We spoke to Arsenal legend and founder of the Willow Foundation, Bob Wilson, about his pride in wearing the number 1 at Arsenal and being booted in the head by Alan Mullery.
This interview is taken from Your First Football Shirt. An illustrated book of 30 interviews raising money for CALM and the Willow Foundation.
What’s your first football shirt?
My first football shirt was a blue goalkeeping jersey. I was eight, and it was a gift from my uncle David (not blood related). It was a Christmas present that I wore all day, diving around the living room on the carpet. It was blue to represent Scotland.
What’s your favourite football shirt?
My favourite jersey is the plain green one that I wore on May 8, 1971, which was when we [Arsenal] won the double. We went to Tottenham on the Monday and won the league, then went to Wembley. I gave it to my son John for his 50th.
I was the first goalkeeper to get a number on my back. I came into football through a roundabout route – as a teacher – and it was very personal to me to make it to the first team. I said to Tony Donnelly, the Arsenal kit man, I want the biggest No 1 you can get on the back. It was my way of sticking two fingers up to everyone who said I wouldn’t make it.
What’s your favourite football moment?
My favourite moment was the Monday night at White hart Lane. To be champions of your own country is the most difficult, in my day playing 42 games. It was just extraordinary to do it over there. We had to draw 0-0 or win the game; 1-1, 2-2 or 3-3 and Leeds would be champions. The last eight minutes, all hell broke lose. I got kicked in the head, jumping at the feet of Alan Mullery. Spurs really didn’t want Arsenal to win the league. It was an amazing night. There were 50,000 people locked out who couldn’t get into the ground; we only managed to get into the ground 35 minutes before kick-off.
We didn’t really swap shirts in those days. I did when we played Anderlecht and we won the 1970 Fairs Cup. Their goalie kept on asking me for my shirt, so I annoyingly gave it to him and all I got in exchange was a black Fred Perry piece of rubbish. I don’t have it anymore.
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