By Tony Attwood
Arsenal had had a run of 11 games without defeat at the end of the 1910/11, and an overall increase in attendances of almost 10% over the previous season. This was not enough to scoop back the huge losses in crowd numbers Arsenal had suffered from their heyday when they were the second most supported club in the Football League, but at least the losses in crowd numbers had stopped and partially been reversed.
Here are the figures for the top 21 clubs in 1910/11
|No.||Club||Div||Average||Gain or loss %|
|12||West Bromwich Albion||2||15.190||38,4%|
|20||Bradford Park Avenue||2||11.675||13,3%|
Figures from EFS Attendances.
The AGM of Woolwich Arsenal Football and Athletic Company Limited, was held on 17 June 1911, and it was seemingly a slightly cautious meeting, as well as being the first AGM to contemplate the new Arsenal – the Arsenal with Henry Norris playing a major part.
The club, far from being relegated, which had been looking on the cards the previous season, had ended up in 10th position in the league, winning 13, drawing 12, losing 13, leaving them 14 points behind the league winners (Manchester United) and 11 points clear of relegation – Bristol City and Nottingham Forest going down.
|14||Preston North End||38||8||5||6||25||19||4||6||9||15||30||0.816||35|
The club’s financial state had been resolved. Thanks for Jack Humble, relations with the fund-raising committee had improved and committee members now attended the AGM. The committee’s secretary made a speech praising the efforts of the new directors over the past season – but still would not hand over the money raised in 1910.
With Norris now at the helm there was stability and the guarantee the club would not move or merge with another at least in the next year, but it was noted that for the forthcoming season, season ticket sales were down, and the papers were full of the need for new players (it was ever thus).
A new director also appeared: George E Davis, William Hall’s brother-in-law, a man who could be relied upon to represent the Hall and Norris viewpoint if they were not present at a meeting. But new players and a new direction was there none – and the local reaction to this was probably not helped by the fact that this was the hottest summer on record in London. Tempers across the capital were on edge.
There was the coronation of George V to distract the population on 22 June, but the drought as a result of the heat wave couldn’t have helped anyone and on 9 August a temperature of 36.7°C was recorded in Northamptonshire – a record not beaten in the UK until 1990.
To prove the point about short tempers, on 13 August rioting took place in Liverpool as police and soldiers broke up a peaceful meeting of striking transport works. Two days later two men were shot dead in the city by the military drafted in to keep the peace. A national railway workers strike started on 17 August and in riots relating to this strike two more men were shot dead by soldiers. Magistrates’ homes were attacked and four more people were killed.
The new season kicked off in September with no new players in the side for Arsenal, and in fact nine of the eleven who had played in the opening match at the start of the previous season made up the team for the first game. Only Flanagan and Chalmers had not been in that opening line up one year before. Both were however sound additions – Chalmers particularly for he had scored 15 goals in 29 games after his first in the team in the seventh match of last season.
But by the sixth match of the new season it looked very much as if the end of season form which had lifted Arsenal to mid table respectability was not being continued as Arsenal notched up three draws, two defeats and a single win – 2-0 against Newcastle.
But then when it looked as if this might be another doom and gloom season, from the end of September things had started to pick up a little as the results table shows…
|30 Sep 1911||Woolwich Arsenal v Oldham Athletic||D||1-1|
|07 Oct 1911||Bolton Wanderers v Woolwich Arsenal||D||2-2|
|14 Oct 1911||Woolwich Arsenal v Bradford City||W||2-0|
|21 Oct 1911||Preston North End v Woolwich Arsenal||W||0-1|
|28 Oct 1911||Manchester City v Woolwich Arsenal||D||3-3|
|04 Nov 1911||Woolwich Arsenal v Everton||L||0-1|
|11 Nov 1911||West Bromwich Albion v Woolwich Arsenal||D||1-1|
|18 Nov 1911||Woolwich Arsenal v Sunderland||W||3-0|
This was far from being top of the table stuff, but at least it wasn’t relegation material either. But there was a certain amount of searching out of players still going on.
For example Alex Graham had played at first for several Scottish clubs before getting a trial with Woolwich Arsenal in December 1911, by when he was 21. He was a fine signing and went on to play over 179 games for Arsenal
Meanwhile word seems to have got around in early December 1911 that goalkeeper Dr L R Roose wanted to leave Aston Villa. Roose was an amateur so there was no question of a fee – but the registration formalities had to be arranged.
Over the weekend of 9-10 December the press were saying he’d be joining Fulham and it seems the deal did get as far as Aston Villa sending Fulham the papers needed to register him there.
But then, out of the blue, and with no rumours circulating in the ever active press, on Monday 11 December, Roose signed for Woolwich Arsenal FC.
It appears that Roose was induced to change his mind by an offer of money, and indeed in 1927 Henry Norris admitted that in 1911 he and Hall had put up half each to pay a player £200 to sign for Woolwich Arsenal. There was potentially something wrong with this of course because signing on fees were very strictly limited – but there was no legislation relating to the “expenses” that players could be paid if they were amateurs. Indeed Roose himself was called upon by the League at one point to explain his expense claims, and it was the League that got the worst of the encounter.
On the occasion the Football League (at least according to the legends Roose spun around himself) tried to take him on by questioning his increasingly outrageous expense he presented a list of costs including buying a newspaper to keep himself amused when his team were attacking, and the cost of two visits to the toilet. Making the report public he dared the League to go head-to-head with one of the few men who on their own could attract the crowds. They declined the fight and backed off.
So the chance of Arsenal being hauled up over this by the League was very limited or basically non-existent. Roose was a highly popular figure – an early football star in fact – and this was indeed a very clever ploy because it gave Arsenal the extra burst of publicity they needed at the time. The fact that he was going to Arsenal put the club back at the top of the back pages.
There is a complete account of the life of Leigh Dick Roose and his brave but sad end on this site
Recently we have been completing the list of players who played in 1910/11 and that full list is published here at the end of the final article in the series.
We are currently evolving a complete series on Henry Norris at the Arsenal. The full index to the articles that cover the period from 1910 to this point are given in Henry Norris at the Arsenal
Perhaps the most popular element in the Norris story is that of Arsenal’s promotion to the first division in 1919. Therefore we have separated that story out below. It raises in part the question of the validity of the chief critic of Henry Norris: the Arsenal manager from 1919 to 1925 who Norris sacked. Thus in the selection below we include articles which consider the question as to the validity of Knighton’s testimony.
For the complete index on Norris at the Arsenal please see the link above.
- April 1915: New revelations concerning perhaps the most important month in Arsenal’s history
- November / December 1915: the match fixing scandal comes to the fore: Norris is armed
The voting and the comments before and after the election
- The first suggestion that Arsenal could be elected to the 1st division.
- Arsenal in January 1919: rioting in the streets and the question of promotion
- What the media said about the election of Arsenal to the 1st division in 1919
- Arsenal prepare for the vote on who should be promoted to the First Division
- March 1919: The vote to extend the league and what the media said
- Why did the clubs vote for Arsenal rather than Tottenham in March 1919?
The Second Libel
The Third Allegation
The Fourth Allegation
Did Henry Norris really beg Leslie Knighton to stay and offer him the hugest bonus ever? And if so, why were there no new players?
- May/June 1921: Knighton the fantasist. The fourth allegation.
- Why did Arsenal manager Knighton turn down Man City but not buy players? Summer of 1921.
The Fifth Story:
The Sixth Allegation
- March 1922: Desperate times for Arsenal, Norris returns and the transfer limit allegation overturned
The Seventh Allegation
- Arsenal in the Summer 1923: another Knighton allegation but the evidence is again against him.
- Anticipation a plenty but another terrible start to the season: August 1923 – the non-signing of Moffatt.
The Eighth Strange Story