Arsenal 7-1 Hibernian (lost footage of charity football match; 1952)

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Football programme for the match.

Status: Lost

On 22nd October 1952, Arsenal hosted Scottish club Hibernian at Highbury Stadium in a friendly match used in aid of the National Playing Fields Association and of the Central Council of Physical Recreation. In a match dominated by the home side, the encounter also has television significance. This was the first instance of a football match utilising floodlights, as well as the first match in Scottish television to feature a professional Scottish team.


Heading into the match, both teams were title contenders in their respective leagues. Arsenal was challenging for the 1952/53 Football League First Division title, eventually earning 54 points alongside Preston North End but becoming champions by virtue of a superior goal difference.[1] Meanwhile, Hibernian challenged Rangers for the 1952/53 Scottish Division A title, but Hibernian ultimately missed out as Rangers had the better goal average after both teams scored 43 points.[2] Thus, the match was expected to be somewhat competitive,[3] with the intent to aid charities like the National Playing Fields Association and of the Central Council of Physical Recreation.[4][5]

During this time period, the BBC had launched its Television Service in Scotland, and had showcased a Schools' International Match between England and Scotland on 5th April as the first football match to be shown on Scottish television.[6] Its Scottish television broadcast of the Arsenal-Hibernian match would break further ground by featuring a professional Scottish team.[4][5] Additionally, the match is notable for being the first televised game to feature floodlights,[3] which enable football matches to be played at night.[7] Highbury Stadium had utilised floodlights since September 1951, but the FA's and Football League's reluctance to use floodlights in competitive matches meant that the first floodlight game did not occur until 1956.[3] However, Arsenal were allowed to use floodlights in friendlies, and these were used to attract a large stadium and television audience to view a now-common piece of technology in modern football matches.[3][4][5] Commentary was said by issue 1510 of Radio Times to have been done by Jimmy Jewell and Peter Thomson,[4][5] but Jewell passed away the day before the match.[8][3]

The match occurred in front of 55,001.[3] Arsenal dominated the game courtesy of five goals from Don Roper, and two from Doug Lishman.[3] Lawrie Reilly provided a consolation goal for Hibernian.[9]


Like all early television programs, the Arsenal-Hibernian match was televised live and was unlikely to have been directly recorded. Although there were means of achieving this following the Second World War, recording seldom occurred until video tape was perfected in the late-1950s.[10] Thus, televised footage of the match is most likely permanently missing, and no newsreels footage is known to exist. Nevertheless, issue 1510 of Radio Times helped to document the television broadcast.[5]



See Also

Association Football/Soccer Media

Early BBC Sports Television

Early BBC Television

Early Sports Television Media