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Players from the Dark Era: Jimmy Bloomfield

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“Making the Arsenal” – is available on Amazon, Arsenal on line, the Woolwich Arsenal site and in the Arsenal store.

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By Tony Attwood

Continuing our series on Arsenal’s Dark Era…

Henry “Jimmy” Bloomfield was born on 15 February 1934 and died on 3 April 1983.  Born in London he played initially for Hayes (a club that had the rather unusual original name of Botwell Mission – which led to the nickname of the Missioners).  They became Hayes in 1929.

Having been playing in the Conference South Hayes merged with Yeading in 2007 to form Hayes and Yeading, again playing in Conference South.

But that of course was much later (and only included because I like to give the big picture!)    Jimmy moved on to play for Brentford in 1952, but when the club were relegated from Division II into Division III South in 1954 he moved to Arsenal for £8000.

It is written in some places that Jimmy replaced Jimmy Logie, but matters were not quite this clear cut.  At the time Arsenal often used the inside left and inside right positions as interchangeable, but not with Logie – he always played number 8.

So in his first two seasons Bloomfield played outside right, outside left and inside left before settling down to take the number 10 shirt on almost every appearance during the 1956/7 season (when he played 42 games and scored 10 goals).

He continued as a near ever present until 1960, although Swindin used him in his devilish process of moving players hither and yon – in this case moving Jimmy between number 8 and 10 in different games.   Jimmy won England under 23 caps, represented the Football League, as well as playing for the London XI in the Inter Cities Fairs Cup, but didn’t get a full England cap.

Having played 227 times for Arsenal, and scored 56 goals he lost his place after playing in a defeat to Leicester on October 8, 1960.  Again just as there is sometimes a misunderstanding of how he came into the team, so it is with him leaving the team.  It is said he lost his place due to the arrival of George Eastham, but this is to simplify matters too much.

By 1960 Swindin’s wholesale movement of players was in full swing.  On September 17 1960, the 10th match of the season, Swindin introduced Geoff Strong for his first match while Vic Groves returned, in this case for his first match of the season.  When John Barnwell also returned from a lay off there was no place for Jimmy Bloomfield in the team.

Eastham in fact did not play until December 1960 a month after Jimmy Bloomfield was transferred to Birmingham, where he spent four years, and actually played in a second Fairs Cup final, again on the losing side.   But he did win the league cup with Birmingham in 1963 scoring a goal in the final.

In 1964 he went back to Brentford (still in division 3) and later played for West Ham 1965/6), Plymouth Argyle (1966/68) and Leyton Orient (1968/70) where he was player manager winning Division 3 in his second season.

After this he became the manager of Leicester who had just returned to the first division, where he stayed for six years.  Although he did not win any trophies he did take the club to an FA Cup semi-final and kept the club in the first division with a very limited budget and his style of play was widely regarded.

He left Leicester in 1977 to be replaced by another Arsenal man: Frank McLintock, but Frank had less success and the club was then relegated having come bottom of the league, 10 points from safety.

Jimmy left Leicester to return to Orient in 1977 – although I don’t know why.  In the previous season Orient had just missed relegation from division 2 to division 3, and were hardly a club looking for promotion.  But in 1977/8 Jimmy got them to the FA Cup semi-final, where they played Arsenal.

Perhaps the clue is in the departure from Orient – a dispute with the chairman over the sale of Chiedozie.  Maybe at Leicester he just felt he could do much more with a little more transfer money.  He moved on to Luton Town and tragically died from cancer in 1983 aged just 49.

He played 227 times for Arsenal and scored 56 goals.

Into the Darkness.  Arsenal 1958-1967

 

5 comments to Players from the Dark Era: Jimmy Bloomfield

  • colario

    Another intresting article on former players. I was dragged up a bus ride from the O’s and Arsenal. The 236 bus to be exact. So my first love is Arsenal and my 2nd is Orient. Its natural that this biography is of particular intrest to me. I didn’t know of JB’s sad loss of health and had often wondered what happened to him.
    I am curious as to why you refer to the period between 1953 – 71
    as ‘The Dark Era.’
    Just before the first losing League Cup final I read an article in which this period was called ‘The Long Sleep.’
    thanks again for another informative and intersting article.

  • Gf60

    Colario…it sounds like you’re a Hackney lad? The 236 bus was frequently used…my Nan lived in Graham Road. Stroud Green to Hackney cost about 3d
    1953-54 to 1970 saw some wonderful games but with about one exception c.1958 when Jackie Henderson and Tommy Docherty were regulars, inevitably we had no chance of the league by January and were out of the FA cup by Feb. We couldn’t even win the league cup!

  • colario

    @Gf60. Just seen your post. Nearly an Hackney lad. I lived in the North West corner of what is now Tower Hamlets, near Hackney Wick. I guess you got off the 236 at Hackney Wick and got the 208 bus or walked to Graham Road.
    I went to school in Hackney and new it better than than the borough I lived in.

    Going to Arsenal was a bit of a lone deal for me as my mates supported Orient, which is the only other London team I like to win.

    Arsenal. It was love at first sight but it was hard as the spuds cockerel was crowing and our guns were misfiring. Am I glad I stayed loyal! Look where we are now!

  • Mike

    I was there when George Eastham made his debut in the Reserves in November 1960, after infamously lengthy negotiations to sign him. And he did replace Jimmy Bloomfield, who was sold to make way for him.

  • We couldn’t even win the league cup!

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