Arsenal At The World Cup #2: Jack Kelsey & Dave Bowen 1958

Sweden 1958 and Pele was launched upon an unsuspecting world, his hat-trick in the final entering into football folklore. It was also the only tournament to date where all four home nations qualified for the finals. England had qualified undefeated in their campaign, eliminating the Republic of Ireland and Denmark. Northern Ireland went into their final game against Italy in Belfast knowing that victory would see them qualify; a 2 – 1 victory sent them to the top of their group. Despite a 4 – 1 thrashing in Madrid, Scotland qualified ahead of the Spaniards and Swiss.

The Welsh seemed destined to miss out, finishing as runners-up to Czechoslovakia but politics intervened. Israel had been drawn to play Indonesia, Egypt and Sudan. The former pair withdrew in the CAF second round whilst the Sudanese pulled out in the final round. Fifa, ever the compromise artists, decided that a European runner-up should play-off against Israel. When Belguim declined, Wales stepped in and duly won both legs 2 – 0, reaching their first and so far only, World Cup finals.

Drawn alongside hosts Sweden, Mexico and Hungary, the Welsh believed the could qualify. For Hungary 1954 seemed a lifetime away. Soviet Union military crushed the 1956 revolution and many of the ‘Magnificient Magyars‘ had left the country. The 1958 squad containing just six players who had travelled to the 1954 tournament.

For Wales, it was their ‘classic’ line-up. In goal, Jack Kelsey was outstanding, a world class goalkeeper who made 352 appearances for Arsenal between 1949 and 1962 before going on to run the club shop until the 1980s. Kelsey is regarded as one of the best goalkeepers ever to don the Arsenal jersey, his performances in Sweden widely held as the reason for Welsh progression.

Often overlooked in this campaign, in Arsenal terms, was Dave Bowen. Having started his career at Northampton, Bowen joined Arsenal in 1951, going on to make 162 appearances for the club. Like Kelsey, he was part of the London XI which was defeated 8-2 on aggregate by Barcelona in the first Fairs Cup Final.  Bowen was to win nineteen full caps for his country, the 1958 World Cup finals were the pinnacle with the Arsenal man named captain despite the presence of other, more famous names.

For Arsenal Football Club, it was the first time that a current player had appeared in the finals. Laurie Scott had travelled with the ill-fated England team to Brazil in 1950 whilst future Gunners Mel Charles and Don Howe would also be in Sweden.

Under the current system, Wales would not have qualified for the Quarter Finals. They drew all three group games against Mexico, Hungary and Sweden, one of the two games that the hosts failed to win all tournament, the other being a 2 – 5 reverse in the final. Finishing level with Hungary, this was a time when equality of points meant a play-off. The Hungarians had scored more and a better goal average. It mattered not. They would have progressed today. As it was, their main objective was to stop John Charles in the play-off and hope for the best.

When Tichy scored just after half an hour, they achieved the second objective. The first was to prove costly for Wales, Charles suffering an injury that would end his participation in the competition thanks to overly robust defending by the Hungarians. Many believe that had he been fit, the Brazilians might not have progressed. That they did was despite the best efforts of Kelsey. The level of his performance can be gauged by the fact that a nation not noted for appreciating their own goalkeepers called him “The Cat With Magnetic Claws“.

Wales 2 – 1 Hungary

Wales 0 – 1 Brazil

Read more about this endeavour by Wales in In the Shadow of a Giant and King John.

138 thoughts on “Arsenal At The World Cup #2: Jack Kelsey & Dave Bowen 1958

  1. Agree Frank, not only Walcott, almost everyone thought Walcott was on the plane, maybe not as a starter but certainly to play a part. The people who have been bashing him for the last few weeks are almost regretful now that he is not going.

  2. Very, very poor management skills demonstrated by Capello over the last few days. Surely there is a better man than this in England to run the team. This man is a retrograde step for English football.

  3. Capello has little choice in creative players. Theo would be ignored on the wing as the ball sails over everyone’s head on it’s way to that long streak of piss up front.

    2 banks of 4 sat just outside the penalty area and don’t concede at any cost. Exciting stuff.

  4. Shotta-gunna @ 7:23 pm – your right Capello has bottled it. He should of picked Bent over Heskey.

    I will still be cheering England on, how ever dull and lacking creativity the team going will be. I wonder if SWP is even match fit.

  5. Holland V Ghana highlights.

    And Capello is rather silly! how can you not take the one player who has the speed to run pass anyone and who has a great strike, puts in some decent crosses also.

    Silly man!

  6. Capello has bottled it; plain and straight.
    True to his nature, he decide to take the less risky option, i.e. SWP over TW (experience over speed).
    If Lennon fails to deliver or, even more likely, picks up an injury, Capello’s only alternative to change a game is SWP. I am sure there are very few defenders after the 1st round who will go to bed worried that SWP will easily get behind them.
    You say Capello is being paid 6 million per annum?

  7. Regardless of how England fare in South Africa, Capello will be manager of Inter Milan next season. It’s a perfect fit.

  8. Capello doesn’t have too many options….mediocrity rules.

    Heskey, I would take the Donkey (Shrek’ sidekick) over him any time. Sorry Heskey, no offense.
    Although, I’ll give him credit for the honest effort he puts in.

  9. Really embarrased for Theo, cant believe he’s not going. He is shit on the wing though and its time he was given a run up front. He deserves it and has the talent to be a lethal michael owen in his prime type striker

  10. Agreed Gunner4Ever – USA looks like a tough match now.

    Shotta, I heard Capello really enjoyed the Emirates hospitality and visited our ground the most.

    Key Spurs players have CL qualifiers soon after WC – haha

  11. Great strike by RVP to set up the first goal. He didn’t even really look, just turned and the goal keeper had all sorts of problems with it. That goal was 90% RVP, 10% Kuyt being lucky.

    In the world cup I am going to cheer for Holland, that’s for sure. In the ECI was supporting Spain..but after learning the true nature of some of their players, I just can’t bring myself to cheer them on anymore.

  12. Gooner Gal, I don’t have too much faith in the current USA team but I sure hope it will be a tough game for England & Capello, now that I don’t have TW14 to cheer on.

    I’d like also to beat England, just to shut Nick Webster up 🙂

  13. Capello should of gone all the way and just called up Micheal Owen and Alan Shearer.

    Gunner4Ever Im supporting England, but I guess I need to start looking at picking my second team sooner rather than later.

  14. In a way i’m pleased – we’ll have a fresh forward line to start next season with and now I don’t have to pretend to like England, i can happily support A.B.E. (Anyone But England).

  15. Yes Shotta 6millions to pick steve Maclaren’s team. if owen was not injured we will be included as well capello simply panicked in the last few weeks. Pathetic really. Anyway if he fails I can almost see him getting it from the media for not taking Walcott. This is not the end of Walcott his name will be mentioned by comentators and pundits whever England lack any pace going forward.

  16. Just doesn’t seem logical that going into extra time in a hard fought qtr final, you wouldn’t want the option of throwing Walcott on.

    Surely picking a side is about being prepared for different eventualities?

  17. Andy Townsend has Theo on the brain. He won’t be able to stop himself from mentioning his name.

  18. It bears, you would say, the faint but none the less rancid whiff of betrayal.

    Selected at 17, on the whim of a desiccated roué, for a national team in which he had no hope of playing. And then for four years kept dancing on a string by the succession of vacuous incompetents charged with planning England’s success.

    Selected last summer for two national squads – an impossible clash of interests which left him unfit to face the rigours of this season.

    Cheerfully and willingly acceding to every demand – track back, run at the defence, shake off your two or three markers, cross into space, give it to Rooney – while surrounded by colleagues who lacked the wit to perceive and the skill to execute the quick through ball which could unleash his ferocious pace.

    Pilloried by the press as a proxy for his club manager whose intelligence and articulacy regularly ties them in knots. And now, at the critical moment, abandoned.

    Well, England may yet win in South Africa. The correlation between talent and success seems to be decreasing. Supporting our national team means clutching at the tenuous hope that this might bring. Should they win, let us hope we can all be as generous in our enthusiasm as Theo himself, who with astonishing magnanimity said: “I would like to wish the team the best of luck and hope they have a really successful tournament.”

  19. John is a cunt. I agree with Deano re: Walcott. And not being English I can gladly say I hope they get what’s coming to them. Capello is a dickhead. All this shit about he’ll only take players on form, as fit players is just so he’ll look like a real boss. The big man. Half the England starting XI isn’t and hasn’t been on form all season while the likes of Parker, Dawson and even A. Johnson have been left out. What the fuck is wrong. If only they all played for a Man U, Chavs or ‘Pool. I really hope they get what’s coming to them this World Cup. They are overrated individuals who have no collective sense of playing football other than to hope their man Rooney does the job. Yes the man who is supposedly as good as Messi and Ronaldo but should never be mentioned in the same breath. The English are arrogant muppets.

  20. bossman- that is a harsh sweeping statement you’ve made. Not all English are arrogant muppets. Capello is italian

  21. These are Wenger’s statement regarding the use of Walcott asa donkey for both senior and U21 teams

    ‘If Walcott is burned out, they will suffer as well,’ said Wenger.

    ‘There’s a World Cup at the end of the season and, if there’s no summer break, it will not work. We ask always that the guy plays only for one team.’

    ‘I know how it works,’

    ‘The player comes back later than everybody else, he doesn’t have a decent preparation, you are under pressure to rush him back, you play him earlier than you should, he gets an injury and you see him again in October.

    ‘That’s why I was adamant he did not go to the Under 21s. He has no preparation for the season and, in the end, England will pay the price as well.’

    I remember when Wenger made those statements people laugh it off. one of those is Stuart Pearce and of course Capello just shrugged off his shoulders. As aresult of the injuries he has suffered he did not play this seaon and he has paid the price. What Walcott needs to do now is listen to what Wenger has to tell him and not to trust Capello and FA. they’ve Used him and dumped him in a very cruel manner. he is a young man who does not deserve to be treated this way. I can pick at least 5 players in the England squad who are so bad they are not worthy of cleaning Walcott’s boots.

  22. anyone saw the SUN highlight after Theo been left out …Spurs 4 Arsenal 0.what a bunch of idiot.And you wonder why England have been waiting so long.Overrated,overpaid,over at the quarter final.

  23. Sorry to bring the Joe Cole story up again but H. Redknap suspects Joe Cole has already agreed to sign for a club. United or us?

  24. Actually no matter that I loathe Capello and I loathe the England squad. No matter that I loathe the English football press, the English football establishment and many England supporters. No matter that in footballing terms my favourite national side is Holland.

    Regardless of the utter distaste bordering on racism that many of you have for England. There is much good in England and it is my home. For that alone I must and will support England in WC 2010.

  25. I agree Frank there are many great things about England, but that group of players is not one of them for me. Try as I might, I just cannot get behind JT and co.

  26. I’ll follow them grudgingly (and with commentary off), if only so I know what my friends are talking about. What I want to see is some humility, and when we lose, I hope we go out with grace.

    I still haven’t decided on my other team at the World Cup. I like Uruguay and Chile, while Brazil haven’t lost all their lustre. France looked far more fluid than I expected as well, and I’d love it if Diaby could announce himself this summer.

  27. I am so angry,Theo’s omission is the highest betrayal, I hope he has learnt his lesson and that he snubs them come the next WC!!!!England can lose to Algeria/US and whoever else is in their group for all i care!!I wouldnt give a toss.

  28. Frank at 8:09 am:

    I am in full agreement with your comment.

    Any form of racism, especially from an Arsenal fan, is abhorrent.

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