Arsenal in the Summer of 1932. Runners up in League and Cup but preparing for absolute greatness.

By Tony Attwood

May 1932 began with the league title won by Everton with two games to spare.

Arsenal’s attempt to retain the title that they had won the previous season with a new points record had finally come unstuck during a five match run in late March and early April.

Game Date Opposition Venue Result Pos Pts
33 26.03.1932 West Ham United away D1-1 2 43
34 28.03.1932 Derby County away D1-1 2 44
35 02.04.1932 Chelsea home D1-1 2 45
36 06.04.1932 Sunderland away L0-2 2 45
37 09.04.1932 Liverpool away L1-2 4 45

But then with the trophy having slipped away, and amidst the disappointment of the FA Cup final defeat on 23 April, Arsenal sudddenly pulled themselves back together for the remainder of the season.

Game Date Opposition Venue Result Pos Pts
38 16.04.1932 Sheffield Wednesday home W3-1 2 47
39 25.04.1932 Aston Villa away D1-1 2 48
40 27.04.1932 Huddersfield Town away W2-1 2 50
41 30.04.1932 Middlesbrough home W5-0 2 52
42 07.05.1932 Blackburn Rovers home W4-0 2 54

As for Everton, having seen the champions Arsenal drift away, they too fared poorly in their last four games losing 0-1 to Middlesbrough and Portsmouth, drawing 0-0 with Newcastle and beating Bolton 1-0.  A strangely subdued end to a season that had had so many goals.  But they had won the league.

Here is the final league table.  Surprisingly Everton only won by two points and had, by the end, an inferior goal average.  West Ham and Grimsby went down – WHU after a terrible run in the latter part of the season, Grimsby having a very small crowd base to draw upon, and thus struggling finances.

At the season’s end Arsenal had two friendlies tucked in between their final league match so that the schedule looked like this

4 May 1932 away to Plymouth – Arsenal won 2-1.  This was a benefit match for McKenzie and Titmuss.  Crowd: 18523.   BWF Diaper played in this game – one of two friendlies he played in for Arsenal, but I can find no details of him anywhere.   Also T Black played – again a player of whom I know nothing, although he could have been a guest.  Parkin scored both Arsenal goals.

7 May 1932 at home to Blackburn in the League (won 4-0) – the final game.  Blackburn were 14th in the table before the game and slipped to 16th as a result of this defeat.  Arsenal stayed second.  23,127 turned up for the match at Highbury, the second lowest home crowd of the season.  The average crowd was 40,547.

10 May 1932 away to Northampton Town – the Northampton Charity Shield.  Part of the series of games set up in the wake of the fire at the Northampton ground which destroyed the stands.  Won 3-2.  The crowd was not recorded.  Lambert got two and Beasley one.

And that was it in terms of an end of season tour, and there was indeed no start of season tour for the 1932/3 season – so the next time anyone could see Arsenal was on 27 August for the new season.

Here’s the list of first team appearances for the season.

  League Div 1 FA Cup
Games Goals Games Goals
CS Bastin 40 15 6 6
A Beasley 3
E Coleman 6 1
LH Compton 4
HW Cope 1
EA Hapgood 41 6
W Harper 2
AE Haynes 7
JHA Hulme 40 14 6 4
DBN Jack 34 21 6 3
AW James 32 2 5
RF John 38 3 6 1
C Jones 37 6
J Lambert 36 22 5 4
CG Male 9 1
F Moss 27 6 5
TR Parker 38 6
R Parkin 9 7 1
CJF Preedy 13
H Roberts 35 6 1
WC Seddon 5
RR Stockill 3 1
L Thompson 1
JJ Williams 1
Own Goals 4 1

The highlights table below shows the key players in the league season and adds an extra column to show the number of goals scored per game by the main goalscorers.  There were as we can see 14 players in the list including Male (because of what he was about to become) and Parkin, because of his ability to score even though playing so few games.  Preedy was our second keeper of the season, finally replaced by Moss.

Leaving aside those three we have ten players who played between 32 and 41 league games in the season – a remarkable achievement.

 Highlights table League Div 1
Games Goals G/GRatio
CS Bastin 40 15 0.33
EA Hapgood 41
JHA Hulme 40 14 0.35
DBN Jack 34 21 0.62
AW James 32 2
RF John 38 3
C Jones 37
J Lambert 36 22 0.61
CG Male 9
F Moss 27
TR Parker 38
R Parkin 9 7 0.77
CJF Preedy 13
H Roberts 35

There was one summer transfer – on 19 May 1932 Frank “Tiger” Hill was bought from Aberdeen.  He had played 100 games for them as right half but was transferred after (unproven) allegations were made about players betting on the club’s results.

Arsenal already had Bob John, Wilf Copping and Jack Crayston in the squad, but Tiger competed with them and always played enough games each season to get his medal.

Through this series of articles I have been including the crowds for the season – including with the regular chart a note of the average crowd for each club in the season.

We can now pull all this together in the table for the league attendances in England for the season (courtesy of European Football Statistics).

As you can see the top 20 list includes three second division clubs and one from the third division south.

This reflects to some degree the north/south divide – the whole country was in deep economic crisis and it hit the north far more than the south but it also reflected the special circumstances of the clubs involved.

Wolverhampton’s rise (more than doubling their average gate) can be explained by the fact that they won the second division this year.   Fulham won the 3rd division south.

Everton’s rise of 36.1% reflects not just that they were champions, but that the previous season they had been in the second division.  They were aided by having in Dixie Dean the top goalscorer with 44 league goals, and three of the highest scoring games: the biggest home wins (9-2 over Leicester and 8-1 over Newcastle), and the highest scoring match (9-3 over Sheffield Wednesday).

No. Club Division Average % change over last season
1 Arsenal 1 40.547 9,3%
2 Everton 1 35.451 36,1%
3 Chelsea 1 32.230 -10,0%
4 Aston Villa 1 31.509 2,4%
5 Newcastle United 1 30.366 16,1%
6 West Bromwich Albion 1 24.459 23,4%
7 Manchester City 1 24.173 -10,0%
8 Sunderland 1 23.131 5,1%
9 Tottenham Hotspur 2 22.809 -19,0%
10 Liverpool 1 22.742 -12,8%
11 Wolverhampton Wanderers 2 21.241 103,7%
12 Sheffield United 1 20.795 6,8%
13 Birmingham City 1 19.627 2,6%
14 Plymouth Argyle 2 19.520 1,3%
15 West Ham United 1 19.239 4,0%
16 Fulham 3S 17.647 63,0%
17 Blackpool 1 17.478 2,2%
18 Portsmouth 1 17.478 -6,9%
19 Sheffield Wednesday 1 17.145 -13,9%
20 Leicester City 1 16.241 -4,9%

Interestingly, Plymouth Argyle got a bigger average crowd than Man U who didn’t even make the top 20.  Man U’s average crowd in the second division was 13,011.

As for Tottenham, they ended up 8th in the second division.  They did however have the highest scoring home game of the season in their division – beating Port Vale 9-3.

There was one other issue in football we ought to record:

  • 19 March 1932: Stanley Matthews, a 17-year-old winger, made his debut for Stoke City in a 2-1 league win over Bury at Gigg Lane.

And perhaps we should note the demise of Thames Association – one of the clubs created (like Chelsea and New Brighton) to fill a stadium rather than because of any club evolution over time or a move to a new enlarged stadium.  Whereas Chelsea made the project work, Thames Association came bottom of the Third Division South and folded.  New Brighton ended up one from bottom in the North section but battled on for another year.

Thus summer came – a time of social unrest and turmoil as unemployment rose ever higher.  But we may perhaps highlight two moments that occurred during August.

  • 1 August – Forrest Mars produces the first Mars bar in his Slough factory.
  • 22 August – First experimental television broadcast by the BBC.

As mentioned above there were no pre-season games which meant that the season began on 27 August 1932 with Birmingham 0 Arsenal 1.  The first goal of what turned out to be a unique three year run in Arsenal’s history was scored by Reg Stockill.  He only played four games in the season – but scored three.

We’ll continue the story in the next episode.  Here’s the story so far


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