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8 April 1970: Arsenal 3 Ajax 0: Fairs Cup semi final first leg. 

By Tony Attwood

Arsenal 3 Ajax 0.  Fairs Cup semi final first leg.  (George 2, Sammels)

We remember this day because it was a major step on the road to the first trophy since 1953.

But perhaps we had realised that this might be the end of the drought right back on 18 March with the score  Arsenal 7 Dinamo Bacau 1   (Radford 2, George 2, Sammels 2, Graham) 35,342

Suddenly the season was taking on a much brighter hue.  We were winning in the league again (ok we had just won two games but we were still winning) and now we were slaughtering the opposition in Europe (and yes it was just one match, but even so…)

The positive feelings continued to the weekend as on 21 March Arsenal defeated Southampton at the Dell 0-2.   Sammels and George got the goals.

Then we had Easter weekend, and on 28 March Arsenal 2 Wolverhampton 2, to make it four without defeat after a dreadful run of ten without a win.  Graham got both goals.

Two days later Arsenal defeated Crystal Palace 2-0 at Highbury to make it four league wins in five.  It seemed like an Easter miracle in itself, the club rising from its deathbed.  Of course, no one in the press could say such a thing, but the relief around the club was palpable.  Radford and George got the goals.

Naturally the run didn’t last forever an a defeat at Ipswich followed on 31 March as Charlie George scored what was to be his last league goal until 1 February 1971.  During that time Arsenal missed his goal scoring prowess, but not enough to stop a trophy from being taken – at last.

For now it was back to the Fairs Cup.

  • 8 April 1970: Arsenal 3 Ajax 0.  Fairs Cup semi-final first leg  (George 2, Sammels)   46,271 came to Highbury
  • 15 April 1970: Arsenal lost the return game to Ajax 0-1 but won overall 3-1 to reach the club’s first European final.  32,000 saw the game.

While earlier in the season there were gaps as long as a month between the two legs of a tie, now the matches seemed to appear with indecent haste as we then rushed straight into the final…

  • 22 April 1970: Anderlecht 3 Arsenal 1, Fairs Cup final 1st leg.  Ray Kennedy scored with a late header to bring a glimmer of hope with the away goal.  However so unused was everyone to Arsenal winning any trophy, it was widely thought that Anderlecht would see out the second leg to take the Fairs Cup.   37000 saw the game.

But Frank McLintock had other ideas and he issued a post-match rallying cry at the press conference which raised the belief, and all the positive feelings that had emerged since the end of the 10 match barren run returned.

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