If Don had stayed would things have been better?

Having been the coach to the Arsenal team which won the double in 1971, Don Howe immediately left and moved to WBA.  He did ultimately return to Arsenal as manager, and by then the shortcomings in Bertie Mee’s austere and regimental approach to management had long been plain for all to see.

The speed of collapse was frightening after Mee and Howe won the double, as this table shows…

Season P W D L F A Pts Pos FAC LgeCup Top scorer Goals
1971-72 42 22 8 12 58 40 52 5th RU R4 Ray Kennedy 19
1972–73 42 23 11 8 57 43 57 2nd SF QF John Radford 19
1973–74 42 14 14 14 49 51 42 10th R4 R2 Ray Kennedy 13
1974–75 42 13 11 18 47 49 37 16th QF R2 Brian Kidd 23
1975–76 42 13 10 19 47 53 36 17th R3 R2 Brian Kidd 11

From the double in 1971 to escaping relegation in the last part of the season in 74/5 and 75/6, along with less than exciting cup performances.  From Radford and Kennedy regularly knocking in the goals to Kidd as the top scorer with 11.  It was a horrible decline over just five seasons.

Here are the anniversaries.

29 June 1900: Loughborough FC, the team against whom Arsenal had their largest league victory, finally folded.  They had been in serious financial difficulty for some time and Arsenal had paid their train fares so they could complete their final visit to Plumstead.  The town gained a new team in 1955 – Loughborough Dyanmos.

29 June 1914: The international exhibition opened at the “White City”.  It closed on the declaration of war and the site was used as an armaments depot.

29 June 1923: Ernest Williamson was granted a free transfer to Norwich after over 100 games in goal.  He played for Norwich for two seasons, before retiring from football in 1925 after which we lose sight of him completely

29 June 1929: Billy Warnes, one of the “Walsall Experiment” players in Herbert Chapman’s last ever FA Cup match, was signed.  The FA Cup match against Walsall was his only first team game for the club.  See also here

29 June 1971: Don Howe left Arsenal having helped guide the club to the Double as first team coach.  He moved on to WBA where he stayed until 1975 before a year at Galatasaray SK after which he returned to Arsenal as manager.

29 June 2015: After much expectation, Arsenal purchased Petr Cech from Chelsea for around £10m.  It was reported that the Chelsea manager Mourinho was particularly unhappy about the sale. Cech returned to Chelsea as a coach in 2019.


“Woolwich Arsenal, the club that changed football” and “Making the Arsenal” are now available as printed books, and on Kindle.    Please see here for more details.

Elsewhere on the site…

Henry Norris at the Arsenal:  There is a full index to the series here.

Arsenal in the 1930s: The most comprehensive series on the decade ever

Arsenal in the 1970s: Every match and every intrigue reviewed in detail.

A full index of our series can be found on the home page.


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