Arsenal Football Club
The Glorious History
1945 to 1971

1948 Two years after WW2, and the Championship returns home again
The Second World War had done nothing to dampen spectators ardor for football, it was the time to rejoice. The 1947-8 season saw astonishing crowds of up to 27,000 turn out at Highbury for reserve games!! The Saturday before Christmas has traditionally been recongised as the attendance low spot due to shopping, not so in 1947 when more than 58,000 flocked to Roker park to watch Arsenal draw 1-1 with Bryn Jones scoring our late equalizer with only ten minutes remaining. The phenomenal attendances throughout the season went a long way towards turning around the financial difficulties that Arsenal had endured prior to the outbreak of the war. In our valentines day fixture against Burnley, over 20,000 people arrived too late to get into the ground, and a policeman mounted on a white horse strove to maintain order in the streets around Highbury.

Arsenal started the season brightly with an unbeaten run of 17 games (the first 6 or which were victories, the brightest ever start by Arsenal). Ronnie Rooke finished top scorer for the season with 33 goals. The final table for 1947/8 was:

The Championship Trail

1950 Arsenal WIN the F.A. Cup Final for the third time
Joe Mercer Lifting the 1950 FA CupA little known fact about the 1949-50 season was that Liverpool actually beat Arsenal in both their league meetings 1-2 at Highbury and 0-2 at Anfield. Well, fortunately, both those defeats have been forgotten (almost), and the one time we beat Liverpool in that season has been written into the history books. On the 29th April 1950 Arsenal beat Liverpool 2-0 in the F.A. Cup Final. Both teams had to change from their usual red shirts for the day with Arsenal playing in their now famous gold shirts (with white, not blue shorts) while Liverpool opted for white shirts with black shorts... (bloody confusing for "Newsreel" viewers if you ask me?!).

Tom Whittaker had to make a difficult decision before the game. Should he play his aging goalscoring star Reg Lewis? Lewis had been dropped a few times because he could look both lazy and lethargic, yet he was undoutably a great goal scorer. Whittaker decided to stick with Lewis, and his decision was more than vindicated. Lewis scored in the seventeenth minute of both halves to bring the Cup back to London yet again.

The Road to the Third F.A. Cup
Sheffield Wednesday3RDHome1-0Lewis
Swansea Town4THHome2-1Barnes, Logie
Burnley5THHome2-0Compton D, Lewis
Leeds United6THHome1-0Lewis
ChelseaSemi-FinalTottenham2-2Compton L, Cox
ChelseaSemi-Final (Replay)Tottenham1-0Cox
LiverpoolFinalWembley2-0Lewis (2)

1953 Arsenal WIN the League Championship by the skin of their teeth!!
A 3-1 victory at White Hart Lane with goals from Goring, Logie and Milton combined with a 4-0 victory at Highbury with goals from Goring (2), Logie and Lishman meant that Tottenham had a wonderful taste of Arsenal firepower on their way to another Championship... Once again, the First Division League Championship was on it's way to Highbury. This time however, outright victory was no certainty as goal average was needed to finally separate us from Preston North End.

With just two games to go, Arsenal met with Preston at Deepdale, and came away losers 2-0. The two teams were now level on 52 points. Preston had a midweek game against bottom club Derby which they won 1-0 taking them to 54 points. Therefore, Arsenal's last game of the season against Burnley (in the top 6) became vitally important. A capacity crowd at Highbury knew that only a win would be good enough. Just three minutes into the game, Joe Mercer scored an own goal. the championship was Deepdale bound! Arsenal decided that the best form of defence was attack, and goals from Logie, Forbes and Lishman ensured victory. Burnley cut the deficit to one in the second half, but it wasn't enough. The final standings had Arsenal winning by a margin of 0.099 of a goal as they finished with a goal average of 1.516 compared to the 1.417 that Preston had.

The Championship Trail

The final table also shows that Arsenal conceded 64 goals (the most goals we have ever conceded on the way to a Championship) and yet the title still came south!

1963 Arsenal enter European competition with a BANG!!
On 25th September 1963 Arsenal met Staevnet of Denmark in the away leg of the Inter-Cities Fair Cup (the predecessor of the Fairs Cup, which evolved into todays UEFA Cup). Goals from Baker (3), Strong (3) and MacLeod ensured that Arsenal were triumphant 7-1. The FIRST European competition game was wonderfully successful. Unfortunately, Arsenal were defeated in the following round by RFC Liege.

1966 Arsenal support hits rock bottom....
A hastily rearranged fixture against Leeds United on Thursday May 5th 1966, on the very same night that Liverpool were playing against Borrusia Dortmund in the European Cup Winners Cup Final (shown live on television) combined with unforeseen results. Well, if you add Arsenal dismal season's form (they finished 14th) then you get a clearer picture of reasons for apathy. The fixture attracted only 4,544 spectators the lowest since the First World War. Amazingly, the visitors Leeds United were 2nd in the League at the time. I suppose the missing spectators could count themselves lucky, as Arsenal lost 3-0. A victory two days later against Leicester City elevated Arsenal to 14th place, our lowest League placing since 1930!

1966 Bertie Mee takes over Arsenal reins
A lot of people say that the sacking of Billy Wright and the appointment of Bertie Mee was an inspired move by the Arsenal Board. While the media argued over which highly paid and highly visible manager would be drawn to the "marble halls", the Arsenal Board of Directors once again appointed a man from within the club (and, yet another physiotherapist). Unusually, Mee actually asked for a get-out clause in his contract. Mee asked that if he was not successful after 12 months, that he revert to his position of team physio, and Chairman Denis Hill-Wood agreed.

1966 Arsenal play in the Football League Cup for the first time
On the 13th September 1966 Arsenal met Gillingham at Highbury in the 2nd round of the League Cup. Our entry into the competition was by no means overwhelming as a final result of 1-1 only resulted in a replay. The second game was also a 1-1 draw, with Arsenal finally securing victory by 5-0 in the second replay. Unfortunately, the "Cup Run" finished with a 1-3 home loss to West Ham in the 3rd round.

1968 Arsenal reach the Football League Cup Final for the first time
In just their second season in the competition, Arsenal reached the final! Unfortunately, Leeds United have not proven to be good opponents for Arsenal in the final rounds of competitions, and March 2nd 1968 was to be no different. A single goal by Terry Cooper proved decisive on the day as Arsenal lost 0-1. The final turned out to be the only game in the competition that Arsenal failed to score in.

1969 Arsenal crushed in League Cup final by 3rd Division Swindon Town
For the second time in two years, Arsenal reached the Football League Cup Final. The omens were good, we had beaten Tottenham in the semi-finals with a 1-0 home victory at Highbury, and a 1-1 draw at White Hart Lane (John Radford scored both our goals) and, that's a good enough omen for me! They had also only conceded 18 goals in 30 league games to that point in the season. The only negative was a flu bout that had effected 8 players in the team, and had resulted in the postponement of a league game the week before the final.The final however has gone down in history as one of Arsenals darkest days.

Arsenal started the game brightly, the ground was very heavy though due to almost constant rain the previous week, and an England match against France three days earlier. The pitch was indeed described as a "mud-heap". Arsenals bright early start apparently took it's toll with the players still recovering from the flu. In the 34th minute, there was a mix-up at the back between Ure and Wilson, and Swindon were gifted a goal. Swindon kept the lead until four minuted from time when the Swindon goalie Downsbrough hit a clearance straight at Bobby Gould (apparently Downsbrough had the game of his life that day). The ball bounced off Gould, and he headed into an empty goal. The game went into extra-time. The players suffering from flu were by now almost completely drained. Apparently McLintock had cramp in both legs, McNab was in distress, Simpson had already been substituted by Graham, and the others said that their legs felt like treacle. Still, Swindon seized the opportunity, and they scored in the 15th minute of extra-time through Don Rogers, who buried the knife even deeper by running half the length of the pitch to score Swindons third in the second period of extra time.

After that defeat, the media proclaimed that no team could ever recover from the despair of that humiliation with headlines such as "Shame of Arsenal", yet that defeat has also been reported to be the catalyst for the great achievements to come in the following years.

1970 European Glory comes to North London as Arsenal win the Inter Cities Fairs Cup!
The 1969-70 Season was one of growth for Arsenal, their final league position of 12th, combined with an exit from the League Cup in the 3rd round against Everton and a Defeat to lowly Blackpool in the opening round of the F.A. Cup were less than awe inspiring. Still, the positives can now in hindsight be seen for themselves. Charlie George made his league debut in the opening game of the season against Everton (0-1), Ray Kennedy tasted first team action against Glentoran in September (0-1), Eddie Kelly also played his first game in September against Sheffield Wednesday (0-0) and Berty Mee together with Don Howe had their sights firmly set on SUCCESS.

The first one came on 28th April 1970 when Arsenal lifted their first European Trophy, the "Inter Cities Fairs Cup" (the predecessor of today's U.E.F.A. Cup). The road to this success however was not smooth and bump free. Arsenal have become renowned for doing things the hard way, and their Semi-Final opponents Ajax were becoming recognized as the team of the 60's. Ajax included such familiar names as Johan Cruyff, Rudi Krol, Piet Keizer and Gerrit Muhren. Arsenal took to the big occasion with ardor, and goals from George (one in both halves, the second a penalty after Graham was tripped) and Sammels secured a 3-0 home victory. In the return leg, Arsenal held Ajax to a 0-1 victory setting up a memorable final round against Anderlecht.

Apparently the first leg against Anderlecht was awesome, Arsenal did well to contain them as they marched to a 3-0 lead. A third defeat in a major final in three seasons was looming. Still, with time ticking away, Ray Kennedy replaced a tiring Charlie George, and managed to beat goalkeeper Trappeniers with a header. The final score of 1-3 was no disgrace, it meant their was a mountain to climb at Highbury, but, Arsenal had secured that all important away goal. They had to keep Anderlecht goalless in the return. Frank McLintock spoke after the game, "Anderlecht were good. Mulder and van Himst were special players. But defensively, they had looked vulnerable when we had been able to attack. Their centre half looked poor in the air. I believe we can do it!"

In the return leg, Arsenal attacked Anderlecht with venom, a stunning early shot by Kelly brought Arsenals first goal, Anderlecht were now within reach. McLintock's words of wisdom also rang true as Radford headed Arsenal's second. They were now ahead on the away goals rule, but were not allowed to relax as Mulder hit a post. 51,000 spectators anxiously watched on as Sammels provided Arsenals third. The final whistle eventually sounded, and the spectators flooded onto the pitch, Charlie George had his shirt ripped from his shoulders by souvenir hunters, and the elation of a Final victory spread across Highbury. Seventeen barren years without a trophy had been vanquished. After the victory, Don Howe spoke a few fateful words. "We can go on and on and on from here, I think this is just the beginning..........."

The Road to the Inter Cities Fairs Cup
Graham (2), Gould

Sp Cb de Port2NDAway

Sp Cb de Port2NDHome
Graham (2), Radford

Dynamo Bacau4THAway
Sammels, Radford
Dynamo Bacau4THHome
Sammels (2), Radford (2), George (2), Graham
AjaxSemi-Final Home
George (2), Sammels

Sammels, Radford, Kelly

1970-71 brought Arsenal their 8th Football League Championship and their 4th F.A. Cup in what was recognized as the most successful season in their history. Indeed, they were unluckily defeated on the away goals rule in the quarter finals of the European Fairs Cup in a 0-1 away defeat at FC Koln! The season began (with a touch or irony) at the home of the defending champions Everton. That game almost encapsulated Arsenal's season in a mere 90 minutes. They struggled, fell behind, coped with adversity and then, finally came through in the end.... Everton opened the scoring approaching the half hour after dominated the game. Arsenal however didn't let their heads drop, and nineteen minuted from time, Charlie George scored the equalizer, but, while scoring the goal, he cracked two bones in his ankle. The familiar pattern resumed, and Everton took control of the game once again. With only 6 minutes left, they scored their second in controversial circumstances (claims of handball which were later confirmed by the scorer Ball). Still, this Arsenal team had character. With seconds remaining George Graham scored the equalizer, and then watched as moments later after the restart he could only hold his head in his hands as he watched another effort rebound off the Everton bar.

Season highlights included a 6-2 home win against West Bromwich Albion (Kennedy 2, Graham 2, Armstrong, own goal), a 4-0 home victory against Manchester United (Radford 3, Graham) and a 3-1 away victory against them (Kennedy, Graham, McLintock), a 4-0 home win against Nottingham Forest (Kennedy 3, Armstrong), a 4-0 home win against Everton (Kennedy 2, Storey, Kelly). The only hic-cup was a 0-5 thrashing at the hands of Stoke City on the 26th September 1970.... Still, Arsenal were to exact their revenge on Stoke in the Semi-Finals of the F.A. Cup!

In true Arsenal fashion, the League season came down to the final game of the season after Leeds United had amassed 64 points for the season while Arsenal had only 63 . With a wonderful sense of occasion the last fixture was against Tottenham Hotspur (Scum), at White Hart Lane. The game had been originally scheduled for the day of the F.A. Cup Semi-Finals and now was rearranged for the Monday night before the Cup Final. If Leeds had the chance to select the fixture to deprive Arsenal of the title it would surely be this one. Local rivalry alone would be enough to ensure maximum effort from the opposition, but Spurs were also fighting for a high league placing to ensure a European place, and handsome player bonuses. The mathematical permutations were also remarkable. A win would give the title to Arsenal, a defeat would give it to Leeds, while a scoreless draw would give the title to Arsenal, but a scoring draw would give it to Leeds.....(ahhh, the joys of goal average!). Alan Mullery (Tottenhams captain) reinforced the belief that it would be a mighty clash: "Arsenal have got as much chance of being handed the title by Spurs as I have of being handed the grown jewels. They are the LAST people we want winning the Championship!" (Sucked in Scummmmm...)

The players lunched at their own homes before reconvening at the South Herts Golf Club, the regular pre-match meeting place at 4:30pm. Already the football fans of North London were on the march towards White Hart Lane. The gates were locked more than an hour before kick off with 51,192 lucky spectators inside. Twice that number were left on the outside. The volume of traffic even surprised the police. Berty Mee recalled: "We gave ourselves an hour for a drive which normally takes 20 minutes. But even then it was a very difficult journey. I have never seen scenes like it. Seeing those crowds increased the sense of occasion for us. There was no way we were going to be beaten." The referee, Kevin Howley, had to abandon his car a mile away to fight his way on foot through the crowds.

The crowd pulsated as the game began. McLintock had his hands full coping with Martin Chivers, while at the other end Charlie George, George Graham and John Radford all came close. For all the energy imparted into the match by both teams, a goalless draw beckoned. But three minutes from time, Kinnear tried to dribble clear of trouble inside his own penalty area. George recaptured the ball from the Spurs right back, and twisted instantly to conjure a cross from an angle which would have defeated most players. Even then it seemed as though Arsenal had been denied. Jennings made the save of the night as Radford met the ball provided to cleverly by George. Tottenham stopped to a man, perhaps in admiration of their goalkeeper, but also because they expected the ball to run behind for a corner. Armstrong had barely stood still all season, and was not going to break the habit now. Rescuing it from near the goalline his chip back across the goal was met by Kennedy's soaring header. The ball sped high to Jennings' left, above the leap of Cyril Knowles behind him. It clipped the underside of the bar and was over the line.

The goal was greeted by an explosion of sound and instant exhilaration from every Arsenal player. When Kevin Howley blew the whistle three minutes later bedlam reigned on the pitch as thousands of fans raced to congratulate their heroes. Players had their shirts ripped off, Bob Wilson actually ended up hugging the referee and the other players were marooned in a sea of spectators. Arsenal had won a record (at the time) 8th League Championship title, and Leeds United had finished second with 64 points, the highest points total achieved by a team NOT to win a championship (at the time). The first part of our historic DOUBLE had been secured, the second part was to provide just as much excitement.....

The Championship Trail

As I said, Arsenal like to do things the hard way, and the Football Association true to form decided that Arsenals name should not come out of the hat first in any of the preliminary rounds of the F.A. Cup. So, Arsenal faced away games in all rounds up to the semi-final and final which of course are both played on neutral grounds...

Our F.A. Cup run opened on the sloping pitch at Yeovil Town. Goals from John Radford (2) and Ray Kennedy saw us safely through to the 4th round and a meeting with Portsmouth. Arsenal secured a 1-1 draw (Storey) and won the home replay 3-2 with goals from Storey, Simpson and George. The 5th round saw us dispose of Manchester City, and the six Leicester City (once again needing a replay). It was the Semi-Final against Stoke City that showed what Arsenal were made of, it was Arsenal's moment of truth. All cup winning teams have one match where luck plays it's part, where they come through a game that they could or even should have lost. This was Arsenal's. Quite simply, Arsenal looked as though they had stumbled at the penultimate hurdle. Certainly, our players were at times tentative to the point of distraction in the first half, and the players left the field after 45 minutes trailing by 0-2. After 20 minutes Wilson conceded a corner by pushing behind a teasing cross from Greenhoff. Arsenal did not deal with the corner conclusively , and as Storey booted the ball away, it inexplicably stuck Denis Smith and flew into the Arsenal net. Then, after 29 minutes, Charlie George made a dreadful mistake as he underhit a back-pass to Bob Wilson. Ritchie pounced, getting to the ball before Wilson, and Arsenal were 2-0 in arrears.

Early in the second half Armstrong fed Kennedy, whose chip into the middle caused confusion in the Stoke ranks. Storey unleased an instinctive drive from 20 yards and even Gordon Banks (who had been so heroic earlier) could do nothing. Stoke however weren't going to lie down, they continued to threaten with Greenhoff in particular causing us lots of problems. Infact, he failed to score a couple of times when on any less crucial occasion he would have been celebrating scoring. Arsenal however didn't give up. Two minutes of injury time were added for an injury to Charlie George, and it was in these tow minutes at the end of the game that Arsenal salvaged there appointment with history. Arsenal took a corner from their right, and this time Banks was nowhere. McLintock , a rescuing figure yet again, steered his header towards the left hand post , where only the hands of John Mahoney prevented a goal. Referee Partridge was perfectly placed to award the penalty. Storey realized the enormity of his task. "The rest of the lads were all hugging eachother as though we had scored. But I was the one who had to stick it in. And past Gordon Banks too!" At the other end of the ground, Wilson dropped to his knees in prayer. It was one of those moments when the world stops. Had Storey missed, his name like Rix's (1980 Cup Winners Cup Final) would have been engraved in our memories forever for less than favorable reasons. But, Peter Storey ran up, and sent his shot low, placed with the inside of his right foot to Banks left. Stoke City 2 Arsenal 2!!! A trip to Wembley on May 8th 1971 against Liverpool would now become one of the best remembered days in the history of Arsenal Football Club.

The Road to the Fourth F.A. Cup
Yeovil Town3RDAway
Radford (2), Kennedy
Portsmouth4TH ReplayHome
Storey, Simpson, George
Manchester City 5THAway
George (2)
Leicester City6THAway

Leicester City6TH Replay Home
Stoke CitySemi-FinalHillsborough
Storey (2)
Stoke CitySemi-Final Replay Birmingham
Graham, Kennedy
George, Kelly

The 1971 F.A. Cup Final will not be remembered for it's scintillating open attacking style or flair. Whilst it wasn't a dour game, it wasn't the most exciting either. Both teams had their chances during normal time to win the game with Arsenal probably coming the closest, yet neither team scored, and extra time beckoned. It took only 2 minutes of added time before the deadlock was broken. Steve Highway (bastard) had rarely freed himself from the shackles imposed on the Arsenal right, but suddenly slipped past Rice and Armstrong and from a tight angle cut in from the left. Wilson automatically took up a position covering his near post. Wilson must have thought that Highway was going to pull the ball across the goal, because he left a gap on his near post that Highway punished him for with a sizzling shot 0-1. Don Howe pulled George Wright over, and told him to pass a message to George Graham telling him to push forward in attack. With just four minutes left in the first half of extra time the move paid dividends. Radford hooked the ball over his shoulder into a crowded Liverpool penalty area. The ball fell for Eddie Kelly , who simply touched it forward. It certainly could never be called a serious shot. The ball rolled between George Graham's legs as he swung to shoot, and Clemence could do nothing to stop it going into the net. This goal is still hotly disputed today. Some people say that Kelly scored, while others remain steadfast in their belief that it was indeed George Graham who added the final touch. Well, I have seen quite a few angles, and the best was from London Weekend Television who had a camera behind the goal. It clearly shows that while George Graham did indeed take a swipe at the ball, it passed through his legs without a touch! Eddie Kelly scored that vital goal for the gunners. There is less controversy about the goal that clinched the DOUBLE for Arsenal.

With 111 minutes of the F.A. Cup Final played, Charlie George interpassed with the magnificent Radford before letting fly from 20 yards with a right foot shot with belied his weary appearance. The force of the shot flew over Ray Clemance's outstretched arm as he dived to his right. George jumped into the air with arms held high, fell to the floor, and lay down in the now familiar scene as he was converged upon by jubilant team-mates. The emotion was so consuming on that day, that even the referee dropped to his knees as he blew the final whistle and North London began to celebrate.

The Streets Of Islington

A quarter of a million people lined the streets from Highbury to Islington Town Hall the following day as both trophies were displayed by the team from an open-top bus. On their arrival, Arsenal Football Club were awarded the freedom of the Borough of Islington. An unforgettable season was complete.

This history was written by Steve Gleiber. Frankly, I spent weeks reading Arsenal history books, watching Arsenal videos and listening to Arsenal tapes to bring this to you, so I'm adding my little symbol to it ok! Please do not copy, distribute or reproduce this history without my permission.