#ThrowbackThursday – Season 1972/73

By Robert Exley

The review of Arsenal’s campaigns continues

After the disappointment of the 1971/72 season, Arsenal returned once again with a pre-season fixture against Watford at their London Colney training ground. Goals from Eddie Kelly and Charlie George – both coming on as substitutes – meant a 2-0 victory. Five days prior, the Provisional IRA carried out ‘Bloody Friday’ in Belfast, where at least twenty bombs exploded in the space of eighty minutes, most within a half hour period, which led to the deaths of nine people. Back to the football, and the Gunners then headed on a pre-season tour of Switzerland and West Germany.

First up would be Lausanne, who were on the receiving end of a 6-0 thumping with goals for John Radford, two apiece for Charlie George and Ray Kennedy and a Swiss own goal. The Gunners would then head to Zurich to meet Grasshoppers. Two goals for Charlie George (one a penalty) meant a 2-1 win. Forty eight hours on however, the Gunners would crash to a 0-4 defeat to SV Hamburg. Two days on from Arsenal’s last fixture in Germany, over in Uganda the tyrant Idi Amin created a humanitarian crisis with the expulsion of 50,000 Ugandan Asians who were holders of British passports, for their alleged ‘sabotage’ of the Ugandan economy.

Around this time however, a power struggle emerged at Highbury. While out in Switzerland, a pivotal moment occurred with a fall out between Frank McLintock and Bertie Mee. Some of the Arsenal players got a bit worse for wear on a wine tasting trip and Bertie Mee wasn’t greatly impressed with Frank serenading the players on the coach with Sinatra’s ‘Strangers in the Night’. On arriving back at the hotel, Frank complained within ear shot of Mee: ‘Did you see wee Bertie, the little Hitler. What’s his problem?’ The next day on the coach journey to a training session, Mee stood up and said ‘I’d just like to mention that I’ve never been so embarrassed by a team’s behaviour and our captain was a bloody disgrace to the Arsenal’.

Arsenal’s league season kicked off with a visit to Filbert Street to face Leicester City. An Alan Ball penalty gave the Gunners a 1-0 win. The following Tuesday would see the opening home fixture of the season against Wolverhampton Wanderers, with Charlie George dropped from the side over a dispute over wages. Goals for Ray Kennedy, Bob McNab, Peter Simpson and two for John Radford meant a 5-2 victory over Wolves. By the weekend, Arsenal made it three wins out of three (by this point, the only side in the old First Division with a 100% record) with a 2-0 victory over Stoke City, with Ray Kennedy bagging both goals.

In the midweek, the winning run would be disrupted by a 1-1 draw at Highfield Road, with a Coventry City side now managed by former Arsenal captain Joe Mercer after his ousting at Man City in favour of Malcolm Allison resulting from a boardroom struggle. On target would be Pat Rice for the Arsenal, while Bobby Graham would score for Coventry. By the final Saturday of August 1972, Arsenal headed to Old Trafford to meet Man United away. The match however ended in a 0-0 draw. Forty eight hours on, the Queen’s cousin - Prince William of Gloucester – would be killed in a plane crash.

The following day, the final fixture of the month would be a Tuesday night visit to Highbury for Ron Greenwood’s West Ham side. An Alan Ball penalty gave the Gunners a 1-0 win which left Arsenal atop of the Old First Division table, with Everton the only other side to come out of August unbeaten. On the first day of September 1972, the government raised the compulsory school leaving age to sixteen. For the Arsenal, the month started with another London Derby, with a Chelsea side who had lost just one of their opening six games. The game would be captured by the BBC’s ‘Match of the Day’. On the half hour, Charlie Cooke gave Chelsea the lead with a thundering drive in front of the North Bank.

In the second half, Arsenal brought on transfer listed Charlie George as a sub for George Armstrong, who got himself into a bit of a scape with Chelsea’s Steve Kember which led to a bit of afters with several Arsenal and Chelsea players. The Gunners unbeaten run however remained intact as a result of an own goal from Chelsea’s FA Cup hero of two years prior – David Webb. The match ending in a 1-1 draw. Arsenal would now be on level points at the top with Everton. Ironically, the two sides would be drawn together in the second round of the League Cup. At Highbury the following Tuesday, a goal for Peter Storey gave Arsenal a 1-0 win over the Toffees.

The big news that day however would be the eleven members of the Israeli Olympic team held hostage in Munich by members of the Black September movement, which led to their tragic deaths the following day. Back to the football and Arsenal’s unbeaten league run however would last just another four days, as the following Saturday the Gunners would crash to a 1-2 defeat to Newcastle at a St. James’s Park in the process of re-development. Covered by Tyne Tees for their football magazine show ‘Shoot’, David Craig and Malcolm MacDonald would be on target for the Tynesiders, while Ray Kennedy would be on target for the Arsenal. This result meant that Arsenal dropped to third, behind Everton and Spurs.

In the midweek, the sinking of British trawlers by an Icelandic gunboat led to second ‘Cod War’ between the two nations. Next up at Highbury the following weekend would be Bill Shankly’s Liverpool. During the first half, linesman Dennis Drewitt had torn knee ligaments and was unable to continue. In those days, there had been no fourth official to stand in and as Football League rules required a referee and two linesmen for a match to proceed, there was a huge danger in the match being called off. Over the tannoy, an appeal went out for a qualified official to take part. With no takers, Jimmy Hill, attending the game with LWT’s ‘The Big Match’ who were covering events, stepped in to run the line.

This however turned out to be the most noteworthy event of this fixture. Prior to the linesman’s injury, the game was played at a fast pace. After Jimmy Hill replaced him, it failed to get back to its previous tempo and ended in a 0-0 draw. A week later, Arsenal headed to East Anglia to face newly promoted Norwich City for the first time in the league. Two goals for former Arsenal star Terry Anderson inflicted a 2-3 defeat on the Gunners, with John Radford and Peter Storey on target for Bertie Mee’s side. This result meant that Arsenal dropped to sixth, two points behind table topping Liverpool, who rose up on the back of a 5-0 home win over Sheffield United.

In the midweek, Arsenal got back to winning ways with goals for Charlie George and Peter Storey securing a 2-0 win over Birmingham City. September 1972 ended with a visit from Southampton. A goal from George Graham gave the Gunners a 1-0 win, with Arsenal ending the month in second place behind Liverpool on goal average having played one game more. The Mereseysiders that afternoon managing a 2-1 win over Leeds United at Elland Road. The first game of October would be the visit of Rotherham United in the third round of the League Cup.

Goals for Charlie George, Peter Marinello, Peter Storey and two for John Radford meant that Arsenal eased through to the next round. Playing his final game for the Gunners meanwhile would be Welsh Centre Half John Roberts who headed to Birmingham City later that month. Coming into the Arsenal side in that same position would be Jeff Blockley, who Bertie Mee signed from Coventry City would make his debut the following week away to Sheffield United. Arsenal however crashed to a 0-1 defeat at Bramall Lane. Arsenal got back to winning ways one week later with a 1-0 win over Ipswich Town at Highbury, secured by a goal from George Graham.

Forty eight hours later, with the rise of unemployment under Ted Heath, the government saw fit to exploit a newly found TV audience by allowing the introduction of Daytime television for the first time, by relaxing restrictions on broadcasting hours. Previously, TV started up around noon to show schools programmes. Now the schools programme was moved to the mornings, to allow the afternoons to be freed up for new daytime programming, which included the introduction of shows such as Crown Court, Emmerdale Farm, a short lived chat show for Terry Wogan on ITV or Kids TV such as Rainbow. One day later, Arsenal faced a trip to Devon to face Plymouth Argyle in a testimonial for Bill Harper, who played in goal for Arsenal and later Plymouth back in the twenties and thirties. A goal for Ray Kennedy meant a 1-1 draw.

There then followed a trip to bottom of the table Crystal Palace, who had won just two of their thirteen games played. Highlights of the game would be covered by LWT’s ‘The Big Match’. Arsenal were awarded a penalty with a handball on the line by Martin Hinshelwood from a John Radford shot, which today obviously would have been a red card however the offender not only stayed on the pitch but wasn’t even booked. Charlie George put Arsenal ahead from the resulting penalty, which the Palace goalkeeper got his hands to, but had crossed the line. John Craven (not he of ‘Newsround’ fame) equalised for Palace. Within a minute, Arsenal restored the lead when John Radford pounced on a stray back pass, before former Chelsea star Bobby Tambling pulled it back to two apiece. Pat Rice however secured the points to put Arsenal 3-2 ahead.

The win put Arsenal one point behind Liverpool in second place. One day later would bring the sad news that Stoke City and England World Cup winning goalkeeper Gordon Banks had lost an eye in a road traffic accident, which would result in the end of his distinguished footballing career. Arsenal’s final home league fixture of October 1972 would be a visit from a Man City side languishing in seventeenth place, after Malcolm Allison had ousted Joe Mercer from the hot seat at Maine Road. The game ended in a 0-0 draw. On the last day of the month, the Gunners headed to Bramall Lane to meet Sheffield United in the fourth round of the League Cup. Goals for Charlie George and John Radford gave Arsenal a 2-1 win. After four games without loss, fifteenth place Coventry City came to Highbury for Arsenal’s opening league fixture for November 1972.

This game would be final appearance of George Graham, who came on as sub for Eddie Kelly but had expressed his annoyance to Bertie Mee at being dropped from the starting eleven for this game. Goals for Brian Alderson and Tommy Hutchinson (who famously scored at both ends while playing in the FA Cup Final for Man City nine years on) meant a 0-2 defeat for Bertie Mee’s side. Next up would be a visit to Molineux to play eleventh place Wolves, coverage of which would be captured by ATV’s ‘Star Soccer’. Arsenal took the lead with a volley from John Radford, before a Wolves equaliser on the hour by John Richards.

Arsenal however bagged the points with two in the last minute – another for Radford while Peter Marinello made it a 3-1 victory. The result moved Arsenal to within a point of Liverpool who crashed to a 0-2 away defeat to Man United. In the midweek, three days after Armistice Day, Arsenal journeyed across the channel to face a Paris XI in a benefit game for War veterans. The game saw the return of Bob Wilson after his injury in last year’s FA Cup Semi Final. Arsenal won 1-0 with a goal from Pat Rice. The following weekend back at Highbury, another for John Radford meant a 1-0 victory over Everton.

The Gunners form however would take another downward turn three days later as Norwich City visited Highbury for the League Cup Quarter Final tie. Norwich sat in sixth place, though many expected a secure passage to the Semi Finals for Arsenal. A Graham Paddon hat-trick for the Canaries however meant a shock 0-3 defeat for the Gunners (the Canaries progressed all the way to the Final that year, where they would lose to Spurs). Meanwhile, the poor form for Bertie Mee’s side continued into the weekend with a visit to the Baseball Ground to play reigning Champions Derby County. The Rams sat in fifteenth place, while Arsenal were one point behind leaders Liverpool in second.

The match would be covered by ATV’s ‘Star Soccer’, meaning that a humiliating 0-5 battering would be captured for posterity. Goals for Roger Davies, Alan Hinton, John McGovern, Kevin Hector and Roy McFarland meant a heavy loss and eight goals conceded for Bertie Mee’s side in less than a week. Arsenal ended November 1972 being leapfrogged by Leeds United and dropping to third, with Liverpool now three points clear of the Gunners and a game in hand. It would however be Leeds United next up to visit Highbury for Arsenal’s first fixture of December 1972. After defeat at Derby the previous week, club captain Frank McLintock would be dropped in favour of Jeff Blockley and Peter Simpson in the centre of Defence. Bob McNab would be assuming captaining duties in Frank’s absence.

The Gunners gained some sort of revenge for the Cup Final defeat from the previous May, with goals for John Radford and an Alan Ball penalty securing a 2-1 win over Don Revie’s side, which left them three points behind Liverpool, who that same day came back from 1-3 down to defeat Birmingham 4-3 at Anfield. One week later, Arsenal headed to White Hart Lane to meet Spurs in a North London Derby match that would be covered by LWT’s ‘The Big Match’. Peter Storey gave Arsenal the lead, with Radford doubling the lead. Former Hammer Martin Peters pulled one back for Spurs, however Arsenal would run out 2-1 winners to give Bertie Mee’s side back to back victories.

Next up at Highbury would be Don Howe’s relegation threatened West Brom side. Another John Radford strike, as well a Gordon Nesbitt own goal meant a 2-1 victory for the Arsenal. Forty eight hours ahead of Christmas 1972 came an away trip to Birmingham City, where an Eddie Kelly goal gave Arsenal a 1-1 draw, meaning that as with Little Jimmy Osmond’s dreadful song and that year’s Pop Charts, Liverpool would sit on top of the summit at Christmas. It was a game in which McLintock – after being briefly recalled - was dropped again by Mee and the relationship between the two soured further. Chairman Denis Hill Wood in the changing room had asked McLintock why he hadn’t changed into his kit, to which Frank replied: ‘You’d better ask that little b******* over there’.

On Boxing Day, Arsenal finally bagged a win over Norwich City at the third time of asking. Goals for Alan Ball and John Radford secured a 2-0 win. The following day saw the exit of George Graham to Old Trafford, as newly installed Man United boss Tommy Docherty swooped to bring his former Chelsea star back under his wing. The calendar year ended with an away trip to meet Stoke City at the Victoria Ground. The result ended in a 0-0 draw, with Arsenal ending 1972 in second place, though three points behind leaders Liverpool who had a game in hand, while two points above Leeds United in third who had two games in hand. On the 1st January 1973, after parliament passed the European Communities Act the previous year, Britain – along with near neighbours Eire - joined the EEC (what later became the EU, which Britain is now in the process of leaving).

Arsenal’s first game of 1973 came on 6th January, with the visit of Man United to Highbury. Making his debut for United had been the recently departed George Graham (ironically, GG’s Arsenal debut also came against former club Chelsea). Old Trafford itself was in a state of flux, after the sackings of manager Frank O’Farrell, Coach Malcolm Musgrave and Chief Scout John Aston in light of the Reds’ 0-5 defeat to Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park a couple of weeks earlier. Also, George Best – having declared himself retired from the game at the end of the 1971/72 season – did so again at the back end of the calendar year, spending his time sunning himself on the beaches of Marbella (before returning back again in the close season ahead of 1973/74).

In George’s absence, United sat rock bottom of the Old First Division table. United’s misery would be stretched further as Arsenal comfortably ran out 3-1 winners, with goals for George Armstrong, Alan Ball and Ray Kennedy, while future Gunner Brian Kidd would be on target for United. The following weekend, Arsenal’s quest to become the first side of the twentieth century to reach a third successive final began with a home tie against Leicester City, who were hovering one point above the relegation zone in eighteenth place. The match would be captured by the BBC’s ‘Match of the Day’ and Arsenal twice equalised with goals for George Armstrong and Ray Kennedy to earn a 2-2 draw, while Frank Worthington and John Farrington would be on target for the Foxes.

Four days on back at Filbert Street, Eddie Kelly and John Radford secured Arsenal’s path the fourth round with a 2-1 victory. At the weekend, back in the League the Gunners headed to Stamford Bridge to play eighth place Chelsea. A goal for Ray Kennedy meant a 1-0 victory. A dropped point for Liverpool courtesy of a 1-1 draw with champions Derby at a snowbound Anfield meant Arsenal closed the gap to two points. Forty eight hours on, George Foreman shocked the world by defeating Joe Frazier in shock and awe performance in Kingston Jamaica, to take the World Heavyweight title. For the final league fixture of January 1973, Arsenal faced a visit from fifth placed Newcastle United. The Gunners went two goals down through goals from Jimmy Smith and Malcolm MacDonald for the Geordies, before the introduction of Charlie George as sub for George Armstrong.

Goals for Alan Ball and Ray Kennedy pulled it back for a 2-2 draw; however the main talking point of the game would be a clash between Charlie George and Newcastle’s David Craig, after a cynical foul by the latter, leading to the clash as seen at the top of this page. Arsenal however finished January 1973 within one point of Liverpool at the top of the table, after the Merseysiders fell to a 1-2 defeat to Wolves at Molineux. Next up in the league would be the clash of the big two, with Arsenal heading to Anfield. Before then however would come the fourth round of the FA Cup and the visit of Bradford City, in which Peter Marinello would play his final game for Arsenal.

Goals for Alan Ball and Charlie George ensured that a giant-killing would not be on the cards, as Arsenal ran out 2-0 winners, which set the Gunners up nicely ahead of their trip to Anfield. Liverpool on the other hand drew 0-0 in their tie at home to Man City, meaning a replay three days prior to the title head to head. Back at Maine Road, goals for Colin Bell and Tommy Booth dumped Bill Shankly’s side out of the FA Cup with a 0-2 defeat to Malclom Allison’s side. And so on to Saturday, highlights of which would be captured by the BBC’s ‘Match of the Day’.

Newspaper reports from the Liverpool Echo claim that the home side dominated the opening half hour, Arsenal however emerged stronger in the second half and goals for former Evertonian Alan Ball and John Radford meant huge 2-0 victory, which meant that the Gunners overhauled Liverpool at the top of the table for the first time since September. Next up would be another visit from Leicester City to Highbury. In the meantime, in a nod to the future, four days prior Liam Brady signed professional terms for Arsenal. An own goal by Leicester’s Malcolm Manley gave Arsenal the points again with a 1-0 win, meanwhile up at Maine Road Malcolm Allison would be a scourge for Liverpool again as the Reds were held to a 1-1 draw.

Tommy Booth would be on target for City, while a Phil Boersma goal salvaged a point eight minutes after Liverpool were reduced to ten men due to referee Clive Thomas dismissing Central Defender Tommy Smith. Arsenal were now two points clear at the top, though Liverpool had a vital game in hand. Arsenal meanwhile headed far North to Cumbria to face a Carlisle United side loitering in the bottom half of the old Second Division in the FA Cup. Alan Ball put Arsenal ahead, though Carlisle pulled one back, a header from Frank McLintock gave Arsenal a a 2-1 win to put them through to the Quarter Finals once again to face Chelsea at Stamford Bridge and the possibly of repeating the Double antics of a couple of years prior.

Liverpool meanwhile won their game in hand with a 2-1 win over Bobby Robson’s Ipswich side at Anfield, which meant that Liverpool reclaimed the top spot on goal average. Worse was to come in midweek, as Arsenal faced Don Howe’s West Brom who were anchored to the foot of the table. Arsenal crashed to a 0-1 defeat - their first loss for three months – meaning that advantage once again swung back to Merseyside. On the first of March meanwhile, Pink Floyd released their ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ album, which went on to be one of the biggest selling albums of the decade. Two days on, the first fixture of March 1973 saw Arsenal faced sixteenth place Sheffield United. For Liverpool meanwhile, it would be the Merseyside Derby with Everton at Goodison Park.

With two goals for Charlie George and one for Alan Ball, Arsenal picked up a 3-2 win. Two goals for Skipper Emlyn Hughes in the final ten minutes however meant 2-0 victory for Liverpool and as you were from the start of the day with regard to the ongoing title race. One week on saw a trip to East Anglia to meet Ipswich Town. An Alan Ball penalty and a goal from John Radford meant a 2-1 win. Meanwhile, up at Anfield the league leaders met Southampton. In the first half, Liverpool bagged two in two minutes from Larry Lloyd and Kevin Keegan, the Saints however pulled it back to two each with goals from Mick Channon and Paul Gilchrist, both of which Bill Shankly blamed on Reds keeper Ray Clemence. With three minutes to go however Liverpool bagged the points with another goal from Kevin Keegan securing a 3-2 win.

Next up for Arsenal would be the FA Cup Quarter Final London Derby at Stamford Bridge with a Chelsea side sitting in eleventh, which would be covered by the BBC’s ‘Match of the Day’. Peter Osgood gave Chelsea the lead with a volleyed goal that would eventually win Match of the Day’s Goal of the Season. Alan Ball equalised for Arsenal, before Charlie George put the Gunners ahead. An equaliser from future Arsenal player John Hollins however forced a replay with a 2-2 draw. That same day meanwhile, Liverpool headed to the Victoria Ground to face a Stoke City side now hovering just above the relegation zone. A John Mahoney own goal gave the Reds a 1-0 win, which meant that Liverpool were now on equal games with a two point cushion over Arsenal at the top of the table.

Three days on, a mammoth crowd of 62,746 turned out at Highbury for the replay, which would be captured for posterity by BBC’s ‘Sportsnight’. Chelsea took the lead with a goal from 1970 Cup Final goal scorer Peter Houseman (who would tragically be killed in a car accident just four years later at the age of just thirty one). Arsenal got themselves back into the game with a penalty initially not awarded by the referee – 1971 FA Cup Final ref Norman Burtenshaw. Counter to advice dished out to school kids that a referee never changes his mind, under pressure from protests from the Arsenal side; Burtenshaw consulted his linesman who awarded a penalty – from which Alan Ball equalised. The Gunners passage to a third successive FA Cup Semi Final was secured with a headed goal from Ray Kennedy, as Arsenal ran out 2-1 winners.

Four days on, Arsenal’s quest for the Double continued with a trip to a Man City side languishing in mid-table with Malcolm Allison under the cosh at Maine Road. Highlights of the game were captured by Granada TV’s ‘Kick Off Match’. Arsenal opened the scoring with a superb strike from Charlie George. City equalised with a goal from Tommy Booth, before Ray Kennedy bagged Arsenal’s winner to secure a 2-1 victory, which left Malcolm Allison in an invidious position. The following day, his fellow ITV World Cup panel regular Bob McNab further heightened his TV profile by making a guest appearance on LWT’s popular (but not so politically correct) sitcom of the day ‘On the Buses’.

The episode centres on Stan and Jack et al taking part in a Football game against a side called the ‘Basildon Bashers’ who turn out to actually be a Women’s Football side. McNab guests as their colleague that could play a bit however gets injured showing off his skills while wearing full Arsenal kit in the bus depot. Next up for Arsenal one day on would be a visit to Highbury from Crystal Palace, who were mired in a relegation dog fight in twentieth position. Arsenal took full points with a 1-0 win, after Palace keeper John Jackson dropped an Alan Ball free-kick over the line. Four days on, Palace boss Bert Head was ‘promoted’ upstairs to the board, while Malcolm Allison walked out on Maine Road to take up the Palace role.

On the last day of March 1973, Liverpool were forced to kick off early against Spurs at Anfield to avoid a clash with the 1973 Grand National – Racing’s annual big event which takes place at Liverpool’s Aintree race track (that year won by Red Rum). Spurs took the lead on twenty minutes with a goal from Alan Gilzean, with Kevin Keegan also missing a first half penalty. Keegan made amends with an equaliser with twenty minutes left to play, but Spurs held out for a 1-1 draw with future Arsenal keeper Pat Jennings hailed as ‘the greatest keeper in the world’ by some Newspaper reports on the game, which included a second penalty save – this time from Tommy Smith – with four minutes left to play. Pat’s inspired performance did North London rivals Arsenal a huge favour in the title race.

By 1.30PM it was therefore advantage Arsenal, who lined up against reigning Champions Derby County at Highbury, who sat in eighth place and whose attentions were no doubt towards their European Cup Semi Final tie with Juventus. The Gunners however crashed to a 0-1 defeat with a goal from Steve Powell. Frank McLintock was substituted during the game and it turned out to be his last appearance in an Arsenal shirt, as he would play no further part in the rest of Arsenal’s season. A set back in the league, though the FA Cup was up for grabs. Arsenal went to Hillsborough for the Semi Final to face a Sunderland side that sat in fourteenth in the old Second Division. Their only top flight scalp along the way had been defeating an out of sorts Man City side just prior to Malcolm Allison’s resignation.

Jeff Blockley had been called up in place of Frank McLintock, whose mistake allowed Vic Hallam to put Sunderland a goal up. Billy Hughes doubled the Rokerites lead, before Charlie George pulled one back though Arsenal crashed to a 1-2 defeat, meaning that there would be no Wembley final for ’73. For the first time in five years, Arsenal would not be playing in a final. The only good news that day would be Liverpool crashing to a 1-2 defeat to Birmingham City at St Andrews, as well as a sending off for Captain Emlyn Hughes. Meaning that Arsenal would still sit just one point behind Liverpool on equal games. Next up for Arsenal would be the North London Derby at Highbury against Spurs, which would be their final home game of the season.

Martin Chivers gave Spurs the lead, though Arsenal pulled level with a goal from Peter Storey. The match finished as a 1-1 draw. Liverpool meanwhile faced Don Howe’s relegation threatened West Brom side who were one point adrift of safety in second bottom. A Kevin Keegan penalty meant a 1-0 win for Bill Shankly’s side. Three days on at Highfield Road, two goals for Phil Boersma meant a 2-1 victory for Liverpool over Coventry City giving the Merseysiders a four point cushion at the top in which Arsenal had just four games to pull back. The following weekend Arsenal headed to Merseyside to play Everton on Easter Saturday. The Gunners however had failed to pick up a win at Goodison Park for nearly a decade and a half. Liverpool meanwhile headed to St. James’s Park to face Newcastle United.

Kevin Keegan put Liverpool ahead on twenty four minutes, though two goals for John Tudor meant that Bill Shankly’s side crashed to a 1-2 defeat. Arsenal however failed to take advantage after being held to a 0-0 draw to an Everton side in the bottom half of the table. On Easter Monday, Liverpool played host to third placed Leeds United, while Arsenal headed to the Dell to face twelfth place Southampton. The Gunners took the lead with a goal from Charlie George, before Bobby Stokes equalised. John Radford restored Arsenal’s lead, another equaliser for Bobby Stokes however meant that Arsenal were held to a 2-2 draw.

At Anfield, two second half goals for Peter Cormack and a Kevin Keegan strike five minutes from time secured a 2-0 victory for Liverpool. The result meant that Liverpool were champions ‘in all but name’ due to a superior goal average. In the meantime, Liverpool headed to North London to face Spurs in the second leg of the UEFA Cup Semi Final with a one goal lead from the first leg, for what was their third game in five days. Bill Shankly’s side crashed to a 1-2 defeat at White Hart Lane, with two goals for Martin Peters though progressed to the final on away goals.

And so on to the final Saturday of the season. Liverpool hosted Leicester City at Anfield, while Arsenal headed eight miles down the road to the Boleyn Ground to face fourth placed West Ham United. Goals for Ray Kennedy and John Radford meant a 2-1 win for Arsenal, while Trevor Brooking would be on target for the Hammers. Liverpool however secured the title with a 0-0 draw against Leicester City. For Arsenal there would be one final game left to play against FA Cup finalists Leeds United away. Four days prior, Don Revie’s side suffered a shock 0-1 defeat to the Sunderland side which conquered Arsenal in the Semi Finals. As a result of another defeat five days prior to the Final to Birmingham City, Leeds could climb no higher than third, while Arsenal could fall no lower than the runners up spot.

Arsenal called up eighteen year old Brendan Batson at right back, while also giving debuts to two seventeen year olds in Brian Hornsby and David Price. Arsenal suffered the fall out of wounded Yorkshire pride, as well as booed and slow handclapped by the home crowd for perceived ‘unsporting behaviour’ (oh the irony!). There was also a booking for Jeff Blockley for a rugby tackle on Leeds’s Joe Jordan. Goals for Billy Bremner, two for Joe Jordan and a hat-trick for Peter Lorimer meant a 1-6 hammering for the Gunners, while George Armstrong would be on target for the Gunners. For Liverpool, after seven years without a trophy the Reds would there followed the UEFA Cup with a 3-2 aggregate victory over Borussia Monchengladbach in the final. This would spark an eighteen year period of Liverpool dominance over English and European football. For Arsenal, it would be another decade and a half before the Gunners would be serious title challengers again, ironically at the tail end of this period of Anfield hegemony. Sadly, the years that followed would see Bertie Mee’s Arsenal side in a tailspin, leading to the beginning of the end of the Highbury reign of the former Sergeant.

Robert Exley can be found on Twitter and is the editor of Upstart Football, whose #ThrowbackThursday edition this week covers a review of the Euro ’92 Championships with all available video links.

6th July 2017 14:56:02


Comments and Reaction

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Moscow Gooner  17:44pm 6th Jul 2017

Some similarities with the 79/80 season, so near yet so far. The McLintock/Mee tension didn´t help - although the detail wasn´t clear at the time. I think it was a McLintock error that let Derby in at the North Bank to get that (undeserved) 1-0 win that effectively killed off our league challenge. Blockley in the semi final was a disaster - so our Cup dreams disappeared one week later. The football we were playing at the start of the seaon was superb: the Wolves and Stoke games stand out. Like watching Ajax! And the North Bank had the ´Super Reds´chant. But 0-5 at Derby put an end to that and we reverted to playing long balls down to Kennedy and Radford. The 0-1 at Highbury was a classic example, with Roy McFarland winning everything. - Post No. 108347

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