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By Tony Attwood
This is an article in our series that aims to cover all the managers of Royal Arsenal, Woolwich Arsenal, The Arsenal and Arsenal FC.
After winning the league in 1953 Arsenal went into decline and entered what we have called The Darkness: the era of George Swindin and Billy Wright. Here is the record from that era…
|Year||Manager||League||FA Cup round exit|
|1953/4||Tom Whittaker||12th||4th (Norwich)|
|1957/8||Jack Crayston||12th||3rd (Northampton)|
|1958/9||George Swindin||3rd||5th (Sheffield U)|
Nothing was won in that era, but the true Darknes ran from September 1959 through to May 1966 during which time we never came higher than 7th, never made it beyond the 5th round of the FA Cup and had the indignity of being knocked out in giant killing matches.
Tom Whittaker’s era is excusable – he had shown great service to the club, and prior to this chart beginning he took us to the Championship twice, won the FA Cup and took us to another FA Cup final. Jack Crayston took over when Tom died while in office.
Then came Swindin, on whom we have a series of articles, then Wright (whose articles are yet to be written), and then Bertie Mee.
Mee took one year to take the club in a new direction as this chart shows. Of course it didn’t feel all that clever when we lost to Swindon Town in the league cup final, but from 1967/8 to 1974/5 something was happening in terms of a top 4 finish or cup final every year except one.
|Year||League||FA Cup||League Cup||Europe|
|1969/70||12th||3rd||3rd||Won Fairs Cup|
|1970/71||1st||Won||4th||4th round Fairs Cup|
|1971/72||5th||Finalists||4th||3rd round Euro Cup|
What is interesting is that Whittaker, Crayston, Swindin and Wright were all footballers – the first three being Arsenal men, Billy Wright being the most famous English international of the era. Bertie Mee was the club physio, whose playing career had been tiny, and his football management career zero.
We’ll take a look at his life in the next article.
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