By Tony Attwood
By the end of September Arsenal had raised the hopes of all their fans that another title winning season could be on the cards, but then after a perfect start had faded away and ended the month in 7th position. But they were only three points behind the leaders – Charlton – who were once again showing that their rapid rise from the lower reaches of the league should not mean that they were not to be taken seriously.
It was also curious and most certainly unusual to notice that at this moment there were three London club ahead of Arsenal (Charlton, Chelsea and Brentford). Put another way, Arsenal were now the lowest placed London club in the first division. (Tottenham of course were having one of their periods in the second division).
|9||Preston North End||8||3||1||1||11||5||0||2||1||2||3||1.62||9|
For the first game of the month Arsenal were playing a side that as the table above shows had just gained one point away from home in the first four games, while having a perfect home record.
Leslie Compton came in for his second game of the season in place of the injured Male, while Kirchin came in at outside right, but it was revealed Drake too had been injured and Hunt took over the centre forward shirt. Milne and Kirchen got the goals as Arsenal maintained their home record with a 2-1 victory that took the club up from 7th to 5th.
Elsewhere Bolton revealed that they were continuing to be a new force to be reckoned with, with a 6-1 win over Leicester. There was also a little amusement in north London when the score came in showing that Tottenham had lost to the mighty Stockport County.
One week later there was the first London derby – away to Chelsea who had been having a particularly good season (for them). Since returning to the first division Chelsea had only once finished above tenth position, but this season they had just won five out of the last six. They were second before the game, and another side with a perfect home record.
Played before the highest crowd of the season, Arsenal changed keepers again, bringing in Boulton, with Bowden replacing Davidson. A 2-2 draw with all the goals in the second half was a good result for Arsenal, although it saw the club slip down to sixth. Milne and Kirchin got the goals, but elsewhere this time it was Charlton who emphasised their credentials, beating Portsmouth 5-1.
That defeat of Portsmouth was of interest to Arsenal who on 16th October had Portsmouth at home – and for once Allison kept the same team two games running. Hunt got the goal.
The 1-1 draw was a huge disappointment, although with Bolton losing 1-4 at home to Preston and Charlton losing 5-2 to Brentford, the feeling was growing that this was going to be a most topsy-turvy season. But even so, Portsmouth were bottom of the league at the start of the match, and without a single win to date: it should have been an easy win, and not a draw.
There was a moment of slight relief however as the news came through that Tottenham had just lost their third match in a row and slipped to 13th in the second division.
Also on this day – 16 October – there was another footballing story, as Jimmy McGrory played his last match for Celtic. Not something that would normally make the news south of the border, except for the fact that in playing this game he achieved a UK wide record of 550 goals scored during his senior career (395 in the league for Celtic plus another 13 league goals in the following season for Clydebank).
On 23 October Arsenal played Stoke away. Stoke were 10th, with four home wins and a draw to their name having scored a league high of 19 goals in those five home games. With Crayston injured Bastin dropped back into the right half position, as he on occasion had done before, and Davidson took over at inside left.
Perhaps the 1-1 draw was a reasonable result against such a team, but it was the third draw in a row, and although Arsenal were still sixth, their position was getting precarious. Elsewhere eyebrows were raised when the result came in that the champions Man City had suffered another heavy defeat – this time 0-4 to Middlesbrough, thus taking them down to 13th.
There was an extra significance here for Arsenal as their final match of the month was a home league game against City’s latest tormentors – Middlesbrough. Their win over Man City had only been their second win in five and they were 12th in the league. Arsenal boasted four wins and a draw at home, Middlesborough had just one win and one draw away from home. And yet the Boro won 1-2 although much can be put down to the fact that Roberts had to be taken off part way through the match (more on this below).
This game in itself was a match of considerable significance for Arsenal – although this did not become clear straight away – and I’ll take up the story in detail in the next episode.
But it was a result that meant Arsenal had won only two of the last ten league games, despite winning the first three scoring 12 conceding two. As a result of the run, this game marked the moment that Allison decided to make significant changes – changes that had a profound impact on the way that we now look back on his reign as Arsenal manager.
Here is the team for the last game of the month.
L Compton Roberts Hapgood
Hulme Bastin Bowden Davidson Milne
Milne got the goal.
There were to be five changes for the next game. But perhaps of greater significance in the overall history of the club was the fact that for three players this match was the complete end of their Arsenal first team career.
First this was Ray Bowden’s final appearance. He was sold to Second Division Newcastle United on 5 November for £5,000. In all he played 138 matches for Arsenal, scoring 48 goals. Later playing for Newcastle he scored a hat-trick against Swansea on the day before England declared war on Germany in 1939 – the day football ended.
Second this was Bobby Davidson’s last appearance. The high point of his career at Arsenal was four goals in the 5-1 victory over Portsmouth in December 1936. He was transferred to Coventry City on 4 November. He had played 57 games and scored 13 goals since signing from St Johnstone on 1 February 1935.
Finally this was the great Herbie Roberts’ last appearance, in a game in which he broke his leg. In all he made 335 starts for Arsenal including 297 in the league, and scored four league goals with one more in the FA Cup. But above all he is remembered as the centre half at the heart of Chapman’s revised WM system in 1925. He was one of the great, almighty servants of the club, a man whose name should always be remembered and revered whenever Arsenal is mentioned.
Elsewhere on this last game of October, four teams scored five goals, Bolton and Chelsea drew 5-5, Derby beat WBA 5-3 and Everton lost at home to Preston by the same score.
Here is the month’s summary table.
|Date||Opposition||Op pos||Venue||Result||Pos||Pts||Crowd||Av crowd|
The abbreviations, as always…
- Op pos, is the league position of the opposition before the game. Chesterfield’s position is obviously in relation to Division 2.
- Pos is Arsenal’s position after the game
- AC is the average crowd in league matches for the home team through the season, providing a comparison between the crowd on that day (in the previous column) and the norm expected by the home side.
And here is the regular league table showing the extensive home/away bias that was now encompassing all clubs.
|4||Preston North End||4||2||1||14||7||2||2||2||12||9||1.62||16|
If there was to be any hope for Arsenal it was that they were only four points off the top, and all the changes that were now to be made came in part came because first Arsenal had such a strong reserve team from which to pick their substitute players and second because Arsenal had a lot of money in the bank, because of the high crowds they always attracted both at home and away. Plus, if one was looking for positives, only two of the eight teams above them had a better goal average. And of course, they were the Arsenal.
But the fact was Arsenal had played eight games with Drake in the team before he got injured once again. Arsenal had scored 18 goals in those eight games of which eight had been scored by Drake.
Since then Arsenal had played five games and scored seven goals. They had won one, drawn three and lost one – mid-table form. The goals had been scored by Milne 2, Kirchen 3, Hunt, and Davidson. Kirchen could score, but he was an outside right, not a centre forward. Change was most certainly needed – and it came with a bang.
Arsenal History on Kindle
The novel “Making the Arsenal” by Tony Attwood which describes the events of 1910, which created the modern Arsenal FC, is now available for the first time on Kindle. Full details are here.
Also available: Woolwich Arsenal: the club that changed football (Kindle Edition) For full details please see here.
For an index of the various series on this site please see the home page.
- 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.