History – The amazing John Radford who got 149 goals and a Double with Arsenal

John Radford- the man who led Arsenal to their first Double

In 1947 one of Arsenal’s main men of their 1970/71 winning Double team was born in Yorkshire, the once surging attackers name is John Radford.

After leaving school Radford was signed by Arsenal as an apprentice in 1962, agreeing to professional terms in 1964. At the Gunners his main position was striker but from time to time he played out on the right flank.

He was a remarkable goalscorer in the youth and reserve sides, going onto make his first team debut versus West Ham in late March of 1964, proving to be his only match of the 1963/64 campaign. The next season witnessed Radford appear in the first team on 15 occasions breaking history for the youngest whippersnapper to grab a hat-trick at Arsenal against Wolves whilst only 17 years 315 days old, the record remains to be beaten in The Gunners record books.

Come the beginning of the 1965/66 season Radford had found himself a regular place in the first team and fruition under the leadership of manager Bertie Mee. However, he was manoeuvred onto the right flank, throughout the 1969/70 season the boy wonder grabbed 19 strikes and secured Arsenals 1970 Inter-Cities Fairs Cup victory over RSC Anderlecht. This was the first time in 17 years in which The North Londoners added a piece of silverware to their prestigious Highbury trophy cabinet. Radford claimed the second goal in Arsenals 3-0 victory in the second tie of the final to see The Gunners nail bitingly secure a 4-3 win after two legs.

By this point in Radford’s career, he had been sent up front and remained a potent goalscoring threat to all sides he and Arsenal encountered together. During the 1970/71 season Radford netted 21 times, his greatest goalscoring record for any campaign at Arsenal, creating an indestructible partnership with Ray Kennedy where between the two they reached the hallmark of 47 goals. With his goalscoring prowess Radford played a pivotal part in Arsenals FA Cup and First Division Championship winning squad.

On top of his goals his assists proved to be a fundamental part of the season witnessing him seal the pass which saw Charlie George go onto grab Arsenal’s FA Cup winning strike in the final over Liverpool.

A season later goalkeeper Bob Wilson was forced off the pitch by injury during the 1-1 FA Cup semi-final draw with Stoke City seeing Radford replace the Englishman in goal. In the replay whilst in his regular position of striker Radford guided Arsenal into the FA Cup final against Stoke City after netting the winner. The Gunners failed to retain the Cup for a second year as Leeds United brushed them aside 1-0.

Radford kept up his scoring abilities throughout the 1972/73 campaign for Arsenal netting 19 times. With time his usual attacking capabilities dropped off settling for only single digit figures in the 1973.74 and 1974/75 campaigns. During the 1975/76 season he was out cold on the sideline for the most of it with injury. A turning point of attacking dynamics within the team had transformed by this stage where the duo of Malcolm Macdonald and Frank Stapleton had transitioned into The Gunners main attacking force. This left Radford to feature only twice in the first four months of the 1976/77 season for Arsenal. All in all, Radford ran out for Arsenal on 481 occasions grabbing 149 goals witnessing him today as the clubs fourth top talisman in history.

Whilst struggling miserably at creating a second shot to get back into the first team again Radford joined West Ham in December 1976 for a mere £80,000.

After a season of 28 matches and no goals at The Hammers, Radford departed for Blackburn Rovers in 1977. He was fairly successful at the Second Division outfit, netting ten times and 38 matches. In 1978 he said goodbye to Ewood Park before settling in at non-league team Bishop Stortford for the rest of his playing days, sealing the Isthmian League and FA Trophy with the side.

After 16 years as a footballer Radford hung his boots up. Despite being a great striker at Arsenal, he was only capped twice for England from 1969-1971. After his playing days he completed a number of spells as head coach at Bishop Stortford towards the end of the 1980s and start of the 1990s. Radford then gained employment at Queens Park Rangers as a youth coach too.

At the moment (age 76) Radford helps out with Emirates Stadium tours at Arsenal and occasionally pops up as a football pundit on their media stations.

Liam Harding

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  1. The first time I saw John play for Arsenal he scored a headed hat trick, one of them from the edge of the box, and he went on to become one of our best ever strikers, which he remains to this day.

  2. Bumped into Raddy when he was managing Bishops Stortford and the Sunday team I was “managing” played in a cup final at Stortford’s ground.
    Normal and level headed man who had the time to talk to me about football for a few minutes – it didn’t help though as we lost!!!

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