Blast from the Past: 2nd August 1969 – Arsenal v Swindom Town

Some time ago, I buried my large collection of Ársenal programmes in the loft.  All are in very good condition and date back to the late sixties.  I was hopeful that some future grandchild, great grandchild etcetera would value them as much as I did.   So last weekend I decided to look them over, read a few and remind myself of happy days etcetera.


I found a programme dated 2nd August 1969 for a challenge match against Swindon Town.   No doubt Ársenal were playing a friendly against Swindon to try to purge the memories of being beaten at Wembley by the 3rd division team the previous season.

I have to admit to having no recollection of the match which I almost certainly attended, but I am certainly still damaged by the Wembley defeat.

As we once again prepare for a new season, with expensive transfer deals and great expectation for trophies, I thought it would be worth sharing some information from the Swindon programme, just for a bit of nostalgia.  My oh my, how times have changed!


Firstly a message from the then Chairman Dennis Hill Wood:

At last I can say [in 1968-1969] that our club has put up its best playing record since 1952 – 1953), I imagine that everyone would agree that the winning of the Championship then was superior to being losing finalists in the League Cup, even though we finished fourth in the Championship table last season!

In the more modern days the means of achieving success are more multifarious than they were in 1953 yet, on the other hand, perhaps the fan is more selective in what he thinks is ‘success’.  Is fourth in the League Table success? Is Runners up in the League Cup success?

We are happy about the progress but, of course we are not satisfied with the ultimate record.  Today it is demanded that the successful club is one which wins something, and let’s face it, we haven’t won a first class trophy since 1953.  Let us hope we do just that in 1970!

I am sure, however, that all our supporters would like to join me and my colleagues on the Board in congratulating the First Team on achieving a place in a European Competition.  This is another standard of success and, although such participation can cause problems in the fixture lists, obviously the players enjoy the continual challenge.

I would also like, particularly, to congratulate the Reserve X11 on winning the championship of the Football Combination last season.  A fine performance.

Welcome back to Highbury, and I hope we all have a happy and successful season.

The other interesting stat was the squad for the new season.  The squad had 26 players covering the following positions.  WF, HB, IF, CF, GK, And Full back.

Of the 26 players, seven were Scots, three were Irish and one Welsh – the remainder English.


10 were previously apprentices.

Our players back then did not come from all over the world. However, Arsenal did contract players from all over the UK and Ireland, like: Glasgow United,  Coventry City ( Gerry, it was Bobby Gould). Chelsea, Leicester City, Huddersfield town, Bangor, Belfast scouts, Northampton Town, Spurs (Jimmy Robertson) , Dundee, three players came from Possilpark YMCA one from Leslie B C and one was an Arsenal amateur (Bob Wilson)

The programme cost one shilling (5p) and contained details of travel to Leeds for the first away game – second class return ticket to Leeds was £10.50.

How things have changed since then, but great memories for me and hopefully for you too! And if you have any, please share your memories from that time with us.

Written by Retsub.

18 thoughts on “Blast from the Past: 2nd August 1969 – Arsenal v Swindom Town

  • Nice one Retsub – and yes, I did spot Bobby Gould’s name on the team sheet.

    I think the French expression covers this nicely ‘Plus ca change ..’, the full version means ‘the more that changes, the less things change’ … re arguing over what is success, 4th place in the league, or runner’s up in the Cup? – 😀

    It is almost laughable that should we be lucky enough, given the strength of the opposition, next season, not to win it again the following season will look like failure?

    Bobby Gould was still quite young when Coventry had their magnificent run to win the 2nd Division championship, which took them into the top flight, and through into the Premiership. Amazingly, prior to their exit which in truth was long overdue, they were in the top 5 clubs to remain continuously in the top division.

    They do have something in common with Arsenal though. It was great to beat Spurs!. Alas that Cup final saw the break up of the team the following season. Combination of poor management by the board, and frequent changes in managers. Not a recipe for success, as some Arsenal fans should note?


  • Thanks Retsub 🙂

    I love the Chairman message and it just shows how it has always been important to give hope for better and yet also help fans see things in perspective. 🙂

    Very informative post and a nice relief from the transfer fantasies.

  • A nice stroll down memory lane…

    Well done Retsub…

    The end of that season brought an end to a 17 year drought.
    Anderlecht and all that jazz…

  • I still recall an midweek game against some Dutch team that season in the Fairs Cup…

    Charlie George was majestic and Arsenal won, 3-0 wasn’t it…

    I wonder what happened to all those Dutch players? 😉

  • Thanks guys

    That was indeed the first time we won something for many years. As the final against Anderleccht was over two matches, the 2nd match at was I suspect one of the Greatest nights at Highbury. I missed one game that season and this was it. I was on a school journey to
    Derbyshire grrrrrr

    Gerry, Bobby Gould was a character. Not the greatest footballer but all heart. Not sure if he did it at Coventry, but he had a habit of shoulder charging goalkeeper about 5 seconds after they caught the ball. He tried it on Gary Sprake of Leeds and got flattened by a right upper cut.

  • Restub… Thanks for posting this… Indeed, I love the musings of the chairman in the program (programme?) notes…

    No matter what era we’re in, all the characters are caught up in the results and they guide our emotions. Still, it’s all about the journey and how we spend our time. Win, lose or draw, we watched the match and can’t get those hours (days, seasons, years…) back. In the end, we “spent” our time (energy and emotion) on our football team.

    Silly, no?… 😀

    Of course, it’s EVEN worse now that we argue–with complete strangers, no less–on the interweb about it all!!

    IMO, we’re all “lucky” that our club (of all the clubs out there) is making the climb into the highest ranks of the sport and doing it in a manner which, by and large, we can be proud of… Not easy in this era of Oily-garchs and Blatters… (Again, I’ll believe that Moo-bramovich is selling us a class keeper when I see it happen…)

    Gotta run this morning, but thanks again retsub…

  • Checking back…

    Shoulder charging keepers…lol…

    Obviously, I’m just a noob and have been watching the Arsenal only since Autumn (we call it “Fall”) 2006 when I lived at my screen name… At that time the nearest pub was in that tiny commercial area near the Highbury Clock (NE end of Highbury Fields) but the pub had gone “gastro.” On my one and only visit (as I sipped a Guiness because they had no bitters or “real ales”…) I saw one of the Sunday papers which had a half page photo of Petr Cech eyes open but out cold after taking Stephen Hunt’s (playing for newly promoted Reading…) knee to the head. Some might argue he hasn’t been the same keeper since, but at least the helmet lets you know he’s out there… 😀

    Checking the NewSnow…( There isn’t any–new snow, that is, wrong season after all– but we have a little smoke from this fire… ) and there isn’t any Cech news to speak of… Hmmm…. Put me back in the Moo-brain-ovich mind games camp… We can all remember what the Cesc-capades did to Gooners last summer, I hope… 😦

    Back to my personal story… I knew I had landed in heaven when I first saw the multitudes marching across the fields (and creating the dreaded “desire paths) from the tube station. As such I wandered down to the stadium to buy a ticket from the touts (“scalpers” over here) but there were none. In my past travels ticket prices were a non-issue in getting into Mexican and Italian stadiums… Not so at the Grove/Emirates…

    Oh well, so I’m a noob and also a TV supporter… Still, I’ll likely be in England (or Wales… Swansea away = 31 October… fancy dress, perhaps?…) during the 2nd half of October for a match or two. Who’s gonna join me?…

  • Yes, well, that’s a reason they allow substitutes these days, I guess… (In truth, I think there needs to be a “free” sub–maybe with the stricken player ineligible for the following match or two if used–in cases of injury. Even under current rules it’s still good “tactics” to maim the opponent…)

    That first autumn I also saw the action below–the modern version of keeper collisions involving some of the teams and characters we’ve been discussing during this Cech “transfer drama.”

    That same period also featured Arsenal losing at Sheffield United with Phil Jagielka having to play in goal after they had used all their subs and Paddy Kenny went off hurt… Having come of age so late, people can maybe understand my rose-tinted glasses… Arsenal are a bit better than they were at that time… IMO, of course… 😀

    Finally, at University I worked closely with a professor named Roger Bryne (we even published a paper together…) who, despite being from London, was a big ManU fan. I’m not sure if he was named for the other fellow… Probably not, as he must’ve been born before the Busby Babe era. Anyhow, cheers for the vid…

  • I know I am back in ‘transfer fantasy land’ and I really should do the Parliamentary thing, and refer the Honourable Gentleman to answers I gave earlier re Petr Cech

    However, as this pre-transfer thing is about the only real thing connected with football over here, unless anybody wishes to talk about the demise of the Under 21’s?

    I said before Arsenal dot com will not announce the move as official until Chelsea have secured a replacement. Most will have seen the Begovic move not working out, but while that looked a runner, that is when the deal was lifted from rumour, to waiting to be confirmed. That is still to be resolved.

    I think this move, and that of the possibility of the Charly Mesunda sale to us, goes well above the manager grade. It seems to me there is a loosening in our relationship with Chelsea, in that they are being far too nice to be just a commercial deal (or two?). They will want something in return. Abram is clever enough to still exist in this Putin era, not to know how to operate behind the scenes. It could be one of two things. One, he wants similar cooperation from us to facilitate a purchase of theirs. Or perhaps, and this is pure speculation mind, they are looking for allies in any forthcoming debates on rule changes? This would be above AW’s level of involvement too. But I cannot remember when they would even inquire after a Chelsea academy player, let alone it being met with an accommodating fee?

    The rest of the TW may reveal what we have done in return?

    By the end of this month, ie next Tuesday, we may know if we are successful in obtaining our DM. If we don’t get MS because he chooses United instead, we may turn to the cheaper of of Imbula. Who, as I predicted, would be Saints need for cash as their replacement. So they will have a head start. Mind Utd would be out of the running for Kk. Where all this leaves the Vidal rumours, the latest suggesting he is our next choice? Age and temperament makes it a little surprising, but compensate that with instant unity with Alexis, and it could turn out well … or Badly?

    There you have it. Boring for some. Intriguing for others.

  • I suppose fast-tracking Bielik is an option, risky given his youth, but not out of the question…

  • Nice bit of wishful thinking Gerry:

    ‘I said before Arsenal dot com will not announce the move as official until Chelsea have secured a replacement. Most will have seen the Begovic move not working out, but while that looked a runner, that is when the deal was lifted from rumour, to waiting to be confirmed. That is still to be resolved.’

    Many of us have learned over the years that the tabloids love to report a near certainty as a… certainty as it gets them many hits. We have been there before with the likes of Higuain and Mata, and there is every reason to be cautious. Maureen will not have sent out his captain to make the 12-15 points statement for just a bit of fun. It was most likely meant to put more pressure on the owner, through fan revolt and negative press, and make him change his mind. Not a done deal at all imo. For Chelsea replacing their reserve keeper is not the biggest priority and Arsenal are surely not agreeing to waiting for this to happen before they can have their player.

  • Slightly different on this occasion, TA. Too many have let it slip that he is coming. But at this stage, with the Window not open yet, he cannot be named as our player until next Wednesday.
    Any takers on that being when Cech has his medical?

  • Mind you, this one is more in the wishful thinking category?
    That brought a smile to my face …

    However, in answer to allezkev post above, I think you need to read exactly what AW said about Bielik… ‘Yes he will be in the squad, as *back up* to Coquelin’.
    That sentence does not preclude bringing in another who can play alongside Coquelin?

    As reports are at the moment saying MS has taken the offer up at United, although it may be nearer the truth to say that they are paying the asking price, whereas were weren’t?
    In which case the Vidal line might be a good one, as he can play the more aggressive role higher up the pitch? So not so much competing with Coquelin, more complimenting the energy levels of Alexis.

    Much as I like PEA, as a player and person – I’ll never forget the reception he got from his old club. The manner of his departure was clearly better than some of ours. Can you imagine Cesc or RVP getting a standing ovation before a big game? PEA got it – but, I think our needs will be well suited by Draxy.

    On the other hand, it may be a blog generated from reading my comments ..ha ha

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