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.