Peter Simpson Remembered – written by dandan

Written by dandan

Peter was an original, an Arsenal man through and through, a man without any visible fear and who would, as they say, run through brick walls for the club he served with such distinction. He joined the ground staff at 15, signed as an apprentice at 16 and was a gooner for 14 years.

Far and away the best defender never to play for England despite being called up several times to Ramsey’s squads. He played in every outfield position for the club before establishing himself at centre half alongside Frank McLintock. They, together with Peter Storey, Pat Rice and Bob Macnab had many an epic battle with the hard men of Liverpool and Leeds. From whom they took the cup at Wembley and the title at White Hart Line in that never to be forgotten week in 1971.

His first start for the first team wasn’t too auspicious and is remembered as being the last time an opposition player scored all four of his teams goals at Highbury, worse still Peter was marking him. The team, Chelsea, the player, Bobby Tambling we lost 4-2.

A quiet man renowned for enjoying a fag at half time, he never the less, was immense for Arsenal. The possessor of a crunching tackle, the abiding memory of Simpson was to see him sliding through the Highbury mud causing many an opposition star to jump in the air and forget the ball that Peter would collect on the way through. Then again when all seemed lost, and a striker was about to pull the trigger, out would go the elastic leg of the man they called Stan to effortlessly remove the ball and the danger.  Before starting the next attack with a telling pass.

Arsène would give his right arm to have him, as a defensive midfielder today. Patrick Vieira at his very best would recognise him as a kindred spirit, he was that good.

Besides the 71 double, he won the Fairs Cup and played in the two infamous league cup defeats.  He made 370 appearances and scored ten goals for Arsenal before moving on to play in America. No doubt many an older supporter will smile at the memory of that tall angular frame with its instantly recognisable gait, side by side with his Scottish mate, loving the battles as week in week out the leagues hard men bounced off them.


60 Responses to Peter Simpson Remembered – written by dandan

  1. Red Arse says:

    Really good piece Dandan, about someone I would have loved to have seen playing.

    Incidentally, I understand he was one of the first young players to go out on loan to the USA (Boston Globe, I think) before becoming established in the Gunners first team.

    Do you know where he is now? Retired, I expect as he must be in his mid-sixties now.

  2. dave says:

    i will always remember peter as a great ball playing centre half in a period of brainless hoofing defenders. Wenger would have loved him. Should have got 50 caps but ramsey hated arsenal

  3. Brian N says:

    A Man who in my opinion was the best, I also think he had a nickname amongst many fans as the crab, because he could somehow managee to claw the ball back when all seemed lost.

    I had the pleasure of watching him for all of his matches at Highbury, being a supporter for over 60 years

    Arsene would I think put his name first on the team sheet if he was in the current team today

  4. jack says:

    I was at that 4-2 and had forgotten Peter was playing. Ian Ure (unfairly) took most of the blame as Arsenal were a bit of a shambles back then. Chelsea had a good team in those days with Tamblin, Bridges, Graham & Venables as attacking players so was no surprise when they put four past us.
    Yes, Peter was class, and his sliding tackle with his left foot was so accurate and didn’t often take the player out.
    Hope he’s well as he would be around 64/5 now.

  5. GunnerPete says:

    After 61 years as a Gunner I can honestly say that Pete Simpson was best left sided CB Ive ever seen. Yet Ramsey never picked him…not surprisingly being an ex Spud. When I go through my old Programs I pick out really great players who are never mentioned today like….Johnny McLeod and Joe Haverty so gifted but like Simmo they never courted the press.Another great player was Eddie Kelly who was responsible for two great cup wins 1970 (Anderlect) and 1971 FA (Liverpool) but others got the headlines.

  6. Sid S. says:

    I watched Peter Simpson for years – brilliant. I remember standing at the Clock End and Simpson was marking Joe Jordan, who was in his pomp, close to the goal line and near to the corner flag. On the blind side of the referee Jordan suddenly brought his left elbow back hard and viciously into Simpson’s face, Simpson didn’t even flinch. A nasty incident from a very nasty player that Simpson just ‘wore’ and got on with doing the job for his beloved Arsenal.

  7. peter says:

    The most underated player ever to play for Arsenal.Mr Consistency.Should have played more for England but the player in front of him was a certain Bobby Moore.Another underated player was Kevin Richardson

  8. London says:

    Great read Dandan

    Very enjoyable, I am, off course, too young to remember the great man 😉

  9. London says:

    By the way can someone tell me who was in goal in the picture above?

  10. Big Raddy says:

    Great read DanDAn.

    I too remember Simpson and that great back 5. It must have been from them that George Graham learned his defensive strategies.

    And what a superb Black & white pic. Looks like Pat Rice in the background but can’t be.

    I see much of Simpson in Vermaalen. Lets us hope for him to have a similar Arsenal career

  11. peter says:


    It is Malcolm Webster the late 60’s version of Flappyanski

  12. Big Raddy says:

    Sid S. Great comment, I love old reminiscences of people who were there.

    I was too weak to go in the Clock End in those days!!

  13. Big Raddy says:

    Peter. Brilliant spot. You get this trainspotters badge

  14. Trevor says:

    Great player.A footballing CB When i first started going to Arsenal in 1968 i remember him playing midfield as our CB’s were Ian Ure(clown)and Terry Neill.His partnership with McLintock was like the Adam/Bould one

    And yes Peter well spotted that is Malcolm Webster in goal.

  15. 26may1989 says:

    I admit it, being a nipper at the time, my appreciation of football in the early-mid 70s was pretty crude, and I couldn’t appreciate the qualities of Peter Simpson. But a good read Dandan, always good to be able to take the longer view.

    Re Simpson’s loan periods, his wiki entry not only speaks of brief, early loans to the Toronto Falcons and the Boston Beacons, and then, in 1978, a loan to the excellently named New England Tea Men.

  16. Trevor says:

    Big Raddy

    Websters last game was v Man Utd in 1969 when he did a “Robert Green” to a George Best shot.Under Wenger he would still be first choice

  17. 26may1989 says:

    Has anyone seen the photo chose for their story re Vermaelen today? Looks like someone from the remake of Invasion of the Bodysnatchers.

  18. Flint McCullough says:

    Great stuff, thanks.

    There have been many Arsenal players who have never had the true credit they deserve. 2 stick out Steve Bould was 1 but he is not even a close 2nd to my all time favourite – ‘Stan’ Simpson.

    I think it was because in his early days he was a bit part player in midfield, then became a forgotten man until Bertie Mee used him as a FB left or right because he basically had no one else. ‘Stan’ like Denilson today got a bit of stick from the doomers of the day but he stood up to it & by becoming a regular player gradually his true skill started to show through, so he went on to be one of the crucial elements of our successes a few years later.

    It is said that his lack of personal ambition prevented him from playing for England. Bobby More was a fixture & class act but a better international than club player. Norman “Bite yer Legs” Hunter was perhaps more dynamic & scary but to me ‘Stan’ was a better all round footballer (footballer being the operative word) than both. He never had the chance for his country but he was always up for the big games, excelling in all the cup finals he played in, even when the rest of the team didn’t. That indicates to me that he deserved at least the try.

    When you think of some of the players who have played for England & ‘Stan’ & ‘Geordie’ Armstrong didn’t it makes you weep.

    Incidentally Malcolm Webster was an example of being thrown in a bit too soon. He was a bit of on the short side for a ‘keeper but he went on to do well in the lower leagues.

  19. gunnern5 says:

    Peaches: I’ll put something together for you later this morning. My emails a mess right now so I’ll post it on “be our guest”

  20. rob says:

    I was at highbury and watched Peter Simpson score a rocket of a goal in a crucial 1-0 home win against Stoke City in the run up to the double. Great player.


  21. Morning all

    Lovely stuff dandan – I love your nostalgic posts and clearly there are many around who do too. Hope your mouth isn’t too sore now – I’m just back from my own trip to the dentist 😦

    gunnern5 – that would be fantastic, thanks a lot, let me know on the blog when you’ve put it in.

  22. Rasp says:

    Super post superdan 😉

    Has there ever been a time when every player in any team was popular with all the supporters? ….. maybe The Invincibles, but then its easy to love everyone when you don’t lose a game.

    It does seem that Arsenal have had some very good players overlooked by a series of England managers. I guess they will have their favourites when they have come from league management. The England back 4 in the 1990’s should have been the Arsenal back 4 – Nutty, Keown/Bould, Adams and Dixon.

  23. emiratesstroller says:

    Peter Simpson in any other era would have been an England REGULAR. Apart from
    Bobby Moore he had to compete with at least three other players during his career
    who would walk into an England Team ahead of the likes of Hargreaves and Barry.

  24. gunnern5 says:

    Peaches it’s posted…

  25. ASNLthruNthru says:

    Vermaelen has alot of similarities with Frank McLintock : not so tall, great positioning, leadership skills, attacking inclination etc. can only hope that the Simpsonesque qualities : solidity , reliability, simplicity, resoluteness can be developed in Koscielny, Djourou, and co. Perhaps a few hours study of video records of Stan could go a long way.
    He was a classic centre back!!

  26. SharkeySure says:

    Nice read that DanDan.

    Perhaps Fridays or international breaks should always be ‘Old player’ posts.

    Anyone who can write a post about Ted Drakes seven goal game from a first person/I was there perspective, wins £250 of Spearmint Rhino vouchers.

  27. Red Arse says:


    Be careful with your vouchers, I am sure Frothing Inarticulate Loon was actually there! 🙂

  28. Neamman says:

    Great player, I remember him coming though as a kid and we often groaned when he was playing one of the other positions until he settled at CB. Shows you just how little the average fan knows.. Other underrated favourites of the time..Peter Storey, Armstrong and Ray Kennedy who was good for us but became great when he moved to Liverpool.
    My personal favourite.. Radford. Someone who Bendtner reminds me of.

  29. Red Arse says:


    If you or Raddy or N5 take up Sharkey’s suggestion, I would love to hear about George Eastham, (he of the deep pockets and short arms), Joe Baker, Geof Strong or Alan Skirton! Please! 🙂

  30. Red Arse says:


    Didn’t Ray Kennedy score the winning goal at White Fart Lane to clinch the League in the Double year? Can’t be greater than that! 🙂

    I’ve seen Big John guesting at highbury, some years ago, and physically he and Bendy are similar.

  31. dandan says:

    Red arse if you look back in the archives I have done Joe Baker and Storey recently and will do Eastham for another Friday. if that is what you guys want I am happy to do an old player posts for fridays

  32. gunnern5 says:

    dandan: George Eastham’s bio will be interesting. He had a good career and was very strong willed; he even took on the football league to get the wording of players contracts amended.

  33. Red Arse says:

    Sounds great to me, Dandan!

    Thanks for the link Peaches.

    That’s what I heard N5, didn’t he take the FL to court to argue restraint of trade. Well we had better not steal Dandan’s thunder. It deserves a proper write up. 🙂

  34. Red Arse says:


    Are you coming out to play? I told you “feck” is O.K.
    It’s a bit like those strangely shaped parsnips that look like thingys, but aren’t, so they are O.k. too. 🙂

  35. Red Arse says:

    I should say I’m quoting that eminent ecclesiastical authority on the matter, The Right Honourable Bishop of Bath and Wells, as enunciated in Black Adder ivth 🙂

  36. Red Arse says:

    I had better go, I’m sure I can hear a lynch mob baying for the hide of a v. precious person. Namelt me! 🙂

  37. SharkeySure says:

    RedArse. George Eastham took FIL to court..?? FIL talks a lot of shite, but I’ve never known him to restrain anyone’s trade.

    Or did I miss something…??

  38. Red Arse says:




  39. Irishgunner says:

    Hello, Hello,

    I’m here now Red Arse – all too late it seems.

    Just watching Ireland get 3 points away to Armenia, good win for us. Will be watching England later, hope to see Theo get a run out.

  40. Rasp says:

    Hi Irish,

    Well done to the Emerald Isle. I’d be astonished if Theo doesn’t start, and I’d give anyone evens that he’ll score, the boy’s on a roll.

  41. gunnern5 says:

    Irish gunner I thought you’d done a runner, good to see you back.

  42. Irishgunner says:

    hi Rasp,

    Yeah it was a good all round performance, Armenia aren’t mugs and it was a good 3 points for us.

    Theo deserves to start but Capello like a lot of managers don’t give starts to those who deserve it. We’ll see soon enough.

  43. gunnern5 says:

    Peaches: In case you didn’t notice I did post that piece for you..

  44. Irishgunner says:

    Hiya Gunnern5,

    Moi do a runner? Never. I’m far too annoying to leave ye alone 😉

    Just busy the last few days, back now 🙂

  45. Irishgunner says:

    Good for Theo – be great if he got on the scoresheet

  46. London says:

    Well that would be a shame, captain spud out for the season.

    Theo did well.

  47. Rasp says:

    New post …..

  48. Faye Stevens says:

    I am Peter’s cousin and have always lived in Leicestershire. His mum and mine were sisters. I always attended the Midland matches with my husband and two daughters (it was safe to take children then)but one of my lasting memories of waiting to see him after the match for a chat was after he had scored and own goal! My eldest daughter asked if he had got into trouble and with that lop-sided grin of his replied “no – my name goes into a hat and if I win I get a turkey for christmas”. Her account of the weekend in her school book recounted this exchange and is still teased about it often.

  49. Roy Hills says:

    As a lifetime Arsenal supporter (I watched my first game at Highbury in season 1956-1957 I saw Peter Simpson throughout his Arsenal career. Yes, a great player and he was a wonderful asset to Arsenal. Everything has been said about him in this forum and he deserves every accolade given so I will not add anything. However someone (London) asked who was the goalkeeper in the picture and I would suggest that it was Ian McKechnie. During that era, Arsenal were pretty abysmal (goalkeepers included) and after the great Jack Kelsey was forced to retire in about 1961 they had no keepers of any ability until Bob Wilson arrived on the scene.

  50. jack king says:

    I also started watching Arsenal around this time. Holton was our centre forward then. I would suggest that the keeper isn’t Ian “fatboy” McKechnie (because he looks too slim), but the equally incompetent John (Jack) McClelland who was eventually replaced by the not too bad Jim “fingers” Furnell who lasted for around five seasons before Wilson kept him out. Do you remember that during this early sixties period we had an all time low gate of around 1300 for a league match? They were very bad times for Arsenal weren’t they?

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  54. John Burgess says:

    Peter Simpson now lives back in his home town of great Yarmouth saw him in the barbers shop last week, looking fit and healthy.

  55. gareth says:

    dose any 1 no haw i can contact peter im a distant cuson and he is sum 1 iv always wanted 2 meet got hes pics up in my bedroom at home he use 2 send my mum letters many years ago theyv not hured off him in over 30 years hope sum 1 can help my email add is o if u read this peter im i the grandson of norman campling from great yarmouth would love 2 meet u 1 day and my mum is anita campling

  56. dave c says:

    Great stuff. I saw Stan on his debut against Chelsea and many, many times thereafter. He was my favorite player of that era (closely followed by Raddy). So much so that I insisted on wearing the number 6 for the club I played for in Sunday football at the time. A quality bloke and an unflappable defender.
    One anecdote involving Stan occured after a 0-0 draw at Goodison I attended. At the end of the game, in very muddy conditions, he went over to Howard Kendall to shake hands and, prior to doing so, Stan wiped his muddy hand on his shirt before extending it to Kendall. That memory has stayed with me all these years – it epitomizes Stan the man, a tough competitor and a true gent.

  57. Barrie Larner says:

    I hav3 5h3 pleasure of supporting Arsenal and have been going since l was eight;around 1963,Peter Simpson was always my favourite player and was privelidged to meet him ,work with home become good friends
    After a spell in America with New Engkand Patriots he came back t9 play at Hendon then hung up his boots,the old ankles were never the same,he is 73 now and retired back to Norfolk near his hom3 town of Gorleston.
    Never have l met a more humble kind and in my words Superstar as Peter(Stan) Simpson who incidentally looks like he could still play now apart from the grey beard

  58. Barrie Larner says:

    Excuse the he above spelling mistakes my eyesight is not what it used to be

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