When the newspapers criticised TV for giving a false impression of matches

Today, it is virtually unknown for newspapers and their websites to criticise TV coverage of a game, and certainly it is unheard of for a newspaper to suggest that TV coverage gave an unfair or unreasonable coverage of a match.

And yet it was not always like this for back in the 1970s there were regular complaints from newspaper journalists that TV stations were regularly editing games to make them look more exciting than they actually were, in order to keep their audience numbers up.

One such game came on this day in 1974 on which Arsenal beat Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in front of just 29 thousand.  Arsenal likewise at this time were regularly getting modest crowds with 30,000 being considered a good turn out.

Here are the anniversaries.

13 April 1895: Harry Storer played on this day for Football League XI and became the first Arsenal player to get representative honours playing for Arsenal but was booed at home,  He was suspended following an “altercation” with supporters and then sold to Liverpool.

13 April 1889: The final game against local rivals Millwall Rovers; Arsenal won 3-0.  After this Millwall Rovers became Millwall Athletic, but the games against the biggest local rivals of the era continued.

13 April 1903: Arsenal 0 Leicester 0, as Arsenal finished the season in 3rd – their highest ever position thus far, missing promotion by just three points. 12000 attended the game, but 28,000 turned up a year later when Arsenal were promoted.

13 April 1906: Arsenal 2 Aston Villa 1.  The match was played on Good Friday and resulted in the first 30,000 crowd for a league game at the Manor Ground.

13 April 1918: Arsenal began a series of games for the National War Fund Cup – playing Millwall and Brentford home and away.  Chelsea also played four games but details of how the competition was organised remain elusive.

13 April 1935: Top of the league Arsenal drew 1-1 away to Wolverhampton who were 17th. Hill scored Arsenal’s 100th league goal of the season.  The media considered the result not good enough for a club with championship pretensions.

13 April 1936:  Last game for Ehud “Tim” Rogers.  West Bromwich 1 Arsenal 0. Tim had played 16 league games and scored five goals, and moved on to Newcastle.

13 April 1940: Arsenal played the second half of the season in the League South “C” Division, made up of Southampton, Portsmouth and the London clubs, on this day beating Portsmouth 3-2 at Highbury.  Bastin, Crayston and Drake got the goals. Arsenal ended the league in June coming third.

13 April 1946: Southampton 1 Arsenal 1, one of the last seven matches of the final wartime league, in the course of which Arsenal won just one.  It was an omen for the return of professional football which was now just four months away.

13 April 1957:  John Barnwell’s league debut – a 1-0 defeat away to Sunderland. He later went on to become a manager (winning the league cup with Wolverhampton) and the Chief Executive of the League Managers’ Association.

13 April 1957: It is stated in some quarters that the FA Amateur Cup final was held at Highbury on this day, but this is not so.  However the Amateur Cup final was held 3 times at Highbury: 1929, 1931, and 1947.

13 April 1962: Peter Simpson signed a professional contract.  A member of the first Double team, he played 353 league games for Arsenal and later spent time playing in America before dropping off the radar completely.

13 April 1971: Following Leeds’ draw with Huddersfield the day before, the result in game 36 of the first Double season was everything Arsenal needed: Nottm Forest 0 Arsenal 3.  This left Arsenal two points behind Leeds, with two games in hand. McLintock, Kennedy and George scored.

13 April 1974: Chelsea 1  Arsenal 3. Arsenal crept up to 12th in the league and the press reported for the first time that through skilful editing of such matches the games looked attractive on TV while in fact they were mind-numbingly dull.  Kennedy got two and Radford the other goal. 29,152 turned up at Stamford Bridge (capacity at the time 80,000).

13 April 1976: Arsenal beat Wolverhampton Wanderers at Highbury 2-1 on 13 April.  A crowd of 19,518 was par for the course.

13 April 1998…Arsenal won 4-1 at Blackburn Rovers.  32nd league game of the 2nd Double season.   Bergkamp, Parlour (2) and Anelka got the goals.  It was the 14th game unbeaten. The second double: part 1, part 2, part 3.

13 April 2003: Arsenal 1 Sheffield Utd 0.  FA Cup semi-final played at Old Trafford.  Ljungberg scored the goal on 34 minute. And see here   

13 April 2009,  Kolo Touré demanded a transfer, claiming he could not get on with William Gallas.  Although Mr Hill Wood turned down the request, Toure moved to Man City for £14m on 28 July.  It was a profit of £13,850,000 seven years after he was bought.

13 April 2013:  Arsenal 3 Norwich City 1. Part of an 11 match unbeaten run to the end of the season including nine wins which secured Arsenal 4th place in the league, knocking Tottenham down to 5th.  “It’s happened again”.

3 Replies to “When the newspapers criticised TV for giving a false impression of matches”

  1. If you can remember back to the ’89 match against Liverpool .The ITV highlights showed Liverpool all over us and lucky to lose the match but to the contrary we were in control of that match from start to finish and were by far the better side. I don’t think it’s that uncommon for unfair editing to happen to be honest.

  2. I never watched the highlights but I remember watching the match live. Of course there was tension, in that we had to win by 2 clear goals but Liverpool never threatened us and the only chance they had, Lukic waved at derisively, as it sailed a yard over the bar.

  3. Re: watching the match on live TV – when the final whistle went my brother and I ran out into the street where I was living at the time and we went berserk ! A truly great night to be a Gooner and unlikely to ever be bettered!

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