Rare Bob Wilson hand signed Arsenal FA Cup Final 1971 match shirt
Shirt hand signed on the front by the former Arsenal goalkeeper and club legend
In 1971, Bob was Arsenal’s player of the year in their Double-winning season, in which he played every first-team match in League and Cup, culminating in the 1971 FA Cup Final win over Liverpool
In the finale to the 1970–71 FA Cup season, the 1971 FA Cup Final was contested by Arsenal and Liverpool at Wembley on 8 May 1971.
Arsenal won 2–1 after extra time, with all three goals coming in the added half-hour. Steve Heighway opened the scoring for Liverpool with a low drive past Wilson on his near post. However, Arsenal equalised with a scrambled goal from George Graham which is often credited to substitute Eddie Kelly although tv footage exists which shows Graham got the final touch.
Charlie George then scored a winner late in extra time, when his long range effort went past Ray Clemence.
The game was the second half of Arsenal’s first League and FA Cup double, the first double achieved by any club since Tottenham Hotspur’s double in 1961. The first half had been achieved through Arsenal’s league victory over Tottenham at White Hart Lane on the Monday of the same week. The trophy was presented by the President of The Football Association, Prince Edward, Duke of Kent.
Due to the clash of Liverpool’s red strip with Arsenal’s red and white colours, Arsenal wore their away strip of yellow shirt and blue shorts.
Wilson started late as a professional player, as his father would not let him sign papers with Manchester United as he thought it was not a reasonable job whilst he was a youth. Wilson then went on to Loughborough College for training as a teacher. He had been playing reserve games for Wolverhampton Wanderers as an amateur between 1961 and 1963 and was the first amateur to have a transfer fee paid (£7,500). He remained an amateur for eight months when he signed for Arsenal in July 1963 until he signed professional forms in March 1964.
Wilson made his debut against Nottingham Forest on 26 October 1963 in a 4–2 win. However, being forced to play understudy to Jim Furnell, it was to be over four years until Wilson became first-choice keeper in 1968, after Furnell made a mistake in an FA Cup tie against Birmingham City in March 1968. Wilson took over and remained in goal for Arsenal for the remainder of the 1967–68 season.
Later, firmly ensconced in the Arsenal side, Wilson was ever-present in the 1968–69 season, which included Arsenal’s loss to Swindon Town in the 1969 League Cup Final. Despite sustaining a broken arm the following season, 1969–70, Wilson recovered and won his first trophy with Arsenal, the 1969–70 Inter-Cities Fairs Cup. In 1971, he was Arsenal’s player of the year in their Double-winning season, in which he played every first-team match in League and Cup, culminating in the 1971 FA Cup Final win over Liverpool.
Wilson continued to play as Arsenal’s keeper through the early 1970s, although an injury late on in the 1972 FA Cup semi-final against Stoke City meant he missed Arsenal’s 1972 FA Cup Final loss to Leeds United and much of the 1972–73 season. Understudy Geoff Barnett took his place, but Wilson regained the number one shirt once fully recovered, and was Arsenal’s first-choice goalkeeper up until his surprisingly early retirement from playing in May 1974, at the age of 32.