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GCR Books

Leyton Orient v Arsenal. August 18th 1962.

By Tony Attwood

I’ve good reason to remember this game today, as we make one of our rare appearances against Orient – and one of our even rarer appearances at Brisbane Road – simply because I was there.

By 1962 my family had moved away from Devonshire Hill Lane in Tottenham, where I was brought up, and were in Dorset, and we made occasional forays to the Arsenal, my father and I.  Trips to away games were usually to matches in the Midlands and Cardiff (Dorset being somewhat short of first division sides at the time).

Quite why we were in London this August I have no idea, but maybe it was just because my father wanted to go back to the Orient – the original stamping ground of his father, who transferred allegiance to Arsenal in 1913 (see “Arsenal Til I Die” published by Legends Publishing for Arsenal in the Community, for the full story, if you are interested).

I don’t recall it being an all-ticket game, despite being the start of the season and the most local of local derbies.   Goodness knows what the authorities were thinking about if it wasn’t all ticket.  Maybe it was about the fact that Arsenal had finished 10th in the league the previous season and had not actually won anything since 1953.  Or maybe the Orient fans didn’t actually believe that they were seriously in the first division.

But there was another twist that should have attracted attention – we had a new manager, a certain Mr W Wright, of England and Beverley Sisters fame.

There was no segregation that I can remember either – we all just queued up and got into the little ground – 26,300 according to the record books (the roundness of the number making me think it was all-ticket after all).

Our team on the day was

McKechnie

Magill   Neill  McCullough

Brown Sneddon

Armstrong, Strong, Baker, Barnwell, Skirton

We won 2-1 with goals from Geoff Strong and Joe Baker.  Geoff Strong had broken into the team from the reserves the previous season, playing 19 games and getting 10 goals.  Joe Baker was the new man in the team – this being the era where in order to keep the crowds up Arsenal reckoned to sign a big name player every couple of seasons or so.

Geoff Strong ended the season with 18 goals, and Baker got 29 in the league – which looks a very promising set of stats, especially when you add in another 10 from Alan Skirton on the wing.

And yet, and yet, the trophy drought continued this season, and we ended up seventh in the league, and out of the cup to Liverpool in the 5th round.

The fact was that we could score goals – but we couldn’t stop them going in at the other end.   Just look at some of these results from the year…

After the first two games which we won, including of course this match against Orient, we got one draw and five defeats out of the next six.  In October we drew 4-4 away to Tottenham, and then a couple of weeks later beat Wolverhampton 5-4, followed by a 5-5 draw at Blackburn.  We only kept five clean sheets in the whole season – which is not quite what one might have expected from a team managed by Billy Wright.

As for the game at Orient, I don’t really know.  We are talking about something coming up to 50 years ago, and I was just a kid standing on the terraces with my father.  We won, I remember that, and I remember Alan Skirton tearing down the right right in front of us.  (Mind you I seem to recall him doing that whether he had the ball or not).

But even though the memory lets me down, its a fond memory, and as one gets older, they become more and more precious.

5 comments to Leyton Orient v Arsenal. August 18th 1962.

  • Steve Fear

    I was at the game that day but an Orient supporter. I cannot remember too much about the abd while losing was not to despondent. However I wonder if you remember before the kick off the MOTD were there and a platform had been erected in the west stand for the commetators/cameras but to get up they had used a long ladder but two people could not get it out of the way and the Policeman on the ground duty (one in each corner in those days) came over and gave a hand and they finally managed to get the ladder down . The police getting a big cheer. The other moment I actually remebmber was Joe Baker doing the twist on the pitch. He ws faced by an Orient defender they were both static with the ball between them, Baker dipped one way then the other and was blocked each time so then he went in to the dance, much to the amusement of all supporters who had a good laugh.

  • Howard Posner

    I also remember this game fondly. I was just a kid, and although I had been to the odd international at Wembley this was the start of my Arsenal days, graduating from cinema with my grandparents on a Saturday afternoon to regular Arsenal supporter, with mum, dad and my brother jim.
    I don’t really remember much of the game, but we had just bought Joe Baker from somewhere in Italy, which I remember seemed very cool to me then.
    I also remember the Liverpool 5th round cup tie at Highbury. 50 years on and I still haven’t really forgiven John barnwell for that crazy handball in the penalty area.

  • Terence Rees

    I too was at this game as a 10 year old and can quite categorically say that it was not all ticket. I was there with my father he being a Charlton fan and me staunch Millwall. He took me as I just loved going to football matches and we would not have bothered trying to get a ticket. I remember that Billy Wright was manager and I seem to remember that his wife, if not all of the Beverley sisters were in attendance !

  • GoonerEd25

    Interesting thoughts from the first poster here, as to the presence of TV cameras; MOTD didn’t begin until 1964, so it can’t have been they who covered the game. Initially I thought ITV didn’t start broadcasting until the mid 60s, but a quick Google search tells me it was 1955, so in all likelihood, it was their regional cameras who recorded the game. The only other contender would have been Pathé news, who I think we’re still operating then, though in a much smaller scale since the rise of domestic television companies. Either way, it would be superb if footage of this game were to be found somewhere, as pre-1964 (& the birth of MOTD) Arsenal film is very rare, & extremely hard to find…

  • GoonerEd25

    Further to my previous comment, I found the footage of this match on YouTube; as it played, the narration of Bob Wilson was on the soundtrack leading me to believe the excerpt had been uploaded from the Arsenal Centenary video released by the BBC in 1986, so I dusted down my old VCR, located the centenary video from a box in my parent’s garage, and checked it and indeed there it was! Good to watch the centenary video again too, it had been a while…

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