No point whatsoever looking at a one-off game and reaching conclusions about the future of certain players and whether they were responsible for that shitfest. Ozil was crap but he is one of 10 (Cech is excluded). It wasn’t lack of effort that cost us, it very rarely is, so what is it?
There is a simple answer …. look at our goals against record. I cannot recall a season when the defence was so porous. Goals conceded in the PL were 51!! Well over a goal a game. 13 conceded in the EL and we really only played 3 decent teams.
Is the personnel? I can’t say it is. Monreal may be a little slower but he remains a quality player. Kos and Sokratis are both experienced International defenders. Mustafi had a poor season but came good in the last couple of months. We have good young back-up in Mavro and Holding. AMN and Bellerin are both fine players with AMN doing well in a position which doesn’t suit his skills. Our GK’s made few mistakes.
Is this a new situation? Not really, we have been getting progressively more porous. 51 in the PL last season, 44 the year before and 36 the season before that.
Mr. Wenger was never a defensive minded coach and left a problem for Emery. The problem seems to be that we do not have a viable defensive coach which considering who is our assistant manager is bizarre.
Steve Bould has been marvelous as a player and loyal as a member of the management team. One would expect him to be the man with the ability to create the defensive cohesion which is so clearly lacking. Why can’t he? Is he not allowed to work on tactics? I cannot believe it. As a member of Arsenal best ever defence he has the knowledge and the experience, surely the defensive unity is his remit.
If we are to progress next season, the defence and especially the ability for the midfield to shield the CB’s has to improve. We may sign a defender or two but most of the players will still be at Arsenal in August …
I woke up yesterday morning thinking I was remarkably calm considering we have a European Final on Wednesday. This morning I awoke with a nervous energy not felt for many a moon. The hours until kick off going to be very long. I have bought a 9 pack of Tuborg Green (we Danes are hard drinkers and 6 packs are rare!) and a couple of bottles of a cheeky Italian Dolcetto to make the time go faster and numb my pre-match nerves.
Baku is awash with intrepid Gooners, people who have sacrificed much to support their team. Can the Arsenal give them the victory they deserve?
My first emotion when we made the Final against the Shed Boys was a cloud of negativity – “Chelsea are too good”, “Hazard’s last game”, Chavs have more experience and Big Game players” etc etc. I am sure many of you will have shared those thoughts. But I find today I am far more positive – this is a winnable game. All we need to do is perform as we did earlier in the season when we annihilated the Chavs at the Emirates. That’s all.
Can we? Of course we can.
Now I know there is many a slip twixt cup and lip and Arsenal have royally effed up many big games in recent time (Brighton/Palace etc etc) but Emery Knows 😀
The media are expecting a Chelsea win and the betting odds are against us but how can anyone gamble against a side with our front two? They are special and above all they are winners.
Do you think Mr Emery will pick Mesut to start? I don’t know either. I dither, changing my mind on a hourly basis. Had Mhki been available then No, but given his absence Yes, I would start Ozil. However by the time I finish writing this PM, I may well have changed my opinion.
Cech or Leno? We had a poll and Leno won but we all know Cech will start. The man has been great for AFC. I recall when he signed how excited I was that we had a safe and secure GK after the two flaky Poles (both of whom have developed in top GK’s). I wish him well in his final game.
And what of Iwobi? Will Mr E. choose a more defensive model and leave Alex on the bench?
Who is sure to start? Cech, Koscielny, Sokratis, Kolasinac, Xhaka, PEA and Laca. The rest remain in doubt, even Nacho.
If we play 3 at the back then, given his recent form, I would trust Mustafi but Nacho is so reliable and so experienced.
Could AMN start? We will need pace to counter Hazard, Willian, Pedro etc.
And in midfield, will Douzi be picked ahead of Terrier? I hope not though a midfield of Xhaka, Terrier, Douzi and Kolasinac is quite likely.
Mustafi Kos Sokratis
AMN Terrier Xhaka Kolasinac
My concern with this side is the reliance upon AMN and Wardrobe to get forward thereby allowing space behind for fast counter attack by the excellent Chelsea wide players. As always, midfield discipline must be maintained.
For Chelsea, well mostly I don’t care but I will be very upset if OG scores. Very. Hopefully Kante will be injured as he is a wonderful player.
VAR will be used tonight; much discussed, I believe VAR assists the game though some decisions remain open to interpretation. Referee is Rocchi, an Italian with much experience, we must hope he hasn’t been gifted a house or two by Chelsea’s owner
Last night I was over in Malmo Sweden alongside West Ham Bob watching another Malmo victory. He sat on the fence but hoped for an AFC win. Like many his head says Chelsea but his heart is Gooner. For us it is simple – Death or Glory. If we are to lose I do not want to look at any AFC player and think they could have worked harder – mistakes will be made, they are human, but to win tonight will require 100% effort and concentration.
A European Final as the final game is way beyond my season expectation. Win or lose the team have had a successful campaign but how wonderful would it be to lift the trophy?
We are off to Baku Azerbaijan; the city is the scientific, cultural, and industrial center of Azerbaijan. Many sizeable Azerbaijani institutions have their headquarters there. The Baku International Sea Trade Port is capable of handling two million tons of general and dry bulk cargoes per year. In recent years, Baku has become an important venue for international events. It hosted the 57th Eurovision Song Contest in 2012, the 2015 European Games, 4th Islamic Solidarity Games, the F1 Azerbaijan Grand Prix since 2016, and now it will host the 2018-19 UEFA Europa League Final between London rivals Arsenal and Chelsea. It will also be one of the host cities for UEFA Euro 2020.
Baku is the capital and largest city of Azerbaijan, as well as the largest city on the Caspian Sea and of the Caucasus region. Baku is located 28 metres (92 ft) below sea level, which makes it the lowest lying national capital in the world and also the largest city in the world located below sea level. Baku lies on the southern shore of the Absheron Peninsula, alongside the Bay of Baku. At the beginning of 2009, Baku’s urban population was estimated at just over two million people. Officially, about 25 percent of all inhabitants of the country live in Baku’s metropolitan area. Baku is the sole metropolis in Azerbaijan.
Baku is divided into into twelve administrative raions and 48 townships. Among these are the townships on the islands of the Baku Archipelago, and the town of Oil Rocks built on stilts in the Caspian Sea, 60 kilometres (37 miles) away from Baku. The Inner City of Baku, along with the Shirvanshah’s Palace and Maiden Tower, were inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000. According to the Lonely Planet’s ranking, Baku is also among the world’s top ten destinations for urban nightlife.
The city is renowned for its harsh winds, which is reflected in its nickname, the “City of Winds”.
Now let’s talk about football.
The first league meeting between the two teams took place on 9 November 1907 at Stamford Bridge (112 years ago). This was the first Football League First Division game played between two London clubs and drew a crowd of 65,000.
The first London derby 1907 at Stamford Bridge
A match between the clubs at Stamford Bridge in 1935 drew a crowd of 82,905, the second highest recorded attendance for an English league match. They met in two close contested FA Cup semi-finals in the 1950s, with Arsenal winning both times.
The clubs have contested three major finals: the 2002 FA Cup Final, which Arsenal won 2–0, the 2007 Football League Cup Final, which Chelsea won 2–1, and the 2017 FA Cup Final, which Arsenal won 2–1.
The two teams have also met in the UEFA Champions League in the quarter-finals in 2003–04, drawing 1–1 at Stamford Bridge, and Chelsea winning 2–1 at Highbury to go through to the semi-finals. (a bitter memory for Arsenal fans)
Throughout the 112 year history Arsenal has won more games in all competitions than Chelsea, having won 76 times to Chelsea’s 63, with 58 draws (as of 19 January 2019). Arsenal’s record win was a 5–1 victory in a First Division match at Stamford Bridge on 29 November 1930.
Arsenal has also won more league games – GP164, W63, D49, L52, GF231, GA210.
The last game was at The Emirates on January 19th 2019 when Arsenal won 2-0 with goals from Lacazette (14) and Koscielny (39).
1994 Copenhagen Colorsport / Stuart Macfarlane.
The journey of 2,709 miles will be an arduous one for both teams.
Nineteen players have achieved the feat of scoring 100 goals for the Club over the past 96 years. The players are sorted by the number of games taken to reach the 100 goal mark. Ian Wright sits at number 2.
Ian Edward Wright, MBE (born 3 November 1963) was born in Woolwich, London.
Wright’s father absconded and left mother his Nesta to raise her family in a one-bedroom house in Brockley, South London. Ian said “That house wasn’t a good place for me, which is probably why I would stay outside kicking a tennis ball against a brick wall forhours on end,” He was bullied by an older step-brother, but it was his step-father’s cruelty which caused him most pain. “One of the few things my brother and I looked forward to in the house was Match of the Day, and my step dad used to take that away from us – just because hecould.”
Wrighty as a boy
Wright’s primary school teacher Sydney Pigden taught him to read and write and made him the register and milk monitor. Tony Davis and Harold Palmer, who ran a local football team Ten-Em-Bee used pick him up at his house and drive him directly to training in an effort to keep him focused and out of trouble with the police. However in 1982, at 19 years old, he ended up in Chelmsford Prison for two weeks for non-payment of driving fines.
Despite having had trials at Southend United and Brighton during his teens, he was unable to attract sufficient interest to win a professional contract offer. Reverting to playing for amateur and non-league teams, he was left disillusioned about his chances of a career as a professional footballer.
But he eventually overcame his deprived childhood, his abusive step-father and a spell in prison to become a professional footballer relatively late in life. A Crystal Palace talent scout, Peter Prentice, happened to see Wright playing for Dulwich Hamlet and invited him to have a trial at Selhurst Park. “It was only a three-month trialbut I’d done it: I was able to call myself a professional footballer,” Wright said. “After nearly 11 years of rejection, bullying, prison and all sorts of nonsense, and I had finally gotten my dream.”
Having impressed then-manager Steve Coppell, he signed professional terms for Crystal Palace in August 1985, just three months short of his 22nd birthday. He quickly made his mark in his first season, scoring nine goals to finish as Palace’s second-highest scorer. When Mark Bright arrived on the Palace scene the following year the duo soon established a successful striking partnership and it was largely their goals which took the club to top flight via the playoffs in 1989. Ian was particularly instrumental that season, scoring 24 goals in the Second Division and a grand total of 33 in all competitions.
An ankle injury reduced his initial impact in the First Division. However, after recovering from the injury he made a dramatic appearance as a ‘super-sub’, in the 1990 FA Cup Final against Manchester United. He equalised for Palace a few minutes after coming onto the field forcing extra time, then putting them ahead in extra time. The eventual score was 3–3, but Palace lost the replay 1–0.
With attention-grabbing goals in the league and in the 3-3 FA Cup Final draw against Manchester United in 1990, it was little surprise when Wright gained the attention of bigger clubs. Arsenal paid a club record £2.5 million for the striker in 1991. At the time Arsenal were reigning champions and there were question marks over the necessity of the signing: Alan Smith, Kevin Campbell, Paul Merson and Anders Limpar were already among the clubs’ ranks He scored on his debut against Leicester City in a League Cup tie, and then scored a hat-trick on his League debut against Southampton. He won the Golden Boot in his first season by scoring 29 league goals, five of which were for Palace, and 31 in all competitions. He scored a hat-trick in the final game of the season against Southampton; his third goal being the last ever scored in the old First Division.
He went on to be Arsenal’s top scorer for six seasons in a row. He played a major part in the club’s success during the 1990s, winning an FA Cup and League Cup double in 1993; he scored in both the FA Cup Final and the replay against Sheffield Wednesday. Ian also helped Arsenal reach the 1994 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup Final, although he was suspended for the final in which Arsenal beat Parma 1–0.
The period that followed proved to be a difficult time for both Ian and Arsenal, manager George Graham was dismissed over illegal payments, and under caretaker Stewart Houston they could only manage a 12th place finish in the league. The arrival of Bruce Rioch heralded a bleaker time; the two did not get on and eventually Wright handed in a transfer request, which he later retracted. The arrival of Dennis Bergkamp heralded a brief but fruitful striking partnership, and in their first season playing together they helped Arsenal finish fifth in the league and qualify for the UEFA Cup. They also reached the Coca-Cola Cup semi-finals, where they went out on away goals to eventual winners Aston Villa.
By the time Arsène Wenger had arrived at Arsenal in September 1996, Ian was nearly 33. Despite his age, he continued to score regularly (being the second highest Premier League scorer in 1996–97 with 23 goals), and on 13 September 1997 he broke Cliff Bastin’s Arsenal goal scoring record with a hat-trick against Bolton Wanderers. His final goal at Highbury came on 4 October 1997 against Barnsley and was his 300th career goal for both Crystal Palace and Arsenal. He scored his final goal for Arsenal on 6 January 1998 in a League Cup quarter-final victory against West Ham United.
While he was still a professional footballer at Arsenal, he published his autobiography, Mr Wright. In 1993, he wrote and released a single called “Do The Right Thing”. The song was co-written and produced by Chris Lowe (of Pet Shop Boys) and reached #43 the UK Singles Chart.
Shortly after his retirement from playing in 2000, Ian was awarded the MBE for his services to football.
In total he registered 185 goals for Arsenal; a record that has since been passed only by fellow Hall of Fame and Arsenal legend, Thierry Henry. On 15 July 2008, he finished 4th in ‘50 Greatest Gunners’ listed on the Arsenal website.
Wright went on to play for West Ham, Nottingham Forest, Celtic and finally Burnley (helping them to win promotion) before his retirement in 2000. Since retirement Wright has made a career in punditry and television work.
Clubs: Crystal Palace, Arsenal, West Ham, Nottingham Forest, Burnley Caps: 33, 9 goals Honours: 1 Premier League, 2 FA Cups, 1 League Cup, 1 Cup Winners’ Cup
Shortly after his retirement from playing in 2000, Ian was awarded the MBE for his services to football.
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Ian scored his 100th goal for Arsenal against Crystal Palace at Highbury on October 1st, 1994.
Nineteen players have achieved the feat of scoring 100 goals for the Club over the past 96 years. The players are sorted by the number of games taken to reach the 100 goal mark. Jimmy Brain sits at number 3.
Well here – we are we have now reached the top 3 in Arsenal’s Century Club.
James (Jimmy) Brain was born in Bristol on 11th September 1900. He played in local football in Wales before joining Arsenal at the age of 23 in August 1923. He did not make his league debut until the following season he played against Tottenham Hotspur on 25th October 1924 and scored the only goal of the game (what a way to make yourself known toArsenal fans). During the 1924-25 season he scored 14 goals in 31 games, including a hat-trick against Burnley and four in a game against Leeds United.
Arsenal manager Leslie Knighton was sacked at the end of the 1924-25 season and Herbert Chapman, the manager of Huddersfield Town, was persuaded to join Arsenal.
The first man that Herbert Chapman signed was Charlie Buchan, who had scored 209 goals in 380 games for Sunderland. Chapman also purchased Herbert Roberts, Joe Hume and Cliff Bastin. In the 1925-26 season Arsenal finished in second-place to Huddersfield Town. The top scorer was Jimmy Brain with 37 goals in 47 games. This included four hat-tricks against Everton (2), Cardiff City and Bury.
Meeting the King at the 1927 FA Cup Final
The Arsenal chairman, Henry Norris did not allow Chapman to buy new players to strengthen his team and in the 1926-27 season Arsenal finished in 11th position. Brain scored 34 goals in 44 games that season which included a hat-trick against Cardiff City and scored four against Sheffield Wednesday and Burnley. In the 1927-28 season Brain scored 29 goals in 44 games. This included two hat-tricks against Derby County and Liverpool. Arsenal finished 9th in 1928-29 and Jimmy scored 22 goals in 42 games.
The following is from an F.A. Cup 5th Round Replay, played at Highbury on 24 February 1926. The first Arsenal goal is seen at 00:38 – the scorer is Jimmy Brain. The old East Stand with A-R-S-E-N-A-L spelt out on it is a sight to behold. Love the hat waving after a goal is scored. (full screen is top right)
Herbert Chapman gradually adapted the “WM” formation that had originally been suggested by Charlie Buchan. Chapman used his full-backs to mark the wingers (that job had previously been done by the wing-halves). He also developed what became known as the counter-attacking game. This relied on the passing ability of Alex James and goal scoring forwards like Jimmy Brain, David Jack, Joe Hume, Cliff Bastin, and Jack Lambert. Chapman also built up a good defence that included players such as Bob John, Eddie Hapgood, Herbert Roberts, Alf Baker, Tom Parker and George Male.
Jimmy’s form dropped off in 1929-30, and he competed for his position with Jack Lambert, David Jack and Dave Halliday, meaning he only played six league matches in that season. He missed the Gunners’ 1930 Cup final win over Huddersfield Town; David Jack and Jack Lambert led the line that day. However, the following season, 1930-31, Jimmy finally won a medal as Arsenal won their first ever First Division Championship with a record 66 points. The Gunners only lost four games that season. Jack Lambert was top-scorer with 38 goals. Brain scored 4 goals in 18 games and therefore qualified for a league championship medal. His final appearance in an Arsenal shirt was a 2-0 win over Sheffield Wednesday on 21 March 1931.
Crossing the North London divide between Arsenal and Tottenham can be one of the most inflammatory actions in English football. Sol Campbell, Emmanuel Adebayor, and William Gallas have all done it in recent times, all feeling the wrath of both sides supporters. But who was the first to do it?
The man with this dubious badge of honour is none other than Jimmy Brain. In September 1931 Brain was transferred to Tottenham Hotspur. Over the next three years he scored 10 goals in 45 games.
He played his final years out at Swansea Town and Bristol City. After retiring as a player, he managed first King’s Lynn and then Cheltenham Town from 1939 until 1948, after which he retired completely from football.
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In total, he scored 140 goals in 232 appearances for Arsenal, making him the Gunners’ joint-fifth top scorer of all time. However, he never played for England; he managed to secure a trial for the national team but was never actually selected.
Jimmy Brain and Jack Lambert share the record of each scoring 12 hat tricks for Arsenal.
He scored his 100th goal against Sheffield United on January 7th, 1928.
Nineteen players have achieved the feat of scoring 100 goals for the Club over the past 96 years. The players are sorted by the number of games taken to reach the 100 goal mark. Jack Lambert sits at number 4.
Born in Greasbrough near Rotherham, Yorkshire, Lambert was turned down by Sheffield Wednesday after a trial in 1921, so he started his career playing for Rotherham County in 1922. He soon made a move to Leeds United, but spent three years there with little success. He finally came to prominence after becoming a regular goal scorer for Doncaster Rovers, joining the side in January 1925.
Playing in Yorkshire, he had attracted the attention of Herbert Chapman when the latter was manager of Huddersfield Town. Chapman became Arsenal manager in 1925 and needing a quality centre-forward, he signed Jack for £2,000 in June 1926. Lambert initially struggled to get into the first-team and he did not make his league debut until the beginning of the following season against Bolton Wanderers on 6th September 1926.
Lambert scored only one goal in 16 appearances that season and was not selected for the FA Cup Final against Cardiff City. Over the next two seasons he was reserve centre-forward to Jimmy Brain and only scored 4 goals in 22 appearances. When he appeared in the first-team he was often barracked by the crowd. Herbert Chapman was furious and proposed that barrackers should be thrown out of the ground if they did not respond to anappeal for fairness over the loud-speaker.”
The clip below – a familiar Final to those following GN5’s series but slightly different version this time, Lambert scoring the second after Alex James’ opener.
He became a regular for the club towards the end of the 1929-30 season; scoring 18 times in only 20 league appearances. The following season (1930-31) he was even more successful, scoring 38 goals in just 34 games in the League, a club record at the time. Arsenal won their first ever First Division Championship with a record 66 points. The Gunners only lost four games that season. Jack Lambert was top-scorer with 38 goals. This included seven hat-tricks against Middlesbrough (home and away), Grimsby Town, Birmingham City, Bolton Wanderers, Leicester City and Sunderland.
24th December 1932, Arsenal beat Sheffield Utd 9-2 as Jack Lambert scored five times and Cliff Bastin claimed a hat-trick
In the 1932-33 season Arsenal won the First Division by four points. Lambert only played in 12 games that season but he still scored 14 goals. This included five in a 9-2 win over Sheffield United. By now Jack was over 30 and only a bit-part player (Ernie Coleman having led the front line through most of 1932-33), and the signing of Jimmy Dunne in September 1933 forced him out of the side; his last game came on 13 September 1933 against West Bromwich Albion.
Herbert Chapman seemed to have lost confidence in Jack and frustrated by his lack of first-team opportunities, he agreed to be transferred to Fulham for £2,500 in October 1933. He only played for two more seasons before retiring in 1935. The following year he became coach of Margate (who at the time were Arsenal’s “nursery” club) and returned to Arsenal in 1938 as a coach of the club’s reserve side.
Overall he scored 109 goals in 161 games for the Gunners, a very high ratio of .68 goals per game, but it wasn’t enough for him ever to be selected for England.
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Jack scored his 100th goal for Arsenal on Guy Fawkes Day 1932 against Wolves at Molineux Stadium.
Tragically, he died at the age of 38, killed in a car accident (during WW11) in Enfield, Middlesex.
Nineteen players have achieved the feat of scoring 100 goals for the Club over the past 96 years. The players are sorted by the number of games taken to reach the 100 goal mark. Reg Lewis sits at number 5.
Reginald (Reg) Lewis was born in Bilston on 7th March 1920. He played local football for Nunhead and Dulwich Hamlet Juniors before joining Arsenal as a professional in March 1937.
Lewis scored on his debut against Everton on 1st January 1938. He joined a team that included Cliff Bastin, Eddie Hapgood, George Male, Ted Drake, Leslie Jones, George Swindin, George Hunt, Bernard Joy, Alf Kirchen, Leslie Compton and Dennis Compton.
However, as Lewis was only 18 and Ted Drake was the first-team centre-forward, and so he was only given four games in the 1937-38 season. The following season he created a club record by scoring 43 goals in 31 games for the reserves. He also scored 7 goals in 15 first-team appearances.
In 1945 Lewis was a member of the British Army of the Rhine in Occupied Germany; he continued to play for Arsenal and shone as a natural goal scorer; although wartime appearances and goals are not officially counted, he scored 143 goals in 130 games, including four in the 1943 War Cup Southern Final, in a 7-1 demolition of Charlton Athletic.
Towards the end of the war he served in the British Army of the Rhine in Occupied Germany, but returned to play for Arsenal once first-class football resumed in 1946. Although most of the Arsenal side of the 1930s were past their best by this time, Reg was still only 26 and he continued to be a regular in the first team throughout the remainder of the 1940s.
He was the club’s top scorer in 1946-47 with 29 goals this included a hat-trick against Preston North End and four against Grimsby Town. Jeff Harris, the author of Arsenal Who’s Who, argues: “His ability and knack of scoring goals were attributed to his fine positional sense when finding space in the box as well as being cool, calm and collected.”
The following season (1947-48), he partnered new signing Ronnie Rooke and between them they scored 47 goals as Arsenal won the First Division title; however, Lewis suffered from a series of injuries that year but still scored 14 goals in 28 games.
In the first game I watched at Highbury on November 22nd 1947 – GN5 was fortunate to see Reg Lewis play. Also playing that day were – Jimmy Logie, Wally Barnes, Les Compton, Ronnie Rooke, Don Roper and Doug Lishman. Rooke and Logie both scored in a 2-0 win over Huddersfield)
Despite only playing 25 games in the 1948-49 season he still ended up as top scorer with 16 goals. In the 1949-50 season Lewis scored 19 goals in 31 games. He also scored both goals in Arsenal’s 2-0 victory over Liverpool in the 1950 FA Cup Final.
During the early 1950s, Lewis became constantly afflicted with injuries, and he made only 12 appearances in 1951-52 and none at all in 1952-53. In the close season of 1953, he retired from the game at the age of 33. After retiring he first ran a pub and then worked in insurance.
His tally of 118 in 176 first-team games puts him 13th in the all-time list but his total figure from 1935 to 1953 was a staggering 392 in 451 matches (an incredible .87 goals per game. His finest hour came in the 1950 FA Cup final, when he scored both goals in a 2-0 win over Liverpool.
Reg scored his 100th goal for Arsenal against Huddersfield, at their Leeds Road ground, on January 20, 1951.
Nineteen players have achieved the feat of scoring 100 goals for the Club over the past 96 years. The players are sorted by the number of games taken to reach the 100 goal mark. Joe Baker sits at number 6
Joseph Henry Baker (17 July 1940 – 6 October 2003) was born in Woolton in Liverpool, England however he spent virtually his entire childhood growing up in Motherwell, Scotland. Joe Baker’s mother was Scottish. His father was also born in Woolton and was a sailor; while living in New York in 1938, Joe’s elder brother, Gerry, was born. Early on in the Second World War the family returned from the United States to their hometown Liverpool as Joe’s father George felt he had to enlist and do his bit to help with the war effort and follow the example of his four brothers who were all serving in the British navy.
Joe and Gerry with Torino team mate Denis Law
Liverpool became a prime target for the Luftwaffe. After London it was the second most important port with the docks being heavily blitzed with 4,000 people losing their lives. Joe’s mother Lizzie wasn’t going to let her boys become victims and the family moved up to Wilshaw just outside Motherwell in Scotland to stay with Joe’s grandmother to escape the bombing when Joe was just six weeks old.
In 1944 George’s ship was blown up when returning home across the English Channel. Ironically it was a British mine that blew it up. George was one of the few survivors but was badly injured and had a lump of shrapnel in his stomach. He also lost his bladder and was constantly in and out of hospital over the next four years before finally succumbing to his injuries and losing his battle for life.
Joe, who was a centre forward, spent a month on trial with Chelsea as a youngster, but was not signed. However he signed professional terms with Hibernian after playing junior football for local Coltness United, and was then farmed out to another junior team, Armadale Thistle. In his first season with Hibs, the 17-year-old Baker scored all four goals in Hibs’ 4–3 victory over city rivals Hearts in the quarter-final of the 1958 Scottish Cup. Baker played in the 1958 Scottish Cup Final, which Hibs lost 1–0 to Clyde. He also scored nine goals in a Scottish Cup tie against Peebles Rovers. Baker was Hibs’ top goal scorer for four consecutive seasons, scoring a club record 42 goals in 33 league games during the 1959–60 season. He scored 102 goals in just 117 league games and 159 goals in all competitions for the Edinburgh club.
In 1961, Baker was transferred to Torino after the Hibs board refused to give him a £5 wage increase from his existing wage of £12 a week. Torino paid £75,000 for him and he shared a flat in the city with fellow new boy, Denis Law. He began well, scoring twice on his home debut, though his proudest achievement was definitely bagging the winner against Juventus in the Turin derby. It endeared him to fans, but his fondness for nightclubs brought unwanted attention from paparazzi and in one argument with a photographer, the snapper ended up in a Venetian lake.
His time at the Italian club was short and almost ended in tragedy. Baker was involved in a serious car crash, which meant that he needed life-saving surgery and spent over a month on a drip feed. It was a generally unhappy spell as Baker did not like the press intrusion, which meant that he and team mate Denis Law spent most of their time in their Turin apartment.
Joe with Billy Wright at Highbury
Baker recovered from his injuries and he returned to the UK in July 1962, joining Billy Wright’s Arsenal who; following a string of intense medical tests paid a club record £70,000 for the 22-year-old.
It was at Arsenal where he regained the prolific form which had initially earned him a move abroad. Strong, skilful and quick, Baker was deadly in the box and scored on his debut against Leyton Orient and finished as top scorer in all four of his seasons. Having been used to the tight marking of Italian defenders, all of a sudden he had space to play and he certainly made it count by scoring 100 goals in 156 games for the Gunners.
At 5ft 7in, he was a fearless striker, who in addition to goals, made sure his opponents knew he was not to be messed with. Liverpool’s 6ft 2in Ron Yeats found that out when he was floored by Baker during a game at Highbury, which saw both players sent off.
Frank McLintock said this about him “Joe Baker was a phenomenal player. He was all you could want in a goal scorer – equally adept with both feet and with the sort of pace Ian Rush later used to such advantage. I love players like Joe, with the economical grace of Jimmy Greaves, the short back-lift when they shot and the bravery that distinguishes the great from the merely good. Joe once knocked out Ron Yeats with a punch, which, of course, I can’t condone. But there’s a part of me that admired his courage in even trying it on with someone as intimidating as Liverpool’s tough as teak centre half”
On another occasion during a pre-season tour of the West Indies, Baker’s aggression is said to have caused a riot. ‘He head-butted one of the Jamaican players and the game got abandoned,’ Peter Storey said.
After a disappointing 1965–66 season Wright sold Baker to Nottingham Forest for £65,000. Baker had a successful 1966/67 at Forest, as the club finished runners-up in the top division to the following season’s European Cup Winners, Matt Busby’s Manchester United who included Baker’s ex Torino team mate, Denis Law.
After three years at Forest, Baker scored 41 goals in 118 league games. He then moved to Sunderland for a fee of £30,000. Baker spent the following two seasons playing for the Black Cats.
(The following footage includes Joe Baker scoring for Hibs)
Baker returned to Hibernian for a second time in 1971 and scored 12 goals in 30 appearances. He moved to Raith Rovers in 1972. He retired in 1974, having in all scored 301 league goals in 507 games.
He is notable for being the first professional player to have played for England without having previously played in the English football league system, and for scoring over 100 goals in both the English and Scottish leagues.
Alf Ramsey with Joe Baker, Jimmy Greaves et al
Joe scored his 100th and final goal for Arsenal against Sheffield Wednesday at Highbury on December 28th, 1965.
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Joe suffered a heart attack during a charity golf tournament and passed away in Wishaw General Hospital soon after, he was only 63 years old.
Joe Baker was a special player, tough as nails and a wonderful goal scorer, I just loved watching him play.