We won the League at White Hart Lane

After 2 wonderful trips down Arsenal memory lane to Anfield 89 and White Hart Lane 87 ’1nildown2oneup’ is again going back in time. After yesterday’s party at the Emirates at the expense of the old enemy it has to be time to return memory lane to White Hart Lane. What could be more appropriate today, as we bask in the glory of what I hope is a season changing result then to transport ourselves back to perhaps the most significant victory over Spurs in the modern era. I will say no more other than to hand you over to a friend of mine who was there in May 1971 to watch the drama unfold and witness the first half of a famous double for the boys in red and white. Proud to introduce Gunner legend Gary Lawrence, known to many of you of course as @GarytheGooner56 to tell you his story………… 

Where’s Gary? Arsenal fans cover pitch at the Lane in celebration

The year was 1971 The Beatles had recently officially split up, decimalisation had arrived, Ali was getting it on with Frazier, Charlie George was the darling of the North Bank and I was a 14 year old living in South Woodford having moved two years previously from Hackney. Both my brother Tony who is 2 years younger and myself protested about moving but didn’t mind once we found we could still go to The Arsenal swapping the 236 bus for the Central Line then onto the Piccadilly Line to Arsenal Station

At our new school in Woodford Green it was a similar story to my previous schools in Hackney the support split 3 ways between Arsenal Spurs and West Ham. The Spurs fans were always taking the piss out of Arsenal as their glory days of the 60s were not that long ago! There was also a very well known Gunners fan in my brothers class none other than Keith Dover, celebrity fan and star of comedian and Gooner Alan Davies’s  Tuesday Club.

My most memorable day as an Arsenal fan started spectacularly as I walked through the school gate on Monday 3rd May 1971. I noticed a crowd over by the gym and a broad grin came on my face as I went over to investigate to see that someone had painted a 30 foot long penis complete with testicles along the outside wall of the gym! This was the days when the only Banksy we knew was the one who played for Stoke City and England. The Deputy Head soon arrived his face going from red to Purple with rage, veins bulging he screamed “Everyone will stay in the hall after school  and won’t leave until I have the culprit.”  That was never going to happen as I, along with my brother Tony and a couple of mates were going to White Hart Lane to see The Arsenal try and  become Champions.

My Dad’s hero in the last great Arsenal side. Were my 71 heroes to be next?

Our mum and our dad, who incidentally was born within walking distance of Highbury and as a kid watched the likes of Bastin, Hulme, Hapgood, Drake and his favourite Alex James told us to stick together as the four of us set off to catch the bus to White Hart Lane. We sat on the bus excitedly talking about the match and it was filled up rapidly with fans en route to the match. Halfway to our destination and the roads were absolutely grid-locked as everyone converged on Tottenham. We jumped off the bus and walked the rest of the way.

When we got to White Hart Lane the scenes outside were amazing the streets around the ground were heaving with people. The queues for the turnstiles were massive. We got on the end of one and as we got nearer to the turnstiles people were desperate to get in to see the match and started to jump the queue. It got out of hand and as we turned the corner our mate Glen got trapped against the wall as he pushed himself round his jumper got caught and had a big chunk ripped out of it. The pressure built as we were pushed up against the turnstiles. We paid our money the turnstile clicked in we were in. There were 51,192 in there that night with probably another 50,000 locked out so we were fortunate to be amongst the lucky ones.

I will never forget the sight that greeted us as we walked out onto the Park Lane terrace. Even the Spurs end was a sea of red and white with a big union jack in the middle with Arsenal painted on it. As I looked around the rest of the ground everywhere you looked it was Arsenal. There must have been about 35 to 40 thousand Arsenal fans there that night.

The noise which was incredible then went up another notch as Frank McLintock and a few of the other players walked onto the pitch to see what it was like. Frank led them over to where we were and encouraged the Arsenal fans to sing even louder. We duly obliged. The players went back in to get changed into the famous red and white kit and the atmosphere continued to build.

It reached a crescendo as the teams took to the field for the match. You couldn’t hear yourself think as a deafening roar went up and 40,000 Fans chanted Arsenal Arsenal over and over again.

It was electric as the match kicked off we needed to win or get a 0-0 draw to win the title any other result meant that Leeds United would be Champions. The tension was unbearable as both sides went for it. Spurs were understandably well up for it as well. They certainly didn’t want Arsenal winning the title on their patch and wanted to stop us in our tracks from potentially equaling their feat from 10 years earlier, becoming only the second team of the century to win the elusive Double.

Spurs came close to scoring a couple of times with Bob Wilson bravely diving in at Joe Kinnear’s feet and Ray Kennedy almost scored for us. Then with 3 minutes to go Charlie George crossed to John Radford but Pat Jennings clawed his shot away the ball found its way to Geordie Armstrong who clipped it across to the head of Ray Kennedy who buried it high in the back of the net above Cyril Knowles and off the underside of the bar. I thought the roof was going to come off the roar was so load as we celebrated the goal. The Arsenal fans were swaying and came cascading down the terrace we were getting crushed at the front so the police let us sit on the track going round the pitch. But it wasn’t over yet Spurs came pouring forward and got a corner. Alan Gilzean went up with Bob Wilson our hearts were in our mouths as Bob Grabbed the ball and held on as players from both sides bundled in.

Save hands – Wilson holds on under prssure

I thought my ears were going to start bleeding such was the noise as the Arsenal fans were all whistling for the referee to put us out of our misery and blow the final whistle. After what seemed like an eternity it was over we’d finally done it we were the champions! Pandemonium as thousands of Arsenal fans swarmed onto the pitch. We are the Champions roared out over and over from the massive Arsenal army of fans. The players ran for the sanctuary of the changing rooms as I stuck my heel in the pitch then picked up a clump of the pitch. My brother Tony went to do the same but a copper prevented him from doing it by threatening a clip round the ear hole! It took us hours to get home but we didn’t care we were walking on air after an incredible magical night.

 

The moment Ray Kennedy secured his place in Arsenal legend!

 

The headers loops over a dispairing Jennings and 1 half of the double secured

The week wasn’t over as my brother Tony and myself had earlier collected and cut out all our programme vouchers and stood in line at Highbury to exchange them along with a pound note to get our hands on a Cup Final Ticket. So we were also there to see Charlie George score the winner and complete the Double. Those cocky Spurs fans weren’t taking the piss anymore at school! I’ve also 41 years later still got that bit of Spurs pitch in a plastic bag!

Thanks Gary so much for sharing your amazing recollection of the day will forever be etched into the history of Arsenal Football Club.  I have been so blessed to have your memories transcribed so beautifully by you for my site. I am certain that other readers will feel that evening come alive as I did. If you wish to now watch the events having read Gary’s words you can do so below and ensure to follow Gary on twitter @Garythegooner56

 

 

Until next time thanks for reading.

Like what you read? Agree/disagree? Leave a comment below or follow me or comment on this blog on Twitter – http://twitter.com/goonerdave66

13 thoughts on “We won the League at White Hart Lane

  1. Pingback: Arsenal News
  2. You brought so many memories back Gary. i too was there, I bunked off school, met my dad & we made our way to WHL. As you say the crowds were unbelievable. I sent my dad for a paper, then sidled up to an elderly man in the queue, no one took any notice, called my dad over & we got in, the rest is history. It was a night to
    Remeber along with winning the Fairs Cup. Thanks so much, Gary !! You just brought it all flooding back. A wonderful blog for fans of our age.

  3. My husband and I lived in South Tottenham at the time and realised it was time to start walking to the match when cars started parking in our road, about 1pm.

    In the crush for the turnstiles we became separated – I was swept off my feet and pushed against the high wall. Scary. Some supporters were already astride the wall and hauled me up and over. We got out through a factory and I walked home with a couple of Spuds supporters, sure my other half had got in. However, he just missed out, a few feet from the turnstiles when they closed, and watched the match in a pub. Unforgetable day.

  4. Great stuff Always great to hear from old time Gooners like myself with their memories of days gone by. That story was what football is all about and why it means so much to us. No one can take them away from us. Winning at WHL full of Gooners… North London was Red then and is still is. Thanks for sharing.

  5. I always seem to be telling you the tale of how I missed these important matches but yes, once again, I was in Yorkshire!! Seriously courting a Leeds supporter!!! OK, I know, big mistake and yes I married her and yes, still can’t get rid of her!! But if you remember there was an awful lot of animosity between Arsenal and Leeds in those days and I like an idiot was in the thick of it.

    I used to go to all the northern Arsenal away matches both league and cup. (The away game to Liverpool was another story and if you want to know about Carlisle I’ll tell you at a later date.) Plus, strangely due to my future out-laws being season ticket holders, to get my fix of football, spent a lot of time at Elland Road supporting whoever they were playing.

    Arsenal if I remember rightly were 6 or 7 points behind Leeds who had spent most of the season at the top of the league with us having games in hand and I, (a little bit tongue in cheek) said to my future northern family that there was no panic we’d still do it.

    Now you have to understand that my future wife is 1 of 6 with 3 brothers and a father who were fanatical Leeds. Life was hard for me. But slowly, as we played those games in hand that ‘gap’ disappeared until the night in question. So radio glued to my ear (remember those little ‘transistor’ radios) I sat in the NAAFI at RAF Linton-on-Ouse and drank copious quantities of disgusting Camerons Ale and listened to those wonderful words that young Kennedy had scored the clincher.

    And what did the future father-in-law say? “Tottenham gave it to us because we were a fellow London club!!!!” He obviously knew how much we both love our neighbours (select the sarcastic font).

    Great memories Garry. Thanks for a brilliant reminder of those days.

  6. Hi i am a staunch arsenal fan,sometimes i feel betrayed by the team i loved so much to the point of breaking my heart but i give u thanks 4 whatever you’re doing at least i know that i am not alone.Keep up may GOD BLESS U.I will remain an arsenal fan 4 life.

  7. I was there as well. Bunked off school at lunchtime, got to Hatfield station to find loads of others had done the same. Could not believe the number of people already at the ground by 3pm. Don’t remember how I managed to get in! Arsenal had taken over about 75% of the ground and the atmosphere was electric. Was t the end where Kennedy scored then remember Cyril Knowles flashing one across our area and everyone holding their breath. Then the final whistle went. Pandemonium! Still say my favourite game was the Fairs Cup Final 2nd leg v Anderlecht. Amazing night! Once a goner eh.

    1. Keith. I am too young for that but if you wish to do want to do what Gary has done and write his first blog and tell my readers about Fairs Cup, Radford and all let me know. Dave

  8. you lucky lucky man… being at two such significant events in the history of the club, and brilliantly written, i’m sitting on my couch but i swear i was on that bus with you..
    And love the “Banksy (or lack of) and the penis bit too – brilliant..

  9. Loved that story, I was nearly 2, but my Dad was there, and has brilliant memories. I thought the blog was very well written well done Gary!

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