History: Arsenal’s iconic 1971 team that won the title at WHL – Where are they now?

To honour the 20 years since the Gunners won the League at White Hart Lane, I wrote an article detailing what happened to the Arsenal squad involved that day in 2004.

Of course, though, the Invincibles are not the only Arsenal representatives who officially won a league title at that stadium.

In 1970-71 the Gunners won the North London Derby to earn their first Championship in 18 years. Yes, we have literally won more leagues at White Hart lane than Spurs!

This would be the first part of a Domestic Double, the first time in our history we achieved such a feat.

By the time we kicked off, our nearest rivals Leeds had fulfilled their fixtures, starting the day a point ahead of us.

So, our destiny was in our own hands, we needed a win or a goalless draw.

So, an 87th minute goal by Ray kennedy to give us a 1-0 vixtory (and the title) isn’t quite Anfield 89 because it didn’t actually change the scenario.

The criteria at the time was any team on the same points would be separated on goals average. So, while 0-0 would be enough, a score draw wouldn’t. So, a lead changed nothing, we were a Spurs goal away from our hearts being broken ……

So, what did these legends end up doing and where are they now?

Bertie Mee (Manager).

Having already been the man to end our 17 years wait for a trophy, Bertie Mee became only the 4th manager in England to achieve the Domestic Double.

Not bad for someone who started at Arsenal as the club’s physiotherapist (that story deserves a movie).

His squad would be built on a talented youth system, a who’s who of our history, and it’s often debated was this team split up too soon?

The Double would turn out to be the last honours Mee would win in the sport as manager, but it wouldn’t be til Arsenal Wenger arrived that his 241 Gunners wins were bettered.

Content to retire at the age of 57, he became the crucial right-hand man in Graham Taylor’s and Elton John’s vision for Watford.

While the former England manager and Rock Star are the most famous names at Vicarage Road, at the beginning of their journey, having an Arsenal legend connected to the project gave credibility. He began as assistant and scout before promoted to director.

He oversaw the club’s rise from the 4th division – Division one and an FA Cup Final and European campaign.

Made an OBE, Bertie Mee died in 2001 at the age of 82.

Give the man his own movie…

Bob Wilson (GK)

One of only two men to be involved in all three of Arsenal’s domestic Doubles.

The goalie played in every minute of the League and Cup in 1970-71 but is just as famous for his contribution after retirement.

For three decades he helped train the likes of Pat Jennings, John Lukic and David Seaman.

Incredibly it wasn’t till Arsenal Wenger arrived in 1996 that Wilson would be paid for his coaching. Not a coincidence that he walked away at the same time as David Seaman.

He popped up in my childhood being one of the faces of ITV Sport and a talking head on Gunners season reviews.

In honour of his daughter who died of cancer, he created The Willow Foundation which has granted more than over 15,000 days out for young adults living with life threatening conditions. One of Arsenal’s Charity partners, Bob Wilson is an OBE thanks to his charity work.

Pat Rice (RB)

Like Mr Wilson, Pat Rice can claim to have contributed to all three of the club’s Domestic Doubles, working for Arsenal on and off for over 50 years.

The FA Cup Final from this season would be the first of 5 FA Cup appearances, no Gunner has had more.

His coaching career is perhaps underrated.

Working with our youth team for 12 years, Mr Wenger trusted him to be his assistant when he wanted to surround himself with someone who understood the culture of the club.

Given how little the French manager trusted others to delegate work to, this friendship was crucial towards the most successful period in our history. While retiring from that role in 2012, he worked as a video scout till 2020.

Despite majority of our squad taking pay cuts to prevent nonplaying staff being made redundant during the Pandemic, our scouting team was reduced although Arsenal always maintained this was a footballing decision.

Thankfully he still represents us as an ambassador.

Frank McLintock (CB)

Not just the captain of our first ever Double but that season’s player of the year and made an MBE in 1972.

Attempts at management were unremarkable, quitting at Leicester when they were as good as relegated and left Brentford halfway through a campaign when they were struggling.

During my childhood he was one of the faces of Sky Sports Soccer Saturday which was never the same once the original gang were split up

Peter Simpson (CB)

Perhaps one of the best to never play for England?

Outside of a brief spell in non-League football at the end of his career the defender was a one club man in England, only 9 players with more appearances as a Gunner.

Either side spending a year plying his trade in America.

One of the few members of this squad to completely turn his back on the sport after retirement.

Bob McNab (LB)

Would play and manage in America for nearly 20 years where he still currently lives now.

Money he made in property saw him invest in the group that brought Portsmouth in 1999, even seeing him manage the club while they looked for a permanent boss. Didn’t win any of those 5 games in charge.

George Armstrong (winger)

Featured in every match of the Double Winning campaign where he assisted nearly half of our goals.

Another player who can be described as ‘one of the best to never play for England’ largely due to Sir Alf Ramsey’s refusal to use wingers.

Only two players played more times for the Gunners.

Was managing Kuwait when Iran’s invasion of the country in 1990 forced him to return to the UK.

As reserve coach he would work back at Arsenal till his death in 2000.

At the age of 56 he collapsed taking training, cause of death a brain haemorrhage.

Credited for developing youngsters like Ray Parlour, a pitch at London Colney has been named after him.

Eddie Kelly (midfielder)

A week after winning the League, the Scot became the first sub to score in an FA Cup Final.

At one point the youngest captain in our history he now lives in Torquay, the club he finished his career with.

Since retiring he has mastered the public/guest speaker circuit, including at Arsenal and Leicester whom he equally captained.

This also includes giving occasional tours of the Emirates stadium.

Ray Kennedy (Forward)

Became immortal thanks to his winning goal in the North London Derby and just as iconic at Liverpool.

He turned out to be Bill Shankly’s final signing and it was Bob Paisley who converted him into a left midfielder, two of the most famous managers in the history of the sport.

For someone who won every domestic honour for two of the biggest clubs in England he deserved a happier ending.

In his early thirties many assumed the player was dropping down the leagues (including a spell in Cyprus) due to poor work rate.

In a cruel reality he was already displaying symptoms of Parkinson’s disease which wouldn’t be officially diagnosed until 1984.

The illness and medications caused him to suffer from paranoia and hallucinations impacting his marriage and living conditions.

Both Arsenal and Liverpool (as well as the PFA) helped raise money to help cover medical expenses, but the player would be forced to sell his medals and memorabilia due to being in financial peril.

Died at the age of 70.

Charlie George (Forward / Attacking midfielder)

Lived his boyhood dream.

One of our own, Charlie George grew up in Islington and played for the team he supported.

For most Gooners, winning the League would be the highlight of your career but the forward would become immortal a week later at Wembley.

His winning goal in the FA Cup Final and celebration ensures his legacy lives forever.

Despite the Domestic Double though, you could argue for someone with so much talent he didn’t meet his potential?

By the age of 30 he was being labelled a ‘flawed genius’ mostly put down to disciplinary issues, the reason Arsenal sold him.

His only England cap came at Derby, that was equally overshadowed by a row with his national manager.

He remains in the Arsenal Family, working at corporate events including tours of the Emirates.

George Graham (midfielder/ forward)

As a player would leave North London a year later but would famously return 14 years later.

In perhaps the most dramatic finish in any league season, Mickey Thomas’s late goal at Anfield means George Graham is the only man to win a title for Arsenal as a player and manager.

Lifting another title, a domestic Cup double, and the Cup Winners Cup, the Scot built one of the most famous back 5 in the history of the sport making us famous for our defensive set up.

Was sacked after the FA found him guilty of accepting ‘bungs’ from agents.

Damaged his legacy more by after managing Leeds taking a job at Spurs. Hasn’t managed since being sacked in 2001.

John Radford (forward)

Another ‘one of our own‘, only 3 Gunners have scored more goals for the club then the Yorkshireman.

He would go on to play for West Ham and Blackburn before winning another Double 10 years after his first, the Isthmian League and Cup. This was at Bishops Stortford where he would also manage.

Mostly amateur football, he managed the club to the senior cup, league cup and a promotion. He’s been a frequent visitor back to the team now in National League North, helping them celebrate their 150th birthday.

After retirement became a pub landlord before being invited by Arsenal to take part in tours of the Emirates

Let me know of any other iconic Arsenal teams you like me to report on…


Tags 1971 title tottenham


  1. Another great article Dan, many thanks for brushing away the cobwebs!!
    It still bugs me that GG failed by one game to become the first Invincible manager in modern day football.
    He could have had many more seasons at the club if only he hadn’t been so silly.

    Bertie Mee was a real complex character and, according to Peter Storey’s autobiography (thanks HD) not very well liked.

    Peter Simpson was a wonderful player in my opinion and I see so much of him in Ben White as far as football as a means to an end.

    Everyone loved Geordie Armstrong – what a whirlwind of a player he was and so unlucky not to have been recognised by England.
    Would it surprise you to know that (thanks Phil) Theo Walcott has better stats than him? Check the official Arsenal stats!!

    Bob Wilson is someone you see around the club and he ALWAYS has the time to acknowledge anyone who calls him. Such a gentleman.

    Thanks again Dan – any chance of looking at the board when AW and The Emirates was being built?
    It would be interesting to read how they turned 360 degrees when it came to Mr Kronkie and money?!?!

  2. Another fine article Dan. Thanks,
    I tried to get into WHL on that day, but the ground was full way before KO time, so had to go home & listen on the radio.

  3. Great piece DAN. Much enjoyed it too.

    One minor nitpick correction though; we have won the same amount of leagues at WHL as Spurs; two each, so not more. Spuds won there in1951 and 1961 and we all know we won there in 1971 and 2004.

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