This is the story of the moment when the gloriousness of the Double and the attempts to repeat the feat came to an end.
If you want some background to football in 1973 you might like to try
- January 13 1972: Arsenal 2 Leicester City 2
- 3rd Round; Attendance: 36,433
- January 17 1973: Leicester City 1 Arsenal 2
- 3rd Round Replay Attendance: 32,973
After this Arsenal continued to motor well in the league with an away win over Chelsea (0-1) on January 20 1972, and a 2-2 draw with Newcastle at home on February 3 1972.
Then came Arsenal 2 Bradford City 0, a hardly inspiring but comfortable fourth round win in front of 40,407 on February 3.
The following weekend, February 10 1973, it was Liverpool 0 Arsenal 2 with 49,898 at Anfield in the league. It seemed like a ground breaking win, with Liverpool top of the league.
But then it was back to the ordinary, as we had yet more Leicester, with February 17 1972 giving us the league match of Arsenal 1 Leicester City 0, and another fine Arsenal crowd of 42,047
And so on to the cup again with
- February 24 1973: Carlisle United 1 Arsenal 2
- FA Cup 5th Round – Attendance: 23,922
Arsenal rode their luck, stayed calm, and under the guidance of Frank McLintock, took command of the game. Carlisle, lurking near the foot of Division 2, claimed they were the better team and could play even better, (despite their league position) and the media, always looking for ways to knock Arsenal, let them get away with the claims.
The claim was that Ball was given offside by the linesman before the corner that led to the winning goal. And as for Arsenal’s opener Carlisle said that because Winstanley had elbowed Radford, and Radford had (as was his wont) pushed back, there should have been a free kick, rather than giving Arsenal the advantage – from which they scored via a simple McLintock header.
Balderstone, the Carlisle captain, added one lovely comment at the end. “Now they are over the hurdle of Carlisle, I can see them going to the final.”
And as a PS: “You can’t fight that sort of luck.”
Naturally he failed to mention that in the 25th minute Storey was taken out of the game by a horrific tackle from Ray Train, and had to be replaced by Sammy Nelson. The balance of the Arsenal team shifted and Arsenal had to do a lot of readjusting. By then Arsenal were one up, but with Arsenal still not right following the substitution, Carlisle equalised on half time.
After the game Bob Delgado of Carlisle put in a written request for a transfer. Maybe he had just had enough of living in make believe land.
But the events up north clearly knocked Arsenal about quite a bit and on February 28 1972 Arsenal unexpectedly lost in the league 1-0 to WBA.
March saw a return to form with Arsenal 3 Sheffield United 2 on March 3, and an away win on March 10, 1-2 at Ipswich.
Then the sixth round of the cup.
- March 17 1973 – Chelsea 2 Arsenal 2
- FA Cup 6th Round – Attendance: 37,685
- March 20 1972- Arsenal 2 Chelsea 1
- FA Cup 6th Round Replay – Attendance: 62,746
This was starting to look like a serious season, and matters were helped along on March 24 1973 with Manchester City 1 Arsenal 2, and on March 26 1973 with Arsenal 1 Crystal Palace 0
With Arsenal in the semi-final of the cup, the league table revealed Liverpool in front, despite Arsenal’s final win at Anfield, and with a better goal average and a game in hand, but Arsenal were plugging away on both fronts once again.
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And then, in the space of two games, it all fell apart
- March 31 1973 – Arsenal 0 Derby County 1
- Football League Division 1 – Attendance: 45,217
- April 7 1973 – Arsenal 1 Sunderland 2 (at Hillsborough, Sheffield)
- FA Cup Semi Final – Attendance 53,301