Arsenal: The game to remember

gun__1360761407_arsenal_manutd_1958_3.jpgGf60 writes;

My most exciting game (outside of championship deciders and cup finals).

Isn’t it strange that when you cast your mind back over literally hundreds of games that really got you going, drenched with sweat, hoarse, really exhausted as though you’d covered every blade of grass on the pitch yourself, that a lost game is the most memorable?

After all there are 1-0 wins that were so against the run of play but so exciting (as we, the fans, literally tried to blow the ball away from our danger area) that they live in the mind far longer than eminently satisfactory but easy 6-2 wins. Even some 1-1 draws have done that.

So why choose a loss? Simple. It was a game that not only lives; it also showed what Gooners could do when they believed in themselves (something that our recent sides have done so well) and it also had me crying but a few days later.

There was a day in 1958 when “Manchester United” was simply that…..not MFU or any other other acronym for cheatin’, lucky, dirty bastards.

They were footballing Gods, blessed with skills so far from the norm that they resembled our Invincibles. (Even so they never managed a season unbeaten which goes to show just how good we were.)

We all knew that our side was just there to act as the sacrificial lamb, but in those days watching football played at such a level was no hardship. So they’ve put 14 goals past us in the last 3 games? And, they’ll put 3 or 4 past us again today, so what? Miss this game and you miss out on seeing real skill….and football as it can be played.

Whatever time the kick off, probably 1pm in those archaic days of no floodlights and no substitutes, you got to the ground a good 3 hours before hand for a game like this. Establish your viewing position, programme and a paper to read, big bag of peanuts to hand and then start the ‘how big a crowd?’ game; do the raffle for first person to score….”please let me pull Tommy Taylor!” No, get Denis Evans instead but at least that left you with a chance of just maybe the Arse will get a penalty….if of course we ever get into their area!


At last the game starts. Look at them strut. Colman, Edwards, Byrne…Charlton , a mere 3 years older than me and playing in this side. And the lucky raffle winner is….Duncan Edwards. They tore us apart, Charlton getting a goal of such frightening power that “maybe”, we thought, “he hits a ball as hard as big Cliff”, and, as we expected they were 3-0 up at half time. We started wondering what was the worst ever Arsenal defeat at Highbury. Horrible as the score was, we were watching a truly great side and there was a sigh almost of contentment as they trooped off. We were lucky enough to have seen greatness in action.

What may have gone into the Gooners tea at half time is a matter of conjecture….within about 10 minutes the crowd was ecstatic. Not only had we scored against these non- mortals, we’d equalised and had them on the run. David Herd and Jimmy Bloomfield (twice) had done the, what seemed, impossible. Our side was level.

Even a crowd as passionate as that can only keep up such a noise level for so long. An injury, treated as usual with a sponge loaded with iced water, two wild clearances into the stands and a bit of other time wasting, left all of us, players and supporters, shorn of adrenaline and realising that there wasn’t much left in the tank.

Had we shot our collective bolts? It would seem so. Another 10 minutes and we were 2 goals behind again. Violett and Taylor for the second time doing the damage. But the lads had realised by now that they could also play. Up went the sleeves, up again went the tempo and Derek Tapscott got our fourth. We were all berserk as the equaliser refused to come, but we were watching a game where the Arse was taking a better side almost to the cleaners. Almost but not quite and, as usual, the clock decided enough is enough.


We had lost but lost gloriously. Any fan having a voice left, even those up in the directors’ box, might be assumed to be sub normal. Mine for sure was some 3 days getting back to normal…..in time to wail “Oh shit” as I saw the headline of the first newspaper I was supposed to deliver on my 6a.m. morning paper delivery round.

It was the first and only time I ever cried for Manchester United.


29 comments on “Arsenal: The game to remember

  1. Absolutely excellent – lump in my throat and I was not born on the 1st February 1958

    In case you are wondering the top picture is Duncan Edwards in action at Highbury, as is the second with him signing an autograph before kick off on the day. The third picture is Tommy Taylor scoring the fifth, their winner, in the 4-5 result. Both Taylor and Edwards died on the 6th February. The final shot is the team getting on the fatal flight.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Great review Ian, albeit nearly 6 decades later. You really had me gripped from beginning to end. As I came at the end of reading A5’s comment, an overwhelming cold sensation came over me as I realised it was THAT team.

    You were, indeed, very fortunate to see the greatness of that glorious team in action.

    Ta for making us part of it.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. * Nearly 7 decades later ofcos.

    Great article the previous one from Shotta. Great comments too ofcos. Clearing so many of muddy waters.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Terrific read. Wish I had been there.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Fantastic. Thank you. I am taking the traditional summer break from football, it makes the next season so much more enjoyable, but I’m happy to lift my embargo to share your memories. And what a difference from the modern fan who cannot appreciate a draw never mind a valiant defeat.
    You sir are a breath of fresh air.

    Liked by 5 people

  6. Another great piece in your series gf60, as soon as I saw DE in the top pic I knew the game you were going to describe.
    I was fascinated that you were at the game, I did a lot of research into this about a year ago( and put a link)-I felt a kind of pride that the Arsenal were the last team to play the BB’s.
    Of course now runways are really clear in Germany, Ive flown many time in the snow and ice, and no slush at all. But as humans we tend to learn form mistakes, which is really tragic.
    But that Elizabethan aeroplane had problems a with engine surges anyway ( wasnt that the reason there were two aborted take offs?). I seem to recall many of the MU team were thinking it was the end after the first aborted take off. Poor blokes. Duncan said he would be ready for next Saturdays kick off Im not sure how knew how bad he was lying there in the hospital. Now I would like to think that the flight would have been cancelled.
    I seem to recall lots of documentary evidence and interviews with Duncans Mother, a very down to earth woman whose talented son was taken away far too early. A lady from another time, and other ways of thinking.A world where many people werent spoilt.
    One thing became apparent to me was that MU have Euro football in their DNA in a way Im not sure anyone else does, not even Liverpool, certainly stems from that time?
    Now the airfield is an industrial park, but with bits of that days outbound runway still visible here and there. The memorial is down on in a new housing estate on the lower left corner of what was the airfield, its now on a street corner.Which seems a bit surreal.
    Theres a couple of dramas and lots of docus if anyones interested on You Tube.
    Thanks again. And RIP all hat died in that crash, a tragic loss beyond words.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. On reading gf60s recollections of a what was seemingly a great match, as a “furriner” who supports the great Arsenal, I am not sure you in Britain understand or comprehend how the British media Establishment have used that that Munich Disaster and Busby’s rebuild of United to make them the flagship of English football. In my local library in the 60s-80s virtually the only books on football were about United. As a former colony which relied on English publishers and distributors what else could one expect. Brazil and Pele gatecrashed this party in the 70s. But to me the biggest blow to the United’s mystique was not Liverpool’s dominance in the 80s-90s but Arsene Wenger turning Arsenal into United’s great rival and besting them forever with the Invincible season. In an era of global satellite tv the English media could not conceal this achievement. No wonder they hate Arsene Wenger.

    I suspect most Gooners still have no idea of the magnitude of Arsene’s greatness, least of all Bob-the-Blogger. Based on the evidence, I suspect that when Arsene’s race is run the English media will as Mark Anthony said on the death of Ceasar:
    The evil that men do lives after them;
    The good is oft interrèd with their bones.
    As Shakespeare himself alluded, this villification will prove to be totally futilite.

    Liked by 4 people

  8. I am not sure if “the British media establishment” needed to do very much to build the legend that was Manchester United under Busby Shotts.

    Busby was enormously respected when I was a youngster. What he achieved in crawling out of the wreckage of Munich ( literally and metaphorically), rebuilding the United team, and the club, after the disaster needed no “media” embellishment or fanfare.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Ferguson may have surpassed Busby’s haul of trophies at Trafford Park, but he was never the man that Busby was. My guess is Ferguson would probably agree with that.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. A5 – As I tried to explain you have no idea of the absolute monopoly British publishers had on what was read in the former colonies, as a Jamaican up to the 70s at least. (As an aside, I remember as a high schooler in the early 70s a single copy of Black nationalist literature from the US being smuggled among the cool kids who started wearing Afros.)

    My point being there was absolutely nothing about Arsenal being a great competitive club. Nil. Nada. Zilch.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Well, I read this amazing article shortly after it was put up.
    Frankly, I was stunned. I couldn’t find words to write (except, Thanks). (Which I didn’t).

    Thing is, the very idea that a sporting team or individual you’re a supporter, fan, or simply interested in – could bring joy and/or fascination – was the starting point in my “following” anything.

    Whilst thinking about the incredible match described above, and having read the final line, I felt little bit conflicted.
    On the one hand there’s the ‘ManU’ll thrash you but Ars nearly drew the match, scoring a few goals along the way’. Yes, fine, but then, the tragedy of the crash. Absolutely.
    But then (and here’s my conflict), memories of how this crash has sometimes been reported during this century? Excuse me but I will not elaborate.

    “Context”. That’s my beef about everything. (Including AFC).

    A5, Mills, Steww, Labo, Raddy and Shotta – you’ve provided Context with your replies.

    Gf60, I remain thankful (and stunned) by your recollections. Thank you.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Yeah, so I’m pissed that the removal of Context means I sometimes find it difficult to “enjoy” the result of a sporting contest, what with the commentary and various post-game conclusions. Know what I mean?


  13. I see the ASB are in full meltdown over reports from James Olly, contradicting earlier reports from jame olly, over the appointment of a Director of Football at Arsenal.

    Firstly olly only a few weeks ago reported that Arsenal would appoint a DoF, and that Gerry Payton and Tony Colbert were leaving the backroom staff, something by the way Arsenal denied. Now Olly is reporting that both Payton and Colbert, just like the rest of Wenger’s back room staff have been offered new contracts – something that happens everytime AW signs a new deal, as both are linked. And that Arsenal are not going to appoint a DoF, but intend to appoint someone to help with transfer talks and contract renewals, which is exactly what Arsenal said they intended to do.

    so we have fake outrage from the ASB, over a nothing report from a nothing journo who constantly writes anti Arsenal shit. Now we can expect dozens of articles from other media outlets and of course from the Arsenal uber bloggers, and twitteratti. All based on nothing.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. timeline

    Wenger on interest in Pickford
    “we have Cech, Ospina, Martinez and don’t forget Szczesny, he is only on loan at Roma, he will come back, we have no need for a goalkeeper and are not after Pickford”

    Everton agree £30M fee for Pickford
    Media headlines
    “Everton agree fee for Arsenal Target”

    Uber bloggers
    “Wenger dithers again and lets Everton steal another transfer target”

    you couldn’t make it up, oh wait they did.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Thanks so much for this: important stuff.

    And this film is for Stew”s nephew to watch.

    Liked by 3 people

  16. What a brilliant post!

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Great post.

    I was a teenager growing up ln Cheshire surrounded by gloating ManU fans at the time of the great Busby teams, so my view of them was sadly jaundiced.

    Just as, I’m sure, Arsenal fans in North London may have had some difficulty in appreciating the outstanding Spurs team of the early/mid Sixties.

    It was another 40 years until my club had a team to match either of these.

    Small wonder, then, that those of us of us with long memories are in awe of the achievements of AW.

    Liked by 3 people

  18. Arsenal FC‏Verified account @Arsenal 7m7 minutes ago

    🏆 2014
    🏆 2015
    🏆 2017

    @aaronramsey 🔴

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Positively Arsenal‏ @Blackburngeorge

    People are outraged that Arsene is in charge. THEY WANT CHANGE,

    Liked by 1 person

  20. On this day in 2008: Aaron Ramsey signed for Arsenal just a week after Man Utd announced that they had agreed a fee with Cardiff City. #afc

    Aaron Ramsey for Arsenal:
    297 apps
    47 goals
    44 assists
    3 FA Cups
    2 Community Shields

    Liked by 3 people

  21. Brilliant, historic, and tinged with tragedy to come.
    a real privilege to read these articles

    Liked by 4 people

  22. Jeorge Bird‏ @jeorgebird 1h1 hour ago

    Arsenal currently have 93 players on their books, including new scholars. Will surely have to be lots of departures permanently or on loan.


  23. Arsenal announce Member Ticket prices

    Europa League Group stages prices range from £6.50 up to £23.50

    Cat A games for league and cup are top priced at £95.50



  24. I’m sure The Ox will be blamed and get the hook

    Liked by 3 people

  25. The ball for that game was in the Shop at Finsbury Park at one stage don’t know if it’s still there or in the museum. Both teams signed it as well.

    Liked by 2 people

  26. SAMchez COYG‏ @smeagol_11 2h2 hours ago

    Englands youth players are playing u20s tournaments France’s u20s players are destroying England’s first team. Different levels.

    Liked by 3 people

  27. Clearly Southgate had been doing his homework which is why he started the Ox returning from injury in CM alongside the always impressive “English Busquets” (spits out cornflakes) when he had settled in this formation in another position…


  28. Thank you gf

    Arriving three hours early? What!

    Were you not entertained?

    The Upstanding Paytons & Partdriges of our progressive era wouldn’t stand for such stuff they are far too important don’t you know? It’s serious work being a football fan!

    Liked by 1 person

  29. Mr Gf60, a wonderful and cracking bit of football and Arsenal history with some amazing photographs. Thank you so very much for the post and your memories.

    I would like to say (with no disrespect though to the occasion and it’s tragic aftermath), that despite apparently having some wonderfully gifted players I did happen to notice that the MUFC had a vast technological advantage over our beloved Gunners. NO COLLARS, NO BUTTONS OR ROLL-UP LONG SLEEVES! NO LONG SHORTS, YET LOW CUT DECIDELY UN-BRITISH FOOTBALL BOOTS, AND (perhaps it’s my fevered imagination) SUPERIOR STATE OF THE ART NORTHERN HAIRCUTS. Oh yes, short sleeved aerodynamic V-collar tops (IN FEBRUARY for Lord’s sake!!!!), that as they say now are the marginal gains that managed the win against our valiant lads otherwise victory would have been ours to savour.

    Liked by 3 people

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