Arsenal’s Century Club – John Radford
John Radford was born on 22 February 1947 in Hemsworth, Yorkshire.
He joined Arsenal as an apprentice in 1962, turning professional in February 1964.
During an interview he said – “I well remember the day before my debut in Arsenal’s senior side. It was Friday 20th March 1964, just a month after my 17th birthday. In those days we youngsters had to do all sorts of menial tasks around the place and one of them that day was to clean the baths at Highbury stadium. I was scrubbing away when the next thing I knew, our manager Billy Wright was standing watching me. “John, you’ll need to rest up a bit when you’ve finished doing that”.” he said looking serious.
Why’s that?” I replied a bit puzzled.
“Because you’re playing at West Ham tomorrow” he said and walked away leaving me stunned as you can well imagine.”
John was a prolific goal scorer in his youth but his only appearance in 1964-65 was his debut game against West Ham. In the 1965-66 season he played 15 times, and became Arsenal’s youngest ever hat-trick scorer, against Wolves on 2 January 1965, at the age of 17 years and 315 days, a record that remains to this day.
He soon became an Arsenal regular, and blossomed under the management of Bertie Mee; in 1968-69, although he had been moved out to the right wing, he scored nineteen goals and reached the 1969 League Cup final. As he peaked, so did Arsenal; in 1969-70 he again scored nineteen goals, and helped Arsenal win the 1970 Inter-Cities Fairs Cup, their first trophy in seventeen years; John scored the second goal in Arsenal’s 3-0 win in the second leg of the final, which they won 4-3 on aggregate.
John was moved up front again and continued to score regularly. The following season (1970-71) he scored 21 goals, his best single tally in a season, forming a partnership with Ray Kennedy they recorded 47 goals between them. With his goals, John was an instrumental part of Arsenal’s FA Cup and League Championship double-winning side, and his assists played an important role too; he set up Kennedy for the winning goal in Arsenal’s FA Cup semi-final replay win against Stoke City, and set up both Eddie Kelly and Charlie George for their goals in the Final against Liverpool.
He continued to play for Arsenal through the early 1970s, scoring another 19 goals in 1972-73. However, his goal rate gradually reduced (only achieving single figures in 1973-74 and 1974-75) and he was injured in 1975-76, further restricting his appearances. By now, the partnership of Malcolm Macdonald and Frank Stapleton had become Arsenal’s first-choice attacking duo and John only played twice in the first four months of 1976-77.
Unable to keep a regular place in the side, he moved on to West Ham United in December 1976 for £80,000. After a year and 28 league appearances and no goals with the Hammers, Radford joined Blackburn Rovers in 1977. He was moderately successful with the Second Division side, scoring ten times in 38 league appearances. He left Rovers in 1978 and played for non-league Bishop’s Stortford before retiring. After retiring, he became a pub landlord, and enjoyed several spells as manager of Bishop’s Stortford in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
In all he played 485 times for Arsenal, scoring 149 goals, which makes him Arsenal’s fourth all-time top scorer.
|John Radford – Goals Scored|
His 100th goal was scored against Leicester City at Highbury on September 25th 1971 in his 306th game for Arsenal.
|Arsenal’s Century Club|
|** Games played to reach 100 goals.|
Finally, in a supporter’s poll to determine Arsenal’s all time top 50 players John placed 24th.