Tottenham H 0 Arsenal 5 . December 23 1978

By Tony Attwood

Watch the big screens at the Ems prior to any match and just before you see the players come out you will see a stream of old film from the days of past glory.

Among these pictures is a grainy black and white sequence of Liam Brady scoring a goal from the left side of the pitch, about 3 miles out.  The ball swerves and goes in, and Brady turns to the Shelf (for the other team is of course Tottenham H) as if to say, “that’s how we do it in Islington”.

These days it is conventional for Arsenal to beat Tottenham H 5-2, but it wasn’t always thus.   For that shot of Brady comes from Tottenham 0 Arsenal 5, on 23 December 1978.

What is forgotten in the celebration of that marvellous goal is the fact that Alan Sunderland scored a hat trick that day.

Terry Dyson is the only Tottenham player to score a hat-trick in a first-class game against Arsenal.  Arsenal on the other hand have had two such men: Ted Drake (October 20, 1934) and Alan Sunderland (December 23, 1978)

Here’s a summary of the games to date.


Arsenal wins Draws T.H. wins Arsenal goals T.H. goals
League 64 43 48 250 214
FA Cup 3 0 2 7 5
League Cup 7 3 3 19 16
Charity Shield 0 1 0 0 0
Total 73 47 53 276 235

Terry Neill was the manager of Arsenal, and Tottenham were finding their feet again in the first division, having come up from Division 2 at the end of 1977/8.

In the side of the newly-promoted were Osswaldo Ardiles and Ricky Villa.   Arsenal’s team was,…

Jennings Rice Walford Price O’leary Young Brady Sunderland Stapleton Rix Gatting

Alan Sunderland scored three, Frank Stapleton scored one, and of course there was Brady.  The attendance was 42,273.

At the time of the game Arsenal were 4th and Tottenham 11th.  Arsenal had already scored five once that season, beating QPR 5-1 early on.  But there was no real sign in the previous results of either club to indicate that 0-5 was possible.

And indeed after the game Arsenal slipped back a little.  We lost the next match 1-2 at home to WBA before ending the year with a 3-1 win  at home against Birmingham  A wretched end of the season in which we did not win any of our last five games saw Arsenal slip to seventh, four places above Tottenham.

But there were still more celebrations to come.  Six days after the 0-5 triumph the first of my three daughters,  Catherine, was born.

And there was one other matter to be dealt with.  The FA Cup final.  After playing Sheffield Wednesday five times in the third round we beat Notts County, Nottingham Forest, Southampton and Wolverhampton to reach the cup final where Alan Sunderland scored a suitably dramatic goal in the last few seconds, to win the cup 3-2.

Quite a year to remember.

The books…

The sites…





4 Replies to “Tottenham H 0 Arsenal 5 . December 23 1978”

  1. “hark now hear the Arsenal sing, the Tottenham run away, and we shall sing for ever more because of Boxing Day”!!Poor old chickens…
    The Brady goal was pure magic. I can still recall the photo in the next home prog. showing the pure elation on Brady s face. What a player he was! And what a game that was too…shame in a way the the Brady goal over shadowed Alan Sunderland’s hat trick.
    The cup run that season was also amazing, all those games against SW, but when we beat Forest on that horrible muddy pitch,(Franks header) I felt sure the Cup was coming to Highbury…

  2. Tony,
    If I may say so, the 5-0 thrashing of Spurs falls into total insignificance compared with the later arrival of the delectable Catherine.

  3. Liam Brady was a genius with the passing and “that” goal has got to be one of the finest left footed shots I’ve ever seen.

  4. Another interesting fact – three of the Arsenal players that day had actually been bought from Spurs – Jennings, Young and Walford). Seven were ‘home grown’ and only one, Alan Sunderland, cost what you might descibe as big money from Wolves.

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