Arsenal legend Bob Wilson shares his memories of Hitchin Town FC as generous Canaries fundraise for his Willow Foundation

Bob, during his playing days, pictured at Highbury after winning the League and FA Cup Double in 197

Bob, during his playing days, pictured at Highbury after winning the League and FA Cup Double in 1970/71 - Credit: Archant

Arsenal legend Bob Wilson has shared his memories of playing against Hitchin Town with the Comet ahead of the eagerly awaited Top Field meeting between the teams as the Canaries fundraise for his charity The Willow Foundation.

As the Fishponds Road-based outfit prepare to host an Arsenal XI on Thursday, November 10, to mark the inauguration of their new floodlights, former Gunners’ goalkeeper Wilson – who won the double with the North London giants in 1970/71 – paid warm tribute to the Southern League side’s generosity.

The former Scotland international who started his illustrious career for Loughborough University, set up The Willow Foundation, along with his wife Megs, 17 years ago following the death of his beloved daughter Anna six days before her 32nd birthday.

The aim of the charity is to provide special days for seriously ill adults aged between 16 to 40 to bring a touch of normality, fun and great memories to those facing a life-threatening illness together with their loved one.

Bob said: “Congratulations to Hitchin Town on their new floodlights. I would like to say a big thank you to them for raising money for Willow.

“I will never forget Hitchin Town – with all the crazy and wonderful things that happened for me in my football career at Arsenal, it was a game against Hitchin in 1963 during my three years at Loughborough University which can never be erased.

“Not just any game, but a quarter final in the FA Amateur Cup. We had surprised the competition by knocking out two big sides in Corinthian Casuals and Bishop Auckland. There was real talent in out bunch of unpaid physical education students.”

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But all his and his teammates dreams were shattered – literally – after five minutes when brave Bob dived headlong at the feet of the Hitchin centre-forward.

He recalled: “It was the sort of save which came to define my professional career, a 50-50 challenge but one inviting injury.

“I knew immediately I was badly injured but there were no subs back in 1963. I had to stay on struggling to move quickly and breathe.

“Only after Hitchin won did my visit to hospital reveal three broken ribs and a lot of bruising.

“Now here we are 53 years later with Hitchin popping up in the most generous of ways.”

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