By Tony Attwood
At the start of the month there was a reminder – as if one were needed – of how Britain’s economy was based on one of the most dangerous jobs there was: coal mining as on 1 October – 14 miners are killed in an explosion in the coal pit at Cannock. It is a tragic theme we find repeated throughout the 1930s.
Back with the football Arsenal had finished September top of the league but October brought the first little slip.
There was quite an anticipation for the Sheffield United game which resulted in a particularly large crowd – not just because Arsenal were top of the league, but also because of recent results between the two teams which had led to 30 goals in five games…
|07 Jan 1928||Sheffield United 6 Arsenal 4|
|10 Nov 1928||Arsenal 2 Sheffield United 0|
|23 Mar 1929||Sheffield United 2 Arsenal 2|
|16 Dec 1929||Sheffield United 4 Arsenal 1|
|12 Apr 1930||Arsenal 8 Sheffield United 1|
After a defeat and four successive wins in the first five games, United had managed two wins and a defeat in the next three, and had climbed from 19th to 9th.
Arsenal remained unchanged and unbeaten, Lambert scored (of course) and had to settle for a 1-1 draw.
Next came the Charity Shield match on 8 October 1930: Arsenal won the Charity Shield (for first time, obviously, as they had won neither league nor cup before) beating Sheffield Wednesday 2-1 in a match played at Stamford Bridge in front of 25,000. The team was Keyser, Parker, Hapgood, Seddon, Roberts, Hulme, Brain, Lambert, Jack, Bastin. Jack and Hulme got the goals.
But there was now a recognition after the match that the next game could be quite a test for Arsenal. Derby had been unbeaten in September, although they had drawn half their games and they were sitting third in the league. But they had the classic results thus far showing themselves much stronger at home in the league than away.
For this game Jack dropped out and Brain came in and the fact that Derby were 3-0 up in half an hour made the adulation of Arsenal turn into criticism in a trice. In the end a 4-2 away defeat led to the inevitable response from the press; Bastin described it as a “rumbling cheer”: Arsenal were not as good as they wanted us to believe was the theme. But Derby had been runners’ up the previous season while Arsenal, although Cup winners for the first time, had been 14th in the league. As autumn approached the press suggested that we would soon find out what Arsenal were really made of.
But at least respite was at hand for the following Saturday as Arsenal were away to a Manchester Utd side which thus far had lost every single match they had played. It was hardly a convincing score but at least Arsenal won 2-1 with goals by Hulme and Jack.
However that was to be the only win of the month, as the final game was a further draw, 1-1 with West Ham, Bastin getting the goal.
There was also great news in terms of the club’s finances. Every one of the four games had resulted in a huge upturn in the crowd numbers measured against the home team’s average, and under the system existing at the time (in which the away team received 40% of the gate receipts – a system that remained in place until the 1980s), as visitors Arsenal were getting a very positive reputation, and a very worthwhile income.
Given that there was no sponsorship at the time, and of course no TV money, and given also that footballers’ salaries were fixed with a maximum wage, this was wonderful news for the club.
The table below shows in the last two columns which players came in after not playing the previous game, and which players dropped out during October
|04.10.1930||Sheffield Utd||home||D 1-1||Lambert||–||–|
|11.10.1930||Derby Cty||away||L 2-4||Bastin, Roberts||Jack||Brain|
|18.10.1930||Man Utd||away||W 2-1||Williams, Lambert||Williams, Brain||Hulme, Jack|
By the end of the month the goals had come from
- Lambert 15
- Bastin 7
- Hulme 4
- Jack 3
- Johnstone 1
- Roberts 1
- Williams 1
The ever present players thus far were Keyser, Parker, Hapgood, Roberts, John, Lambert, Bastin. In all 15 players had been used across the opening 12 games.
Here are the results for the month.
|25.10.1930||West Ham Utd||9||home||D1-1||1||19||51,918||37,106|
- Op pos, is the league position of the opposition before the game
- Pos is Arsenal’s position after the game
- AC is the average crowd for the home team through the season, providing a comparison between the crowd on that day and and the norm expected by the home side.
What particularly aided Arsenal’s cause is that while they had a few slip ups in October (one win, two draws and a defeat) their nearest rival, Aston Villa, was also making heavy weather of the situation:
|Date||Aston Villa vs…||venue||Result||Lge pos||Pts|
The 3-1 away defeat to Middlesbrough came as a surprise as before that point Villa had won six and drawn one and as the league table below shows, Villa were close to matching Arsenal both in terms of goal scoring and defensive meanness.
|9||West Ham United||12||5||3||4||31||29||1.07||13|
Manchester Utd had been mid to lower table for several years but were not quite prepared for such a start to the season, losing 12 games in a row. Among some disastrous performances they managed, in the space of seven days in September, a 6-2 away defeat to Chelsea, a 0-6 home defeat to Huddersfield, and a 4-7 home defeat to Newcastle.
Indeed this was to be Man U’s last season in the first division for a few years, and through the decade they only managed two more seasons in the first.
Thus October ended with Arsenal still top of the league. Up next was a match against Chapman’s old club – Huddersfield Town. We’ll come to that in the next article which takes in November 1930.
The Arsenal in the 30s series…
- 1: Life in 1930 and winning the first major trophy.
- 2: The cup winners who dropped out and the players who came in
- 3: How Chapman put his triumphant 1931 team together.
- 4: September 1930; played 8 won 7 drawn 1.
- 5: October 1930: A stumble, Villa are close behind, Man U have 12 defeats in a row.
- 6: November 1930: Scoring 5 in three games in one month.
- 7: December 1930: 3 games in 3 days and 14 goals scored.
- 8: January 1931: the biggest league win ever at Highbury
- 9: February 1931: the goals just won’t stop coming.
- 10: March 1931: hope, defeat, hope
- 11: April 1931: Arsenal win the league for the very first time.
- 12: Arsenal in the summer of 1931, the records and the Scandinavian tour
- 13: Arsenal in shock – July and August 1931
- 14: September 1931; the champions recover from a poor start.
- 15: October 1931: Arsenal lose to Grimsby
- 16: November 1931: Chapman’s exasperation with goal keepers
- 17: December 1931: A scoring sensation but a dreadful month
- 18: January 1932: A return to form and a record score
- 19: February 1932: From a faltering start to nine wins in a row
- 20: March 1932: Huge crowds, an emergency signing, better results, another semi-final
- 21: April 1932: Film of Arsenal in the Cup Final, and attempts to win the league.
- 22: Arsenal in the summer of 1932. Arsenal runners up in league and cup, Man U’s average gate drops below Plymouth’s, Stanley Matthews first game, and the greatest run in Arsenal’s entire history is about to begin.
- 23: August 1932 – preparing for the ultimate greatness.
- 24: September 1932: Arsenal’s first steps into immortality
- 25: October 1932: The rise to the stars
- 26: November 1932: Records fall, greatness beckons.
- 27: December 1932: Greatness and supremacy
- 28: January 1933: Top of the league and defeated by Walsall.
- 29: February 1933: New shirts, awful weather, a record score
- 30: March 1933: Top of the league but a month to forget
- 31: April/May 1933: Champions for the second time
- 32: 1929/33: All the men who played in the League for Arsenal.
- 33: Arsenal in the summer 1933: Champions and water shortages
- 34: August/September 1933 – the start of the new season.
- 35: October 1933 – a return to progress
- 36: November 1933 – displacing Tottenham.
- 37: December 1933: Chapman’s last month; Arsenal triumphant
- 38: January 1934: The death of Chapman
- 39: February 1934. Chapman is gone, but the club moves on.
- 40: March 1934. Chapman’s two teams fight for the title
- 41: April 1934. Joe Shaw wins the league for Chapman
- 42: 1933/34 League players, and how the goals declined but the crowds went up.
- 43: Arsenal in the summer 1934: Allison takes over from Shaw and Chapman.
- 44: August/Sep 1934: Allison starts with a bang
- 45: October 1934 – Arsenal finally blow away the north London curse
- 46: November 1934: vying for the top of the league, and the Battle of Highbury
- 47: Arsenal in December 1934: two steps forward, two steps back.
- 48: January 1935: Suddenly Arsenal’s form turns upside down
- 49: February 1935. Despite one slip, Arsenal remain top.
- 50: March 1935: Beating Tottenham by a record score
- 51: April/May 1935: Winning the league for the third time in succession.
- 52: Arsenal in the Summer 1935 after three championships in a row
- 53: September 1935: After three successive championships things get sticky
- 54: October 1935: Ok but not good enough
- 55: November 1935; Drake starts scoring again.
- 56: December 1935: beating the record, and record confusions. Ted Drake before and after the magnificent seven.
- 57: January 1936: the league won’t be won, but what about the FA Cup…
- 58: February 1936: an early example of rotational selection
- 59: March 1936: Wembley again but player rotation starts affecting the crowds
- 60: April/May 1936; Arsenal win the Cup. A match report and season’s end
- 61: Arsenal in the Summer of 1936
- 62: Arsenal players 1934/5 and 1935/36: the fundamental problem with the team
- 63: August / Sept 1936: 20 different players used in the first seven league games
- 64: October 1936: Arsenal in free fall
- 65: November 1936: Arsenal reborn, TV starts, the king demands, the palace burns down.
- 66: December 1936: Top of the league as the king steps down.
- 67: January 1937: Arsenal unbeaten as the goalkeepers change (again).
- 68: February 1937: Seven in the cup, and all to play for in the league
- 69: March 1937: Arsenal top but Man City close in
- 70: April / May 1937: Arsenal slip back and Man City triumph – for the moment
- 71: Arsenal players 1936/7, Arsenal crowds in the 30s, and comparisons with earlier years
- 72: Arsenal in the summer: the overseas tour of 1937
- 73: Arsenal in August and September 1937: a brilliant start and a TV first.
- 74: Arsenal in October 1937: Allison decides it is time for a total change.
- 75: Arsenal in Nov 1937; a tactical signing changes the game
- 76: Arsenal in December 1937; a settled team and a revival
- 77: Arsenal in January 1938: two steps backwards but a new genius emerges.
- 78: Arsenal in February 1938: a true resurgence takes us top of the league.
- 79: March 1938: Arsenal at the top and a fifth title looks possible
- 80: April/May 1938: from no titles to five in one decade – and the most amazing title of them all.
- 81: Arsenal in the summer: the Nazi salute, Bastin as the symbol, Whittaker for England, the world record signing.
- 82: August/September 1938. The start of the end.
- 83: Arsenal in October 1938: the champions stagnating in mid-table
- 84: November 1938: facing relegation?
- 85: December 1938: the manager makes changes and a new hero is found
- 86: Arsenal in January 1939: some signs of recovery.
- 87: February 1939: Arsenal struggle to make a continuing impact.
- 88: March 1939: goalscoring and away form are the key problems
- 89: April / May 1939: Arsenal clamber back to 5th, and achieve film stardom
- 90: Arsenal in the summer 1939
- 91: The players and the crowds: Arsenal 1938/9 – and the players who returned
- 92: Arsenal in the 30s: Arsenal at the start of the 2nd world war (autumn 1939)
- The full index to all the series is on home page