Arsenal 3 Porstmouth 2; 1 February 1971 – heading for the double

Tony Attwood

Arsenal were in the midst of some patchy form when this replay in the 4th round of the FA Cup, finally got played.

The four league games and two FA Cup games running up to the match were…

26 December 1970: Arsenal 0 Southampton 0

  • 6 January 1971: Yeovil 0 Arsenal 3 (FA Cup 3)
  • 9 January 1971: Arsenal 2 West Ham 0
  • 16 January 1971: Huddersfield 2 Arsenal 1
  • 23 January 1971: Portsmouth 1 Arsenal 1 (FA Cup 4)
  • 30 January 1971: Liverpool 2 Arsenal 0

Whether there were mumbles around the stadium after those two away defeats in the league I don’t know, but I suspect the fairest members of the crowd would have recognised this dip in form came on the back of 11 wins and 3 draws in the last 14 league games.

For this fourth round tie it was wet, very wet.   Unnervingly Portsmouth took the lead after just six minutes, and for a while the notion that those two league defeats might have been more meaningful that we would have hoped, came to the fore.

But on 13 minutes Charlie George “one of the most exciting prospects in English football” (The Express) equalised in what was only his second start of the season (he having been injured in the opening day’s events).  Other than that all he had done was played as a sub in the drawn tie with Portsmouth on 23 January 1971.

This was also Charlie’s first goal since scoring in the 1-2 away defeat to Ipswich on 31 March 1970 – and it was an amazing goal.    He took the ball on the half way line, ran straight at the defence, by passed them all and shot from 25 yards.  Breathtaking.

On 31 minutes Simpson scored from an Armstrong corner   Portsmouth equalised, but Radford was then fouled in the area and up stepped Peter Storey.

Some called the game “pulsating” but the Daily Express went with “neurotic”, focussing on the last ten minutes which began to look like rugby in the mud more than flowing football on grass.

Portsmouth had adopted “rough ’em up a bit”  tactics through the game, and in the second half, and Eoin Hand, having been finger wagged for his brutishness went too far even for this ref, on 48, and got a yellow.

It could have been a straight red for the foul on Radford.  Indeed only Radford’s restraint caused him not to summons the police to ask for Hand to be detained at Her Majesty’s pleasure.

Bromley for Portsmouth was sent off on 88 minutes after Ley and Rice had started what, in those days, was called on the BBC “a spot of argy-bargy.”  “Handbags at 50 paces” is the contemporary phrase.   The Portsmouth manager of the day Ron Tindall called the decision “disgusting” and added that “This was a great night for Pompey.”   Most neutrals might have thought that if this was a great night for Pompey then a bad night would be truly awful.

Arsenal already knew they would be playing Man City in the fifth round, so the City manager Joe Mercer was on hand saying, “There is no point in taking too much notice of what we saw here tonight.”  It left those who read the comments wondering why on earth he had bothered to turn up.


Rice McLintock Simpson  McNab

Storey Sammels Armstrong

Radford, Kennedy, George

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3 Replies to “Arsenal 3 Porstmouth 2; 1 February 1971 – heading for the double”

  1. I had the pleasure of seeing this as only my second pro football game, the fist being at Fratton Park.

    Wow, the first for me at Fratton Park was amazing as a twelve year old. Thirty nine thousand + rammed in. With the top fist division team playing a lowly second division club. Remember it was raining but only my head and shoulders got wet. We scored first but only for it to be disallowed. Then as always in nearly every game Arsenal played that season (and beyond) the were awarded a penalty and scored…..wrong. The best was then to come, as with in the dyeing minuets Mike Trabilko (a rotund skinhead looking guy) placed a left hand cross to within the penalty area into the back of the net in front of the Fratton End…..absolute pandemonium! What a game and have been a Pompey fan ever since. First, second, third, forth divisions up and down what ever the money people try to mess with the game.

    Better still my school ran a coach to see the return fixture at Highbury. Which I viewed standing at the Clock End. Was very impressed at half time by the very smart police band that played from a small seated area to the right. We lost and too say we were robed is not incorrect. At the end of the game a very elderly regular Arsenal supporter made a big point of letting us know how unlucky we were. Lucky Arsenal!

    I feel sorry for the current “good time” supporters of clubs. Now most so called Premier League supporters will dump them if fall mid table.

    Remember don’t believe the money big club hype, support you local club as you will have a more enjoyable / interesting time through your life, than following the so called big money stable clubs…..evey dog has his day!

  2. I was also there at Fratton and Highbury. Great memories. My all time high as a Pompey fan seeing Trebs (Trebilcock) equalise in the last minute. By the way Nick my fellow fan, Trebilcock was in no way a rotund skinhead! Check out the throwback Thursday footage of the goal Mike Trebilcock v Arsenal 1971. Mick, Portsmouth

  3. I was there in the North Bank, for some reason Charlies goal has always stuck with me as being the best goal I ever saw at Highbury, even though I was a good distance away, it was incredible – he took on and beat three players one after the other and then with one arm outstretched for balance, leathered it into the bottom corner past the forlorn dive of the keeper. I can still see it now, in my head, and whilst there were some contenders from the great Fairs cup games, because of their importance, Charlies goal was a bit special, he just took on the whole Portsmouth defence and ran right through them, finishing from the edge of the box with an unstoppable shot. And it was a floodlit night at thof, a packed away end, vocal and probably intoxicated, the North Bank crammed with fans jostling for position, steam rising fans singing before kick off to their opponents across the pitch, and Portsmouth brought a lot of fans. Peanuts?

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