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A Fan’s Firsthand View of Arsenal’s 70/71 Historic Double – The Finale

The season was reaching its climax with Arsenal on 61 points from 39 matches and Leeds on 60 points from 40 games. The stakes were sky high as Arsenal travelled to Yorkshire to meet their title rivals knowing that a victory at Elland Road would win us the title for the first time since 1953. It’s worth remembering how fierce the rivalry was between the two sides. Bob McNab described it as “Not so much a question of sport as a war of attrition, and that in certain games the ball could have been removed from the pitch and the two of us wouldn’t have noticed”.

As the Arsenal coach left their hotel in Leeds to head for Elland Road skipper Frank McLintock turned in his seat and quietly cast his eye over each of our players, mentally ticking off the ones who were up for it. There were no crosses. He knew they were all mentally tough enough to withstand everything Leeds could throw at them. We might not win the match but we would be cowed neither by the ferocity of their assault nor the bloodlust of their crowd.

The match had originally been due to be played on Tuesday night but had been switched to Monday to allow Leeds to play Liverpool in the Fairs Cup second leg tie at Elland Road on the Wednesday. The referee for the Leeds versus Arsenal game also changed with Norman Burtenshaw a very late substitute for Jim Finney who had been involved in a car crash. There were 48,350 crammed into the ground when the order was given to shut the gates with police estimates that there were 20,000 fans locked out. Some of whom were Arsenal fans who’d travelled all the way up from London to see the game.

The noise was deafening as the teams came onto the pitch. Roared on by their fans Leeds came at Arsenal for the first 20 minutes but the Gunners held firm and the defence were brilliant restricting Leeds to only one real chance which Mick Jones headed over and another long range off target effort from Norman Hunter. Eventually Arsenal created a couple of good chances themselves John Radford hitting a shot on the turn forcing a save from Gary Sprake and Raddy also then headed one over the bar. 

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Bob Wilson receives treatment at Elland Road

It was looking as though the game was heading for a goalless draw which would have suited the Gunners where a win over Stoke at Highbury in the next game would have won us the title. The clock ticked by and just two minutes from time Alan Clarke pushed the ball through to Jack Charlton who scrambled the ball into the net at the second attempt after hitting the post with his first effort. It looked for all the world that he was at least five yards offside and the Arsenal players surrounded referee Norman Burtenshaw and it was five minutes before the game restarted and at the final whistle the Arsenal players left the pitch seething at what they thought was an injustice against them. However on the coach back Bob McNab quietly uttered “I think I played him on” Bob was out wide by the touchline and couldn’t get up in time to play Charlton offside. TV news cameras later confirmed Bob was right and Charlton was onside.

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Bob Wilson and Frank McLintock are fuming with the referee after Arsenal concede the winning goal

The final home fixture of the season was against Stoke City. Before the match I remember Pete Murray and Cardew Robinson a couple of celebrity Arsenal fans running on to the pitch both waving red and white scarves then stood in front of the North Bank with a microphone shouting “Who’s going to win the League?” to which the North Bank roared back “Arsenal” then they asked the question “And who’s going to win the cup?” once again the North Bank roared “Arsenal”. Then the two of them bowed to the North Bank and trotted off the pitch to great applause and cheers from the Highbury crowd. It was a few moments of light relief before the serious business of getting the two points. The pressure started to mount and it was becoming more and more intense as the game wore on and we didn’t get the breakthrough we were looking for. Half time came and there were groans from the Arsenal fans as the man putting up the half time scores slotted in a 2 and a 0 underneath the letter F meaning Leeds were two up at home against Nottingham Forest.

Early in the second half Peter Storey limped off injured to be replaced by Eddie Kelly. The crowd were getting restless as Stoke were doing their best to ruin our title challenge as payback for us knocking them out the FA Cup. It was torturous watching on anxiously as Stoke continued to frustrate us with ten men behind the ball but in the 68th minute Bob McNab released Geordie Armstrong whose cross was flicked on by George Graham to John Radford who laid it into the path of our super sub Eddie Kelly and he fired the ball powerfully past Gordon Banks into the back of the net as the Highbury faithful erupted. However it was a nervy Arsenal that finally got the two points as John Radford cleared a late John Mahoney effort off the line. The Leeds score remained the same at 2-0 so they finished their league campaign with 64 points. The match against Tottenham at White Hart Lane on Monday night was originally scheduled to be played the same day as the FA Cup Semi-Final and that was the reason it ended up being switched to the Monday after the last Saturday of the league season. Only a win or a 0-0 draw would secure the Title any other score and the League Championship Trophy would be heading north to Leeds.

In the build up to the match Don Revie who attended the game at White Hart Lane started the mind games saying Tottenham would rather Arsenal won the Title than Leeds as they were a fellow London club and it would stop the Title going up north! Of course that couldn’t be further from the truth. The last thing Tottenham wanted was Arsenal winning the Double and spoiling their proud achievement of being the only club in the 20th century to win the elusive Double. Tottenham were already fired up enough to prevent that happening with Alan Mullery saying “Arsenal won’t get anything out of us”.

We left school went straight home got changed out our school uniforms then went straight off to the game. There were four of us ranging in age from 12 to me the eldest at 14. Me, my brother and two mates boarded the 144 bus to Tottenham for the game. I remember the excitement and the nerves as we chatted about how Charlie, Geordie and Frank etc were going to get the better of Tottenham and win us the Title. We got so far on the bus till we gradually ground to a halt. The traffic was gridlocked all around Tottenham. So we abandoned the bus and it was down to Shanks’s pony to get the rest of the way to White Hart Lane.

When we got to the ground there were long queues all around White Hart Lane. We were a bit despondent as we joined one of the queues to get in. Suddenly miraculously the police allowed a gap to open up and we walked  across to another queue a lot closer to the turnstiles and a couple of older Arsenal fans in the queue who took pity on us four young kids who looked like missing the game of a lifetime and quietly said to us “Jump in here” and let the four of us in front of them how nobody said anything about us jumping the queue I’ll never know. There was no way we’d have got in if those two Arsenal fans hadn’t took pity on us. Outside the ground it was becoming more and more congested with people. It has to be remembered that although this was one of the biggest and most important games in Arsenal’s history the match wasn’t all ticket. It was first come first served pay at the turnstiles. There was no live screening of the game on television, no televised highlights and not even a radio commentary of the match. Some Arsenal fans were even prepared to swap an FA Cup Final ticket for a seat at White Hart Lane as you could watch the final live on television. So you could imagine the clamour to get in to see the game it was extraordinary. It was hardly any wonder that as well as the 51,992 that officially attended the game there were also an estimated 50,000 fans locked out.

The Arsenal team coach left South Herts Golf Club in Totteridge for White Hart Lane down through Palmers Green and Edmonton a journey which would normally take half an hour having taken an hour and a half. As the coach reached Tottenham High Road it was an incredible scene of thousands upon thousands of fans all converging onto White Hart Lane. Frank McLintock spotted his wife and Marje Armstrong Geordie’s wife in the crowd and ordered the coach driver to open the doors to let them on. Bertie wasn’t happy saying “Women aren’t allowed on the team bus” to which Frank replied in no uncertain words to stop his chirping. However Geordie’s dad was left behind still out in the crowds. According to Geordie’s daughter Jill they spotted him in the crowd and Frank asked the fans to allow him through to the coach and they pulled him in through the emergency exit onto the coach. However it was impossible for the coach to reach the ground and the players had to walk and battle their way through the crowds for the last 100 yards. Even the referee Kevin Howley officiating in his final game as a referee had to abandon his car a mile from the ground and make his way through the crowds to reach the stadium.

We were Still queuing outside  steadily getting closer to the turnstiles and as we finally reached them the crush was terrible as people were panicking and pushing from behind in their desperation to get in to see the game. It was like people scrambling for the last lifeboat leaving the Titanic! It was quite frightening to be honest and it was a relief to hand our money over and hear the clicking of the turnstile as we went through into the ground. We weren’t sure what part of the stadium we were in. I said “I think we are in their end” which was the Park Lane and sure enough we were. But we needn’t have worried for as we walked up the steps to look at the terrace the whole end was full of Arsenal making a hell of a racket! Right in the middle was a big Union Jack with Arsenal painted on it in white letters. As we took our places on the Park Lane we looked around and it was Arsenal everywhere. We hadn’t just taken their end we’d taken over the whole ground! It was like a home game for us there were that many Arsenal packed in there.

There was a massive roar as Arsenal came onto the pitch. Frank McLintock cupped his ear and started to move his arms up and down urging the Gunners fans to sing up even louder. Arsenal, Arsenal, Arsenal echoed all around the stadium as the Arsenal fans obliged and Frank clapped his appreciation to all four sides of the ground.

Eddie Kelly the hero two days earlier against Stoke City came into the team to replace the injured Peter Storey other than that Bertie Mee named an unchanged side with Jon Sammels as substitute . Arsenal started well with Charlie George going close with a volley then Eddie Kelly hit the side netting. My brother Tony reminded me that when Tottenham were defending a free kick Alan Mullery was in their wall and the Arsenal fans in the Park Lane started singing “Alan Alan Mullery who the fucking hell is he” Mullery then put his hand behind his back and gave us all the wanker gesture! and of course the Arsenal fans all gave plenty of abuse back at him! Although Arsenal were on top Tottenham then had a couple of good chances Martin Peters volleying just over the bar then the same player forcing Bob Wilson into a fine save just before half time.

Arsenal had the greater possession in the second half but Alan Gilzean almost connected with a low cross after an excellent Tottenham move. But the Gunners hit back Ray Kennedy’s left foot shot from long range going wide and George Graham heading over the bar from a Geordie Armstrong cross. Pat Rice cleared off the line from Martin Peters then Cyril Knowles almost scored an own goal. In Frank McLintock’s book True Grit Frank said that about 15 minutes from time Geordie played Frank in at the edge of the penalty area. He saw a gap in the bottom right hand corner of the goal and thought Jesus it’s going to be me. I’m going to win the league. He pulled back his right foot to shoot then bang he collided with referee Kevin Howley! Sending the referee sprawling on his back and Cyril Knowles cleared the danger. “Christ Frank you’ve loosened my front teeth” shouted Howley to which Frank replied rather unsympathetically “I ought to knock your teeth out you daft bastard! I was just about to win us the league”. 

Four minutes from time Charlie George robbed Cyril Knowles and dinked a cross into the box which Joe Kinnear sliced towards the goal Pat Jennings punched the ball clear to the left only for Geordie to race across to reach the ball and hit a great cross over to Ray Kennedy who headed powerfully over Pat Jennings and Cyril Knowles with the ball clipping the underside of crossbar and going into the back of the net. The Arsenal fans erupted and went crazy in celebration it was pandemonium as we were being pushed down the terrace and getting pinned down the front against the wall. There were eight minutes left which included four minutes of injury time and Arsenal scoring seemed to rile Tottenham and they really came at us. Ray Kennedy said “Scoring that goal was the worst thing we could have done”. They were so desperate to stop us winning the Title and Bob Wilson had to make a couple of saves getting cltattered late by Martin Peters with the Arsenal players surrounding Peters and calling him all sorts. In another Tottenham attack Alan Mullery kicked Bob in the head as Bob was laid on the deck clutching the ball. The Arsenal fans were whistling so loud for the referee to blow the final whistle that I thought my ears were going to start bleeding. Meanwhile the police and St John’s ambulance men realised we were being crushed and dragged us kids over the wall.

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The Arsenal players embrace each other in celebration at winning the title

Finally the game ended with those eight minutes feeling like they were never going to end. The Arsenal fans were euphoric as we raced onto the pitch. I dug my heel in to dig up a bit of the turf which I’ve still got to this day in a little plastic bag half a century later! My brother Tony tried doing the same but a copper gave him a bollocking and threatened to give him a clip round the earhole if he persisted in digging up the pitch. Some of the players had a job getting back to the dressing room as the pitch became flooded with a mass of Arsenal fans.

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We’re in there somewhere on the pitch!

In the dressing room the Arsenal players were celebrating. An emotional Jon Sammels was sitting there in tears it meant so much to him being an Arsenal fan as a young child and finally winning the Title but he was also devastated at missing the game and knowing that he was going to be leaving his beloved Arsenal. Someone came into the dressing room and told Bertie Mee the Arsenal fans were singing his name and wanted to see him but they were a bit rowdy. Bertie pulled himself up to his full five foot six inches and said “Sometimes a man’s got to do what a man’s got to do” and marched out the dressing room to greet the Arsenal fans. He returned about three minutes later jacket half hanging off him, tie missing with glasses askew on his head Eric Morecambe style and said “They’re bloody animals!” to much laughter from everyone in the dressing room.

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Geordie Armstrong, Ray Kennedy and Big Raddy celebrate with champagne in the away dressing room at Tottenham

The players then went back to their usual watering hole the White Hart pub in Southgate for night of drinking and much celebration apart from Bob Wilson who wasn’t really a big drinker and had promised his wife Megs he’d be home for a quiet celebration with a couple of their friends. The players insisted he stay so he had a couple of drinks but then he went to the toilets and made his escape through a window!

Everyone’s thoughts now turned to Wembley and the FA Cup Final. Arsenal’s cup final record “Good Old Arsenal” to the tune of “Rule Britannia” with lyrics by none other than Jimmy Hill was climbing the charts. When the team recorded it in the studio in the west end there were three professional session singers in the middle of the front row to make it sound a bit better. The music began the vocals were cued and Bob Wilson thought it sounded great. However after about 30 seconds the producer in the sound booth stopped it and said “Sounds great boys, but sorry to say there’s a voice that sounds a bit flat”. Two of the session singers turned round to Bob and said “Sorry Bob it’s you” and with that our keeper was swiftly moved to the back row and asked either to sing softly or, preferably, to mime much to the amusement of the rest of the players! Later in cup final week when the players appeared on Top Of The Pops only seven of the  players turned up so Pan’s People the resident girls dance troupe had to be placed in amongst the players to fill it out a bit to make it not so obvious there were only seven of them there.

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Arsenal with Pan’s People on Top of the Pops

The players were given a day off on Tuesday to recover from the session in the White Hart. On Wednesday they turned up for training and Bertie once again showed how meticulous he was with his planning by making one of the training pitches the same dimensions as the Wembley pitch in width and length even down to leaving the grass longer to replicate the lush Wembley surface. Then the players were shown the dossier on Liverpool prepared by Arsenal’s legendary full back from Herbert Chapman’s great 1930’s side George Male. 

The only injury doubt for the Gunners was our midfield enforcer and hero of the semi-final Peter Storey who’s ankle still wasn’t right and giving him pain. As Bertie and Don Howe were conducting a meeting to discuss Saturdays arrangements Bertie turned to Storey and said “You’re going to be sitting with us Peter” who wasn’t very happy as it was only Wednesday and already Bertie was ruling him out. Not for the first time Don Howe came to Snouty’s aid. “Hang on, he might be fit. You never know Bert” on Thursday evening the ankle had hardly improved despite physiotherapy and rest. Peter was beginning to think the gaffer may be right and he was going to be sitting on the bench with Bertie and Don.

However when Peter woke up Friday morning the pain was gone and the ankle felt almost 100 per cent. With a broad grin Peter informed Bertie he was fit for the final. “I don’t know, we’ll see” replied a doubting Bertie and proceeded to take Peter for an incredibly gruelling fitness test. He could have left it to physio George Wright but Bertie wanted to conduct the fitness test himself alone. Peter was convinced that Bertie wanted to break him down as he wanted Eddie Kelly to play after doing so well filling in for him. Bertie was of course the best physio in the country before becoming Arsenal manager and he knew exactly how to really put Snouty through it. By the time Bertie said tersely “You’ll do then” and walked away Storey’s body was screaming for mercy and his ankle had flared up again!

After the final training session on Friday morning the team went to Wembley for the traditional pitch inspection the day before the final. When the team arrived it was pouring with rain and as the players walked out of the Wembley tunnel onto the pitch to their surprise found their opponents manager standing challengingly by the cinder area behind the goal. There was no sign of any Liverpool players, just the great Shanks, in the rain, no umbrella. The Arsenal contingent knew he was there to intimidate if he could. As Bob Wilson was studying the soft spongy slippery surface in the goalmouth Bob looked up and saw Shankly studying him. Bertie Mee ordered the team to leave and as Bob Wilson, Frank McLintock and George Graham walked off past Shanks they nodded to him and he said “Good luck Frank. All the best, George. Have a good game Bob”. Hardly had Bob thanked the Liverpool manager when he added “Hey Bob nightmare pitch for goalkeepers, eh?”. Frank told Bob to keep walking but the words remained in his head, “Nightmare pitch, eh?” Most modern clubs including Arsenal have a sports psychologist or motivational speaker. In 1971 Liverpool didn’t need a psychologist. They had Bill Shankly!

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The Arsenal players visit Wembley the day before the final

On the Saturday as the Arsenal team coach left the Grosvenor House Hotel in Park Lane for the journey to Wembley the sun was scorching on a sweltering day. Me and my brother Tony were lucky enough to get a ticket for the final. We’d got every voucher from the match day programmes and glued them onto the form and joined a massive queue outside Highbury. There were fans walking up and down the line asking if anyone wanted to swap coupon 7 for coupon 16 etc and finally we made it to the front of the queue and as we handed over our pound note and coupon form in exchange for our FA Cup Final ticket we felt like Charlie Bucket felt when getting his golden ticket in “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory”. I couldn’t stop looking at my cup final ticket and we were so excited at getting our hands on one.

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The FA Cup Final was a huge event back then. The houses in the streets around Highbury were decked out in red and white. Arsenal fans cars had red and white ribbons tied to their ariels and the BBC and ITV devoted the whole day to the final. I’d watched all the finals from 1964 to 1970. Always dreaming that I’d be there one day at Wembley supporting The Arsenal. It was now a reality as we emerged out of Wembley Park tube station to join the tide of humanity in the walk to the Mecca of football the twin towers glistening in the distance. The magical walk up Wembley Way. Arsenal fans one side Liverpool the other. The colour, the noise and the smell from the hamburger stalls wafting up. Buying the programme and thinking that at 10p it was a bit steep! We located Block G walked up the steps to the turnstiles in great anticipation and in we went making our way to entrance 67 then stepping through onto the terracing and marvelling at the lush green wembley pitch before us. The scene of so many famous matches. Our first ever trophy in 1930 with the Graf Zeppelin passing over the stadium. Alex James lifting the cup in 1936. Joe Mercer leading us to victory over today’s opponents Liverpool in 1950. The “Matthews Final” in 1953 and of course the most famous match of them all the World Cup Final in 1966. It was both a privilege and an honour to be there for such a prestigious event as the FA Cup Final.

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The Arsenal end at Wembley

The knock came on the dressing room door and it was time. But the Gunners deliberately waited in the dressing room letting Liverpool stew in the tunnel. As Arsenal finally joined Liverpool in the tunnel Bill Shankly was agitated. He knew Arsenal had put one over him and had added to the nervousness of his players. The two teams led by their managers left the darkness of the tunnel to enter the arena like gladiators emerging into the bright sunshine to a cacophony of noise from 100,000 fans. The scousers were singing their famous anthem “You’ll Never Walk Alone” and we responded with “Good Old Arsenal” and “Champions Champions” was sung with great gusto echoing in the Arsenal end. Our team looked so classy in those classic blue tracksuit tops with Arsenal in yellow lettering on the back and the FA Cup above the cannon with 1971 underneath all in yellow standing out on the blue tracksuit tops. Frank McLintock introduced the Duke of Kent to the team then the tracksuit tops were dispensed of and referee Norman Burtenshaw called the two captains together for the toss of the coin and the two sides faced each other for the kick off. Liverpool in their familiar all red and the Gunners in yellow shirts, blue shorts and yellow socks. Bertie once again showed his ability to plan meticulously. While Liverpool were wearing heavy cotton long sleeved shirts in the 90 degree heat inside the cauldron of Wembley the Gunners wore short sleeves and their shirts were much lighter than their Liverpool counterparts. Also the yellow reflected the sun while the dark red Liverpool shirts absorbed it.

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Arsenal looking classy in their yellow and blue tracksuit tops at Wembley

A massive roar from both sets of fans urging their teams on and the game kicked off and it was a bit scrappy in the opening stages. But there was one player who wasn’t having any problems at all. the languid style of George Graham was perfectly suited to the sultry conditions and the big Wembley pitch where the majestic Stroller was passing the ball beautifully. Five minutes before half time Charlie George gave a warning of what was to come when he hammered a long range effort just over the bar. John Radford dropping deep then clipped a pass into the box for Geordie Armstrong arriving late in the box between Tommy Smith and Chris Lawler who met the ball with a firm header that brought a fine save from Liverpool keeper Ray Clemence. Then Liverpool won a free kick at the other end and Ian Callaghan rolled the ball to Alec Lindsay who hit a fierce low drive which Bob Wilson diving to his left saved superbly pushing it away then getting up and blocking Chris Lawler’s attempted cross. That was the the last real chance before Norman Burtenshaw blew his whistle for half time.

Early in the second half Bob McNab played a long ball down to John Radford who with his back to goal brilliantly flicked the ball over his head and spun past Tommy Smith before putting Ray Kennedy in with a great chance which he screwed wide. Charlie George hit a fierce shot which also went wide. After an hour Peter Storey was beginning to struggle with his ankle and reluctantly left the pitch to be replaced by Eddie Kelly with instructions from Don Howe who said “Eddie, you could win this game for us if you start going at them through the middle of the park, attacking their centre-backs”.

Charlie George then swept the ball across to Eddie Kelly who sent Raddy away down the right his cross was met at the near post by Ray Kennedy who put it just past the post. Arsenal began to turn the screw as the second half wore on. John Radford’s long throw was headed against the bar by George Graham the ball was then cleared away for a corner by Tommy Smith. Stroller then had another header from George Armstrong’s deep corner cleared off the line by Alec Lindsay. John Radford who’d had a tremendous game pushing George Graham close for man of the match then played Ray Kennedy in again but Ray put it well wide and it was still goalless as we moved into extra-time.

Just two minutes into extra-time Liverpool went ahead. Substitute Peter Thompson sent Steve Heighway away down the left and Bob Wilson was preparing himself to come out and cut out the cross into John Toshack which had worked successfully all afternoon only this time Heighway caught Bob out and fired the ball home off the near post. Bob knew he’d made a mistake by drifting too far away from the near post anticipating a cross for Toshack and looked up to see Frank McLintock glaring at him. Surely it was not going to be a fifth Wembley cup final defeat on the trot for Frank. Things almost got worse when Toshack nodded the ball to Brian Hall who volleyed the ball just outside the six-yard box but Bob Wilson redeemed himself making a tremendous save.

The Double was jeopardy. However this was an Arsenal side that never knew when it was beaten. They’d been in losing positions many times and still come out on top and today wasn’t going to be any different. The Liverpool fans were in full cry but in the 11th minute of extra-time John Radford flicked the ball up and hooked it over his head Eddie Kelly got on the end of it and it appeared that George Graham had tapped it home for the equaliser as he ran away celebrating with his arms raised in the air. However the next day on “The Big Match” a camera view from behind the goal showed that Stroller never made contact and it was Eddie’s goal the first ever substitute to score in an FA Cup Final. Now it was us Arsenal fans making all the noise as we celebrated the equaliser.

Six minutes into the second half of extra-time John Radford headed to Charlie George he then played it back to Raddy he squared it to Charlie and he hammered an unstoppable shot just inside the post giving Ray Clemence no chance of saving it. Cue the iconic celebration as Charlie lay on his back arms in the air with head slightly raised looking round waiting for his teammates to come and congratulate him!

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The iconic photo of Charlie after scoring the goal that secured the Double

The Arsenal end was rocking and despite Liverpool’s attempts to try to get an equaliser we knew it was going to be our day. Liverpool had one last corner. Bob McNab went up to Bob Wilson slapped him hard on the backside and yelled “Be first, Willow. Go and get it, wherever it is, go and get it” and the Arsenal fans roared when Bob came and caught it and as he kicked it down the pitch Norman Burtenshaw blew the final whistle sunk to his knees and punched the air. Charlie George did a somersault and Bertie Mee normally the most reserved of men was going round hugging everyone. We’d done it we’d won the Double!  Arsenal only had one more mountain to climb which were the 39 steps up to the Royal Box. An exhausted Frank McLintock led the twelve men in yellow up the steps just as he’d led them all season. The sunlight reflected off the famous old trophy as Frank lifted the FA Cup towards us and a massive roar of triumph came from the Arsenal fans.

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Frank lifts the FA Cup

It’s hard to believe that 50 years have flashed by but for those that were there we’ll never forget it. They were a team in every sense of the word. Peter Storey called them “Remorseless”. No team had to go through so much to win the Double. They had to play 64 matches including League Cup and Fairs Cup games. Preston North End  played just 27 matches to win the Double, Aston Villa 37 and Tottenham 49 with no League Cup or Fairs Cup matches for any of them.

I’ll leave the final words to our keeper and the man voted by the supporters as their player of the season Bob Wilson. “The strength of Bertie Mee’s team lay in the respect every member had for each other. Every player was a vital part of the jigsaw and each would have given all for the guy next to him on the pitch. Almost thirty years later, we were standing round the graveside at George Armstrong’s funeral, all but Ray Kennedy, Parkinson’s disease having made it impossible for him to attend. Bob McNab had even flown in from Los Angeles, California. As we stood stunned by the loss, the Arsenal captain at the time, Tony Adams, remarked on our amazing camaraderie three decades on from our moment of glory. He pondered whether the same gathering would occur with the team he captained in similar circumstances. Of course it wouldn’t, and couldn’t. The geography of the modern game makes it at best very unlikely. Arsenal’s double-winning side of 71 were like family and will remain so. The term ‘great footballing team’ may have eluded them ‘Great team’ they most certainly were”. Some great words from Bob. I and I’m sure many others that remember that glorious season 50 years ago will like me be raising a glass to them this weekend. They were my heroes when I was 14 years old and at 64 I guess they still are!

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Still my heroes!

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2 Responses to A Fan’s Firsthand View of Arsenal’s 70/71 Historic Double – The Finale

  1. Pete the Thirst May 6, 2021 at 11:38 am #

    Outstanding piece of writing Gary!

    You were very lucky to have been at those big games.

  2. Johnno May 16, 2021 at 11:25 pm #

    What a great article mate. I only missed one game that season (Huddersfield away). I`ve read some good accounts of that season but this was right up there. That game at Spurs was utter mayhem, the greatest day of my Arsenal supporting life, just about eclipses Anfield for me. Happy happy days.

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