IslingtonTribune

The independent London newspaper

Stargazer’s rocky forecast for Arsenal

Former boss had asteroid named after him, courtesy of diehard Gooner and astronomer Ian Griffin

30 August, 2019 — By Calum Fraser

Ian Griffin at Mount John Observatory in New Zealand

THE man who put Arsene Wenger’s name in the stars has predicted a rocky season ahead for the Gunners.

The former Arsenal gaffer is the only football manager to have an asteroid named after him, courtesy of diehard Gooner Ian Griffin.

Mr Griffin, who has a PhD in astronomy, discovered the asteroid the year Arsenal won the league title in 1998 but he was not allowed to name it after Mr Wenger until he had charted its orbit for several years.

In that time Mr Wenger had forged his “Invincibles” team, who went a whole season unbeaten, and the astronomer immortalised his hero by naming the lump of rock 33179 Arsènewenger.

The rock, 5km in diameter, orbits the Sun between Mars and Jupiter and it takes roughly 4.2 years to complete one circuit.

Asked if he would ever bestow this honour on new Arsenal boss Unai Emery, Mr Griffin told the Tribune: “Maybe if he leads the team to a Champions League title.”

But after Arsenal crashed to a 3-1 defeat to rivals Liverpool last weekend, he is not sure the stars will align for Mr Emery in the near future.

Arsene Wenger

“I’d love us to win the league but our defence still frightens the life out of me,” the 53-year-old added.

“I was gutted over the performance at Liverpool last week. I recognise a PhD in astronomy doesn’t give me any particular insight into football but if I were the manager I’d definitely be losing sleep over the fact that while we may score many goals, we are destined to give away many more. I still reckon we will be lucky to be top four.”

Mr Griffin lives in New Zealand with his wife, who he has also named an asteroid after – 10924 Mariagriffin. He is director of the Otago Museum in Dunedin, but he grew up in London an Arsenal fan since he watched the 1971 FA Cup final – when the Gunners beat Liverpool 2-1.

The father-of-three had been on an eight-year waiting list to get a season ticket. “One of the saddest moments of my life was getting an email saying I could have a season ticket,” he added. “The email arrived two weeks after I moved to New Zealand.”

He watches every Arsenal match live on TV though. “I haven’t been back to the UK since 2013,” he said. “Given the bonkers politics going on right now in the UK I think I will still stay well clear for a while.”

Mr Griffin has also named an asteroid after his favourite musician, 23990 Springsteen.

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