Focus On; Bob Wilson

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Robert Primrose “Bob” Wilson played for 11 years at Arsenal. He made over 300 appearances. Wilson as well featured as a youth and senior international for Scotland. After retiring as a player, he turned to coaching and broadcasting, presenting football programmes on television for 28 years until 2002. Wilson has also gone on to create a charity organization known as The Willow Foundation.

Wilson was born on Ashgate Road, in Chesterfield. Bob Wilson started late as a professional player, as his father would not let him sign papers with Manchester United. He had been playing reserve games for Wolves 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 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.

He became eligible to play for Scotland when the rules were changed in 1970 to allow players to play for their parents’ countries of origin, if they had not already played for their own country. Wilson was selected by Scotland manager Tommy Docherty for his first match in charge, against Portugal on 13 October 1971. Wilson was also selected for the match against the Netherlands on 1 December 1971, but Bobby Clark of Aberdeen was preferred after this.


  • Full Name: Robert Primrose Wilson
  • Position: Goalkeeper
  • Date of Birth: 30.10.1941
  • Birthplace: Chesterfield
  • Nation: Scotland
  • Club Career: Arsenal
    • Period: 1963-1974
    • League Games, 310
    • League Goals, 0
  • Previous Club: Wolves
    • Transfer Fee: Free
  • Facts / Photo / Video

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