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Two injury time goals of quality and invention by Gabriel Martinelli and Nicolas Pépé clinched a very important 3-1 victory for the Gunners, after Christian Benteke had again frustrated his favourite opponents with a goal to equalise a well-taken strike by Pépé on the half-hour. Results must go their way on Sunday but whisper it quietly we could see St. Totteringham’s Day coincide with Arsenal achieving a twenty sixth successive season in Europe.

Arsenal paraded their new yellow away kit on a showery evening at Selhurst Park. Their team was fairly predictable although Gabriel partnered Holding in the centre of a four with Saka wide left and Pépé on the right with Aubameyang upfront centrally.

Early exchanges saw Arsenal on the front foot and Anthony Taylor looked in a benign mood giving Schlupp only a yellow for a heavy and late challenge on Chambers, and Ward for possibly an accidental kick out at Tierney. I was here last year when Aubameyang was sent off and Schlupp’s challenge was of similar ferocity.

Arsenal’s early play was mainly focused on the right wing with ESR working cleverly with Pépé but the first goal threat was from Cahill for Palace who was narrowly wide with a header. Despite a bright opening in terms of ball movement Arsenal failed to create much and on 22 minutes Tomkins tested Leno with a header that he grabbed by his left hand post.

Pépé so far was in one of his frustrating moods and Palace were bringing Townsend and Zaha back to block off space on the right side. Palace, who have been awful at home this season, seemed notably lifted by a home contingent of 6,500 and the game was lively if tight. Arsenal forced a series of corners without really threatening and on 27 minutes a fine piece of covering by Ward saw him block Auba from converting an ESR cross at the near post.

Benteke was looking threatening and had a free header over on the half hour. We then saw Saka brought down by Guaita but he was ruled just offside, Schlupp then tested Leno with a fierce shot as it became increasingly clear that Palace were up for this in Roy Hodgson’s last home game.

Not for the first time I was impressed with young Mitchell, the Palace left-back, who allowed Pépé little rope until, on 35 minutes, Tierney got in on the left after combining delightfully with Saka and crossed it to Pépé who scored with a cushioned finish off his right foot. A well-worked goal and evidence of Pépé’s value to the team.

Palace 0 Arsenal 1 (Pepe 35)

Immediately afterwards Benteke fouled Saka and then appeared to strike Elneny on the chin. Both players were yellow-carded when Benteke definitely might have seen red. Tierney was being booed by the Palace fans, presumably because he was playing so well. They’ve never been the most knowledgeable crowd.

Elneny was working extremely hard and popping the ball off nicely. He ended the half seemingly building bridges with the lucky Benteke as they walked off with Arsenal ahead at the break. We were told unhelpfully that Benteke was spared a red because he connected with ‘negligible force‘. No, I wasn’t impressed either.

Half-time: Palace 0 Arsenal 1

Palace were attacking the Holmesdale End in the second half and began enterprisingly with Benteke immediately heading a Townsend cross over. Aubameyang was still looking out of sorts and fails to give the team much in the way of hold-up play. He was beaten to a Chambers cross at the far post by Ward.

Arsenal were pressing without looking able to create a clear chance. It was a very strongly-contested game and Palace are a strong, physical side. News of the Marshdwellers defeat gave Arsenal a chink of light in their European quest, wherever that may lead them, but there was much work to do without clear midfield control. To experienced Arsenal watchers this was increasingly disquieting. A left-sided free kick found Benteke and he continued to be our Nemesis as he dived to head past Leno. An interminable VAR delay ensued and we know how that ends. There were decent claims for offside and a push on Elneny but the goal was given.

Palace 1 (Benteke 62) Arsenal 1

Shortly afterwards Zaha’s vertigo returned and he claimed a quite ridiculous penalty against Holding. Arsenal had lost their shape and control. Ødegaard replaced Saka. Could they recapture a degree of control? Leno thwarted the troublesome Benteke at his near post and with 70 minutes played Arsenal were struggling. Part of the  problem was a lack of physicality and a lack of character. Partey was fading after a strong start.

Zaha despite his labyrinthitis problems is always a threat. Ødegaard was notably less imposing than ESR had been in a central role. Tierney, much to the scorn of the Palace fans, was substituted by Martinelli as Xhaka came on for the hugely underwhelming Partey.  Or was it the other way round? We didn’t lay out £45 million in straight cash for a central midfielder we have to bring off at the climax of games.

Good defending by Gabriel cleared a dangerous Schlupp cross away, Ayew  prodded a weak header at Leno and as Arsenal broke Aubameyang failed to convert an excellent Chambers cross. Palace’s last game was at the weekend but they appeared much the fresher side.

Arsenal had a long period of playing the ball across the pitch trying to work a crossing position without playing a ball,  but then Ødegaard found himself on the ball on the edge of the area. His clever ball to the far post found Martinelli who knocked it over Guaita and bundled it in.

Palace 1 Arsenal 2 (Martinelli 90+ 1)

While playing out time Pépé took a ball into the heart of the Palace defence, showed wonderful control, and slipped the ball into the net. A superb individual effort that clinched the game for Arsenal.

Palace 1 Arsenal 3 (Pepe 90 + 4)

Final score – Palace 1 Arsenal 3

So Arsenal snatched victory from the jaws of what looked likely to be a very disappointing draw . As usual with Arsenal we had more questions than answers. Why did we fade so badly? Why can’t we defend set-pieces properly, and were Aubameyang and Partey, our most fêted players, the most disappointing performers on the night?

On the positive side I liked Leno reinventing himself as a cross-catching goalkeeper. Dave Seaman and Bob Wilson will be delighted and perhaps surprised. I thought Rob Holding continued a fine run of form. Tierney was terrific going forward in the first half and Elneny had a very efficient match. Above all, Arteta’s substitutions worked well and Martinelli’s vigour and awareness won the game; Pépé showed real quality to take his total for the season to 14.

Palace waved farewell to Roy Hodgson with a crystal eagle. It’s not a solid gold Invincible trophy but he has stabilised Palace. Has Arteta galvanised Arsenal to a welcome chance of European salvation?


If you haven’t yet read ‘Fan Memories of the ’71 Double’ Part 1 or Part 2, Clive’s ‘Personal Memories of the Road to the ’71 Cup Final‘, or Ray’s ‘Personal Overview of the 1970-71 Season‘, click on the links to catch up with these wonderful reminiscences. And be sure to watch both Episode 1 and Episode 2 of the video conversations with Bob Wilson and Pat Rice; Episode 2 is also linked below. Our auction of signed memorabilia is still open and about to enter its final week – check out the items below.

THE CONVERSATION: EPISODE TWO

And again…the second part of the conversation, and the second part of our Double Celebration!

GHF.com are pleased to release this, especially considering the Arsenal events of these past few weeks. Lift your spirits by watching the second episode of two video conversations with Bob Wilson and Pat Rice about Arsenal’s 1970-71 Double year, on the 50th Anniversary of our FA Cup win over Liverpool at Wembley. Remember to donate to Willow, or bid on the GHF.com Auction!

Click on the image below (or on the Youtube link below that) to watch

“Episode Two: Double Glory — The 1971 FA Cup Run”

Or, watch here: Episode Two: Double Glory — The 1971 FA Cup Run (on Youtube). This is especially helpful if you’re having any loading issues with the link to the one the site is serving above.

Let us know what you think in the “drinks” section below!


THE AUCTION: NOW ACCEPTING BIDS

We are also pleased to remind you that our auction of signed 1970-71 Double memorabilia is open for bids through 23 May! For full information, please visit The Double/Willow Auction tab above.

Just a taste…the lots offered are as follows:

Lot 1: A 1971 Cup Final replica shirt signed by Bob Wilson, Pat Rice, Frank McLintock, George Graham & Charlie George.

Lot 2: A 1971 Cup Final programme signed by Bob Wilson, Pat Rice, Frank McLintock, George Graham & Charlie George.

Lot 3: A second 1971 Cup Final programme signed by Bob Wilson, Pat Rice, Frank McLintock, George Graham & Charlie George.

Lot 4: Bob Wilson’s autobiography, ‘Behind the Network’ signed by Bob Wilson & Arsène Wenger.

All proceeds from the auction go to the Willow Foundation.


This will be the last time in the author’s chair for me this season as we consider that on Wednesday 19th May the team heads to Crystal Palace for the penultimate league game of this campaign.  

Breaking News: before going any further, this late addition to wish Roy Hodgson all the very best in his possible retirement. He has only said so far that he is stepping down at Palace and stepping away from football for a while – he would never say never, but the tone of the interview was very much that he will be retiring. A very decent man who surely everyone will congratulate on an extremely long and varied career.

Following the easing of government COVID-19 restrictions, Crystal Palace will be allowed 6,500 fans back in the stadium for our visit. To be fair to them, they do get behind their team, and their raw vocal support and Wilfried Zaha’s inner ear problems have made life more uncomfortable for us in the past than perhaps it should have been. No matter. Football has to be the winner to get fans back in the grounds and this is a start.

Trophies and titles are a long gone possibility for us this season, but a trip to the Palace normally involves awards – so what sort of awards could we possibly be looking to pick up after our footballing knights have had their swash well and truly buckled during one of our most disappointing seasons for many years.

An OBE perhaps, Ordinary, Boring and Enfeebled as we have been, or maybe a CBE, Confused, Blunted and Exhausted by the never ending changes to team selections, tactics and fight backs from a succession of early conceded goals. Our owners might pick up a KBE for the Kroenkes Banjaxing English football.

I have advanced notice that our midfielders and defenders have shared a Lifetime Achievement Award for the highest number of backwards and square passes ever recorded in one season, while Willian has won a special mention for his Services To The Environment, as he has conserved more energy this season than the remainder of the entire squad put together. In addition to his energy conservation efforts, he has also managed to reduce his emissions to zero, and not produced one single drop of polluting sweat over the 36 games to date. The awarding panel, fortunately for him, decided not to consider unnecessary polluting air travel to Dubai, as it was not officially sanctioned by the club. Ahem! 

So what can we hope for from this end of season, local dust up? We come into the game as the slightly better form side, having won our last three, while Palace have won two of their last three with a loss sandwiched between. Our last victory was as welcome as it was unexpected, away to Chelsea, with a very good, committed, defensive performance resulting in an old fashioned one – nil to the Arsenal. Palace’s last outing, played four days later than ours, resulted in a 3-2 home win against Aston Villa.

We currently sit in 9th place in the league, with Palace a mere four places below us in 13th. We have 11 points but only 10 goals more than they do. The big difference is in the goals against column – we have a third best in the league record of 38 against, while Palace have conceded 61. Those stats would encourage me, were I the manager, to throw the kitchen sink at them, and make those VAR boys really earn their ill gotten gains by having to pore over a proper hatful. However, I am not the manager and Mikel is not prone to throwing kitchen sinks. Better that though, than passing endlessly round the U-bend of doom and leaving us all with that kitchen sinking feeling.

We can also apparently expect to see the team all decked out in next season’s away colours – pretty much plain yellow (good), resplendent with the old cannon on the chest (also good), albeit with black Adidas detailing (not so good) rather than blue. They all have to, don’t they? Overall it’s quite nice but I struggle to see our old 1971 kits being bettered – home or away.

What colours Palace will be wearing is anyone’s guess. Red, blue, black, white, grey … they all form a part of the present whole…? Palace played in claret and light blue until 1973 when they underwent a Barcelona inspired change to dark blue and red. Their crest was also changed from a plain shield featuring the crystal palace, to a vaguely Spurs influenced eagle on a football on top of the crystal palace. The eagle was reportedly inspired by Benfica’s version of the same bird and ball. What a hopeless lot of old copycats. Has it worked out well for them ? On balance they might say so, I guess.

The Arsenal 

David Luiz and Granit Xhaka appear to comprise our injury list, with Mikel Arteta saying that both are working hard on their rehabilitation and continue to be assessed ahead of the final two games of the season. Despite the hopes, there is no clarity on whether either will play any part as yet. Physioroom dot com have Hector Bellerin also listed as injured with a “knock”, no set return date but a 50% chance of being fit.

I would expect Arteta to play the strongest possible eleven, given that there is still some remote possibility of making it into the Europa League. The team I would like to see given injuries, illness, end of season experimentation, rumours of players leaving etc., is: 

Ryan

Chambers, Holding, Mari/Gabriel, Tierney

Elneny, Partey

Saka, Smith-Rowe, Pepe

Martinelli


Crystal Palace

Roy Hodgson has a longer list of crocks to cope with. Nathaniel Clyne, Patrick van Aanholt and Luke Milivojevic are all rated 50% likely to be available after illness and family issues, while James McArthur, Connor Wickham, Nathan Ferguson and Mamadou Sakho are all ruled out.

The Holic Pound

Odds seem to have settled around 6/11 on an Arsenal away win, 18/5 on the draw, and 29/5 on a home win for Palace. So the bookies have decided we are going to win and you never see a bookie on a bike. If you don’t fancy a win at around 1/2 on, Paddy Power – other betting firms are available – will give you 10/1 against either a 3-0 or a 3-1 win to the Arsenal.

Kick off for this one is an unusual 19.00 UK time. TV is on BT Sport. Referee is Anthony Taylor. 

Enjoy the game, Holics.


If you haven’t yet read ‘Fan Memories of the ’71 Double’ Part 1 or Part 2, Clive’s ‘Personal Memories of the Road to the ’71 Cup Final‘, or Ray’s ‘Personal Overview of the 1970-71 Season‘, click on the links to catch up with these wonderful reminiscences. And be sure to watch both Episode 1 and Episode 2 of the video conversations with Bob Wilson and Pat Rice; Episode 2 is also linked below. Our auction of signed memorabilia is still open and about to enter its final week – check out the items below.

THE CONVERSATION: EPISODE TWO

And again…the second part of the conversation, and the second part of our Double Celebration!

GHF.com are pleased to release this, especially considering the Arsenal events of these past few weeks. Lift your spirits by watching the second episode of two video conversations with Bob Wilson and Pat Rice about Arsenal’s 1970-71 Double year, on the 50th Anniversary of our FA Cup win over Liverpool at Wembley. Remember to donate to Willow, or bid on the GHF.com Auction!

Click on the image below (or on the Youtube link below that) to watch

“Episode Two: Double Glory — The 1971 FA Cup Run”

Or, watch here: Episode Two: Double Glory — The 1971 FA Cup Run (on Youtube). This is especially helpful if you’re having any loading issues with the link to the one the site is serving above.

Let us know what you think in the “drinks” section below!


THE AUCTION: NOW ACCEPTING BIDS

We are also pleased to remind you that our auction of signed 1970-71 Double memorabilia is open for bids through 23 May! For full information, please visit The Double/Willow Auction tab above.

Just a taste…the lots offered are as follows:

Lot 1: A 1971 Cup Final replica shirt signed by Bob Wilson, Pat Rice, Frank McLintock, George Graham & Charlie George.

Lot 2: A 1971 Cup Final programme signed by Bob Wilson, Pat Rice, Frank McLintock, George Graham & Charlie George.

Lot 3: A second 1971 Cup Final programme signed by Bob Wilson, Pat Rice, Frank McLintock, George Graham & Charlie George.

Lot 4: Bob Wilson’s autobiography, ‘Behind the Network’ signed by Bob Wilson & Arsène Wenger.

All proceeds from the auction go to the Willow Foundation.


This superb piece is courtesy of Ray Coggin, the brother of our very own Bodrum Gooneress. Thank you Ray, for sharing your personal memories of that epic season for the Arsenal, Helen, the Scouse lass and no doubt also for Mr D that will bring memories flooding back for Gooners of a certain vintage.

I had turned 21 years old in November 1970 and the New Year of 1971 would mark the first eleven years of me following Arsenal Football Club, just over a decade of slavish devotion to a football team that has shaped everything I’ve done over the subsequent sixty-one years. The low point of those years was reached on 6th May 1966 when only 4,554 of the most hardened and dedicated loss conditioned die-hards turned up to see the Gunners who were languishing in fourteenth place, rolled over 3-0 by second placed Leeds United. 

The anger of being bullied out of a 1968 League Cup final against Don Revie’s “Dirty Leeds”, was followed by the embarrassment of defeat in the same competition the following year by third division Swindon. The 1960s had been marked with consistent underachievement, but then the new decade had begun with a wonderfully atmospheric night in April 1970 and the European Inter-Cities Fairs Cup triumph over the Belgians of Anderlecht. 

Our manager at the time was Bertie Mee. I met Mr. Mee on a number of occasions, the first of which was as a schoolboy of about 12 years old when I was kicking a ball against the wall outside the old East Stand main entrance. It was a midweek afternoon during half term and I had gone to seek a few autographs. I spied Bertie Mee who was then our physiotherapist approaching the steps and asked him to sign my book which he did willingly. He asked me if I had ever looked inside at the dressing rooms and offered to take me in until the jobsworth inside the main door in his Corps of Commissionaires uniform intervened. “You can’t bring him in here without written permission.” Bertie looked at me and apologised, so that was that! In later years I met him on at least three different occasions on trains coming home from away matches and he would always have a polite conversation. 

Immortalised in a famous chant of the day, legend had it that Bertie Mee had asked Bill Shankly if he’d heard of the North Bank Highbury? Of course, he had! Despite this though it seems that he wasn’t universally loved.  A couple of years before we moved to the Emirates Stadium, I had been given a gift of a Legend’s Tour at Highbury. It was to be conducted by none other than Double-winning hero Charlie George whose biography by Reg Hayter was sitting on a shelf at home, so I thought it would be a good opportunity to get Charlie to sign it.  When I asked him, he looked through the book as if he hadn’t seen it for a long time, mentioning what a lovely bloke Reg Hayter had been and then pausing on a picture of Bertie Mee, “Not that **** though!” The bitterness clearly ran deep, he signed the book as he elaborated a bit more about the fact that he thought Mee had treated him pretty poorly and he had never forgiven him. 

There was no doubt though that probably against the odds, Bertie Mee had turned Arsenal from a club in the doldrums to a force to be reckoned with and finals and trophies accompanied his tenure. Sadly, it began to unravel towards the mid-seventies and his era concluded after a decade in 1976.

So, the new season of 1970-71 was one charged more with hope than expectation. Leeds United and Liverpool had lit up the previous decade and threatened once more but our close rivals along the road had already “touchéd” our European success by winning the league cup in February ’71. They too were having a good season, eventually finishing third in the league which made their season look quite successful. Oh, the joy we felt as they were to be overshadowed by their perennial superiors from Highbury. The league campaign for Arsenal had been a tight affair with Leeds United going toe to toe with us throughout the season, but by the end of April it looked like we were in with a serious chance of getting our first league title since 1953.

Of course, if we were going to do it, it would have to be the Arsenal way. At the end of September, we managed to get thrashed 0-5 at Stoke, which came as a real shock at the time, because we were for the most part playing quite convincingly. However, that defeat was to set us on a run without further defeat that lasted until January when we began to nosedive again, losing three away games on the spin conceding an aggregate of six goals while only scoring one. 

In November, our League Cup campaign was going ok until I ruined it by convincing a pretty young blonde called Helen to join me on the terraces. I had proudly told her that she would love an exciting evening’s entertainment watching the league’s top scorers who hadn’t lost at home since the previous January. Having forced a replay by drawing at Selhurst Park, we looked forward to a goal fest at Highbury. It didn’t go well. Helen and I stood on the corner of the North Bank by the Gillespie Road entrance to save her being jostled by most of the 45,000 crowd that expected an Arsenal win, which must have included most of the Palace supporters to be honest. 

Palace featured a Scottish striker called Gerry Queen of whom Helen remarked quite early on “Oooh, he’s nice!” Not when he pounced on a half chance to score in front of the North Bank in the fourteenth minute he wasn’t! I was annoyed and she laughed. Maybe this wasn’t to be a match made in heaven? Arsenal dominated and threatened to score on several occasions with George Graham guilty of missing a hattrick of chances the worst of which was after beating keeper John Jackson he managed to hit Eddie Kelly with his shot. A dubious second half penalty slotted home by Bobby Tambling added to our woes and Helen was banned from further matches. A 0-2 defeat that was widely accepted as a robbery, aided and abetted by referee Mr. Norman Burtenshaw of Great Yarmouth, but disappointingly no one was charged with any offence. It handed Tottenham the gift of silverware that season, an offence in its own right. Oh well, we were left to concentrate on the league. Oh! and the F.A. Cup. In 1966 whilst a Chelsea player, the same Bobby Tambling had come to our school to give a talk about being a footballer, when asked for questions from the floor I piped up with a cheeky “Is the money good?” He looked at me with a smile and said, “All money’s good son.”

Bertie Mee has proved to be the catalyst for Arsenal’s sustained success over the following half century, his policy of bringing through players from the youth team continued to be replicated until the emergence of the super-agent period, which in my view has had a negative impact on the game in this country. I wonder at the philosophy of importing so many foreign players most of whom are journeymen with a few notable exceptions, when all it does it is stifle our own home-grown players. I fear for Emile Smith-Rowe if Ødegaard keeps him out of the current team. Players like George Armstrong and Ray Kennedy were key to the double winning side of ’71. 

Kennedy’s goals including the header that actually won the league at White Hart Lane in the last game and Armstrong’s non-stop drive, goals and tackling back would have made them both hot properties in the modern game. Added to that, if only we had the likes of the original double team captain Frank McLintock in our side today, we would be further forward than we are at present. Transformed from attacking midfielder or inside forward as we used to call them, Frank became one of the game’s best centre halves or central defenders as we call them now, his sense of timing, awareness and heading ability was second to none. 

For me though, the name that resounds the loudest of all from that season was that of Peter Storey. If only we had someone of that calibre now, I say calibre in deference to his football ability, not his leaning towards the illegal activities that saw him jailed in later years. He could tackle ferociously but fairly in most instances, he had a long throw, a great shot and would get important goals. He was our regular penalty taker and hardly ever missed. His goals from the spot would often rescue us or provide the winner. In the fourth round of the F.A. Cup, his penalty at second division Portsmouth earned us a replay and a further penalty in the replay at Highbury was the deciding factor in a narrow 3-2 win. 

I played regularly for two teams at the time and so I played every Saturday and Sunday and trained twice a week, so I missed a few of our Saturday games. I was a left sided midfielder on Saturday and a right sided one on Sunday. I would score probably six to eight goals a season for each team and got the occasional brace with one famous hattrick against the mighty Potters Bar Athletic. I was in truth a mediocre player a bit like our current Mr X, but I reckon I would have kept him out of the side. He might have made into our third team on Saturdays, they were quite good. 

And so, on the 27th March 1971, Arsenal were at Hillsborough in the semi-final of the F.A. Cup and I was playing in an important league game in New Barnet. I was gutted not to be at the semi, so our goalkeeper placed a large transistor radio in the corner of his goal tuned to the BBC and kept me informed as we were playing. My mind wasn’t really on the game I was playing in, but with one ear facing towards our goal and the rest of my face towards the opposition’s goal I did my best. Both games kicked off at 3 o’clock and for the first few minutes I was getting stuck in when Pete our goalkeeper called over and told me Arsenal were a bit under the cosh. My tackling got a little more intense and I was advised to calm it down a little by our ref. He didn’t hear me, it seems, when I muttered something like he should go and polish his glasses. There was no point in chastising him with the mantra “You need glasses ref!” He was already wearing them!

Our game went on as we continually pressed the opposition and I had temporarily forgotten about the other game for a few minutes. Pete called out to me and the other Gunners (we hadn’t yet become Gooners) that we were a goal down at Hillsborough, which caused a bigger reaction from the Tottenham fans on the pitch than ours. Peter Storey had intercepted the corner at the near post and attempted to clear, but as he tried to run forward Smith lashed it in off Storey’s foot. Commentator Brian Moore described it as “an absolutely freak goal!” A little later Storey almost equalised before Gordon Banks saved the rebound from Kennedy. 

Then disaster struck. Our golden boy Charlie George half hit a back pass to leave Bob Wilson stranded with no chance as Ritchie ran in to intercept and tapped home from two yards to leave us two down before half time. On hearing this news, I angrily lashed a ball from just outside our opponent’s penalty area that was flying upwards towards the top corner, but it kept flying upwards to unsettle the pigeons in a tree behind the goal! 

Half-time came and our game remained goalless, but Arsenal went in two down. Normally after our usual oranges and a fag we would restart our games after about ten minutes, but the professionals took fifteen minutes while they took tea and cucumber sandwiches, probably. However, after taking the lead early in the second half, goalkeeper Pete shouted as we came back for the kick off that Storey had got one back for the Arsenal and our game went up a gear as Arsenal fans on both sides were buoyed by the news. We pressed for a second which came after about another twenty minutes and another came soon after. We were 3-0 up and cruising now but still no further news came from Hillsborough. The early spring light was fading in Barnet as our game was coming to an end and my midfield duties were somewhat neglected as I was now more of a defensive sweeper in earshot of Pete’s radio. Our captain Eric was waving at me to push further up but Pete shouted that Arsenal had a penalty in the dying seconds. I thought he was winding me up, but he assured me he wasn’t, so I ran back into the goal just in time to hear two goal hero Storey secure a replay. 

The league campaign was coming to a tumultuous close by the end of April with Leeds and Arsenal neck and neck, but Arsenal had a game in hand. It looked like the deciding contest would be at Elland Road on the 26th. Leeds had two games left and Arsenal three before kick-off and Arsenal were top of the league. An exciting, hard-fought match was drawing to a goalless stalemate with only two minutes on the clock when controversy struck. Jack Charlton had abandoned his defensive role while Leeds sought a winner, was put though seven yards out and turned to slot home. “Offside!” cried Arsenal, as players surrounded referee Norman Burtenshaw. Remember him? The one that ruined my love life! Originally the match should have been under the charge of Jim Finney but he had been injured in a car crash and Burtenshaw was a last-minute substitute, proving conclusively to me that the CIA or Buckingham Palace were somehow involved. I would love to prove that Burtenshaw lived at 782 Tottenham High Road, but so far, my enquiries have drawn a blank. The controversy raged on for days. Conspiracy was the name of the game! Jack Charlton had done us again, just the same as the ’68 League Cup final. However, having watched it now, Bob McNab played him onside and the goal was good. In the end it mattered less.

Leeds were now top and their last game was at home to Nottingham Forest on Saturday May 1st, which they won 2-0, so Arsenal’s task was now far from easy as we faced a final home game on that Saturday against none other than the Stoke City that had annihilated us back in September. Followed only two days later by our last game against the dreaded rivals from White Hart Lane, at their place. These days, one can imagine the furore that would accompany the decision to play such an important match with only 50 hours separating the two games. 

We eased past Stoke with a solitary goal from Eddie Kelly, but Leeds were still top of the league on 64 points. If Arsenal drew against Tottenham at White Hart Lane, Leeds and Arsenal would have equal points separated only by goal average. Both teams had almost identical goal averages, but Leeds had a miniscule edge. Leeds had completed the season with a goal average of 2.400 and going into the game against Tottenham, Arsenal who were one point behind had an average of 2.414. A draw by any score other than 0-0 left Leeds with the superior goal average so only a win or a 0-0 draw would do.

On Sunday the 2nd May, the day before the Tottenham game, I had arranged to meet a young Scouser girl who was heading for a season’s work in Newquay. A few weeks beforehand, I had promised that I would meet her there over what had become the crucial weekend and I had arranged to get the train down to Cornwall the morning after the Stoke game. I had two days off as my shifts changed over at work. Now with the Tottenham game rearranged for the following day when I was committed to go to Cornwall, I was in a dilemma. Try and get in at White Hart Lane with no ticket, or keep a romantic liaison in Cornwall? I was twenty-one, two hours of torture or a night of pleasure with a Scouser? In the end it turned out that White Hart Lane’s bumpy pitch had more shape that she did, so yes, a lifetime of regret about that. 

The Cup Final itself came at the wrong time in my life as I was booked to work when the game was being played. I was working on the railway and had only been in the job for two months so had no holiday entitlement and I was too afraid to go sick, so I resigned myself to missing the game. Not only was I not to be at Wembley, but it would also be the first F.A. Cup final that I would miss on TV since 1957. A small transistor radio about my person was the only solution and I listened intently as the captains, Frank McLintock and Tommy Smith proudly led their teams out onto the pitch accompanied by the match officials led by referee Norman Burtenshaw! What? I always knew the powers that be had it in for us! 

My driver on our locomotive, looked at me as I if I was possessed by demons. I offered a garbled explanation, but he didn’t follow football and probably preferred flower arranging, I had decided. Although he was probably married with seven kids, to my mind any bloke that didn’t follow football was devoid of a normal persona. As the game progressed Peter Jones, one of the BBC radio commentators described to me and Mr. Disinterested the events as they unfolded. All along I was bemoaning the fact that I had to listen on this tinny, little yellow transistor radio. Mr Disinterested assured me he would have gone sick if it was that important. I told him he wasn’t helping.  The game lingered on goalless, but with many exciting moments as both teams had come close on several occasions.

Even Mr D was taking notice now as we shunted from one side of the station to another. We moved trains out of the arrivals platforms to make way for trains coming in as we heard of close shots and great saves. Then, just to make things that little bit worse my nemesis, Norman from Great Yarmouth had clearly and deliberately contrived an extra thirty minutes of suffering only to compound the misery further with a goal for Liverpool. I could envisage him smirking at me as Steve Heighway, who had arrived to sensational effect at the start of the season, but seemed to have remained hidden until the moment he threaded the ball between Bob Wilson and his near post to put us a goal down. However, when George Graham miskicked the ball from Eddie Kelly’s foot to equalise, my jumping and shouting on the shunting engine was only heard by Mr D who didn’t seem to appreciate it at all. In between train movements we would be sent into the headshunt at the north end of the station to await our next call. Most people remember where they heard the news that President Kennedy had been shot or when they heard that Princess Diana had been killed or the planes crashed into the World Trade Centre. Charlie George’s famous pile driver for me was celebrated in the headshunt at Kings Cross Station only half a mile from Charlie’s home down the Caledonian Road. It was the following day before I actually saw it on TV but who could ever forget the moment that sealed the double?  

If you haven’t yet read ‘Fan Memories of the ’71 Double’ Part 1 or Part 2, or Clive’s ‘Personal Memories of the Road to the ’71 Cup Final‘ click on the links to catch up with these wonderful reminiscences. Be sure to watch both Episode 1 and Episode 2 of the video conversations with Bob Wilson and Pat Rice; Episode 2 is also linked below. Our auction of signed memorabilia is still open and about to enter its final week – check out the items below.


THE CONVERSATION: EPISODE TWO

And again…the second part of the conversation, and the second part of our Double Celebration!

GHF.com are pleased to release this, especially considering the Arsenal events of these past few weeks. Lift your spirits by watching the second episode of two video conversations with Bob Wilson and Pat Rice about Arsenal’s 1970-71 Double year, on the 50th Anniversary of our FA Cup win over Liverpool at Wembley. Remember to donate to Willow, or bid on the GHF.com Auction!

Click on the image below (or on the Youtube link below that) to watch

“Episode Two: Double Glory — The 1971 FA Cup Run”

Or, watch here: Episode Two: Double Glory — The 1971 FA Cup Run (on Youtube). This is especially helpful if you’re having any loading issues with the link to the one the site is serving above.

Let us know what you think in the “drinks” section below!


THE AUCTION: NOW ACCEPTING BIDS

We are also pleased to remind you that our auction of signed 1970-71 Double memorabilia is open for bids through 23 May! For full information, please visit The Double/Willow Auction tab above.

Just a taste…the lots offered are as follows:

Lot 1: A 1971 Cup Final replica shirt signed by Bob Wilson, Pat Rice, Frank McLintock, George Graham & Charlie George.

Lot 2: A 1971 Cup Final programme signed by Bob Wilson, Pat Rice, Frank McLintock, George Graham & Charlie George.

Lot 3: A second 1971 Cup Final programme signed by Bob Wilson, Pat Rice, Frank McLintock, George Graham & Charlie George.

Lot 4: Bob Wilson’s autobiography, ‘Behind the Network’ signed by Bob Wilson & Arsène Wenger.

All proceeds from the auction go to the Willow Foundation.


This is a wonderful piece courtesy of our own Goonersince54. Clive, thank you for sharing such an evocative and memorable piece of your, and the Arsenal’s, history.

The Arsenal’s first match in the 1970-71 FA Cup was a 3rd Round tie away to Yeovil.  This game was sandwiched between the Boxing Day 0-0 draw at home to Southampton and the 2-0 win at home against the Hammers on the 9th Jan. 

I was working in retail at the time and as Saturday was always the busiest shopping day of the week, I couldn’t attend the game. Moreover, it being the January sales, I wouldn’t have had time to scratch myself, so I wouldn’t have known the result until after closing time. We won 3-0 with a goal from Ray Kennedy and two goals from John Radford.

The 4th Round tie away to Portsmouth on Jan 23rd was a big test as we were coming off the back of a shock 2-0 loss in the league away to Huddersfield. This game was a real nail biter with a 40,000 crowd, packed into Fratton Park in pouring rain. We were ahead 1-0 at halftime from a Peter Storey penalty, and just when it looked as if we were going to see out the game for a hard-earned win, Pompey salvaged a draw with a last-minute goal to earn a replay at Highbury.

I was working again that day, it being a Saturday, but was sneaking off to keep up with the game on a radio I had brought into work. To say I was gutted by the very late equaliser would be an understatement.

The replay was another fraught night, coming just 48hrs after another damaging league defeat away to Liverpool 2-0. Like the first game, it was played in pouring rain, and we were like drowned rats standing in our usual position near the dugout. I was at the game with Dad, and our hearts sank when Pompey scored very early, but Charlie George soon equalised, and ‘Simmo’ scored with a great header to give us the lead. Credit to Pompey though, they never gave up and when they equalised for a 2nd time, I remember saying to Dad that I thought we were headed for extra time. Then big Raddy got taken out in the penalty area, and ‘Mr Cool’ stepped up to score from the spot and seal the 3-2 victory.

It was quite a spiteful match with Pompey trying to unsettle us by getting really stuck in and I think they had a player sent off near the end.

However, we were through to the 5th round though the knowledge that we had to play Man City away at Maine Road did not fill me with any great confidence. The tie should have been played on Saturday 13th February but for the life of me I cannot remember why it wasn’t. Maybe it was inclement weather? Can you remember?

Anyway, it was played the following Wednesday, the 17th, and Charlie George who had missed a large chunk of the season with injury, scored 2 crackers and the team surprised most supporters including me, by coming away with a 2 –1 win.

The 6th Round away tie against Second Division high flyers Leicester on Saturday 6th March, came on the back of a good 3-0 league win over Wolves at Highbury, but again, I was reduced to trying to follow the game on the radio while working, making for a very fraught afternoon.

We were totally outplayed on a typical early spring heavy pitch and, but for some outstanding defensive work and top goalkeeping by Bob, we would have lost and history would never have been made. The game ended 0-0.

Dad and I were at the Highbury replay which had to be deferred for 10 days to Monday 15th as we were still in the Fairs Cup and had a home game against Cologne on Wednesday the 9th. The replay was almost as fraught as the first game, a very nervy/tight/tense game with so much at stake for both clubs. Dad was like a cat on a hot tin roof which inevitably transferred itself to me! We were packed in like sardines and you couldn’t have fallen over if you tried. We were all, to a man, devastated when it looked as if Leicester had taken the lead in the first half and at the time, we had absolutely no idea why the goal was eventually disallowed. We later found out that it was chalked off for a push on Pat Rice, spotted by the linesman. That saved our bacon.

Then just before the interval, we got the breakthrough via a pinpoint Geordie Armstrong corner that Charlie rose up in the night sky to just beat the Leicester keeper Peter Shilton to it, and head us into the lead. I spent most of the 2nd half looking at the clock, willing it to go faster, as it seemed to take an age to tick round to 9.15pm and the final whistle. Cue absolute joy among the fans, hugging everyone within reach at the prospect of a semi-final appearance and one more game to get through for a potential Wembley final. It’s worth pointing out that Leicester were a very good side and they were unlucky to lose. Their consolation was winning the Second Division title and promotion to the First Division.

As for the semi-final against Stoke on Saturday March 27th, the omens weren’t good. We were coming off a very dispiriting 1- 0 loss away to Cologne in midweek which knocked us out of the Fairs Cup on the away goals rule and to say we started off looking very heavy-legged and low on confidence, was an understatement. Stoke just blew us away, and in truth, could have scored 3 or 4 with a bit more luck. Of course, I was working as usual and here I have to make a confession. I had my radio out the back in the stockroom off the sales floor and kept nipping out to check the progress. 

After going 0-2 down, we had pulled one back through Peter Storey very early in the 2nd half to make it 2-1, but try as we might we just couldn’t create much and the clock wound down to the 90 minutes. With about a minute to go, I grumpily turned the radio off, convinced that we were out.

I was working at the Wimbledon Woolworth store as Assistant manager at the time and to say it was an Arsenal fan free zone would be putting it mildly. So, I was oblivious to the fact that we had scored in the last minute through a Peter Storey penalty to take the game to a replay. I only found out on the train going home after work that night when I saw the back page of the evening paper that a man sitting opposite me was reading!!

As for the replay, Dad somehow managed to get 2 tickets through an Arsenal mate for the game at Villa Park on the following Wednesday. He knocked off work early and I got the nod from the Store Manager to do the same and we went up on a train full of hopeful and optimistic Gooners. It was a fantastic night with a hard fought 2-0 victory through goals from George Graham and Ray Kennedy. We returned on the train full of the same, this time very happy, singing, and heavily inebriated supporters.

That night, along with the Final itself, were the two best times Dad and I had together during the Cup run, given the adversity we had to overcome to finally get our hands on the trophy.

You’ll no doubt have read about the Final already. If you haven’t, check the ‘Fan Memories’ post from 10th May or hear Bob and Pat’s recollections on the video to which there is a link below.


THE CONVERSATION: EPISODE TWO

And again…the second part of the conversation, and the second part of our Double Celebration!

GHF.com are pleased to release this, especially considering the Arsenal events of these past couple weeks. Lift your spirits by watching the second episode of two video conversations with Bob Wilson and Pat Rice about Arsenal’s 1970-71 Double year, on the 50th Anniversary of our FA Cup win over Liverpool at Wembley. Remember to donate to Willow, or bid on the GHF.com Auction!

Click on the image below (or on the Youtube link below that) to watch

“Episode Two: Double Glory — The 1971 FA Cup Run”

Or, watch here: Episode Two: Double Glory — The 1971 FA Cup Run (on Youtube). This is especially helpful if you’re having any loading issues with the link to the one the site is serving above.

Let us know what you think in the “drinks” section below!


THE AUCTION: NOW ACCEPTING BIDS

We are also pleased to remind you that our auction of signed 1970-71 Double memorabilia is open for bids through 23 May! For full information, please visit The Double/Willow Auction tab above.

Just a taste…the lots offered are as follows:

Lot 1: A 1971 Cup Final replica shirt signed by Bob Wilson, Pat Rice, Frank McLintock, George Graham & Charlie George.

Lot 2: A 1971 Cup Final programme signed by Bob Wilson, Pat Rice, Frank McLintock, George Graham & Charlie George.

Lot 3: A second 1971 Cup Final programme signed by Bob Wilson, Pat Rice, Frank McLintock, George Graham & Charlie George.

Lot 4: Bob Wilson’s autobiography, ‘Behind the Network’ signed by Bob Wilson & Arsène Wenger.

All proceeds from the auction go to the Willow Foundation.


Tonight we beat Chelsea in the league for the second time this season. I think that is something to be pleased with!

And yet, I’ve gotta say that it hurts how little that actually matters…

When the fixture list came out, perhaps a few of us looked at this game, so close to the end of the season, and wondered what might be riding on it? The answer is not a lot. Chelsea themselves still look good for 4th place and guaranteed Champions League football. They also have the FA Cup final and the Champions League Final to look towards.

We have an outside chance of playing in a new European Competition that is for teams who have not proven themselves good enough for the Europa League *cue Mr. Burns-style shudder*

However, results against lesser lights have been our downfall in a season when we have been the masters of our own mediocrity.

The funny thing is that after Jorginho gifted us a goal I actually felt quite confident we would win. Or at least I think I did – perhaps I just did not care very much if we lost?

The Portuguese made an awful backpass that Kepa just managed to paw off the line. However, it went to Auba who squared for ESR to bobble one in. The SKY team were desperate to give Andre Marriner credit for not giving an indirect free kick for a backpass. I am no expert, but Kepa looked well within his rights to make a goal-line save, and if that was what was the backpass rule was meant to prevent then I’ll drink a beer.

*two minute pause*

Well, perhaps that was what the backpass rule was meant to prevent, as I am bravely drinking a penance beer.

Apart from being given a goal, we were not great (although I should point out that our high-press was effective in forcing an error, even if we were fortunate that it was such a calamitous one). Saka was out of the game as a right wing back. Holding, Mari and Gabriel played in a three at the back with KT on the left. Elneny and Partey played central. Auba floated about ineffectively up top (no service and he does nothing if you don’t feed him) with ESR and Odegaard behind him on the left and right, respectively. It was a bit of a mishmash of a team and a formation, and perhaps it was a judgement on the players in our current squad that the manager felt it was his best option. Or perhaps it was just a shot in the dark to try to get a performance from us?

Who knows?

At this point in the season it is hard to suggest that we have any revelations about the team heading our way.

So, what else did we learn, if anything?

Partey needs a proper partner before we judge him, but he has not convinced anyone yet… Apart from me. He has convinced me that, whatever aspirations he has to play further forward, he should be the deep-lying midfielder. He was harshly given a yellow in injury time when he went down asking for a penalty. That would have been a soft decision, but I thought he might be busting a gut to get a shot away for his first Arsenal goal. Apparently not. He made a great run and then allowed himself to be funnelled safely into the channel. If only the chance had fallen to Elneny – he would have put his foot through it!

Chelsea actually put in a performance quite reminiscent of us this season. They controlled possession, were the better side, created some decent chances, missed those chances, gave away a needless goal, and could not find a way back into the match against a determined side who defended deep.

They were unlucky to hit the bar twice in ten seconds at the end. Apparently, there are some Gooners who do not consider hitting the woodwork twice to be a sign of nearly scoring a goal because these efforts do not count as shots on target. Personally, I do not see it like that, and when Giroud volleyed a lovely effort into the bar after Leno pushed Zouma’s header against it, I thought Chelsea were unlucky not to score. Which made me quite happy.

Then again, early in the game Mari hesitated to step onto a Gabriel pass to allow Havertz (whose face seems to have too much bone but not enough flesh – I bet he is a mean vampire at Halloween) to run through at Leno and, luckily for us, Lacazette his one-on-one chance over the bar. (Bit harsh on Laca, I know, but he has missed a few this year.)

The team in blue also had a goal rightly disallowed for an offside after a ball was flicked on from a corner. Before VAR intervened, the sound system belted out The Fratellis’ ‘Chelsea Dagger’. If only the disallowed goal had been a dagger to their hearts, instead of just a minor frustration in the least important match they will play anytime soon.

Whoever our set-piece coach is he needs to take a long look in the mirror. We do not look secure defending corners. Our own short corners are woeful. Our corner takers consistently take corners that do not provide anyone a chance to attack them. When anyone attacks one of our corners they never seem to have any conviction that they will score. All of which means we score very little from corners. It is such a basic area to improve and the fact that we have a bloke who is supposed to specialise in this rubs salt into the wound. As does the fact that Bellerin cannot take a legal throw-in.

Speaking of Hector, he came on and had a shot on target after our best move of the night before injuring himself as he stretched to clear a lofted ball. Soon after he was replaced by Chambers. Personally, I have no idea who our first choice right-back is, so I wanted Cedric to come on for Chambers, so we got a look at all of them in the same game!

There was a first half moment when Holding blocked a shot after a move that was partly excellent from Chelsea and partly us ball-watching. I am pretty sure he blocked it with his hand but we won this evening’s VAR lottery and no penalty was awarded.

Mikel Arteta was bullish after the game in his interview. He was extremely angry with the way some of his comments in his last presser had been construed, and it is hard not to believe a bloke so visibly furious at stories in the papers that he had thrown any of his players under a bus. Which is fair enough. How would you feel if the national press said that you were like Jose Mourinho?

Yeah. Pretty angry, right?

In such circumstances then well might you, too, look like a human velociraptor as it readies itself to go in for the kill. All eyeballs and tight skin and the menace of hidden incisors.

What? It was only me that got that impression? Nah, you lot are lying.

One thing I think we must take serious note of is how hard our players worked and how much they wanted to win. In a match that will probably prove a dead rubber there can be no doubt that they gave their manager everything tonight, and I think that is another reason to be encouraged ahead of next season. Elneny got MOTM and fair play to him. I also thought ESR worked his balls off.

Right, I have started on a high and ended on a high. As this awful season limps to a close you could not ask me for more than that!

I hope we manage two more wins to end on as much of a high as we can.

Until next time, have a good one, Holics.


THE CONVERSATION: EPISODE TWO

And again…the second part of the conversation, and the second part of our Double Celebration!

GHF.com are pleased to release this, especially considering the Arsenal events of these past couple weeks. Lift your spirits by watching the second episode of two video conversations with Bob Wilson and Pat Rice about Arsenal’s 1970-71 Double year, on the 50th Anniversary of our FA Cup win over Liverpool at Wembley. Remember to donate to Willow, or bid on the GHF.com Auction!

Click on the image below (or on the Youtube link below that) to watch

“Episode Two: Double Glory — The 1971 FA Cup Run”

Or, watch here: Episode Two: Double Glory — The 1971 FA Cup Run (on Youtube). This is especially helpful if you’re having any loading issues with the link to the one the site is serving above.

Let us know what you think in the “drinks” section below!


THE AUCTION: NOW ACCEPTING BIDS

We are also pleased to remind you that our auction of signed 1970-71 Double memorabilia is now open for bids! For full information, please visit The Double/Willow Auction tab above.

Just a taste…the lots offered are as follows:

Lot 1: A 1971 Cup Final replica shirt signed by Bob Wilson, Pat Rice, Frank McLintock, George Graham & Charlie George.

Lot 2: A 1971 Cup Final programme signed by Bob Wilson, Pat Rice, Frank McLintock, George Graham & Charlie George.

Lot 3: A second 1971 Cup Final programme signed by Bob Wilson, Pat Rice, Frank McLintock, George Graham & Charlie George.

Lot 4: Bob Wilson’s autobiography, ‘Behind the Network’ signed by Bob Wilson & Arsène Wenger.

All proceeds from the auction go to the Willow Foundation.


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