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Blackburn Rovers 5 Arsenal 5; 3 November 1962

Blackburn 5 Arsenal 5.

This was an extraordinary result, no matter which way one looks at it, and yet it is one that seems to have slipped through the reference books, and is not talked about, simply because nothing in the score is a record.  Not highest number of goals, most away goals or anything.

But it was such an extraordinary moment I can still remember hearing the score as a child, standing on a station platform having watched a different match (my family no longer living in north London) and being told the scores by someone who had (presumably) picked up the local paper.

Taking a look at the league table before the game doesn’t give us much help in understanding the game… (GD is goal difference, and points are scored with two for a win).

Pd W D L F A GD Pts
11 Blackpool 15 4 6 5 17 22 0.77 14
12 West Ham United 15 4 5 6 26 26 1.00 13
13 Blackburn Rovers 15 5 3 7 23 29 0.79 13
14 Manchester City 15 4 5 6 21 36 0.58 13
15 Arsenal 14 4 4 6 25 29 0.86 12
16 Bolton Wanderers 15 5 2 8 22 27 0.81 12

Arsenal were scoring on average 1.79 goals a game and letting in 2.07.

Blackburn were scoring 1.53 goals a game and letting in 1.93.   Nothing here suggested a high scoring game

Arsenal’s results thus far that season do however suggest something…

Venue Result Pos Pts
1 18/08/62 Leyton Orient away W2-1 5 2
2 21/08/62 Birmingham City home W2-0 2 4
3 25/08/62 Manchester United home L1-3 8 4
4 29/08/62 Birmingham City away D2-2 8 5
5 01/09/62 Burnley away L1-2 10 5
6 04/09/62 Aston Villa home L1-2 12 5
7 08/09/62 Sheffield Wednesday home L1-2 16 5
8 10/09/62 Aston Villa away L1-3 17 5
9 15/09/62 Fulham away W3-1 15 7
10 22/09/62 Leicester City home D1-1 14 8
11 29/09/62 Bolton Wanderers away L0-3 17 8
12 06/10/62 Tottenham Hotspur away D4-4 15 9
13 13/10/62 West Ham United home D1-1 15 10
14 27/10/62 Wolverhampton Wanderers home W5-4 15 12
15 03/11/62 Blackburn Rovers away D5-5 17 13

So now we get some hints.  After that early run of four consecutive defeats and no win in six something started to move.

Then In match 14 Arsenal had beaten Wolverhampton 5-4, and just two games before that had a 4-4  away draw with Tottenham.  In short this 5-5 draw was the culmination of a spell in which 20 goals were scored in four games – an amazing record for a team that overall was scoring 1.79 goals a game.

As for Blackburn, their results looked like this

Venue Result Pos Pts
1 18/08/62 Ipswich Town away D3-3 9 1
2 20/08/62 Nottingham Forest home L2-5 14 1
3 25/08/62 Liverpool home W1-0 14 3
4 28/08/62 Nottingham Forest away L0-2 15 3
5 01/09/62 Wolverhampton Wanderers away L2-4 3
6 05/09/62 Sheffield United away D1-1 18 4
7 08/09/62 Aston Villa home W4-1 13 6
8 15/09/62 Tottenham Hotspur away L1-4 17 6
9 17/09/62 Sheffield United home L1-2 17 6
10 22/09/62 West Ham United home L0-4 22 6
11 29/09/62 Manchester City away W1-0 18 8
12 06/10/62 Burnley home L2-3 20 8
13 13/10/62 Manchester United away W3-0 16 10
14 20/10/62 Leicester City home W2-0 13 12
15 27/10/62 Fulham away D0-0 13 13
16 03/11/62 Arsenal home D5-5 12 14

Unlike the Arsenal results there is little here to suggest a 5-5 might be on the way – although there had been a 4-1 win and two defeats where four were let in, in September.  From the off their run was one of decline.

For Arsenal this was the first season of Billy Wright’s management, a management period that few have anything positive to say about.  Wright was considered by his contemporaries as an inept manager, flitting from one idea to another, with no grip on the training of the players, no sense of consistent discipline or management skills, nor any tactical insight.

But in one real sense he would have been pleased with these four results in matches 13 to 15 in that his new centre forward for the season, Joe Baker, scored six in three games.  Eastham got three and Skirton the other two.

Wright might have been a bit worried about his keeper however.  McKechnie had been dropped after the 0-3 away defeat to Bolton and replaced by McClelland who played in goal for the rest of the season.  (McKechnie did however come back to make his final 11 appearances for Arsenal in 1963/4 before being replaced for five games by Bob Wilson, and then by Jim Furnell.  With McClelland also taking five games, Arsenal used four keepers that season).

But back in 1962, Terry Neil played two of the four games, with Vic Groves playing the other two, as players shuffled around.

The other change was that in the Tottenham game David Court played at centre forward with Joe Baker injured, and Court scored two goals in that 4-4 draw, but was then dropped.

So the team for the Blackburn game was

McClelland

Magill Brown McCullough

Sneddon Groves

MacLeod Strong Baker Eastham Skirton

After the 5-5 game the league table looked like this

Pld W D L F A GD Pts
1 Tottenham Hotspur 16 11 2 3 58 26 2.23 24
2 Everton 15 10 3 2 32 16 2.00 23
3 Burnley 16 9 5 2 34 24 1.42 23
4 Leicester City 16 8 4 4 31 22 1.41 20
5 Wolverhampton Wndrs 16 8 4 4 37 27 1.37 20
6 Nottingham Forest 15 7 4 4 29 25 1.16 18
7 Aston Villa 16 8 2 6 29 26 1.11 18
8 Sheffield Wednesday 16 6 6 4 30 28 1.07 18
9 West Bromwich Albion 16 7 3 6 28 25 1.12 17
10 Sheffield United 16 6 4 6 25 27 0.93 16
11 Bolton Wanderers 16 6 2 8 24 28 0.86 14
12 Blackburn Rovers 16 5 4 7 28 34 0.82 14
13 Birmingham City 16 5 4 7 22 31 0.71 14
14 Blackpool 16 4 6 6 17 24 0.71 14
15 Manchester City 16 4 6 6 22 37 0.59 14
16 West Ham United 16 4 5 7 27 28 0.96 13
17 Arsenal 15 4 5 6 30 34 0.88 13
18 Manchester United 16 5 2 9 27 35 0.77 12
19 Fulham 16 4 4 8 16 28 0.57 12
20 Liverpool 15 4 3 8 19 23 0.83 11
21 Ipswich Town 16 2 6 8 25 31 0.81 10
22 Leyton Orient 16 4 2 10 18 29 0.62 10

For the rest of the season, Arsenal picked up a little and scored four on three occasions, but there were no more higher scores.  Arsenal finished 7th, a fractional improvement on the last season under Swindin when the club was 10th.

As for the goal scorers, Joe Baker scored 29 in 39 games – an amazing achievement.  Geoff Strong got 18 in 36.   Alan Skirton got 10 in 28.

Here’s the final table

Pld W D L F A GD Pts
1 Everton 42 25 11 6 84 42 2.00 61
2 Tottenham Hotspur 42 23 9 10 111 62 1.79 55
3 Burnley 42 22 10 10 78 57 1.37 54
4 Leicester City 42 20 12 10 79 53 1.49 52
5 Wolverhampton Wanderers 42 20 10 12 93 65 1.43 50
6 Sheffield Wednesday 42 19 10 13 77 63 1.22 48
7 Arsenal 42 18 10 14 86 77 1.12 46
8 Liverpool 42 17 10 15 71 59 1.20 44
9 Nottingham Forest 42 17 10 15 67 69 0.97 44
10 Sheffield United 42 16 12 14 58 60 0.97 44
11 Blackburn Rovers 42 15 12 15 79 71 1.11 42
12 West Ham United 42 14 12 16 73 69 1.06 40
13 Blackpool 42 13 14 15 58 64 0.91 40
14 West Bromwich Albion 42 16 7 19 71 79 0.90 39
15 Aston Villa 42 15 8 19 62 68 0.91 38
16 Fulham 42 14 10 18 50 71 0.70 38
17 Ipswich Town 42 12 11 19 59 78 0.76 35
18 Bolton Wanderers 42 15 5 22 55 75 0.73 35
19 Manchester United 42 12 10 20 67 81 0.83 34
20 Birmingham City 42 10 13 19 63 90 0.70 33
21 Manchester City 42 10 11 21 58 102 0.57 31
22 Leyton Orient 42 6 9 27 37 81 0.46 21

Tottenham fell away and failed to win the league, while local rivals Leyton Orient, whom Arsenal had played in the opening game, were relegated with Manchester City.  Man U avoided relegation by three points.

————————

The books…

 

5 comments to Blackburn Rovers 5 Arsenal 5; 3 November 1962

  • Mike

    I was at that 4-4 away draw with Tottenham as a child, and was excited as we came back from 0-3, then 1-4. The match programme wrote : “Arsenal have been handicapped by injuries, and these in turn have led to team changes” – which it gave at length. Spurs themselves were without Greaves that day, but in the previous game had beaten Forest 9-2.

    David Court, aged 18, had made his debut less than a month before those two goals at Spurs. I doubt he was offended at being dropped when Joe Baker was fit.

  • Mike

    As to keeper Ian McKechnie being dropped, the reported reason, I recall, was that he was overweight! His final spell in the team was merely through injury to Jack McClelland. But consider that as recently as 1959 he’d been a left-winger for the youth team.

    In May 1962 Jack Kelsey had sustained his back injury in a friendly v Brazil, but for nine months didn’t give up hope of a return. That’s why in the meantime there were just the two young keepers to choose from.

  • Tony Blackhurst

    I was at the Blackburn 5 Arsenal 5 at Ewood my home town, I would have been 10. I remember the game as Arsenal going 5 up and Blackburn just getting the equaliser just before the break. But one thing is l remember above all was the pre match entertainment. Arsenal came with a load of people dressed up as cartoon players, some in red, some in blue. They used balloons as the ball, Arsenal attacking the Rovers who were anchored to the ground, while the Arsenal dribbled round our bemused defenders. Then the attacker points to the tell the goalie which way to dive and he dives in the opposite direction missing the balloon. The Arsenal go on a celebration run while the Rovers blame each other. Just before the the teams came out they ran round the ground with a banner “May The Best Team Win” Brilliant.

  • Robert Muggeridge

    I had been working in Leeds during the week on audit from London and decided to go to
    the Blackburn game on the Saturday.I booked out of my hotel on the Friday morning and having
    no money for the overnight accommodation found a bench on Leeds station and set off in the morning
    by hitchhiking. I was fortunate to get a lift fairly quickly in a lorry cab and plus a couple of other rides arrived in Blackburn in plenty of time for the 3pm ko. What a game. Came back on the train to North London a little weary but elated at what I had seen. Robert then 18 now 73 !

  • Amazing Robert to have you on this site, having been to that game. Thank you so much for writing in.

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