– Tim Rice, accepting the Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1994
As bemusing Arsenal references go, that one has always taken some beating. Legend has it that in the audience a Disney executive (the winning song had been Can You Feel The Love Tonight? from The Lion King) was totally nonplussed as he knew that nobody with that name had ever worked at Disney Studios… It’s difficult to be absolutely positive statistically, but the number of people who heard the speech who would have had any idea that Denis Compton was an Arsenal footballer in the 1940’s and 50’s must have been miniscule. Even bearing in mind the fact that Denis ‘Brylcream Boy’ Compton was the David Beckham of his era (he also played cricket for England with considerable success – like to see ‘Goldenballs’ try wielding a cricket bat).
This came to mind while I was playing the brilliant LA Noire – a game in which, unless I’m going completely mental (and it has been suggested, admittedly), there appear to be several references to former Arsenal folk. The first I noticed was Eddie McGoldrick, and initially I thought it a total fluke – after all, it’s not like Eddie was a legend, or even that good at football (sorry Eddie). McGoldrick played for Crystal Palace in the early 90’s, moved to Arsenal in 1993 and played 147 times for us before moving to Man City and subsequently dropping through the divisions, retiring in 2000. Not a massively noteworthy player, it is fair to say. Not exactly a common name though, so I still did a double take when it cropped up in LA Noire.
What really grabbed my attention was the character name Herbert Chapman. Now that is a name synonymous with everything that Arsenal are about. Our best manager up until Wenger, and arguably our most influential. The reason we have white sleeves? Chapman. The reason our underground station is not called Gillespie Road? Chapman. Who first proposed a European club football competition? Chapman. Who pioneered the use of floodlights? Chapman. I could go on, but I’d be here all day… So when his name popped up I became absolutely convinced; at least one of the LA Noire writing staff must have been a Gooner!
In addition, one of the police stations you work from is the base of the Wilshire division. This is the biggest stretch, since if it is a reference to our current hero Jack Wilshere it’s a fairly oblique one given that it needlessly misspells his name. Nonetheless, it could be a part of the same pattern.
It has become known as ‘the Arsenal conspiracy’ on this particular forum, and who can blame them?!
So if you spot any suspiciously Arsenal-related names or clues in your travels through the game’s depiction of 1940’s Los Angeles, please gimme a shout or leave a comment.
Solidarity brothers & sisters