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Ray Kennedy defended his Arsenal cronies when the Lazio players sparked a scuffle at a restaurant in Rome that saw fans cramming in and even managers giving up until police with guns interrupted the fight


Tensions were already high between Arsenal and Lazio players when they were forced to meet for a post-match meal in 1970.

They had just spent 90 minutes hitting each other in an Inter City Fairs Cup game and now they had to play well. It didn’t last long.

Kennedy rose through the ranks at Arsenal and signed for them in 1968
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A mass fight, in which Lazio players and fans took part, followed at a cute little restaurant in Rome.

A number of stories about what sparked the brawl, of Arsenal players annoyed by the leather handbags their opponents gave them as a gift to the leftover food the people of North London are said to have received over at the banquet enjoyed by Lazio.

However, talkSPORT goes with the account of Frank McLintock, who saw Ray Kennedy, who recently lost his battle with Parkinson’s disease at the heart of it all.

The former captain began by calling the event a “ridiculous obligation”. “The fact that there was so much argy-bargy in the game meant that the atmosphere in the restaurant was positively hateful.

Peter Storey was still seething from Lazio’s brutal approach and walked away: ‘We’re going to get them back, we’re going to do them,’ noting the temperature in the Italian capital added to the nervousness.

Ray Kennedy defended his Arsenal cronies when the Lazio players sparked a scuffle at a restaurant in Rome that saw fans cramming in and even managers giving up until police with guns interrupted the fight
The Arsenal team of the 70s were a tight group and won both the league and the cup
Ray Kennedy defended his Arsenal cronies when the Lazio players sparked a scuffle at a restaurant in Rome that saw fans cramming in and even managers giving up until police with guns interrupted the fight
Arsenal’s’ 70s squad were a tight group and won both the league and the cup
Getty

“Eventually Ray Kennedy and Sammy Nelson came out for some fresh air and they met the central half of Lazio. As I said before, Ray was very stoic about punishments on the pitch. He took it. kicks and was never provocative.

“Off the pitch he would have fought his grandmother, so when words were exchanged between him and the great Roman and his opponent attempted to bring him to his knees in the ball, Ray kicked him.

“As a result, a huge brawl broke out, involving not only Ray and the Lazio player, but also Lazio supporters outside the restaurant who quickly crowded in to help their middle half.”

McLintock even said manager Bertie Mee got involved until the police separated them.

Beaten, bloodied and there was Kennedy – compared to Rocky Marciano by Liverpool legend Bill Shankly – at the heart of this one with the black eye to go with it. Lazio, meanwhile, were beaten 2-0 in the second leg.

This clearly had a lasting effect on the players as at the end of the season Arsenal were both league and cup winners with Kennedy scoring at White Hart Lane to take the title ahead of sobbing Tottenham fans.

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