by Tony Attwood
Here is how the table looked at the end of 1934. Arsenal, the champions for the last two seasons were now in third, largely due to a sudden collapse in their away form wherein they had only won one game.
|8||West Bromwich Albion||23||11||4||8||55||49||1.12||26|
And then suddenly at the start of January there was a spot of light in Arsenal’s away tunnel (if one can have such a thing) as Arsenal beat Liverpool away 2-0. Sunderland drew at home 0-0 with Wolverhampton and Manchester City lost to Sheffield Wednesday 1-0.
John and Hill were dropped for this game with first choice selections James and Crayston coming back in. Suddenly the new year looked rather encouraging.
Also on 12 January 1935: Ehud (Tim) Rogers signed by Arsenal from Wrexham (of the 3rd Division North). One source quotes this date as 1934 but most agree on 1935. He made 16 league appearances (his debut being 19 April 1935) and scored 5 goals.
Next up was the return of the FA Cup, which turned out to be a season in which Arsenal did not play at single game at home: a real challenge given the away form thus far.
For the 3rd round we had Brighton and Hove Albion – a mid-table team from the Third Division (South). In the first round Brighton had beaten Folkestone 3-1 (a round in which Southend had beaten Golders Green 10-1). Brighton had then beaten QPR away in the second round.
The result of an 0-2 away win for Arsenal in front of a capacity crowd of 22,343 was as expected but gave Brighton a nice boost to its income (their average home attendance at the time being 6,750) and Arsenal a little boost that they could win away.
Allison took no chances with the game. John came in for his second appearance at inside left – which he naturally played as a highly defensive position, with Alex James yet again needed to rest his injuries, but otherwise the team was the regular league line up.
Hulme and Drake got the goals and the result meant that Arsenal had now won two away games in a row – albeit the second was against a team two leagues below them.
The following weekend Arsenal were back at Highbury in the League where lowly Leeds were the visitors, Arsenal duly winning 3-0; two from Bowden one from Bastin. This match saw the first league game of the season for Peter Dougall, replacing John at inside left. He went on to make eight league appearances from this point to the end of the season.
Better still, as Arsenal seemed to be finding a spot of form, both Manchester City and Sunderland drew. Things were most certainly looking up. Arsenal were back on top of the league.
On January 26 in the fourth round of the Cup Arsenal were away to Leicester City, this giving Arsenal another chance to show that they had put the away form blues of last year behind them. And this they did with a 0-1 win, Hulme getting the game’s only goal. This now meant three away victories in a row. True, two of these were in the FA Cup, but with rivals losing, it seemed like a sign of a big change.
Manchester City had surprisingly gone out to Tottenham in the third round, and while Sunderland had made it to the fourth, they now went out 6-4 to Everton in a replay. It all seemed to emphasise the wind of change.
That early exit for Manchester City meant that they were able to play their designated league game on fourth round day – the only first division game on the day – and they duly lost to Stoke 2-0, thus finding themselves unable to take advantage of their extra game.
Arsenal’s last game of what was turning into a most satisfactory month was away to West Brom on Wednesday 30 January. A win would not only give Arsenal a perfect month of five wins in five games, but even more extraordinarily a run (including the FA Cup) of four successive away wins, in a season in which prior to this point their away form had been modest to say the leas.
And indeed they got that win, taking the game at the Hawthorns 3-0. Drake, Bastin and Hulme getting the goals. Male missed the game, and Compton once more stepped up, with Hill taking over from Crayston at number 4. Roberts was also missing, with Sidey stepping in. Left footed Bastin moved to inside right, just to confuse everyone and raise the general thought that there was nothing he couldn’t do, and outside right Beasley moved to outside left. Dougall retained his place at number 10.
Thus suddenly the team was shaken up and turned around – and they kept on winning! And what’s more, they went through all five games in January without letting in a single goal.