Jimmy Robertson, first player to score for Tottenham v Arsenal and Arsenal v Tottenham

Jimmy Robertson (James Gillen Robertson)

Jimmy Robertson was born on 17th December 1944 in the Glaswegian suburb of Cardonald and travelled to Middlesbrough to start a career in English football on the right wing.  When that didn’t happen he went to Cowdenbeath and then St Mirren before being purchased by Tottenham in 1964, for £25,000.

He played 181 times for Tottenham and scored in their 1967 Cup Final win over Chelsea, playing in the side that contained Greaves, Gilzean and Chivers.   He also won a cap for Scotland at this time.  

Jimmy then moved to Arsenal in a swap deal, in October 1968, Tottenham getting David Jenkins.  

This was Mee’s third season, and much of his rebuilding was complete with the team that went on to win the double already established.  But he was still tinkering with the side, doing the fine tuning.  Jenkins had played in all of the first 14 games of the 68/9 season before being replaced on 19 October 1968 with George Armstrong at number 11.   Armstrong had before then made four appearances, twice as sub and twice in other positions.

This left Jimmy Robertson playing occasionally after his debut was on 26 October 1968 in a goalless draw with West Ham.  However he eventually took over the number 7 shirt from John Radford on 31 March 1969 and got a run of games to the end of the season.  Jimmy scored his first Arsenal goal in that game – a 1-1 draw with Liverpool.

In his second season Jimmy played in the first 27 games, but the 27th – on December 27 1969 was his final game.   From that point on the number 7 shirt went to Peter Marinello.

Many commentators say that Mee replaced Robertson with Armstrong, but this is not really the case.  Armstrong and Robertson played a run a matches in the winter of 1969.70 with Robertson at 7 and Armstrong at 11. 

But this was a time of flux for Arsenal as Mee sorted out his best team.   Radford moved into the centre, Bobby Gould dropped out, Marinello came in (for a little while)…  there was a continuing movement around as Mee gradually developed the Armstrong, Storey, Radford, Kennedy, Graham, with Charlie George returning to the fray in 1971 after his long injury lay off.

But Jimmy Robertson went on to get his moment of fame by becoming the first player ever to score for both Arsenal and Tottenham in the games between the two.  The famous goal was scored on 16 September 1969 – unfortunately Tottenham still ran out 3-2 winners at Highbury, John Radford getting our other goal.

(The second of the two players who have scored for both teams in the derby was Emmanuel Adebayor’s who scored a penalty to give Tottenham a two goal lead on 34 minutes.  Wild celebrations at the clock end until Arsenal started to play and won 5-2).  

Jimmy only survived for 18 months as Bertie Mee changed the team further, and so Robertson missed further immortality (if there is such a thing) by moving just before the most famous of seasons.  He went to Ipswich in March 1970 having played 59 and scored eight.

In July 1972 Robertson joined Stoke City for £80,000 but his career was badly set back with a leg break in December 1974.  In 1976 he moved on to Seattle and then Walsall and finally Crewe. 

Season Team Games Goals
1961/62 Cowdenbeath 0 0
1962/64 St. Mirren 54 12
1963/69 Tottenham Hotspur 157 25
1968/70 Arsenal 46 7
1969/72 Ipswich Town 87 10
1972/77 Stoke City 114 12
1976/77 Seattle Sounders 29 3
1977/78 Walsall 16 0
1978/79 Crewe Alexandra 33 0

The only report I have seen of Jimmy Robertson since his footballing days says that he lives in the Stoke area, and was first a director of The Task Force Group (a computer insurance company) and then went on to run Gillen Financial Services (taking his middle name) in Newcastle-under-Lyme.

My guess would be that Jimmy is now retired, and if that’s right, then Arsenal History Society wishes him a very happy and long retirement.


Arsenal books for Christmas at discount prices – last day for ordering is 18 December


2 Replies to “Jimmy Robertson, first player to score for Tottenham v Arsenal and Arsenal v Tottenham”

  1. I used to work with Jim when he owned Gillen financial services and I worked for Nolan Baprist and Bond. Lovely bloke

  2. Used to play against Jimmy when we were at school…we are both from Cardonald, he played for Lourdes Sec, me for Penilee Sec…and both on either side of the great divide…those matches were like mini old-firm games…we never won a game against them…but we all on our side recognised someone special when we came up against Jimmy…a joy to watch.

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