Blackburn 5 Arsenal 5.
This was an extraordinary result, no matter which way one looks at it, and yet it is one that seems to have slipped through the reference books, and is not talked about, simply because nothing in the score is a record. Not highest number of goals, most away goals or anything.
But it was such an extraordinary moment I can still remember hearing the score as a child, standing on a station platform having watched a different match (my family no longer living in north London) and being told the scores by someone who had (presumably) picked up the local paper.
Taking a look at the league table before the game doesn’t give us much help in understanding the game… (GD is goal difference, and points are scored with two for a win).
|12||West Ham United||15||4||5||6||26||26||1.00||13|
Arsenal were scoring on average 1.79 goals a game and letting in 2.07.
Blackburn were scoring 1.53 goals a game and letting in 1.93. Nothing here suggested a high scoring game
Arsenal’s results thus far that season do however suggest something…
|13||13/10/62||West Ham United||home||D1-1||15||10|
So now we get some hints. After that early run of four consecutive defeats and no win in six something started to move.
Then In match 14 Arsenal had beaten Wolverhampton 5-4, and just two games before that had a 4-4 away draw with Tottenham. In short this 5-5 draw was the culmination of a spell in which 20 goals were scored in four games – an amazing record for a team that overall was scoring 1.79 goals a game.
As for Blackburn, their results looked like this
|10||22/09/62||West Ham United||home||L0-4||22||6|
Unlike the Arsenal results there is little here to suggest a 5-5 might be on the way – although there had been a 4-1 win and two defeats where four were let in, in September. From the off their run was one of decline.
For Arsenal this was the first season of Billy Wright’s management, a management period that few have anything positive to say about. Wright was considered by his contemporaries as an inept manager, flitting from one idea to another, with no grip on the training of the players, no sense of consistent discipline or management skills, nor any tactical insight.
But in one real sense he would have been pleased with these four results in matches 13 to 15 in that his new centre forward for the season, Joe Baker, scored six in three games. Eastham got three and Skirton the other two.
Wright might have been a bit worried about his keeper however. McKechnie had been dropped after the 0-3 away defeat to Bolton and replaced by McClelland who played in goal for the rest of the season. (McKechnie did however come back to make his final 11 appearances for Arsenal in 1963/4 before being replaced for five games by Bob Wilson, and then by Jim Furnell. With McClelland also taking five games, Arsenal used four keepers that season).
But back in 1962, Terry Neil played two of the four games, with Vic Groves playing the other two, as players shuffled around.
The other change was that in the Tottenham game David Court played at centre forward with Joe Baker injured, and Court scored two goals in that 4-4 draw, but was then dropped.
So the team for the Blackburn game was
Magill Brown McCullough
MacLeod Strong Baker Eastham Skirton
After the 5-5 game the league table looked like this
|9||West Bromwich Albion||16||7||3||6||28||25||1.12||17|
|16||West Ham United||16||4||5||7||27||28||0.96||13|
For the rest of the season, Arsenal picked up a little and scored four on three occasions, but there were no more higher scores. Arsenal finished 7th, a fractional improvement on the last season under Swindin when the club was 10th.
As for the goal scorers, Joe Baker scored 29 in 39 games – an amazing achievement. Geoff Strong got 18 in 36. Alan Skirton got 10 in 28.
Here’s the final table
|12||West Ham United||42||14||12||16||73||69||1.06||40|
|14||West Bromwich Albion||42||16||7||19||71||79||0.90||39|
Tottenham fell away and failed to win the league, while local rivals Leyton Orient, whom Arsenal had played in the opening game, were relegated with Manchester City. Man U avoided relegation by three points.
- The Anniversary Files: January to June
- The Anniversary Files: July to September
- The Anniversary Files: October to December
- Woolwich Arsenal: The club that changed football – Arsenal’s early years
- Making the Arsenal – how the modern Arsenal was born in 1910
- The Crowd at Woolwich Arsenal FC: crowd behaviour at the early matches