“Making the Arsenal” – the book of Arsenal’s rebirth
By Tony Attwood
1958/9 was the last season that Arsenal made it into the top four until Bertie Mee achieved this in 1968/9. Not only was Arsenal outside the elite challenging clubs, we also failed to win either the FA Cup or League Cup (which Arsenal entered for the first time in 1966.) In fact we didn’t even make it to a final until 1968.
George Swindin’s opening team for the 1958/9 season consisted entirely of players who had played under Jack Crayston in the previous season, although to be fair there was one signing: Tommy Docherty who joined the side after the first game.
Here’s the first ever George Swindin line up
Charlton Dodgin Evans
DR Clapton Groves Herd Bloomfield Haverty
One year later for the 1959/60 season in which we came 13th the line up started out as
Wills Charles Evans
DR Clapton Groves Herd Bloomfield Henderson
Normally the starting XI for a season is an indicator of where a manager is going, but George Swindin liked to change his side. In the 1958/9 season there were three changes between match one and two: in came Docherty, Holton and Nutt.
In 1959/60 again there were three changes between match one and two – in came Dodgin, John Barnwell (who had actually joined the club in 1956) and Haverty.
Put the teams together and the changes we have between the first two games in one season and the first two in the next are…
- Jack Kelsey has gone (he returned in October 1959).
- Charlton has gone (he just played four games in August/September 1958)
- Bowen has gone after playing 16 games in 1958/9
During the course of the first Swindin season in came Jackie Henderson, the re-appearance of John Barnwell, Julians, McCullough, Goy and Goulden.
In 1959/60 there was one big name signing: Mel Charles. The other new comers hardly made it above the radar – John Snedden, MaGill, Dennis Clapton, and Everett.
In 1960/1 Alan Skirton joined the first team, along with Vic Groves, Kane, Geoff Strong, Standen, Joe Haverty, George Eastham, Terry Neill (you’ll remember him), Young, O’Neill, Jack McClelland, Bacuzzi, and Arfon Griffiths. And the reason some of these players don’t have first names is because I am writing the first names from memory… I was there and I can’t recall some of these guys!
The same process continued in the final Swindin season, bringing in Clarke, George Armstrong (at last a name to relish), Clamp, Iain McKechnie, Macleod, and Laurence Brown
And if you are struggling to remember some of these players then I don’t blame you, because this whole list of players is not of the calibre that we saw in the great years before and after the second world war, nor in the successful years of Bertie Mee, George Graham or Arsene Wenger. Only a few names like Eastham, Neill and Armstrong stand out.
In the next few articles I will have a look at some of these players from the Swindin era.
- Into the darkness: Swindin leads us into the nine dead years
- The nine dead years of Arsenal
- Poor sad Fifa, so out of touch on Arsenal’s history
- Alf Common’s international cap up for sale
- Arsenal FC look, listen, and take note of what we say
- The unique quality of Arsenal: players, supporters, owners, manager
- Poor start to the season? Try this one
- Who invented the nickname “The Gunners” and when was it first used?