By Tony Attwood
Peter Simpson is another of our long serving players who hit gold during the brief period of the Mee era when we won three trophies.
In terms of league football, he was an Arsenal man throughout, and his only other clubs were in America, and Hendon.
Here’s the record – effectively he was understudy to Terry Neil and Ian Ure – as Ure in particular faded out of contention Peter Simpson came in playing number 6 to McLintock’s 5.
Peter Simpson was born on January 13 1945 in Norfolk and joined Arsenal’s groundstaff in 1960 – a common way of bringing in young players (clubs were not allowed to sign youngsters as players immediately after they left school at 15, although of course the boys could work).
He became a professional after his 16th birthday (which was allowed) and played in the youth and reserves, joining the first team in March 1964, following an injury to Snedden. He kept his place for 13 consecutive league matches.
When Bertie Mee took over he didn’t put Simpson in the team for the very first match but as injuries struck used him as a left and right full back, inside left and once even outside right!
He played in both the League Cup final defeats, the Fairs Cup finals and then the Double team.
Interestingly, along with so many other players from this great era in Arsenal’s history he was never capped – Alf Ramsey clearly having something against Arsenal players, tending it seems only to pick them when the England game clashed with an Arsenal match in order to cause Arsenal problems. (OK that is just my paranoia, but it is odd how little notice Ramsey took of the emerging Arsenal team under Mee).
His career began to decline (through age, nothing else) in the latter part of the 70s, and after 468 appearances in league and cups he left in 1978.
Having had two loan spells to the US playing 13 times for Toronto in 1967 and twice for Boston in 1968 (a very unusual circumstance and I would love to know more about it) he left Arsenal and played 50 times for New England Tea Men before returning to play for Hendon, where according to the club’s web site he played eight games. I also don’t know what he did after leaving football, although there is a man of the same name working in Toronto zoo whom I found when trying to find out more about Peter’s life there.
So, rather surprisingly, a few gaps in what is said about it, although that might just be my research which is lacking. Do you know more? Please tell.
Peter is beyond the normal retirement age now, and where ever he is, I really do hope he is able to have a happy and fruitful time through this next phase of his life. As I am sure he must know, there are many of us of a similar age to him who remember him with huge affection.
The Bertie Mee Decade
George Armstrong – signed by Swindin, a lifelong servant of Arsenal
The players who made it for Mee but were signed by Wright: – Bob Wilson
Swindin, Wright, Mee: Out of the Darkness and Into the Light
Bertie – the life and times: The trophies, ballroom dancing, left hook and OBE
The First Double: a series of five quizzes to test your knowledge on 1971