a belter. The artworks – sea swallows atop a beacon, a 13ft sea shell, a sea ogre hiding among groynes and rocks – urge you along the front. It was a terrific walk, even as the wind blew my eyebrows off. So over the Wyre to Over Wyre. Here the world changes. Lanes drawn by a fellow following cows lead to little-ruffled villages – Pilling, Cockerham – and out to the sense-smacking immensity of the Morecambe Bay seaside. You roll past hedges and cattle-heavy fields, then surge through to the coast, John Denver ceding to Van Morrison. This is huge, outlandish, not just stirring but nourishing. Drive out to Lane Ends – a distant gathering point-cum-picnic area beyond Pilling – park, walk and tell me I’m wrong. Outside the old farms and village centres, folk have reacted to the elemental power with bungalows, semis and other bits from suburbia. This is the British way. We don’t go bonkers. We settle down. And certainly, in Hambleton, many will require “Woof ’n’ Puss Pet Supplies”. • Midland Hotel, Morecambe: review • Lancaster: 10 reasons to visit I now skipped to the Lune estuary. Overton is the last, stone-built, outpost before the mile-long causeway to Sunderland Point. The causeway crosses marsh, mudflats and channels which fill up at high tide, overspilling to flood the road and ambush motorists. I really needed a tide table. A sign in the Overton car park indicated such was available at the village’s Globe pub. “Nah, sorry, love. Not here.” I set out anyway, taking my mind off watery death by trying to spot the heavily advertised wading birds. I’d got right across and parked up on the beach stones and had seen nothing but a dunlin. Or it could have been a chicken. Ornithology is not my strong suit. Around the corner, Trevor Owen and his team were coming ashore, across the mud from little boats, with two sackfuls of salmon. The coast near Heysham: "Heysham village is Miss-Marple-by-the-Sea, a delight distinguished by native nettle tea, which I have drunk once and probably shan?t again" Photo: AP/FOTOLIA Sundered from land, the semi-island of Sunderland Point is about a mile by a half-mile. Some 67 people live there, in 35 houses – mainly drawn up in two distinguished seafront terraces. It’s been a proper little port, home to ship owners, sea captains, farmers and Sambo, a black fellow who may or may not have been a slave. He died there in 1736; his grave has been honoured since. Then there are the fishermen. Or there were. Trevor, 69, is among the last. Certainly his wife, Margaret, 63, is the last fisherwoman. This may be because young ladies no longer consider standing up to their chests in estuary water, wielding a 13ft haaf net, an attractive career option. At different seasons, the Owens fish shrimp, cockles, whitebait, bass – and sprats for the sea lions at Blackpool Zoo. Their activity is tenaciously regulated. Margaret fights the more formidable idiocies of officialdom. Trevor plays in blues bands. You think you’re at the end of the world, but you’re right in the middle of theirs. “Visitors? We love them,” cried Margaret. I hopped back to the car and beat the tide, easy. Heysham has the advantage of being one of the few places around Morecambe Bay from where, if you’re smart, you can’t see Heysham power station. I’ve nothing against power stations, would be lost without them, but they don’t embellish a coast. Up on the headland, there are heath, wind, rocks and a sense of eternity. The distant Lakeland fells make things perfect. What’s left of the wrecked, eighth-century St Patrick’s chapel stands stout near older rock-hewn graves. “The scale of the bay has always inspired spiritual reflection,” said Susannah Bleakley of the Morecambe Bay Partnership. Vikings worshipped Norse gods here. The coast is punctuated with barrows, chapels, nunneries – and Black Sabbath fans seeking the rock-hewn graves: they’re on the cover of the band’s 2000 Best Of album. Down below, Heysham village is Miss-Marple-by-the-Sea, a delight distinguished by native nettle tea, which I have drunk once and probably shan’t again. Beyond is Morecambe and, beyond that, Hest Bank and Bolton-le-Sands, where windsurfers dart about like dragonflies on a gunmetal sea sheened silver where there are shafts of light. Right out beyond the fields, there are Lancashire’s most remote farms, a café or two, people sitting in their cars staring out and – a surprise, this – an abundance of residential caravan sites. On the edge of nowhere. At one, a chap was watering a herbaceous border. The vast bay was feet away. I heard his wife call him in for tea. Natural splendour of international class, and a nice cup of tea: the English truly are unbeatable. • Britain's best seaside hotels "By Silverdale, the coast has sprouted more rocks, rounded hills, little cliffs, thick woodland, drystone walls and the thinnest country lanes of all" Photo: AP/FOTOLIA By Silverdale, the coast has sprouted more rocks, rounded hills, little cliffs, thick woodland, drystone walls and the thinnest country lanes of all. They go up and down and round and round. Farm boys on big tractors could slaughter the tourist trade in an afternoon. There’s an Iron Age fort up on Warton Crag and, out on Jenny Brown’s Point, a terribly isolated chimney whose function no one really knows. The walking is wonderful. The village itself is overcome with stone, flowers and a sense of centuries. Elizabeth Gaskell holidayed and wrote there, but who else has even heard of it? There’s no space here to do justice either to this district or the bay in general. It’s the coast of my home county and, now I’ve been back, I’m as proud as hell. I shall go on talking about it until everyone has been. More from Anthony Peregrine • The Franco-American love-fest • Napoleon or Wellington - who was better? • Why I’m embarrassed to be a non-smoker • The fêtes of our nations: bullfighting or tombola? • The perils of holidaying with friends • Why I love motorways • The joy of dining alone - and why my satnav is the perfect woman
Is the north-west Britain's most underrated coastline?
I had driven way out along lanes no straighter than a ram’s horn to Red Bank Farm, at Bolton-le-Sands, near Lancaster. The farm, and its café, were poised at that point where farmland, salt meadows, marshes and incoming tides all met. The many signs were clear: these were lethal surroundings for the stupid. I ordered a coffee, took it outside to the farm garden and asked if I might join a senior lady at her table. “That’s a small coffee,” she said. It was. Finding an espresso here on the rim of the North West was like finding a Scotch egg in Haifa. “Me, I need more volume.” She giggled. We talked. I told her that, though a Lancastrian, I hadn’t been near the Morecambe Bay coast for years. Decades. “I’m awestruck. I’d forgotten the scale. The grandeur.” I had. I’d burst from the high-hedged lanes to immense meadows speckled with sheep, to mud and marshes, a forever sea, and a vast sky which did as it damned well pleased – black cloud to dun hues, then blue and back again, in 10 minutes flat. “It’s stunning,” I said. “Yes,” she said. “It is very nice.” I’d forgotten, also, the Lancastrian way with superlatives. “We often have a run out here.” Then she paused. “Are you sure that coffee’s big enough?” Blackpool is more than just the Big Dipper Credit: Getty The untutored limit the Lancashire coast to Blackpool, Morecambe and other resorts. This is wrong, but it wouldn’t bother me if it were right. These are places you plunge into for raucous experiences. At Blackpool’s Pleasure Beach, the Big One is like going over the Andes in a coal scuttle. A jet-propelled coal scuttle. There are piers and slot machines, award-winning double burger outlets and all-you-can-eat pizza restaurants – for a population that might (Lord knows, it’s none of my business) better profit from a least-you-can-eat salad bar. Popular culture is popular for a reason. There was a three-hour wait for the Big One when I was through. Real popularity, though, sometimes embarrasses clever people within local authorities. In line with contemporary mores, they like to culture up their towns, perhaps by emphasising a Victorian past. Or slotting in sculpture. Or reworking the prom. Some of this looks jolly good, but Lancastrians resist overt gentrification. Theirs – ours – is a meat-pie culture. As one fellow with whom I broached the subject in Cleveleys put it: “B----- the statues, give us the chips.” The ultimate UK bucket list: 29 things to do in your lifetime At the edges, liveliness like that fosters tat. The resorts boast much in the way of glaring signs in orange and yellow (“All items 60p!!”, “All day breakfast! £2.95!!”) and a world-class collection of budget stores smelling jauntily of despair. Fleetwood’s famous market, and that in Morecambe on a Sunday, would dispirit shoppers from Somalia. But it is this uncertainty – the bouncing between acute popularity, attempted culture and the frankly tawdry – that has the resorts keeping calm and carrying on, against the odds, in an intriguing manner. I licked through them at a fair old pace, particularly taken with Cleveleys, where sculptures indeed punctuated the seafront and sands. They’re inspired by characters from a children’s book, The Sea Swallow (Gareth Thompson; Foxtail, £9.99), itself inspired by folk tales from this Fylde coast. The idea is a belter. The artworks – sea swallows atop a beacon, a 13ft sea shell, a sea ogre hiding among groynes and rocks – urge you along the front. It was a terrific walk, even as the wind blew my eyebrows off. Windswept trees on the Lancaster coast Credit: Getty So over the Wyre to Over Wyre. Here the world changes. Lanes drawn by a fellow following cows lead to little-ruffled villages – Pilling, Cockerham – and out to the sense-smacking immensity of the Morecambe Bay seaside. You roll past hedges and cattle-heavy fields, then surge through to the coast, John Denver ceding to Van Morrison. This is huge, outlandish, not just stirring but nourishing. Drive out to Lane Ends – a distant gathering point-cum-picnic area beyond Pilling – park, walk and tell me I’m wrong. Outside the old farms and village centres, folk have reacted to the elemental power with bungalows, semis and other bits from suburbia. This is the British way. We don’t go bonkers. We settle down. And certainly, in Hambleton, many will require “Woof ’n’ Puss Pet Supplies”. I now skipped to the Lune estuary. Overton is the last, stone-built, outpost before the mile-long causeway to Sunderland Point. The causeway crosses marsh, mudflats and channels which fill up at high tide, overspilling to flood the road and ambush motorists. I really needed a tide table. A sign in the Overton car park indicated such was available at the village’s Globe pub. “Nah, sorry, love. Not here.” I set out anyway, taking my mind off watery death by trying to spot the heavily advertised wading birds. I’d got right across and parked up on the beach stones and had seen nothing but a dunlin. Or it could have been a chicken. Ornithology is not my strong suit. Around the corner, Trevor Owen and his team were coming ashore, across the mud from little boats, with two sackfuls of salmon. Sundered from land, the semi-island of Sunderland Point is about a mile by a half-mile. Some 67 people live there, in 35 houses – mainly drawn up in two distinguished seafront terraces. It’s been a proper little port, home to ship owners, sea captains, farmers and Sambo, a black fellow who may or may not have been a slave. He died there in 1736; his grave has been honoured since. Then there are the fishermen. Or there were. Trevor, 69, is among the last. Certainly his wife, Margaret, 63, is the last fisherwoman. This may be because young ladies no longer consider standing up to their chests in estuary water, wielding a 13ft haaf net, an attractive career option. Sunderland Point at dusk Credit: ©2630ben - stock.adobe.com At different seasons, the Owens fish shrimp, cockles, whitebait, bass – and sprats for the sea lions at Blackpool Zoo. Their activity is tenaciously regulated. Margaret fights the more formidable idiocies of officialdom. Trevor plays in blues bands. You think you’re at the end of the world, but you’re right in the middle of theirs. “Visitors? We love them,” cried Margaret. I hopped back to the car and beat the tide, easy. Heysham has the advantage of being one of the few places around Morecambe Bay from where, if you’re smart, you can’t see Heysham power station. I’ve nothing against power stations, would be lost without them, but they don’t embellish a coast. Up on the headland, there are heath, wind, rocks and a sense of eternity. The distant Lakeland fells make things perfect. What’s left of the wrecked, eighth-century St Patrick’s chapel stands stout near older rock-hewn graves. “The scale of the bay has always inspired spiritual reflection,” said Susannah Bleakley of the Morecambe Bay Partnership. Vikings worshipped Norse gods here. The coast is punctuated with barrows, chapels, nunneries – and Black Sabbath fans seeking the rock-hewn graves: they’re on the cover of the band’s 2000 Best Of album. Down below, Heysham village is Miss-Marple-by-the-Sea, a delight distinguished by native nettle tea, which I have drunk once and probably shan’t again. Beyond is Morecambe and, beyond that, Hest Bank and Bolton-le-Sands, where windsurfers dart about like dragonflies on a gunmetal sea sheened silver where there are shafts of light. Right out beyond the fields, there are Lancashire’s most remote farms, a café or two, people sitting in their cars staring out and – a surprise, this – an abundance of residential caravan sites. On the edge of nowhere. At one, a chap was watering a herbaceous border. The vast bay was feet away. I heard his wife call him in for tea. Natural splendour of international class, and a nice cup of tea: the English truly are unbeatable. Britain's 40 best beaches – according to our experts By Silverdale, the coast has sprouted more rocks, rounded hills, little cliffs, thick woodland, drystone walls and the thinnest country lanes of all. They go up and down and round and round. Farm boys on big tractors could slaughter the tourist trade in an afternoon. There’s an Iron Age fort up on Warton Crag and, out on Jenny Brown’s Point, a terribly isolated chimney whose function no one really knows. The walking is wonderful. The village itself is overcome with stone, flowers and a sense of centuries. Elizabeth Gaskell holidayed and wrote there, but who else has even heard of it? There’s no space here to do justice either to this district or the bay in general. It’s the coast of my home county and, now I’ve been back, I’m as proud as hell. I shall go on talking about it until everyone has been. The essentials Where to stay The Cartford Inn, in Little Eccleston, is the most beguiling gastro-pub-hotel in Lancashire – run by a Lancastrian from, um, Bordeaux (01995 670166, thecartfordinn.co.uk); b&b doubles from £100. As a base for the north of the area, head for Hipping Hall at Cowan Bridge, whose restaurant will shortly be harvesting Michelin stars (0152 427 1187; hippinghall.com); b&b doubles from £179. Cycling there Morecambe Bay Partnership has inaugurated an 80-mile cycleway from Barrow to Glasson Dock and are creating map-guides for walking and cycling under the heading Seldom Seen (morecambebay.org.uk). More details visitlancashire.com More from Anthony Peregrine • The Franco-American love-fest • Napoleon or Wellington - who was better? • Why I’m embarrassed to be a non-smoker • The fêtes of our nations: bullfighting or tombola? • The perils of holidaying with friends • Why I love motorways • The joy of dining alone - and why my satnav is the perfect woman I had driven way out along lanes no straighter than a ram’s horn to Red Bank Farm, at Bolton-le-Sands, near Lancaster. The farm, and its café, were poised at that point where farmland, salt meadows, marshes and incoming tides all met. The many signs were clear: these were lethal surroundings for the stupid. I ordered a coffee, took it outside to the farm garden and asked if I might join a senior lady at her table. “That’s a small coffee,” she said. It was. Finding an espresso here on the rim of the North West was like finding a Scotch egg in Haifa. “Me, I need more volume.” She giggled. We talked. "Finding an espresso here on the rim of the North West was like finding a Scotch egg in Haifa" I told her that, though a Lancastrian, I hadn’t been near the Morecambe Bay coast for years. Decades. “I’m awestruck. I’d forgotten the scale. The grandeur.” I had. I’d burst from the high-hedged lanes to immense meadows speckled with sheep, to mud and marshes, a forever sea, and a vast sky which did as it damned well pleased – black cloud to dun hues, then blue and back again, in 10 minutes flat. “It’s stunning,” I said. “Yes,” she said. “It is very nice.” I’d forgotten, also, the Lancastrian way with superlatives. “We often have a run out here.” Then she paused. “Are you sure that coffee’s big enough?” The untutored limit the Lancashire coast to Blackpool, Morecambe and other resorts. This is wrong, but it wouldn’t bother me if it were right. These are places you plunge into for raucous experiences. At Blackpool’s Pleasure Beach, the Big One is like going over the Andes in a coal scuttle. A jet-propelled coal scuttle. There are piers and slot machines, award-winning double burger outlets and all-you-can-eat pizza restaurants – for a population that might (Lord knows, it’s none of my business) better profit from a least-you-can-eat salad bar. Popular culture is popular for a reason. There was a three-hour wait for the Big One when I was through. • Would you take your family to Blackpool? At Blackpool?s Pleasure Beach, the Big One is like going over the Andes in a coal scuttle Photo: AP/FOTOLIA Real popularity, though, sometimes embarrasses clever people within local authorities. In line with contemporary mores, they like to culture up their towns, perhaps by emphasising a Victorian past. Or slotting in sculpture. Or reworking the prom. Some of this looks jolly good, but Lancastrians resist overt gentrification. Theirs – ours – is a meat-pie culture. As one fellow with whom I broached the subject in Cleveleys put it: “B----- the statues, give us the chips.” At the edges, liveliness like that fosters tat. The resorts boast much in the way of glaring signs in orange and yellow (“All items 60p!!”, “All day breakfast! £2.95!!”) and a world-class collection of budget stores smelling jauntily of despair. Fleetwood’s famous market, and that in Morecambe on a Sunday, would dispirit shoppers from Somalia. But it is this uncertainty – the bouncing between acute popularity, attempted culture and the frankly tawdry – that has the resorts keeping calm and carrying on, against the odds, in an intriguing manner. "Fleetwood’s famous market, and that in Morecambe on a Sunday, would dispirit shoppers from Somalia" I licked through them at a fair old pace, particularly taken with Cleveleys, where sculptures indeed punctuated the seafront and sands. They’re inspired by characters from a children’s book, The Sea Swallow (Gareth Thompson; Foxtail, £9.99), itself inspired by folk tales from this Fylde coast. The idea is a belter. The artworks – sea swallows atop a beacon, a 13ft sea shell, a sea ogre hiding among groynes and rocks – urge you along the front. It was a terrific walk, even as the wind blew my eyebrows off. So over the Wyre to Over Wyre. Here the world changes. Lanes drawn by a fellow following cows lead to little-ruffled villages – Pilling, Cockerham – and out to the sense-smacking immensity of the Morecambe Bay seaside. You roll past hedges and cattle-heavy fields, then surge through to the coast, John Denver ceding to Van Morrison. This is huge, outlandish, not just stirring but nourishing. Drive out to Lane Ends – a distant gathering point-cum-picnic area beyond Pilling – park, walk and tell me I’m wrong. Outside the old farms and village centres, folk have reacted to the elemental power with bungalows, semis and other bits from suburbia. This is the British way. We don’t go bonkers. We settle down. And certainly, in Hambleton, many will require “Woof ’n’ Puss Pet Supplies”. • Midland Hotel, Morecambe: review • Lancaster: 10 reasons to visit I now skipped to the Lune estuary. Overton is the last, stone-built, outpost before the mile-long causeway to Sunderland Point. The causeway crosses marsh, mudflats and channels which fill up at high tide, overspilling to flood the road and ambush motorists. I really needed a tide table. A sign in the Overton car park indicated such was available at the village’s Globe pub. “Nah, sorry, love. Not here.” I set out anyway, taking my mind off watery death by trying to spot the heavily advertised wading birds. I’d got right across and parked up on the beach stones and had seen nothing but a dunlin. Or it could have been a chicken. Ornithology is not my strong suit. Around the corner, Trevor Owen and his team were coming ashore, across the mud from little boats, with two sackfuls of salmon. The coast near Heysham: "Heysham village is Miss-Marple-by-the-Sea, a delight distinguished by native nettle tea, which I have drunk once and probably shan?t again" Photo: AP/FOTOLIA Sundered from land, the semi-island of Sunderland Point is about a mile by a half-mile. Some 67 people live there, in 35 houses – mainly drawn up in two distinguished seafront terraces. It’s been a proper little port, home to ship owners, sea captains, farmers and Sambo, a black fellow who may or may not have been a slave. He died there in 1736; his grave has been honoured since. Then there are the fishermen. Or there were. Trevor, 69, is among the last. Certainly his wife, Margaret, 63, is the last fisherwoman. This may be because young ladies no longer consider standing up to their chests in estuary water, wielding a 13ft haaf net, an attractive career option. At different seasons, the Owens fish shrimp, cockles, whitebait, bass – and sprats for the sea lions at Blackpool Zoo. Their activity is tenaciously regulated. Margaret fights the more formidable idiocies of officialdom. Trevor plays in blues bands. You think you’re at the end of the world, but you’re right in the middle of theirs. “Visitors? We love them,” cried Margaret. I hopped back to the car and beat the tide, easy. Heysham has the advantage of being one of the few places around Morecambe Bay from where, if you’re smart, you can’t see Heysham power station. I’ve nothing against power stations, would be lost without them, but they don’t embellish a coast. Up on the headland, there are heath, wind, rocks and a sense of eternity. The distant Lakeland fells make things perfect. What’s left of the wrecked, eighth-century St Patrick’s chapel stands stout near older rock-hewn graves. “The scale of the bay has always inspired spiritual reflection,” said Susannah Bleakley of the Morecambe Bay Partnership. Vikings worshipped Norse gods here. The coast is punctuated with barrows, chapels, nunneries – and Black Sabbath fans seeking the rock-hewn graves: they’re on the cover of the band’s 2000 Best Of album. Down below, Heysham village is Miss-Marple-by-the-Sea, a delight distinguished by native nettle tea, which I have drunk once and probably shan’t again. Beyond is Morecambe and, beyond that, Hest Bank and Bolton-le-Sands, where windsurfers dart about like dragonflies on a gunmetal sea sheened silver where there are shafts of light. Right out beyond the fields, there are Lancashire’s most remote farms, a café or two, people sitting in their cars staring out and – a surprise, this – an abundance of residential caravan sites. On the edge of nowhere. At one, a chap was watering a herbaceous border. The vast bay was feet away. I heard his wife call him in for tea. Natural splendour of international class, and a nice cup of tea: the English truly are unbeatable. • Britain's best seaside hotels "By Silverdale, the coast has sprouted more rocks, rounded hills, little cliffs, thick woodland, drystone walls and the thinnest country lanes of all" Photo: AP/FOTOLIA By Silverdale, the coast has sprouted more rocks, rounded hills, little cliffs, thick woodland, drystone walls and the thinnest country lanes of all. They go up and down and round and round. Farm boys on big tractors could slaughter the tourist trade in an afternoon. There’s an Iron Age fort up on Warton Crag and, out on Jenny Brown’s Point, a terribly isolated chimney whose function no one really knows. The walking is wonderful. The village itself is overcome with stone, flowers and a sense of centuries. Elizabeth Gaskell holidayed and wrote there, but who else has even heard of it? There’s no space here to do justice either to this district or the bay in general. It’s the coast of my home county and, now I’ve been back, I’m as proud as hell. I shall go on talking about it until everyone has been. More from Anthony Peregrine • The Franco-American love-fest • Napoleon or Wellington - who was better? • Why I’m embarrassed to be a non-smoker • The fêtes of our nations: bullfighting or tombola? • The perils of holidaying with friends • Why I love motorways • The joy of dining alone - and why my satnav is the perfect woman
Former Arsenal striker Ian Wright has expressed his dismay after discovering a hoard of his playing memorabilia sold off by debt collectors in America. Around 500 items from Wright's garlanded career - including signed shirts, goal of the month trophies and his This Is Your Life red book - are now up for sale on an online auction after being purchased anonymously for £7 million. The collection was re-possessed after Wright's first wife Deborah failed to keep up payments on a storage unit in Orlando, Florida. Wright told The Sun: “It's a sad situation when you have been trying for so long to get your memorabilia back and then find out it’s turned up in a lock-up in America which has now been repossessed. “It's just really sad that it has come to this.” Wenger at Arsenal gallery Wright married Deborah in 1993. They separated in 2004, and it is claimed that she has rented the storage unit in Orlando since. A fan bought the paraphernalia at auction before putting it up for sale on the classified ads website Craiglist to a second buyer who wishes to remain anonymous. The items are now for sale on a website called 'County-Cards'. Among the collection is a signed Arsenal shirt with Wright and the number 185 on the back, commemorating the day Wright broke the club's all-time goalscoring record against Bolton Wanderers in 1997. “I searched all of America looking for soccer jerseys to buy and I came across the picture of the framed ‘Thank You 185 jersey’ which caught my eye,” the anonymous buyer told The Sun. “The guy who was selling it said he bought storage units for a living and one of the recent auctions he went to they were auctioning off Ian Wright’s ex-wife’s unit." An Adidas Golden Boot, an FA Premier League Hall of Fame Trophy and Premier League Player of the Month awards are among other collectors' items in the haul. Among the six football shirts, an England strip worn by son Shaun Wright-Phillips has particular sentimental value.
Ian Wright's £7 million memorabilia haul sold off after ex-wife failed to keep up with storage payments
Former Arsenal striker Ian Wright has expressed his dismay after discovering a hoard of his playing memorabilia sold off by debt collectors in America. Around 500 items from Wright's garlanded career - including signed shirts, goal of the month trophies and his This Is Your Life red book - are now up for sale on an online auction after being purchased anonymously for £7 million. The collection was re-possessed after Wright's first wife Deborah failed to keep up payments on a storage unit in Orlando, Florida. Wright told The Sun: “It's a sad situation when you have been trying for so long to get your memorabilia back and then find out it’s turned up in a lock-up in America which has now been repossessed. “It's just really sad that it has come to this.” Wenger at Arsenal gallery Wright married Deborah in 1993. They separated in 2004, and it is claimed that she has rented the storage unit in Orlando since. A fan bought the paraphernalia at auction before putting it up for sale on the classified ads website Craiglist to a second buyer who wishes to remain anonymous. The items are now for sale on a website called 'County-Cards'. Among the collection is a signed Arsenal shirt with Wright and the number 185 on the back, commemorating the day Wright broke the club's all-time goalscoring record against Bolton Wanderers in 1997. “I searched all of America looking for soccer jerseys to buy and I came across the picture of the framed ‘Thank You 185 jersey’ which caught my eye,” the anonymous buyer told The Sun. “The guy who was selling it said he bought storage units for a living and one of the recent auctions he went to they were auctioning off Ian Wright’s ex-wife’s unit." An Adidas Golden Boot, an FA Premier League Hall of Fame Trophy and Premier League Player of the Month awards are among other collectors' items in the haul. Among the six football shirts, an England strip worn by son Shaun Wright-Phillips has particular sentimental value.
We're into the final month of the season across England's top four tiers, and there is still plenty to play for. The Premier League title is wrapped up, and the bottom three clubs are looking increasingly to be relegated, but lower down the footballing pyramid there is plenty still at stake. Here, we round-up who can still finish where in the Premier League and Football League. Premier League Every team has between three and five games remaining, but it wouldn't be all that surprising if everyone finished in exactly the position they currently find themselves - or at least in the positions that truly matter. Manchester City are champions, while Manchester United, Liverpool and Tottenham are looking good to finish in the top four, barring a significant late collapse coupled with a Chelsea recovery. Arsenal are likely to beat Burnley to sixth place, with the losers of that race to go into the Europa League at the second qualifying stage - which starts on July 26. Everyone from Bournemouth in 11th and below can still be relegated, but it would take something dramatic for any of the teams above Huddersfield to be pulled back in to the dogfight. Southampton, Stoke and West Brom, all at least four points adrift of safety, are in real trouble. Premier League | Who can still get what? Championship Wolves are Championship champions, 12 points clear of Cardiff, who have three games left to play. Cardiff are battling it out with Fulham and Aston Villa for the second remaining automatic play-off spot, though the Welsh side are in the best position to secure promotion, given they have an extra game left to play. Two of those sides will go into the play-offs, joined by two more of Middlesbrough, Millwall, Derby, Brentford, Preston, Bristol City and Sheffield United, though the final four of those sides face an uphill task to sneak in. At the other end of the table, Sunderland's relegation to League One has been confirmed. Burton and Barnsley currently make up the bottom three, though Barnsley have a game in hand on Bolton, who are two points above them, just outside the relegation zone. Every side up to Reading can still technically go down. Championship | What can still happen? League One Wigan have sealed automatic promotion, and Blackburn look likely to beat Shrewsbury to the second of the automatic promotion spots. Whichever of those teams does not get into the top two will go into the play-offs, and with some sides still having to play four more games, the race for the three remaining play-off places is very open. Rotherham are guaranteed a play-off place, while six teams will battle it out for the final two spots. At the bottom, Bury are down, while everyone up to Bristol Rovers in 12th could feasibly get sucked into the relegation battle. Given only seven points separate Rochdale in 21st and Doncaster in 14th, there is an awful lot still to play for. League One | What can still happen? League Two Accrington Stanley and Luton have sealed promotion to League One. Wycombe are in pole position to secure the third and final automatic promotion slot, but every side currently in the play-off places is still, mathematically at least, in contention. The play-off berths will be filled by four of the six teams currently between third and eighth. Relegation from the Football League is looking perilously likely for both Chesterfield and Barnet, though everyone up to Yeovil in 19th could still be dragged into the drop zone, however unlikely that actually is. League Two | What can still happen?
Premier League and Football League relegation, promotion and play-offs: who can still finish where?
We're into the final month of the season across England's top four tiers, and there is still plenty to play for. The Premier League title is wrapped up, and the bottom three clubs are looking increasingly to be relegated, but lower down the footballing pyramid there is plenty still at stake. Here, we round-up who can still finish where in the Premier League and Football League. Premier League Every team has between three and five games remaining, but it wouldn't be all that surprising if everyone finished in exactly the position they currently find themselves - or at least in the positions that truly matter. Manchester City are champions, while Manchester United, Liverpool and Tottenham are looking good to finish in the top four, barring a significant late collapse coupled with a Chelsea recovery. Arsenal are likely to beat Burnley to sixth place, with the losers of that race to go into the Europa League at the second qualifying stage - which starts on July 26. Everyone from Bournemouth in 11th and below can still be relegated, but it would take something dramatic for any of the teams above Huddersfield to be pulled back in to the dogfight. Southampton, Stoke and West Brom, all at least four points adrift of safety, are in real trouble. Premier League | Who can still get what? Championship Wolves are Championship champions, 12 points clear of Cardiff, who have three games left to play. Cardiff are battling it out with Fulham and Aston Villa for the second remaining automatic play-off spot, though the Welsh side are in the best position to secure promotion, given they have an extra game left to play. Two of those sides will go into the play-offs, joined by two more of Middlesbrough, Millwall, Derby, Brentford, Preston, Bristol City and Sheffield United, though the final four of those sides face an uphill task to sneak in. At the other end of the table, Sunderland's relegation to League One has been confirmed. Burton and Barnsley currently make up the bottom three, though Barnsley have a game in hand on Bolton, who are two points above them, just outside the relegation zone. Every side up to Reading can still technically go down. Championship | What can still happen? League One Wigan have sealed automatic promotion, and Blackburn look likely to beat Shrewsbury to the second of the automatic promotion spots. Whichever of those teams does not get into the top two will go into the play-offs, and with some sides still having to play four more games, the race for the three remaining play-off places is very open. Rotherham are guaranteed a play-off place, while six teams will battle it out for the final two spots. At the bottom, Bury are down, while everyone up to Bristol Rovers in 12th could feasibly get sucked into the relegation battle. Given only seven points separate Rochdale in 21st and Doncaster in 14th, there is an awful lot still to play for. League One | What can still happen? League Two Accrington Stanley and Luton have sealed promotion to League One. Wycombe are in pole position to secure the third and final automatic promotion slot, but every side currently in the play-off places is still, mathematically at least, in contention. The play-off berths will be filled by four of the six teams currently between third and eighth. Relegation from the Football League is looking perilously likely for both Chesterfield and Barnet, though everyone up to Yeovil in 19th could still be dragged into the drop zone, however unlikely that actually is. League Two | What can still happen?
Soccer Football - Championship - Bolton Wanderers v Wolverhampton Wanderers - Macron Stadium, Bolton, Britain - April 21, 2018 Wolverhampton Wanderers manager Nuno Espirito Santo celebrates winning the Championship Action Images/Paul Burrows
Championship - Bolton Wanderers v Wolverhampton Wanderers
Soccer Football - Championship - Bolton Wanderers v Wolverhampton Wanderers - Macron Stadium, Bolton, Britain - April 21, 2018 Wolverhampton Wanderers manager Nuno Espirito Santo celebrates winning the Championship Action Images/Paul Burrows
Soccer Football - Championship - Bolton Wanderers v Wolverhampton Wanderers - Macron Stadium, Bolton, Britain - April 21, 2018 Wolverhampton Wanderers fans celebrate winning the Championship Action Images/Paul Burrows
Championship - Bolton Wanderers v Wolverhampton Wanderers
Soccer Football - Championship - Bolton Wanderers v Wolverhampton Wanderers - Macron Stadium, Bolton, Britain - April 21, 2018 Wolverhampton Wanderers fans celebrate winning the Championship Action Images/Paul Burrows
Soccer Football - Championship - Bolton Wanderers v Wolverhampton Wanderers - Macron Stadium, Bolton, Britain - April 21, 2018 Wolverhampton Wanderers players celebrate winning the Championship Action Images/Paul Burrows
Championship - Bolton Wanderers v Wolverhampton Wanderers
Soccer Football - Championship - Bolton Wanderers v Wolverhampton Wanderers - Macron Stadium, Bolton, Britain - April 21, 2018 Wolverhampton Wanderers players celebrate winning the Championship Action Images/Paul Burrows
Wolves crowned Championship winners as Bolton thrashed in front of own fans
Wolves crowned Championship winners as Bolton thrashed in front of own fans
Wolves crowned Championship winners as Bolton thrashed in front of own fans
Wolves crowned Championship winners as Bolton thrashed in front of own fans
Wolves crowned Championship winners as Bolton thrashed in front of own fans
Wolves crowned Championship winners as Bolton thrashed in front of own fans
Wolves crowned Championship winners as Bolton thrashed in front of own fans
Wolves crowned Championship winners as Bolton thrashed in front of own fans
Wolves crowned Championship winners as Bolton thrashed in front of own fans
Kamau will assist John Oyemba between the sticks alongside Wycliffe Otieno, Bolton Omwenga and Geoffrey Shiveka
Kariobangi Sharks defender Pascal Ogweno benched against Kakamega Homeboyz
Kamau will assist John Oyemba between the sticks alongside Wycliffe Otieno, Bolton Omwenga and Geoffrey Shiveka
The serendipity of the fixture list sees two managers linked by speculation encounter each other at Easter Road on Saturday. A win for Brendan Rodgers and Celtic against Hibs would secure a seventh successive title for the Hoops and take them to within one victory of an unprecedented second successive clean sweep of the Scottish honours. That accomplishment could be Rodgers’ parting gift to the Parkhead faithful, if his status as a favourite to succeed Arsene Wenger should culminate in a move to Arsenal. Celtic’s single largest shareholder, Dermot Desmond, made a telling intervention in that regard, when he told Sky Sports: “We wouldn’t want him to leave but we won’t force him to stay. “Hopefully his love for the club and the set-up here will induce him to stay. I don't think you can put handcuffs on anybody if they want to go to a club as good as Arsenal. It will be Brendan's decision and his decision only.” Should Rodgers depart, Neil Lennon – his opposite number today - will be cited as a prime candidate to return to the east end of Glasgow, from whence he departed in 2014 after four years in charge, during which spell Celtic won three consecutive titles to commence the sequence which is on the verge of being supplemented with another. Lennon’s decision to leave was fuelled by frustration at the absence of a challenge in the league, with Rangers mired in the lower divisions after the financial implosion at Ibrox in 2012. He added a spell with Bolton Wanderers to his CV before leaving in March 2016 and joining Hibs that summer. Lennon would be a candidate to return to Parkhead if Rodgers were to leave Scotland Credit: ACTION PLUS In Lennon’s first season in Edinburgh Hibs returned to the Scottish Premiership after a three-year absence and their performances have exceeded expectations, to the extent that they are only three points behind Rangers and Aberdeen in the tussle for second place. The conspiracy theorists have had fun with this weekend’s card, with one narrative suggesting that Celtic would not be unhappy to draw with Hibs, to boost their former favourite’s chances of overtaking Rangers while preserving the possibility of Rodgers & Co securing the title at home in next weekend’s Old Firm derby. A supplementary contention is that, should such a possibility materialise, then Rangers will not exert themselves unduly to prevent Hearts securing some reward when the pair meet at Ibrox on Sunday, so that Graeme Murty and his players are not once more cast in the role of sacrificial lambs so soon after their slaughter in last weekend’s William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final at Hampden Park. Such vapourings exclude Aberdeen’s part in the league endgame but they have added to the habitual gaiety of Glasgow pub conversations throughout the week. Not that Murty has been touring the city’s establishments in the aftermath of the derby trauma at Hampden, which was followed by news that two Rangers veterans – Lee Wallace and Kenny Miller – had been suspended by the club because of a dressing room row after the final whistle. Murty refused to discuss the incident, citing it as ‘an internal issue’, but also declared that he had not kept himself out of sight. “What am I going to do, hide under a rock? No, I won't,” he said. Murty has refused to discuss the dressing-room row involving Lee Wallace and Kenny Miller Credit: PA “Listen, I've walked around when we've done really well and people have been patting me on the back. We have to take the good and the bad times. You have to be man enough to front up to it.” Murty revealed that he had received strong support from his directors and staff – although he has not spoken to the Rangers chairman, Dave King – but admitted that the reverberations from last weekend’s debacle were still being felt, particularly in the instances of Daniel Candeias and Andy Halliday, both of whom were visibly angered by being substituted, particularly Halliday, who got the hook five minutes before the interval. “Andy didn’t direct any dissent towards me to my face, but I don’t expect him to be happy coming off the pitch, having been substituted that early,” said Murty. “Daniel plainly wasn’t happy to come off. “He said afterwards that he didn’t believe that he had done himself justice. He was desperate to stay on and play in a big, big game. “I am giving Andy a bit of space at the moment. He looks a little bit raw. As a human being I respect his space, but before Sunday Andy and I will have a sit down and have a chat.” Asked if there was still an issue with Halliday, Murty said, “Possibly”. He added: “Andy has focused in to training really, really well. I commend what he’s doing. I will address an issue with a player, as a person, at a time I consider appropriate.” No time like the present, one would have thought, but these are turbulent days at Ibrox – and perhaps there will soon be upheavals at Celtic Park and Easter Road, too, with the other domino in the series being resolution of the imminent managerial vacancy at the Emirates.
Celtic's seventh successive title could be Brendan Rodgers' parting gift if Arsenal believe he fits the bill
The serendipity of the fixture list sees two managers linked by speculation encounter each other at Easter Road on Saturday. A win for Brendan Rodgers and Celtic against Hibs would secure a seventh successive title for the Hoops and take them to within one victory of an unprecedented second successive clean sweep of the Scottish honours. That accomplishment could be Rodgers’ parting gift to the Parkhead faithful, if his status as a favourite to succeed Arsene Wenger should culminate in a move to Arsenal. Celtic’s single largest shareholder, Dermot Desmond, made a telling intervention in that regard, when he told Sky Sports: “We wouldn’t want him to leave but we won’t force him to stay. “Hopefully his love for the club and the set-up here will induce him to stay. I don't think you can put handcuffs on anybody if they want to go to a club as good as Arsenal. It will be Brendan's decision and his decision only.” Should Rodgers depart, Neil Lennon – his opposite number today - will be cited as a prime candidate to return to the east end of Glasgow, from whence he departed in 2014 after four years in charge, during which spell Celtic won three consecutive titles to commence the sequence which is on the verge of being supplemented with another. Lennon’s decision to leave was fuelled by frustration at the absence of a challenge in the league, with Rangers mired in the lower divisions after the financial implosion at Ibrox in 2012. He added a spell with Bolton Wanderers to his CV before leaving in March 2016 and joining Hibs that summer. Lennon would be a candidate to return to Parkhead if Rodgers were to leave Scotland Credit: ACTION PLUS In Lennon’s first season in Edinburgh Hibs returned to the Scottish Premiership after a three-year absence and their performances have exceeded expectations, to the extent that they are only three points behind Rangers and Aberdeen in the tussle for second place. The conspiracy theorists have had fun with this weekend’s card, with one narrative suggesting that Celtic would not be unhappy to draw with Hibs, to boost their former favourite’s chances of overtaking Rangers while preserving the possibility of Rodgers & Co securing the title at home in next weekend’s Old Firm derby. A supplementary contention is that, should such a possibility materialise, then Rangers will not exert themselves unduly to prevent Hearts securing some reward when the pair meet at Ibrox on Sunday, so that Graeme Murty and his players are not once more cast in the role of sacrificial lambs so soon after their slaughter in last weekend’s William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final at Hampden Park. Such vapourings exclude Aberdeen’s part in the league endgame but they have added to the habitual gaiety of Glasgow pub conversations throughout the week. Not that Murty has been touring the city’s establishments in the aftermath of the derby trauma at Hampden, which was followed by news that two Rangers veterans – Lee Wallace and Kenny Miller – had been suspended by the club because of a dressing room row after the final whistle. Murty refused to discuss the incident, citing it as ‘an internal issue’, but also declared that he had not kept himself out of sight. “What am I going to do, hide under a rock? No, I won't,” he said. Murty has refused to discuss the dressing-room row involving Lee Wallace and Kenny Miller Credit: PA “Listen, I've walked around when we've done really well and people have been patting me on the back. We have to take the good and the bad times. You have to be man enough to front up to it.” Murty revealed that he had received strong support from his directors and staff – although he has not spoken to the Rangers chairman, Dave King – but admitted that the reverberations from last weekend’s debacle were still being felt, particularly in the instances of Daniel Candeias and Andy Halliday, both of whom were visibly angered by being substituted, particularly Halliday, who got the hook five minutes before the interval. “Andy didn’t direct any dissent towards me to my face, but I don’t expect him to be happy coming off the pitch, having been substituted that early,” said Murty. “Daniel plainly wasn’t happy to come off. “He said afterwards that he didn’t believe that he had done himself justice. He was desperate to stay on and play in a big, big game. “I am giving Andy a bit of space at the moment. He looks a little bit raw. As a human being I respect his space, but before Sunday Andy and I will have a sit down and have a chat.” Asked if there was still an issue with Halliday, Murty said, “Possibly”. He added: “Andy has focused in to training really, really well. I commend what he’s doing. I will address an issue with a player, as a person, at a time I consider appropriate.” No time like the present, one would have thought, but these are turbulent days at Ibrox – and perhaps there will soon be upheavals at Celtic Park and Easter Road, too, with the other domino in the series being resolution of the imminent managerial vacancy at the Emirates.
The serendipity of the fixture list sees two managers linked by speculation encounter each other at Easter Road on Saturday. A win for Brendan Rodgers and Celtic against Hibs would secure a seventh successive title for the Hoops and take them to within one victory of an unprecedented second successive clean sweep of the Scottish honours. That accomplishment could be Rodgers’ parting gift to the Parkhead faithful, if his status as a favourite to succeed Arsene Wenger should culminate in a move to Arsenal. Celtic’s single largest shareholder, Dermot Desmond, made a telling intervention in that regard, when he told Sky Sports: “We wouldn’t want him to leave but we won’t force him to stay. “Hopefully his love for the club and the set-up here will induce him to stay. I don't think you can put handcuffs on anybody if they want to go to a club as good as Arsenal. It will be Brendan's decision and his decision only.” Should Rodgers depart, Neil Lennon – his opposite number today - will be cited as a prime candidate to return to the east end of Glasgow, from whence he departed in 2014 after four years in charge, during which spell Celtic won three consecutive titles to commence the sequence which is on the verge of being supplemented with another. Lennon’s decision to leave was fuelled by frustration at the absence of a challenge in the league, with Rangers mired in the lower divisions after the financial implosion at Ibrox in 2012. He added a spell with Bolton Wanderers to his CV before leaving in March 2016 and joining Hibs that summer. Lennon would be a candidate to return to Parkhead if Rodgers were to leave Scotland Credit: ACTION PLUS In Lennon’s first season in Edinburgh Hibs returned to the Scottish Premiership after a three-year absence and their performances have exceeded expectations, to the extent that they are only three points behind Rangers and Aberdeen in the tussle for second place. The conspiracy theorists have had fun with this weekend’s card, with one narrative suggesting that Celtic would not be unhappy to draw with Hibs, to boost their former favourite’s chances of overtaking Rangers while preserving the possibility of Rodgers & Co securing the title at home in next weekend’s Old Firm derby. A supplementary contention is that, should such a possibility materialise, then Rangers will not exert themselves unduly to prevent Hearts securing some reward when the pair meet at Ibrox on Sunday, so that Graeme Murty and his players are not once more cast in the role of sacrificial lambs so soon after their slaughter in last weekend’s William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final at Hampden Park. Such vapourings exclude Aberdeen’s part in the league endgame but they have added to the habitual gaiety of Glasgow pub conversations throughout the week. Not that Murty has been touring the city’s establishments in the aftermath of the derby trauma at Hampden, which was followed by news that two Rangers veterans – Lee Wallace and Kenny Miller – had been suspended by the club because of a dressing room row after the final whistle. Murty refused to discuss the incident, citing it as ‘an internal issue’, but also declared that he had not kept himself out of sight. “What am I going to do, hide under a rock? No, I won't,” he said. Murty has refused to discuss the dressing-room row involving Lee Wallace and Kenny Miller Credit: PA “Listen, I've walked around when we've done really well and people have been patting me on the back. We have to take the good and the bad times. You have to be man enough to front up to it.” Murty revealed that he had received strong support from his directors and staff – although he has not spoken to the Rangers chairman, Dave King – but admitted that the reverberations from last weekend’s debacle were still being felt, particularly in the instances of Daniel Candeias and Andy Halliday, both of whom were visibly angered by being substituted, particularly Halliday, who got the hook five minutes before the interval. “Andy didn’t direct any dissent towards me to my face, but I don’t expect him to be happy coming off the pitch, having been substituted that early,” said Murty. “Daniel plainly wasn’t happy to come off. “He said afterwards that he didn’t believe that he had done himself justice. He was desperate to stay on and play in a big, big game. “I am giving Andy a bit of space at the moment. He looks a little bit raw. As a human being I respect his space, but before Sunday Andy and I will have a sit down and have a chat.” Asked if there was still an issue with Halliday, Murty said, “Possibly”. He added: “Andy has focused in to training really, really well. I commend what he’s doing. I will address an issue with a player, as a person, at a time I consider appropriate.” No time like the present, one would have thought, but these are turbulent days at Ibrox – and perhaps there will soon be upheavals at Celtic Park and Easter Road, too, with the other domino in the series being resolution of the imminent managerial vacancy at the Emirates.
Celtic's seventh successive title could be Brendan Rodgers' parting gift if Arsenal believe he fits the bill
The serendipity of the fixture list sees two managers linked by speculation encounter each other at Easter Road on Saturday. A win for Brendan Rodgers and Celtic against Hibs would secure a seventh successive title for the Hoops and take them to within one victory of an unprecedented second successive clean sweep of the Scottish honours. That accomplishment could be Rodgers’ parting gift to the Parkhead faithful, if his status as a favourite to succeed Arsene Wenger should culminate in a move to Arsenal. Celtic’s single largest shareholder, Dermot Desmond, made a telling intervention in that regard, when he told Sky Sports: “We wouldn’t want him to leave but we won’t force him to stay. “Hopefully his love for the club and the set-up here will induce him to stay. I don't think you can put handcuffs on anybody if they want to go to a club as good as Arsenal. It will be Brendan's decision and his decision only.” Should Rodgers depart, Neil Lennon – his opposite number today - will be cited as a prime candidate to return to the east end of Glasgow, from whence he departed in 2014 after four years in charge, during which spell Celtic won three consecutive titles to commence the sequence which is on the verge of being supplemented with another. Lennon’s decision to leave was fuelled by frustration at the absence of a challenge in the league, with Rangers mired in the lower divisions after the financial implosion at Ibrox in 2012. He added a spell with Bolton Wanderers to his CV before leaving in March 2016 and joining Hibs that summer. Lennon would be a candidate to return to Parkhead if Rodgers were to leave Scotland Credit: ACTION PLUS In Lennon’s first season in Edinburgh Hibs returned to the Scottish Premiership after a three-year absence and their performances have exceeded expectations, to the extent that they are only three points behind Rangers and Aberdeen in the tussle for second place. The conspiracy theorists have had fun with this weekend’s card, with one narrative suggesting that Celtic would not be unhappy to draw with Hibs, to boost their former favourite’s chances of overtaking Rangers while preserving the possibility of Rodgers & Co securing the title at home in next weekend’s Old Firm derby. A supplementary contention is that, should such a possibility materialise, then Rangers will not exert themselves unduly to prevent Hearts securing some reward when the pair meet at Ibrox on Sunday, so that Graeme Murty and his players are not once more cast in the role of sacrificial lambs so soon after their slaughter in last weekend’s William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final at Hampden Park. Such vapourings exclude Aberdeen’s part in the league endgame but they have added to the habitual gaiety of Glasgow pub conversations throughout the week. Not that Murty has been touring the city’s establishments in the aftermath of the derby trauma at Hampden, which was followed by news that two Rangers veterans – Lee Wallace and Kenny Miller – had been suspended by the club because of a dressing room row after the final whistle. Murty refused to discuss the incident, citing it as ‘an internal issue’, but also declared that he had not kept himself out of sight. “What am I going to do, hide under a rock? No, I won't,” he said. Murty has refused to discuss the dressing-room row involving Lee Wallace and Kenny Miller Credit: PA “Listen, I've walked around when we've done really well and people have been patting me on the back. We have to take the good and the bad times. You have to be man enough to front up to it.” Murty revealed that he had received strong support from his directors and staff – although he has not spoken to the Rangers chairman, Dave King – but admitted that the reverberations from last weekend’s debacle were still being felt, particularly in the instances of Daniel Candeias and Andy Halliday, both of whom were visibly angered by being substituted, particularly Halliday, who got the hook five minutes before the interval. “Andy didn’t direct any dissent towards me to my face, but I don’t expect him to be happy coming off the pitch, having been substituted that early,” said Murty. “Daniel plainly wasn’t happy to come off. “He said afterwards that he didn’t believe that he had done himself justice. He was desperate to stay on and play in a big, big game. “I am giving Andy a bit of space at the moment. He looks a little bit raw. As a human being I respect his space, but before Sunday Andy and I will have a sit down and have a chat.” Asked if there was still an issue with Halliday, Murty said, “Possibly”. He added: “Andy has focused in to training really, really well. I commend what he’s doing. I will address an issue with a player, as a person, at a time I consider appropriate.” No time like the present, one would have thought, but these are turbulent days at Ibrox – and perhaps there will soon be upheavals at Celtic Park and Easter Road, too, with the other domino in the series being resolution of the imminent managerial vacancy at the Emirates.
The serendipity of the fixture list sees two managers linked by speculation encounter each other at Easter Road on Saturday. A win for Brendan Rodgers and Celtic against Hibs would secure a seventh successive title for the Hoops and take them to within one victory of an unprecedented second successive clean sweep of the Scottish honours. That accomplishment could be Rodgers’ parting gift to the Parkhead faithful, if his status as a favourite to succeed Arsene Wenger should culminate in a move to Arsenal. Celtic’s single largest shareholder, Dermot Desmond, made a telling intervention in that regard, when he told Sky Sports: “We wouldn’t want him to leave but we won’t force him to stay. “Hopefully his love for the club and the set-up here will induce him to stay. I don't think you can put handcuffs on anybody if they want to go to a club as good as Arsenal. It will be Brendan's decision and his decision only.” Should Rodgers depart, Neil Lennon – his opposite number today - will be cited as a prime candidate to return to the east end of Glasgow, from whence he departed in 2014 after four years in charge, during which spell Celtic won three consecutive titles to commence the sequence which is on the verge of being supplemented with another. Lennon’s decision to leave was fuelled by frustration at the absence of a challenge in the league, with Rangers mired in the lower divisions after the financial implosion at Ibrox in 2012. He added a spell with Bolton Wanderers to his CV before leaving in March 2016 and joining Hibs that summer. Lennon would be a candidate to return to Parkhead if Rodgers were to leave Scotland Credit: ACTION PLUS In Lennon’s first season in Edinburgh Hibs returned to the Scottish Premiership after a three-year absence and their performances have exceeded expectations, to the extent that they are only three points behind Rangers and Aberdeen in the tussle for second place. The conspiracy theorists have had fun with this weekend’s card, with one narrative suggesting that Celtic would not be unhappy to draw with Hibs, to boost their former favourite’s chances of overtaking Rangers while preserving the possibility of Rodgers & Co securing the title at home in next weekend’s Old Firm derby. A supplementary contention is that, should such a possibility materialise, then Rangers will not exert themselves unduly to prevent Hearts securing some reward when the pair meet at Ibrox on Sunday, so that Graeme Murty and his players are not once more cast in the role of sacrificial lambs so soon after their slaughter in last weekend’s William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final at Hampden Park. Such vapourings exclude Aberdeen’s part in the league endgame but they have added to the habitual gaiety of Glasgow pub conversations throughout the week. Not that Murty has been touring the city’s establishments in the aftermath of the derby trauma at Hampden, which was followed by news that two Rangers veterans – Lee Wallace and Kenny Miller – had been suspended by the club because of a dressing room row after the final whistle. Murty refused to discuss the incident, citing it as ‘an internal issue’, but also declared that he had not kept himself out of sight. “What am I going to do, hide under a rock? No, I won't,” he said. Murty has refused to discuss the dressing-room row involving Lee Wallace and Kenny Miller Credit: PA “Listen, I've walked around when we've done really well and people have been patting me on the back. We have to take the good and the bad times. You have to be man enough to front up to it.” Murty revealed that he had received strong support from his directors and staff – although he has not spoken to the Rangers chairman, Dave King – but admitted that the reverberations from last weekend’s debacle were still being felt, particularly in the instances of Daniel Candeias and Andy Halliday, both of whom were visibly angered by being substituted, particularly Halliday, who got the hook five minutes before the interval. “Andy didn’t direct any dissent towards me to my face, but I don’t expect him to be happy coming off the pitch, having been substituted that early,” said Murty. “Daniel plainly wasn’t happy to come off. “He said afterwards that he didn’t believe that he had done himself justice. He was desperate to stay on and play in a big, big game. “I am giving Andy a bit of space at the moment. He looks a little bit raw. As a human being I respect his space, but before Sunday Andy and I will have a sit down and have a chat.” Asked if there was still an issue with Halliday, Murty said, “Possibly”. He added: “Andy has focused in to training really, really well. I commend what he’s doing. I will address an issue with a player, as a person, at a time I consider appropriate.” No time like the present, one would have thought, but these are turbulent days at Ibrox – and perhaps there will soon be upheavals at Celtic Park and Easter Road, too, with the other domino in the series being resolution of the imminent managerial vacancy at the Emirates.
Celtic's seventh successive title could be Brendan Rodgers' parting gift if Arsenal believe he fits the bill
The serendipity of the fixture list sees two managers linked by speculation encounter each other at Easter Road on Saturday. A win for Brendan Rodgers and Celtic against Hibs would secure a seventh successive title for the Hoops and take them to within one victory of an unprecedented second successive clean sweep of the Scottish honours. That accomplishment could be Rodgers’ parting gift to the Parkhead faithful, if his status as a favourite to succeed Arsene Wenger should culminate in a move to Arsenal. Celtic’s single largest shareholder, Dermot Desmond, made a telling intervention in that regard, when he told Sky Sports: “We wouldn’t want him to leave but we won’t force him to stay. “Hopefully his love for the club and the set-up here will induce him to stay. I don't think you can put handcuffs on anybody if they want to go to a club as good as Arsenal. It will be Brendan's decision and his decision only.” Should Rodgers depart, Neil Lennon – his opposite number today - will be cited as a prime candidate to return to the east end of Glasgow, from whence he departed in 2014 after four years in charge, during which spell Celtic won three consecutive titles to commence the sequence which is on the verge of being supplemented with another. Lennon’s decision to leave was fuelled by frustration at the absence of a challenge in the league, with Rangers mired in the lower divisions after the financial implosion at Ibrox in 2012. He added a spell with Bolton Wanderers to his CV before leaving in March 2016 and joining Hibs that summer. Lennon would be a candidate to return to Parkhead if Rodgers were to leave Scotland Credit: ACTION PLUS In Lennon’s first season in Edinburgh Hibs returned to the Scottish Premiership after a three-year absence and their performances have exceeded expectations, to the extent that they are only three points behind Rangers and Aberdeen in the tussle for second place. The conspiracy theorists have had fun with this weekend’s card, with one narrative suggesting that Celtic would not be unhappy to draw with Hibs, to boost their former favourite’s chances of overtaking Rangers while preserving the possibility of Rodgers & Co securing the title at home in next weekend’s Old Firm derby. A supplementary contention is that, should such a possibility materialise, then Rangers will not exert themselves unduly to prevent Hearts securing some reward when the pair meet at Ibrox on Sunday, so that Graeme Murty and his players are not once more cast in the role of sacrificial lambs so soon after their slaughter in last weekend’s William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final at Hampden Park. Such vapourings exclude Aberdeen’s part in the league endgame but they have added to the habitual gaiety of Glasgow pub conversations throughout the week. Not that Murty has been touring the city’s establishments in the aftermath of the derby trauma at Hampden, which was followed by news that two Rangers veterans – Lee Wallace and Kenny Miller – had been suspended by the club because of a dressing room row after the final whistle. Murty refused to discuss the incident, citing it as ‘an internal issue’, but also declared that he had not kept himself out of sight. “What am I going to do, hide under a rock? No, I won't,” he said. Murty has refused to discuss the dressing-room row involving Lee Wallace and Kenny Miller Credit: PA “Listen, I've walked around when we've done really well and people have been patting me on the back. We have to take the good and the bad times. You have to be man enough to front up to it.” Murty revealed that he had received strong support from his directors and staff – although he has not spoken to the Rangers chairman, Dave King – but admitted that the reverberations from last weekend’s debacle were still being felt, particularly in the instances of Daniel Candeias and Andy Halliday, both of whom were visibly angered by being substituted, particularly Halliday, who got the hook five minutes before the interval. “Andy didn’t direct any dissent towards me to my face, but I don’t expect him to be happy coming off the pitch, having been substituted that early,” said Murty. “Daniel plainly wasn’t happy to come off. “He said afterwards that he didn’t believe that he had done himself justice. He was desperate to stay on and play in a big, big game. “I am giving Andy a bit of space at the moment. He looks a little bit raw. As a human being I respect his space, but before Sunday Andy and I will have a sit down and have a chat.” Asked if there was still an issue with Halliday, Murty said, “Possibly”. He added: “Andy has focused in to training really, really well. I commend what he’s doing. I will address an issue with a player, as a person, at a time I consider appropriate.” No time like the present, one would have thought, but these are turbulent days at Ibrox – and perhaps there will soon be upheavals at Celtic Park and Easter Road, too, with the other domino in the series being resolution of the imminent managerial vacancy at the Emirates.
Arsene Wenger leaving Arsenal at the end of the season Wenger's last match at Emirates on May 6 against Burnley Last Premier League match ever on May 13 against Huddersfield Arsenal to hold press conference with Ivan Gazidis at 5pm Mourinho speaks: "We'll show Mr Wenger respect he deserves" Why Wenger will enjoy great success in life after Arsenal Next Arsenal manager odds: Who will replace Wenger? How many times did your team lose to Wenger's Arsenal? Arsenal are promising to be “bold” and could again go left-field in replacing Arsene Wenger after the club’s most successful-ever manager decided to announce his departure amid the prospect of being sacked this summer. Wenger revealed on Friday morning that this would be his 22nd and last season as Arsenal manager and, while the timing of the public announcement was his, the wider backdrop was of the club already actively preparing for change. The clear expectation was that he would be asked to leave this summer and Wenger did not want to wait to be sacked. It was also felt that an early announcement would ensure that Wenger received a big unifying send-off and allow all sides to prepare for a future apart. It was noticeable that Gazidis would not answer on Friday whether he had wanted Wenger to stay or tried to persuade him to see out the remaining year on his contract. Wenger has shown no sign of wanting to retire from management and is expected to make a clear break and seek employment elsewhere. Gazidis has been assessing potential replacements for several years, but has now actively begun the search and wants to preserve many of Wenger’s values within a structure that gives the manager rather less power. End of an era | Wenger to leave Arsenal at end of season A new backroom team has already been assembled and, while Gazidis called it “our biggest ever challenge", he said the club had never been better prepared. Former Barcelona manager Luis Enrique and ex-Arsenal captain Mikel Arteta are thought to be the leading contenders to replace Wenger, while Monaco manager Leonardo Jardim, former Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti and Germany head coach Joachim Low are also in the running. A complication with Low will be his reluctance to do anything that could destabilise Germany’s defence of the World Cup. Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers would be interested and has admirers inside Arsenal, but there are concerns at how fans might respond to his appointment at a time when unity is desperately sought. Former Borussia Dortmund manager Thomas Tuchel is close to be appointed Paris St Germain, but Juventus manager Max Allegri is keen on eventually working in England and would be of interest if he is ready to move this summer. Gazidis noticeably highlighted how Arsenal appointed an unknown in Wenger way back in 1996. Guy Wenger “Replace Arsene? That’s not going to happen,” he said. “But we have to make sure we don’t lose his qualities and his values in the club and that we take them forward. So someone who will continue to play exciting, progressive football that gets people interested and excited in the games we play. How the candidate represents the club is important. “That value of giving youth a chance is also very important. I think we’ve got to be open-minded and brave in the decision. When Arsene was appointed, I don’t think he was on many people’s radar. We need to be bold in the appointment.” Wenger made the final decision to leave earlier this week and, after discussions with directors on Thursday, he personally informed his staff and the players on Friday morning. There were many tears both at the stadium and training ground, where club staff were said to be in a state of shock. Wenger has won three Premier League titles, an all-time record seven FA Cups, two doubles, reached the 2006 European Cup final and went the entire 2003-4 Premier League season undefeated. He also helped oversee the move from Highbury to the Emirates Stadium. Tributes were paid to Wenger on Friday from across sport, with his old adversary Sir Alex Ferguson saying that he was “proud to have been a rival, a colleague and a friend to such a great man." As ever, Wenger stressed the importance of maintaining the values he has embodied in his time in English football. Put simply, that is an entertaining playing style, opportunities for young players and a fiscal structure that safeguards the club’s long-term future. “After careful consideration and following discussions with the club, I feel it is the right time for me to step down at the end of the season,” said Wenger. “I am grateful for having had the privilege to serve the club for so many memorable years. I managed the club with full commitment and integrity. I urge our fans to stand behind the team to finish on a high. To all the Arsenal lovers take care of the values of the club. My love and support for ever.” Arsenal fan's view | 'All the bad feeling has disappeared' Arsenal’s majority owner, Stan Kroenke, has always been a massive supporter of Wenger and regarded this as perhaps the hardest moment in his time in professional sport. “This is one of the most difficult days we have ever had in all our years in sport,” he said. “One of the main reasons we got involved with Arsenal was because of what Arsène has brought to the club on and off the pitch. His longevity and consistency over such a sustained period at the highest level of the game will never be matched. “Arsène has unparalleled class and we will always be grateful to him. Everyone who loves Arsenal and everyone who loves football owes him a debt of gratitude. Three Premier League titles, including an entire season unbeaten, seven FA Cup triumphs and 20 successive years in the Champions League is an exceptional record. He has also transformed the identity of our club and of English football with his vision for how the game can be played.” Gazidis added: “Arsene is going to feel the full force of this club behind him over the next couple of weeks. Arsene changed the game. He set a totally new standard. A new ambition. An ambition not just to win, but to win while achieving perfection. To make art out of football. He was always brave enough to be true to that extraordinary ambition and incredibly he achieved it with Arsenal’s Invincibles season.“ 5:26PM Gazidis on his abiding memories of Wenger's reign: “There are great moments - the trophies, the FA Cups, the victory against Barcelona. But the memories I have of Arsene are of speaking to him in quiet moments. He’s an incredibly self-critical man who always gives others the benefit of the doubt. There’s a reason there is so much affection for him. He’s a special person.” 5:23PM Gazidis on the players' reaction: “I think from the reaction at the training ground today, what I felt was an incredible amount of passion to give Arsene the send off that he deserves. “The decision had to come at some point. Now it’s time for us to look forward.” 5:21PM Gazidis on Wenger's future: “Will he retire? He’s somebody who is in great shape and has a competitive edge but that’s a question for him.” 5:19PM Gazidis on the next Arsenal manager: "We're going to have a process around that. The process begins today but I want to keep that process in-house. I don't want to be making public comments about it. We haven't had any discussions to date regarding that." 5:18PM Gazidis on where Arsenal go next: “Our first priority is to come together as a club and we are seeing that today. Our players. staff and fans are behind this great man and we will give him the send off he deserves. I don’t underestimate that challenge but I am confident in the people we have in place to take Arsene’s vision forward and build on it.” "We are not going to find a replacement for Arsene Wenger" 5:16PM Gazidis on Wenger's immediate legacy “Arsene often said his aim was to leave the club in a better place than when he found out. We are in a better place than we could have ever imagined.” 5:15PM Gazidis on Wenger's inspiration: “Beyond football, he has inspired the people around him. He is able to make people believe that they can achieve great things. He inspired George Weah to believe he could not only become the world’s best football player, but to become the president of a nation. He has taken every challenge with humour and grace and class.” 5:15PM Gazidis on the Wenger philosophy: “Arsene changed the game. He set a totally new standard. A new ambition. Not just to win, but to win while achieving perfection - to make art. Incredibly, he achieved it with the Invincibles. Arsene has been brave enough to live by his philosophy. He’s made Arsenal throughout the world for the kind of football we play.” 5:14PM Gazidis on today's news: “Obviously this has been an emotional day for everyone. Now I have the impossible job of communicating that feeling. Typically, Arsene is not here as he is taking training. I will leave it to others to talk about the facts and figures of his tenure. There is something more coming out today. There is an affection from Arsenal fans and right across the sphere of football. I’ve had the pleasure of working alongside Arsene over the last 10 years.” 5:12PM Ivan Gazidis addresses the media... "Arsene changed the game. He set a totally new standard, a new ambition. Am ambition not just to win but to win while achieving perfection. To make art out of football." 4:42PM Jack Wilshere on the outgoing boss... "We need to send him off in the right way now" �� Turn your sound up and listen to this from @JackWilsherepic.twitter.com/aZ9UA5u0mo— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) April 20, 2018 "I'm sure when the dust settles, we have a few days to think about it, we'll start to reflect on it, but at the moment it's a bit raw, it's a bit sensitive." 4:08PM Thierry Henry on his former manager October 2002 and September's manager of the month congratulates the player of the month Credit: EDDIE KEOGH/PA I was a little mixed because it's a sad day for me to see the big man leave the club, although we all know he has matches left. I'm happy in a way that people can give him the farewell he deserves. His legacy is untouchable. Managers, fans from other teams - [they say] how Arsène changed Arsenal. I am happy that now we can all talk about his legacy. But we must not get carried away with celebrating the end of his time. The team must win the Europa League, it would be an incredible feat and Arsène has never won in Europe before, so it would be a good way to give him a nice goodbye. I remember when I was playing for Arsenal, people were talking about how we play, not what we won, but how we did it and how Arsène made Arsenal a club known in the whole world. If I could be the successor of Wenger? Look at me laughing. It's funny. One person to whom you can ask this question is Ivan Gazidis. He should answer the question. 3:57PM And a word from Germany From one he helped to make it (to Bayern Munich) 22 years @Arsenal - almost my whole lifetime. Impressive. Glad I could be a small part of it ���� #MerciArsène#Wengerpic.twitter.com/lzGJXJlOGC— Serge Gnabry (@SergeGnabry) April 20, 2018 3:51PM A tribute from an opponent Arsene Wenger built the best teams that I played against in English Football .The 98 team was Amazing.The biggest compliment is that he played football that made us change the way we played against them. He now deserves the most incredible send off from all in the coming weeks.— Gary Neville (@GNev2) April 20, 2018 3:36PM A trawl through the picture archive ... Has inspired this, 22 years in 11 photographs: Wenger at Arsenal gallery 3:17PM Sir Alex Ferguson pays tribute "I am really happy for Arsène Wenger. I have great respect for him and for the job he has done at Arsenal. It is great testament to his talent, professionalism and determination that has been able to dedicate 22 years of his life to a job that he loves. "In an era where football managers sometimes only last one or two seasons, it shows what an achievement it is to serve that length of time at a club the size of Arsenal. "I am pleased that he has announced he is leaving at this stage of the season, as he can now have the send-off that he truly deserves. "He is, without doubt, one the greatest Premier League managers and I am proud to have been a rival, a colleague and a friend to such a great man." 2:47PM Pep Guardiola tips his hat Luke Edwards reports from the Manchester City manager's press conference: “He has all my respect for what he has done. The Premier League is about huge personalities like Arsène, it is because of what he has done, his vision. “I wish him all the best in the future, I hope he can be involved in world football in a different way with his experience. Whether it is with Arsenal, Uefa, Fifa, or somewhere else, I don't know. It was a pleasure to compete against him here, with City, as well as Barcelona and Bayern. Pep Guardiola takes Manchester City training on Friday Credit: Victoria Haydn/Man City via Getty Images “It will be difficult for anyone to do what he has done at a top European club again. Sir Alex Ferguson did it at Manchester United, but it is so, so complicated. With the way social media is now, everybody has an opinion and can express it, you feel the pressure as a manager. “You can also feel pressure because staying in the Premier League is so important, then you have the sporting directors, who do not have a lot of patience. It will be so difficult to find a person who will be able to stay at a club for so long and do what Arsène has done.” 2:32PM 'Arsenal will unite behind Wenger now' Paul Matz, from the Arsenal Independent Supporters' Association, speaks to Telegraph Sport 2:06PM 'I have been talking well about him for a while' Newcastle manager Rafael Benitez, who has locked horns with Arsene Wenger plenty of times down the years in his time at Liverpool, Chelsea and on Tyneside, said this at today's press conference: "I have been talking well about him for a while. "To do things in the way that he has done and win the way he was winning, for so many years... we are talking about one of the best managers in football history." 2:01PM 'Like a father through tough times in my career' Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere posted this on Facebook: "To the man who gave me my chance as a 16-year-old, and showed unbelievable faith and commitment towards me. Always a gentleman, like a father through tough times in my career. He always believed in me when most people didn't. Thank you for everything boss! It's down to us now to end your era right. #onearsenewenger" Big shoes for anyone to fill,playing for Arsenal under Arsene was one of the best period of my career, 2 premiership, 2 FA cups, The invincibles, playing with some of the best assembled players,influencing millions of fans in Africa to support this great club. pic.twitter.com/tILZo70jBE— Kanu Nwankwo (@papilokanu) April 20, 2018 Personally a very sad day. I am forever in debt to this man. The person who had faith in me and gave me a platform to progress. Thank you for all the memories and trophies bosspic.twitter.com/EP26M6TP3W— Héctor Bellerín (@HectorBellerin) April 20, 2018 1:56PM 'He deserves respect from the whole world of football' Our man Matt Law was at Stamford Bridge today and asked Antonio Conte for his thoughts on Arsene Wenger. Reaction to Wenger? "My reaction... I think we must pay a great tribute to Arsene Wenger for his career. For his career at Arsenal. He and Ferguson, we're talking about the last two managers to stay for such a long time in a club. Arsene Wenger worked 22 years for Arsenal. I think that's great, it's a fantastic story. He won a lot at this club and, for this reason, I think he deserves a great tribute for his career." What was his influence in a footballing sense? "I think Arsene is one of the managers who had a great influence on football because, in every moment in his idea of football, he tried to play good football, creative and offensive football. He deserves great tribute also for this." How important is it that he gains that great tribute? "He deserves great respect. Not only from Arsenal supporters, but from the whole world of football. He deserves great respect. We are talking about one of the best managers in the world with a great and important career with Arsenal. He deserves a great tribute for his career. It would be very difficult to see in the future another manager staying for such a long time at the same club. I think, maybe, Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger were a really good story for football. Now it will be very difficult to see that again, another situation like this." 1:54PM 'A proper football man who lives and breathes it' David Moyes, whose West Ham side face Arsenal on Sunday, hailed Arsene Wenger's longevity. "He's been a great competitor, a terrific manager who has graced the Premier League for many years. "He's a proper football man who lives and breathes it. To do 22 years is an incredible achievement." 1:53PM 'There are not enough words for what he's done' Burnley boss Sean Dyche, who will be the second-longest serving current manager in the Premier League once Arsene Wenger stands down, has paid tribute to the Frenchman. "He is a legend of the game - the work that he's done will be remembered. "Some things that now seem normal and simple weren't at the time. Hydration in football sounds a simple thing but was not taken to a high level. Making sure the food they were eating was correct. Their health and well-being. "For youngish managers like myself there are not enough good words you can use for what he's done." 1:42PM 'It was a pleasure to compete against him' Pep Guardiola, manager of new Premier League champions Man City, has also spoken. "He is a huge personality. The Premier League is the Premier League because of what he has done and his vision. I wish him all the best for the future. "Hopefully he will be involved in a different way in world football. Of course it was a pleasure at Barcelona, Bayern Munich and here to compete against him." 1:39PM 'Arsenal fans will unite behind Wenger now' Paul Matz from the Arsenal Independent Supporters' Association, has told The Telegraph he believes the club will unite behind departing manager Arsene Wenger for the rest of the season as they focus on winning the Europa League. 1:37PM Mourinho asked about Wenger... wait for it Jose Mourinho has claimed that deep down he really respects Arsene Wenger and his various insults over the years did not reflect his true relationship with the Arsenal manager, who announced that he will leave the club at the end of the season. "If he's happy with the decision he makes and looks forward to the next chapter of his career and his life I'm really happy for him. If he's sad, I'm sad. I'm pretty sure as a club - and especially because Mr Wenger and Arsenal were for many, many years the biggest rivals of Sir Alex [Ferguson's] era - we will show Mr Wenger the respect he deserves." Asked whether he regretted many of his spats with Wenger, which were often characterised by the strength of Mourinho's response, he was dismissive. "It's not about regretting. I think your question is a typical question from somebody that was not a manager, not a player. Of course, you don't know the way we respect each other even when sometimes it doesn't look like we don't. "Players that get yellow cards and red cards by aggressive actions against each other, bad words during the career - the manager is the same thing. The ones that respect each other more are the ones with the problems. It's power against power; ambition against ambition; quality against quality. But in the end it's people from the same business who respect one another’s careers. "So it happened. What matters for me is the way I respect the person, the professional, the career. I always say that for some the memories are short, but for us football people - the real football people, the others live on us - don't have short memories. I know what it means, three Premier League titles and seven FA Cups, what he did in Japan and France, what he brought to French football. "[Also] What he gave to Arsenal in the period without Premier Leagues, the transition from stadium to stadium, we know what he did. If he's happy with the decision, I'm really happy and I hope he doesn't retire from football." 1:23PM Where it all began for Wenger Where it all began for Arsene Wenger in the #PL... pic.twitter.com/gbhqBu9LTq— Premier League (@premierleague) April 20, 2018 1:19PM The Top 10 longest-serving managers in Premier League history Arsene Wenger, Arsenal, October 1996 to May 2018 (21 years, seven months) Sir Alex Ferguson, Manchester United, August 1992 to May 2013 (20 years, nine months) David Moyes, Everton, March 2002 to May 2013 (11 years, two months) Harry Redknapp, West Ham, August 1994 to May 2001 (six years, eight months) Rafael Benitez, Liverpool, August 2004 to June 2010 (five years, 10 months) Alan Curbishley, Charlton, August 2000 to May 2006 (five years, nine months) Sam Allardyce, Bolton, August 2001 to April 2007 (five years, eight months) Gerard Houllier, Liverpool, November 1998 to May 2004 (five years, six months) Jim Smith, Derby, August 1996 to October 2001 (five years, two months) Sir Bobby Robson, Newcastle, September 1999 to August 2004 (four years, 11 months) 12:58PM 'One of the best in English football history' Premier League executive chairman Richard Scudamore offered his own tribute to Arsene Wenger. "It is hard to encapsulate the enormity of Arsene Wenger's contribution to Arsenal Football Club, the Premier League and football generally over these past 22 seasons. "All of Arsene's teams have been a joy to watch and his 2003-04 'Invincibles' will go down as one of the best in English football history." 12:50PM 'One major reason why I'm here is because of him' Club captain Per Mertesacker admitted it was "emotional" to find out that Arsene Wenger was set to depart. "We have just been informed basically. It is quite emotional. Obviously he has been at the club for such a long time, he has been so supportive to me. One major reason why I'm here is because of him. "It's been emotional and there will be time to digest it but it is a sad feeling right now." 12:47PM Wenger told players of his exit beforehand Arsene Wenger asked Arsenal to hold off announcing his decision to leave the club so he could inform his players first-hand. The news was announced this morning, with Wenger set to depart 12 months into a two-year deal. It is understood Wenger was keen to tell the Arsenal players himself and did so ahead of training at their London Colney base and minutes before the news was made public. His coaching staff were also informed of the decision in advance, although club staff working at the Emirates Stadium rather than the training ground discovered the news at the same time as everyone else. Wenger's surprise announcement came a day after he evaded questions over his future at his usual pre-match press conference. 12:36PM How many times did your team lose to Wenger's Arsenal? Was your club one of the teams Arsene Wenger had the wood over? How many times did your team lose to Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal? 12:35PM 'Today will mark the start of a new era for the club' Arsene Wenger's decision to leave Arsenal at the end of the season is good for all those involved, according to a leading supporters' group. Lois Langton, chair of the Arsenal Independent Supporters' Association, believes the timing is right and hailed Wenger as a "fantastic" manager in his day. "Without question, the announcement that Arsene Wenger will finally stand down at the end of this season is the right decision, both for the club and the manager, although, having been so long coming, it feels surreal that the day has finally arrived. "The problems associated with his tenure in recent years are well documented and now that the announcement has been made, there is nothing to be gained by going over old ground. "Arsene Wenger was, for a period of time, a fantastic manager for Arsenal. The Invincibles epitomise what he brought to the Club and, to that extent, his legacy will continue. "We have seen with Manchester City this season how difficult it is to go a league campaign undefeated. The 2003/2004 season in particular will forever be a source of pride and achievement. "It is now time to move on. We have a Europa League semi-final coming up against Atletico and a first success in Europe for Arsene Wenger would provide a fitting farewell. "Arsenal has a rich and wonderful heritage and today will mark the start of a new era for the club." 12:31PM Will Arsenal now raise their game against the Hammers? Arsenal play West Ham this Sunday. Here's our man Nick Callow's abbreviated preview: West Ham are not mathematically safe from relegation so Arsenal should fear a club they have lost to three times at Emirates Stadium. Arsenal can be pipped to sixth by Burnley, but Thursday's Europa Atletico Madrid semi-final will dictate Arsene Wenger's selection while David Moyes can go for broke. PREDICTION: 1-1 12:04PM VOTE: Who should Arsenal choose to replace Wenger? 11:55AM Where next for Wenger? Seeing as the man eats, drinks and sleeps football, it is highly unlikely he will walk off into the sunset and retire. The odds are now stacked in favour of him becoming the next Paris Saint-Germain manager, with Unai Emery expected to be shown the door by the Paris giants. Wenger would also be a a highly-popular choice given his profile in France and continuing analysis as a guest pundit for French TV. 11:48AM 'Name it the Arsene Wenger Stadium' Former Arsenal midfielder Paul Merson has urged fans to get behind the Frenchman for the rest of the season, starting with Sunday's home match against West Ham. "I think everybody can pay their respect to him now about how great he was as a manager. It's perfect timing. "I think it gives the fans (the chance) to pack the Emirates for the last few games of the season and have a right go. "If fans do not turn up against West Ham and pack that place out, they need serious questions asked about them and are they real Arsenal fans or are they glory-hunters?" Merson has also called for the Emirates Stadium to be renamed in Wenger's honour. "They should drop the Emirates bit - they don't need the money - and name it the Arsene Wenger Stadium. "That's his stadium. He built that. He made that stadium. Even if they called it the Emirates Arsene Wenger Stadium. He deserves to be on that." 11:44AM 'It shows the great dignity and class of the man' Spain and Chelsea's Cesc Fabregas, who burst in to the Arsenal starting line-up under Arsene Wenger, posted on Instagram... "Wow. I never expected that but it shows the great dignity and class of the man. I will never forget his guidance and support, his tutelage and mentorship. "He had faith in me from day one and I owe him a lot, he was like a father figure to me who always pushed me to be the best. Arsene, you deserve all the respect and happiness in the world. #classact" 11:43AM Inside information Ian Wright appeared to have been aware of the news before it was announced, tweeting a shocked face emoji around half an hour before the club's statement. — Ian Wright (@IanWright0) April 20, 2018 11:41AM Will it be Rodgers who replaces Wenger? Celtic majority shareholder Dermot Desmond has admitted he would let manager Brendan Rodgers speak to Arsenal if the Premier League club approached the Northern Irishman... "Absolutely. I don't think you can put handcuffs on anybody if they want to go to a club as good as Arsenal. "It will be Brendan's decision and Brendan's decision only." 11:33AM 'He moved the goalposts for everyone else' Southampton manager Mark Hughes believes it would be a "massive wrench" for Arsene Wenger to leave after so long in the post. "When you have had longevity in the game like Arsene has, and I have been in the Premier League for a long time, our paths have crossed on numerous occasions, we had a few run-ins but other times we were very civil and respectful of each other's efforts. "I had a good conversation with him two weeks ago, he looked very relaxed and chilled. "He came with different ideas, different views on how the game should be played, he moved the goalposts for everyone else, he came in and had success and everyone else had to catch up." 11:31AM 'Fans are celebrating like they've won the lottery' Former Arsenal goalkeeper David Seaman, Arsene Wenger's No 1 for the first seven years of his reign, is not happy with how some Gunners fans are reacting... "It's going to be good now, because there's going to be a chance he will get the send-off and the respect he deserves. The fans that are celebrating like they've won the lottery, it makes me a little bit angry if I'm honest. It's time to show respect and realise what he's done. "For me, he is Arsenal, and it's right that he's decided to leave on his own terms. "Now let's enjoy that. I hope all the fans that have stayed away now return because they've still got a chance of winning something this season. Get behind the team, get behind Arsenal, and show him the respect he deserves. "He's a gentleman. It's brilliant to be in his company. He's a really, really nice guy - and a lot of people don't see that. People say he's stubborn and this and that, but that's not true. It might have been true as a manager, but as a man he's a true gentleman. "When he came in he changed everything - the way we played, the diet... He revolutionised Arsenal. He was brilliant. For me, and especially for the back four - he added years to their careers." 11:05AM Wenger's Arsenal reign in numbers 1996 - the year when a then-unheralded Wenger, who had been in charge at Monaco and Japanese side Nagoya Grampus Eight, took over at Highbury. 1228 - games at the helm, ahead of Sunday's Premier League fixture against West Ham. 704 - wins to date as Arsenal boss. 3 - Premier League title wins, the last during an unbeaten Invincibles campaign of 2003/2004. 1549 - goals scored in Premier League matches by Wenger's teams. 10 - major trophies won. 473 - Premier League victories. 7 - FA Cup triumphs, with three of those having come the last four seasons. 151 - Premier League losses. 21 - full seasons in charge. 49 - games unbeaten in the Premier League from May 2003 to October 2004. 10:58AM Nearly 22 years in three minutes #MerciArsènepic.twitter.com/bjP0wLMgee— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) April 20, 2018 10:55AM How Twitter is reacting to Wenger leaving Unsurprisingly, frequent Arsene Wenger critic Piers Morgan has tweeted with a certain amount of relish... BREAKING: Wenger out. pic.twitter.com/HBuwQdY9aw— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) April 20, 2018 Fortunately, Gary Neville, the voice of reason, has said what many feel... Arsene Wenger built the best teams that I played against in English Football .The 98 team was Amazing.The biggest compliment is that he played football that made us change the way we played against them. He now deserves the most incredible send off from all in the coming weeks.— Gary Neville (@GNev2) April 20, 2018 Arsenal legend David Seaman has called on Gunners fans to give Wenger the send-off he deserves... Sad day for @Arsenal with Arsene leaving, can we now give him the send off/respect he deserves?!! #rememberthetrophies— David Seaman (@thedavidseaman) April 20, 2018 Journalist and TV presenter Robert Peston is suffering from mixed emotions... Such mixed feelings about Wenger resignation. I wanted him to go, but I miss him already. He was magnificent for us over many years, but it was time #Arsenal— Robert Peston (@Peston) April 20, 2018 Radio 1 DJ Greg James sees the funny side... BUT WHO GETS THE COAT?! I WANT THE COAT. SHOTGUN THE COAT. pic.twitter.com/C4qJEbO8YG— Greg James (@gregjames) April 20, 2018 Former Arsenal captain Tony Adams posted on Instagram: "Thanks for everything Arsene. Move over Herbert, Arsene Wenger the greatest Arsenal Manager." 10:50AM How fickle football can be It was expected that many Arsenal fans would boycott the club's remaining home games as a way of voicing their unhappiness at Arsene Wenger. BUT... Arsenal sure to be packed out for remaining games now— Matt Law (@Matt_Law_DT) April 20, 2018 10:36AM One word: longevity 823 - Arsene Wenger has managed more Premier League games than any other manager (823) and only Sir Alex Ferguson has won more games (528) than Wenger (473). Longevity. pic.twitter.com/ktdsaZPb1y— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) April 20, 2018 10:34AM Klopp hails Wenger Other Premier League manages are being asked for their thoughts on Arsene Wenger after today's momentous announcement. Here's what Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp says: "He is an influence in football. A fantastic career, outstanding personality. A big player in the business." 10:32AM How has it come to this? Arsene Wenger has won three Premier League titles during his spell of over 21 years at the helm, the last of which came as a result of the unbeaten 'Invincibles' season in 2003-04. No-one has won more FA Cups than the former Monaco boss, who was a shock appointment back in 1996. Protests against his reign picked up last season as the Gunners finished outside of the top four for the first time in a full campaign under Wenger's control. But despite the growing negativity, Wenger signed a new two-year deal last summer with the mandate of sustaining a title challenge. That failed miserably and, at the time of the announcement, Arsenal sit sixth in the table and 33 points adrift of newly-crowned champions Manchester City. 10:26AM Set your alarms for 5pm! Arsenal are holding a media conference with chief executive Ivan Gazidis at 5pm at the Emirates Stadium. 10:24AM Winterburn says 'time is right' Former Arsenal defender Nigel Winterburn believes the decision is the right one: "I think it's run its natural course. Arsene Wenger has been absolutely amazing for Arsenal Football Club. "It probably feels to me like it is the right time. When Arsene Wenger does step down, I think he will be remembered very, very fondly. We talk about the modern era, George Graham started it and Arsene Wenger's taken it to the next level. "When he leaves the football club, I think people will look back and really appreciate what Arsene Wenger has done." 10:05AM Who will replace him? Arsene Wenger will lead the team to the end of the season and the club say they will 'make an appointment as soon as possible'. Our Arsenal man - Jeremy Wilson - says these are the leading candidates: Leonardo Jardim, Mikel Arteta, Joachim Low, Brendan Rodgers, Max Allegri and Luis Enrique. 10:02AM 'Arsene has unparalleled class and we will always be grateful' Arsenal owner Stan Kroenke has issued the following statement: "This is one of the most difficult days we have ever had in all our years in sport. One of the main reasons we got involved with Arsenal was because of what Arsène has brought to the club on and off the pitch. His longevity and consistency over such a sustained period at the highest level of the game will never be matched. "Arsène has unparalleled class and we will always be grateful to him. Everyone who loves Arsenal and everyone who loves football owes him a debt of gratitude. Three Premier League titles, including an entire season unbeaten, seven FA Cup triumphs and 20 successive years in the Champions League is an exceptional record. He has also transformed the identity of our club and of English football with his vision for how the game can be played. "We have high ambitions to build on Arsène's remarkable tenure and to honour his vision by ensuring that Arsenal competes for and wins the biggest and most important prizes in the game. "We must now focus on making a strong finish to the season and ask our millions of fans around the world to join us in paying appropriate tribute to one of the greats of Arsenal's history and one of the greats of the game." 9:57AM BREAKING NEWS: Arsene Wenger leaving Arsenal Arsene Wenger has announced he is to step down as manager of Arsenal at the end of the season. "After careful consideration and following discussions with the club, I feel it is the right time for me to step down at the end of the season. "I am grateful for having had the privilege to serve the club for so many memorable years. "I managed the club with full commitment and integrity. "I want to thank the staff, the players, the Directors and the fans who make this club so special. "I urge our fans to stand behind the team to finish on a high. "To all the Arsenal lovers take care of the values of the club. "My love and support for ever."
Arsenal prepare for 'biggest ever challenge' to replace outgoing Arsene Wenger after 22 years in charge
Arsene Wenger leaving Arsenal at the end of the season Wenger's last match at Emirates on May 6 against Burnley Last Premier League match ever on May 13 against Huddersfield Arsenal to hold press conference with Ivan Gazidis at 5pm Mourinho speaks: "We'll show Mr Wenger respect he deserves" Why Wenger will enjoy great success in life after Arsenal Next Arsenal manager odds: Who will replace Wenger? How many times did your team lose to Wenger's Arsenal? Arsenal are promising to be “bold” and could again go left-field in replacing Arsene Wenger after the club’s most successful-ever manager decided to announce his departure amid the prospect of being sacked this summer. Wenger revealed on Friday morning that this would be his 22nd and last season as Arsenal manager and, while the timing of the public announcement was his, the wider backdrop was of the club already actively preparing for change. The clear expectation was that he would be asked to leave this summer and Wenger did not want to wait to be sacked. It was also felt that an early announcement would ensure that Wenger received a big unifying send-off and allow all sides to prepare for a future apart. It was noticeable that Gazidis would not answer on Friday whether he had wanted Wenger to stay or tried to persuade him to see out the remaining year on his contract. Wenger has shown no sign of wanting to retire from management and is expected to make a clear break and seek employment elsewhere. Gazidis has been assessing potential replacements for several years, but has now actively begun the search and wants to preserve many of Wenger’s values within a structure that gives the manager rather less power. End of an era | Wenger to leave Arsenal at end of season A new backroom team has already been assembled and, while Gazidis called it “our biggest ever challenge", he said the club had never been better prepared. Former Barcelona manager Luis Enrique and ex-Arsenal captain Mikel Arteta are thought to be the leading contenders to replace Wenger, while Monaco manager Leonardo Jardim, former Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti and Germany head coach Joachim Low are also in the running. A complication with Low will be his reluctance to do anything that could destabilise Germany’s defence of the World Cup. Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers would be interested and has admirers inside Arsenal, but there are concerns at how fans might respond to his appointment at a time when unity is desperately sought. Former Borussia Dortmund manager Thomas Tuchel is close to be appointed Paris St Germain, but Juventus manager Max Allegri is keen on eventually working in England and would be of interest if he is ready to move this summer. Gazidis noticeably highlighted how Arsenal appointed an unknown in Wenger way back in 1996. Guy Wenger “Replace Arsene? That’s not going to happen,” he said. “But we have to make sure we don’t lose his qualities and his values in the club and that we take them forward. So someone who will continue to play exciting, progressive football that gets people interested and excited in the games we play. How the candidate represents the club is important. “That value of giving youth a chance is also very important. I think we’ve got to be open-minded and brave in the decision. When Arsene was appointed, I don’t think he was on many people’s radar. We need to be bold in the appointment.” Wenger made the final decision to leave earlier this week and, after discussions with directors on Thursday, he personally informed his staff and the players on Friday morning. There were many tears both at the stadium and training ground, where club staff were said to be in a state of shock. Wenger has won three Premier League titles, an all-time record seven FA Cups, two doubles, reached the 2006 European Cup final and went the entire 2003-4 Premier League season undefeated. He also helped oversee the move from Highbury to the Emirates Stadium. Tributes were paid to Wenger on Friday from across sport, with his old adversary Sir Alex Ferguson saying that he was “proud to have been a rival, a colleague and a friend to such a great man." As ever, Wenger stressed the importance of maintaining the values he has embodied in his time in English football. Put simply, that is an entertaining playing style, opportunities for young players and a fiscal structure that safeguards the club’s long-term future. “After careful consideration and following discussions with the club, I feel it is the right time for me to step down at the end of the season,” said Wenger. “I am grateful for having had the privilege to serve the club for so many memorable years. I managed the club with full commitment and integrity. I urge our fans to stand behind the team to finish on a high. To all the Arsenal lovers take care of the values of the club. My love and support for ever.” Arsenal fan's view | 'All the bad feeling has disappeared' Arsenal’s majority owner, Stan Kroenke, has always been a massive supporter of Wenger and regarded this as perhaps the hardest moment in his time in professional sport. “This is one of the most difficult days we have ever had in all our years in sport,” he said. “One of the main reasons we got involved with Arsenal was because of what Arsène has brought to the club on and off the pitch. His longevity and consistency over such a sustained period at the highest level of the game will never be matched. “Arsène has unparalleled class and we will always be grateful to him. Everyone who loves Arsenal and everyone who loves football owes him a debt of gratitude. Three Premier League titles, including an entire season unbeaten, seven FA Cup triumphs and 20 successive years in the Champions League is an exceptional record. He has also transformed the identity of our club and of English football with his vision for how the game can be played.” Gazidis added: “Arsene is going to feel the full force of this club behind him over the next couple of weeks. Arsene changed the game. He set a totally new standard. A new ambition. An ambition not just to win, but to win while achieving perfection. To make art out of football. He was always brave enough to be true to that extraordinary ambition and incredibly he achieved it with Arsenal’s Invincibles season.“ 5:26PM Gazidis on his abiding memories of Wenger's reign: “There are great moments - the trophies, the FA Cups, the victory against Barcelona. But the memories I have of Arsene are of speaking to him in quiet moments. He’s an incredibly self-critical man who always gives others the benefit of the doubt. There’s a reason there is so much affection for him. He’s a special person.” 5:23PM Gazidis on the players' reaction: “I think from the reaction at the training ground today, what I felt was an incredible amount of passion to give Arsene the send off that he deserves. “The decision had to come at some point. Now it’s time for us to look forward.” 5:21PM Gazidis on Wenger's future: “Will he retire? He’s somebody who is in great shape and has a competitive edge but that’s a question for him.” 5:19PM Gazidis on the next Arsenal manager: "We're going to have a process around that. The process begins today but I want to keep that process in-house. I don't want to be making public comments about it. We haven't had any discussions to date regarding that." 5:18PM Gazidis on where Arsenal go next: “Our first priority is to come together as a club and we are seeing that today. Our players. staff and fans are behind this great man and we will give him the send off he deserves. I don’t underestimate that challenge but I am confident in the people we have in place to take Arsene’s vision forward and build on it.” "We are not going to find a replacement for Arsene Wenger" 5:16PM Gazidis on Wenger's immediate legacy “Arsene often said his aim was to leave the club in a better place than when he found out. We are in a better place than we could have ever imagined.” 5:15PM Gazidis on Wenger's inspiration: “Beyond football, he has inspired the people around him. He is able to make people believe that they can achieve great things. He inspired George Weah to believe he could not only become the world’s best football player, but to become the president of a nation. He has taken every challenge with humour and grace and class.” 5:15PM Gazidis on the Wenger philosophy: “Arsene changed the game. He set a totally new standard. A new ambition. Not just to win, but to win while achieving perfection - to make art. Incredibly, he achieved it with the Invincibles. Arsene has been brave enough to live by his philosophy. He’s made Arsenal throughout the world for the kind of football we play.” 5:14PM Gazidis on today's news: “Obviously this has been an emotional day for everyone. Now I have the impossible job of communicating that feeling. Typically, Arsene is not here as he is taking training. I will leave it to others to talk about the facts and figures of his tenure. There is something more coming out today. There is an affection from Arsenal fans and right across the sphere of football. I’ve had the pleasure of working alongside Arsene over the last 10 years.” 5:12PM Ivan Gazidis addresses the media... "Arsene changed the game. He set a totally new standard, a new ambition. Am ambition not just to win but to win while achieving perfection. To make art out of football." 4:42PM Jack Wilshere on the outgoing boss... "We need to send him off in the right way now" �� Turn your sound up and listen to this from @JackWilsherepic.twitter.com/aZ9UA5u0mo— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) April 20, 2018 "I'm sure when the dust settles, we have a few days to think about it, we'll start to reflect on it, but at the moment it's a bit raw, it's a bit sensitive." 4:08PM Thierry Henry on his former manager October 2002 and September's manager of the month congratulates the player of the month Credit: EDDIE KEOGH/PA I was a little mixed because it's a sad day for me to see the big man leave the club, although we all know he has matches left. I'm happy in a way that people can give him the farewell he deserves. His legacy is untouchable. Managers, fans from other teams - [they say] how Arsène changed Arsenal. I am happy that now we can all talk about his legacy. But we must not get carried away with celebrating the end of his time. The team must win the Europa League, it would be an incredible feat and Arsène has never won in Europe before, so it would be a good way to give him a nice goodbye. I remember when I was playing for Arsenal, people were talking about how we play, not what we won, but how we did it and how Arsène made Arsenal a club known in the whole world. If I could be the successor of Wenger? Look at me laughing. It's funny. One person to whom you can ask this question is Ivan Gazidis. He should answer the question. 3:57PM And a word from Germany From one he helped to make it (to Bayern Munich) 22 years @Arsenal - almost my whole lifetime. Impressive. Glad I could be a small part of it ���� #MerciArsène#Wengerpic.twitter.com/lzGJXJlOGC— Serge Gnabry (@SergeGnabry) April 20, 2018 3:51PM A tribute from an opponent Arsene Wenger built the best teams that I played against in English Football .The 98 team was Amazing.The biggest compliment is that he played football that made us change the way we played against them. He now deserves the most incredible send off from all in the coming weeks.— Gary Neville (@GNev2) April 20, 2018 3:36PM A trawl through the picture archive ... Has inspired this, 22 years in 11 photographs: Wenger at Arsenal gallery 3:17PM Sir Alex Ferguson pays tribute "I am really happy for Arsène Wenger. I have great respect for him and for the job he has done at Arsenal. It is great testament to his talent, professionalism and determination that has been able to dedicate 22 years of his life to a job that he loves. "In an era where football managers sometimes only last one or two seasons, it shows what an achievement it is to serve that length of time at a club the size of Arsenal. "I am pleased that he has announced he is leaving at this stage of the season, as he can now have the send-off that he truly deserves. "He is, without doubt, one the greatest Premier League managers and I am proud to have been a rival, a colleague and a friend to such a great man." 2:47PM Pep Guardiola tips his hat Luke Edwards reports from the Manchester City manager's press conference: “He has all my respect for what he has done. The Premier League is about huge personalities like Arsène, it is because of what he has done, his vision. “I wish him all the best in the future, I hope he can be involved in world football in a different way with his experience. Whether it is with Arsenal, Uefa, Fifa, or somewhere else, I don't know. It was a pleasure to compete against him here, with City, as well as Barcelona and Bayern. Pep Guardiola takes Manchester City training on Friday Credit: Victoria Haydn/Man City via Getty Images “It will be difficult for anyone to do what he has done at a top European club again. Sir Alex Ferguson did it at Manchester United, but it is so, so complicated. With the way social media is now, everybody has an opinion and can express it, you feel the pressure as a manager. “You can also feel pressure because staying in the Premier League is so important, then you have the sporting directors, who do not have a lot of patience. It will be so difficult to find a person who will be able to stay at a club for so long and do what Arsène has done.” 2:32PM 'Arsenal will unite behind Wenger now' Paul Matz, from the Arsenal Independent Supporters' Association, speaks to Telegraph Sport 2:06PM 'I have been talking well about him for a while' Newcastle manager Rafael Benitez, who has locked horns with Arsene Wenger plenty of times down the years in his time at Liverpool, Chelsea and on Tyneside, said this at today's press conference: "I have been talking well about him for a while. "To do things in the way that he has done and win the way he was winning, for so many years... we are talking about one of the best managers in football history." 2:01PM 'Like a father through tough times in my career' Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere posted this on Facebook: "To the man who gave me my chance as a 16-year-old, and showed unbelievable faith and commitment towards me. Always a gentleman, like a father through tough times in my career. He always believed in me when most people didn't. Thank you for everything boss! It's down to us now to end your era right. #onearsenewenger" Big shoes for anyone to fill,playing for Arsenal under Arsene was one of the best period of my career, 2 premiership, 2 FA cups, The invincibles, playing with some of the best assembled players,influencing millions of fans in Africa to support this great club. pic.twitter.com/tILZo70jBE— Kanu Nwankwo (@papilokanu) April 20, 2018 Personally a very sad day. I am forever in debt to this man. The person who had faith in me and gave me a platform to progress. Thank you for all the memories and trophies bosspic.twitter.com/EP26M6TP3W— Héctor Bellerín (@HectorBellerin) April 20, 2018 1:56PM 'He deserves respect from the whole world of football' Our man Matt Law was at Stamford Bridge today and asked Antonio Conte for his thoughts on Arsene Wenger. Reaction to Wenger? "My reaction... I think we must pay a great tribute to Arsene Wenger for his career. For his career at Arsenal. He and Ferguson, we're talking about the last two managers to stay for such a long time in a club. Arsene Wenger worked 22 years for Arsenal. I think that's great, it's a fantastic story. He won a lot at this club and, for this reason, I think he deserves a great tribute for his career." What was his influence in a footballing sense? "I think Arsene is one of the managers who had a great influence on football because, in every moment in his idea of football, he tried to play good football, creative and offensive football. He deserves great tribute also for this." How important is it that he gains that great tribute? "He deserves great respect. Not only from Arsenal supporters, but from the whole world of football. He deserves great respect. We are talking about one of the best managers in the world with a great and important career with Arsenal. He deserves a great tribute for his career. It would be very difficult to see in the future another manager staying for such a long time at the same club. I think, maybe, Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger were a really good story for football. Now it will be very difficult to see that again, another situation like this." 1:54PM 'A proper football man who lives and breathes it' David Moyes, whose West Ham side face Arsenal on Sunday, hailed Arsene Wenger's longevity. "He's been a great competitor, a terrific manager who has graced the Premier League for many years. "He's a proper football man who lives and breathes it. To do 22 years is an incredible achievement." 1:53PM 'There are not enough words for what he's done' Burnley boss Sean Dyche, who will be the second-longest serving current manager in the Premier League once Arsene Wenger stands down, has paid tribute to the Frenchman. "He is a legend of the game - the work that he's done will be remembered. "Some things that now seem normal and simple weren't at the time. Hydration in football sounds a simple thing but was not taken to a high level. Making sure the food they were eating was correct. Their health and well-being. "For youngish managers like myself there are not enough good words you can use for what he's done." 1:42PM 'It was a pleasure to compete against him' Pep Guardiola, manager of new Premier League champions Man City, has also spoken. "He is a huge personality. The Premier League is the Premier League because of what he has done and his vision. I wish him all the best for the future. "Hopefully he will be involved in a different way in world football. Of course it was a pleasure at Barcelona, Bayern Munich and here to compete against him." 1:39PM 'Arsenal fans will unite behind Wenger now' Paul Matz from the Arsenal Independent Supporters' Association, has told The Telegraph he believes the club will unite behind departing manager Arsene Wenger for the rest of the season as they focus on winning the Europa League. 1:37PM Mourinho asked about Wenger... wait for it Jose Mourinho has claimed that deep down he really respects Arsene Wenger and his various insults over the years did not reflect his true relationship with the Arsenal manager, who announced that he will leave the club at the end of the season. "If he's happy with the decision he makes and looks forward to the next chapter of his career and his life I'm really happy for him. If he's sad, I'm sad. I'm pretty sure as a club - and especially because Mr Wenger and Arsenal were for many, many years the biggest rivals of Sir Alex [Ferguson's] era - we will show Mr Wenger the respect he deserves." Asked whether he regretted many of his spats with Wenger, which were often characterised by the strength of Mourinho's response, he was dismissive. "It's not about regretting. I think your question is a typical question from somebody that was not a manager, not a player. Of course, you don't know the way we respect each other even when sometimes it doesn't look like we don't. "Players that get yellow cards and red cards by aggressive actions against each other, bad words during the career - the manager is the same thing. The ones that respect each other more are the ones with the problems. It's power against power; ambition against ambition; quality against quality. But in the end it's people from the same business who respect one another’s careers. "So it happened. What matters for me is the way I respect the person, the professional, the career. I always say that for some the memories are short, but for us football people - the real football people, the others live on us - don't have short memories. I know what it means, three Premier League titles and seven FA Cups, what he did in Japan and France, what he brought to French football. "[Also] What he gave to Arsenal in the period without Premier Leagues, the transition from stadium to stadium, we know what he did. If he's happy with the decision, I'm really happy and I hope he doesn't retire from football." 1:23PM Where it all began for Wenger Where it all began for Arsene Wenger in the #PL... pic.twitter.com/gbhqBu9LTq— Premier League (@premierleague) April 20, 2018 1:19PM The Top 10 longest-serving managers in Premier League history Arsene Wenger, Arsenal, October 1996 to May 2018 (21 years, seven months) Sir Alex Ferguson, Manchester United, August 1992 to May 2013 (20 years, nine months) David Moyes, Everton, March 2002 to May 2013 (11 years, two months) Harry Redknapp, West Ham, August 1994 to May 2001 (six years, eight months) Rafael Benitez, Liverpool, August 2004 to June 2010 (five years, 10 months) Alan Curbishley, Charlton, August 2000 to May 2006 (five years, nine months) Sam Allardyce, Bolton, August 2001 to April 2007 (five years, eight months) Gerard Houllier, Liverpool, November 1998 to May 2004 (five years, six months) Jim Smith, Derby, August 1996 to October 2001 (five years, two months) Sir Bobby Robson, Newcastle, September 1999 to August 2004 (four years, 11 months) 12:58PM 'One of the best in English football history' Premier League executive chairman Richard Scudamore offered his own tribute to Arsene Wenger. "It is hard to encapsulate the enormity of Arsene Wenger's contribution to Arsenal Football Club, the Premier League and football generally over these past 22 seasons. "All of Arsene's teams have been a joy to watch and his 2003-04 'Invincibles' will go down as one of the best in English football history." 12:50PM 'One major reason why I'm here is because of him' Club captain Per Mertesacker admitted it was "emotional" to find out that Arsene Wenger was set to depart. "We have just been informed basically. It is quite emotional. Obviously he has been at the club for such a long time, he has been so supportive to me. One major reason why I'm here is because of him. "It's been emotional and there will be time to digest it but it is a sad feeling right now." 12:47PM Wenger told players of his exit beforehand Arsene Wenger asked Arsenal to hold off announcing his decision to leave the club so he could inform his players first-hand. The news was announced this morning, with Wenger set to depart 12 months into a two-year deal. It is understood Wenger was keen to tell the Arsenal players himself and did so ahead of training at their London Colney base and minutes before the news was made public. His coaching staff were also informed of the decision in advance, although club staff working at the Emirates Stadium rather than the training ground discovered the news at the same time as everyone else. Wenger's surprise announcement came a day after he evaded questions over his future at his usual pre-match press conference. 12:36PM How many times did your team lose to Wenger's Arsenal? Was your club one of the teams Arsene Wenger had the wood over? How many times did your team lose to Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal? 12:35PM 'Today will mark the start of a new era for the club' Arsene Wenger's decision to leave Arsenal at the end of the season is good for all those involved, according to a leading supporters' group. Lois Langton, chair of the Arsenal Independent Supporters' Association, believes the timing is right and hailed Wenger as a "fantastic" manager in his day. "Without question, the announcement that Arsene Wenger will finally stand down at the end of this season is the right decision, both for the club and the manager, although, having been so long coming, it feels surreal that the day has finally arrived. "The problems associated with his tenure in recent years are well documented and now that the announcement has been made, there is nothing to be gained by going over old ground. "Arsene Wenger was, for a period of time, a fantastic manager for Arsenal. The Invincibles epitomise what he brought to the Club and, to that extent, his legacy will continue. "We have seen with Manchester City this season how difficult it is to go a league campaign undefeated. The 2003/2004 season in particular will forever be a source of pride and achievement. "It is now time to move on. We have a Europa League semi-final coming up against Atletico and a first success in Europe for Arsene Wenger would provide a fitting farewell. "Arsenal has a rich and wonderful heritage and today will mark the start of a new era for the club." 12:31PM Will Arsenal now raise their game against the Hammers? Arsenal play West Ham this Sunday. Here's our man Nick Callow's abbreviated preview: West Ham are not mathematically safe from relegation so Arsenal should fear a club they have lost to three times at Emirates Stadium. Arsenal can be pipped to sixth by Burnley, but Thursday's Europa Atletico Madrid semi-final will dictate Arsene Wenger's selection while David Moyes can go for broke. PREDICTION: 1-1 12:04PM VOTE: Who should Arsenal choose to replace Wenger? 11:55AM Where next for Wenger? Seeing as the man eats, drinks and sleeps football, it is highly unlikely he will walk off into the sunset and retire. The odds are now stacked in favour of him becoming the next Paris Saint-Germain manager, with Unai Emery expected to be shown the door by the Paris giants. Wenger would also be a a highly-popular choice given his profile in France and continuing analysis as a guest pundit for French TV. 11:48AM 'Name it the Arsene Wenger Stadium' Former Arsenal midfielder Paul Merson has urged fans to get behind the Frenchman for the rest of the season, starting with Sunday's home match against West Ham. "I think everybody can pay their respect to him now about how great he was as a manager. It's perfect timing. "I think it gives the fans (the chance) to pack the Emirates for the last few games of the season and have a right go. "If fans do not turn up against West Ham and pack that place out, they need serious questions asked about them and are they real Arsenal fans or are they glory-hunters?" Merson has also called for the Emirates Stadium to be renamed in Wenger's honour. "They should drop the Emirates bit - they don't need the money - and name it the Arsene Wenger Stadium. "That's his stadium. He built that. He made that stadium. Even if they called it the Emirates Arsene Wenger Stadium. He deserves to be on that." 11:44AM 'It shows the great dignity and class of the man' Spain and Chelsea's Cesc Fabregas, who burst in to the Arsenal starting line-up under Arsene Wenger, posted on Instagram... "Wow. I never expected that but it shows the great dignity and class of the man. I will never forget his guidance and support, his tutelage and mentorship. "He had faith in me from day one and I owe him a lot, he was like a father figure to me who always pushed me to be the best. Arsene, you deserve all the respect and happiness in the world. #classact" 11:43AM Inside information Ian Wright appeared to have been aware of the news before it was announced, tweeting a shocked face emoji around half an hour before the club's statement. — Ian Wright (@IanWright0) April 20, 2018 11:41AM Will it be Rodgers who replaces Wenger? Celtic majority shareholder Dermot Desmond has admitted he would let manager Brendan Rodgers speak to Arsenal if the Premier League club approached the Northern Irishman... "Absolutely. I don't think you can put handcuffs on anybody if they want to go to a club as good as Arsenal. "It will be Brendan's decision and Brendan's decision only." 11:33AM 'He moved the goalposts for everyone else' Southampton manager Mark Hughes believes it would be a "massive wrench" for Arsene Wenger to leave after so long in the post. "When you have had longevity in the game like Arsene has, and I have been in the Premier League for a long time, our paths have crossed on numerous occasions, we had a few run-ins but other times we were very civil and respectful of each other's efforts. "I had a good conversation with him two weeks ago, he looked very relaxed and chilled. "He came with different ideas, different views on how the game should be played, he moved the goalposts for everyone else, he came in and had success and everyone else had to catch up." 11:31AM 'Fans are celebrating like they've won the lottery' Former Arsenal goalkeeper David Seaman, Arsene Wenger's No 1 for the first seven years of his reign, is not happy with how some Gunners fans are reacting... "It's going to be good now, because there's going to be a chance he will get the send-off and the respect he deserves. The fans that are celebrating like they've won the lottery, it makes me a little bit angry if I'm honest. It's time to show respect and realise what he's done. "For me, he is Arsenal, and it's right that he's decided to leave on his own terms. "Now let's enjoy that. I hope all the fans that have stayed away now return because they've still got a chance of winning something this season. Get behind the team, get behind Arsenal, and show him the respect he deserves. "He's a gentleman. It's brilliant to be in his company. He's a really, really nice guy - and a lot of people don't see that. People say he's stubborn and this and that, but that's not true. It might have been true as a manager, but as a man he's a true gentleman. "When he came in he changed everything - the way we played, the diet... He revolutionised Arsenal. He was brilliant. For me, and especially for the back four - he added years to their careers." 11:05AM Wenger's Arsenal reign in numbers 1996 - the year when a then-unheralded Wenger, who had been in charge at Monaco and Japanese side Nagoya Grampus Eight, took over at Highbury. 1228 - games at the helm, ahead of Sunday's Premier League fixture against West Ham. 704 - wins to date as Arsenal boss. 3 - Premier League title wins, the last during an unbeaten Invincibles campaign of 2003/2004. 1549 - goals scored in Premier League matches by Wenger's teams. 10 - major trophies won. 473 - Premier League victories. 7 - FA Cup triumphs, with three of those having come the last four seasons. 151 - Premier League losses. 21 - full seasons in charge. 49 - games unbeaten in the Premier League from May 2003 to October 2004. 10:58AM Nearly 22 years in three minutes #MerciArsènepic.twitter.com/bjP0wLMgee— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) April 20, 2018 10:55AM How Twitter is reacting to Wenger leaving Unsurprisingly, frequent Arsene Wenger critic Piers Morgan has tweeted with a certain amount of relish... BREAKING: Wenger out. pic.twitter.com/HBuwQdY9aw— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) April 20, 2018 Fortunately, Gary Neville, the voice of reason, has said what many feel... Arsene Wenger built the best teams that I played against in English Football .The 98 team was Amazing.The biggest compliment is that he played football that made us change the way we played against them. He now deserves the most incredible send off from all in the coming weeks.— Gary Neville (@GNev2) April 20, 2018 Arsenal legend David Seaman has called on Gunners fans to give Wenger the send-off he deserves... Sad day for @Arsenal with Arsene leaving, can we now give him the send off/respect he deserves?!! #rememberthetrophies— David Seaman (@thedavidseaman) April 20, 2018 Journalist and TV presenter Robert Peston is suffering from mixed emotions... Such mixed feelings about Wenger resignation. I wanted him to go, but I miss him already. He was magnificent for us over many years, but it was time #Arsenal— Robert Peston (@Peston) April 20, 2018 Radio 1 DJ Greg James sees the funny side... BUT WHO GETS THE COAT?! I WANT THE COAT. SHOTGUN THE COAT. pic.twitter.com/C4qJEbO8YG— Greg James (@gregjames) April 20, 2018 Former Arsenal captain Tony Adams posted on Instagram: "Thanks for everything Arsene. Move over Herbert, Arsene Wenger the greatest Arsenal Manager." 10:50AM How fickle football can be It was expected that many Arsenal fans would boycott the club's remaining home games as a way of voicing their unhappiness at Arsene Wenger. BUT... Arsenal sure to be packed out for remaining games now— Matt Law (@Matt_Law_DT) April 20, 2018 10:36AM One word: longevity 823 - Arsene Wenger has managed more Premier League games than any other manager (823) and only Sir Alex Ferguson has won more games (528) than Wenger (473). Longevity. pic.twitter.com/ktdsaZPb1y— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) April 20, 2018 10:34AM Klopp hails Wenger Other Premier League manages are being asked for their thoughts on Arsene Wenger after today's momentous announcement. Here's what Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp says: "He is an influence in football. A fantastic career, outstanding personality. A big player in the business." 10:32AM How has it come to this? Arsene Wenger has won three Premier League titles during his spell of over 21 years at the helm, the last of which came as a result of the unbeaten 'Invincibles' season in 2003-04. No-one has won more FA Cups than the former Monaco boss, who was a shock appointment back in 1996. Protests against his reign picked up last season as the Gunners finished outside of the top four for the first time in a full campaign under Wenger's control. But despite the growing negativity, Wenger signed a new two-year deal last summer with the mandate of sustaining a title challenge. That failed miserably and, at the time of the announcement, Arsenal sit sixth in the table and 33 points adrift of newly-crowned champions Manchester City. 10:26AM Set your alarms for 5pm! Arsenal are holding a media conference with chief executive Ivan Gazidis at 5pm at the Emirates Stadium. 10:24AM Winterburn says 'time is right' Former Arsenal defender Nigel Winterburn believes the decision is the right one: "I think it's run its natural course. Arsene Wenger has been absolutely amazing for Arsenal Football Club. "It probably feels to me like it is the right time. When Arsene Wenger does step down, I think he will be remembered very, very fondly. We talk about the modern era, George Graham started it and Arsene Wenger's taken it to the next level. "When he leaves the football club, I think people will look back and really appreciate what Arsene Wenger has done." 10:05AM Who will replace him? Arsene Wenger will lead the team to the end of the season and the club say they will 'make an appointment as soon as possible'. Our Arsenal man - Jeremy Wilson - says these are the leading candidates: Leonardo Jardim, Mikel Arteta, Joachim Low, Brendan Rodgers, Max Allegri and Luis Enrique. 10:02AM 'Arsene has unparalleled class and we will always be grateful' Arsenal owner Stan Kroenke has issued the following statement: "This is one of the most difficult days we have ever had in all our years in sport. One of the main reasons we got involved with Arsenal was because of what Arsène has brought to the club on and off the pitch. His longevity and consistency over such a sustained period at the highest level of the game will never be matched. "Arsène has unparalleled class and we will always be grateful to him. Everyone who loves Arsenal and everyone who loves football owes him a debt of gratitude. Three Premier League titles, including an entire season unbeaten, seven FA Cup triumphs and 20 successive years in the Champions League is an exceptional record. He has also transformed the identity of our club and of English football with his vision for how the game can be played. "We have high ambitions to build on Arsène's remarkable tenure and to honour his vision by ensuring that Arsenal competes for and wins the biggest and most important prizes in the game. "We must now focus on making a strong finish to the season and ask our millions of fans around the world to join us in paying appropriate tribute to one of the greats of Arsenal's history and one of the greats of the game." 9:57AM BREAKING NEWS: Arsene Wenger leaving Arsenal Arsene Wenger has announced he is to step down as manager of Arsenal at the end of the season. "After careful consideration and following discussions with the club, I feel it is the right time for me to step down at the end of the season. "I am grateful for having had the privilege to serve the club for so many memorable years. "I managed the club with full commitment and integrity. "I want to thank the staff, the players, the Directors and the fans who make this club so special. "I urge our fans to stand behind the team to finish on a high. "To all the Arsenal lovers take care of the values of the club. "My love and support for ever."
Arsene Wenger leaving Arsenal at the end of the season Wenger's last match at Emirates on May 6 against Burnley Last Premier League match ever on May 13 against Huddersfield Arsenal to hold press conference with Ivan Gazidis at 5pm Mourinho speaks: "We'll show Mr Wenger respect he deserves" Why Wenger will enjoy great success in life after Arsenal Next Arsenal manager odds: Who will replace Wenger? How many times did your team lose to Wenger's Arsenal? Arsenal are promising to be “bold” and could again go left-field in replacing Arsene Wenger after the club’s most successful-ever manager decided to announce his departure amid the prospect of being sacked this summer. Wenger revealed on Friday morning that this would be his 22nd and last season as Arsenal manager and, while the timing of the public announcement was his, the wider backdrop was of the club already actively preparing for change. The clear expectation was that he would be asked to leave this summer and Wenger did not want to wait to be sacked. It was also felt that an early announcement would ensure that Wenger received a big unifying send-off and allow all sides to prepare for a future apart. It was noticeable that Gazidis would not answer on Friday whether he had wanted Wenger to stay or tried to persuade him to see out the remaining year on his contract. Wenger has shown no sign of wanting to retire from management and is expected to make a clear break and seek employment elsewhere. Gazidis has been assessing potential replacements for several years, but has now actively begun the search and wants to preserve many of Wenger’s values within a structure that gives the manager rather less power. End of an era | Wenger to leave Arsenal at end of season A new backroom team has already been assembled and, while Gazidis called it “our biggest ever challenge", he said the club had never been better prepared. Former Barcelona manager Luis Enrique and ex-Arsenal captain Mikel Arteta are thought to be the leading contenders to replace Wenger, while Monaco manager Leonardo Jardim, former Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti and Germany head coach Joachim Low are also in the running. A complication with Low will be his reluctance to do anything that could destabilise Germany’s defence of the World Cup. Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers would be interested and has admirers inside Arsenal, but there are concerns at how fans might respond to his appointment at a time when unity is desperately sought. Former Borussia Dortmund manager Thomas Tuchel is close to be appointed Paris St Germain, but Juventus manager Max Allegri is keen on eventually working in England and would be of interest if he is ready to move this summer. Gazidis noticeably highlighted how Arsenal appointed an unknown in Wenger way back in 1996. Guy Wenger “Replace Arsene? That’s not going to happen,” he said. “But we have to make sure we don’t lose his qualities and his values in the club and that we take them forward. So someone who will continue to play exciting, progressive football that gets people interested and excited in the games we play. How the candidate represents the club is important. “That value of giving youth a chance is also very important. I think we’ve got to be open-minded and brave in the decision. When Arsene was appointed, I don’t think he was on many people’s radar. We need to be bold in the appointment.” Wenger made the final decision to leave earlier this week and, after discussions with directors on Thursday, he personally informed his staff and the players on Friday morning. There were many tears both at the stadium and training ground, where club staff were said to be in a state of shock. Wenger has won three Premier League titles, an all-time record seven FA Cups, two doubles, reached the 2006 European Cup final and went the entire 2003-4 Premier League season undefeated. He also helped oversee the move from Highbury to the Emirates Stadium. Tributes were paid to Wenger on Friday from across sport, with his old adversary Sir Alex Ferguson saying that he was “proud to have been a rival, a colleague and a friend to such a great man." As ever, Wenger stressed the importance of maintaining the values he has embodied in his time in English football. Put simply, that is an entertaining playing style, opportunities for young players and a fiscal structure that safeguards the club’s long-term future. “After careful consideration and following discussions with the club, I feel it is the right time for me to step down at the end of the season,” said Wenger. “I am grateful for having had the privilege to serve the club for so many memorable years. I managed the club with full commitment and integrity. I urge our fans to stand behind the team to finish on a high. To all the Arsenal lovers take care of the values of the club. My love and support for ever.” Arsenal fan's view | 'All the bad feeling has disappeared' Arsenal’s majority owner, Stan Kroenke, has always been a massive supporter of Wenger and regarded this as perhaps the hardest moment in his time in professional sport. “This is one of the most difficult days we have ever had in all our years in sport,” he said. “One of the main reasons we got involved with Arsenal was because of what Arsène has brought to the club on and off the pitch. His longevity and consistency over such a sustained period at the highest level of the game will never be matched. “Arsène has unparalleled class and we will always be grateful to him. Everyone who loves Arsenal and everyone who loves football owes him a debt of gratitude. Three Premier League titles, including an entire season unbeaten, seven FA Cup triumphs and 20 successive years in the Champions League is an exceptional record. He has also transformed the identity of our club and of English football with his vision for how the game can be played.” Gazidis added: “Arsene is going to feel the full force of this club behind him over the next couple of weeks. Arsene changed the game. He set a totally new standard. A new ambition. An ambition not just to win, but to win while achieving perfection. To make art out of football. He was always brave enough to be true to that extraordinary ambition and incredibly he achieved it with Arsenal’s Invincibles season.“ 5:26PM Gazidis on his abiding memories of Wenger's reign: “There are great moments - the trophies, the FA Cups, the victory against Barcelona. But the memories I have of Arsene are of speaking to him in quiet moments. He’s an incredibly self-critical man who always gives others the benefit of the doubt. There’s a reason there is so much affection for him. He’s a special person.” 5:23PM Gazidis on the players' reaction: “I think from the reaction at the training ground today, what I felt was an incredible amount of passion to give Arsene the send off that he deserves. “The decision had to come at some point. Now it’s time for us to look forward.” 5:21PM Gazidis on Wenger's future: “Will he retire? He’s somebody who is in great shape and has a competitive edge but that’s a question for him.” 5:19PM Gazidis on the next Arsenal manager: "We're going to have a process around that. The process begins today but I want to keep that process in-house. I don't want to be making public comments about it. We haven't had any discussions to date regarding that." 5:18PM Gazidis on where Arsenal go next: “Our first priority is to come together as a club and we are seeing that today. Our players. staff and fans are behind this great man and we will give him the send off he deserves. I don’t underestimate that challenge but I am confident in the people we have in place to take Arsene’s vision forward and build on it.” "We are not going to find a replacement for Arsene Wenger" 5:16PM Gazidis on Wenger's immediate legacy “Arsene often said his aim was to leave the club in a better place than when he found out. We are in a better place than we could have ever imagined.” 5:15PM Gazidis on Wenger's inspiration: “Beyond football, he has inspired the people around him. He is able to make people believe that they can achieve great things. He inspired George Weah to believe he could not only become the world’s best football player, but to become the president of a nation. He has taken every challenge with humour and grace and class.” 5:15PM Gazidis on the Wenger philosophy: “Arsene changed the game. He set a totally new standard. A new ambition. Not just to win, but to win while achieving perfection - to make art. Incredibly, he achieved it with the Invincibles. Arsene has been brave enough to live by his philosophy. He’s made Arsenal throughout the world for the kind of football we play.” 5:14PM Gazidis on today's news: “Obviously this has been an emotional day for everyone. Now I have the impossible job of communicating that feeling. Typically, Arsene is not here as he is taking training. I will leave it to others to talk about the facts and figures of his tenure. There is something more coming out today. There is an affection from Arsenal fans and right across the sphere of football. I’ve had the pleasure of working alongside Arsene over the last 10 years.” 5:12PM Ivan Gazidis addresses the media... "Arsene changed the game. He set a totally new standard, a new ambition. Am ambition not just to win but to win while achieving perfection. To make art out of football." 4:42PM Jack Wilshere on the outgoing boss... "We need to send him off in the right way now" �� Turn your sound up and listen to this from @JackWilsherepic.twitter.com/aZ9UA5u0mo— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) April 20, 2018 "I'm sure when the dust settles, we have a few days to think about it, we'll start to reflect on it, but at the moment it's a bit raw, it's a bit sensitive." 4:08PM Thierry Henry on his former manager October 2002 and September's manager of the month congratulates the player of the month Credit: EDDIE KEOGH/PA I was a little mixed because it's a sad day for me to see the big man leave the club, although we all know he has matches left. I'm happy in a way that people can give him the farewell he deserves. His legacy is untouchable. Managers, fans from other teams - [they say] how Arsène changed Arsenal. I am happy that now we can all talk about his legacy. But we must not get carried away with celebrating the end of his time. The team must win the Europa League, it would be an incredible feat and Arsène has never won in Europe before, so it would be a good way to give him a nice goodbye. I remember when I was playing for Arsenal, people were talking about how we play, not what we won, but how we did it and how Arsène made Arsenal a club known in the whole world. If I could be the successor of Wenger? Look at me laughing. It's funny. One person to whom you can ask this question is Ivan Gazidis. He should answer the question. 3:57PM And a word from Germany From one he helped to make it (to Bayern Munich) 22 years @Arsenal - almost my whole lifetime. Impressive. Glad I could be a small part of it ���� #MerciArsène#Wengerpic.twitter.com/lzGJXJlOGC— Serge Gnabry (@SergeGnabry) April 20, 2018 3:51PM A tribute from an opponent Arsene Wenger built the best teams that I played against in English Football .The 98 team was Amazing.The biggest compliment is that he played football that made us change the way we played against them. He now deserves the most incredible send off from all in the coming weeks.— Gary Neville (@GNev2) April 20, 2018 3:36PM A trawl through the picture archive ... Has inspired this, 22 years in 11 photographs: Wenger at Arsenal gallery 3:17PM Sir Alex Ferguson pays tribute "I am really happy for Arsène Wenger. I have great respect for him and for the job he has done at Arsenal. It is great testament to his talent, professionalism and determination that has been able to dedicate 22 years of his life to a job that he loves. "In an era where football managers sometimes only last one or two seasons, it shows what an achievement it is to serve that length of time at a club the size of Arsenal. "I am pleased that he has announced he is leaving at this stage of the season, as he can now have the send-off that he truly deserves. "He is, without doubt, one the greatest Premier League managers and I am proud to have been a rival, a colleague and a friend to such a great man." 2:47PM Pep Guardiola tips his hat Luke Edwards reports from the Manchester City manager's press conference: “He has all my respect for what he has done. The Premier League is about huge personalities like Arsène, it is because of what he has done, his vision. “I wish him all the best in the future, I hope he can be involved in world football in a different way with his experience. Whether it is with Arsenal, Uefa, Fifa, or somewhere else, I don't know. It was a pleasure to compete against him here, with City, as well as Barcelona and Bayern. Pep Guardiola takes Manchester City training on Friday Credit: Victoria Haydn/Man City via Getty Images “It will be difficult for anyone to do what he has done at a top European club again. Sir Alex Ferguson did it at Manchester United, but it is so, so complicated. With the way social media is now, everybody has an opinion and can express it, you feel the pressure as a manager. “You can also feel pressure because staying in the Premier League is so important, then you have the sporting directors, who do not have a lot of patience. It will be so difficult to find a person who will be able to stay at a club for so long and do what Arsène has done.” 2:32PM 'Arsenal will unite behind Wenger now' Paul Matz, from the Arsenal Independent Supporters' Association, speaks to Telegraph Sport 2:06PM 'I have been talking well about him for a while' Newcastle manager Rafael Benitez, who has locked horns with Arsene Wenger plenty of times down the years in his time at Liverpool, Chelsea and on Tyneside, said this at today's press conference: "I have been talking well about him for a while. "To do things in the way that he has done and win the way he was winning, for so many years... we are talking about one of the best managers in football history." 2:01PM 'Like a father through tough times in my career' Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere posted this on Facebook: "To the man who gave me my chance as a 16-year-old, and showed unbelievable faith and commitment towards me. Always a gentleman, like a father through tough times in my career. He always believed in me when most people didn't. Thank you for everything boss! It's down to us now to end your era right. #onearsenewenger" Big shoes for anyone to fill,playing for Arsenal under Arsene was one of the best period of my career, 2 premiership, 2 FA cups, The invincibles, playing with some of the best assembled players,influencing millions of fans in Africa to support this great club. pic.twitter.com/tILZo70jBE— Kanu Nwankwo (@papilokanu) April 20, 2018 Personally a very sad day. I am forever in debt to this man. The person who had faith in me and gave me a platform to progress. Thank you for all the memories and trophies bosspic.twitter.com/EP26M6TP3W— Héctor Bellerín (@HectorBellerin) April 20, 2018 1:56PM 'He deserves respect from the whole world of football' Our man Matt Law was at Stamford Bridge today and asked Antonio Conte for his thoughts on Arsene Wenger. Reaction to Wenger? "My reaction... I think we must pay a great tribute to Arsene Wenger for his career. For his career at Arsenal. He and Ferguson, we're talking about the last two managers to stay for such a long time in a club. Arsene Wenger worked 22 years for Arsenal. I think that's great, it's a fantastic story. He won a lot at this club and, for this reason, I think he deserves a great tribute for his career." What was his influence in a footballing sense? "I think Arsene is one of the managers who had a great influence on football because, in every moment in his idea of football, he tried to play good football, creative and offensive football. He deserves great tribute also for this." How important is it that he gains that great tribute? "He deserves great respect. Not only from Arsenal supporters, but from the whole world of football. He deserves great respect. We are talking about one of the best managers in the world with a great and important career with Arsenal. He deserves a great tribute for his career. It would be very difficult to see in the future another manager staying for such a long time at the same club. I think, maybe, Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger were a really good story for football. Now it will be very difficult to see that again, another situation like this." 1:54PM 'A proper football man who lives and breathes it' David Moyes, whose West Ham side face Arsenal on Sunday, hailed Arsene Wenger's longevity. "He's been a great competitor, a terrific manager who has graced the Premier League for many years. "He's a proper football man who lives and breathes it. To do 22 years is an incredible achievement." 1:53PM 'There are not enough words for what he's done' Burnley boss Sean Dyche, who will be the second-longest serving current manager in the Premier League once Arsene Wenger stands down, has paid tribute to the Frenchman. "He is a legend of the game - the work that he's done will be remembered. "Some things that now seem normal and simple weren't at the time. Hydration in football sounds a simple thing but was not taken to a high level. Making sure the food they were eating was correct. Their health and well-being. "For youngish managers like myself there are not enough good words you can use for what he's done." 1:42PM 'It was a pleasure to compete against him' Pep Guardiola, manager of new Premier League champions Man City, has also spoken. "He is a huge personality. The Premier League is the Premier League because of what he has done and his vision. I wish him all the best for the future. "Hopefully he will be involved in a different way in world football. Of course it was a pleasure at Barcelona, Bayern Munich and here to compete against him." 1:39PM 'Arsenal fans will unite behind Wenger now' Paul Matz from the Arsenal Independent Supporters' Association, has told The Telegraph he believes the club will unite behind departing manager Arsene Wenger for the rest of the season as they focus on winning the Europa League. 1:37PM Mourinho asked about Wenger... wait for it Jose Mourinho has claimed that deep down he really respects Arsene Wenger and his various insults over the years did not reflect his true relationship with the Arsenal manager, who announced that he will leave the club at the end of the season. "If he's happy with the decision he makes and looks forward to the next chapter of his career and his life I'm really happy for him. If he's sad, I'm sad. I'm pretty sure as a club - and especially because Mr Wenger and Arsenal were for many, many years the biggest rivals of Sir Alex [Ferguson's] era - we will show Mr Wenger the respect he deserves." Asked whether he regretted many of his spats with Wenger, which were often characterised by the strength of Mourinho's response, he was dismissive. "It's not about regretting. I think your question is a typical question from somebody that was not a manager, not a player. Of course, you don't know the way we respect each other even when sometimes it doesn't look like we don't. "Players that get yellow cards and red cards by aggressive actions against each other, bad words during the career - the manager is the same thing. The ones that respect each other more are the ones with the problems. It's power against power; ambition against ambition; quality against quality. But in the end it's people from the same business who respect one another’s careers. "So it happened. What matters for me is the way I respect the person, the professional, the career. I always say that for some the memories are short, but for us football people - the real football people, the others live on us - don't have short memories. I know what it means, three Premier League titles and seven FA Cups, what he did in Japan and France, what he brought to French football. "[Also] What he gave to Arsenal in the period without Premier Leagues, the transition from stadium to stadium, we know what he did. If he's happy with the decision, I'm really happy and I hope he doesn't retire from football." 1:23PM Where it all began for Wenger Where it all began for Arsene Wenger in the #PL... pic.twitter.com/gbhqBu9LTq— Premier League (@premierleague) April 20, 2018 1:19PM The Top 10 longest-serving managers in Premier League history Arsene Wenger, Arsenal, October 1996 to May 2018 (21 years, seven months) Sir Alex Ferguson, Manchester United, August 1992 to May 2013 (20 years, nine months) David Moyes, Everton, March 2002 to May 2013 (11 years, two months) Harry Redknapp, West Ham, August 1994 to May 2001 (six years, eight months) Rafael Benitez, Liverpool, August 2004 to June 2010 (five years, 10 months) Alan Curbishley, Charlton, August 2000 to May 2006 (five years, nine months) Sam Allardyce, Bolton, August 2001 to April 2007 (five years, eight months) Gerard Houllier, Liverpool, November 1998 to May 2004 (five years, six months) Jim Smith, Derby, August 1996 to October 2001 (five years, two months) Sir Bobby Robson, Newcastle, September 1999 to August 2004 (four years, 11 months) 12:58PM 'One of the best in English football history' Premier League executive chairman Richard Scudamore offered his own tribute to Arsene Wenger. "It is hard to encapsulate the enormity of Arsene Wenger's contribution to Arsenal Football Club, the Premier League and football generally over these past 22 seasons. "All of Arsene's teams have been a joy to watch and his 2003-04 'Invincibles' will go down as one of the best in English football history." 12:50PM 'One major reason why I'm here is because of him' Club captain Per Mertesacker admitted it was "emotional" to find out that Arsene Wenger was set to depart. "We have just been informed basically. It is quite emotional. Obviously he has been at the club for such a long time, he has been so supportive to me. One major reason why I'm here is because of him. "It's been emotional and there will be time to digest it but it is a sad feeling right now." 12:47PM Wenger told players of his exit beforehand Arsene Wenger asked Arsenal to hold off announcing his decision to leave the club so he could inform his players first-hand. The news was announced this morning, with Wenger set to depart 12 months into a two-year deal. It is understood Wenger was keen to tell the Arsenal players himself and did so ahead of training at their London Colney base and minutes before the news was made public. His coaching staff were also informed of the decision in advance, although club staff working at the Emirates Stadium rather than the training ground discovered the news at the same time as everyone else. Wenger's surprise announcement came a day after he evaded questions over his future at his usual pre-match press conference. 12:36PM How many times did your team lose to Wenger's Arsenal? Was your club one of the teams Arsene Wenger had the wood over? How many times did your team lose to Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal? 12:35PM 'Today will mark the start of a new era for the club' Arsene Wenger's decision to leave Arsenal at the end of the season is good for all those involved, according to a leading supporters' group. Lois Langton, chair of the Arsenal Independent Supporters' Association, believes the timing is right and hailed Wenger as a "fantastic" manager in his day. "Without question, the announcement that Arsene Wenger will finally stand down at the end of this season is the right decision, both for the club and the manager, although, having been so long coming, it feels surreal that the day has finally arrived. "The problems associated with his tenure in recent years are well documented and now that the announcement has been made, there is nothing to be gained by going over old ground. "Arsene Wenger was, for a period of time, a fantastic manager for Arsenal. The Invincibles epitomise what he brought to the Club and, to that extent, his legacy will continue. "We have seen with Manchester City this season how difficult it is to go a league campaign undefeated. The 2003/2004 season in particular will forever be a source of pride and achievement. "It is now time to move on. We have a Europa League semi-final coming up against Atletico and a first success in Europe for Arsene Wenger would provide a fitting farewell. "Arsenal has a rich and wonderful heritage and today will mark the start of a new era for the club." 12:31PM Will Arsenal now raise their game against the Hammers? Arsenal play West Ham this Sunday. Here's our man Nick Callow's abbreviated preview: West Ham are not mathematically safe from relegation so Arsenal should fear a club they have lost to three times at Emirates Stadium. Arsenal can be pipped to sixth by Burnley, but Thursday's Europa Atletico Madrid semi-final will dictate Arsene Wenger's selection while David Moyes can go for broke. PREDICTION: 1-1 12:04PM VOTE: Who should Arsenal choose to replace Wenger? 11:55AM Where next for Wenger? Seeing as the man eats, drinks and sleeps football, it is highly unlikely he will walk off into the sunset and retire. The odds are now stacked in favour of him becoming the next Paris Saint-Germain manager, with Unai Emery expected to be shown the door by the Paris giants. Wenger would also be a a highly-popular choice given his profile in France and continuing analysis as a guest pundit for French TV. 11:48AM 'Name it the Arsene Wenger Stadium' Former Arsenal midfielder Paul Merson has urged fans to get behind the Frenchman for the rest of the season, starting with Sunday's home match against West Ham. "I think everybody can pay their respect to him now about how great he was as a manager. It's perfect timing. "I think it gives the fans (the chance) to pack the Emirates for the last few games of the season and have a right go. "If fans do not turn up against West Ham and pack that place out, they need serious questions asked about them and are they real Arsenal fans or are they glory-hunters?" Merson has also called for the Emirates Stadium to be renamed in Wenger's honour. "They should drop the Emirates bit - they don't need the money - and name it the Arsene Wenger Stadium. "That's his stadium. He built that. He made that stadium. Even if they called it the Emirates Arsene Wenger Stadium. He deserves to be on that." 11:44AM 'It shows the great dignity and class of the man' Spain and Chelsea's Cesc Fabregas, who burst in to the Arsenal starting line-up under Arsene Wenger, posted on Instagram... "Wow. I never expected that but it shows the great dignity and class of the man. I will never forget his guidance and support, his tutelage and mentorship. "He had faith in me from day one and I owe him a lot, he was like a father figure to me who always pushed me to be the best. Arsene, you deserve all the respect and happiness in the world. #classact" 11:43AM Inside information Ian Wright appeared to have been aware of the news before it was announced, tweeting a shocked face emoji around half an hour before the club's statement. — Ian Wright (@IanWright0) April 20, 2018 11:41AM Will it be Rodgers who replaces Wenger? Celtic majority shareholder Dermot Desmond has admitted he would let manager Brendan Rodgers speak to Arsenal if the Premier League club approached the Northern Irishman... "Absolutely. I don't think you can put handcuffs on anybody if they want to go to a club as good as Arsenal. "It will be Brendan's decision and Brendan's decision only." 11:33AM 'He moved the goalposts for everyone else' Southampton manager Mark Hughes believes it would be a "massive wrench" for Arsene Wenger to leave after so long in the post. "When you have had longevity in the game like Arsene has, and I have been in the Premier League for a long time, our paths have crossed on numerous occasions, we had a few run-ins but other times we were very civil and respectful of each other's efforts. "I had a good conversation with him two weeks ago, he looked very relaxed and chilled. "He came with different ideas, different views on how the game should be played, he moved the goalposts for everyone else, he came in and had success and everyone else had to catch up." 11:31AM 'Fans are celebrating like they've won the lottery' Former Arsenal goalkeeper David Seaman, Arsene Wenger's No 1 for the first seven years of his reign, is not happy with how some Gunners fans are reacting... "It's going to be good now, because there's going to be a chance he will get the send-off and the respect he deserves. The fans that are celebrating like they've won the lottery, it makes me a little bit angry if I'm honest. It's time to show respect and realise what he's done. "For me, he is Arsenal, and it's right that he's decided to leave on his own terms. "Now let's enjoy that. I hope all the fans that have stayed away now return because they've still got a chance of winning something this season. Get behind the team, get behind Arsenal, and show him the respect he deserves. "He's a gentleman. It's brilliant to be in his company. He's a really, really nice guy - and a lot of people don't see that. People say he's stubborn and this and that, but that's not true. It might have been true as a manager, but as a man he's a true gentleman. "When he came in he changed everything - the way we played, the diet... He revolutionised Arsenal. He was brilliant. For me, and especially for the back four - he added years to their careers." 11:05AM Wenger's Arsenal reign in numbers 1996 - the year when a then-unheralded Wenger, who had been in charge at Monaco and Japanese side Nagoya Grampus Eight, took over at Highbury. 1228 - games at the helm, ahead of Sunday's Premier League fixture against West Ham. 704 - wins to date as Arsenal boss. 3 - Premier League title wins, the last during an unbeaten Invincibles campaign of 2003/2004. 1549 - goals scored in Premier League matches by Wenger's teams. 10 - major trophies won. 473 - Premier League victories. 7 - FA Cup triumphs, with three of those having come the last four seasons. 151 - Premier League losses. 21 - full seasons in charge. 49 - games unbeaten in the Premier League from May 2003 to October 2004. 10:58AM Nearly 22 years in three minutes #MerciArsènepic.twitter.com/bjP0wLMgee— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) April 20, 2018 10:55AM How Twitter is reacting to Wenger leaving Unsurprisingly, frequent Arsene Wenger critic Piers Morgan has tweeted with a certain amount of relish... BREAKING: Wenger out. pic.twitter.com/HBuwQdY9aw— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) April 20, 2018 Fortunately, Gary Neville, the voice of reason, has said what many feel... Arsene Wenger built the best teams that I played against in English Football .The 98 team was Amazing.The biggest compliment is that he played football that made us change the way we played against them. He now deserves the most incredible send off from all in the coming weeks.— Gary Neville (@GNev2) April 20, 2018 Arsenal legend David Seaman has called on Gunners fans to give Wenger the send-off he deserves... Sad day for @Arsenal with Arsene leaving, can we now give him the send off/respect he deserves?!! #rememberthetrophies— David Seaman (@thedavidseaman) April 20, 2018 Journalist and TV presenter Robert Peston is suffering from mixed emotions... Such mixed feelings about Wenger resignation. I wanted him to go, but I miss him already. He was magnificent for us over many years, but it was time #Arsenal— Robert Peston (@Peston) April 20, 2018 Radio 1 DJ Greg James sees the funny side... BUT WHO GETS THE COAT?! I WANT THE COAT. SHOTGUN THE COAT. pic.twitter.com/C4qJEbO8YG— Greg James (@gregjames) April 20, 2018 Former Arsenal captain Tony Adams posted on Instagram: "Thanks for everything Arsene. Move over Herbert, Arsene Wenger the greatest Arsenal Manager." 10:50AM How fickle football can be It was expected that many Arsenal fans would boycott the club's remaining home games as a way of voicing their unhappiness at Arsene Wenger. BUT... Arsenal sure to be packed out for remaining games now— Matt Law (@Matt_Law_DT) April 20, 2018 10:36AM One word: longevity 823 - Arsene Wenger has managed more Premier League games than any other manager (823) and only Sir Alex Ferguson has won more games (528) than Wenger (473). Longevity. pic.twitter.com/ktdsaZPb1y— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) April 20, 2018 10:34AM Klopp hails Wenger Other Premier League manages are being asked for their thoughts on Arsene Wenger after today's momentous announcement. Here's what Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp says: "He is an influence in football. A fantastic career, outstanding personality. A big player in the business." 10:32AM How has it come to this? Arsene Wenger has won three Premier League titles during his spell of over 21 years at the helm, the last of which came as a result of the unbeaten 'Invincibles' season in 2003-04. No-one has won more FA Cups than the former Monaco boss, who was a shock appointment back in 1996. Protests against his reign picked up last season as the Gunners finished outside of the top four for the first time in a full campaign under Wenger's control. But despite the growing negativity, Wenger signed a new two-year deal last summer with the mandate of sustaining a title challenge. That failed miserably and, at the time of the announcement, Arsenal sit sixth in the table and 33 points adrift of newly-crowned champions Manchester City. 10:26AM Set your alarms for 5pm! Arsenal are holding a media conference with chief executive Ivan Gazidis at 5pm at the Emirates Stadium. 10:24AM Winterburn says 'time is right' Former Arsenal defender Nigel Winterburn believes the decision is the right one: "I think it's run its natural course. Arsene Wenger has been absolutely amazing for Arsenal Football Club. "It probably feels to me like it is the right time. When Arsene Wenger does step down, I think he will be remembered very, very fondly. We talk about the modern era, George Graham started it and Arsene Wenger's taken it to the next level. "When he leaves the football club, I think people will look back and really appreciate what Arsene Wenger has done." 10:05AM Who will replace him? Arsene Wenger will lead the team to the end of the season and the club say they will 'make an appointment as soon as possible'. Our Arsenal man - Jeremy Wilson - says these are the leading candidates: Leonardo Jardim, Mikel Arteta, Joachim Low, Brendan Rodgers, Max Allegri and Luis Enrique. 10:02AM 'Arsene has unparalleled class and we will always be grateful' Arsenal owner Stan Kroenke has issued the following statement: "This is one of the most difficult days we have ever had in all our years in sport. One of the main reasons we got involved with Arsenal was because of what Arsène has brought to the club on and off the pitch. His longevity and consistency over such a sustained period at the highest level of the game will never be matched. "Arsène has unparalleled class and we will always be grateful to him. Everyone who loves Arsenal and everyone who loves football owes him a debt of gratitude. Three Premier League titles, including an entire season unbeaten, seven FA Cup triumphs and 20 successive years in the Champions League is an exceptional record. He has also transformed the identity of our club and of English football with his vision for how the game can be played. "We have high ambitions to build on Arsène's remarkable tenure and to honour his vision by ensuring that Arsenal competes for and wins the biggest and most important prizes in the game. "We must now focus on making a strong finish to the season and ask our millions of fans around the world to join us in paying appropriate tribute to one of the greats of Arsenal's history and one of the greats of the game." 9:57AM BREAKING NEWS: Arsene Wenger leaving Arsenal Arsene Wenger has announced he is to step down as manager of Arsenal at the end of the season. "After careful consideration and following discussions with the club, I feel it is the right time for me to step down at the end of the season. "I am grateful for having had the privilege to serve the club for so many memorable years. "I managed the club with full commitment and integrity. "I want to thank the staff, the players, the Directors and the fans who make this club so special. "I urge our fans to stand behind the team to finish on a high. "To all the Arsenal lovers take care of the values of the club. "My love and support for ever."
Arsenal prepare for 'biggest ever challenge' to replace outgoing Arsene Wenger after 22 years in charge
Arsene Wenger leaving Arsenal at the end of the season Wenger's last match at Emirates on May 6 against Burnley Last Premier League match ever on May 13 against Huddersfield Arsenal to hold press conference with Ivan Gazidis at 5pm Mourinho speaks: "We'll show Mr Wenger respect he deserves" Why Wenger will enjoy great success in life after Arsenal Next Arsenal manager odds: Who will replace Wenger? How many times did your team lose to Wenger's Arsenal? Arsenal are promising to be “bold” and could again go left-field in replacing Arsene Wenger after the club’s most successful-ever manager decided to announce his departure amid the prospect of being sacked this summer. Wenger revealed on Friday morning that this would be his 22nd and last season as Arsenal manager and, while the timing of the public announcement was his, the wider backdrop was of the club already actively preparing for change. The clear expectation was that he would be asked to leave this summer and Wenger did not want to wait to be sacked. It was also felt that an early announcement would ensure that Wenger received a big unifying send-off and allow all sides to prepare for a future apart. It was noticeable that Gazidis would not answer on Friday whether he had wanted Wenger to stay or tried to persuade him to see out the remaining year on his contract. Wenger has shown no sign of wanting to retire from management and is expected to make a clear break and seek employment elsewhere. Gazidis has been assessing potential replacements for several years, but has now actively begun the search and wants to preserve many of Wenger’s values within a structure that gives the manager rather less power. End of an era | Wenger to leave Arsenal at end of season A new backroom team has already been assembled and, while Gazidis called it “our biggest ever challenge", he said the club had never been better prepared. Former Barcelona manager Luis Enrique and ex-Arsenal captain Mikel Arteta are thought to be the leading contenders to replace Wenger, while Monaco manager Leonardo Jardim, former Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti and Germany head coach Joachim Low are also in the running. A complication with Low will be his reluctance to do anything that could destabilise Germany’s defence of the World Cup. Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers would be interested and has admirers inside Arsenal, but there are concerns at how fans might respond to his appointment at a time when unity is desperately sought. Former Borussia Dortmund manager Thomas Tuchel is close to be appointed Paris St Germain, but Juventus manager Max Allegri is keen on eventually working in England and would be of interest if he is ready to move this summer. Gazidis noticeably highlighted how Arsenal appointed an unknown in Wenger way back in 1996. Guy Wenger “Replace Arsene? That’s not going to happen,” he said. “But we have to make sure we don’t lose his qualities and his values in the club and that we take them forward. So someone who will continue to play exciting, progressive football that gets people interested and excited in the games we play. How the candidate represents the club is important. “That value of giving youth a chance is also very important. I think we’ve got to be open-minded and brave in the decision. When Arsene was appointed, I don’t think he was on many people’s radar. We need to be bold in the appointment.” Wenger made the final decision to leave earlier this week and, after discussions with directors on Thursday, he personally informed his staff and the players on Friday morning. There were many tears both at the stadium and training ground, where club staff were said to be in a state of shock. Wenger has won three Premier League titles, an all-time record seven FA Cups, two doubles, reached the 2006 European Cup final and went the entire 2003-4 Premier League season undefeated. He also helped oversee the move from Highbury to the Emirates Stadium. Tributes were paid to Wenger on Friday from across sport, with his old adversary Sir Alex Ferguson saying that he was “proud to have been a rival, a colleague and a friend to such a great man." As ever, Wenger stressed the importance of maintaining the values he has embodied in his time in English football. Put simply, that is an entertaining playing style, opportunities for young players and a fiscal structure that safeguards the club’s long-term future. “After careful consideration and following discussions with the club, I feel it is the right time for me to step down at the end of the season,” said Wenger. “I am grateful for having had the privilege to serve the club for so many memorable years. I managed the club with full commitment and integrity. I urge our fans to stand behind the team to finish on a high. To all the Arsenal lovers take care of the values of the club. My love and support for ever.” Arsenal fan's view | 'All the bad feeling has disappeared' Arsenal’s majority owner, Stan Kroenke, has always been a massive supporter of Wenger and regarded this as perhaps the hardest moment in his time in professional sport. “This is one of the most difficult days we have ever had in all our years in sport,” he said. “One of the main reasons we got involved with Arsenal was because of what Arsène has brought to the club on and off the pitch. His longevity and consistency over such a sustained period at the highest level of the game will never be matched. “Arsène has unparalleled class and we will always be grateful to him. Everyone who loves Arsenal and everyone who loves football owes him a debt of gratitude. Three Premier League titles, including an entire season unbeaten, seven FA Cup triumphs and 20 successive years in the Champions League is an exceptional record. He has also transformed the identity of our club and of English football with his vision for how the game can be played.” Gazidis added: “Arsene is going to feel the full force of this club behind him over the next couple of weeks. Arsene changed the game. He set a totally new standard. A new ambition. An ambition not just to win, but to win while achieving perfection. To make art out of football. He was always brave enough to be true to that extraordinary ambition and incredibly he achieved it with Arsenal’s Invincibles season.“ 5:26PM Gazidis on his abiding memories of Wenger's reign: “There are great moments - the trophies, the FA Cups, the victory against Barcelona. But the memories I have of Arsene are of speaking to him in quiet moments. He’s an incredibly self-critical man who always gives others the benefit of the doubt. There’s a reason there is so much affection for him. He’s a special person.” 5:23PM Gazidis on the players' reaction: “I think from the reaction at the training ground today, what I felt was an incredible amount of passion to give Arsene the send off that he deserves. “The decision had to come at some point. Now it’s time for us to look forward.” 5:21PM Gazidis on Wenger's future: “Will he retire? He’s somebody who is in great shape and has a competitive edge but that’s a question for him.” 5:19PM Gazidis on the next Arsenal manager: "We're going to have a process around that. The process begins today but I want to keep that process in-house. I don't want to be making public comments about it. We haven't had any discussions to date regarding that." 5:18PM Gazidis on where Arsenal go next: “Our first priority is to come together as a club and we are seeing that today. Our players. staff and fans are behind this great man and we will give him the send off he deserves. I don’t underestimate that challenge but I am confident in the people we have in place to take Arsene’s vision forward and build on it.” "We are not going to find a replacement for Arsene Wenger" 5:16PM Gazidis on Wenger's immediate legacy “Arsene often said his aim was to leave the club in a better place than when he found out. We are in a better place than we could have ever imagined.” 5:15PM Gazidis on Wenger's inspiration: “Beyond football, he has inspired the people around him. He is able to make people believe that they can achieve great things. He inspired George Weah to believe he could not only become the world’s best football player, but to become the president of a nation. He has taken every challenge with humour and grace and class.” 5:15PM Gazidis on the Wenger philosophy: “Arsene changed the game. He set a totally new standard. A new ambition. Not just to win, but to win while achieving perfection - to make art. Incredibly, he achieved it with the Invincibles. Arsene has been brave enough to live by his philosophy. He’s made Arsenal throughout the world for the kind of football we play.” 5:14PM Gazidis on today's news: “Obviously this has been an emotional day for everyone. Now I have the impossible job of communicating that feeling. Typically, Arsene is not here as he is taking training. I will leave it to others to talk about the facts and figures of his tenure. There is something more coming out today. There is an affection from Arsenal fans and right across the sphere of football. I’ve had the pleasure of working alongside Arsene over the last 10 years.” 5:12PM Ivan Gazidis addresses the media... "Arsene changed the game. He set a totally new standard, a new ambition. Am ambition not just to win but to win while achieving perfection. To make art out of football." 4:42PM Jack Wilshere on the outgoing boss... "We need to send him off in the right way now" �� Turn your sound up and listen to this from @JackWilsherepic.twitter.com/aZ9UA5u0mo— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) April 20, 2018 "I'm sure when the dust settles, we have a few days to think about it, we'll start to reflect on it, but at the moment it's a bit raw, it's a bit sensitive." 4:08PM Thierry Henry on his former manager October 2002 and September's manager of the month congratulates the player of the month Credit: EDDIE KEOGH/PA I was a little mixed because it's a sad day for me to see the big man leave the club, although we all know he has matches left. I'm happy in a way that people can give him the farewell he deserves. His legacy is untouchable. Managers, fans from other teams - [they say] how Arsène changed Arsenal. I am happy that now we can all talk about his legacy. But we must not get carried away with celebrating the end of his time. The team must win the Europa League, it would be an incredible feat and Arsène has never won in Europe before, so it would be a good way to give him a nice goodbye. I remember when I was playing for Arsenal, people were talking about how we play, not what we won, but how we did it and how Arsène made Arsenal a club known in the whole world. If I could be the successor of Wenger? Look at me laughing. It's funny. One person to whom you can ask this question is Ivan Gazidis. He should answer the question. 3:57PM And a word from Germany From one he helped to make it (to Bayern Munich) 22 years @Arsenal - almost my whole lifetime. Impressive. Glad I could be a small part of it ���� #MerciArsène#Wengerpic.twitter.com/lzGJXJlOGC— Serge Gnabry (@SergeGnabry) April 20, 2018 3:51PM A tribute from an opponent Arsene Wenger built the best teams that I played against in English Football .The 98 team was Amazing.The biggest compliment is that he played football that made us change the way we played against them. He now deserves the most incredible send off from all in the coming weeks.— Gary Neville (@GNev2) April 20, 2018 3:36PM A trawl through the picture archive ... Has inspired this, 22 years in 11 photographs: Wenger at Arsenal gallery 3:17PM Sir Alex Ferguson pays tribute "I am really happy for Arsène Wenger. I have great respect for him and for the job he has done at Arsenal. It is great testament to his talent, professionalism and determination that has been able to dedicate 22 years of his life to a job that he loves. "In an era where football managers sometimes only last one or two seasons, it shows what an achievement it is to serve that length of time at a club the size of Arsenal. "I am pleased that he has announced he is leaving at this stage of the season, as he can now have the send-off that he truly deserves. "He is, without doubt, one the greatest Premier League managers and I am proud to have been a rival, a colleague and a friend to such a great man." 2:47PM Pep Guardiola tips his hat Luke Edwards reports from the Manchester City manager's press conference: “He has all my respect for what he has done. The Premier League is about huge personalities like Arsène, it is because of what he has done, his vision. “I wish him all the best in the future, I hope he can be involved in world football in a different way with his experience. Whether it is with Arsenal, Uefa, Fifa, or somewhere else, I don't know. It was a pleasure to compete against him here, with City, as well as Barcelona and Bayern. Pep Guardiola takes Manchester City training on Friday Credit: Victoria Haydn/Man City via Getty Images “It will be difficult for anyone to do what he has done at a top European club again. Sir Alex Ferguson did it at Manchester United, but it is so, so complicated. With the way social media is now, everybody has an opinion and can express it, you feel the pressure as a manager. “You can also feel pressure because staying in the Premier League is so important, then you have the sporting directors, who do not have a lot of patience. It will be so difficult to find a person who will be able to stay at a club for so long and do what Arsène has done.” 2:32PM 'Arsenal will unite behind Wenger now' Paul Matz, from the Arsenal Independent Supporters' Association, speaks to Telegraph Sport 2:06PM 'I have been talking well about him for a while' Newcastle manager Rafael Benitez, who has locked horns with Arsene Wenger plenty of times down the years in his time at Liverpool, Chelsea and on Tyneside, said this at today's press conference: "I have been talking well about him for a while. "To do things in the way that he has done and win the way he was winning, for so many years... we are talking about one of the best managers in football history." 2:01PM 'Like a father through tough times in my career' Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere posted this on Facebook: "To the man who gave me my chance as a 16-year-old, and showed unbelievable faith and commitment towards me. Always a gentleman, like a father through tough times in my career. He always believed in me when most people didn't. Thank you for everything boss! It's down to us now to end your era right. #onearsenewenger" Big shoes for anyone to fill,playing for Arsenal under Arsene was one of the best period of my career, 2 premiership, 2 FA cups, The invincibles, playing with some of the best assembled players,influencing millions of fans in Africa to support this great club. pic.twitter.com/tILZo70jBE— Kanu Nwankwo (@papilokanu) April 20, 2018 Personally a very sad day. I am forever in debt to this man. The person who had faith in me and gave me a platform to progress. Thank you for all the memories and trophies bosspic.twitter.com/EP26M6TP3W— Héctor Bellerín (@HectorBellerin) April 20, 2018 1:56PM 'He deserves respect from the whole world of football' Our man Matt Law was at Stamford Bridge today and asked Antonio Conte for his thoughts on Arsene Wenger. Reaction to Wenger? "My reaction... I think we must pay a great tribute to Arsene Wenger for his career. For his career at Arsenal. He and Ferguson, we're talking about the last two managers to stay for such a long time in a club. Arsene Wenger worked 22 years for Arsenal. I think that's great, it's a fantastic story. He won a lot at this club and, for this reason, I think he deserves a great tribute for his career." What was his influence in a footballing sense? "I think Arsene is one of the managers who had a great influence on football because, in every moment in his idea of football, he tried to play good football, creative and offensive football. He deserves great tribute also for this." How important is it that he gains that great tribute? "He deserves great respect. Not only from Arsenal supporters, but from the whole world of football. He deserves great respect. We are talking about one of the best managers in the world with a great and important career with Arsenal. He deserves a great tribute for his career. It would be very difficult to see in the future another manager staying for such a long time at the same club. I think, maybe, Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger were a really good story for football. Now it will be very difficult to see that again, another situation like this." 1:54PM 'A proper football man who lives and breathes it' David Moyes, whose West Ham side face Arsenal on Sunday, hailed Arsene Wenger's longevity. "He's been a great competitor, a terrific manager who has graced the Premier League for many years. "He's a proper football man who lives and breathes it. To do 22 years is an incredible achievement." 1:53PM 'There are not enough words for what he's done' Burnley boss Sean Dyche, who will be the second-longest serving current manager in the Premier League once Arsene Wenger stands down, has paid tribute to the Frenchman. "He is a legend of the game - the work that he's done will be remembered. "Some things that now seem normal and simple weren't at the time. Hydration in football sounds a simple thing but was not taken to a high level. Making sure the food they were eating was correct. Their health and well-being. "For youngish managers like myself there are not enough good words you can use for what he's done." 1:42PM 'It was a pleasure to compete against him' Pep Guardiola, manager of new Premier League champions Man City, has also spoken. "He is a huge personality. The Premier League is the Premier League because of what he has done and his vision. I wish him all the best for the future. "Hopefully he will be involved in a different way in world football. Of course it was a pleasure at Barcelona, Bayern Munich and here to compete against him." 1:39PM 'Arsenal fans will unite behind Wenger now' Paul Matz from the Arsenal Independent Supporters' Association, has told The Telegraph he believes the club will unite behind departing manager Arsene Wenger for the rest of the season as they focus on winning the Europa League. 1:37PM Mourinho asked about Wenger... wait for it Jose Mourinho has claimed that deep down he really respects Arsene Wenger and his various insults over the years did not reflect his true relationship with the Arsenal manager, who announced that he will leave the club at the end of the season. "If he's happy with the decision he makes and looks forward to the next chapter of his career and his life I'm really happy for him. If he's sad, I'm sad. I'm pretty sure as a club - and especially because Mr Wenger and Arsenal were for many, many years the biggest rivals of Sir Alex [Ferguson's] era - we will show Mr Wenger the respect he deserves." Asked whether he regretted many of his spats with Wenger, which were often characterised by the strength of Mourinho's response, he was dismissive. "It's not about regretting. I think your question is a typical question from somebody that was not a manager, not a player. Of course, you don't know the way we respect each other even when sometimes it doesn't look like we don't. "Players that get yellow cards and red cards by aggressive actions against each other, bad words during the career - the manager is the same thing. The ones that respect each other more are the ones with the problems. It's power against power; ambition against ambition; quality against quality. But in the end it's people from the same business who respect one another’s careers. "So it happened. What matters for me is the way I respect the person, the professional, the career. I always say that for some the memories are short, but for us football people - the real football people, the others live on us - don't have short memories. I know what it means, three Premier League titles and seven FA Cups, what he did in Japan and France, what he brought to French football. "[Also] What he gave to Arsenal in the period without Premier Leagues, the transition from stadium to stadium, we know what he did. If he's happy with the decision, I'm really happy and I hope he doesn't retire from football." 1:23PM Where it all began for Wenger Where it all began for Arsene Wenger in the #PL... pic.twitter.com/gbhqBu9LTq— Premier League (@premierleague) April 20, 2018 1:19PM The Top 10 longest-serving managers in Premier League history Arsene Wenger, Arsenal, October 1996 to May 2018 (21 years, seven months) Sir Alex Ferguson, Manchester United, August 1992 to May 2013 (20 years, nine months) David Moyes, Everton, March 2002 to May 2013 (11 years, two months) Harry Redknapp, West Ham, August 1994 to May 2001 (six years, eight months) Rafael Benitez, Liverpool, August 2004 to June 2010 (five years, 10 months) Alan Curbishley, Charlton, August 2000 to May 2006 (five years, nine months) Sam Allardyce, Bolton, August 2001 to April 2007 (five years, eight months) Gerard Houllier, Liverpool, November 1998 to May 2004 (five years, six months) Jim Smith, Derby, August 1996 to October 2001 (five years, two months) Sir Bobby Robson, Newcastle, September 1999 to August 2004 (four years, 11 months) 12:58PM 'One of the best in English football history' Premier League executive chairman Richard Scudamore offered his own tribute to Arsene Wenger. "It is hard to encapsulate the enormity of Arsene Wenger's contribution to Arsenal Football Club, the Premier League and football generally over these past 22 seasons. "All of Arsene's teams have been a joy to watch and his 2003-04 'Invincibles' will go down as one of the best in English football history." 12:50PM 'One major reason why I'm here is because of him' Club captain Per Mertesacker admitted it was "emotional" to find out that Arsene Wenger was set to depart. "We have just been informed basically. It is quite emotional. Obviously he has been at the club for such a long time, he has been so supportive to me. One major reason why I'm here is because of him. "It's been emotional and there will be time to digest it but it is a sad feeling right now." 12:47PM Wenger told players of his exit beforehand Arsene Wenger asked Arsenal to hold off announcing his decision to leave the club so he could inform his players first-hand. The news was announced this morning, with Wenger set to depart 12 months into a two-year deal. It is understood Wenger was keen to tell the Arsenal players himself and did so ahead of training at their London Colney base and minutes before the news was made public. His coaching staff were also informed of the decision in advance, although club staff working at the Emirates Stadium rather than the training ground discovered the news at the same time as everyone else. Wenger's surprise announcement came a day after he evaded questions over his future at his usual pre-match press conference. 12:36PM How many times did your team lose to Wenger's Arsenal? Was your club one of the teams Arsene Wenger had the wood over? How many times did your team lose to Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal? 12:35PM 'Today will mark the start of a new era for the club' Arsene Wenger's decision to leave Arsenal at the end of the season is good for all those involved, according to a leading supporters' group. Lois Langton, chair of the Arsenal Independent Supporters' Association, believes the timing is right and hailed Wenger as a "fantastic" manager in his day. "Without question, the announcement that Arsene Wenger will finally stand down at the end of this season is the right decision, both for the club and the manager, although, having been so long coming, it feels surreal that the day has finally arrived. "The problems associated with his tenure in recent years are well documented and now that the announcement has been made, there is nothing to be gained by going over old ground. "Arsene Wenger was, for a period of time, a fantastic manager for Arsenal. The Invincibles epitomise what he brought to the Club and, to that extent, his legacy will continue. "We have seen with Manchester City this season how difficult it is to go a league campaign undefeated. The 2003/2004 season in particular will forever be a source of pride and achievement. "It is now time to move on. We have a Europa League semi-final coming up against Atletico and a first success in Europe for Arsene Wenger would provide a fitting farewell. "Arsenal has a rich and wonderful heritage and today will mark the start of a new era for the club." 12:31PM Will Arsenal now raise their game against the Hammers? Arsenal play West Ham this Sunday. Here's our man Nick Callow's abbreviated preview: West Ham are not mathematically safe from relegation so Arsenal should fear a club they have lost to three times at Emirates Stadium. Arsenal can be pipped to sixth by Burnley, but Thursday's Europa Atletico Madrid semi-final will dictate Arsene Wenger's selection while David Moyes can go for broke. PREDICTION: 1-1 12:04PM VOTE: Who should Arsenal choose to replace Wenger? 11:55AM Where next for Wenger? Seeing as the man eats, drinks and sleeps football, it is highly unlikely he will walk off into the sunset and retire. The odds are now stacked in favour of him becoming the next Paris Saint-Germain manager, with Unai Emery expected to be shown the door by the Paris giants. Wenger would also be a a highly-popular choice given his profile in France and continuing analysis as a guest pundit for French TV. 11:48AM 'Name it the Arsene Wenger Stadium' Former Arsenal midfielder Paul Merson has urged fans to get behind the Frenchman for the rest of the season, starting with Sunday's home match against West Ham. "I think everybody can pay their respect to him now about how great he was as a manager. It's perfect timing. "I think it gives the fans (the chance) to pack the Emirates for the last few games of the season and have a right go. "If fans do not turn up against West Ham and pack that place out, they need serious questions asked about them and are they real Arsenal fans or are they glory-hunters?" Merson has also called for the Emirates Stadium to be renamed in Wenger's honour. "They should drop the Emirates bit - they don't need the money - and name it the Arsene Wenger Stadium. "That's his stadium. He built that. He made that stadium. Even if they called it the Emirates Arsene Wenger Stadium. He deserves to be on that." 11:44AM 'It shows the great dignity and class of the man' Spain and Chelsea's Cesc Fabregas, who burst in to the Arsenal starting line-up under Arsene Wenger, posted on Instagram... "Wow. I never expected that but it shows the great dignity and class of the man. I will never forget his guidance and support, his tutelage and mentorship. "He had faith in me from day one and I owe him a lot, he was like a father figure to me who always pushed me to be the best. Arsene, you deserve all the respect and happiness in the world. #classact" 11:43AM Inside information Ian Wright appeared to have been aware of the news before it was announced, tweeting a shocked face emoji around half an hour before the club's statement. — Ian Wright (@IanWright0) April 20, 2018 11:41AM Will it be Rodgers who replaces Wenger? Celtic majority shareholder Dermot Desmond has admitted he would let manager Brendan Rodgers speak to Arsenal if the Premier League club approached the Northern Irishman... "Absolutely. I don't think you can put handcuffs on anybody if they want to go to a club as good as Arsenal. "It will be Brendan's decision and Brendan's decision only." 11:33AM 'He moved the goalposts for everyone else' Southampton manager Mark Hughes believes it would be a "massive wrench" for Arsene Wenger to leave after so long in the post. "When you have had longevity in the game like Arsene has, and I have been in the Premier League for a long time, our paths have crossed on numerous occasions, we had a few run-ins but other times we were very civil and respectful of each other's efforts. "I had a good conversation with him two weeks ago, he looked very relaxed and chilled. "He came with different ideas, different views on how the game should be played, he moved the goalposts for everyone else, he came in and had success and everyone else had to catch up." 11:31AM 'Fans are celebrating like they've won the lottery' Former Arsenal goalkeeper David Seaman, Arsene Wenger's No 1 for the first seven years of his reign, is not happy with how some Gunners fans are reacting... "It's going to be good now, because there's going to be a chance he will get the send-off and the respect he deserves. The fans that are celebrating like they've won the lottery, it makes me a little bit angry if I'm honest. It's time to show respect and realise what he's done. "For me, he is Arsenal, and it's right that he's decided to leave on his own terms. "Now let's enjoy that. I hope all the fans that have stayed away now return because they've still got a chance of winning something this season. Get behind the team, get behind Arsenal, and show him the respect he deserves. "He's a gentleman. It's brilliant to be in his company. He's a really, really nice guy - and a lot of people don't see that. People say he's stubborn and this and that, but that's not true. It might have been true as a manager, but as a man he's a true gentleman. "When he came in he changed everything - the way we played, the diet... He revolutionised Arsenal. He was brilliant. For me, and especially for the back four - he added years to their careers." 11:05AM Wenger's Arsenal reign in numbers 1996 - the year when a then-unheralded Wenger, who had been in charge at Monaco and Japanese side Nagoya Grampus Eight, took over at Highbury. 1228 - games at the helm, ahead of Sunday's Premier League fixture against West Ham. 704 - wins to date as Arsenal boss. 3 - Premier League title wins, the last during an unbeaten Invincibles campaign of 2003/2004. 1549 - goals scored in Premier League matches by Wenger's teams. 10 - major trophies won. 473 - Premier League victories. 7 - FA Cup triumphs, with three of those having come the last four seasons. 151 - Premier League losses. 21 - full seasons in charge. 49 - games unbeaten in the Premier League from May 2003 to October 2004. 10:58AM Nearly 22 years in three minutes #MerciArsènepic.twitter.com/bjP0wLMgee— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) April 20, 2018 10:55AM How Twitter is reacting to Wenger leaving Unsurprisingly, frequent Arsene Wenger critic Piers Morgan has tweeted with a certain amount of relish... BREAKING: Wenger out. pic.twitter.com/HBuwQdY9aw— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) April 20, 2018 Fortunately, Gary Neville, the voice of reason, has said what many feel... Arsene Wenger built the best teams that I played against in English Football .The 98 team was Amazing.The biggest compliment is that he played football that made us change the way we played against them. He now deserves the most incredible send off from all in the coming weeks.— Gary Neville (@GNev2) April 20, 2018 Arsenal legend David Seaman has called on Gunners fans to give Wenger the send-off he deserves... Sad day for @Arsenal with Arsene leaving, can we now give him the send off/respect he deserves?!! #rememberthetrophies— David Seaman (@thedavidseaman) April 20, 2018 Journalist and TV presenter Robert Peston is suffering from mixed emotions... Such mixed feelings about Wenger resignation. I wanted him to go, but I miss him already. He was magnificent for us over many years, but it was time #Arsenal— Robert Peston (@Peston) April 20, 2018 Radio 1 DJ Greg James sees the funny side... BUT WHO GETS THE COAT?! I WANT THE COAT. SHOTGUN THE COAT. pic.twitter.com/C4qJEbO8YG— Greg James (@gregjames) April 20, 2018 Former Arsenal captain Tony Adams posted on Instagram: "Thanks for everything Arsene. Move over Herbert, Arsene Wenger the greatest Arsenal Manager." 10:50AM How fickle football can be It was expected that many Arsenal fans would boycott the club's remaining home games as a way of voicing their unhappiness at Arsene Wenger. BUT... Arsenal sure to be packed out for remaining games now— Matt Law (@Matt_Law_DT) April 20, 2018 10:36AM One word: longevity 823 - Arsene Wenger has managed more Premier League games than any other manager (823) and only Sir Alex Ferguson has won more games (528) than Wenger (473). Longevity. pic.twitter.com/ktdsaZPb1y— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) April 20, 2018 10:34AM Klopp hails Wenger Other Premier League manages are being asked for their thoughts on Arsene Wenger after today's momentous announcement. Here's what Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp says: "He is an influence in football. A fantastic career, outstanding personality. A big player in the business." 10:32AM How has it come to this? Arsene Wenger has won three Premier League titles during his spell of over 21 years at the helm, the last of which came as a result of the unbeaten 'Invincibles' season in 2003-04. No-one has won more FA Cups than the former Monaco boss, who was a shock appointment back in 1996. Protests against his reign picked up last season as the Gunners finished outside of the top four for the first time in a full campaign under Wenger's control. But despite the growing negativity, Wenger signed a new two-year deal last summer with the mandate of sustaining a title challenge. That failed miserably and, at the time of the announcement, Arsenal sit sixth in the table and 33 points adrift of newly-crowned champions Manchester City. 10:26AM Set your alarms for 5pm! Arsenal are holding a media conference with chief executive Ivan Gazidis at 5pm at the Emirates Stadium. 10:24AM Winterburn says 'time is right' Former Arsenal defender Nigel Winterburn believes the decision is the right one: "I think it's run its natural course. Arsene Wenger has been absolutely amazing for Arsenal Football Club. "It probably feels to me like it is the right time. When Arsene Wenger does step down, I think he will be remembered very, very fondly. We talk about the modern era, George Graham started it and Arsene Wenger's taken it to the next level. "When he leaves the football club, I think people will look back and really appreciate what Arsene Wenger has done." 10:05AM Who will replace him? Arsene Wenger will lead the team to the end of the season and the club say they will 'make an appointment as soon as possible'. Our Arsenal man - Jeremy Wilson - says these are the leading candidates: Leonardo Jardim, Mikel Arteta, Joachim Low, Brendan Rodgers, Max Allegri and Luis Enrique. 10:02AM 'Arsene has unparalleled class and we will always be grateful' Arsenal owner Stan Kroenke has issued the following statement: "This is one of the most difficult days we have ever had in all our years in sport. One of the main reasons we got involved with Arsenal was because of what Arsène has brought to the club on and off the pitch. His longevity and consistency over such a sustained period at the highest level of the game will never be matched. "Arsène has unparalleled class and we will always be grateful to him. Everyone who loves Arsenal and everyone who loves football owes him a debt of gratitude. Three Premier League titles, including an entire season unbeaten, seven FA Cup triumphs and 20 successive years in the Champions League is an exceptional record. He has also transformed the identity of our club and of English football with his vision for how the game can be played. "We have high ambitions to build on Arsène's remarkable tenure and to honour his vision by ensuring that Arsenal competes for and wins the biggest and most important prizes in the game. "We must now focus on making a strong finish to the season and ask our millions of fans around the world to join us in paying appropriate tribute to one of the greats of Arsenal's history and one of the greats of the game." 9:57AM BREAKING NEWS: Arsene Wenger leaving Arsenal Arsene Wenger has announced he is to step down as manager of Arsenal at the end of the season. "After careful consideration and following discussions with the club, I feel it is the right time for me to step down at the end of the season. "I am grateful for having had the privilege to serve the club for so many memorable years. "I managed the club with full commitment and integrity. "I want to thank the staff, the players, the Directors and the fans who make this club so special. "I urge our fans to stand behind the team to finish on a high. "To all the Arsenal lovers take care of the values of the club. "My love and support for ever."
Arsene Wenger leaving Arsenal at the end of the season Wenger's last match at Emirates on May 6 against Burnley Last Premier League match ever on May 13 against Huddersfield Arsenal to hold press conference with Ivan Gazidis at 5pm Mourinho speaks: "We'll show Mr Wenger respect he deserves" Why Wenger will enjoy great success in life after Arsenal Next Arsenal manager odds: Who will replace Wenger? How many times did your team lose to Wenger's Arsenal? Arsenal are promising to be “bold” and could again go left-field in replacing Arsene Wenger after the club’s most successful-ever manager decided to announce his departure amid the prospect of being sacked this summer. Wenger revealed on Friday morning that this would be his 22nd and last season as Arsenal manager and, while the timing of the public announcement was his, the wider backdrop was of the club already actively preparing for change. The clear expectation was that he would be asked to leave this summer and Wenger did not want to wait to be sacked. It was also felt that an early announcement would ensure that Wenger received a big unifying send-off and allow all sides to prepare for a future apart. It was noticeable that Gazidis would not answer on Friday whether he had wanted Wenger to stay or tried to persuade him to see out the remaining year on his contract. Wenger has shown no sign of wanting to retire from management and is expected to make a clear break and seek employment elsewhere. Gazidis has been assessing potential replacements for several years, but has now actively begun the search and wants to preserve many of Wenger’s values within a structure that gives the manager rather less power. End of an era | Wenger to leave Arsenal at end of season A new backroom team has already been assembled and, while Gazidis called it “our biggest ever challenge", he said the club had never been better prepared. Former Barcelona manager Luis Enrique and ex-Arsenal captain Mikel Arteta are thought to be the leading contenders to replace Wenger, while Monaco manager Leonardo Jardim, former Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti and Germany head coach Joachim Low are also in the running. A complication with Low will be his reluctance to do anything that could destabilise Germany’s defence of the World Cup. Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers would be interested and has admirers inside Arsenal, but there are concerns at how fans might respond to his appointment at a time when unity is desperately sought. Former Borussia Dortmund manager Thomas Tuchel is close to be appointed Paris St Germain, but Juventus manager Max Allegri is keen on eventually working in England and would be of interest if he is ready to move this summer. Gazidis noticeably highlighted how Arsenal appointed an unknown in Wenger way back in 1996. Guy Wenger “Replace Arsene? That’s not going to happen,” he said. “But we have to make sure we don’t lose his qualities and his values in the club and that we take them forward. So someone who will continue to play exciting, progressive football that gets people interested and excited in the games we play. How the candidate represents the club is important. “That value of giving youth a chance is also very important. I think we’ve got to be open-minded and brave in the decision. When Arsene was appointed, I don’t think he was on many people’s radar. We need to be bold in the appointment.” Wenger made the final decision to leave earlier this week and, after discussions with directors on Thursday, he personally informed his staff and the players on Friday morning. There were many tears both at the stadium and training ground, where club staff were said to be in a state of shock. Wenger has won three Premier League titles, an all-time record seven FA Cups, two doubles, reached the 2006 European Cup final and went the entire 2003-4 Premier League season undefeated. He also helped oversee the move from Highbury to the Emirates Stadium. Tributes were paid to Wenger on Friday from across sport, with his old adversary Sir Alex Ferguson saying that he was “proud to have been a rival, a colleague and a friend to such a great man." As ever, Wenger stressed the importance of maintaining the values he has embodied in his time in English football. Put simply, that is an entertaining playing style, opportunities for young players and a fiscal structure that safeguards the club’s long-term future. “After careful consideration and following discussions with the club, I feel it is the right time for me to step down at the end of the season,” said Wenger. “I am grateful for having had the privilege to serve the club for so many memorable years. I managed the club with full commitment and integrity. I urge our fans to stand behind the team to finish on a high. To all the Arsenal lovers take care of the values of the club. My love and support for ever.” Arsenal fan's view | 'All the bad feeling has disappeared' Arsenal’s majority owner, Stan Kroenke, has always been a massive supporter of Wenger and regarded this as perhaps the hardest moment in his time in professional sport. “This is one of the most difficult days we have ever had in all our years in sport,” he said. “One of the main reasons we got involved with Arsenal was because of what Arsène has brought to the club on and off the pitch. His longevity and consistency over such a sustained period at the highest level of the game will never be matched. “Arsène has unparalleled class and we will always be grateful to him. Everyone who loves Arsenal and everyone who loves football owes him a debt of gratitude. Three Premier League titles, including an entire season unbeaten, seven FA Cup triumphs and 20 successive years in the Champions League is an exceptional record. He has also transformed the identity of our club and of English football with his vision for how the game can be played.” Gazidis added: “Arsene is going to feel the full force of this club behind him over the next couple of weeks. Arsene changed the game. He set a totally new standard. A new ambition. An ambition not just to win, but to win while achieving perfection. To make art out of football. He was always brave enough to be true to that extraordinary ambition and incredibly he achieved it with Arsenal’s Invincibles season.“ 5:26PM Gazidis on his abiding memories of Wenger's reign: “There are great moments - the trophies, the FA Cups, the victory against Barcelona. But the memories I have of Arsene are of speaking to him in quiet moments. He’s an incredibly self-critical man who always gives others the benefit of the doubt. There’s a reason there is so much affection for him. He’s a special person.” 5:23PM Gazidis on the players' reaction: “I think from the reaction at the training ground today, what I felt was an incredible amount of passion to give Arsene the send off that he deserves. “The decision had to come at some point. Now it’s time for us to look forward.” 5:21PM Gazidis on Wenger's future: “Will he retire? He’s somebody who is in great shape and has a competitive edge but that’s a question for him.” 5:19PM Gazidis on the next Arsenal manager: "We're going to have a process around that. The process begins today but I want to keep that process in-house. I don't want to be making public comments about it. We haven't had any discussions to date regarding that." 5:18PM Gazidis on where Arsenal go next: “Our first priority is to come together as a club and we are seeing that today. Our players. staff and fans are behind this great man and we will give him the send off he deserves. I don’t underestimate that challenge but I am confident in the people we have in place to take Arsene’s vision forward and build on it.” "We are not going to find a replacement for Arsene Wenger" 5:16PM Gazidis on Wenger's immediate legacy “Arsene often said his aim was to leave the club in a better place than when he found out. We are in a better place than we could have ever imagined.” 5:15PM Gazidis on Wenger's inspiration: “Beyond football, he has inspired the people around him. He is able to make people believe that they can achieve great things. He inspired George Weah to believe he could not only become the world’s best football player, but to become the president of a nation. He has taken every challenge with humour and grace and class.” 5:15PM Gazidis on the Wenger philosophy: “Arsene changed the game. He set a totally new standard. A new ambition. Not just to win, but to win while achieving perfection - to make art. Incredibly, he achieved it with the Invincibles. Arsene has been brave enough to live by his philosophy. He’s made Arsenal throughout the world for the kind of football we play.” 5:14PM Gazidis on today's news: “Obviously this has been an emotional day for everyone. Now I have the impossible job of communicating that feeling. Typically, Arsene is not here as he is taking training. I will leave it to others to talk about the facts and figures of his tenure. There is something more coming out today. There is an affection from Arsenal fans and right across the sphere of football. I’ve had the pleasure of working alongside Arsene over the last 10 years.” 5:12PM Ivan Gazidis addresses the media... "Arsene changed the game. He set a totally new standard, a new ambition. Am ambition not just to win but to win while achieving perfection. To make art out of football." 4:42PM Jack Wilshere on the outgoing boss... "We need to send him off in the right way now" �� Turn your sound up and listen to this from @JackWilsherepic.twitter.com/aZ9UA5u0mo— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) April 20, 2018 "I'm sure when the dust settles, we have a few days to think about it, we'll start to reflect on it, but at the moment it's a bit raw, it's a bit sensitive." 4:08PM Thierry Henry on his former manager October 2002 and September's manager of the month congratulates the player of the month Credit: EDDIE KEOGH/PA I was a little mixed because it's a sad day for me to see the big man leave the club, although we all know he has matches left. I'm happy in a way that people can give him the farewell he deserves. His legacy is untouchable. Managers, fans from other teams - [they say] how Arsène changed Arsenal. I am happy that now we can all talk about his legacy. But we must not get carried away with celebrating the end of his time. The team must win the Europa League, it would be an incredible feat and Arsène has never won in Europe before, so it would be a good way to give him a nice goodbye. I remember when I was playing for Arsenal, people were talking about how we play, not what we won, but how we did it and how Arsène made Arsenal a club known in the whole world. If I could be the successor of Wenger? Look at me laughing. It's funny. One person to whom you can ask this question is Ivan Gazidis. He should answer the question. 3:57PM And a word from Germany From one he helped to make it (to Bayern Munich) 22 years @Arsenal - almost my whole lifetime. Impressive. Glad I could be a small part of it ���� #MerciArsène#Wengerpic.twitter.com/lzGJXJlOGC— Serge Gnabry (@SergeGnabry) April 20, 2018 3:51PM A tribute from an opponent Arsene Wenger built the best teams that I played against in English Football .The 98 team was Amazing.The biggest compliment is that he played football that made us change the way we played against them. He now deserves the most incredible send off from all in the coming weeks.— Gary Neville (@GNev2) April 20, 2018 3:36PM A trawl through the picture archive ... Has inspired this, 22 years in 11 photographs: Wenger at Arsenal gallery 3:17PM Sir Alex Ferguson pays tribute "I am really happy for Arsène Wenger. I have great respect for him and for the job he has done at Arsenal. It is great testament to his talent, professionalism and determination that has been able to dedicate 22 years of his life to a job that he loves. "In an era where football managers sometimes only last one or two seasons, it shows what an achievement it is to serve that length of time at a club the size of Arsenal. "I am pleased that he has announced he is leaving at this stage of the season, as he can now have the send-off that he truly deserves. "He is, without doubt, one the greatest Premier League managers and I am proud to have been a rival, a colleague and a friend to such a great man." 2:47PM Pep Guardiola tips his hat Luke Edwards reports from the Manchester City manager's press conference: “He has all my respect for what he has done. The Premier League is about huge personalities like Arsène, it is because of what he has done, his vision. “I wish him all the best in the future, I hope he can be involved in world football in a different way with his experience. Whether it is with Arsenal, Uefa, Fifa, or somewhere else, I don't know. It was a pleasure to compete against him here, with City, as well as Barcelona and Bayern. Pep Guardiola takes Manchester City training on Friday Credit: Victoria Haydn/Man City via Getty Images “It will be difficult for anyone to do what he has done at a top European club again. Sir Alex Ferguson did it at Manchester United, but it is so, so complicated. With the way social media is now, everybody has an opinion and can express it, you feel the pressure as a manager. “You can also feel pressure because staying in the Premier League is so important, then you have the sporting directors, who do not have a lot of patience. It will be so difficult to find a person who will be able to stay at a club for so long and do what Arsène has done.” 2:32PM 'Arsenal will unite behind Wenger now' Paul Matz, from the Arsenal Independent Supporters' Association, speaks to Telegraph Sport 2:06PM 'I have been talking well about him for a while' Newcastle manager Rafael Benitez, who has locked horns with Arsene Wenger plenty of times down the years in his time at Liverpool, Chelsea and on Tyneside, said this at today's press conference: "I have been talking well about him for a while. "To do things in the way that he has done and win the way he was winning, for so many years... we are talking about one of the best managers in football history." 2:01PM 'Like a father through tough times in my career' Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere posted this on Facebook: "To the man who gave me my chance as a 16-year-old, and showed unbelievable faith and commitment towards me. Always a gentleman, like a father through tough times in my career. He always believed in me when most people didn't. Thank you for everything boss! It's down to us now to end your era right. #onearsenewenger" Big shoes for anyone to fill,playing for Arsenal under Arsene was one of the best period of my career, 2 premiership, 2 FA cups, The invincibles, playing with some of the best assembled players,influencing millions of fans in Africa to support this great club. pic.twitter.com/tILZo70jBE— Kanu Nwankwo (@papilokanu) April 20, 2018 Personally a very sad day. I am forever in debt to this man. The person who had faith in me and gave me a platform to progress. Thank you for all the memories and trophies bosspic.twitter.com/EP26M6TP3W— Héctor Bellerín (@HectorBellerin) April 20, 2018 1:56PM 'He deserves respect from the whole world of football' Our man Matt Law was at Stamford Bridge today and asked Antonio Conte for his thoughts on Arsene Wenger. Reaction to Wenger? "My reaction... I think we must pay a great tribute to Arsene Wenger for his career. For his career at Arsenal. He and Ferguson, we're talking about the last two managers to stay for such a long time in a club. Arsene Wenger worked 22 years for Arsenal. I think that's great, it's a fantastic story. He won a lot at this club and, for this reason, I think he deserves a great tribute for his career." What was his influence in a footballing sense? "I think Arsene is one of the managers who had a great influence on football because, in every moment in his idea of football, he tried to play good football, creative and offensive football. He deserves great tribute also for this." How important is it that he gains that great tribute? "He deserves great respect. Not only from Arsenal supporters, but from the whole world of football. He deserves great respect. We are talking about one of the best managers in the world with a great and important career with Arsenal. He deserves a great tribute for his career. It would be very difficult to see in the future another manager staying for such a long time at the same club. I think, maybe, Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger were a really good story for football. Now it will be very difficult to see that again, another situation like this." 1:54PM 'A proper football man who lives and breathes it' David Moyes, whose West Ham side face Arsenal on Sunday, hailed Arsene Wenger's longevity. "He's been a great competitor, a terrific manager who has graced the Premier League for many years. "He's a proper football man who lives and breathes it. To do 22 years is an incredible achievement." 1:53PM 'There are not enough words for what he's done' Burnley boss Sean Dyche, who will be the second-longest serving current manager in the Premier League once Arsene Wenger stands down, has paid tribute to the Frenchman. "He is a legend of the game - the work that he's done will be remembered. "Some things that now seem normal and simple weren't at the time. Hydration in football sounds a simple thing but was not taken to a high level. Making sure the food they were eating was correct. Their health and well-being. "For youngish managers like myself there are not enough good words you can use for what he's done." 1:42PM 'It was a pleasure to compete against him' Pep Guardiola, manager of new Premier League champions Man City, has also spoken. "He is a huge personality. The Premier League is the Premier League because of what he has done and his vision. I wish him all the best for the future. "Hopefully he will be involved in a different way in world football. Of course it was a pleasure at Barcelona, Bayern Munich and here to compete against him." 1:39PM 'Arsenal fans will unite behind Wenger now' Paul Matz from the Arsenal Independent Supporters' Association, has told The Telegraph he believes the club will unite behind departing manager Arsene Wenger for the rest of the season as they focus on winning the Europa League. 1:37PM Mourinho asked about Wenger... wait for it Jose Mourinho has claimed that deep down he really respects Arsene Wenger and his various insults over the years did not reflect his true relationship with the Arsenal manager, who announced that he will leave the club at the end of the season. "If he's happy with the decision he makes and looks forward to the next chapter of his career and his life I'm really happy for him. If he's sad, I'm sad. I'm pretty sure as a club - and especially because Mr Wenger and Arsenal were for many, many years the biggest rivals of Sir Alex [Ferguson's] era - we will show Mr Wenger the respect he deserves." Asked whether he regretted many of his spats with Wenger, which were often characterised by the strength of Mourinho's response, he was dismissive. "It's not about regretting. I think your question is a typical question from somebody that was not a manager, not a player. Of course, you don't know the way we respect each other even when sometimes it doesn't look like we don't. "Players that get yellow cards and red cards by aggressive actions against each other, bad words during the career - the manager is the same thing. The ones that respect each other more are the ones with the problems. It's power against power; ambition against ambition; quality against quality. But in the end it's people from the same business who respect one another’s careers. "So it happened. What matters for me is the way I respect the person, the professional, the career. I always say that for some the memories are short, but for us football people - the real football people, the others live on us - don't have short memories. I know what it means, three Premier League titles and seven FA Cups, what he did in Japan and France, what he brought to French football. "[Also] What he gave to Arsenal in the period without Premier Leagues, the transition from stadium to stadium, we know what he did. If he's happy with the decision, I'm really happy and I hope he doesn't retire from football." 1:23PM Where it all began for Wenger Where it all began for Arsene Wenger in the #PL... pic.twitter.com/gbhqBu9LTq— Premier League (@premierleague) April 20, 2018 1:19PM The Top 10 longest-serving managers in Premier League history Arsene Wenger, Arsenal, October 1996 to May 2018 (21 years, seven months) Sir Alex Ferguson, Manchester United, August 1992 to May 2013 (20 years, nine months) David Moyes, Everton, March 2002 to May 2013 (11 years, two months) Harry Redknapp, West Ham, August 1994 to May 2001 (six years, eight months) Rafael Benitez, Liverpool, August 2004 to June 2010 (five years, 10 months) Alan Curbishley, Charlton, August 2000 to May 2006 (five years, nine months) Sam Allardyce, Bolton, August 2001 to April 2007 (five years, eight months) Gerard Houllier, Liverpool, November 1998 to May 2004 (five years, six months) Jim Smith, Derby, August 1996 to October 2001 (five years, two months) Sir Bobby Robson, Newcastle, September 1999 to August 2004 (four years, 11 months) 12:58PM 'One of the best in English football history' Premier League executive chairman Richard Scudamore offered his own tribute to Arsene Wenger. "It is hard to encapsulate the enormity of Arsene Wenger's contribution to Arsenal Football Club, the Premier League and football generally over these past 22 seasons. "All of Arsene's teams have been a joy to watch and his 2003-04 'Invincibles' will go down as one of the best in English football history." 12:50PM 'One major reason why I'm here is because of him' Club captain Per Mertesacker admitted it was "emotional" to find out that Arsene Wenger was set to depart. "We have just been informed basically. It is quite emotional. Obviously he has been at the club for such a long time, he has been so supportive to me. One major reason why I'm here is because of him. "It's been emotional and there will be time to digest it but it is a sad feeling right now." 12:47PM Wenger told players of his exit beforehand Arsene Wenger asked Arsenal to hold off announcing his decision to leave the club so he could inform his players first-hand. The news was announced this morning, with Wenger set to depart 12 months into a two-year deal. It is understood Wenger was keen to tell the Arsenal players himself and did so ahead of training at their London Colney base and minutes before the news was made public. His coaching staff were also informed of the decision in advance, although club staff working at the Emirates Stadium rather than the training ground discovered the news at the same time as everyone else. Wenger's surprise announcement came a day after he evaded questions over his future at his usual pre-match press conference. 12:36PM How many times did your team lose to Wenger's Arsenal? Was your club one of the teams Arsene Wenger had the wood over? How many times did your team lose to Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal? 12:35PM 'Today will mark the start of a new era for the club' Arsene Wenger's decision to leave Arsenal at the end of the season is good for all those involved, according to a leading supporters' group. Lois Langton, chair of the Arsenal Independent Supporters' Association, believes the timing is right and hailed Wenger as a "fantastic" manager in his day. "Without question, the announcement that Arsene Wenger will finally stand down at the end of this season is the right decision, both for the club and the manager, although, having been so long coming, it feels surreal that the day has finally arrived. "The problems associated with his tenure in recent years are well documented and now that the announcement has been made, there is nothing to be gained by going over old ground. "Arsene Wenger was, for a period of time, a fantastic manager for Arsenal. The Invincibles epitomise what he brought to the Club and, to that extent, his legacy will continue. "We have seen with Manchester City this season how difficult it is to go a league campaign undefeated. The 2003/2004 season in particular will forever be a source of pride and achievement. "It is now time to move on. We have a Europa League semi-final coming up against Atletico and a first success in Europe for Arsene Wenger would provide a fitting farewell. "Arsenal has a rich and wonderful heritage and today will mark the start of a new era for the club." 12:31PM Will Arsenal now raise their game against the Hammers? Arsenal play West Ham this Sunday. Here's our man Nick Callow's abbreviated preview: West Ham are not mathematically safe from relegation so Arsenal should fear a club they have lost to three times at Emirates Stadium. Arsenal can be pipped to sixth by Burnley, but Thursday's Europa Atletico Madrid semi-final will dictate Arsene Wenger's selection while David Moyes can go for broke. PREDICTION: 1-1 12:04PM VOTE: Who should Arsenal choose to replace Wenger? 11:55AM Where next for Wenger? Seeing as the man eats, drinks and sleeps football, it is highly unlikely he will walk off into the sunset and retire. The odds are now stacked in favour of him becoming the next Paris Saint-Germain manager, with Unai Emery expected to be shown the door by the Paris giants. Wenger would also be a a highly-popular choice given his profile in France and continuing analysis as a guest pundit for French TV. 11:48AM 'Name it the Arsene Wenger Stadium' Former Arsenal midfielder Paul Merson has urged fans to get behind the Frenchman for the rest of the season, starting with Sunday's home match against West Ham. "I think everybody can pay their respect to him now about how great he was as a manager. It's perfect timing. "I think it gives the fans (the chance) to pack the Emirates for the last few games of the season and have a right go. "If fans do not turn up against West Ham and pack that place out, they need serious questions asked about them and are they real Arsenal fans or are they glory-hunters?" Merson has also called for the Emirates Stadium to be renamed in Wenger's honour. "They should drop the Emirates bit - they don't need the money - and name it the Arsene Wenger Stadium. "That's his stadium. He built that. He made that stadium. Even if they called it the Emirates Arsene Wenger Stadium. He deserves to be on that." 11:44AM 'It shows the great dignity and class of the man' Spain and Chelsea's Cesc Fabregas, who burst in to the Arsenal starting line-up under Arsene Wenger, posted on Instagram... "Wow. I never expected that but it shows the great dignity and class of the man. I will never forget his guidance and support, his tutelage and mentorship. "He had faith in me from day one and I owe him a lot, he was like a father figure to me who always pushed me to be the best. Arsene, you deserve all the respect and happiness in the world. #classact" 11:43AM Inside information Ian Wright appeared to have been aware of the news before it was announced, tweeting a shocked face emoji around half an hour before the club's statement. — Ian Wright (@IanWright0) April 20, 2018 11:41AM Will it be Rodgers who replaces Wenger? Celtic majority shareholder Dermot Desmond has admitted he would let manager Brendan Rodgers speak to Arsenal if the Premier League club approached the Northern Irishman... "Absolutely. I don't think you can put handcuffs on anybody if they want to go to a club as good as Arsenal. "It will be Brendan's decision and Brendan's decision only." 11:33AM 'He moved the goalposts for everyone else' Southampton manager Mark Hughes believes it would be a "massive wrench" for Arsene Wenger to leave after so long in the post. "When you have had longevity in the game like Arsene has, and I have been in the Premier League for a long time, our paths have crossed on numerous occasions, we had a few run-ins but other times we were very civil and respectful of each other's efforts. "I had a good conversation with him two weeks ago, he looked very relaxed and chilled. "He came with different ideas, different views on how the game should be played, he moved the goalposts for everyone else, he came in and had success and everyone else had to catch up." 11:31AM 'Fans are celebrating like they've won the lottery' Former Arsenal goalkeeper David Seaman, Arsene Wenger's No 1 for the first seven years of his reign, is not happy with how some Gunners fans are reacting... "It's going to be good now, because there's going to be a chance he will get the send-off and the respect he deserves. The fans that are celebrating like they've won the lottery, it makes me a little bit angry if I'm honest. It's time to show respect and realise what he's done. "For me, he is Arsenal, and it's right that he's decided to leave on his own terms. "Now let's enjoy that. I hope all the fans that have stayed away now return because they've still got a chance of winning something this season. Get behind the team, get behind Arsenal, and show him the respect he deserves. "He's a gentleman. It's brilliant to be in his company. He's a really, really nice guy - and a lot of people don't see that. People say he's stubborn and this and that, but that's not true. It might have been true as a manager, but as a man he's a true gentleman. "When he came in he changed everything - the way we played, the diet... He revolutionised Arsenal. He was brilliant. For me, and especially for the back four - he added years to their careers." 11:05AM Wenger's Arsenal reign in numbers 1996 - the year when a then-unheralded Wenger, who had been in charge at Monaco and Japanese side Nagoya Grampus Eight, took over at Highbury. 1228 - games at the helm, ahead of Sunday's Premier League fixture against West Ham. 704 - wins to date as Arsenal boss. 3 - Premier League title wins, the last during an unbeaten Invincibles campaign of 2003/2004. 1549 - goals scored in Premier League matches by Wenger's teams. 10 - major trophies won. 473 - Premier League victories. 7 - FA Cup triumphs, with three of those having come the last four seasons. 151 - Premier League losses. 21 - full seasons in charge. 49 - games unbeaten in the Premier League from May 2003 to October 2004. 10:58AM Nearly 22 years in three minutes #MerciArsènepic.twitter.com/bjP0wLMgee— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) April 20, 2018 10:55AM How Twitter is reacting to Wenger leaving Unsurprisingly, frequent Arsene Wenger critic Piers Morgan has tweeted with a certain amount of relish... BREAKING: Wenger out. pic.twitter.com/HBuwQdY9aw— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) April 20, 2018 Fortunately, Gary Neville, the voice of reason, has said what many feel... Arsene Wenger built the best teams that I played against in English Football .The 98 team was Amazing.The biggest compliment is that he played football that made us change the way we played against them. He now deserves the most incredible send off from all in the coming weeks.— Gary Neville (@GNev2) April 20, 2018 Arsenal legend David Seaman has called on Gunners fans to give Wenger the send-off he deserves... Sad day for @Arsenal with Arsene leaving, can we now give him the send off/respect he deserves?!! #rememberthetrophies— David Seaman (@thedavidseaman) April 20, 2018 Journalist and TV presenter Robert Peston is suffering from mixed emotions... Such mixed feelings about Wenger resignation. I wanted him to go, but I miss him already. He was magnificent for us over many years, but it was time #Arsenal— Robert Peston (@Peston) April 20, 2018 Radio 1 DJ Greg James sees the funny side... BUT WHO GETS THE COAT?! I WANT THE COAT. SHOTGUN THE COAT. pic.twitter.com/C4qJEbO8YG— Greg James (@gregjames) April 20, 2018 Former Arsenal captain Tony Adams posted on Instagram: "Thanks for everything Arsene. Move over Herbert, Arsene Wenger the greatest Arsenal Manager." 10:50AM How fickle football can be It was expected that many Arsenal fans would boycott the club's remaining home games as a way of voicing their unhappiness at Arsene Wenger. BUT... Arsenal sure to be packed out for remaining games now— Matt Law (@Matt_Law_DT) April 20, 2018 10:36AM One word: longevity 823 - Arsene Wenger has managed more Premier League games than any other manager (823) and only Sir Alex Ferguson has won more games (528) than Wenger (473). Longevity. pic.twitter.com/ktdsaZPb1y— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) April 20, 2018 10:34AM Klopp hails Wenger Other Premier League manages are being asked for their thoughts on Arsene Wenger after today's momentous announcement. Here's what Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp says: "He is an influence in football. A fantastic career, outstanding personality. A big player in the business." 10:32AM How has it come to this? Arsene Wenger has won three Premier League titles during his spell of over 21 years at the helm, the last of which came as a result of the unbeaten 'Invincibles' season in 2003-04. No-one has won more FA Cups than the former Monaco boss, who was a shock appointment back in 1996. Protests against his reign picked up last season as the Gunners finished outside of the top four for the first time in a full campaign under Wenger's control. But despite the growing negativity, Wenger signed a new two-year deal last summer with the mandate of sustaining a title challenge. That failed miserably and, at the time of the announcement, Arsenal sit sixth in the table and 33 points adrift of newly-crowned champions Manchester City. 10:26AM Set your alarms for 5pm! Arsenal are holding a media conference with chief executive Ivan Gazidis at 5pm at the Emirates Stadium. 10:24AM Winterburn says 'time is right' Former Arsenal defender Nigel Winterburn believes the decision is the right one: "I think it's run its natural course. Arsene Wenger has been absolutely amazing for Arsenal Football Club. "It probably feels to me like it is the right time. When Arsene Wenger does step down, I think he will be remembered very, very fondly. We talk about the modern era, George Graham started it and Arsene Wenger's taken it to the next level. "When he leaves the football club, I think people will look back and really appreciate what Arsene Wenger has done." 10:05AM Who will replace him? Arsene Wenger will lead the team to the end of the season and the club say they will 'make an appointment as soon as possible'. Our Arsenal man - Jeremy Wilson - says these are the leading candidates: Leonardo Jardim, Mikel Arteta, Joachim Low, Brendan Rodgers, Max Allegri and Luis Enrique. 10:02AM 'Arsene has unparalleled class and we will always be grateful' Arsenal owner Stan Kroenke has issued the following statement: "This is one of the most difficult days we have ever had in all our years in sport. One of the main reasons we got involved with Arsenal was because of what Arsène has brought to the club on and off the pitch. His longevity and consistency over such a sustained period at the highest level of the game will never be matched. "Arsène has unparalleled class and we will always be grateful to him. Everyone who loves Arsenal and everyone who loves football owes him a debt of gratitude. Three Premier League titles, including an entire season unbeaten, seven FA Cup triumphs and 20 successive years in the Champions League is an exceptional record. He has also transformed the identity of our club and of English football with his vision for how the game can be played. "We have high ambitions to build on Arsène's remarkable tenure and to honour his vision by ensuring that Arsenal competes for and wins the biggest and most important prizes in the game. "We must now focus on making a strong finish to the season and ask our millions of fans around the world to join us in paying appropriate tribute to one of the greats of Arsenal's history and one of the greats of the game." 9:57AM BREAKING NEWS: Arsene Wenger leaving Arsenal Arsene Wenger has announced he is to step down as manager of Arsenal at the end of the season. "After careful consideration and following discussions with the club, I feel it is the right time for me to step down at the end of the season. "I am grateful for having had the privilege to serve the club for so many memorable years. "I managed the club with full commitment and integrity. "I want to thank the staff, the players, the Directors and the fans who make this club so special. "I urge our fans to stand behind the team to finish on a high. "To all the Arsenal lovers take care of the values of the club. "My love and support for ever."
Arsenal prepare for 'biggest ever challenge' to replace outgoing Arsene Wenger after 22 years in charge
Arsene Wenger leaving Arsenal at the end of the season Wenger's last match at Emirates on May 6 against Burnley Last Premier League match ever on May 13 against Huddersfield Arsenal to hold press conference with Ivan Gazidis at 5pm Mourinho speaks: "We'll show Mr Wenger respect he deserves" Why Wenger will enjoy great success in life after Arsenal Next Arsenal manager odds: Who will replace Wenger? How many times did your team lose to Wenger's Arsenal? Arsenal are promising to be “bold” and could again go left-field in replacing Arsene Wenger after the club’s most successful-ever manager decided to announce his departure amid the prospect of being sacked this summer. Wenger revealed on Friday morning that this would be his 22nd and last season as Arsenal manager and, while the timing of the public announcement was his, the wider backdrop was of the club already actively preparing for change. The clear expectation was that he would be asked to leave this summer and Wenger did not want to wait to be sacked. It was also felt that an early announcement would ensure that Wenger received a big unifying send-off and allow all sides to prepare for a future apart. It was noticeable that Gazidis would not answer on Friday whether he had wanted Wenger to stay or tried to persuade him to see out the remaining year on his contract. Wenger has shown no sign of wanting to retire from management and is expected to make a clear break and seek employment elsewhere. Gazidis has been assessing potential replacements for several years, but has now actively begun the search and wants to preserve many of Wenger’s values within a structure that gives the manager rather less power. End of an era | Wenger to leave Arsenal at end of season A new backroom team has already been assembled and, while Gazidis called it “our biggest ever challenge", he said the club had never been better prepared. Former Barcelona manager Luis Enrique and ex-Arsenal captain Mikel Arteta are thought to be the leading contenders to replace Wenger, while Monaco manager Leonardo Jardim, former Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti and Germany head coach Joachim Low are also in the running. A complication with Low will be his reluctance to do anything that could destabilise Germany’s defence of the World Cup. Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers would be interested and has admirers inside Arsenal, but there are concerns at how fans might respond to his appointment at a time when unity is desperately sought. Former Borussia Dortmund manager Thomas Tuchel is close to be appointed Paris St Germain, but Juventus manager Max Allegri is keen on eventually working in England and would be of interest if he is ready to move this summer. Gazidis noticeably highlighted how Arsenal appointed an unknown in Wenger way back in 1996. Guy Wenger “Replace Arsene? That’s not going to happen,” he said. “But we have to make sure we don’t lose his qualities and his values in the club and that we take them forward. So someone who will continue to play exciting, progressive football that gets people interested and excited in the games we play. How the candidate represents the club is important. “That value of giving youth a chance is also very important. I think we’ve got to be open-minded and brave in the decision. When Arsene was appointed, I don’t think he was on many people’s radar. We need to be bold in the appointment.” Wenger made the final decision to leave earlier this week and, after discussions with directors on Thursday, he personally informed his staff and the players on Friday morning. There were many tears both at the stadium and training ground, where club staff were said to be in a state of shock. Wenger has won three Premier League titles, an all-time record seven FA Cups, two doubles, reached the 2006 European Cup final and went the entire 2003-4 Premier League season undefeated. He also helped oversee the move from Highbury to the Emirates Stadium. Tributes were paid to Wenger on Friday from across sport, with his old adversary Sir Alex Ferguson saying that he was “proud to have been a rival, a colleague and a friend to such a great man." As ever, Wenger stressed the importance of maintaining the values he has embodied in his time in English football. Put simply, that is an entertaining playing style, opportunities for young players and a fiscal structure that safeguards the club’s long-term future. “After careful consideration and following discussions with the club, I feel it is the right time for me to step down at the end of the season,” said Wenger. “I am grateful for having had the privilege to serve the club for so many memorable years. I managed the club with full commitment and integrity. I urge our fans to stand behind the team to finish on a high. To all the Arsenal lovers take care of the values of the club. My love and support for ever.” Arsenal fan's view | 'All the bad feeling has disappeared' Arsenal’s majority owner, Stan Kroenke, has always been a massive supporter of Wenger and regarded this as perhaps the hardest moment in his time in professional sport. “This is one of the most difficult days we have ever had in all our years in sport,” he said. “One of the main reasons we got involved with Arsenal was because of what Arsène has brought to the club on and off the pitch. His longevity and consistency over such a sustained period at the highest level of the game will never be matched. “Arsène has unparalleled class and we will always be grateful to him. Everyone who loves Arsenal and everyone who loves football owes him a debt of gratitude. Three Premier League titles, including an entire season unbeaten, seven FA Cup triumphs and 20 successive years in the Champions League is an exceptional record. He has also transformed the identity of our club and of English football with his vision for how the game can be played.” Gazidis added: “Arsene is going to feel the full force of this club behind him over the next couple of weeks. Arsene changed the game. He set a totally new standard. A new ambition. An ambition not just to win, but to win while achieving perfection. To make art out of football. He was always brave enough to be true to that extraordinary ambition and incredibly he achieved it with Arsenal’s Invincibles season.“ 5:26PM Gazidis on his abiding memories of Wenger's reign: “There are great moments - the trophies, the FA Cups, the victory against Barcelona. But the memories I have of Arsene are of speaking to him in quiet moments. He’s an incredibly self-critical man who always gives others the benefit of the doubt. There’s a reason there is so much affection for him. He’s a special person.” 5:23PM Gazidis on the players' reaction: “I think from the reaction at the training ground today, what I felt was an incredible amount of passion to give Arsene the send off that he deserves. “The decision had to come at some point. Now it’s time for us to look forward.” 5:21PM Gazidis on Wenger's future: “Will he retire? He’s somebody who is in great shape and has a competitive edge but that’s a question for him.” 5:19PM Gazidis on the next Arsenal manager: "We're going to have a process around that. The process begins today but I want to keep that process in-house. I don't want to be making public comments about it. We haven't had any discussions to date regarding that." 5:18PM Gazidis on where Arsenal go next: “Our first priority is to come together as a club and we are seeing that today. Our players. staff and fans are behind this great man and we will give him the send off he deserves. I don’t underestimate that challenge but I am confident in the people we have in place to take Arsene’s vision forward and build on it.” "We are not going to find a replacement for Arsene Wenger" 5:16PM Gazidis on Wenger's immediate legacy “Arsene often said his aim was to leave the club in a better place than when he found out. We are in a better place than we could have ever imagined.” 5:15PM Gazidis on Wenger's inspiration: “Beyond football, he has inspired the people around him. He is able to make people believe that they can achieve great things. He inspired George Weah to believe he could not only become the world’s best football player, but to become the president of a nation. He has taken every challenge with humour and grace and class.” 5:15PM Gazidis on the Wenger philosophy: “Arsene changed the game. He set a totally new standard. A new ambition. Not just to win, but to win while achieving perfection - to make art. Incredibly, he achieved it with the Invincibles. Arsene has been brave enough to live by his philosophy. He’s made Arsenal throughout the world for the kind of football we play.” 5:14PM Gazidis on today's news: “Obviously this has been an emotional day for everyone. Now I have the impossible job of communicating that feeling. Typically, Arsene is not here as he is taking training. I will leave it to others to talk about the facts and figures of his tenure. There is something more coming out today. There is an affection from Arsenal fans and right across the sphere of football. I’ve had the pleasure of working alongside Arsene over the last 10 years.” 5:12PM Ivan Gazidis addresses the media... "Arsene changed the game. He set a totally new standard, a new ambition. Am ambition not just to win but to win while achieving perfection. To make art out of football." 4:42PM Jack Wilshere on the outgoing boss... "We need to send him off in the right way now" �� Turn your sound up and listen to this from @JackWilsherepic.twitter.com/aZ9UA5u0mo— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) April 20, 2018 "I'm sure when the dust settles, we have a few days to think about it, we'll start to reflect on it, but at the moment it's a bit raw, it's a bit sensitive." 4:08PM Thierry Henry on his former manager October 2002 and September's manager of the month congratulates the player of the month Credit: EDDIE KEOGH/PA I was a little mixed because it's a sad day for me to see the big man leave the club, although we all know he has matches left. I'm happy in a way that people can give him the farewell he deserves. His legacy is untouchable. Managers, fans from other teams - [they say] how Arsène changed Arsenal. I am happy that now we can all talk about his legacy. But we must not get carried away with celebrating the end of his time. The team must win the Europa League, it would be an incredible feat and Arsène has never won in Europe before, so it would be a good way to give him a nice goodbye. I remember when I was playing for Arsenal, people were talking about how we play, not what we won, but how we did it and how Arsène made Arsenal a club known in the whole world. If I could be the successor of Wenger? Look at me laughing. It's funny. One person to whom you can ask this question is Ivan Gazidis. He should answer the question. 3:57PM And a word from Germany From one he helped to make it (to Bayern Munich) 22 years @Arsenal - almost my whole lifetime. Impressive. Glad I could be a small part of it ���� #MerciArsène#Wengerpic.twitter.com/lzGJXJlOGC— Serge Gnabry (@SergeGnabry) April 20, 2018 3:51PM A tribute from an opponent Arsene Wenger built the best teams that I played against in English Football .The 98 team was Amazing.The biggest compliment is that he played football that made us change the way we played against them. He now deserves the most incredible send off from all in the coming weeks.— Gary Neville (@GNev2) April 20, 2018 3:36PM A trawl through the picture archive ... Has inspired this, 22 years in 11 photographs: Wenger at Arsenal gallery 3:17PM Sir Alex Ferguson pays tribute "I am really happy for Arsène Wenger. I have great respect for him and for the job he has done at Arsenal. It is great testament to his talent, professionalism and determination that has been able to dedicate 22 years of his life to a job that he loves. "In an era where football managers sometimes only last one or two seasons, it shows what an achievement it is to serve that length of time at a club the size of Arsenal. "I am pleased that he has announced he is leaving at this stage of the season, as he can now have the send-off that he truly deserves. "He is, without doubt, one the greatest Premier League managers and I am proud to have been a rival, a colleague and a friend to such a great man." 2:47PM Pep Guardiola tips his hat Luke Edwards reports from the Manchester City manager's press conference: “He has all my respect for what he has done. The Premier League is about huge personalities like Arsène, it is because of what he has done, his vision. “I wish him all the best in the future, I hope he can be involved in world football in a different way with his experience. Whether it is with Arsenal, Uefa, Fifa, or somewhere else, I don't know. It was a pleasure to compete against him here, with City, as well as Barcelona and Bayern. Pep Guardiola takes Manchester City training on Friday Credit: Victoria Haydn/Man City via Getty Images “It will be difficult for anyone to do what he has done at a top European club again. Sir Alex Ferguson did it at Manchester United, but it is so, so complicated. With the way social media is now, everybody has an opinion and can express it, you feel the pressure as a manager. “You can also feel pressure because staying in the Premier League is so important, then you have the sporting directors, who do not have a lot of patience. It will be so difficult to find a person who will be able to stay at a club for so long and do what Arsène has done.” 2:32PM 'Arsenal will unite behind Wenger now' Paul Matz, from the Arsenal Independent Supporters' Association, speaks to Telegraph Sport 2:06PM 'I have been talking well about him for a while' Newcastle manager Rafael Benitez, who has locked horns with Arsene Wenger plenty of times down the years in his time at Liverpool, Chelsea and on Tyneside, said this at today's press conference: "I have been talking well about him for a while. "To do things in the way that he has done and win the way he was winning, for so many years... we are talking about one of the best managers in football history." 2:01PM 'Like a father through tough times in my career' Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere posted this on Facebook: "To the man who gave me my chance as a 16-year-old, and showed unbelievable faith and commitment towards me. Always a gentleman, like a father through tough times in my career. He always believed in me when most people didn't. Thank you for everything boss! It's down to us now to end your era right. #onearsenewenger" Big shoes for anyone to fill,playing for Arsenal under Arsene was one of the best period of my career, 2 premiership, 2 FA cups, The invincibles, playing with some of the best assembled players,influencing millions of fans in Africa to support this great club. pic.twitter.com/tILZo70jBE— Kanu Nwankwo (@papilokanu) April 20, 2018 Personally a very sad day. I am forever in debt to this man. The person who had faith in me and gave me a platform to progress. Thank you for all the memories and trophies bosspic.twitter.com/EP26M6TP3W— Héctor Bellerín (@HectorBellerin) April 20, 2018 1:56PM 'He deserves respect from the whole world of football' Our man Matt Law was at Stamford Bridge today and asked Antonio Conte for his thoughts on Arsene Wenger. Reaction to Wenger? "My reaction... I think we must pay a great tribute to Arsene Wenger for his career. For his career at Arsenal. He and Ferguson, we're talking about the last two managers to stay for such a long time in a club. Arsene Wenger worked 22 years for Arsenal. I think that's great, it's a fantastic story. He won a lot at this club and, for this reason, I think he deserves a great tribute for his career." What was his influence in a footballing sense? "I think Arsene is one of the managers who had a great influence on football because, in every moment in his idea of football, he tried to play good football, creative and offensive football. He deserves great tribute also for this." How important is it that he gains that great tribute? "He deserves great respect. Not only from Arsenal supporters, but from the whole world of football. He deserves great respect. We are talking about one of the best managers in the world with a great and important career with Arsenal. He deserves a great tribute for his career. It would be very difficult to see in the future another manager staying for such a long time at the same club. I think, maybe, Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger were a really good story for football. Now it will be very difficult to see that again, another situation like this." 1:54PM 'A proper football man who lives and breathes it' David Moyes, whose West Ham side face Arsenal on Sunday, hailed Arsene Wenger's longevity. "He's been a great competitor, a terrific manager who has graced the Premier League for many years. "He's a proper football man who lives and breathes it. To do 22 years is an incredible achievement." 1:53PM 'There are not enough words for what he's done' Burnley boss Sean Dyche, who will be the second-longest serving current manager in the Premier League once Arsene Wenger stands down, has paid tribute to the Frenchman. "He is a legend of the game - the work that he's done will be remembered. "Some things that now seem normal and simple weren't at the time. Hydration in football sounds a simple thing but was not taken to a high level. Making sure the food they were eating was correct. Their health and well-being. "For youngish managers like myself there are not enough good words you can use for what he's done." 1:42PM 'It was a pleasure to compete against him' Pep Guardiola, manager of new Premier League champions Man City, has also spoken. "He is a huge personality. The Premier League is the Premier League because of what he has done and his vision. I wish him all the best for the future. "Hopefully he will be involved in a different way in world football. Of course it was a pleasure at Barcelona, Bayern Munich and here to compete against him." 1:39PM 'Arsenal fans will unite behind Wenger now' Paul Matz from the Arsenal Independent Supporters' Association, has told The Telegraph he believes the club will unite behind departing manager Arsene Wenger for the rest of the season as they focus on winning the Europa League. 1:37PM Mourinho asked about Wenger... wait for it Jose Mourinho has claimed that deep down he really respects Arsene Wenger and his various insults over the years did not reflect his true relationship with the Arsenal manager, who announced that he will leave the club at the end of the season. "If he's happy with the decision he makes and looks forward to the next chapter of his career and his life I'm really happy for him. If he's sad, I'm sad. I'm pretty sure as a club - and especially because Mr Wenger and Arsenal were for many, many years the biggest rivals of Sir Alex [Ferguson's] era - we will show Mr Wenger the respect he deserves." Asked whether he regretted many of his spats with Wenger, which were often characterised by the strength of Mourinho's response, he was dismissive. "It's not about regretting. I think your question is a typical question from somebody that was not a manager, not a player. Of course, you don't know the way we respect each other even when sometimes it doesn't look like we don't. "Players that get yellow cards and red cards by aggressive actions against each other, bad words during the career - the manager is the same thing. The ones that respect each other more are the ones with the problems. It's power against power; ambition against ambition; quality against quality. But in the end it's people from the same business who respect one another’s careers. "So it happened. What matters for me is the way I respect the person, the professional, the career. I always say that for some the memories are short, but for us football people - the real football people, the others live on us - don't have short memories. I know what it means, three Premier League titles and seven FA Cups, what he did in Japan and France, what he brought to French football. "[Also] What he gave to Arsenal in the period without Premier Leagues, the transition from stadium to stadium, we know what he did. If he's happy with the decision, I'm really happy and I hope he doesn't retire from football." 1:23PM Where it all began for Wenger Where it all began for Arsene Wenger in the #PL... pic.twitter.com/gbhqBu9LTq— Premier League (@premierleague) April 20, 2018 1:19PM The Top 10 longest-serving managers in Premier League history Arsene Wenger, Arsenal, October 1996 to May 2018 (21 years, seven months) Sir Alex Ferguson, Manchester United, August 1992 to May 2013 (20 years, nine months) David Moyes, Everton, March 2002 to May 2013 (11 years, two months) Harry Redknapp, West Ham, August 1994 to May 2001 (six years, eight months) Rafael Benitez, Liverpool, August 2004 to June 2010 (five years, 10 months) Alan Curbishley, Charlton, August 2000 to May 2006 (five years, nine months) Sam Allardyce, Bolton, August 2001 to April 2007 (five years, eight months) Gerard Houllier, Liverpool, November 1998 to May 2004 (five years, six months) Jim Smith, Derby, August 1996 to October 2001 (five years, two months) Sir Bobby Robson, Newcastle, September 1999 to August 2004 (four years, 11 months) 12:58PM 'One of the best in English football history' Premier League executive chairman Richard Scudamore offered his own tribute to Arsene Wenger. "It is hard to encapsulate the enormity of Arsene Wenger's contribution to Arsenal Football Club, the Premier League and football generally over these past 22 seasons. "All of Arsene's teams have been a joy to watch and his 2003-04 'Invincibles' will go down as one of the best in English football history." 12:50PM 'One major reason why I'm here is because of him' Club captain Per Mertesacker admitted it was "emotional" to find out that Arsene Wenger was set to depart. "We have just been informed basically. It is quite emotional. Obviously he has been at the club for such a long time, he has been so supportive to me. One major reason why I'm here is because of him. "It's been emotional and there will be time to digest it but it is a sad feeling right now." 12:47PM Wenger told players of his exit beforehand Arsene Wenger asked Arsenal to hold off announcing his decision to leave the club so he could inform his players first-hand. The news was announced this morning, with Wenger set to depart 12 months into a two-year deal. It is understood Wenger was keen to tell the Arsenal players himself and did so ahead of training at their London Colney base and minutes before the news was made public. His coaching staff were also informed of the decision in advance, although club staff working at the Emirates Stadium rather than the training ground discovered the news at the same time as everyone else. Wenger's surprise announcement came a day after he evaded questions over his future at his usual pre-match press conference. 12:36PM How many times did your team lose to Wenger's Arsenal? Was your club one of the teams Arsene Wenger had the wood over? How many times did your team lose to Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal? 12:35PM 'Today will mark the start of a new era for the club' Arsene Wenger's decision to leave Arsenal at the end of the season is good for all those involved, according to a leading supporters' group. Lois Langton, chair of the Arsenal Independent Supporters' Association, believes the timing is right and hailed Wenger as a "fantastic" manager in his day. "Without question, the announcement that Arsene Wenger will finally stand down at the end of this season is the right decision, both for the club and the manager, although, having been so long coming, it feels surreal that the day has finally arrived. "The problems associated with his tenure in recent years are well documented and now that the announcement has been made, there is nothing to be gained by going over old ground. "Arsene Wenger was, for a period of time, a fantastic manager for Arsenal. The Invincibles epitomise what he brought to the Club and, to that extent, his legacy will continue. "We have seen with Manchester City this season how difficult it is to go a league campaign undefeated. The 2003/2004 season in particular will forever be a source of pride and achievement. "It is now time to move on. We have a Europa League semi-final coming up against Atletico and a first success in Europe for Arsene Wenger would provide a fitting farewell. "Arsenal has a rich and wonderful heritage and today will mark the start of a new era for the club." 12:31PM Will Arsenal now raise their game against the Hammers? Arsenal play West Ham this Sunday. Here's our man Nick Callow's abbreviated preview: West Ham are not mathematically safe from relegation so Arsenal should fear a club they have lost to three times at Emirates Stadium. Arsenal can be pipped to sixth by Burnley, but Thursday's Europa Atletico Madrid semi-final will dictate Arsene Wenger's selection while David Moyes can go for broke. PREDICTION: 1-1 12:04PM VOTE: Who should Arsenal choose to replace Wenger? 11:55AM Where next for Wenger? Seeing as the man eats, drinks and sleeps football, it is highly unlikely he will walk off into the sunset and retire. The odds are now stacked in favour of him becoming the next Paris Saint-Germain manager, with Unai Emery expected to be shown the door by the Paris giants. Wenger would also be a a highly-popular choice given his profile in France and continuing analysis as a guest pundit for French TV. 11:48AM 'Name it the Arsene Wenger Stadium' Former Arsenal midfielder Paul Merson has urged fans to get behind the Frenchman for the rest of the season, starting with Sunday's home match against West Ham. "I think everybody can pay their respect to him now about how great he was as a manager. It's perfect timing. "I think it gives the fans (the chance) to pack the Emirates for the last few games of the season and have a right go. "If fans do not turn up against West Ham and pack that place out, they need serious questions asked about them and are they real Arsenal fans or are they glory-hunters?" Merson has also called for the Emirates Stadium to be renamed in Wenger's honour. "They should drop the Emirates bit - they don't need the money - and name it the Arsene Wenger Stadium. "That's his stadium. He built that. He made that stadium. Even if they called it the Emirates Arsene Wenger Stadium. He deserves to be on that." 11:44AM 'It shows the great dignity and class of the man' Spain and Chelsea's Cesc Fabregas, who burst in to the Arsenal starting line-up under Arsene Wenger, posted on Instagram... "Wow. I never expected that but it shows the great dignity and class of the man. I will never forget his guidance and support, his tutelage and mentorship. "He had faith in me from day one and I owe him a lot, he was like a father figure to me who always pushed me to be the best. Arsene, you deserve all the respect and happiness in the world. #classact" 11:43AM Inside information Ian Wright appeared to have been aware of the news before it was announced, tweeting a shocked face emoji around half an hour before the club's statement. — Ian Wright (@IanWright0) April 20, 2018 11:41AM Will it be Rodgers who replaces Wenger? Celtic majority shareholder Dermot Desmond has admitted he would let manager Brendan Rodgers speak to Arsenal if the Premier League club approached the Northern Irishman... "Absolutely. I don't think you can put handcuffs on anybody if they want to go to a club as good as Arsenal. "It will be Brendan's decision and Brendan's decision only." 11:33AM 'He moved the goalposts for everyone else' Southampton manager Mark Hughes believes it would be a "massive wrench" for Arsene Wenger to leave after so long in the post. "When you have had longevity in the game like Arsene has, and I have been in the Premier League for a long time, our paths have crossed on numerous occasions, we had a few run-ins but other times we were very civil and respectful of each other's efforts. "I had a good conversation with him two weeks ago, he looked very relaxed and chilled. "He came with different ideas, different views on how the game should be played, he moved the goalposts for everyone else, he came in and had success and everyone else had to catch up." 11:31AM 'Fans are celebrating like they've won the lottery' Former Arsenal goalkeeper David Seaman, Arsene Wenger's No 1 for the first seven years of his reign, is not happy with how some Gunners fans are reacting... "It's going to be good now, because there's going to be a chance he will get the send-off and the respect he deserves. The fans that are celebrating like they've won the lottery, it makes me a little bit angry if I'm honest. It's time to show respect and realise what he's done. "For me, he is Arsenal, and it's right that he's decided to leave on his own terms. "Now let's enjoy that. I hope all the fans that have stayed away now return because they've still got a chance of winning something this season. Get behind the team, get behind Arsenal, and show him the respect he deserves. "He's a gentleman. It's brilliant to be in his company. He's a really, really nice guy - and a lot of people don't see that. People say he's stubborn and this and that, but that's not true. It might have been true as a manager, but as a man he's a true gentleman. "When he came in he changed everything - the way we played, the diet... He revolutionised Arsenal. He was brilliant. For me, and especially for the back four - he added years to their careers." 11:05AM Wenger's Arsenal reign in numbers 1996 - the year when a then-unheralded Wenger, who had been in charge at Monaco and Japanese side Nagoya Grampus Eight, took over at Highbury. 1228 - games at the helm, ahead of Sunday's Premier League fixture against West Ham. 704 - wins to date as Arsenal boss. 3 - Premier League title wins, the last during an unbeaten Invincibles campaign of 2003/2004. 1549 - goals scored in Premier League matches by Wenger's teams. 10 - major trophies won. 473 - Premier League victories. 7 - FA Cup triumphs, with three of those having come the last four seasons. 151 - Premier League losses. 21 - full seasons in charge. 49 - games unbeaten in the Premier League from May 2003 to October 2004. 10:58AM Nearly 22 years in three minutes #MerciArsènepic.twitter.com/bjP0wLMgee— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) April 20, 2018 10:55AM How Twitter is reacting to Wenger leaving Unsurprisingly, frequent Arsene Wenger critic Piers Morgan has tweeted with a certain amount of relish... BREAKING: Wenger out. pic.twitter.com/HBuwQdY9aw— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) April 20, 2018 Fortunately, Gary Neville, the voice of reason, has said what many feel... Arsene Wenger built the best teams that I played against in English Football .The 98 team was Amazing.The biggest compliment is that he played football that made us change the way we played against them. He now deserves the most incredible send off from all in the coming weeks.— Gary Neville (@GNev2) April 20, 2018 Arsenal legend David Seaman has called on Gunners fans to give Wenger the send-off he deserves... Sad day for @Arsenal with Arsene leaving, can we now give him the send off/respect he deserves?!! #rememberthetrophies— David Seaman (@thedavidseaman) April 20, 2018 Journalist and TV presenter Robert Peston is suffering from mixed emotions... Such mixed feelings about Wenger resignation. I wanted him to go, but I miss him already. He was magnificent for us over many years, but it was time #Arsenal— Robert Peston (@Peston) April 20, 2018 Radio 1 DJ Greg James sees the funny side... BUT WHO GETS THE COAT?! I WANT THE COAT. SHOTGUN THE COAT. pic.twitter.com/C4qJEbO8YG— Greg James (@gregjames) April 20, 2018 Former Arsenal captain Tony Adams posted on Instagram: "Thanks for everything Arsene. Move over Herbert, Arsene Wenger the greatest Arsenal Manager." 10:50AM How fickle football can be It was expected that many Arsenal fans would boycott the club's remaining home games as a way of voicing their unhappiness at Arsene Wenger. BUT... Arsenal sure to be packed out for remaining games now— Matt Law (@Matt_Law_DT) April 20, 2018 10:36AM One word: longevity 823 - Arsene Wenger has managed more Premier League games than any other manager (823) and only Sir Alex Ferguson has won more games (528) than Wenger (473). Longevity. pic.twitter.com/ktdsaZPb1y— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) April 20, 2018 10:34AM Klopp hails Wenger Other Premier League manages are being asked for their thoughts on Arsene Wenger after today's momentous announcement. Here's what Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp says: "He is an influence in football. A fantastic career, outstanding personality. A big player in the business." 10:32AM How has it come to this? Arsene Wenger has won three Premier League titles during his spell of over 21 years at the helm, the last of which came as a result of the unbeaten 'Invincibles' season in 2003-04. No-one has won more FA Cups than the former Monaco boss, who was a shock appointment back in 1996. Protests against his reign picked up last season as the Gunners finished outside of the top four for the first time in a full campaign under Wenger's control. But despite the growing negativity, Wenger signed a new two-year deal last summer with the mandate of sustaining a title challenge. That failed miserably and, at the time of the announcement, Arsenal sit sixth in the table and 33 points adrift of newly-crowned champions Manchester City. 10:26AM Set your alarms for 5pm! Arsenal are holding a media conference with chief executive Ivan Gazidis at 5pm at the Emirates Stadium. 10:24AM Winterburn says 'time is right' Former Arsenal defender Nigel Winterburn believes the decision is the right one: "I think it's run its natural course. Arsene Wenger has been absolutely amazing for Arsenal Football Club. "It probably feels to me like it is the right time. When Arsene Wenger does step down, I think he will be remembered very, very fondly. We talk about the modern era, George Graham started it and Arsene Wenger's taken it to the next level. "When he leaves the football club, I think people will look back and really appreciate what Arsene Wenger has done." 10:05AM Who will replace him? Arsene Wenger will lead the team to the end of the season and the club say they will 'make an appointment as soon as possible'. Our Arsenal man - Jeremy Wilson - says these are the leading candidates: Leonardo Jardim, Mikel Arteta, Joachim Low, Brendan Rodgers, Max Allegri and Luis Enrique. 10:02AM 'Arsene has unparalleled class and we will always be grateful' Arsenal owner Stan Kroenke has issued the following statement: "This is one of the most difficult days we have ever had in all our years in sport. One of the main reasons we got involved with Arsenal was because of what Arsène has brought to the club on and off the pitch. His longevity and consistency over such a sustained period at the highest level of the game will never be matched. "Arsène has unparalleled class and we will always be grateful to him. Everyone who loves Arsenal and everyone who loves football owes him a debt of gratitude. Three Premier League titles, including an entire season unbeaten, seven FA Cup triumphs and 20 successive years in the Champions League is an exceptional record. He has also transformed the identity of our club and of English football with his vision for how the game can be played. "We have high ambitions to build on Arsène's remarkable tenure and to honour his vision by ensuring that Arsenal competes for and wins the biggest and most important prizes in the game. "We must now focus on making a strong finish to the season and ask our millions of fans around the world to join us in paying appropriate tribute to one of the greats of Arsenal's history and one of the greats of the game." 9:57AM BREAKING NEWS: Arsene Wenger leaving Arsenal Arsene Wenger has announced he is to step down as manager of Arsenal at the end of the season. "After careful consideration and following discussions with the club, I feel it is the right time for me to step down at the end of the season. "I am grateful for having had the privilege to serve the club for so many memorable years. "I managed the club with full commitment and integrity. "I want to thank the staff, the players, the Directors and the fans who make this club so special. "I urge our fans to stand behind the team to finish on a high. "To all the Arsenal lovers take care of the values of the club. "My love and support for ever."
Arsene Wenger leaving Arsenal at the end of the season Wenger's last match at Emirates on May 6 against Burnley Last Premier League match ever on May 13 against Huddersfield Arsenal to hold press conference with Ivan Gazidis at 5pm Mourinho speaks: "We'll show Mr Wenger respect he deserves" Why Wenger will enjoy great success in life after Arsenal Next Arsenal manager odds: Who will replace Wenger? How many times did your team lose to Wenger's Arsenal? Arsène Wenger, Arsenal’s longest-serving and most successful-ever manager, is to step down from his job at the end of the season after 22 years at the helm. Wenger has won three Premier League titles, an all-time record seven FA Cups, two doubles, reached the 2006 European Cup final and went the entire 2003-04 Premier League season undefeated, but has faced opposition over recent seasons at the repeated failure to challenge for either the Premier League or Champions League. Arsenal are still in the semi-finals of the Europa League but, even with the possibility of returning to the Champions League through that competition, a decision has been made to end the uncertainty that has hung over the club in recent months. A new backroom structure was already in place and candidates are being assessed as Arsenal now attempt to deal with one of the most seismic moments in their history. Wenger confirmed the decision this morning and, as ever, he stressed the importance of maintaining the values he has embodied in his time in English football. Put simply, that is an entertaining style of football, opportunities for young players and a fiscal structure that safeguards the club’s long-term future. Wenger replacements “After careful consideration and following discussions with the club, I feel it is the right time for me to step down at the end of the season,” said Wenger. “I am grateful for having had the privilege to serve the club for so many memorable years. I managed the club with full commitment and integrity. “I want to thank the staff, the players, the Directors and the fans who make this club so special. I urge our fans to stand behind the team to finish on a high. To all the Arsenal lovers take care of the values of the club. My love and support for ever.” Guy Wenger Arsenal’s majority owner, Stan Kroenke, has always been a massive supporter of Wenger and regarded this as perhaps the toughest decision in his time in sport. “This is one of the most difficult days we have ever had in all our years in sport,” he said. “One of the main reasons we got involved with Arsenal was because of what Arsène has brought to the club on and off the pitch. His longevity and consistency over such a sustained period at the highest level of the game will never be matched. “Arsène has unparalleled class and we will always be grateful to him. Everyone who loves Arsenal and everyone who loves football owes him a debt of gratitude. Three Premier League titles, including an entire season unbeaten, seven FA Cup triumphs and 20 successive years in the Champions League is an exceptional record. He has also transformed the identity of our club and of English football with his vision for how the game can be played. Arsenal fan's view | 'All the bad feeling has disappeared' “We have high ambitions to build on Arsène’s remarkable tenure and to honour his vision by ensuring that Arsenal competes for and wins the biggest and most important prizes in the game. “We must now focus on making a strong finish to the season and ask our millions of fans around the world to join us in paying appropriate tribute to one of the greats of Arsenal’s history and one of the greats of the game.” Arsenal have said that they will make an appointment as soon as possible. 4:42PM Jack Wilshere on the outgoing boss... "We need to send him off in the right way now" �� Turn your sound up and listen to this from @JackWilsherepic.twitter.com/aZ9UA5u0mo— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) April 20, 2018 "I'm sure when the dust settles, we have a few days to think about it, we'll start to reflect on it, but at the moment it's a bit raw, it's a bit sensitive." 4:08PM Thierry Henry on his former manager October 2002 and September's manager of the month congratulates the player of the month Credit: EDDIE KEOGH/PA I was a little mixed because it's a sad day for me to see the big man leave the club, although we all know he has matches left. I'm happy in a way that people can give him the farewell he deserves. His legacy is untouchable. Managers, fans from other teams - [they say] how Arsène changed Arsenal. I am happy that now we can all talk about his legacy. But we must not get carried away with celebrating the end of his time. The team must win the Europa League, it would be an incredible feat and Arsène has never won in Europe before, so it would be a good way to give him a nice goodbye. I remember when I was playing for Arsenal, people were talking about how we play, not what we won, but how we did it and how Arsène made Arsenal a club known in the whole world. If I could be the successor of Wenger? Look at me laughing. It's funny. One person to whom you can ask this question is Ivan Gazidis. He should answer the question. 3:57PM And a word from Germany From one he helped to make it (to Bayern Munich) 22 years @Arsenal - almost my whole lifetime. Impressive. Glad I could be a small part of it ���� #MerciArsène#Wengerpic.twitter.com/lzGJXJlOGC— Serge Gnabry (@SergeGnabry) April 20, 2018 3:51PM A tribute from an opponent Arsene Wenger built the best teams that I played against in English Football .The 98 team was Amazing.The biggest compliment is that he played football that made us change the way we played against them. He now deserves the most incredible send off from all in the coming weeks.— Gary Neville (@GNev2) April 20, 2018 3:36PM A trawl through the picture archive ... Has inspired this, 22 years in 11 photographs: Wenger at Arsenal gallery 3:17PM Sir Alex Ferguson pays tribute "I am really happy for Arsène Wenger. I have great respect for him and for the job he has done at Arsenal. It is great testament to his talent, professionalism and determination that has been able to dedicate 22 years of his life to a job that he loves. "In an era where football managers sometimes only last one or two seasons, it shows what an achievement it is to serve that length of time at a club the size of Arsenal. "I am pleased that he has announced he is leaving at this stage of the season, as he can now have the send-off that he truly deserves. "He is, without doubt, one the greatest Premier League managers and I am proud to have been a rival, a colleague and a friend to such a great man." 2:47PM Pep Guardiola tips his hat Luke Edwards reports from the Manchester City manager's press conference: “He has all my respect for what he has done. The Premier League is about huge personalities like Arsène, it is because of what he has done, his vision. “I wish him all the best in the future, I hope he can be involved in world football in a different way with his experience. Whether it is with Arsenal, Uefa, Fifa, or somewhere else, I don't know. It was a pleasure to compete against him here, with City, as well as Barcelona and Bayern. Pep Guardiola takes Manchester City training on Friday Credit: Victoria Haydn/Man City via Getty Images “It will be difficult for anyone to do what he has done at a top European club again. Sir Alex Ferguson did it at Manchester United, but it is so, so complicated. With the way social media is now, everybody has an opinion and can express it, you feel the pressure as a manager. “You can also feel pressure because staying in the Premier League is so important, then you have the sporting directors, who do not have a lot of patience. It will be so difficult to find a person who will be able to stay at a club for so long and do what Arsène has done.” 2:32PM 'Arsenal will unite behind Wenger now' Paul Matz, from the Arsenal Independent Supporters' Association, speaks to Telegraph Sport 2:06PM 'I have been talking well about him for a while' Newcastle manager Rafael Benitez, who has locked horns with Arsene Wenger plenty of times down the years in his time at Liverpool, Chelsea and on Tyneside, said this at today's press conference: "I have been talking well about him for a while. "To do things in the way that he has done and win the way he was winning, for so many years... we are talking about one of the best managers in football history." 2:01PM 'Like a father through tough times in my career' Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere posted this on Facebook: "To the man who gave me my chance as a 16-year-old, and showed unbelievable faith and commitment towards me. Always a gentleman, like a father through tough times in my career. He always believed in me when most people didn't. Thank you for everything boss! It's down to us now to end your era right. #onearsenewenger" Big shoes for anyone to fill,playing for Arsenal under Arsene was one of the best period of my career, 2 premiership, 2 FA cups, The invincibles, playing with some of the best assembled players,influencing millions of fans in Africa to support this great club. pic.twitter.com/tILZo70jBE— Kanu Nwankwo (@papilokanu) April 20, 2018 Personally a very sad day. I am forever in debt to this man. The person who had faith in me and gave me a platform to progress. Thank you for all the memories and trophies bosspic.twitter.com/EP26M6TP3W— Héctor Bellerín (@HectorBellerin) April 20, 2018 1:56PM 'He deserves respect from the whole world of football' Our man Matt Law was at Stamford Bridge today and asked Antonio Conte for his thoughts on Arsene Wenger. Reaction to Wenger? "My reaction... I think we must pay a great tribute to Arsene Wenger for his career. For his career at Arsenal. He and Ferguson, we're talking about the last two managers to stay for such a long time in a club. Arsene Wenger worked 22 years for Arsenal. I think that's great, it's a fantastic story. He won a lot at this club and, for this reason, I think he deserves a great tribute for his career." What was his influence in a footballing sense? "I think Arsene is one of the managers who had a great influence on football because, in every moment in his idea of football, he tried to play good football, creative and offensive football. He deserves great tribute also for this." How important is it that he gains that great tribute? "He deserves great respect. Not only from Arsenal supporters, but from the whole world of football. He deserves great respect. We are talking about one of the best managers in the world with a great and important career with Arsenal. He deserves a great tribute for his career. It would be very difficult to see in the future another manager staying for such a long time at the same club. I think, maybe, Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger were a really good story for football. Now it will be very difficult to see that again, another situation like this." 1:54PM 'A proper football man who lives and breathes it' David Moyes, whose West Ham side face Arsenal on Sunday, hailed Arsene Wenger's longevity. "He's been a great competitor, a terrific manager who has graced the Premier League for many years. "He's a proper football man who lives and breathes it. To do 22 years is an incredible achievement." 1:53PM 'There are not enough words for what he's done' Burnley boss Sean Dyche, who will be the second-longest serving current manager in the Premier League once Arsene Wenger stands down, has paid tribute to the Frenchman. "He is a legend of the game - the work that he's done will be remembered. "Some things that now seem normal and simple weren't at the time. Hydration in football sounds a simple thing but was not taken to a high level. Making sure the food they were eating was correct. Their health and well-being. "For youngish managers like myself there are not enough good words you can use for what he's done." 1:42PM 'It was a pleasure to compete against him' Pep Guardiola, manager of new Premier League champions Man City, has also spoken. "He is a huge personality. The Premier League is the Premier League because of what he has done and his vision. I wish him all the best for the future. "Hopefully he will be involved in a different way in world football. Of course it was a pleasure at Barcelona, Bayern Munich and here to compete against him." 1:39PM 'Arsenal fans will unite behind Wenger now' Paul Matz from the Arsenal Independent Supporters' Association, has told The Telegraph he believes the club will unite behind departing manager Arsene Wenger for the rest of the season as they focus on winning the Europa League. 1:37PM Mourinho asked about Wenger... wait for it Jose Mourinho has claimed that deep down he really respects Arsene Wenger and his various insults over the years did not reflect his true relationship with the Arsenal manager, who announced that he will leave the club at the end of the season. "If he's happy with the decision he makes and looks forward to the next chapter of his career and his life I'm really happy for him. If he's sad, I'm sad. I'm pretty sure as a club - and especially because Mr Wenger and Arsenal were for many, many years the biggest rivals of Sir Alex [Ferguson's] era - we will show Mr Wenger the respect he deserves." Asked whether he regretted many of his spats with Wenger, which were often characterised by the strength of Mourinho's response, he was dismissive. "It's not about regretting. I think your question is a typical question from somebody that was not a manager, not a player. Of course, you don't know the way we respect each other even when sometimes it doesn't look like we don't. "Players that get yellow cards and red cards by aggressive actions against each other, bad words during the career - the manager is the same thing. The ones that respect each other more are the ones with the problems. It's power against power; ambition against ambition; quality against quality. But in the end it's people from the same business who respect one another’s careers. "So it happened. What matters for me is the way I respect the person, the professional, the career. I always say that for some the memories are short, but for us football people - the real football people, the others live on us - don't have short memories. I know what it means, three Premier League titles and seven FA Cups, what he did in Japan and France, what he brought to French football. "[Also] What he gave to Arsenal in the period without Premier Leagues, the transition from stadium to stadium, we know what he did. If he's happy with the decision, I'm really happy and I hope he doesn't retire from football." 1:23PM Where it all began for Wenger Where it all began for Arsene Wenger in the #PL... pic.twitter.com/gbhqBu9LTq— Premier League (@premierleague) April 20, 2018 1:19PM The Top 10 longest-serving managers in Premier League history Arsene Wenger, Arsenal, October 1996 to May 2018 (21 years, seven months) Sir Alex Ferguson, Manchester United, August 1992 to May 2013 (20 years, nine months) David Moyes, Everton, March 2002 to May 2013 (11 years, two months) Harry Redknapp, West Ham, August 1994 to May 2001 (six years, eight months) Rafael Benitez, Liverpool, August 2004 to June 2010 (five years, 10 months) Alan Curbishley, Charlton, August 2000 to May 2006 (five years, nine months) Sam Allardyce, Bolton, August 2001 to April 2007 (five years, eight months) Gerard Houllier, Liverpool, November 1998 to May 2004 (five years, six months) Jim Smith, Derby, August 1996 to October 2001 (five years, two months) Sir Bobby Robson, Newcastle, September 1999 to August 2004 (four years, 11 months) 12:58PM 'One of the best in English football history' Premier League executive chairman Richard Scudamore offered his own tribute to Arsene Wenger. "It is hard to encapsulate the enormity of Arsene Wenger's contribution to Arsenal Football Club, the Premier League and football generally over these past 22 seasons. "All of Arsene's teams have been a joy to watch and his 2003-04 'Invincibles' will go down as one of the best in English football history." 12:50PM 'One major reason why I'm here is because of him' Club captain Per Mertesacker admitted it was "emotional" to find out that Arsene Wenger was set to depart. "We have just been informed basically. It is quite emotional. Obviously he has been at the club for such a long time, he has been so supportive to me. One major reason why I'm here is because of him. "It's been emotional and there will be time to digest it but it is a sad feeling right now." 12:47PM Wenger told players of his exit beforehand Arsene Wenger asked Arsenal to hold off announcing his decision to leave the club so he could inform his players first-hand. The news was announced this morning, with Wenger set to depart 12 months into a two-year deal. It is understood Wenger was keen to tell the Arsenal players himself and did so ahead of training at their London Colney base and minutes before the news was made public. His coaching staff were also informed of the decision in advance, although club staff working at the Emirates Stadium rather than the training ground discovered the news at the same time as everyone else. Wenger's surprise announcement came a day after he evaded questions over his future at his usual pre-match press conference. 12:36PM How many times did your team lose to Wenger's Arsenal? Was your club one of the teams Arsene Wenger had the wood over? How many times did your team lose to Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal? 12:35PM 'Today will mark the start of a new era for the club' Arsene Wenger's decision to leave Arsenal at the end of the season is good for all those involved, according to a leading supporters' group. Lois Langton, chair of the Arsenal Independent Supporters' Association, believes the timing is right and hailed Wenger as a "fantastic" manager in his day. "Without question, the announcement that Arsene Wenger will finally stand down at the end of this season is the right decision, both for the club and the manager, although, having been so long coming, it feels surreal that the day has finally arrived. "The problems associated with his tenure in recent years are well documented and now that the announcement has been made, there is nothing to be gained by going over old ground. "Arsene Wenger was, for a period of time, a fantastic manager for Arsenal. The Invincibles epitomise what he brought to the Club and, to that extent, his legacy will continue. "We have seen with Manchester City this season how difficult it is to go a league campaign undefeated. The 2003/2004 season in particular will forever be a source of pride and achievement. "It is now time to move on. We have a Europa League semi-final coming up against Atletico and a first success in Europe for Arsene Wenger would provide a fitting farewell. "Arsenal has a rich and wonderful heritage and today will mark the start of a new era for the club." 12:31PM Will Arsenal now raise their game against the Hammers? Arsenal play West Ham this Sunday. Here's our man Nick Callow's abbreviated preview: West Ham are not mathematically safe from relegation so Arsenal should fear a club they have lost to three times at Emirates Stadium. Arsenal can be pipped to sixth by Burnley, but Thursday's Europa Atletico Madrid semi-final will dictate Arsene Wenger's selection while David Moyes can go for broke. PREDICTION: 1-1 12:04PM VOTE: Who should Arsenal choose to replace Wenger? 11:55AM Where next for Wenger? Seeing as the man eats, drinks and sleeps football, it is highly unlikely he will walk off into the sunset and retire. The odds are now stacked in favour of him becoming the next Paris Saint-Germain manager, with Unai Emery expected to be shown the door by the Paris giants. Wenger would also be a a highly-popular choice given his profile in France and continuing analysis as a guest pundit for French TV. 11:48AM 'Name it the Arsene Wenger Stadium' Former Arsenal midfielder Paul Merson has urged fans to get behind the Frenchman for the rest of the season, starting with Sunday's home match against West Ham. "I think everybody can pay their respect to him now about how great he was as a manager. It's perfect timing. "I think it gives the fans (the chance) to pack the Emirates for the last few games of the season and have a right go. "If fans do not turn up against West Ham and pack that place out, they need serious questions asked about them and are they real Arsenal fans or are they glory-hunters?" Merson has also called for the Emirates Stadium to be renamed in Wenger's honour. "They should drop the Emirates bit - they don't need the money - and name it the Arsene Wenger Stadium. "That's his stadium. He built that. He made that stadium. Even if they called it the Emirates Arsene Wenger Stadium. He deserves to be on that." 11:44AM 'It shows the great dignity and class of the man' Spain and Chelsea's Cesc Fabregas, who burst in to the Arsenal starting line-up under Arsene Wenger, posted on Instagram... "Wow. I never expected that but it shows the great dignity and class of the man. I will never forget his guidance and support, his tutelage and mentorship. "He had faith in me from day one and I owe him a lot, he was like a father figure to me who always pushed me to be the best. Arsene, you deserve all the respect and happiness in the world. #classact" 11:43AM Inside information Ian Wright appeared to have been aware of the news before it was announced, tweeting a shocked face emoji around half an hour before the club's statement. — Ian Wright (@IanWright0) April 20, 2018 11:41AM Will it be Rodgers who replaces Wenger? Celtic majority shareholder Dermot Desmond has admitted he would let manager Brendan Rodgers speak to Arsenal if the Premier League club approached the Northern Irishman... "Absolutely. I don't think you can put handcuffs on anybody if they want to go to a club as good as Arsenal. "It will be Brendan's decision and Brendan's decision only." 11:33AM 'He moved the goalposts for everyone else' Southampton manager Mark Hughes believes it would be a "massive wrench" for Arsene Wenger to leave after so long in the post. "When you have had longevity in the game like Arsene has, and I have been in the Premier League for a long time, our paths have crossed on numerous occasions, we had a few run-ins but other times we were very civil and respectful of each other's efforts. "I had a good conversation with him two weeks ago, he looked very relaxed and chilled. "He came with different ideas, different views on how the game should be played, he moved the goalposts for everyone else, he came in and had success and everyone else had to catch up." 11:31AM 'Fans are celebrating like they've won the lottery' Former Arsenal goalkeeper David Seaman, Arsene Wenger's No 1 for the first seven years of his reign, is not happy with how some Gunners fans are reacting... "It's going to be good now, because there's going to be a chance he will get the send-off and the respect he deserves. The fans that are celebrating like they've won the lottery, it makes me a little bit angry if I'm honest. It's time to show respect and realise what he's done. "For me, he is Arsenal, and it's right that he's decided to leave on his own terms. "Now let's enjoy that. I hope all the fans that have stayed away now return because they've still got a chance of winning something this season. Get behind the team, get behind Arsenal, and show him the respect he deserves. "He's a gentleman. It's brilliant to be in his company. He's a really, really nice guy - and a lot of people don't see that. People say he's stubborn and this and that, but that's not true. It might have been true as a manager, but as a man he's a true gentleman. "When he came in he changed everything - the way we played, the diet... He revolutionised Arsenal. He was brilliant. For me, and especially for the back four - he added years to their careers." 11:05AM Wenger's Arsenal reign in numbers 1996 - the year when a then-unheralded Wenger, who had been in charge at Monaco and Japanese side Nagoya Grampus Eight, took over at Highbury. 1228 - games at the helm, ahead of Sunday's Premier League fixture against West Ham. 704 - wins to date as Arsenal boss. 3 - Premier League title wins, the last during an unbeaten Invincibles campaign of 2003/2004. 1549 - goals scored in Premier League matches by Wenger's teams. 10 - major trophies won. 473 - Premier League victories. 7 - FA Cup triumphs, with three of those having come the last four seasons. 151 - Premier League losses. 21 - full seasons in charge. 49 - games unbeaten in the Premier League from May 2003 to October 2004. 10:58AM Nearly 22 years in three minutes #MerciArsènepic.twitter.com/bjP0wLMgee— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) April 20, 2018 10:55AM How Twitter is reacting to Wenger leaving Unsurprisingly, frequent Arsene Wenger critic Piers Morgan has tweeted with a certain amount of relish... BREAKING: Wenger out. pic.twitter.com/HBuwQdY9aw— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) April 20, 2018 Fortunately, Gary Neville, the voice of reason, has said what many feel... Arsene Wenger built the best teams that I played against in English Football .The 98 team was Amazing.The biggest compliment is that he played football that made us change the way we played against them. He now deserves the most incredible send off from all in the coming weeks.— Gary Neville (@GNev2) April 20, 2018 Arsenal legend David Seaman has called on Gunners fans to give Wenger the send-off he deserves... Sad day for @Arsenal with Arsene leaving, can we now give him the send off/respect he deserves?!! #rememberthetrophies— David Seaman (@thedavidseaman) April 20, 2018 Journalist and TV presenter Robert Peston is suffering from mixed emotions... Such mixed feelings about Wenger resignation. I wanted him to go, but I miss him already. He was magnificent for us over many years, but it was time #Arsenal— Robert Peston (@Peston) April 20, 2018 Radio 1 DJ Greg James sees the funny side... BUT WHO GETS THE COAT?! I WANT THE COAT. SHOTGUN THE COAT. pic.twitter.com/C4qJEbO8YG— Greg James (@gregjames) April 20, 2018 Former Arsenal captain Tony Adams posted on Instagram: "Thanks for everything Arsene. Move over Herbert, Arsene Wenger the greatest Arsenal Manager." 10:50AM How fickle football can be It was expected that many Arsenal fans would boycott the club's remaining home games as a way of voicing their unhappiness at Arsene Wenger. BUT... Arsenal sure to be packed out for remaining games now— Matt Law (@Matt_Law_DT) April 20, 2018 10:36AM One word: longevity 823 - Arsene Wenger has managed more Premier League games than any other manager (823) and only Sir Alex Ferguson has won more games (528) than Wenger (473). Longevity. pic.twitter.com/ktdsaZPb1y— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) April 20, 2018 10:34AM Klopp hails Wenger Other Premier League manages are being asked for their thoughts on Arsene Wenger after today's momentous announcement. Here's what Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp says: "He is an influence in football. A fantastic career, outstanding personality. A big player in the business." 10:32AM How has it come to this? Arsene Wenger has won three Premier League titles during his spell of over 21 years at the helm, the last of which came as a result of the unbeaten 'Invincibles' season in 2003-04. No-one has won more FA Cups than the former Monaco boss, who was a shock appointment back in 1996. Protests against his reign picked up last season as the Gunners finished outside of the top four for the first time in a full campaign under Wenger's control. But despite the growing negativity, Wenger signed a new two-year deal last summer with the mandate of sustaining a title challenge. That failed miserably and, at the time of the announcement, Arsenal sit sixth in the table and 33 points adrift of newly-crowned champions Manchester City. 10:26AM Set your alarms for 5pm! Arsenal are holding a media conference with chief executive Ivan Gazidis at 5pm at the Emirates Stadium. 10:24AM Winterburn says 'time is right' Former Arsenal defender Nigel Winterburn believes the decision is the right one: "I think it's run its natural course. Arsene Wenger has been absolutely amazing for Arsenal Football Club. "It probably feels to me like it is the right time. When Arsene Wenger does step down, I think he will be remembered very, very fondly. We talk about the modern era, George Graham started it and Arsene Wenger's taken it to the next level. "When he leaves the football club, I think people will look back and really appreciate what Arsene Wenger has done." 10:05AM Who will replace him? Arsene Wenger will lead the team to the end of the season and the club say they will 'make an appointment as soon as possible'. Our Arsenal man - Jeremy Wilson - says these are the leading candidates: Leonardo Jardim, Mikel Arteta, Joachim Low, Brendan Rodgers, Max Allegri and Luis Enrique. 10:02AM 'Arsene has unparalleled class and we will always be grateful' Arsenal owner Stan Kroenke has issued the following statement: "This is one of the most difficult days we have ever had in all our years in sport. One of the main reasons we got involved with Arsenal was because of what Arsène has brought to the club on and off the pitch. His longevity and consistency over such a sustained period at the highest level of the game will never be matched. "Arsène has unparalleled class and we will always be grateful to him. Everyone who loves Arsenal and everyone who loves football owes him a debt of gratitude. Three Premier League titles, including an entire season unbeaten, seven FA Cup triumphs and 20 successive years in the Champions League is an exceptional record. He has also transformed the identity of our club and of English football with his vision for how the game can be played. "We have high ambitions to build on Arsène's remarkable tenure and to honour his vision by ensuring that Arsenal competes for and wins the biggest and most important prizes in the game. "We must now focus on making a strong finish to the season and ask our millions of fans around the world to join us in paying appropriate tribute to one of the greats of Arsenal's history and one of the greats of the game." 9:57AM BREAKING NEWS: Arsene Wenger leaving Arsenal Arsene Wenger has announced he is to step down as manager of Arsenal at the end of the season. "After careful consideration and following discussions with the club, I feel it is the right time for me to step down at the end of the season. "I am grateful for having had the privilege to serve the club for so many memorable years. "I managed the club with full commitment and integrity. "I want to thank the staff, the players, the Directors and the fans who make this club so special. "I urge our fans to stand behind the team to finish on a high. "To all the Arsenal lovers take care of the values of the club. "My love and support for ever."
Arsene Wenger leaving Arsenal at end of season: live updates
Arsene Wenger leaving Arsenal at the end of the season Wenger's last match at Emirates on May 6 against Burnley Last Premier League match ever on May 13 against Huddersfield Arsenal to hold press conference with Ivan Gazidis at 5pm Mourinho speaks: "We'll show Mr Wenger respect he deserves" Why Wenger will enjoy great success in life after Arsenal Next Arsenal manager odds: Who will replace Wenger? How many times did your team lose to Wenger's Arsenal? Arsène Wenger, Arsenal’s longest-serving and most successful-ever manager, is to step down from his job at the end of the season after 22 years at the helm. Wenger has won three Premier League titles, an all-time record seven FA Cups, two doubles, reached the 2006 European Cup final and went the entire 2003-04 Premier League season undefeated, but has faced opposition over recent seasons at the repeated failure to challenge for either the Premier League or Champions League. Arsenal are still in the semi-finals of the Europa League but, even with the possibility of returning to the Champions League through that competition, a decision has been made to end the uncertainty that has hung over the club in recent months. A new backroom structure was already in place and candidates are being assessed as Arsenal now attempt to deal with one of the most seismic moments in their history. Wenger confirmed the decision this morning and, as ever, he stressed the importance of maintaining the values he has embodied in his time in English football. Put simply, that is an entertaining style of football, opportunities for young players and a fiscal structure that safeguards the club’s long-term future. Wenger replacements “After careful consideration and following discussions with the club, I feel it is the right time for me to step down at the end of the season,” said Wenger. “I am grateful for having had the privilege to serve the club for so many memorable years. I managed the club with full commitment and integrity. “I want to thank the staff, the players, the Directors and the fans who make this club so special. I urge our fans to stand behind the team to finish on a high. To all the Arsenal lovers take care of the values of the club. My love and support for ever.” Guy Wenger Arsenal’s majority owner, Stan Kroenke, has always been a massive supporter of Wenger and regarded this as perhaps the toughest decision in his time in sport. “This is one of the most difficult days we have ever had in all our years in sport,” he said. “One of the main reasons we got involved with Arsenal was because of what Arsène has brought to the club on and off the pitch. His longevity and consistency over such a sustained period at the highest level of the game will never be matched. “Arsène has unparalleled class and we will always be grateful to him. Everyone who loves Arsenal and everyone who loves football owes him a debt of gratitude. Three Premier League titles, including an entire season unbeaten, seven FA Cup triumphs and 20 successive years in the Champions League is an exceptional record. He has also transformed the identity of our club and of English football with his vision for how the game can be played. Arsenal fan's view | 'All the bad feeling has disappeared' “We have high ambitions to build on Arsène’s remarkable tenure and to honour his vision by ensuring that Arsenal competes for and wins the biggest and most important prizes in the game. “We must now focus on making a strong finish to the season and ask our millions of fans around the world to join us in paying appropriate tribute to one of the greats of Arsenal’s history and one of the greats of the game.” Arsenal have said that they will make an appointment as soon as possible. 4:42PM Jack Wilshere on the outgoing boss... "We need to send him off in the right way now" �� Turn your sound up and listen to this from @JackWilsherepic.twitter.com/aZ9UA5u0mo— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) April 20, 2018 "I'm sure when the dust settles, we have a few days to think about it, we'll start to reflect on it, but at the moment it's a bit raw, it's a bit sensitive." 4:08PM Thierry Henry on his former manager October 2002 and September's manager of the month congratulates the player of the month Credit: EDDIE KEOGH/PA I was a little mixed because it's a sad day for me to see the big man leave the club, although we all know he has matches left. I'm happy in a way that people can give him the farewell he deserves. His legacy is untouchable. Managers, fans from other teams - [they say] how Arsène changed Arsenal. I am happy that now we can all talk about his legacy. But we must not get carried away with celebrating the end of his time. The team must win the Europa League, it would be an incredible feat and Arsène has never won in Europe before, so it would be a good way to give him a nice goodbye. I remember when I was playing for Arsenal, people were talking about how we play, not what we won, but how we did it and how Arsène made Arsenal a club known in the whole world. If I could be the successor of Wenger? Look at me laughing. It's funny. One person to whom you can ask this question is Ivan Gazidis. He should answer the question. 3:57PM And a word from Germany From one he helped to make it (to Bayern Munich) 22 years @Arsenal - almost my whole lifetime. Impressive. Glad I could be a small part of it ���� #MerciArsène#Wengerpic.twitter.com/lzGJXJlOGC— Serge Gnabry (@SergeGnabry) April 20, 2018 3:51PM A tribute from an opponent Arsene Wenger built the best teams that I played against in English Football .The 98 team was Amazing.The biggest compliment is that he played football that made us change the way we played against them. He now deserves the most incredible send off from all in the coming weeks.— Gary Neville (@GNev2) April 20, 2018 3:36PM A trawl through the picture archive ... Has inspired this, 22 years in 11 photographs: Wenger at Arsenal gallery 3:17PM Sir Alex Ferguson pays tribute "I am really happy for Arsène Wenger. I have great respect for him and for the job he has done at Arsenal. It is great testament to his talent, professionalism and determination that has been able to dedicate 22 years of his life to a job that he loves. "In an era where football managers sometimes only last one or two seasons, it shows what an achievement it is to serve that length of time at a club the size of Arsenal. "I am pleased that he has announced he is leaving at this stage of the season, as he can now have the send-off that he truly deserves. "He is, without doubt, one the greatest Premier League managers and I am proud to have been a rival, a colleague and a friend to such a great man." 2:47PM Pep Guardiola tips his hat Luke Edwards reports from the Manchester City manager's press conference: “He has all my respect for what he has done. The Premier League is about huge personalities like Arsène, it is because of what he has done, his vision. “I wish him all the best in the future, I hope he can be involved in world football in a different way with his experience. Whether it is with Arsenal, Uefa, Fifa, or somewhere else, I don't know. It was a pleasure to compete against him here, with City, as well as Barcelona and Bayern. Pep Guardiola takes Manchester City training on Friday Credit: Victoria Haydn/Man City via Getty Images “It will be difficult for anyone to do what he has done at a top European club again. Sir Alex Ferguson did it at Manchester United, but it is so, so complicated. With the way social media is now, everybody has an opinion and can express it, you feel the pressure as a manager. “You can also feel pressure because staying in the Premier League is so important, then you have the sporting directors, who do not have a lot of patience. It will be so difficult to find a person who will be able to stay at a club for so long and do what Arsène has done.” 2:32PM 'Arsenal will unite behind Wenger now' Paul Matz, from the Arsenal Independent Supporters' Association, speaks to Telegraph Sport 2:06PM 'I have been talking well about him for a while' Newcastle manager Rafael Benitez, who has locked horns with Arsene Wenger plenty of times down the years in his time at Liverpool, Chelsea and on Tyneside, said this at today's press conference: "I have been talking well about him for a while. "To do things in the way that he has done and win the way he was winning, for so many years... we are talking about one of the best managers in football history." 2:01PM 'Like a father through tough times in my career' Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere posted this on Facebook: "To the man who gave me my chance as a 16-year-old, and showed unbelievable faith and commitment towards me. Always a gentleman, like a father through tough times in my career. He always believed in me when most people didn't. Thank you for everything boss! It's down to us now to end your era right. #onearsenewenger" Big shoes for anyone to fill,playing for Arsenal under Arsene was one of the best period of my career, 2 premiership, 2 FA cups, The invincibles, playing with some of the best assembled players,influencing millions of fans in Africa to support this great club. pic.twitter.com/tILZo70jBE— Kanu Nwankwo (@papilokanu) April 20, 2018 Personally a very sad day. I am forever in debt to this man. The person who had faith in me and gave me a platform to progress. Thank you for all the memories and trophies bosspic.twitter.com/EP26M6TP3W— Héctor Bellerín (@HectorBellerin) April 20, 2018 1:56PM 'He deserves respect from the whole world of football' Our man Matt Law was at Stamford Bridge today and asked Antonio Conte for his thoughts on Arsene Wenger. Reaction to Wenger? "My reaction... I think we must pay a great tribute to Arsene Wenger for his career. For his career at Arsenal. He and Ferguson, we're talking about the last two managers to stay for such a long time in a club. Arsene Wenger worked 22 years for Arsenal. I think that's great, it's a fantastic story. He won a lot at this club and, for this reason, I think he deserves a great tribute for his career." What was his influence in a footballing sense? "I think Arsene is one of the managers who had a great influence on football because, in every moment in his idea of football, he tried to play good football, creative and offensive football. He deserves great tribute also for this." How important is it that he gains that great tribute? "He deserves great respect. Not only from Arsenal supporters, but from the whole world of football. He deserves great respect. We are talking about one of the best managers in the world with a great and important career with Arsenal. He deserves a great tribute for his career. It would be very difficult to see in the future another manager staying for such a long time at the same club. I think, maybe, Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger were a really good story for football. Now it will be very difficult to see that again, another situation like this." 1:54PM 'A proper football man who lives and breathes it' David Moyes, whose West Ham side face Arsenal on Sunday, hailed Arsene Wenger's longevity. "He's been a great competitor, a terrific manager who has graced the Premier League for many years. "He's a proper football man who lives and breathes it. To do 22 years is an incredible achievement." 1:53PM 'There are not enough words for what he's done' Burnley boss Sean Dyche, who will be the second-longest serving current manager in the Premier League once Arsene Wenger stands down, has paid tribute to the Frenchman. "He is a legend of the game - the work that he's done will be remembered. "Some things that now seem normal and simple weren't at the time. Hydration in football sounds a simple thing but was not taken to a high level. Making sure the food they were eating was correct. Their health and well-being. "For youngish managers like myself there are not enough good words you can use for what he's done." 1:42PM 'It was a pleasure to compete against him' Pep Guardiola, manager of new Premier League champions Man City, has also spoken. "He is a huge personality. The Premier League is the Premier League because of what he has done and his vision. I wish him all the best for the future. "Hopefully he will be involved in a different way in world football. Of course it was a pleasure at Barcelona, Bayern Munich and here to compete against him." 1:39PM 'Arsenal fans will unite behind Wenger now' Paul Matz from the Arsenal Independent Supporters' Association, has told The Telegraph he believes the club will unite behind departing manager Arsene Wenger for the rest of the season as they focus on winning the Europa League. 1:37PM Mourinho asked about Wenger... wait for it Jose Mourinho has claimed that deep down he really respects Arsene Wenger and his various insults over the years did not reflect his true relationship with the Arsenal manager, who announced that he will leave the club at the end of the season. "If he's happy with the decision he makes and looks forward to the next chapter of his career and his life I'm really happy for him. If he's sad, I'm sad. I'm pretty sure as a club - and especially because Mr Wenger and Arsenal were for many, many years the biggest rivals of Sir Alex [Ferguson's] era - we will show Mr Wenger the respect he deserves." Asked whether he regretted many of his spats with Wenger, which were often characterised by the strength of Mourinho's response, he was dismissive. "It's not about regretting. I think your question is a typical question from somebody that was not a manager, not a player. Of course, you don't know the way we respect each other even when sometimes it doesn't look like we don't. "Players that get yellow cards and red cards by aggressive actions against each other, bad words during the career - the manager is the same thing. The ones that respect each other more are the ones with the problems. It's power against power; ambition against ambition; quality against quality. But in the end it's people from the same business who respect one another’s careers. "So it happened. What matters for me is the way I respect the person, the professional, the career. I always say that for some the memories are short, but for us football people - the real football people, the others live on us - don't have short memories. I know what it means, three Premier League titles and seven FA Cups, what he did in Japan and France, what he brought to French football. "[Also] What he gave to Arsenal in the period without Premier Leagues, the transition from stadium to stadium, we know what he did. If he's happy with the decision, I'm really happy and I hope he doesn't retire from football." 1:23PM Where it all began for Wenger Where it all began for Arsene Wenger in the #PL... pic.twitter.com/gbhqBu9LTq— Premier League (@premierleague) April 20, 2018 1:19PM The Top 10 longest-serving managers in Premier League history Arsene Wenger, Arsenal, October 1996 to May 2018 (21 years, seven months) Sir Alex Ferguson, Manchester United, August 1992 to May 2013 (20 years, nine months) David Moyes, Everton, March 2002 to May 2013 (11 years, two months) Harry Redknapp, West Ham, August 1994 to May 2001 (six years, eight months) Rafael Benitez, Liverpool, August 2004 to June 2010 (five years, 10 months) Alan Curbishley, Charlton, August 2000 to May 2006 (five years, nine months) Sam Allardyce, Bolton, August 2001 to April 2007 (five years, eight months) Gerard Houllier, Liverpool, November 1998 to May 2004 (five years, six months) Jim Smith, Derby, August 1996 to October 2001 (five years, two months) Sir Bobby Robson, Newcastle, September 1999 to August 2004 (four years, 11 months) 12:58PM 'One of the best in English football history' Premier League executive chairman Richard Scudamore offered his own tribute to Arsene Wenger. "It is hard to encapsulate the enormity of Arsene Wenger's contribution to Arsenal Football Club, the Premier League and football generally over these past 22 seasons. "All of Arsene's teams have been a joy to watch and his 2003-04 'Invincibles' will go down as one of the best in English football history." 12:50PM 'One major reason why I'm here is because of him' Club captain Per Mertesacker admitted it was "emotional" to find out that Arsene Wenger was set to depart. "We have just been informed basically. It is quite emotional. Obviously he has been at the club for such a long time, he has been so supportive to me. One major reason why I'm here is because of him. "It's been emotional and there will be time to digest it but it is a sad feeling right now." 12:47PM Wenger told players of his exit beforehand Arsene Wenger asked Arsenal to hold off announcing his decision to leave the club so he could inform his players first-hand. The news was announced this morning, with Wenger set to depart 12 months into a two-year deal. It is understood Wenger was keen to tell the Arsenal players himself and did so ahead of training at their London Colney base and minutes before the news was made public. His coaching staff were also informed of the decision in advance, although club staff working at the Emirates Stadium rather than the training ground discovered the news at the same time as everyone else. Wenger's surprise announcement came a day after he evaded questions over his future at his usual pre-match press conference. 12:36PM How many times did your team lose to Wenger's Arsenal? Was your club one of the teams Arsene Wenger had the wood over? How many times did your team lose to Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal? 12:35PM 'Today will mark the start of a new era for the club' Arsene Wenger's decision to leave Arsenal at the end of the season is good for all those involved, according to a leading supporters' group. Lois Langton, chair of the Arsenal Independent Supporters' Association, believes the timing is right and hailed Wenger as a "fantastic" manager in his day. "Without question, the announcement that Arsene Wenger will finally stand down at the end of this season is the right decision, both for the club and the manager, although, having been so long coming, it feels surreal that the day has finally arrived. "The problems associated with his tenure in recent years are well documented and now that the announcement has been made, there is nothing to be gained by going over old ground. "Arsene Wenger was, for a period of time, a fantastic manager for Arsenal. The Invincibles epitomise what he brought to the Club and, to that extent, his legacy will continue. "We have seen with Manchester City this season how difficult it is to go a league campaign undefeated. The 2003/2004 season in particular will forever be a source of pride and achievement. "It is now time to move on. We have a Europa League semi-final coming up against Atletico and a first success in Europe for Arsene Wenger would provide a fitting farewell. "Arsenal has a rich and wonderful heritage and today will mark the start of a new era for the club." 12:31PM Will Arsenal now raise their game against the Hammers? Arsenal play West Ham this Sunday. Here's our man Nick Callow's abbreviated preview: West Ham are not mathematically safe from relegation so Arsenal should fear a club they have lost to three times at Emirates Stadium. Arsenal can be pipped to sixth by Burnley, but Thursday's Europa Atletico Madrid semi-final will dictate Arsene Wenger's selection while David Moyes can go for broke. PREDICTION: 1-1 12:04PM VOTE: Who should Arsenal choose to replace Wenger? 11:55AM Where next for Wenger? Seeing as the man eats, drinks and sleeps football, it is highly unlikely he will walk off into the sunset and retire. The odds are now stacked in favour of him becoming the next Paris Saint-Germain manager, with Unai Emery expected to be shown the door by the Paris giants. Wenger would also be a a highly-popular choice given his profile in France and continuing analysis as a guest pundit for French TV. 11:48AM 'Name it the Arsene Wenger Stadium' Former Arsenal midfielder Paul Merson has urged fans to get behind the Frenchman for the rest of the season, starting with Sunday's home match against West Ham. "I think everybody can pay their respect to him now about how great he was as a manager. It's perfect timing. "I think it gives the fans (the chance) to pack the Emirates for the last few games of the season and have a right go. "If fans do not turn up against West Ham and pack that place out, they need serious questions asked about them and are they real Arsenal fans or are they glory-hunters?" Merson has also called for the Emirates Stadium to be renamed in Wenger's honour. "They should drop the Emirates bit - they don't need the money - and name it the Arsene Wenger Stadium. "That's his stadium. He built that. He made that stadium. Even if they called it the Emirates Arsene Wenger Stadium. He deserves to be on that." 11:44AM 'It shows the great dignity and class of the man' Spain and Chelsea's Cesc Fabregas, who burst in to the Arsenal starting line-up under Arsene Wenger, posted on Instagram... "Wow. I never expected that but it shows the great dignity and class of the man. I will never forget his guidance and support, his tutelage and mentorship. "He had faith in me from day one and I owe him a lot, he was like a father figure to me who always pushed me to be the best. Arsene, you deserve all the respect and happiness in the world. #classact" 11:43AM Inside information Ian Wright appeared to have been aware of the news before it was announced, tweeting a shocked face emoji around half an hour before the club's statement. — Ian Wright (@IanWright0) April 20, 2018 11:41AM Will it be Rodgers who replaces Wenger? Celtic majority shareholder Dermot Desmond has admitted he would let manager Brendan Rodgers speak to Arsenal if the Premier League club approached the Northern Irishman... "Absolutely. I don't think you can put handcuffs on anybody if they want to go to a club as good as Arsenal. "It will be Brendan's decision and Brendan's decision only." 11:33AM 'He moved the goalposts for everyone else' Southampton manager Mark Hughes believes it would be a "massive wrench" for Arsene Wenger to leave after so long in the post. "When you have had longevity in the game like Arsene has, and I have been in the Premier League for a long time, our paths have crossed on numerous occasions, we had a few run-ins but other times we were very civil and respectful of each other's efforts. "I had a good conversation with him two weeks ago, he looked very relaxed and chilled. "He came with different ideas, different views on how the game should be played, he moved the goalposts for everyone else, he came in and had success and everyone else had to catch up." 11:31AM 'Fans are celebrating like they've won the lottery' Former Arsenal goalkeeper David Seaman, Arsene Wenger's No 1 for the first seven years of his reign, is not happy with how some Gunners fans are reacting... "It's going to be good now, because there's going to be a chance he will get the send-off and the respect he deserves. The fans that are celebrating like they've won the lottery, it makes me a little bit angry if I'm honest. It's time to show respect and realise what he's done. "For me, he is Arsenal, and it's right that he's decided to leave on his own terms. "Now let's enjoy that. I hope all the fans that have stayed away now return because they've still got a chance of winning something this season. Get behind the team, get behind Arsenal, and show him the respect he deserves. "He's a gentleman. It's brilliant to be in his company. He's a really, really nice guy - and a lot of people don't see that. People say he's stubborn and this and that, but that's not true. It might have been true as a manager, but as a man he's a true gentleman. "When he came in he changed everything - the way we played, the diet... He revolutionised Arsenal. He was brilliant. For me, and especially for the back four - he added years to their careers." 11:05AM Wenger's Arsenal reign in numbers 1996 - the year when a then-unheralded Wenger, who had been in charge at Monaco and Japanese side Nagoya Grampus Eight, took over at Highbury. 1228 - games at the helm, ahead of Sunday's Premier League fixture against West Ham. 704 - wins to date as Arsenal boss. 3 - Premier League title wins, the last during an unbeaten Invincibles campaign of 2003/2004. 1549 - goals scored in Premier League matches by Wenger's teams. 10 - major trophies won. 473 - Premier League victories. 7 - FA Cup triumphs, with three of those having come the last four seasons. 151 - Premier League losses. 21 - full seasons in charge. 49 - games unbeaten in the Premier League from May 2003 to October 2004. 10:58AM Nearly 22 years in three minutes #MerciArsènepic.twitter.com/bjP0wLMgee— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) April 20, 2018 10:55AM How Twitter is reacting to Wenger leaving Unsurprisingly, frequent Arsene Wenger critic Piers Morgan has tweeted with a certain amount of relish... BREAKING: Wenger out. pic.twitter.com/HBuwQdY9aw— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) April 20, 2018 Fortunately, Gary Neville, the voice of reason, has said what many feel... Arsene Wenger built the best teams that I played against in English Football .The 98 team was Amazing.The biggest compliment is that he played football that made us change the way we played against them. He now deserves the most incredible send off from all in the coming weeks.— Gary Neville (@GNev2) April 20, 2018 Arsenal legend David Seaman has called on Gunners fans to give Wenger the send-off he deserves... Sad day for @Arsenal with Arsene leaving, can we now give him the send off/respect he deserves?!! #rememberthetrophies— David Seaman (@thedavidseaman) April 20, 2018 Journalist and TV presenter Robert Peston is suffering from mixed emotions... Such mixed feelings about Wenger resignation. I wanted him to go, but I miss him already. He was magnificent for us over many years, but it was time #Arsenal— Robert Peston (@Peston) April 20, 2018 Radio 1 DJ Greg James sees the funny side... BUT WHO GETS THE COAT?! I WANT THE COAT. SHOTGUN THE COAT. pic.twitter.com/C4qJEbO8YG— Greg James (@gregjames) April 20, 2018 Former Arsenal captain Tony Adams posted on Instagram: "Thanks for everything Arsene. Move over Herbert, Arsene Wenger the greatest Arsenal Manager." 10:50AM How fickle football can be It was expected that many Arsenal fans would boycott the club's remaining home games as a way of voicing their unhappiness at Arsene Wenger. BUT... Arsenal sure to be packed out for remaining games now— Matt Law (@Matt_Law_DT) April 20, 2018 10:36AM One word: longevity 823 - Arsene Wenger has managed more Premier League games than any other manager (823) and only Sir Alex Ferguson has won more games (528) than Wenger (473). Longevity. pic.twitter.com/ktdsaZPb1y— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) April 20, 2018 10:34AM Klopp hails Wenger Other Premier League manages are being asked for their thoughts on Arsene Wenger after today's momentous announcement. Here's what Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp says: "He is an influence in football. A fantastic career, outstanding personality. A big player in the business." 10:32AM How has it come to this? Arsene Wenger has won three Premier League titles during his spell of over 21 years at the helm, the last of which came as a result of the unbeaten 'Invincibles' season in 2003-04. No-one has won more FA Cups than the former Monaco boss, who was a shock appointment back in 1996. Protests against his reign picked up last season as the Gunners finished outside of the top four for the first time in a full campaign under Wenger's control. But despite the growing negativity, Wenger signed a new two-year deal last summer with the mandate of sustaining a title challenge. That failed miserably and, at the time of the announcement, Arsenal sit sixth in the table and 33 points adrift of newly-crowned champions Manchester City. 10:26AM Set your alarms for 5pm! Arsenal are holding a media conference with chief executive Ivan Gazidis at 5pm at the Emirates Stadium. 10:24AM Winterburn says 'time is right' Former Arsenal defender Nigel Winterburn believes the decision is the right one: "I think it's run its natural course. Arsene Wenger has been absolutely amazing for Arsenal Football Club. "It probably feels to me like it is the right time. When Arsene Wenger does step down, I think he will be remembered very, very fondly. We talk about the modern era, George Graham started it and Arsene Wenger's taken it to the next level. "When he leaves the football club, I think people will look back and really appreciate what Arsene Wenger has done." 10:05AM Who will replace him? Arsene Wenger will lead the team to the end of the season and the club say they will 'make an appointment as soon as possible'. Our Arsenal man - Jeremy Wilson - says these are the leading candidates: Leonardo Jardim, Mikel Arteta, Joachim Low, Brendan Rodgers, Max Allegri and Luis Enrique. 10:02AM 'Arsene has unparalleled class and we will always be grateful' Arsenal owner Stan Kroenke has issued the following statement: "This is one of the most difficult days we have ever had in all our years in sport. One of the main reasons we got involved with Arsenal was because of what Arsène has brought to the club on and off the pitch. His longevity and consistency over such a sustained period at the highest level of the game will never be matched. "Arsène has unparalleled class and we will always be grateful to him. Everyone who loves Arsenal and everyone who loves football owes him a debt of gratitude. Three Premier League titles, including an entire season unbeaten, seven FA Cup triumphs and 20 successive years in the Champions League is an exceptional record. He has also transformed the identity of our club and of English football with his vision for how the game can be played. "We have high ambitions to build on Arsène's remarkable tenure and to honour his vision by ensuring that Arsenal competes for and wins the biggest and most important prizes in the game. "We must now focus on making a strong finish to the season and ask our millions of fans around the world to join us in paying appropriate tribute to one of the greats of Arsenal's history and one of the greats of the game." 9:57AM BREAKING NEWS: Arsene Wenger leaving Arsenal Arsene Wenger has announced he is to step down as manager of Arsenal at the end of the season. "After careful consideration and following discussions with the club, I feel it is the right time for me to step down at the end of the season. "I am grateful for having had the privilege to serve the club for so many memorable years. "I managed the club with full commitment and integrity. "I want to thank the staff, the players, the Directors and the fans who make this club so special. "I urge our fans to stand behind the team to finish on a high. "To all the Arsenal lovers take care of the values of the club. "My love and support for ever."
Arsene Wenger leaving Arsenal at the end of the season Wenger's last match at Emirates on May 6 against Burnley Last Premier League match ever on May 13 against Huddersfield Arsenal to hold press conference with Ivan Gazidis at 5pm Mourinho speaks: "We'll show Mr Wenger respect he deserves" Why Wenger will enjoy great success in life after Arsenal Next Arsenal manager odds: Who will replace Wenger? How many times did your team lose to Wenger's Arsenal? Arsène Wenger, Arsenal’s longest-serving and most successful-ever manager, is to step down from his job at the end of the season after 22 years at the helm. Wenger has won three Premier League titles, an all-time record seven FA Cups, two doubles, reached the 2006 European Cup final and went the entire 2003-04 Premier League season undefeated, but has faced opposition over recent seasons at the repeated failure to challenge for either the Premier League or Champions League. Arsenal are still in the semi-finals of the Europa League but, even with the possibility of returning to the Champions League through that competition, a decision has been made to end the uncertainty that has hung over the club in recent months. A new backroom structure was already in place and candidates are being assessed as Arsenal now attempt to deal with one of the most seismic moments in their history. Wenger confirmed the decision this morning and, as ever, he stressed the importance of maintaining the values he has embodied in his time in English football. Put simply, that is an entertaining style of football, opportunities for young players and a fiscal structure that safeguards the club’s long-term future. Wenger replacements “After careful consideration and following discussions with the club, I feel it is the right time for me to step down at the end of the season,” said Wenger. “I am grateful for having had the privilege to serve the club for so many memorable years. I managed the club with full commitment and integrity. “I want to thank the staff, the players, the Directors and the fans who make this club so special. I urge our fans to stand behind the team to finish on a high. To all the Arsenal lovers take care of the values of the club. My love and support for ever.” Guy Wenger Arsenal’s majority owner, Stan Kroenke, has always been a massive supporter of Wenger and regarded this as perhaps the toughest decision in his time in sport. “This is one of the most difficult days we have ever had in all our years in sport,” he said. “One of the main reasons we got involved with Arsenal was because of what Arsène has brought to the club on and off the pitch. His longevity and consistency over such a sustained period at the highest level of the game will never be matched. “Arsène has unparalleled class and we will always be grateful to him. Everyone who loves Arsenal and everyone who loves football owes him a debt of gratitude. Three Premier League titles, including an entire season unbeaten, seven FA Cup triumphs and 20 successive years in the Champions League is an exceptional record. He has also transformed the identity of our club and of English football with his vision for how the game can be played. Arsenal fan's view | 'All the bad feeling has disappeared' “We have high ambitions to build on Arsène’s remarkable tenure and to honour his vision by ensuring that Arsenal competes for and wins the biggest and most important prizes in the game. “We must now focus on making a strong finish to the season and ask our millions of fans around the world to join us in paying appropriate tribute to one of the greats of Arsenal’s history and one of the greats of the game.” Arsenal have said that they will make an appointment as soon as possible. 4:42PM Jack Wilshere on the outgoing boss... "We need to send him off in the right way now" �� Turn your sound up and listen to this from @JackWilsherepic.twitter.com/aZ9UA5u0mo— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) April 20, 2018 "I'm sure when the dust settles, we have a few days to think about it, we'll start to reflect on it, but at the moment it's a bit raw, it's a bit sensitive." 4:08PM Thierry Henry on his former manager October 2002 and September's manager of the month congratulates the player of the month Credit: EDDIE KEOGH/PA I was a little mixed because it's a sad day for me to see the big man leave the club, although we all know he has matches left. I'm happy in a way that people can give him the farewell he deserves. His legacy is untouchable. Managers, fans from other teams - [they say] how Arsène changed Arsenal. I am happy that now we can all talk about his legacy. But we must not get carried away with celebrating the end of his time. The team must win the Europa League, it would be an incredible feat and Arsène has never won in Europe before, so it would be a good way to give him a nice goodbye. I remember when I was playing for Arsenal, people were talking about how we play, not what we won, but how we did it and how Arsène made Arsenal a club known in the whole world. If I could be the successor of Wenger? Look at me laughing. It's funny. One person to whom you can ask this question is Ivan Gazidis. He should answer the question. 3:57PM And a word from Germany From one he helped to make it (to Bayern Munich) 22 years @Arsenal - almost my whole lifetime. Impressive. Glad I could be a small part of it ���� #MerciArsène#Wengerpic.twitter.com/lzGJXJlOGC— Serge Gnabry (@SergeGnabry) April 20, 2018 3:51PM A tribute from an opponent Arsene Wenger built the best teams that I played against in English Football .The 98 team was Amazing.The biggest compliment is that he played football that made us change the way we played against them. He now deserves the most incredible send off from all in the coming weeks.— Gary Neville (@GNev2) April 20, 2018 3:36PM A trawl through the picture archive ... Has inspired this, 22 years in 11 photographs: Wenger at Arsenal gallery 3:17PM Sir Alex Ferguson pays tribute "I am really happy for Arsène Wenger. I have great respect for him and for the job he has done at Arsenal. It is great testament to his talent, professionalism and determination that has been able to dedicate 22 years of his life to a job that he loves. "In an era where football managers sometimes only last one or two seasons, it shows what an achievement it is to serve that length of time at a club the size of Arsenal. "I am pleased that he has announced he is leaving at this stage of the season, as he can now have the send-off that he truly deserves. "He is, without doubt, one the greatest Premier League managers and I am proud to have been a rival, a colleague and a friend to such a great man." 2:47PM Pep Guardiola tips his hat Luke Edwards reports from the Manchester City manager's press conference: “He has all my respect for what he has done. The Premier League is about huge personalities like Arsène, it is because of what he has done, his vision. “I wish him all the best in the future, I hope he can be involved in world football in a different way with his experience. Whether it is with Arsenal, Uefa, Fifa, or somewhere else, I don't know. It was a pleasure to compete against him here, with City, as well as Barcelona and Bayern. Pep Guardiola takes Manchester City training on Friday Credit: Victoria Haydn/Man City via Getty Images “It will be difficult for anyone to do what he has done at a top European club again. Sir Alex Ferguson did it at Manchester United, but it is so, so complicated. With the way social media is now, everybody has an opinion and can express it, you feel the pressure as a manager. “You can also feel pressure because staying in the Premier League is so important, then you have the sporting directors, who do not have a lot of patience. It will be so difficult to find a person who will be able to stay at a club for so long and do what Arsène has done.” 2:32PM 'Arsenal will unite behind Wenger now' Paul Matz, from the Arsenal Independent Supporters' Association, speaks to Telegraph Sport 2:06PM 'I have been talking well about him for a while' Newcastle manager Rafael Benitez, who has locked horns with Arsene Wenger plenty of times down the years in his time at Liverpool, Chelsea and on Tyneside, said this at today's press conference: "I have been talking well about him for a while. "To do things in the way that he has done and win the way he was winning, for so many years... we are talking about one of the best managers in football history." 2:01PM 'Like a father through tough times in my career' Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere posted this on Facebook: "To the man who gave me my chance as a 16-year-old, and showed unbelievable faith and commitment towards me. Always a gentleman, like a father through tough times in my career. He always believed in me when most people didn't. Thank you for everything boss! It's down to us now to end your era right. #onearsenewenger" Big shoes for anyone to fill,playing for Arsenal under Arsene was one of the best period of my career, 2 premiership, 2 FA cups, The invincibles, playing with some of the best assembled players,influencing millions of fans in Africa to support this great club. pic.twitter.com/tILZo70jBE— Kanu Nwankwo (@papilokanu) April 20, 2018 Personally a very sad day. I am forever in debt to this man. The person who had faith in me and gave me a platform to progress. Thank you for all the memories and trophies bosspic.twitter.com/EP26M6TP3W— Héctor Bellerín (@HectorBellerin) April 20, 2018 1:56PM 'He deserves respect from the whole world of football' Our man Matt Law was at Stamford Bridge today and asked Antonio Conte for his thoughts on Arsene Wenger. Reaction to Wenger? "My reaction... I think we must pay a great tribute to Arsene Wenger for his career. For his career at Arsenal. He and Ferguson, we're talking about the last two managers to stay for such a long time in a club. Arsene Wenger worked 22 years for Arsenal. I think that's great, it's a fantastic story. He won a lot at this club and, for this reason, I think he deserves a great tribute for his career." What was his influence in a footballing sense? "I think Arsene is one of the managers who had a great influence on football because, in every moment in his idea of football, he tried to play good football, creative and offensive football. He deserves great tribute also for this." How important is it that he gains that great tribute? "He deserves great respect. Not only from Arsenal supporters, but from the whole world of football. He deserves great respect. We are talking about one of the best managers in the world with a great and important career with Arsenal. He deserves a great tribute for his career. It would be very difficult to see in the future another manager staying for such a long time at the same club. I think, maybe, Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger were a really good story for football. Now it will be very difficult to see that again, another situation like this." 1:54PM 'A proper football man who lives and breathes it' David Moyes, whose West Ham side face Arsenal on Sunday, hailed Arsene Wenger's longevity. "He's been a great competitor, a terrific manager who has graced the Premier League for many years. "He's a proper football man who lives and breathes it. To do 22 years is an incredible achievement." 1:53PM 'There are not enough words for what he's done' Burnley boss Sean Dyche, who will be the second-longest serving current manager in the Premier League once Arsene Wenger stands down, has paid tribute to the Frenchman. "He is a legend of the game - the work that he's done will be remembered. "Some things that now seem normal and simple weren't at the time. Hydration in football sounds a simple thing but was not taken to a high level. Making sure the food they were eating was correct. Their health and well-being. "For youngish managers like myself there are not enough good words you can use for what he's done." 1:42PM 'It was a pleasure to compete against him' Pep Guardiola, manager of new Premier League champions Man City, has also spoken. "He is a huge personality. The Premier League is the Premier League because of what he has done and his vision. I wish him all the best for the future. "Hopefully he will be involved in a different way in world football. Of course it was a pleasure at Barcelona, Bayern Munich and here to compete against him." 1:39PM 'Arsenal fans will unite behind Wenger now' Paul Matz from the Arsenal Independent Supporters' Association, has told The Telegraph he believes the club will unite behind departing manager Arsene Wenger for the rest of the season as they focus on winning the Europa League. 1:37PM Mourinho asked about Wenger... wait for it Jose Mourinho has claimed that deep down he really respects Arsene Wenger and his various insults over the years did not reflect his true relationship with the Arsenal manager, who announced that he will leave the club at the end of the season. "If he's happy with the decision he makes and looks forward to the next chapter of his career and his life I'm really happy for him. If he's sad, I'm sad. I'm pretty sure as a club - and especially because Mr Wenger and Arsenal were for many, many years the biggest rivals of Sir Alex [Ferguson's] era - we will show Mr Wenger the respect he deserves." Asked whether he regretted many of his spats with Wenger, which were often characterised by the strength of Mourinho's response, he was dismissive. "It's not about regretting. I think your question is a typical question from somebody that was not a manager, not a player. Of course, you don't know the way we respect each other even when sometimes it doesn't look like we don't. "Players that get yellow cards and red cards by aggressive actions against each other, bad words during the career - the manager is the same thing. The ones that respect each other more are the ones with the problems. It's power against power; ambition against ambition; quality against quality. But in the end it's people from the same business who respect one another’s careers. "So it happened. What matters for me is the way I respect the person, the professional, the career. I always say that for some the memories are short, but for us football people - the real football people, the others live on us - don't have short memories. I know what it means, three Premier League titles and seven FA Cups, what he did in Japan and France, what he brought to French football. "[Also] What he gave to Arsenal in the period without Premier Leagues, the transition from stadium to stadium, we know what he did. If he's happy with the decision, I'm really happy and I hope he doesn't retire from football." 1:23PM Where it all began for Wenger Where it all began for Arsene Wenger in the #PL... pic.twitter.com/gbhqBu9LTq— Premier League (@premierleague) April 20, 2018 1:19PM The Top 10 longest-serving managers in Premier League history Arsene Wenger, Arsenal, October 1996 to May 2018 (21 years, seven months) Sir Alex Ferguson, Manchester United, August 1992 to May 2013 (20 years, nine months) David Moyes, Everton, March 2002 to May 2013 (11 years, two months) Harry Redknapp, West Ham, August 1994 to May 2001 (six years, eight months) Rafael Benitez, Liverpool, August 2004 to June 2010 (five years, 10 months) Alan Curbishley, Charlton, August 2000 to May 2006 (five years, nine months) Sam Allardyce, Bolton, August 2001 to April 2007 (five years, eight months) Gerard Houllier, Liverpool, November 1998 to May 2004 (five years, six months) Jim Smith, Derby, August 1996 to October 2001 (five years, two months) Sir Bobby Robson, Newcastle, September 1999 to August 2004 (four years, 11 months) 12:58PM 'One of the best in English football history' Premier League executive chairman Richard Scudamore offered his own tribute to Arsene Wenger. "It is hard to encapsulate the enormity of Arsene Wenger's contribution to Arsenal Football Club, the Premier League and football generally over these past 22 seasons. "All of Arsene's teams have been a joy to watch and his 2003-04 'Invincibles' will go down as one of the best in English football history." 12:50PM 'One major reason why I'm here is because of him' Club captain Per Mertesacker admitted it was "emotional" to find out that Arsene Wenger was set to depart. "We have just been informed basically. It is quite emotional. Obviously he has been at the club for such a long time, he has been so supportive to me. One major reason why I'm here is because of him. "It's been emotional and there will be time to digest it but it is a sad feeling right now." 12:47PM Wenger told players of his exit beforehand Arsene Wenger asked Arsenal to hold off announcing his decision to leave the club so he could inform his players first-hand. The news was announced this morning, with Wenger set to depart 12 months into a two-year deal. It is understood Wenger was keen to tell the Arsenal players himself and did so ahead of training at their London Colney base and minutes before the news was made public. His coaching staff were also informed of the decision in advance, although club staff working at the Emirates Stadium rather than the training ground discovered the news at the same time as everyone else. Wenger's surprise announcement came a day after he evaded questions over his future at his usual pre-match press conference. 12:36PM How many times did your team lose to Wenger's Arsenal? Was your club one of the teams Arsene Wenger had the wood over? How many times did your team lose to Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal? 12:35PM 'Today will mark the start of a new era for the club' Arsene Wenger's decision to leave Arsenal at the end of the season is good for all those involved, according to a leading supporters' group. Lois Langton, chair of the Arsenal Independent Supporters' Association, believes the timing is right and hailed Wenger as a "fantastic" manager in his day. "Without question, the announcement that Arsene Wenger will finally stand down at the end of this season is the right decision, both for the club and the manager, although, having been so long coming, it feels surreal that the day has finally arrived. "The problems associated with his tenure in recent years are well documented and now that the announcement has been made, there is nothing to be gained by going over old ground. "Arsene Wenger was, for a period of time, a fantastic manager for Arsenal. The Invincibles epitomise what he brought to the Club and, to that extent, his legacy will continue. "We have seen with Manchester City this season how difficult it is to go a league campaign undefeated. The 2003/2004 season in particular will forever be a source of pride and achievement. "It is now time to move on. We have a Europa League semi-final coming up against Atletico and a first success in Europe for Arsene Wenger would provide a fitting farewell. "Arsenal has a rich and wonderful heritage and today will mark the start of a new era for the club." 12:31PM Will Arsenal now raise their game against the Hammers? Arsenal play West Ham this Sunday. Here's our man Nick Callow's abbreviated preview: West Ham are not mathematically safe from relegation so Arsenal should fear a club they have lost to three times at Emirates Stadium. Arsenal can be pipped to sixth by Burnley, but Thursday's Europa Atletico Madrid semi-final will dictate Arsene Wenger's selection while David Moyes can go for broke. PREDICTION: 1-1 12:04PM VOTE: Who should Arsenal choose to replace Wenger? 11:55AM Where next for Wenger? Seeing as the man eats, drinks and sleeps football, it is highly unlikely he will walk off into the sunset and retire. The odds are now stacked in favour of him becoming the next Paris Saint-Germain manager, with Unai Emery expected to be shown the door by the Paris giants. Wenger would also be a a highly-popular choice given his profile in France and continuing analysis as a guest pundit for French TV. 11:48AM 'Name it the Arsene Wenger Stadium' Former Arsenal midfielder Paul Merson has urged fans to get behind the Frenchman for the rest of the season, starting with Sunday's home match against West Ham. "I think everybody can pay their respect to him now about how great he was as a manager. It's perfect timing. "I think it gives the fans (the chance) to pack the Emirates for the last few games of the season and have a right go. "If fans do not turn up against West Ham and pack that place out, they need serious questions asked about them and are they real Arsenal fans or are they glory-hunters?" Merson has also called for the Emirates Stadium to be renamed in Wenger's honour. "They should drop the Emirates bit - they don't need the money - and name it the Arsene Wenger Stadium. "That's his stadium. He built that. He made that stadium. Even if they called it the Emirates Arsene Wenger Stadium. He deserves to be on that." 11:44AM 'It shows the great dignity and class of the man' Spain and Chelsea's Cesc Fabregas, who burst in to the Arsenal starting line-up under Arsene Wenger, posted on Instagram... "Wow. I never expected that but it shows the great dignity and class of the man. I will never forget his guidance and support, his tutelage and mentorship. "He had faith in me from day one and I owe him a lot, he was like a father figure to me who always pushed me to be the best. Arsene, you deserve all the respect and happiness in the world. #classact" 11:43AM Inside information Ian Wright appeared to have been aware of the news before it was announced, tweeting a shocked face emoji around half an hour before the club's statement. — Ian Wright (@IanWright0) April 20, 2018 11:41AM Will it be Rodgers who replaces Wenger? Celtic majority shareholder Dermot Desmond has admitted he would let manager Brendan Rodgers speak to Arsenal if the Premier League club approached the Northern Irishman... "Absolutely. I don't think you can put handcuffs on anybody if they want to go to a club as good as Arsenal. "It will be Brendan's decision and Brendan's decision only." 11:33AM 'He moved the goalposts for everyone else' Southampton manager Mark Hughes believes it would be a "massive wrench" for Arsene Wenger to leave after so long in the post. "When you have had longevity in the game like Arsene has, and I have been in the Premier League for a long time, our paths have crossed on numerous occasions, we had a few run-ins but other times we were very civil and respectful of each other's efforts. "I had a good conversation with him two weeks ago, he looked very relaxed and chilled. "He came with different ideas, different views on how the game should be played, he moved the goalposts for everyone else, he came in and had success and everyone else had to catch up." 11:31AM 'Fans are celebrating like they've won the lottery' Former Arsenal goalkeeper David Seaman, Arsene Wenger's No 1 for the first seven years of his reign, is not happy with how some Gunners fans are reacting... "It's going to be good now, because there's going to be a chance he will get the send-off and the respect he deserves. The fans that are celebrating like they've won the lottery, it makes me a little bit angry if I'm honest. It's time to show respect and realise what he's done. "For me, he is Arsenal, and it's right that he's decided to leave on his own terms. "Now let's enjoy that. I hope all the fans that have stayed away now return because they've still got a chance of winning something this season. Get behind the team, get behind Arsenal, and show him the respect he deserves. "He's a gentleman. It's brilliant to be in his company. He's a really, really nice guy - and a lot of people don't see that. People say he's stubborn and this and that, but that's not true. It might have been true as a manager, but as a man he's a true gentleman. "When he came in he changed everything - the way we played, the diet... He revolutionised Arsenal. He was brilliant. For me, and especially for the back four - he added years to their careers." 11:05AM Wenger's Arsenal reign in numbers 1996 - the year when a then-unheralded Wenger, who had been in charge at Monaco and Japanese side Nagoya Grampus Eight, took over at Highbury. 1228 - games at the helm, ahead of Sunday's Premier League fixture against West Ham. 704 - wins to date as Arsenal boss. 3 - Premier League title wins, the last during an unbeaten Invincibles campaign of 2003/2004. 1549 - goals scored in Premier League matches by Wenger's teams. 10 - major trophies won. 473 - Premier League victories. 7 - FA Cup triumphs, with three of those having come the last four seasons. 151 - Premier League losses. 21 - full seasons in charge. 49 - games unbeaten in the Premier League from May 2003 to October 2004. 10:58AM Nearly 22 years in three minutes #MerciArsènepic.twitter.com/bjP0wLMgee— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) April 20, 2018 10:55AM How Twitter is reacting to Wenger leaving Unsurprisingly, frequent Arsene Wenger critic Piers Morgan has tweeted with a certain amount of relish... BREAKING: Wenger out. pic.twitter.com/HBuwQdY9aw— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) April 20, 2018 Fortunately, Gary Neville, the voice of reason, has said what many feel... Arsene Wenger built the best teams that I played against in English Football .The 98 team was Amazing.The biggest compliment is that he played football that made us change the way we played against them. He now deserves the most incredible send off from all in the coming weeks.— Gary Neville (@GNev2) April 20, 2018 Arsenal legend David Seaman has called on Gunners fans to give Wenger the send-off he deserves... Sad day for @Arsenal with Arsene leaving, can we now give him the send off/respect he deserves?!! #rememberthetrophies— David Seaman (@thedavidseaman) April 20, 2018 Journalist and TV presenter Robert Peston is suffering from mixed emotions... Such mixed feelings about Wenger resignation. I wanted him to go, but I miss him already. He was magnificent for us over many years, but it was time #Arsenal— Robert Peston (@Peston) April 20, 2018 Radio 1 DJ Greg James sees the funny side... BUT WHO GETS THE COAT?! I WANT THE COAT. SHOTGUN THE COAT. pic.twitter.com/C4qJEbO8YG— Greg James (@gregjames) April 20, 2018 Former Arsenal captain Tony Adams posted on Instagram: "Thanks for everything Arsene. Move over Herbert, Arsene Wenger the greatest Arsenal Manager." 10:50AM How fickle football can be It was expected that many Arsenal fans would boycott the club's remaining home games as a way of voicing their unhappiness at Arsene Wenger. BUT... Arsenal sure to be packed out for remaining games now— Matt Law (@Matt_Law_DT) April 20, 2018 10:36AM One word: longevity 823 - Arsene Wenger has managed more Premier League games than any other manager (823) and only Sir Alex Ferguson has won more games (528) than Wenger (473). Longevity. pic.twitter.com/ktdsaZPb1y— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) April 20, 2018 10:34AM Klopp hails Wenger Other Premier League manages are being asked for their thoughts on Arsene Wenger after today's momentous announcement. Here's what Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp says: "He is an influence in football. A fantastic career, outstanding personality. A big player in the business." 10:32AM How has it come to this? Arsene Wenger has won three Premier League titles during his spell of over 21 years at the helm, the last of which came as a result of the unbeaten 'Invincibles' season in 2003-04. No-one has won more FA Cups than the former Monaco boss, who was a shock appointment back in 1996. Protests against his reign picked up last season as the Gunners finished outside of the top four for the first time in a full campaign under Wenger's control. But despite the growing negativity, Wenger signed a new two-year deal last summer with the mandate of sustaining a title challenge. That failed miserably and, at the time of the announcement, Arsenal sit sixth in the table and 33 points adrift of newly-crowned champions Manchester City. 10:26AM Set your alarms for 5pm! Arsenal are holding a media conference with chief executive Ivan Gazidis at 5pm at the Emirates Stadium. 10:24AM Winterburn says 'time is right' Former Arsenal defender Nigel Winterburn believes the decision is the right one: "I think it's run its natural course. Arsene Wenger has been absolutely amazing for Arsenal Football Club. "It probably feels to me like it is the right time. When Arsene Wenger does step down, I think he will be remembered very, very fondly. We talk about the modern era, George Graham started it and Arsene Wenger's taken it to the next level. "When he leaves the football club, I think people will look back and really appreciate what Arsene Wenger has done." 10:05AM Who will replace him? Arsene Wenger will lead the team to the end of the season and the club say they will 'make an appointment as soon as possible'. Our Arsenal man - Jeremy Wilson - says these are the leading candidates: Leonardo Jardim, Mikel Arteta, Joachim Low, Brendan Rodgers, Max Allegri and Luis Enrique. 10:02AM 'Arsene has unparalleled class and we will always be grateful' Arsenal owner Stan Kroenke has issued the following statement: "This is one of the most difficult days we have ever had in all our years in sport. One of the main reasons we got involved with Arsenal was because of what Arsène has brought to the club on and off the pitch. His longevity and consistency over such a sustained period at the highest level of the game will never be matched. "Arsène has unparalleled class and we will always be grateful to him. Everyone who loves Arsenal and everyone who loves football owes him a debt of gratitude. Three Premier League titles, including an entire season unbeaten, seven FA Cup triumphs and 20 successive years in the Champions League is an exceptional record. He has also transformed the identity of our club and of English football with his vision for how the game can be played. "We have high ambitions to build on Arsène's remarkable tenure and to honour his vision by ensuring that Arsenal competes for and wins the biggest and most important prizes in the game. "We must now focus on making a strong finish to the season and ask our millions of fans around the world to join us in paying appropriate tribute to one of the greats of Arsenal's history and one of the greats of the game." 9:57AM BREAKING NEWS: Arsene Wenger leaving Arsenal Arsene Wenger has announced he is to step down as manager of Arsenal at the end of the season. "After careful consideration and following discussions with the club, I feel it is the right time for me to step down at the end of the season. "I am grateful for having had the privilege to serve the club for so many memorable years. "I managed the club with full commitment and integrity. "I want to thank the staff, the players, the Directors and the fans who make this club so special. "I urge our fans to stand behind the team to finish on a high. "To all the Arsenal lovers take care of the values of the club. "My love and support for ever."
Arsene Wenger leaving Arsenal at end of season: live updates
Arsene Wenger leaving Arsenal at the end of the season Wenger's last match at Emirates on May 6 against Burnley Last Premier League match ever on May 13 against Huddersfield Arsenal to hold press conference with Ivan Gazidis at 5pm Mourinho speaks: "We'll show Mr Wenger respect he deserves" Why Wenger will enjoy great success in life after Arsenal Next Arsenal manager odds: Who will replace Wenger? How many times did your team lose to Wenger's Arsenal? Arsène Wenger, Arsenal’s longest-serving and most successful-ever manager, is to step down from his job at the end of the season after 22 years at the helm. Wenger has won three Premier League titles, an all-time record seven FA Cups, two doubles, reached the 2006 European Cup final and went the entire 2003-04 Premier League season undefeated, but has faced opposition over recent seasons at the repeated failure to challenge for either the Premier League or Champions League. Arsenal are still in the semi-finals of the Europa League but, even with the possibility of returning to the Champions League through that competition, a decision has been made to end the uncertainty that has hung over the club in recent months. A new backroom structure was already in place and candidates are being assessed as Arsenal now attempt to deal with one of the most seismic moments in their history. Wenger confirmed the decision this morning and, as ever, he stressed the importance of maintaining the values he has embodied in his time in English football. Put simply, that is an entertaining style of football, opportunities for young players and a fiscal structure that safeguards the club’s long-term future. Wenger replacements “After careful consideration and following discussions with the club, I feel it is the right time for me to step down at the end of the season,” said Wenger. “I am grateful for having had the privilege to serve the club for so many memorable years. I managed the club with full commitment and integrity. “I want to thank the staff, the players, the Directors and the fans who make this club so special. I urge our fans to stand behind the team to finish on a high. To all the Arsenal lovers take care of the values of the club. My love and support for ever.” Guy Wenger Arsenal’s majority owner, Stan Kroenke, has always been a massive supporter of Wenger and regarded this as perhaps the toughest decision in his time in sport. “This is one of the most difficult days we have ever had in all our years in sport,” he said. “One of the main reasons we got involved with Arsenal was because of what Arsène has brought to the club on and off the pitch. His longevity and consistency over such a sustained period at the highest level of the game will never be matched. “Arsène has unparalleled class and we will always be grateful to him. Everyone who loves Arsenal and everyone who loves football owes him a debt of gratitude. Three Premier League titles, including an entire season unbeaten, seven FA Cup triumphs and 20 successive years in the Champions League is an exceptional record. He has also transformed the identity of our club and of English football with his vision for how the game can be played. Arsenal fan's view | 'All the bad feeling has disappeared' “We have high ambitions to build on Arsène’s remarkable tenure and to honour his vision by ensuring that Arsenal competes for and wins the biggest and most important prizes in the game. “We must now focus on making a strong finish to the season and ask our millions of fans around the world to join us in paying appropriate tribute to one of the greats of Arsenal’s history and one of the greats of the game.” Arsenal have said that they will make an appointment as soon as possible. 4:42PM Jack Wilshere on the outgoing boss... "We need to send him off in the right way now" �� Turn your sound up and listen to this from @JackWilsherepic.twitter.com/aZ9UA5u0mo— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) April 20, 2018 "I'm sure when the dust settles, we have a few days to think about it, we'll start to reflect on it, but at the moment it's a bit raw, it's a bit sensitive." 4:08PM Thierry Henry on his former manager October 2002 and September's manager of the month congratulates the player of the month Credit: EDDIE KEOGH/PA I was a little mixed because it's a sad day for me to see the big man leave the club, although we all know he has matches left. I'm happy in a way that people can give him the farewell he deserves. His legacy is untouchable. Managers, fans from other teams - [they say] how Arsène changed Arsenal. I am happy that now we can all talk about his legacy. But we must not get carried away with celebrating the end of his time. The team must win the Europa League, it would be an incredible feat and Arsène has never won in Europe before, so it would be a good way to give him a nice goodbye. I remember when I was playing for Arsenal, people were talking about how we play, not what we won, but how we did it and how Arsène made Arsenal a club known in the whole world. If I could be the successor of Wenger? Look at me laughing. It's funny. One person to whom you can ask this question is Ivan Gazidis. He should answer the question. 3:57PM And a word from Germany From one he helped to make it (to Bayern Munich) 22 years @Arsenal - almost my whole lifetime. Impressive. Glad I could be a small part of it ���� #MerciArsène#Wengerpic.twitter.com/lzGJXJlOGC— Serge Gnabry (@SergeGnabry) April 20, 2018 3:51PM A tribute from an opponent Arsene Wenger built the best teams that I played against in English Football .The 98 team was Amazing.The biggest compliment is that he played football that made us change the way we played against them. He now deserves the most incredible send off from all in the coming weeks.— Gary Neville (@GNev2) April 20, 2018 3:36PM A trawl through the picture archive ... Has inspired this, 22 years in 11 photographs: Wenger at Arsenal gallery 3:17PM Sir Alex Ferguson pays tribute "I am really happy for Arsène Wenger. I have great respect for him and for the job he has done at Arsenal. It is great testament to his talent, professionalism and determination that has been able to dedicate 22 years of his life to a job that he loves. "In an era where football managers sometimes only last one or two seasons, it shows what an achievement it is to serve that length of time at a club the size of Arsenal. "I am pleased that he has announced he is leaving at this stage of the season, as he can now have the send-off that he truly deserves. "He is, without doubt, one the greatest Premier League managers and I am proud to have been a rival, a colleague and a friend to such a great man." 2:47PM Pep Guardiola tips his hat Luke Edwards reports from the Manchester City manager's press conference: “He has all my respect for what he has done. The Premier League is about huge personalities like Arsène, it is because of what he has done, his vision. “I wish him all the best in the future, I hope he can be involved in world football in a different way with his experience. Whether it is with Arsenal, Uefa, Fifa, or somewhere else, I don't know. It was a pleasure to compete against him here, with City, as well as Barcelona and Bayern. Pep Guardiola takes Manchester City training on Friday Credit: Victoria Haydn/Man City via Getty Images “It will be difficult for anyone to do what he has done at a top European club again. Sir Alex Ferguson did it at Manchester United, but it is so, so complicated. With the way social media is now, everybody has an opinion and can express it, you feel the pressure as a manager. “You can also feel pressure because staying in the Premier League is so important, then you have the sporting directors, who do not have a lot of patience. It will be so difficult to find a person who will be able to stay at a club for so long and do what Arsène has done.” 2:32PM 'Arsenal will unite behind Wenger now' Paul Matz, from the Arsenal Independent Supporters' Association, speaks to Telegraph Sport 2:06PM 'I have been talking well about him for a while' Newcastle manager Rafael Benitez, who has locked horns with Arsene Wenger plenty of times down the years in his time at Liverpool, Chelsea and on Tyneside, said this at today's press conference: "I have been talking well about him for a while. "To do things in the way that he has done and win the way he was winning, for so many years... we are talking about one of the best managers in football history." 2:01PM 'Like a father through tough times in my career' Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere posted this on Facebook: "To the man who gave me my chance as a 16-year-old, and showed unbelievable faith and commitment towards me. Always a gentleman, like a father through tough times in my career. He always believed in me when most people didn't. Thank you for everything boss! It's down to us now to end your era right. #onearsenewenger" Big shoes for anyone to fill,playing for Arsenal under Arsene was one of the best period of my career, 2 premiership, 2 FA cups, The invincibles, playing with some of the best assembled players,influencing millions of fans in Africa to support this great club. pic.twitter.com/tILZo70jBE— Kanu Nwankwo (@papilokanu) April 20, 2018 Personally a very sad day. I am forever in debt to this man. The person who had faith in me and gave me a platform to progress. Thank you for all the memories and trophies bosspic.twitter.com/EP26M6TP3W— Héctor Bellerín (@HectorBellerin) April 20, 2018 1:56PM 'He deserves respect from the whole world of football' Our man Matt Law was at Stamford Bridge today and asked Antonio Conte for his thoughts on Arsene Wenger. Reaction to Wenger? "My reaction... I think we must pay a great tribute to Arsene Wenger for his career. For his career at Arsenal. He and Ferguson, we're talking about the last two managers to stay for such a long time in a club. Arsene Wenger worked 22 years for Arsenal. I think that's great, it's a fantastic story. He won a lot at this club and, for this reason, I think he deserves a great tribute for his career." What was his influence in a footballing sense? "I think Arsene is one of the managers who had a great influence on football because, in every moment in his idea of football, he tried to play good football, creative and offensive football. He deserves great tribute also for this." How important is it that he gains that great tribute? "He deserves great respect. Not only from Arsenal supporters, but from the whole world of football. He deserves great respect. We are talking about one of the best managers in the world with a great and important career with Arsenal. He deserves a great tribute for his career. It would be very difficult to see in the future another manager staying for such a long time at the same club. I think, maybe, Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger were a really good story for football. Now it will be very difficult to see that again, another situation like this." 1:54PM 'A proper football man who lives and breathes it' David Moyes, whose West Ham side face Arsenal on Sunday, hailed Arsene Wenger's longevity. "He's been a great competitor, a terrific manager who has graced the Premier League for many years. "He's a proper football man who lives and breathes it. To do 22 years is an incredible achievement." 1:53PM 'There are not enough words for what he's done' Burnley boss Sean Dyche, who will be the second-longest serving current manager in the Premier League once Arsene Wenger stands down, has paid tribute to the Frenchman. "He is a legend of the game - the work that he's done will be remembered. "Some things that now seem normal and simple weren't at the time. Hydration in football sounds a simple thing but was not taken to a high level. Making sure the food they were eating was correct. Their health and well-being. "For youngish managers like myself there are not enough good words you can use for what he's done." 1:42PM 'It was a pleasure to compete against him' Pep Guardiola, manager of new Premier League champions Man City, has also spoken. "He is a huge personality. The Premier League is the Premier League because of what he has done and his vision. I wish him all the best for the future. "Hopefully he will be involved in a different way in world football. Of course it was a pleasure at Barcelona, Bayern Munich and here to compete against him." 1:39PM 'Arsenal fans will unite behind Wenger now' Paul Matz from the Arsenal Independent Supporters' Association, has told The Telegraph he believes the club will unite behind departing manager Arsene Wenger for the rest of the season as they focus on winning the Europa League. 1:37PM Mourinho asked about Wenger... wait for it Jose Mourinho has claimed that deep down he really respects Arsene Wenger and his various insults over the years did not reflect his true relationship with the Arsenal manager, who announced that he will leave the club at the end of the season. "If he's happy with the decision he makes and looks forward to the next chapter of his career and his life I'm really happy for him. If he's sad,