I’ve been writing about Arsenal for more than seven years. And in that time there’s one story I’ve wanted to tell more than any other.
The story of Vic Akers.
We talk so glibly about ‘legendary’ status, dishing out this title far too liberally. But people like Vic are the reason the word exists. We follow the club through thick and thin and are connected to Arsenal.
But Vic is actually interwoven into the fabric of the club. He is made from the material the club is made from.
My dream is to write his autobiography and because his story is so wonderful, so packed with events, stories and peeks behind the curtain at the club, it would make compelling reading for everyone.
Do you know the story of Vic Akers?
Let’s give you a recap.
Vic joined the club back in 1985 after ending his playing days at Carshalton Athletic. Akers had played for the likes of Cambridge Utd, Watford and Dartford in his time as a left-back, but when he hung up his boots, he found his career back where he had his roots – in Islington.
Akers began working in the various community projects Arsenal had created and threw himself into every project. His zest for the club and an honest day’s graft helped him become involved in other projects too and it was here that began Vic’s greatest journey.
In 1987, one of Arsenal’s female employees played for Aylesbury. The Gunners had yet to establish a women’s team at the time and Akers put himself up for the coaching position.
Arsenal assumed control of Aylesbury Women and Akers was kept as coach. Not only did Akers fulfil this role, he also maintained his youth coaching at the club as well as perform his kit-man duties too. This would mean Akers often being at the training grounds from morning until night.
Akers is a selfless man and put his charges before all else. In the early days of Arsenal Women, the squad were paid part-time salaries and the club was run by volunteers, as the budget for the Women’s team was non-existent. And Akers took it upon himself to find jobs within the club to bolster their earnings so they could continue to play for the team.
His hard work began to pay off in the 90s. Arsenal Women lifted the League Cup in 92 and went on to amass 13 trophies in the decade. The nineties were the platform for the noughties though – his team lifted every single championship bar 2003.
And his crowning glory is one that should be lauded from the rooftops. The heralded Quadruple in 2006/07 – the title, the League Cup, the FA Cup and the Champions League. And there wasn’t a single loss in any competition.
He eventually left the role in 2009 for personal reasons but remained as kit man with his son until 2017. And luminaries at the club such as Dennis Bergkamp, David Dein and Arsene Wenger have spoken of the mark Akers has left on the club and how he is a true pioneer of the women’s game.
Vic Akers was a trailblazing coach. He was a father figure to many. He was a confidante to the stars. He was a perfectionist who had the rare achievement of actually reaching for the skies and touching them. He was also humble and loyal to a fault.
If there is any story worth telling, it is Vic’s.
An Arsenal man – and a true visionary.