DVD Review: 1971 Cup Final - Arsenal v. Liverpool

Last updated : 29 January 2004 By Brian Dawes

For example I'd quite forgotten just how hot it was on the day, we sweltered in the shade behind the goal, and so the players must have lost pounds as evidenced by their sweat-drenched shirts at full time. You may recall Liverpool retrospectively using their heavy shirts as a weak excuse for losing but check out the yellow shirts at full time and try to work out just how much sweat could be wrung out of them, it must have been gallons. But I digress.

This DVD comes in two discs, disc one covers the match itself and the celebrations afterwards; you can either play it all through or go straight to what are described as magic moments. Many will no doubt go straight to the bit where Ray Clemence takes a goal kick in extra time and George Graham meets it with a header on the half way line. The rest, as they say, is history. Graham to John Radford to Charlie George, back to Radford who returns to George who lets rip with, what for me, was the most memorable goal in Arsenal's illustrious history. Maybe that's just because I happened to be standing behind that very goal at the time, I worshipped Charlie, as we all did back then and his goal meant we'd won the Double for the first time in our history. To say that we went apeshit as the ball powered into the net is a gross understatement. But then you have to remember that winning trophies was a whole new experience for Arsenal fans who'd seen an empty trophy cabinet for the seventeen years prior to our Fairs Cup triumph. Two major trophies in a season was just unheard of!

No goal will ever surpass that one for me, and no doubt many other Gooners of my generation. Don't get me wrong, I was deliriously happy to be at Old Trafford when Wiltord scored and on many other momentous Arsenal occasions but 1971 was special, very special. Seeing the DVD obviously brings it all back, even though we were able to sing ‘We are the Champions' for the first time in living memory Shankley's Liverpool were still the favourites to win on the day. Watching the game again I found my memory jogged by so many little things. For example observe carefully and you may notice that some sections of the crowd were far more tightly packed than others. This was because despite the sections were ticketed resourceful hardcore Gooners still managed to congregate behind the goal.

Details I'd forgotten that you'll be able to see for yourselves include the early physical battering our boys gave the Scousers, Frank McLintock getting forward within the first five minutes and what looks to be the whole squad wearing Adidas footwear, where they sponsored? Then there was the powerful long-throw that Johnny Radford possessed, this almost resulted in a goal when Graham headed against the bar. For once Arsenal fans were not out shouted by the Kop, even when we went behind. Don Howe appears with a bit of hair. Then there was Frank, the happiest man on the planet as he went up to lift the Cup from the Duchess of Kent who was wearing yellow at the time … was she a Gooner too?

Wembley may have been a bit of a hole but it was still a special place and had a fabulous playing surface. The lush pitch was however seriously leg sapping and everyone had their sox around their ankles by extra time. Everyone involved looked absolutely knackered and I recall being both exhausted and emotionally drained by the end of the day but the following morning everyone had recovered and some had even sobered up. Islington was packed for the Parade and celebrations on the Sunday and these scenes are also included on the first DVD.

Under a section called Nostalgic extras the ‘Open Top Bus' shows the parade and the team's celebrations including a totally knackered McLintock giving what passes as a speech at the town hall. ‘We won the Cup, ee ay addio we won the Cup' is just one of the chants to be heard as the cameraman focuses on a seriously happy throng and rather obviously on well-endowed young lady in the crowd. Check out the fashions if you fancy a good laugh. Remember flares?

Also on the first DVD is a feature called the ‘Children's Tea Party' in which you can guess which kid belongs to which player. Quite why the players' kids got a party is beyond me but it's an amusing enough aside. Another feature on this disc is a section called ‘In this year listings' which comprises various lists of things that were going on at the time. We are reminded that T Rex and the Stones were all the rage in music at a time when a new Ford Escort would set you back all of £1,067. A pint of bitter cost 6p, so that's over 19 pints for a pound! It also states that the Cup Final ticket was £2, but I can tell you that my own ticket, which I still have, only cost a quid. A great investment that ticket, one pound to enjoy one of the best days of my life and over thirty years later the ticket stub must be worth at least 20 or 30 times its original cost.

One of the things mentioned in ‘In this year listings' is that the programme cost all of 10p and on the second disk there is a printable version of that very programme in a pdf format. The programme comes complete with adverts for the Radio Times, Double Diamond, Castella cigars, Players No. 10 cigarettes and the Moscow State Circus. Plus of course all the usual stuff about the two teams.

Also on disc two Frank Stapleton interviews Charlie George about the team as they were then and what they've been up to since. Charlie being Charlie tells it like it is and comes up with some interesting quotes. "…Bob McNab could talk the balls off a brass monkey". On Storey he said "… when the chips were down Peter would put his foot in". On McLintock "… he had the greatest will to win, he hated losing". Of George Graham he said "… the unlikeliest player ever to become a manager". He also comes up with some interesting anecdotes. These include a mention of the time when Bertie Mee dropped McLintock for a game, with the result that Frank punched a hole in the wall not too far from Mr. Mee's head. Eddie Kelly makes an appearance during the interview to tell Stapleton about Charlie George and noted that Charlie "was the last local lad ever to hit the winner in a Cup Final … and he's still a kid now".

Charlie seemed quite bemused that a number of ex-players never go to matches or take an interest in Arsenal or football. This is because Charlie has always been a fan, he was on the North Bank before he was a player and has been following Arsenal ever since he packed up playing. Only last week we saw him in car with his mates on his way to Villa Park for our recent League game. This is just one reason we loved him then and still do. Charlie is a Gooner, one of us. Eddie Kelly and Charlie continue the interview by picking their all time Arsenal eleven. Charlie's own story is the final segment of the interview.

I viewed some sections of the DVD's on my PC and have to admit that I had a certain amount of trouble kick starting it, I could only get the menu up using Windows media player but there was no problems playing it with a programme called Power DVD. I can't say whether that was my equipment or the DVD but it would have been well worth installing an additional programme anyway. Just to remind me of my happiest day ever at Wembley, it was an honour to have been there.

Release date: January 26th.
Pricing/availability information to follow.