Arsene Wenger, David Bernstein and David Pleat team up for Four Four Jew opening
Curator Joanne Rosenthal, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger and Arsenal former Vice President David Dein (Photo: The Jewish Museum)
Arsene Wenger and David Dein were the Arsenal stars, David Pleat came from Spurs, former FA chairman David Bernstein flew the flag for Manchester City, David Gold represented West Ham and ex-Liverpool boss Gerard Houllier gave a Merseyside flavour to the hottest footballing ticket in town - the launch of Four Four Jew at the Jewish Museum in Camden.
The JC-sponsored exhibition celebrates the Jewish contribution to the beautiful game at all levels, extending to how involvement in football has helped the integration of the community into British life.
Before the invited audience were given the first glimpse of the exhibits, Dein, Bernstein and (briefly) Wenger addressed a standing room - only crowd which included football journalists, authors and agents.
Dein's contribution to Four Four Jew was his teenage diary from 1958, highlighting his reaction to Munich air disaster which happened that year and in which several of Manchester United's players perished. He said he had been motivated to get involved by a visit to the museum. "I was so impressed by the energy, commitment and dedication of the staff that I wanted to contribute."
Among his favourite Four Four Jew exhibits was a rule book for a Jewish Leyton Orient player in the 1940s which stipulated no dancing after Tuesdays, a stricture which also amused Wenger.
The Arsenal boss told guests that, without getting into the Arsenal/Spurs debate, he well understood the passion of Jews for football, adding that his native Strasbourg had "a strong Jewish community".
Discussing "this unique exhibition", Bernstein pointed out that it was fortuitous for the organisers that 4-4-2 remained in vogue as a formation. He also said he could never forgive David Pleat for sending Manchester City down to the old Second Division during his time as Luton Town manager.
Bernstein admitted to a particular interest in the Manchester City exhibits, especially the display on keeper Bert Trautmann, the former German prisoner of war whose signing for City in 1949 provoked protests from the Jewish community.Trautmann went on to become a City legend.
Pleat was admiring of the piece on journalist Henry Rose, who died in the Munich crash . "I hadn't realised that there was such a turnout at his funeral ," he said.
He added that it was important to highlight unsung heroes of the game - for example, Sir Maurice Hatter and his long association with Charlton.
Pleat has donated a number of personal items to Four Four Jew including caps and medals. His favourite? "A photo of me crossing a ball for Peterborough." Let's assume he was joking.
Gold, the West Ham co-chair, was delighted to see former Reform Judaism head Rabbi Tony Bayfield in his Hammers scarf. In Gold's view, "there are 100 reasons why this exhibition is good. We have to remember our past as Jews. It is fundamental to us.
"I remember as a young boy, a kid would say to me: 'You Jews don't do anything - they take over our jobs' . There was a massive amount of ignorance, so it's so important to show the rest of the world what Jews have contributed. They are English but have a faith that goes back thousands of years."
Among the players featured in Four Four Jew is Mark Lazarus, a nippy winger who plied his trade for clubs including QPR, Leyton Orient and Crystal Palace in the 60s and 70s, scoring the winner for QPR in a Wembley final.
Perusing the exhibits, the genial Lazarus yearned for the old days, saying that the modern game left him unmoved.
"It's all keep ball and slow the game down. One touch, two touch. No one takes anyone on. There was far more individual flair in my day."