Arsenal’s Best Attackers Ever: Nr17 – our youngest-ever hat-trick scorer

Arsenal’s Century Club – John Radford

Radford overhead kick (1)

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 Radford and Charlie George iconoc image. (1)

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.

John Radford 24th in Arsenal top 50. (1)

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
    Apps Subs Goals
1963 1964 1 0 0
1964 1965 15 0 9
1965 1966 32 0 8
1966 1967 34 0 7
1967 1968 52 0 14
1968 1969 41 3 19
1969 1970 55 0 19
1970 1971 62 0 21
1971 1972 47 1 14
1972 1973 45 1 19
1973 1974 37 0 7
1974 1975 38 0 9
1975 1976 19 0 3
1976 1977 1 1 0
Totals : 479 6 149

His 100th goal was scored against Leicester City at Highbury on September 25th 1971 in his 306th game for Arsenal.

Arsenal’s Century Club
# Player Years Games ** Goals GPG
17 John Radford 1962-76 481 306 149 0.31
18 Joe Hulme 1926-38 374 307 125 0.33
19 Theo Walcott 2005-18 397 370 108 0.27
** Games played to reach 100 goals.

Finally, in a supporter’s poll to determine Arsenal’s all time top 50 players John placed 24th.

GunnerN5

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36 Responses to Arsenal’s Best Attackers Ever: Nr17 – our youngest-ever hat-trick scorer

  1. TotalArsenal says:

    Cheers, GN5, for another fine history lesson. He seemed to have been a proper, traditional CF. And still our youngest hattrick scorer?! I know he was very much loved by the longest lasting Arsenal fans: did you see him play a lot?

  2. goonereris says:

    John Radford sounds like he was a great talent. Thanks for the article, GN5. No doubt, he played at a time you would have been active as a fan; so, was he half good? Is there any in our current crop of youngsters he may be compared with?

  3. njk84sg says:

    Thanks for the history lesson Gn5.

    I am only think of what a good striker Radford was. To see him in action then would have been a blessing.

    Been busier since working from home started and the preparatory work before that had got me many late nights. So will just comment once in a while.

  4. GunnerN5 says:

    Hi Goonereis,

    I was watching Arsenal for 13 years before Radford kicked a ball for in Arsenal

    He scored 106 goals in 6 seasons between 1967/68 to 1972/73 or an average of 18 goals per season. He was extremely consistent and was a blunderbuss type of player who forced himself into a goalscoring position. In the 1970-71 season Radford scored 21, his best single tally in a season, forming a partnership with Ray Kennedy that between them recorded 47 goals. With his goals, he was an instrumental part of Arsenal’s FA Cup and League Championship double-winning side. His assists played an important role too as 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.

    The following season Arsenal again faced Stoke in the FA Cup semi-final. Our keeper Bob Wilson had to go off injured and he went in goal. He helped Arsenal secure a 1-1 draw and then in the replay he scored the winning goal as Arsenal again got to the final, though this time they lost to Leeds United.

    Great time, great team and a great player,

  5. GunnerN5 says:

    In Radford’s fourteen seasons with Arsenal there were only two seasons when we won trophies, the 1969/70 Fairs Cup and the 1970/71 double.

    For us supporters back in those days we had suffered through sixteen major trophy less seasons before we won the Fairs Cup – then trophy less for six season until the FA Cup win in 1978/79 –
    followed by another nine barren seasons before we won the League in 1988/89.

    So during that time we only had four major trophy winning seasons in thirty five seasons. Believe me it was a rough time to be a supporter but we certainly celebrated hard and long when we did win a trophy.

  6. 17highburyterrace says:

    Mr N5… This is excellent stuff…Both the stats (and story) about John Radford and your personal stories of suffering through as a supporter and then winning a few things. At some point, hearing about your experience at this time of year 49 years ago (in 1971) might be in order. How (exactly) did you partake of the clinching of the league title and the FA Cup final?

    Of course, it’s not just about the (moments of) glory…And this feels most definitely like a “suffering through” moment. There seems to be mounting evidence that California has done pretty well in “flattening the curve,” but that makes (perhaps?…) for a longer lock-down experience, and, of course, I’m hopeful that nobody I know is stricken…touch wood and all that…

    Sorry, I’m just not really able to get too far when it comes to distracting myself by way of Arsenal…

    And, instead, I’m probably watching/reading too much news (or “news and opinion” as it should probably be labeled)… I’m REALLY looking forward to our wintry weather abating, but it hasn’t happened yet and I’ll be back on skis for the daily outing with our puppy here in a bit. Once the sun comes out and we experience our melt-off, in addition to the usual landscape stuff, I have a big project (lots of digging) planned. I’d love to hire it out (or at least get some help with it, ideally using my improved Spanish skills in doing so) but I can probably do it myself if I ease into it… In the meantime, I’m trying to take care of more distant business (and calls and e-mails to check in on Easter week down in Mexico–mostly cancelled, I believe, are probably the order of the day), but that’s hard too. I also need to check in on some “big money” stuff around my momma and aunt’s housing situation (which they are not using at this time) and then there’s my boy and plans for heading off to college (most likely in the city hardest hit by the virus). “Normal” was tough enough, but this “new normal” is getting truly tiresome (and probably is only just beginning)…Of course, I–and those close to me–are well situated and it could be MUCH worse, so I don’t mean to sound ungrateful…

    Cheers for the report from Singapore (JK). How are things in Edinburgh (TA)?… Nairobi (Eris)?… Elsewhere (Anybody)?… GN5, I assume, is still quite focused on health issues (and Arsenal over all his years…Again, well done, sir…)

    And I don’t mean to get too far away from Arsenal and the John Radford story… Maybe I ought to be scrubbing the bathrooms (while dreaming of fun on the pitch)… 😀

  7. GunnerN5 says:

    Strangely enough 17HT, Arsenal and football are far from my thoughts these days.

    My wife and myself are very comfortably cocooned in isolation and our son is doing all of our shopping. My doctors appointments are taken care of virtually, but they most certainly consume my thoughts. Thankfully all seems to be going to plan, but cancer has a mind of its own and I won’t know anything new or significant until the end of July when I’ll have a full body bone scan.

    The 1970/71 season was very exciting and I watched every league home game at Highbury and some of the FA Cup games including the Cup Final. I’ve retained every home game program for 1970/71 and for the Manchester United game at Highbury I collected the autograph’s of George Best, Jon Sammels and Charlie George on the program.

    I think you will enjoy the next in this series, It’s in Total’s hands and he’ll issue it soon.

  8. allezkev says:

    One of my very favourite Arsenal players, I had the pleasure to meet and chat with him outside Wembley in 1993, not sure but I think it was the League Cup final, a proper Arsenal man.
    I met Bob Wilson briefly after the game, so it was like all our yesterdays.

    Favourite Radford goal and among my all time favourites, at Anfield 1973, he scored our second goal in a 2-0 win, fantastic centre forward, very skilful and nimble for a big man, he had a leap like a salmon and headed the ball like a bullet.
    He shared, along with George Graham, the Arsenal centre forward role when I first started to go to games, joined by Bobby Gould a couple of seasons afterwards. Graham was probably the best header of a ball I ever saw at Arsenal but Raddy was more dynamic.

  9. allezkev says:

    Don’t forget the Littlewoods Cup 1987 GN5, the first game where Ian Rush scored but Liverpool lost,

  10. gunnern5 says:

    No I didn’t forget allezkev I was just referring to major trophies, but I guess a cup is a cup – right?

    They were some very frustrating years after we won the double in the following five seasons we finished – 5th, 2nd, 10th, 16th & 17th – then no more Bertie Mee. Next up was Terry Neil and he won 1 FA Cup in 7 years, then Don Howe who did nothing in three years.

    That was the end of the wilderness years as next came George Graham and then Arsene, who in my opinion was unceremoniously ousted from the cub – then Emery and now all of our hopes are resting with Arteta bringing back some soul and spirit into the club.

  11. goonereris says:

    Gee, GN5. I guess Radford is a worthy centurion then. As for what you referred to as “suffer through sixteen major trophy less years”, I can only imagine how those years have been, but nearly every EPL side has gone through lean years. I read it someplace, a while back, that Arsenal has managed to win some trophy (major or minor) in every decade (10 year period), since the club was founded. I won’t scoff at that kind of record.

    17ht, sorry I cannot report from Nairobi (Kenya) as I am in Nigeria at this time. Never been to Kenya, in any case….. 🤓

  12. goonereris says:

    Let me rephrase that section about Arsenal’s trophy record to read “every decade since it won its first major trophy in 1930”, other than the World war years when football was in the back burner.

  13. 17highburyterrace says:

    Oh my, Eris… Of course I meant Nigeria (where exactly? In Lagos, as best as I can recall)… As I was typing it, I remember thinking…or maybe he’s in Canada (with your wife’s family? Maybe? And that’s in Ontario, right?, maybe not so far from Mr. N5)… Apologies, all around…

    Between Kev and N5 we’ve got quite a lot of in-person Arsenal experience here on the site… More stories please…

    And, of course, everybody stay safe…and otherwise have good fortune health-wise…

  14. TotalArsenal says:

    In Edinburgh things are relatively calm, 17HT. The lockdown is mostly respected and we are ok in terms of food and a source of income, so, like you, I count my blessings. It is hardest for our teenager who is missing human contact with her friends and the general freedom of going wherever she would like. But these are worrying times for us adults too, and the hard figures of people dying in the UK (and the Netherlands and of course anywhere else) are making us sad. What is also hard is thinking what the next steps will be. Isolation of old and vulnerable people until a vaccine is widely available seems key, but then I have read that at least 40% of care homes in the Netherlands have already had a (or more) Covid-19 case(s) among their ‘clients’. So would isolation even work when keeping them in for so long – a vaccine is likely to take well over a year if not longer – and the virus is penetrating society so fast and with such devastation among those vulnerable groups?

    Tough times.

  15. TotalArsenal says:

    ‘Lovely one-touch football that nearly produced a nice goal’ 🙂

    A powerhouse who often was at the right place, judging from this video.

  16. allezkev says:

    Well GN5, if a cup can get you into a european competition then I’d humbly suggest that it’s a major trophy, but I get your point.

    I’ve been to quite a few League Cup finals, 1968 being my first experience of the Empire Stadium at Wembley, so it’s kind of a part of my Arsenal DNA.
    1987 was a bit of a favourite of mine because we finally laid the ghosts of 1968 and 1969 to rest and maybe it meant a bit to George Graham as he played in those two earlier losing finals.

    1988 was typical Arsenal, nobody quite does cup finals like Arsenal, be it 1927 and the goalkeeping error that took the cup out of England or 1932 and the ball ‘over the line’ final, or 1952 when Arsenal finished the game with a battered team with broken arms and probably 7 fit players, Nayim from the halfway line, Birmingham, penalty shoot outs…

    So yeah GN5, every cup final success is major to me.

    Total, I’ve had a couple of texts from Retsub, so he’s ok, which is positive.

  17. TotalArsenal says:

    Good news, Kev! Please send him my regards and tell him we miss his down-to-earth comments here on BK! 🙂

  18. njk84sg says:

    “Everything that you do is a battle right from the start. How you start it will determine how you end it.”
    Let’s fight the winning battle guys

  19. njk84sg says:

    You too TA, and everyone else too.

    Arteta is a good leader, and he plans ahead. Good to see that he is already making plans for the club and it will be a possibility this season will be a write-off and we need to look forward to the new season, which is good for everyone.
    I have read the news about the dire situation in a few clubs like Burnley and some mid-to-bottom teams. I hope that the FA can help the clubs ease their financial burden in this period of time.

    However, businessmen in the media does not think of whether the clubs will go bust or not, as when the matches are not televised they will not pay money at all. Hopefully everyone knows that they must contribute to save the clubs, and it is tough but necessary.

  20. retsub1 says:

    Hey guys T A has very kindly invited me to come out and play again so I dropped by to keep an eye om that Whippersnapper Kev. Plus the fact that Big Raddy was always a favourite of mine.so thanks gunner N5 really enjoy your posts. I wasn’t at the double year semi against Stoke, but I did go to a semi final replay at Goodison, the following year I think when the supporters club coaches were attacked by Liverpool supporters and so,e of the coach windows were smashed.

    I think we won 2 – 1 and either Radford or Kennedy scored at the near post. In all the excitement I managed to hit my head on the safety rail I was leaning on and woke up on the floor 30 seconds later or so I was informed. That was the first really good Arsenal team I saw and I was a big fan of the underrated Peter Simpson. Amazing these days that a player makes his debut for a reserve squad in division 2 and is straight into the England squad. Ok slight exaggeration. I don’t think Simpson was ever capped from memory.

    Anyway good to see some of the longer term bloggers stil around.

  21. TotalArsenal says:

    Great to read your comments again, Retsub. Thanks for sharing your personal experience and you must have been in heaven for those thirty seconds or so! I love to hear the ‘olden day’ stories even though I wasn’t a Gooner but just a Roda (and a bit of an Ajax) supporter back then. The experiences are not too dissimilar though. 😀

  22. GunnerN5 says:

    Hi. retsub

    Nice to see another name on the blog, I notice that you have posted previously and written articles, stick around we need all the company we can get during these sad and sport less times.

    I’m just going through our top 19 goal scorers and they are sorted by the least games to reach 100 – and there are a few surprises along the way. Three down sixteen to go.

  23. GunnerN5 says:

    Spring weather in London, Ontario, Canada.

    -8c, 3 to 4 inches of snow and more snow flurries forecast. I guess one good thing is that due to covid-19 we have to stay inside in isolation. But it makes for a great picture through the windows.

  24. TotalArsenal says:

    send us a picture, GN5. In fact, I encourage everyone to email a picture of the world outside their window to nameoftheblog@gmail.com and I could do a post about all of those who do (nothing personal, just about how are dealing with Covid-19 etc).

  25. allezkev says:

    Hey Retsub, how are you doing old chap, very old chap. 🙂

    The first semi- finals I went to was the Fairs Cup vs Ajax in 1969/70, then the 1972 Radford in goal game that GN5 mentioned, I’ve strongly disliked Stoke ever since I visited their old ground and Arsenal had two players sent off, their fans are a rabid bunch with that small town chip on the shoulder mentality you get in many of those northern and midlands towns, only worse. I was delighted when they got relegated.

  26. GunnerN5 says:

    To late for a picture TA between 4:30 am and 12:30 pm most of the snow has been washed away by several flurries of wet snow. Such is spring weather in London, Ontario. Now it’s very windy, cold and dry.

  27. retsub1 says:

    Hey Youngster good to hear from you. I was at the Ajax game at Highbury as well. They had that guy Cruyff but he wasn’t very good anyway (only kidding TA)

    I hate Stoke as well. If Shawcross hadn’t attempted to amputate Rambo’s leg and put him back at least two years, I believe he would have been a really great player, other than just a great one.

    If anyone has Netflix and is bored its worth checking out The English Game and Sunderland til I die. both are very entertaining series.

  28. allezkev says:

    Good to see you back on the keyboard Retsub, yeah that was a great season 69/70, Charlie George was outstanding and John Radford of course.

  29. 17highburyterrace says:

    Greetings to Retsub!! I will look more deeply into those Netflix series…

    Happy (and Good) Friday to everyone…

  30. pbarany says:

    Happy Easter, everyone.
    Would you be bored and missing Arsenal history, I recommend this quiz.
    It takes only a few minutes, but brings back so many memories.
    https://www.sporcle.com/games/Segaboyno/arsenalbyseason

    I managed 84 our of 89, but was lucky due to some identical names. Can you guess whose?

  31. GunnerN5 says:

    PB, I misread the quiz, I thought it was the player who scored the most in every season, to which I scored 100% but it was supposed to be the top three by season and I only scored 47%. The top three is very difficult.

  32. njk84sg says:

    Stoke is a rugby team. Nowadays they had changed their route one football, but before that they are the football team that plays rugby. Never liked them at all.

    I like what you mentioned, Retsub. Shawcross will have been a well liked defender due to his no nonsense defending, but his leg breaking tackle on Rambo made all Arsenal fans over the world hate him.

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