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Before the Hand of God came the Fist of Colin

Arsenal 1 Nottingham Forest 0 27th September 1980

Someone else’s Mrs, a fat lip, a smashed Jag and lamp-post, and letting the winner in at Highbury

Back in the early 80’s being an Arsenal fan wasn’t easy, add Terry Neill our blarney merchant of a manager in the deal, and it was a lot harder.

But we went because we loved the club, and meeting our mates for a beer, fish and chips and a mental afternoon singing on the terraces at Highbury.

This game stuck in my memory for two reasons,  the obvious wrong reason for remembering it (and as I am a wrong un that’s no surprise), the second because Arsenal beat Brian Clough’s Nottingham Forest who were European champions in 1979, and who went on to repeat it in 1980.

Peter Shilton was one of a succession of world-class  English keepers from Gordon Banks, Peter Shilton and Ray Clemence (Middlesex and Scouse wretch). He became famous for his error vs Poland which stopped England qualifying for the world cup, and also the hand of god incident with Maradona in Brazil. But I digress this is about Arsenal v Forest.

It was a big game, but a usual Saturday morning in my bedsit on Sotheby rd N5, I got up and got ready for many it was golf jumpers, faded jeans and Adidas trainers, track suit tops and anorak. As ever for me is was faded jeans, plain jumper, trainers and a discreet AFC pin badge. I wandered down the Blackstock road to my Gran’s in Avenell Rd, where breakfast was on offer.

Whilst I sat there eating a full English, my Grand dad wandered in, doing his tie up, and threw the paper at me, and said “that should liven up matters somewhat this afternoon” .Forever the gent in a Trilby hat, he didn’t say why, in front of his wife, who despite being a fearsome Islington matriarch wouldn’t tolerate smut or bad language.

There on the back page of the Daily Mirror that morning before we played Nottingham Forest was Forest and England goal keeper Peter Shilton.

Exposed, caught in the back of his Jaguar, with another man’s wife called Tina. Her husband Colin had caught them to quote another news paper “doing press ups”. As Colin banged on the steamed up window, Shilton tried to drive away, when he started the car, it was in gear. He hit a lamp-post, and the police were called. Shilton was arrested from drink driving. Not before Colin punched him and split his lip. The Mirror headline was “On the spot”. The Observer’s match report entitled “Shilton gets the bird” and why will become more obvious shortly.

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As I raised up the paper, my Gran saw it, and said “Filthy beast, what a pig, his poor wife” and glared at the two men in the room as if we were somehow responsible for his indiscretions. My grand dad Alf just said “right we’re off then see you later”. We left the house at 1030 am as ever, and wandered up Gillespie road to turn off to the Plimsoll to meet my Dad.

As we walked up to the pub, my grand dad’s demeanour changed, saying what a naughty lad Shilton was “having a bit of ‘ows your father” with another bloke’s Mrs. and that “Ole bighead” as Brian Clough, Forest’s manager was known wouldn’t like it.

As ever in the pub people were swapping newspapers, usually that they found on the tube or pinched off a bus seat and this appeared in “The Daily Express”. The pub was alive with gossip, jokes and general typical 70/90’s humour i.e. rather un politically correct, much to everyone’s amusement.

“There was no hanky panky “

After a few pints, my mate Ricky wandered in and we buggered off back up the Blackstock rd to the Gunners pub. We could smoke there without fear of a bollocking off my family and do what we liked in there. We did our usual, of standing outside with fish and chips from The Arsenal fish bar over the road, eating them out of newspaper whilst swilling lager, discussing our general disenchantment with Neill, and the board being tight with money and not buying star players.


Outside the Gunners pub people were sniggering and swapping newspapers and joking about car sex, in off the post and other such japes. The crowd was in good humour and sadly Shilton was the butt of it, and it was only going to get worse.

About an hour before kickoff we walked back up to Highbury and bought a programme each. Seeing a bus outside Highbury we sussed out it was Forest arriving late.

As we got at the bottom of the stairs to the doors to the marble halls, which on match day was guarded fiercely by an uniformed commissionaire, we saw a crowd there shouting and shoving. From the stairs we saw Nottingham Forest get out of the bus, led by Peter Taylor and Clough He was followed by Kenny Burns their Scottish midfield thug of a captain. Lastly came Shilton to cheers, and a chorus of Tina Tina Tina from the Arsenal fans outside. All his team mates laughing, Clough sniggering and Peter Taylor holding back a fit of laughter. Clough ushered them in the stadium whilst he did autographs to divert the crowd from his players.


Once inside on the clock end, we lurked to our usual spot, near the fence and tunnel separating us from the away fans, and watched Forest and Arsenal warm up. Shilton getting a few wise cracks, and his team mates still sniggering, but nothing major yet.

So here are the teams for the game on Saturday 27th September 1980

The game kicked off and low loud slow chant of “Tina Tina Tina” started in the North bank which spread around the ground, the rhythm of the chant like a drum beat and with 40,000 Gooners in Highbury it was loud. But I am now going to share the memories of others who were at the game.

And this chanting was continuous, Shilton despite it all saved from Talbot and Stapleton, he had also made several errors but recovered from them. Then it was half time. As the teams came out Arsenal were in the Clock end half, playing towards the North bank. Shilton came out and was signing autographs for fans at the front of the North bank. The crowd singing “There was no hanky panky” in reference to the Daily Express headline.


The whole stand stood chanting “Tina Tina Tina”, and “Does your Mrs know you’re here” accompanied by “there was no hanky panky”.

You’ll notice so far I didn’t say much about the game well let @Swissramble who was also there give you a hint why !


In the 50th minute after several Arsenal forays getting in behind Forest’s offside trap, Arsenal were awarded a free kick. The whole of the north bank stood and all you could hear was “Tina Tina Tina”

The whole ground was chanting in unison, fans bouncing up and down, as the ref organised the wall

Graham Rix took the shot and hit it very hard and low to the near post, but Shilton had anticipated a central shot but somehow dived in to the corner and got both hands on the ball. The linesman gave a goal, despite Shilton having both hands on it. Shilton was adamant it hadn’t crossed the line. He didn’t protest much, his error was brought about by the events of the week and the crowd after him throughout the match. To quote Peter Taylor, Clough’s assistant “After this week that’s the last thing Peter Shilton wanted”.

Arsenal won 1-0, match reports of the game, clearly covered the crowd’s chants and effect

Sunday Express 28/9/80

xpress match report

Sunday Times 28/9/80

1980-09-28 Sunday Times

As the whistle went, we filed out and sneaked around and waited by the front steps of Highbury, unusually there were quite a few policemen there. The door opened and Kenny Burns led out a sullen team, the European champions didn’t like losing, and particularly not to a keeper error and a goal that wasn’t scored. Fans gathered singing “Tina Tina Tina” and “Does your Mrs know you’re here, as Peter Taylor came out with Shilton. A few chaps with rather more ribald chants were threatened with being arrested. Shilton had a sheepish grin; Clough was laughing and signed my programme, as Shilton stood signing autographs, even posing for a picture with a lady. Fans warned her, that her virtue maybe under threat and then Clough had enough and bundled him on the coach to cheers.

And that was how an assignation in the back seat of a jaguar, an aggressive jealous husband and 40,000 Arsenal fans beat the mighty Nottingham Forest.

On the way home Ricky and I dropped in to the Plimsoll arms where my Dad and Grand dad were propping up the bar. We discussed the game and the chanting, which I was warned not repeat in front of my mum or Gran unless I wanted a right hander, and we supped up and left. My grand dad saying “one day they’ll write about that game”.

I would like to thank @MZK90, @garythegooner56, @DPowell428 ,@garyprince, @jimcullen65,@SwissRamble, @finchleygunner, @kaejlaab, @MrPLC for sharing their memories and helping me to write this article and also a massive thanks to @Gooner_AK for his help in finding and donating the press cuttings. You can find all these gents on twitter go and follow all of them; they hold the history of our club in their minds and veins.