John Radford: signed by Wright but developed by Mee.


By Tony Attwood

John Radford was born in Yorkshire in 1947 and played 475 league and cup games between 1964 and 1976 for Arsenal, scoring 149 goals.  After that he went on to West Ham where he played 28 and scored none, and then had one season with Blackburn where he played 38 and scored 10.

After that he went to Bishop’s Stortford (more on that below).

Here’s his time line…

Season Manager League games Goals
1963/4 Wright 1 0
1964/5 Wright 13 7
1965/6 Wright 32 8
1966/7 Mee 30 4
1967/8 Mee 39 10
1968/9 Mee 31 15
1969/70 Mee 39 12
1970/1 Mee 41 15
1971/2 Mee 34 8
1972/3 Mee 38 15
1973/4 Mee 32 7
1974/5 Mee 29 7
1975/6 Mee 15 3
1976/7 Neil 1 0
 League totals: 353 149

So again, as is becoming a feature of this series, we have a player who came in during the Wright era and then flourished thereafter.

He came to Arsenal as an apprentice in 1962, and became a professional in February 1964 and instantly showed his ability in the youth and reserve teams, before making his first-team début in March 1964.

He was used more the next season, and became Arsenal’s youngest ever scorer of a hat-trick on 2 January 1965 against Wolverhampton W aged 17 years and 315 days.

John’s development as a player mirrored Arsenal.  He played in both the League Cup finals as an outside right, won the Fairs Cup, scoring in the final, and then got 21 goals in the double season.

He won caps as an England under 23, but with Ramsey in control of England he only got two chances in the full England team.

He left for West Ham having lost his place as first choice scorer, and did have a final swan song in the second division with Blackburn.

Having left Blackburn and taking the time honoured route of being a pub landlord in Thaxted John was asked by Bishop’s Stortford FC to join them in 1979.  John has always said he liked the experience but it was back problems that stopped him doing more – along with the inevitable non-league thug defender who fancied showing the top player that he could nobble him.  John admits to giving an Enfield player a broken nose after one tackle too many.

He played in the 1980-81 season when The Blues won the Ryman League and the FA Trophy.   It was an amazing achievement given that the club were in the equivalent of the 7th division at the time.

John still lives in Bishops Stortford and does occasional tours of the Emirates, as well as appearing on Arsenal TV.
John – as I am sure you know, you have a million fans who watched and admired your skills, and will always wish you the best.
The Bertie Mee DecadePeter Simpson: one club three managersGeorge Armstrong – signed by Swindin, a lifelong servant of Arsenal

The players who made it for Mee but were signed by Wright: – Bob Wilson

The Prelude: When 4,554 turned up to watch Arsenal and a reign ended

Swindin, Wright, Mee: Out of the Darkness and Into the Light

Bertie – the life and times: The trophies, ballroom dancing, left hook and OBE

The First Double: a series of five quizzes to test your knowledge on 1971

3 Replies to “John Radford: signed by Wright but developed by Mee.”

  1. I was at that match against Wolves when he score the hat trick..all headers I think. He wasn’t a truly great striker but his partnership with Ray Kennedy was probably the best in the league.

  2. I was fortunate enough to see Radford play in Kuala Lumpor when Arsenal toured Malaysia in 1975 .My lasting memory of him (which I repeat ad nauseam to my kids), is the look of incredulity on his face when his bullet like pinpoint header to the top corner was turned over the crossbar acrobaticaly by the Malaysian keeper , Arumugam aka “Spider “.
    To his credit ,he showed his appreciation by going up to the keeper and picking him off the ground ,which was given a generous applause by the fans.
    Downside ? Arsenal lost 2-0 to Malaysia !

  3. Thanks for a good read again, Tony.
    Good little story BG. And I agree with Jax: he was very good but not great as the above goals per game ratio shows. His superb partnership with Kennedy was somewhat surprising due to the fact Kennedy was only 19 (I think) and was only in the team due to Charlie George breaking an ankle in the first game at Everton. If Charlie hadn’t…

    Surprised to see you’ve overlooked another rather special hat-trick – at home to Bolton in an FA Cup evening game (three goals in seven minutes, I believe), one of the fastest hat-tricks in English football history. Saw the game on (black and white) TV later that evening.

    I wish I had my collection of Arsenal handbooks handy (they’re back in England), so I could check Radford’s scoring statistics for the reserves, for a season or two before he broke into the first team. I seem to recall they were very impressive stats, and the very reason I was so certain he could do a good job in replacing my first Arsenal hero, Joe Baker. That is, as certain as any 12 year-old kid can be when assessing through rose-tinted glasses.

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