Bedford Town 1-2 Arsenal (partially found footage of FA Cup match; 1956)

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Programme for the match.

Status: Partially Found

On 12th January 1956, Southern Football League club Bedford Town hosted Football League First Division side Arsenal at The Eyrie for a replay of an FA Cup Third Round match. The match ultimately saw the visitors win 2-1, with the Gunners eventually being eliminated in the Quarter-Finals. The match is notable for being the first FA Cup match to be televised live by ITV.


Bedford Town, as a Southern Football League club, successfully qualified for the First Round Proper.[1][2] It overcame Leyton and Watford to reach the Third Round.[2] Meanwhile, Arsenal was a Football League First Division member, and so its campaign began in the Third Round.[3][2] The teams were paired against each other, and initially clashed on 7th January 1956 at Arsenal's Highbury Stadium.[4][5] It was here Bedford pulled a surprise by holding Arsenal to a 2-2 draw, thus earning a replay at its ground The Eyrie.[6][4][5] By this point, it was the last non-league team in the tournament.[4]

Meanwhile, ITV had broken new ground by televising its first live football match, the 1956 Southern Junior Floodlight Cup Final, on 3rd January that same year.[7] Thus, ITV aimed for a more ambitious broadcast, with franchise Associated Rediffusion deciding to televise the Bedford Town-Arsenal encounter nine days later.[7] Because The Eyrie lacked floodlights, kick-off was moved to a Thursday afternoon to ensure optimal visibility.[7][8] The game's broadcast certainly generated hype among fans of both sides, with thousands reported to have booked annual leave to watch the live coverage.[7][6] Particularly, a British Pathé newsreel humorously claims many officer workers were "burying their grandmothers" on the day of the match, forcing the town of Bedford to shut down.[9][6] Ultimately, the broadcast proved disastrous, as while the first half was known to have been televised, the cameras malfunctioned during halftime.[7] In contrast, ITV Football and Online Gooner state that ITV exclusively televised the second half live.[8][6] Regardless, only 45 minutes of the game was aired.

The Match

The match itself occurred on 12th January, in front of 15,306 fans.[10] In another competitive match, Bedford again came close to pulling off an upset, when Harry Yates shot pass Arsenal goalkeeper Jack Kelsey to make it 1-0.[9][5][6] Bedford also had another two goals ruled offside.[5][9] With just four minutes remaining, the Gunners equalised courtesy of Vic Groves, who headed the ball in.[9][5][6][10] In extra time, Arsenal proved more aggressive, with the visitors hitting crossbar early on.[9] Eventually, Arsenal secured the winning goal after a Groves cross was converted into a header on-goal by Derek Tapscott.[9][5][10] Arsenal held on to win 2-1, progressing to the Fourth Round.[9][5][10][2][6] After defeating Aston Villa and Charlton Athletic, Arsenal would be eliminated in the Sixth Round by Birmingham City 3-1.[2]


Ultimately, the match was televised live in a period where telerecordings were rare until videotape was perfected in the late-1950s.[11] The broadcast has yet to resurface, but footage from various newsreels remains publicly available.



BBC Sportsview Unit highlights of the match.

British Pathé newsreel of the match.

British Movietone News newsreel of the match.

See Also