Jeff Blockley, derided by fans, but the manager should take more blame.

Jeffrey Paul Blockley was born on 12 September 1949.  He played for Arsenal for three seasons, and made one appearance for England. 

He started out with Coventry City in the 1968/9 season and during his spell there played for England under 23s.

It was on the back of this success, and during the period where Arsenal were trying to maintain the momentum of the first European success and the first Double, that he was signed by the club as a replacement for Frank McLintock.

But his debut for Arsenal was a 1-0 defeat away to Sheffield United on 7 October 1972, not as a replacement to McLintock at 5, but as a replacement to Simpson and Roberts who had been alternating at playing at 6.  However later in the season he did move across to the number 5 shirt.

Replacing the captain of the team who had won the double was never going to be easy, and nor was the fact that with McLintock missing games through injury, Blockley himself had to play on with an injury.   He made the mistake in the FA Cup semi-final that season that saw Arsenal knocked out by Sunderland,  and the fans turned on him.

Part of the problem was that this was a team that had had its moment and by 1974 Arsenal ended 10th in the first division – showing just how fast the decline under Mee was.  Worse Tranmere knocked Arsenal out of the league cup at Highbury that season on 2 October 1973, and the club dropped to 16th by 1974/5

Years Team League games Goals
1968–1972 Coventry City 146 (6)
1972–1975 Arsenal 52 (1)
1975–1978 Leicester City 76 (2)
1978–1980 Notts County 59 (5)
1980–? Enderby Town ?
1981–1982 Gloucester City 15 (1)

Nick Hornby took a vicious but unfair swipe at Blockley in Fever Pitch perhaps taking the lead from Bertie Mee who is reputed to have said that signing Blockley was his biggest mistake.

But the fact was that Mee was losing and not replacing the team that had given him the trophies and the reality was that the club certainly had the money to allow him to find another player quickly if he really had made such a mistake.

But as we have seen so often, a central defender who loses his self-belief is never going to serve the club well, and the job of the club should always be to work on the player’s psyche.  But Mee was a physio and the brain was not part of his area of competence.

By the 1974/5 season he was dropped and placed on the transfer list and sold in January 1975 to Leicester for half the fee Arsenal paid for him.  His last game was 5 October 1974 against Leeds.

Season Games Goals
1972/3 20 0
1973/4 26 1
1974/5 6 0
52 1

At Leicester Jeff Blockley revived his career, helped the club avoid relegation, and took them to the upper half of the table, and became captain.  But the injuries continued and he left in 1978 to play for Notts County.     He is then said to have played for Enderby Town although there are no clear records of this and then finally Gloucester City.   Arsenal FC web site also has him playing for Shepshed Charterhouse but again this is not easy to trace.

Leaving football Jeff Blockley became a salesman for a power company and is reported to have set up his own business Transmech.  Transmech were known for making clutches, but I can’t find any link between them and Jeff Blockley, so I am not sure if this is just a Wiki invention.

As I write this, he will be 64 so approaching retirement or retired – but even so it is strange to lose track of a player so soon.  If you have any news of him in later life, do tell.

The books…

2 Replies to “Jeff Blockley, derided by fans, but the manager should take more blame.”

  1. I’m writing a book on the history of Enderby Town and Jeff actually had two spells at Enderby. First as a player/manager in season 1980/81…before he left after just one season for Gloucester City where he was employed as a player/manager. He then returned to Enderby for season 83-84 as a manager only but again left after just one season as the club were suffering severe financial issues.

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