Arsenal legend Bob Wilson contributes an article on Untold


I don’t think anyone who supports Arsenal – no matter how recent their conversion to the cause – can not know about our goal keeping legend Bob Wilson.  And today I’m knocked out beyond belief to say that Bob has written an article for Untold Arsenal.

Bob started out by training as a teacher at Loughborough, and playing reserve matches as an amateur with Wolverhampton Wanderers.  He then, in July 1963, became the first amateur player to be signed by another club for a transfer fee – in this case £7500.  He turned pro with Arsenal in March 1964.

At Highbury Bob started out as understudy to Jim Furnell, and made his debut in a league match against Nottingham Forest on 26 October 1963, in a 4–2 win. By 1968 however he was the first choice keeper, and became an ever present in the 1968/9 season, playing in the League Cup final.

The following season he was the goal keeper in our Fairs Cup win – Arsenal’s first European trophy, and in 1971 was the player of the year in the Double winning side, playing in every single League and FA Cup match.

He was selected to play for Scotland, and continued to play for Arsenal in the following seasons until, to everyone’s surprise Bob announced his retirement from playing in May 1974, aged just 32.  His decision caused a lot of comment, but perhaps we can understand it best by remembering that a significant part of his success as a keeper came from his ability to dive at the feet of on-rushing forwards and pluck the ball into his hands before the shot could be made.  A brilliant, but dangerous, tactic.

Bob then became goalkeeping coach for Arsenal – a post he held for 28 years – during which time he added two more Doubles (1998 and 2002) to his CV.

Also during this time he worked for the BBC on Football Focus and Grandstand, and was a major player in the BBC’s world cup presentations, before moving on to ITV where he presented Champions League, League Cup and FA Cup games, as well as being part of the Euro and world cup coverage.   Bob even turned up in the Roy of the Rovers comic strip as their keeper for a season.

We all also know of Bob’s enormous dedication to the Willow Foundation set up in memory of his daughter Anna, which has moved from being a local to a major national charity, and it was in recognition of this work that Bob was awarded the OBE in 2007.

What has brought Bob to Untold is the fact that we are today publishing the book, Arsenal: The Long Sleep 1953-1970 by John Sowman for which Bob has written the introduction.

This book, which is the definitive review of 1953 to 1970, covers every match from the era and reflects on all the issues of that time.   It is available direct as a printed volume from Untold Arsenal and as a Kindle book via Amazon.   There are more details of the contents of the book, some sample pages, and details of how to obtain a copy on the Arsenal Books page of Untold Arsenal.

To be able to publish a book of this quality and magnitude, and to have Bob Wilson write the introduction, and now to have Bob write article for Untold Arsenal is for me, personally, an enormous pleasure, and I must say a great privilege.

I have in the past mentioned how, when I started this site eight years ago, I wondered if anyone would ever read it.  What I never imagined was that one of my all-time heroes would actually write an article for us, and an introduction for a book that we are publishing.

Bob Wilson’s article will appear next on Untold – at around 5pm UK time (6pm European time), today.  I do hope you will join with me in thanking Bob for his engagement with Untold on this project, and I do hope you will also be interested in buying John Sowman’s superb book.

Tony Attwood


19 Replies to “Arsenal legend Bob Wilson contributes an article on Untold”

  1. Bob, is it true that Arsene doesn’t ‘do defense’?

    ‘Bring back educated commentators, pundits and experts like Bob.’ That’s what I say.

  2. Bloody hell thats one heck of a transfer to get Sir Bob over here! Theres been a rumour going around for a few years that Bob was actually writing under the name Brickfields Gunner.Could it be true?
    Well done Tony, a testament to all yours and Walters hard work, all these years. Great stuff!
    WELCOME BOB!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Long may you write and be part of Untold Arsenal.

  3. Welcome Bob!!!

    I cannot believe you are writing for Untold. I remember meeting you at a book signing in Brent Cross over 10 years ago.

  4. Just in case my comments above have been misunderstood.

    Like 1000’s of Arsenal supporters I am Bob Wilson’s number one fan.

    The mantra is ‘Arsene doesn’t do defense.’ Which we know is not true.

    Bob was a serious and articulate TV broadcaster, someone for whom no matter the team you supported his comments were easy to respect. The complete opposite of what we are false/force fed with to day.

    I hate to say something like ‘in my day….’ because the world is forever changing and we must live in the present not the past.

    However with Bob back writing and speaking about football in the media life would be 100% better than it is now.

    Had I spoken the comments I wrote above to you direct, you would have seen my face and understood my comments were/are not serious or patronising but said in despair of the present media content we have to put up with.

  5. Like our great manager Arsene Wenger, Bob Wilson is similarly a man of great integrity and honour. A thoroughly decent bloke who deserves all the respect he gets. Fantastic to see he is contributing to Untold.

  6. The Arsenal Official TV Channel often shows the ’71 Double season highlights from time to time, which is always refreshing and heartening to watch. And seeing the Arsenal legend Bob Wilson contributing to Untold Arsenal is even fantastic to see.

  7. Welcome to UA Bob………….really looking forward to posts that are done by someone who has lived the professional Football experience! Our fickle plastic fanboys will certainly be humbled in your presence….

  8. Just Brilliant……!

    Welcome Bob, this is great news for all of us on Untold and a reward for Tonys great work and his support for this great club.

    For the younger reader, Bob was a great goalkeeper who kept goal in our first double season. This was in the days of bare hands and green cotton gloves; long before oversized gloves and sticky patches made goalkeeping a lot easier!!

    A real club man who always speaks fondly of the club and our fantastic manager, unlike many I can name.

    It is a real coup that he has agreed to contribute to this blog and a real shot in the arm for all those true supporters out there who truly love this great club and the role it has and will continue to play in our lives.

    PS: The Willow Foundation is a real inspiration too, please support that wonderful cause.


  9. Very exciting! Thanks to Bob for always sticking up for the club, players and manager, as well as for everything he has done for Arsenal for many years.

  10. as a supporter of this wonderful club for 69 years Iseen alot of amazing changes and I was so pleased to read this today about Dear Bob Wilson.I was devastated when his career was cut so short just alovely man and as we all know as well a great goalkeeper.

  11. Rolling out the heavy artillery from the Arsenal:

    The Great Bob joins the Untold team.

  12. @ Judge

    The great man’s presence upon these pages means that he has already passed his judgment upon pgMOB Rules Football. Goes without saying really. There’s nothing he can add other then to acknowledge that he too watches the football upon the pitch and not tge broadcasters edit

  13. Welcome to UA Bob. Always remembered in a green jersey., taking the ball from Malcolm McDonald. You once described it ‘when on the ground he was like a herd of buffalo coming toward you.’. Your command of language & humility made it joy to listen to your commentary.

  14. @ Kenneth Widmerpool – January 27, 2016 at 2:31 pm – Other than the grey/white/ silver hair we are nothing alike ! Or maybe the humility , or being kicked in the head !
    But then again I ‘ve been often been mistaken for so many people on here , even Tony !

    Welcome Bob , great to have you on here. Cheers !

  15. One think not mentioned which, unless my memory really has gone, I believe is the case is that as a teacher Bob taught a young lad called Charlie George. Can anyone confirm?

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