Arsenal memories 70/71 – 50 year anniversary of our historic Double approaches

50 YEARS SINCE ONE OF THE GREATEST WEEKS IN THE HISTORY OF ARSENAL FOOTBALL CLUB – OUR VERY FIRST DOUBLE WITH BERTIE MEE AS MANAGER: by Ken1945

 

It’s hard to believe that come May 3rd, it will be half a century ago that the red side of North London put the ghost of our noisy Lillywhite neighbours finally to bed…and with a vengeance.

Here are my personal memories and I hope our younger fans find it of some interest.

 

We hadn’t won the league title since the 1952/53 season and the FA cup since the 1949/50 season and yet we have fans moaning about nine years without a trophy of any kind – it certainly was a case of supporting The Arsenal through the thin times leading up to the 1970 Fairs cup win.

 

The title was the first part of the double and one needs to try and visualise what happened that Monday night on the 3rd of May 1971.

The game brought the whole of North London to a standstill, with the North Circular road jammed up, along with every other major road around the area.

 

Try and imagine what was happening around the area – the official crowd at WHL was given as 51,992, with an estimated extra 25,000 getting in by illegal means…then add another estimated 40,000 locked out…a total of over 100,000 fans wanting to see the league decider in a ground that held under half of the estimated fans who wanted to see it!!!

 

For some reason, the league had not made it an all-ticket match, so it was on a first come first served basis for all but the spuds season ticket holders (I assume!!).

 

I had an afternoon off work and arrived at the ground from home at 3.30- 4.00 and the queue of fans were already enormous.

In all honesty, it looked like a home game, such were the scarves, hats and rosettes around with the famous red and white colours… a truly wonderful feeling, if you were a Gooner of course!!!

 

I knew I wouldn’t get in, unless I was crafty, so I walked up to the front of the queue and asked a policeman where I needed to go – he pushed me into the very front of the waiting throng, where I was met with abuse and a few kicks etc, but who cared???

 

The team that night was as follows:

Bob Wilson – Pat Rice – Bob McNab – Peter Storey – Frank McLintock (captain) – Peter Simpson -George Graham – Ray Kennedy – George Armstrong – Charlie George – John Radford.

Bertie Mee was the Manager.

 

It was the final game of the season and we were one point behind Leeds, with a better goal difference of 0.01 – meaning a win or a 0-0 draw would give us the title…. anything else and Leeds were champions.

 

The game went by in a flash and no quarter was given by the Spuds, because they knew we had a chance to emulate their double winning side of the 1960’s and it would mean us winning the title at their ground – bragging rights for ever was at stake!!!

 

We were fantastic, giving as good as we got and the scores were level with just two minutes left and WHL was full of Gooners, chanting, cheering, hugging each other and not daring to look at the actual game…up stepped George Armstrong and his cross was met by Ray Kennedy, who headed in from about six yards out.

 

I really cannot remember the final two or three minutes of the game, hiding behind other fans, butterflies everywhere and actually not believing that we were so close to becoming CHAMPIONS.

 

The final whistle went and the players ran for their lives, as the crowd ran onto the pitch in pure delirium and the whole of the ground was a sea of red and white…what a wonderful experience.

I grabbed a fistful of the turf and shoved it in my pocket for future memories.

 

The chanting was at fever pitch for the manager and players to show themselves and, finally, Bertie Mee and (I think) Frank McLintock appeared high up from one of the stands and the party really began on the pitch.

 

It took hours to get out of the ground and even longer to get back to Edmonton, where my car was parked.

I still have every newspaper from the following day and was on a high all week, waiting for the cup final on Saturday 8th May at Wembley and against another old adversary, Liverpool.

 

They had had a very smooth ride to the semi-final, playing every tie at home, including a draw with the spuds, before winning the replay.

 

Meanwhile, we had to play every game away from home, including two replays at Highbury, in order make it to Wembley and the opportunity of doing the double.

 

Liverpool finished 5th in the league and had just been knocked out of Europe, so the game was going to be a hard one and the usual questions were asked if Bertie Mee’s side could raise themselves after Monday night – the rest is history.

 

Just five days after that historical win at our noisy neighbours, the same starting eleven stepped out on to the Wembley turf, with Frank McLintock trying to make it seventh time lucky (I think that was how many time he had tried to win at Wembley).

 

A full house of 100,000 was recorded at the game and coverage started on the television from 10.00 in the morning!!!

 

I was one of the unlucky ones who didn’t get a ticket, so like millions of other Gooners, I sat on the edge of the chair, hiding behind it, walking in and out of the room as the game was played and watching it through my fingers.

 

We showed no signs of fatigue from Monday night’s game and, in all honesty, we should have won it in normal time, but we didn’t, and disaster struck in the opening minutes of extra time, when Steve Heighway scored from an impossible angle to put Liverpool ahead.

 

But Frank McLintock was not going to lose yet again at Wembley, and he drove us forward again and again.

Eddie Kelly, our sub, scored the equaliser and, as every Gooner knows, it was Charlie George combining with John Radford to score a spectacular winning goal to complete our first ever double.

 

It seems like only yesterday for me that this all took place, but when I look at the programmes that cost 5p for the spuds game and 10p for the Wembley programme, I know that the world has marched on!!!

 

I still hope to see our club win the league once again, while George Graham and Arsene Wenger have ensured that The Arsenal have remained one of the top clubs in the world… let’s all hope that Mikel Arteta can bring glory days like those during May 1971, and I hope you enjoyed the ramblings and memories of an older Gooner….HAPPY DAYS INDEED.

 

Ken1945

 

I have tried to enclose a photograph of my memories from that day in a framed picture that I made up. It hangs proudly in my Arsenal man cave room!!

22 Comments

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  1. gotanidea says:

    That was fifty years ago. Hopefully we won’t spend another decade to win EPL, CL or EL

  2. A J says:

    Fairs Cup Final.

    If you pinned my arm up my back, and probably borne out of sheer sentimentally, my greatest Highbury memory – or at the very least, right up there.

    3 – 1 down from the 1st leg, turning it ’round to win 3 – 0 on the night with a superb (electric) performance from the Arsenal.

    Rain pouring down, pitch an absolute mud bath, packed in crowd on fire – “Highbury the Library” not on that night !

    On the pitch from the North Bank at the final whistle – what a night in our history.

    1. Declan says:

      Me too AJ, What a night that was and an added bonus was I got in for 10 Bob (50p) as the turnstile operator let a load of us climb over!

      1. A J says:

        Hi Declan.

        ‘Appy days.

        One of the blokes at the Avenell Road (North bank) turnstiles was always at it.

        One of the first examples of “buy one, get one free” !!!

        1. ken1945 says:

          We should do an article on this game as well!!!

          I seem to remember it took some time to clear the pitch, before the lap of honour – but it could be my mind playing tricks with me.

          I was also at the North Bank, and the noise was incredible.
          All standing at that time as well, so you never knew who you were going to cuddle next!!!!

          We certainly left a lot of memories and, as Arsene says, our soul as well.

          But for me, the double in just six days takes the biscuit – and eclipses everything that GG and AW did later…. except for the mighty INVINCIBLES of course.

  3. Declan says:

    Fantastic memories ken1945, I too took the afternoon off work and arrived about the same time as you (perhaps a little later as went by train and it’s a bloody long walk from the station) and seeing the queues thought there was no way I would get in. I wandered all the way around the ground but couldn’t get anywhere near a turnstile and was about to give up when I spotted a closed turn style opening up and miraculously got straight in and found my self on “the shelf” surrounded by spuds! Having said that, there was plenty of room there but as you say, the rest of the stadium was heaving and predominantly a sea of red and white. When Kennedy headed the winner there was total mayhem and i too took ages to get out, eventually getting home to Borehamwood at 3.30 am! I could not get a ticket to the final but my dad went and brought me back a rosette and program. I watched at home on tv and it was such a memorable double for us. Great article ken.

  4. Phil says:

    Guys- as you all, I was there around 3pm and had the day off school to be there taken by my Uncle. I remember walking down Seven Sisters Road and there was no traffic. Just supporters. I seem to remember the gates opening early to get people off the streets. I stood on the Shelf that was nearly all Arsenal that night. As you say Ken- that night was unforgettable. 5 days later and history was made. However good Wembley was that day, and it was as always, nothing takes the place of THAT night at WHL
    Just a small detail to correct Ken. The league was decided on Goal Average in those days not Goal Difference as it is now. I wonder if some fans knew this
    Great Great article and trip down memory Lane Ken- Yet Again

    1. ken1945 says:

      Thanks for the correction Phil… I was so excited writing about it, I forgot the difference!!!!

      By the way Gooners, I also have this cup final and the 3-2 win against United on vinyl – taken from the radio commentary!!!!
      HAPPY DAYS

    2. gerry burke says:

      PHIL, you are one of the lucky arsenal fans to have actually been there. i am jealous, but only in a nice way. i bet your memories of that time will ever fade.

      1. Phil says:

        @Gerry- well I have to say that it’s only now, fifty years on, that the memory helps realise just what that team accomplished that night. It all started the year before as AJ and Declan have said in the second leg v Anderlect. THAT was some night and the noise at Highbury was something I will never forget. Ken was on the North Bank but I remember that game sat in the West Upper so had an unbelievable view.
        Gerry, some of us that had those memories are fortunate of course, but every one of us can also recall times that were much more dire than we are going through now. But perhaps that’s another one for Ken who I know is so good at these articles and he loves doing them as well

  5. pjennings says:

    Brilliant post Ken 1945. I was born 1966, the year of the Yellow Submarine. Not sure if it was televised in Australia back then. It may have been. I started following English Football 1975. I was a Tottenham Hotspur fan only because of Pat Jennings. When he moved to Arsenal I followed him. What a blessing we are privileged with YouTube to watch and revisit that era. The first time I saw that FA CUP FINAL was very late 1970s when reel to reel film projectors were still in fashion. Try explaining that to the snotty nosed generation of today. Those players were as tough as nails. The game was more physical. Yet they picked themselves up. The referees were seen but never heard. The British referees were the best in the world. Players never dived to milk a penalty. The players played for the Arsenal badge. That was the period of 1st Division with 42 league games a season. FA Cup ties were tougher. If they drew the game, it was replayed. No such thing as penalties. I remember the 1980 FA Cup semi final. Took 3 replays for Arsenal to get a result over Liverpool. As for that Arsenal 70/71 doubles team, what a team. You could easily compare that team to the INVINCIBLES. Once again Ken 1945, that was a great post. Cheers

  6. ken1945 says:

    Glad you enjoyed it – by the way, is that your real name or a pseudonym of your hero?
    What a keeper he was – hands like shovels!!
    In his autobiography, he says that The Arsenal was such a bigger club than the spuds in the way they treated him… probably my joint No. 1 keeper AND he came from the “downtown area”.

  7. pjennings says:

    Hi Ken 1945. No. Not real name. Everything I used to do, I went under my real name. Got identity hacked a couple of months ago. As for Pat Jennings. He was a thorough gentleman. I used to write to him inquiring about the gloves he wore. To my surprise, he wrote back. Not only did he do that,,, the 20 odd photos I sent him of me in training,, he sent them back to me with his autograph on each photo. He even said in that letter that he sent photos back in case I had a scrap book. I’ve still got the envelope, letter, and photos. A month letter he sent me a photo of himself that reads, “To David, best wishes, Pat Jennings “. He is 75 now. And would still run rings around Leno

    1. ken1945 says:

      And he is, I believe, working still at the spuds… but I might be wrong.
      He was such an unassuming man, who was a master goalkeeper and the only one I would put next to him, would be David Seaman, with Bob Wilson just a fraction behind.

      I have his signed autobiography and feel privileged to have seen him play – you chose a superb moniker!!!!

  8. Marty says:

    Of course the game against Spurs at WHL stands in the memory, the struggle to get in, Rays goal, the dancing on the pitch afterwards but for some reason the home game against Newcastle towards the end of the season stands out in my mind, it was 0-0 and we were struggling to score then Charlie came up with a great goal….1-0 to the Arsenal !!

  9. gerry burke says:

    KEN1945, congratulations on what i would call the very best article on here for quite some time. surely, nobody can find anything to argue about with this article,no nonsense, no childish behaviour. a very well timed article too for this great site.it is hard to look forward right now being arsenal fans, we do not have any idea what lies ahead. so, i think it is very appropriate that you should publish this wonderful memory now.my memories of that great time are all connected to BBC radio coverage. if i am not mistaken were the football commentaries broadcast on radio 2 “the light programme”, but i could be wrong.regardless, that was the time to be a gunner, such excitement.nowadays,all i can hope for is some sort of miracle to descend upon our beloved club and get us out of this fine mess.thanks again ken, a might read.

  10. ken1945 says:

    Thanks Gerry, glad you enjoyed the article.
    I think your right about it being the light programme.
    I went and checked my records, but all they say is:
    Realeased by Quality Recordings Ltd and by arrangement with BBC RADIO ENTERPRISES and THE FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION (I have used capitals as that’s how it appears on the record sleeve).

    That was a wonderful week as you say and I’m hoping this article will receive 100% approval – as most of my other attempts seem to cause friction!!!

    1. gerry burke says:

      i know what you are sayinh ken, thats why i mentioned that. unlike any other time , we should all be pulling together, yes, we all have different opions on every subgect. but we should just accept that , and not talk other peoples opinions dow. we all need to pull together because of this damned covid, and because of the situation that our great club finds itself in. so , again, very well done, and if this is not seen as anything other than a fond memory of our first real glory days since the 30s then i dont know what sir.i began to follow the arsenal in 68,and it was near impossible to get scores on the day here in ireland, then i discovered the bbc coverage and i was away with it. depending on the weather the recption could be good or awful, in good weather the reception was dreadful. fast forward to today and we all have every match live on tv and what not, them was the days.

    2. jon fox says:

      An excellent article again Ken. You have pretty well cornered the JA market in nostalgia and education for our younger fans. Great read!
      PS. I have heard all sorts of crowd projections for Spuds High street and surrounds, including a top estimate of 250000. Got in by the skin of my teeth after queuing all afternoon from before 3 pm. It was certainly packed and my kid brother climbed over a wall to get in.

  11. pjennings says:

    At the end of the day Ken 1945, you tell and say things as you see it. Nobody can crucify you for telling the truth. If people don’t like it, that’s their problem. The match is on soon. It’s Friday morning 2:52am in Australia. Can’t sleep. Match starts 5:00am. Go You Bloody Mighty GUNNERS

  12. pjennings says:

    I missed out in getting Pat Jennings’ autobiography. It came out in the 1980’s. I saw it advertised in SHOOT! magazine. Dad tried to send away for it. The problem back then, Australia was 6 to 9 months behind because of shipping. That book went out of print not long after being released. For memory I think the publisher was Penguin. I will have to Google it. I’m sure he still works for Tottenham in the catering side in their lounge. His daughter runs it. He was the goalkeeping coach till 1993. Unfortunately, his son, of the same name never made it big

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