Brian Talbot: the man who made a difference

By Tony Attwood

January 1979.  Arsenal were heading for another mediocre season.   Results over recent years had been poor:

Season Manager League pos FA Cup League Cup
1973/4 Mee 10 4th (A Villa) 2nd (Tranmere)
1974/5 Mee 16 Final (WHU) 2nd (Leicester)
1975/6 Mee 17 3rd (Wolves) 2nd (Everton)
1976/7 Neill 8 5th (M’boro) 5th (QPR)
1977/8 Neill 5th Final (Ipswich) SF (Liverpool)

So was 1978/9 going to be better?   To try and make it so Arsenal made their record signing of £450,000 on January 11th, from Ipswich – the club that had beaten Arsenal in the previous season’s FA Cup final.

While it was not all down to Talbot he did make a difference.  He took over the number four shirt from David Price.  Price moved up to number 10 – a shirt that had been worn by Pat Rice (honest!) and Steve Gatting up til then.

The result was good.  We managed 7th in the league, which was about all that was expected, but beat Manchester United in the cup final in the most memorable of matches.  (We also went out of the league cup to Rotherham, which was fairly typical – and in case you are wondering, yes we put the first team out in those days).

Talbot played midfield, (hence the number 4 shirt) and started with Ipswich Town, with whom he won the FA Cup in 1978 and thus became (I think) the only player to win the Cup two seasons running with different teams.  He also set up what I think is another record, playing 70 matches in a season, in the 1979/80 season – when he played all 42 league games.

He missed very few games over the coming years, until he left in the summer of 1985 going to Watford.  After that he went to Stoke, WBA, Fulham and Aldershot, and was for four years chair of the PFA.

During his time at WBA he was player manager before leaving after his team were beaten by Woking and going down to the 3rd division.

What then endeared him even further to my heart was the fact that in 1997 he became coach of Rushden and Diamonds – the local club to me whom I supported until they went bust.  Talbot secured the team’s promotion to the Football League – and I can say I was there for the final match which secured promotion.

He later became manager and the club got into the third division before he left to be manager of Oldham and later Oxford United.   He is now a scout for Fulham.


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2 Replies to “Brian Talbot: the man who made a difference”

  1. I remember this. It was the same year Arsenal and Man Utd were in FA Cup Final and at boarding school the bullies were punching us if we chose the wrong team preference as a winner when asked. It was an easy choice for me and I said Arsenal before remembering a kid earlier being punched for saying Arsenal. A bit of character building ensued, especially after the result. Talbot opened the scoring that day.

  2. Pat Rice never wore the No.10 shirt (Honest!)
    In fact, up until Price took to it upon Talbot’s arrival, it had been worn by several players earlier in the season, most of them being squad reserves.
    Stapleton started the season in it, until replacing the injured Macdonald in the No. 9 shirt : for some strange reason it even festooned Walford’s back for a couple of games in early September!
    The no. 10 shirt was then passed around the following players: Heeley, Walford, Devine, Gatting, Kosmina and Harvey. Must have been a poisoned chalice….

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