From the Double to fighting relegation in four seasons. How it went so wrong for Arsenal.

For many Arsenal fans the 1970s are remembered as a time of great triumph – the first European trophy, the first double… and indeed into this day in 1972 there was hope of an unbelievable double double – winning the double two years running.

But as today’s anniversaries show the reality was not like this.  Yes the opening years of the 1970s were amazing, following the build up towards the success in the late 1960s, but it faded so quickly.   The headlines below from 1972, 1975 and 1977 tell the story in snapshots.  The full picture of the 70s is told in the statistics

  • 1969/70: 12th in the league, won Fairs Cup, top scorer Radford with 19
  • 1970/71: Won the league and cup double, top scorer Ray Kennedy with 26
  • 1971/72: FA Cup runners up, 5th in the league, top scorer Ray Kenned with 19
  • 1972/73: FA Cup semi-finalists, 2nd in the League, top scorer John Radford with 19.
  • 1973/74: 10th in the league.  Top scorer Ray Kennedy with 13.
  • 1974/75: 16th in the league.  Top scorer Brian Kidd with 23.
  • 1975/76: 17th in the league.  Top scorer Brian Kidd with 11.
  • 1976/77: 8th in the league.  Top scorer Malcolm Macdonald with 29.
  • 1977/78: 5th in the league.  Top scorer Malcolm Macdonald with 26.
  • 1978/79: 7th in the League.  FA Cup winners.  Top scorer Frank Stapleton with 28.

From the double to fighting relegation in four seasons.

Here are the anniversaries.

19 February 1898: Arsenal and Millwall exploited their local rivalry by playing in the United League for the second time in a month.  It was a 2-2 draw in front of 12,000 fans.

19 February 1905: Herbie Roberts born in Oswestry.  Having played for his hometown club (while working as a policeman) he only ever played for Arsenal (297 league games) and England (one game).

19 February 1910: Old Trafford was opened for its first game.

19 February 1910: Woolwich Arsenal played Fulham in a friendly, both teams having been knocked out of the FA Cup in the previous round and so not having a match.  The event probably came about because of Henry Norris’ growing interest in the problems in Plumstead.

19 February 1916: Bob Benson tragically died aged 33 during a wartime game at Highbury after he had arrived as a spectator but was persuaded to play as Arsenal were a man short.

19 February 1927: Arsenal 2 Liverpool 0 (FA Cup 5th round) on the way to the club’s first ever FA cup final.  Although Arsenal lost in the final, this was a pivotal period in the club’s history and prepared the way for the great successes of the 1930s.

19 February 1930: Derby 4 Arsenal 1.  Arsenal only won four more league matches in the rest of the season and eventually ended the season in a disappointing 14th, but results included an 8-1 win and a 6-6 draw.  However they were distracted by reaching their second cup final.   This was the league debut for Albert Humpish.

19 February 1936: Arsenal 3 Newcastle 0 in the FA Cup 5th round replay, on the way to Arsenal’s second FA Cup triumph.  Bastin (2 pens) and Beasley got the goals.  62,391 turned up – remarkable for a midweek afternoon game.

19 February 1938: Arsenal 2 Chelsea 0 made it four straight wins on the way to winning the league again.  Griffiths and Drake scored.

19 February 1948: Alex Forbes signed from Sheffield Utd.  He went on to play 240 league games for Arsenal before injury problems forced him to move on to Leyton.

19 February 1955: First Arsenal game for David Herd, a 1-1 draw against Leicester.  He scored 97 goals in 166 games for the club before leaving in 1961.

19 February 1957:  Centre half Bill Dodgin scored the opening goal for Arsenal in a 2-1 win over Preston North End in a 5th round FA Cup tie at Highbury, the only goal he scored in the whole of his professional career.

19 February 1972: Ipswich 0 Arsenal 1 made it four successive wins and 12 games without defeat as hopes were raised that last season’s double might be repeated.  Charlie George got the goal.

19 February 1975: Leicester 1 Arsenal 1 – FA Cup replay.  Although only a fifth round tie it was Arsenal’s sixth game in the competition that season.  John Radford scored, as he did in the second replay to take Arsenal through.  Also on this day WHU played Liverpool, and the away team only took 14 fans to the game.  The media saw this as a sign of the end of football.

19 February 1977: Arsenal 2 West Ham 3.  Although it was the sixth consecutive game without a win there was a little comfort taken from the fact that Arsenal had scored, after four games without a goal. Brady and Stapleton got the goals.

19 February 1980: Arsenal 3 Bolton 0 FA Cup 5th round on the way to 3rd consecutive cup final.  Sunderland (2) and Stapleton got the goals.  Arsenal played a total of 18 FA and League Cup games in the season.

19 February 1994: Everton 1 Arsenal 1, making it five draws in a row: two at 0-0 three at 1-1.  Merson got the goal.

19 February 1997: Arsenal 1 Man U 2.  Trial by TV suggested Ian Wright made a lunge on Schmeichel.  Police separated the players at the end and Wright alleged racial abuse against him.  Eventually both players agreed to end their disagreements.

19 February 2002: Bayer Leverkusen 1 Arsenal 1 (Champions League)

19 February 2005: Arsenal 1 Sheffield Utd 1.  (Robert Pirès scored).  Arsenal won the replay on penalties and went on to win the FA cup in the same manner.

19 February 2008: Arsenal 0 Milan 0.  The result made progress into the quarter final of Champions League look unlikely and the press were, as always with Arsenal, seriously unimpressed.

19 February 2010: Gilles Sunu loaned to Derby, where he played nine games before a further loan to Lorient before signing for them permanently.  He stayed with Lorient until 2014, before moving on second division Evian.

19 February 2013: Arsenal 1 Bayern Munich 3 suggested to the media that Arsenal were just not good enough at this level.

19 February 2014:  One year on from losing 1-3 at home to Bayern Munich Arsenal lost again, this time 0-2 in the Champions League round of 16.


One Reply to “From the Double to fighting relegation in four seasons. How it went so wrong for Arsenal.”

  1. Arsenal aint going to win the cl unless the board is willing to commit substantial sums to get the high quality players.
    RM/BMZ and other top teams including MU have huge debts.
    Football is now a business.
    When the media and fans talk about
    soccer they know who are the trophy
    winners and not which club is laden with debt and which is debt free.

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