By Tony Attwood
Updated 8 Feb with end of season friendlies added.
Arsenal ended 1976 in sixth place, seven points behind the league leaders with three games in hand.
They began the new year at home to the much disliked Leeds United on 3 January 1977 in a match in which Alan Hudson, the man who quite amazingly gave Stoke City creativity, made his debut for Arsenal.
The team was Rimmer, Rice, Powling, Ross, O’Leary, Simpson, Hudson, Brady, Macdonald, Stapleton, Armstrong – the interesting name being the last – for Armstrong had been asking to leave all season. But there he was still plying 40 yard perfect passes across the pitch.
Brady had a chance on 12 minutes, Stapleton on 22, but that was it until Alan Clarke scored a beautiful goal on 57 minutes from a pass from Jordon, saw Rimmer rushing at him and instead of kicking it hard to left or right floated it up into the sky and down to bounce on the line and in. It was the sort of goal that is perfect when a player gets it right, but looks awful if it goes awry.
Stapleton, Ross and Brady renewed Arsenal’s efforts and each came close until at least Macdonald went one better on 71 minutes – his 8th in five and his best of the season. Brady provided the perfect pass, there was a swivel, there was accuracy, there was perception, and there was power, all combined. The two shots that led to goals were cited across the media as evidence that there is still talent enough to excite in English football.
Next up was the traditional early January fare of the third round of the FA Cup on 8 January which ended Notts County 0 Arsenal 1, with 17,328 in the ground.
It was in truth a dreadful game for 80 minutes, and only any better for the last ten because of the relief that Arsenal were not going to be held by a mid-table 2nd division team.
The goal itself stood way above anything else on display. Ross took a short pass from Hudson, flicked the ball up and then hit it wide of the keeper and into the net.
The problem for Arsenal was that Hudson and Brady appeared to be playing in the same position, with neither willing to get out of the other’s way. With Hudson still far short of match fitness, it meant that he endlessly slowed the game down while Brady tried to speed it up. As a result balls didn’t get to Macdonald who ultimately lost interest, even to the point of not kicking his 88th minute penalty hard enough. The keeper easily pushed it round the post.
However there was some relief from the tedium to be had with the news that simultaneously Tottenham Hotspur were beaten 1–0 by Second Division Cardiff City.
The following weekend, 15 January, there was another 1-0, this time Arsenal beating Norwich City 0.
30,537 came to see what turned out to be Arsenal’s last league win until April, in a sequence which included seven defeats in a row and four consecutive matches without a goal – one of our worst runs ever. But that was for the future. Here the crowd was happy that Pat Rice scored the goal, one of three he scored in 42 league games during the season. After the match Pat, always the great talker, said, “I saw the keeper move off his line, so I bent the ball around him. If Pele had done it, it would have been hailed as a great goal.”
Hudson was supposed to be the man to deliver the skill in midfield to take some of the pressure off Brady, but he delivered nothing. Mind you, Peters was supposed to be able to do it for Norwich and he delivered even less. As a result the game was deadly. Armstrong played as much in defence as anywhere else, and the negative aspect of this approach worked its way through the whole game.
The great thing about the next game, a 3-3 draw away to Birmingham City in front of a crowd of 23,247, was that it contained a Macdonald hat trick. The worst thing from an Arsenal point of view was that it contained a Trevor Francis hat trick.
But although that looks great on paper, the game was in truth messy, an affair slogged out in the mud, where the skilful players on the pitch could do nothing other than slam the ball upfield and hope for the best.
Perhaps it was not a coincidence that following discussion in the press in which players had acknowledged that they had been instructed by managers to break an opposition player’s leg, a circular was distributed by the PFA telling their members that in the union’s view, any players who followed such instruction could be sued in the courts and there would be little that the union could offer by way of defence.
And so, with that draw, the sky fell in on Arsenal. On 27 January the result Bristol City 2 Arsenal 0, in front of 26,282 ,might have been dismissed as a freak result – a fluke. After all only Armstrong was missing from the regular line up. Rimmer was still in goal. The back four of Rice, Nelson, Storey, O’Leary were as solid as ever, although to be fair Storey did look like he was reaching the end of the line. But Hudson and Brady were getting the hang of playing in the same team, and Macdonald and Stapleton looked fine together. But no, Bristol City stood firm, and Arsenal hardly had a shot.
It was City’s fifth win of the season, but they still looked more than likely to be one of the favourites for relegation.
Then for the last game of the month we were back to the FA Cup and a 3-1 home win over Coventry City, no less than 41,078, inside Highbury willing to ignore the defeat to Bristol City.
In the press after the game Macdonald, who got two, and Stapleton who scored the other, were compared to Kennedy and Radford. And amazingly in the light of what happened immediately after, the papers started calling them the best football front pairing in the league. It just goes to show – don’t judge a team or a player by just a few results.
Gordon Milne Coventry manager said afterwards, “we didn’t compete, our back four didn’t play,” but none of the media saw it as their fault. Arsenal were immediately installed as second favourites to win the FA cup at 7-1 and Alan Hudson was commended for his style.
It was however the last Arsenal game for Peter Storey, one of the uncompromising hard men of the game and he seemingly left Arsenal in good shape – into the 5th round and fifth in the league.
|11||West Bromwich Albion||22||7||8||7||30||27||+3||22|
|17||Queens Park Rangers||20||7||4||9||26||30||-4||18|
|21||West Ham United||22||4||5||13||20||35||-15||13|
But that defeat by 2-0 to Bristol City – seen above as being lowly but with games in hand – was still a warning sign.
February started with an outburst of player power as the Newcastle United squad, led by captain Geoff Nulty, threatened to strike unless Richard Dinnis was immediately appointed as the club’s permanent manager. The situation was exacerbated by the board of directors signing Ralph Callachan without consulting either Dinnis or the other players.
And player power seemingly won as on 2 February the board agree to the players’ demands and appoint Dinnis as manager.
Back on the pitch, warning signs, for those willing to see them, were brightly illuminated as on 5 February Arsenal and Sunderland played out a goalless draw at Highbury with 30,925 in attendance.
Arsenal had plenty of opportunity to win this game in the first part of the second half, but somehow nothing would go in despite an endless stream of good chances. At the other end Rimmer continued his fine form and ensured that Sunderland got nothing.
So the game ended as it had begun. In fact it often looked as if Sunderland really wanted to let Arsenal win, as they played a system that was only called 4-3-3 because no one could find another name for it. Even O’Leary, undoubtedly dismayed by his colleagues’ inability to score from endless chances, galloped up to have a go once or twice, but missed. Near the end fighting broke out at the Clock End, and the slowness of the constabulary to arrive led some to suggest they were Sunderland reserves in disguise.
A second blank score sheet for Arsenal on 12 February in the 1-0 defeat to Manchester City on 12 February (45,368 at Maine Road) was the fourth consecutive league game without a win, which seemed a bit ominous. But it was also the start of seven consecutive defeats in the league – the worst ever run of defeats, beating the six “achieved” under both Chapman and Knighton, and worse than anything in the relegation season in 1912/13.
In a desperate attempt to get back to winning ways Arsenal played a 5-3-2 line up, but as an initiative it failed horribly, as Manchester City simply played around the midfield and let Arsenal’s extra man at the back get in the way of the regulars.
Seeing the problem Hudson took matters into his own hands (or rather feet) and dealt out such punishment as he thought was deserved, but it did Arsenal no good constructively, and they hardly had a shot. Manchester City were fluid and creative, Arsenal were very much not.
Matters continued in this vein on 15 February with the result Middlesbrough 3 Arsenal 0, and an attendance of 26,083. In the last four league games Arsenal had scored nil, let in six, won nil, drawn one and lost three. Quite how this could be in a team that included Stapleton and Macdonald was simply beyond belief.
Four days later on 19 February 1977, Brady and Stapleton did at least get a goal each, but the match ended Arsenal 2 West Ham United 3 meaning that Arsenal had now gone six without a win. But that run had included in the three teams who had made up the bottom three positions in the league at the start of the month.
This was a game of passes that simply could and did go anywhere, but to be fair it must be said that West Ham managed to score three fine goals that put Arsenal to shame. There was a feeling that if only Alan Hudson could get the ball, something might go right for Arsenal, but he wouldn’t go looking, and no one wanted to pass it to him, so effectively Arsenal played one man short.
Trevor Brooking stole the show with a display of through balls, free kicks and intricate passing movements of which he was at the heart throughout. That Brady and Stapleton did score was no more than Arsenal deserved – but to win games like this they need another player of quality and vision in the middle and Hudson was increasingly looking to be not that man.
It was with some relief that Arsenal and Arsenal fans turned back to the FA Cup on 26 February with the long trip to Middlesbrough and revenge for that 3-0 away defeat on the 15th.
But incomprehensibly it ended Middlesbrough 4 Arsenal 1, 35,208 in the ground and Arsenal out of the Cup.
“How bad can it get?” everyone asked, and the answer was, “As bad as you can imagine.” Having be looking lost, Hudson shone out above the rest offering short, subtle passing, but now everyone else had a day off and whatever Terry Neil had said after the previous game on this ground, just 11 days before, it had not worked.
When Macdonald headed a goal to pull the game back to 2-1 (Boro having scored two in the first quarter hour), Arsenal might have had some hopes. But Mills, Brine and Souness stepped up and dominated the game and their third goal on 50 minutes marked the end. But the time of the final goal just on the final whistle Arsenal had long since thrown in the towel.
By the end of the month two successive defeats for Ipswich Town had allowed Liverpool to regain top spot in the race for the title. At the bottom, Tottenham Hotspur now propped up the table. It was the only thing to bring a smile to a desperate Arsenal fan’s face.
|12||West Bromwich Albion||26||8||9||9||34||36||-2||25|
|16||Queens Park Rangers||22||8||5||9||30||33||-3||21|
|18||West Ham United||26||7||5||14||26||39||-13||19|
But March brings hope, winter comes to an end, and surely Arsenal would win again soon. But not on 1 March when it ended Everton 2 Arsenal 1, with 29,802 inside Goodison.
That made it seven without a win and the fourth consecutive defeat. Macdonald scored, but otherwise it was fairly horrible; the sort of match that leaves everyone without much to say.
It was perhaps with some sadness that the following day, 2 March, we heard that Peter Storey had left the club and was transferred to Fulham. It was clear his ability had been declining with age, but many of us still held the hard man close to our hearts.
Speaking later of the Double season he said, “We never knew when we were beaten; our powers of recovery during 90 minutes, and sometimes beyond, were immense.” It was a poignant thought, for the team that Peter left certainly did know when they were beaten – it was in every game.
On the same day, 2 March 1977 Willie Young joined Arsenal from an increasingly doomed looking Tottenham Hotspur. He had played 54 times for Tottenham, had suffered various suspensions, including a life ban from playing for Scotland and now was brought in to shore up Arsenal.
But it didn’t work – at least not at first, for his first game, on 5 March 1977, the result was Arsenal 1 Ipswich Town 4. Despite the recent results 34,688 came to Highbury, perhaps because Ipswich still had hopes of winning the league.
Arsenal set out to contain them, and in the first half did so. But in the second the tight reign was loosened and Ipswich knocked in three within the first 15 minutes of the half. Willie Young made his first appearance and gave away the penalty for the third. Arsenal themselves got a penalty which Macdonald scored, and Ipswich got a fourth with a minute to go.
Brady created what he could but Ross and Mathews were not in the game at all. The simple fact was that nothing went Arsenal’s way and there were too few men in the team who could change that. The lack of belief showed from the moment of the first Ipswich goal.
Ipswich’s Howard was injured in the first half, and Whymark came on at half time but even that didn’t slow Ipswich. Neil said after the game, “we weren’t poor, more like pathetic.” That was fairly honest, but as a way of motivating players, it was a ludicrous and stupid thing to do. He was, after all, the manager, and washing his hands of any responsibility was certainly not a clever thing to do. Of his latest acquisition Neill said, “he tried to play like Pele”. One wondered whose fault that was.
Still, it was mid-table WBA at home next, and surely the problems surrounding Arsenal had to come to an end sometime.
That of course was true, but some time was not 8 March, for the result was Arsenal 1 WBA 2. And there was an ominous warning from the crowd: only 19,517 turned up.
It is worth at this point, showing the whole team: Rimmer, Rice, Nelson, Price, Young, Howard, Brady, Powling, Macdonald, Stapleton, Armstrong. That was not a bad side, and yet with this result it was now nine without a win and six consecutive defeats.
Illness kept Hudson out of the team, he was said to be suffering from depression, but the papers made light of it. Macdonald gave Arsenal the lead, and at the end the media told Rimmer Young and Price they should be depressed too, as comical errors led to both WBA goals, with Rimmer nowhere to be found.
For the first, Brown centred, Price moved the wrong way, Robson deflected the ball and Cross headed into an empty goal. For the second Robson went down injured, the ball drifted out to the corner, Rimmer ran out to collect and dribble back, but then amazingly passed it to Cross, who simply scored.
12 March 1977 saw Queen’s Park Rangers 2 Arsenal 1, the 7th and final consecutive defeat – the worst run in Arsenal’s history – ever. Even in the dreadful 1912/13 season nothing as bad as this was delivered.
26,191 came out to see it. The team who played in utterly unwanted record was Rimmer, Rice, Nelson, Powling, Young, Howard, Brady, Hudson (Price), Macdonald, Stapleton, Armstrong.
Francis and Thomas and Gillard went off for QPR who finished with 9 men only one sub being allowed. Armstrong said, “what we need is a general. We haven’t had one since Alan Ball left. Even when we were winning we were giving away bad goals. Now we go out almost expecting something daft to happen.” And even the goal was daft; Willie Young getting his first for Arsenal.
Away from Arsenal on 20 March 1977 Peter Houseman, who helped Chelsea win the FA Cup in 1970 and the European Cup Winners’ Cup a year later, tragically died in a car crash near Oxford, at the age of 31 along with his wife and two others.
Then, finally, Arsenal got a point. It came at Stoke on 23 March with the result Stoke 1 Arsenal 1, a mere 13,951 supporters.
Price scored within 90 seconds of his first league match start and delivered Arsenal’s first point in eight games, but the club was still without a win in 11 league matches – and Stoke was hardly a club against whom Arsenal should be welcoming a draw. Tony Waddington had resigned as manager the previous Tuesday and George Eastham had stepped in as caretaker boss.
Both goals came in the first five minutes, and Liam Brady was sent off for retaliation. a forearm smash on 28 minutes. Steve Waddington, the ex-manager’s son had spent the game clipping Brady’s heels and he had just been twice kicked from behind and then flattened Sammy Nelson also was booked; but it was at last a point.
|7||West Bromwich Albion||32||12||11||9||46||40||+6||35|
And thus came victory, at last, on 2 April Arsenal 3 Leicester City 0. The crowd was 23,013 and the team for this monumental occasion was Rimmer, Rice, Nelson, Powling (Matthews), O’Leary, Young, Rix, Price, Macdonald, Stapleton, Armstrong.
But perhaps most notable was that the scorers were O’Leary (2), and Graham Rix, playing in his first ever game. Rix had signed a professional contract on 13 January 1975, but had had to wait until this day to play his first game. He went on to play 388 league games for the club.
And then, if one win were not enough, on 9 April Arsenal did it again, this time the result being West Bromwich Albion 0 Arsenal 2, with 24,275 at the Hawthornes. Rix kept his place, and at least this time the scorers made more sense: Macdonald, Stapleton.
“Considering the problems we have had with colds and injuries it was a great performance,” said Neill after the game. “We had patience and composure.”
The goals came on 39 and 40 minutes, and the result was all the more welcome given that the media were talking up WBA as European contenders.
And it was a bizarre match. At one point Rimmer was taking a free kick inside his area, when suddenly the ref ran up, gave him a card and then gave Albion a free kick without any explanation as to why, even when Rimmer asked.
So there we were, two wins on the trot. And next up were the Totts. Could Arsenal, impossible as it might seem, actually make it three in a row?
On 11 April with 47,432 in the crowd, the answer was yes. Arsenal 1 Tottenham Hotspur 0. The result edged Tottenham closer to the second division and took Macdonald, who scored a little closer to the Daily Express’ prize of £10,000 to the first player to get 30 goals in the season.
Thus far, despite the long dry spell, and the run of consecutive defeats, he had 22, and he needed 8 from 7 more games.
For this game Mac had tooth abscess and claimed he had not slept all night Otherwise it was “lifeless”, the Tottenham manager said, as well as trotting out the other chestnut of losing managers everywhere: “other results went very badly for us today.”
The Sunday papers brought out the suggestion that Tottenham had been trying to buy Macdonald at same time as Arsenal – but as usual there was no evidence. Just Chinese whispers.
For the goal Osgood hesitated trying to pass back a long through ball from Brady that he had intercepted. Macdonald slipped in between defender and keeper and scored. Tottenham’s substitute keeper Daines kept Tottenham in the game to the end despite further efforts from Macdonald and one from Price.
Playing against his old comrades Young needed stitches in his forehead. We expected nothing else.
But just because the awful run had ended it didn’t mean all was sweetness and light, nor victory after victory, and so it proved with the visit to Liverpool which ended on April 16 Liverpool 2 Arsenal 0, 48,174 in the ground.
The newspapers were full of Liverpool’s attempt to go one better than the Arsenal of 1971 and win the treble and buoyed by their drive to the championship, Liverpool managed to beat Arsenal at Anfield for the first time in four years.
For Arsenal Rimmer was the hero, keeping the score to a respectable level. Throughout Arsenal looked nervy, and back passes by Rice and Brady put them into trouble. In the end Liverpool relied on rebounds from shots, Neal and Keegan having little to do save boot the ball over the line.
After that it was back to the more mundane fair as Arsenal beat Coventry 2-0 at Highbury, to reassure fans that one defeat did not mean the start of another appalling run. But the damage of that run had been done, as shown by the fact that just 22,790 showed up. Rix got another outing when Ross went off, and Macdonald and Stapleton scored.
Les Sealey the 19 year old stand-in Coventry keeper was man of the match, in just his second appearance following an injury to Jim Blyth. Otherwise there was not much to report.
But the wins were not over and on 25 April there was another: Arsenal 3 Aston Villa 0. But still the crowd was on the small side: 24,011
Armstrong, still at the club and back in the team got one of the goals, Nelson and Macdonald providing the others.
It was however the last league game for Wilf Rostron. He played only 17 times for Arsenal across four years, and went on to Sunderland, but he is best remembered for his subsequent career at Watford where he played 317 league games for the club.
And in case the fans were thinking that all this talk of revival was all right, but it was all just a case of winning home games, on 30 April Arsenal won away, with the result Newcastle United 0 Arsenal 2, 44,763 in attendance, and the issue of Macdonald still on everyone’s lips.
The result made it six wins out of seven matches with Macdonald (of course) and Matthews scoring, Pat Howard, very much a stop gap player for the season, making his final appearance.
This was Macdonald’s first return to Newcastle after his £333,333 transfer and with Newcastle protecting an unbeaten home record and having just gone 11 without defeat, it was anticipated in the press that Arsenal’s recovery period would come to an end.
The Newcastle fans directed chants of the utmost obscenity Macdonald’s way, which was expected of course, and only seemed to spur him on further. They were only silenced when Macdonald scored on 42 minutes. Stapleton took the corner, and Supermac headed home from five yards. Silence reigned. The second came on 55 minutes as Matthews scored with a shot that hit the keeper and bounced in. From then on Macdonald spent the game shooting every time he got the ball.
The table at the end of April had a slightly healthier ring, and an amusing scenario at the foot of the table.
|8||West Bromwich Albion||38||14||12||12||53||50||+3||40|
|18||Queens Park Rangers||36||11||9||16||41||46||-5||31|
|21||West Ham United||38||9||12||17||38||61||-23||30|
Arsenal clearly were not going to reach the top four but they could have made fifth if the winning run had kept going but it was not to be, and the remaining three games were a disappointment after such comparative highs.
On 3 May there was a goalless draw at Highbury with Derby County, in front of 26,659. Derby themselves had fallen from the great heights achieved in the brief Brian Clough era, and one wonders what the directors who stood up to him to show who’s boss ever thought of it all subsequently, especially as the rise of Nottingham Forest was starting.
In this game there were no concessions to entertainment as Derby were engaged in a desperate fight for survival what with them being just one point above Tottenham in the relegation dogfight.
Having won 4-0 against Manchester City in the last match Charlie George (what did he make of it all?) Derek Hayles and Leighton James were all injured and the crowd witnessed a pre-Allardyce version of bus parking as a means of entertainment.
Armstrong, Brady and Stapleton all worked hard A misdirected pass by Macdonald nearly gave Derby a goal but otherwise it was totally negative from Derby. Stapleton and Macdonald were reduced to shooting from distance and that was about it.
Willie Young came off on the hour, not because he was injured but because there was no Derby attack to break up and he was redundant. Rix had a go in his place, but the car park held firm.
For the next game Middlesbrough had no such worries being firmly placed in mid-table, but still there was to be no final victory to lift the 23,911 who bothered to show. It ended on 7 May Arsenal 1 Middlesbrough 1, Stapleton getting the goal.
But really there was no interest in the affair as all the media focus was on the foot of the table. Since being beaten by Arsenal on 11 April, Tottenham had won just won match and a 5-0 away defeat on 7 May meant that Tottenham were almost certain to be relegated for the first time since 1935. It left the foot of the table looking like this.
|19||West Ham United||40||10||13||17||42||63||-21||33|
|20||Queens Park Rangers||37||11||10||16||42||47||-5||32|
Arsenal’s last game of the season was on 14 May, and it ended Manchester Utd 3 Arsenal 2 with 53,232 in Old Trafford.
The team for the last game of the season was Rimmer, Rice, Nelson, Matthews, O’Leary, Young (Rix), Brady, Hudson, Macdonald, Stapleton, Armstrong; Brady and Stapleton getting the goals.
The result meant that Arsenal finished the season without a win in the final three games ending in eighth position rather than the 5th that had briefly looked possible. The record breaking run of loses had been hard to take, but the final position was still a significant improvement on the 16th and 17th of the two previous seasons.
Tottenham won their final game of the season, but results elsewhere, as expected, were against them, and anyway the 2-0 home win over Leicester was not good enough to lift them out of the bottom three, with there still being just two points for a win. The press reported that the Tottenham chairman of directors asked his fellow directors for ideas on money saving now the club was in the second division.
Bristol City, having beaten Arsenal at Highbury in the first game of the season, but then themselves suffered a run of six successive defeats during which they scored but one goal, had a better run towards the end of the season including the last five (played in 12 days) unbeaten.
But the biggest controversy on the last day of the season, when, with three teams hoping to avoid the last relegation place, Coventry City and Bristol City played out a controversial 2–2 draw. The kick-off was delayed for fifteen minutes by Coventry chairman Jimmy Hill due “crowd congestion”.
The stadium’s record attendance was 51,455 in a Football League Division 2 game in 1967. But the attendane on this day was just 36,903. Crowd congestion? It seems very unlikely.
But having arranged matters so the team kicked off late the other games finished before the Coventry match, and in an unprecedented but not illegal move, the Coventry club announced that Sunderland had lost to Everton. This meant that a draw would allow both the Bristol City and Coventry were safe.
The game then to all intents and purposes stopped, with the players simply passing the ball to each other and no one making a tackle or interception.
Hill was subsequently reprimanded by the Football Association for delaying the kick-off, but not for announcing the result before the end (not an offence in FA terms) and the results were allowed to remain.
Although the TV companies, leagues and other pundits conveniently forgot what appeared to be a blatant manipulation of a match to suit his team’s own ends, Sunderland fans did not forget, and when, in 2008 Hill attended Craven Cottage for a match against Sunderland he was subjected to such a level of abuse by Sunderland fans that he was led out of the stadium under police escort.
|7||West Bromwich Albion||42||16||13||13||62||56||+6||45|
|14||Queens Park Rangers||42||13||12||17||47||52||-5||38|
|17||West Ham United||42||11||14||17||46||65||-19||36|
Curiously, even before the season was over Arsenal played their first end of season friendly:
- 10 May 1977: Arsenal 4 Hajduk Split 0. (George, Stapleton 3, Ross) (14,152; John Radford Testimonial)
- 14 May 1977: Man U 2 Arsenal 0 (final league match)
- 17 May 1977: Rotenborg 0 Arsenal 4 (Macdonald 3 Stapleton) (7500)
- 18 May 1977: Nessegoten 0 Arsenal 3 (Macdonald 2 Armstrong). Eight of the players from the day before also played the day before; 2500)
- 20 May 1977: Roros 0 Arsenal 6 (Rix, Macdonald 3, Price, Stapleton; 2135)
Quite what the point of the tour of Norway was, is hard to say. The crowds were tiny!
Elsewhere in London, Chelsea, already with an away ban in place gained promotion back to the first division, in a game which the referee twice threatened to abandon because of crowd behaviour. After the final whistle the celebrations were said by the Daily Express to have led to “an orgy of violence destruction and mob rule.” Chelsea responded by saying they would fence the ground, charge £1 minimum and no discount for children. QPR meanwhile dipped to 14th place just a year after almost winning the title,
In the end no one won the Daily Express 30 goal challenge, the top goalscorers being Andy Gray of Villa and Malcolm Macdonald, each of whom got 25.
Elsewhere, as Derby missed relegation by three points, Nottingham Forest under Brian Clough gained promotion to the first. Clough said, “we shall call it a failure if we don’t end up in Europe next season.”
Further down the league Elton John took over Watford of the fourth division, with Bertie Mee who had “retired” from football returned as the assistant to Graham Taylor who became Watford’s manager.
As the football season drew to a close, on 28 May 1977 Wimbledon, champions of the Southern League, were elected to the Fourth Division at the expense of Workington.
Then on 31 May England lost to Wales at Wembley, followed by a defeat to Scotland at the same venue on 4 June 1977. The press made much of the invasion of the pitch by Scottish fans. England went on a South American tour where the result was played three drew three.
Finally, on 4 July 1977, six weeks after winning the FA Cup with Man U Tommy Docherty admitted his affair with Mary Brown, the wife of the club’s physiotherapist. The club’s directors decided that he had broken their moral code and he was sacked.
- Arsenal in the 70s, part 1: the re-birth of the club. 1969/70
- Arsenal in the 70s, part 2: preparing for the impossible. (July to December 1970)
- Arsenal in the 70s, part 3: The Golden Treble
- Arsenal in the 70s, part 4: What went so right in 1971, and why did it then go wrong?
- Arsenal in the 70s, part 5: After the double, double doubts.
- Arsenal in the 70s part 6: The winter of blossoming hope. Nov 71 to Jan 72.
- Arsenal in the 70s part 7: Revival and defeat. Feb 72 to June 72
- Arsenal in the 70s part 8: The lessons learned and the lessons ignored. 1967/73
- Arsenal in the 70s part 9: July to Dec 1972. Indiscipline and invasions.
- Arsenal in the 70s part 10: Being screwed by the league and the prelude to decline
- Arsenal in the 70s part 11: July to Dec 73, the world falls apart and Arsenal sinks.
- Arsenal in the 70s part 12: Jan to June 74. Farewell Bob, hello Liam.
- Arsenal in the 70s part 13: July to Dec 74. Flirting with relegation.
- Arsenal in the 70s, part 14. Jan to June 1975 – trying to send Tottenham down
- Arsenal in the 70s part 15. Just when we thought it couldn’t get any worse… July to December 1975
- Arsenal in the 70s part 16. Jan to June 1976: the end of Mee
- Arsenal in the 70s Part 17 – the summer of 76. New manager. New superstar.
- Arsenal in the 70s part 18: July to Dec 1976. Neill takes control