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The FA thanks Norris, the League expanded again. May 1920.

This article updated June 2018 to include the reserve team London Combination table for the end of the season.

 

By Tony Attwood

And so, for the first time ever, on 1 May 1920 Football League matches were played in May – this following the decision in the spring of 1919 to extend the Football League by two clubs – thus introducing the need for four extra match days.  The first had been on 30 August 1919, and this was the second.  The other two games were squeezed in as additional mid-week fixtures during the season.

Assessing the season, Arthur Bourke who wrote as Norseman in the Islington Daily Gazette adopted the tone of football correspondents who seem to suggest that they know more than the manager, argued that Arsenal’s management had not worked in the normal way, suggesting that Knighton was not in full control of the recruitment and selection of players.

This is the theme that Knighton picked up after the second world war in his autobiography, and it is hard to see how Bourke got such a story unless it was through surreptitious briefings from Knighton himself.

The final match on 1 May 1920 ended Arsenal 3 Bradford 0. It was the last senior game for David Greenaway.  In the war he had served with the Royal Field Artillery and after 161 league games there is a suggestion he went on to Margate, although details are sketchy.   The attendance 30,000 and Arsenal finished the season in 10th.

Six of the eleven playing on that day had also played in the first game of the season, and there was one total newcomer for this last game: Pattison who played at centre half.

The final league table of the first post-war season was

Pos Team P W D L F A GAvg GD Pts
1 West Bromwich Albion 42 28 4 10 104 47 2.213 57 60
2 Burnley 42 21 9 12 65 59 1.102 6 51
3 Chelsea 42 22 5 15 56 51 1.098 5 49
4 Liverpool 42 19 10 13 59 44 1.341 15 48
5 Sunderland 42 22 4 16 72 59 1.220 13 48
6 Bolton Wanderers 42 19 9 14 72 65 1.108 7 47
7 Manchester City 42 18 9 15 71 62 1.145 9 45
8 Newcastle United 42 17 9 16 44 39 1.128 5 43
9 Aston Villa 42 18 6 18 75 73 1.027 2 42
10 Arsenal 42 15 12 15 56 58 0.966 -2 42
11 Bradford (Park Avenue) 42 15 12 15 60 63 0.952 -3 42
12 Manchester United 42 13 14 15 54 50 1.080 4 40
13 Middlesbrough 42 15 10 17 61 65 0.938 -4 40
14 Sheffield United 42 16 8 18 59 69 0.855 -10 40
15 Bradford City 42 14 11 17 54 63 0.857 -9 39
16 Everton 42 12 14 16 69 68 1.015 1 38
17 Oldham Athletic 42 15 8 19 49 52 0.942 -3 38
18 Derby County 42 13 12 17 47 57 0.825 -10 38
19 Preston North End 42 14 10 18 57 73 0.781 -16 38
20 Blackburn Rovers 42 13 11 18 64 77 0.831 -13 37
21 Notts County (R) 42 12 12 18 56 74 0.757 -18 36
22 Sheffield Wednesday (R) 42 7 9 26 28 64 0.438 -36 23

If Arsenal had one obvious problem it was a lack of goal scoring – the club had scored the same number of goals as Notts County who were relegated.

The players table below is based on data from Andy Kelly – the links are to articles on this site.

  League FA Cup
Player Games Goals Games Goals
A Baker 17
WN Blyth 29 5 1
F Bradshaw 33 2 2
CS Buckley 23 1 1
D Burgess 7 1
JD Butler 21 1 1
HL Cockerill
WE Coopland 1
FF Cownley 4
S Dunn 16 24 1 1
JA Graham 22 5 2 1
D Greenaway 3
FW Groves 29 5 2 1
HTW Hardinge 13 3
AV Hutchins 18
HE King
CH Lewis 5 1 1
A McKinnon 41 2
EJ North 4 1
F Pagnam 25 12 2 1
GC Pattison 1
JC Peart 5
J Rutherford 36 3 2 1
JE Shaw 33 2
JS Toner 15 1 1
CR Voysey 5
HA White 29 15 1
TJ Whittaker 1
EC Williamson 26 34 1 2

Although at the moment I don’t have results of the reserve team games played in the London Combination we do have the final table for the first post-war season of 1919/20 in which the London Combination became a reserve team league.

Each team played the other nine sides four times, twice at home and twice away.  As can be seen from the table it was a strictly all London affair.

Pos Team P W D L F A Pts
1 Tottenham Hotspur 36 24 5 7 107 52 53
2 Arsenal 36 18 10 8 81 41 46
3 Millwall 36 18 6 12 52 48 42
4 West Ham United 36 17 7 12 61 51 41
5 Clapton Orient 36 17 6 13 75 65 40
6 Fulham 36 13 9 14 54 55 35
7 Chelsea 36 12 9 15 43 53 33
8 Crystal Palace 36 13 6 17 56 70 32
9 QPR 36 7 11 18 39 67 25
10 Brentford 36 4 5 27 35 101 13

 

With the League season over, on 4 May Sir Henry and Lady Edith Norris attended the annual dinner of Lillie Ward Conservative and Unionist Association, thus showing that no break had yet occurred between the constituency and its MP.

And on 8 May, the final of London Challenge Cup was played at Highbury with the result Chelsea 1 Crystal Palace 0.  It is interesting that the match was played at this venue, as the previous week the Islington paper had very strongly criticised the state of the Arsenal pitch.  Presumably the LCC committee had known this when they decided to have yet another game played on it.

With the final match now played I think it is worth having a look at the average attendances of the 30 most popular teams in the two divisions, as supplied by European Football Statistics

In this table the percentage increase in the final column relates to the increase from 1914/15 – a year with artificially low attendances since it was played through the first year of the first world war.

No. Club Division Average  % increase
1 Chelsea 1 42.615 129,9%
2 Newcastle United 1 38.390 163,9%
3 Arsenal 1 34.485 149,5%
4 Tottenham Hotspur 2 34.185 157,6%
5 Aston Villa 1 33.500 144,9%
6 Liverpool 1 29.730 76,9%
7 Everton 1 29.050 56,8%
8 West Bromwich Albion 1 29.025 165,2%
9 Manchester United 1 26.540 122,1%
10 Sunderland 1 25.580 150,0%
11 Manchester City 1 25.160 24,5%
12 Sheffield United 1 24.205 64,3%
13 Birmingham City 2 23.715 100,5%
14 Bolton Wanderers 1 23.300 71,6%
15 Middlesbrough 1 20.930 131,0%
16 Burnley 1 19.530 71,1%
17 West Ham United 2 19.415 NEW
18 Sheffield Wednesday 1 18.430 14,3%
19 Blackburn Rovers 1 18.110 42,2%
20 Bradford City 1 17.200 28,7%
21 Coventry City 2 16.875 NEW
22 Notts County 1 16.215 62,6%
23 Preston North End 1 15.950 99,4%
24 Gateshead 2 14.975 NEW
25 Fulham 2 14.530 124,6%
26 Bradford (Park Avenue) 1 14.340 8,7%
27 Bristol City 2 13.940 116,1%
28 Derby County 1 13.725 108,9%
29 Leicester City 2 13.355 271,0%
30 Clapton Orient 2 13.085 89,6%

It is indeed interesting that three of the top four teams in the chart are London teams.  There had been two or three London teams in the top five in terms of attendance since 1911/12 but never three of the top four.  It shows another reason why the 1st division clubs were so keen to have Arsenal in the top league bringing in the crowds, and securing the Football League as the national league, and not just a northern league.

Arsenal did not get the biggest increase in crowd numbers – that went to Leicester – but they had suffered a drop of nearly 62% in the 1914/15 season for reasons that I don’t know.  But it was the biggest fall of any club that season, and so now they had the biggest rise to bring them back towards their normal position in the attendance league.  But a mention must also be made of WBA who won the league for the first and only time, and got a rise of over 160%.

So, an average league attendance of 34,485, compared with 22,745 in the first season at Highbury.  This can also be compared with 14,285 in the promotion season in Woolwich, and 16,105, the club’s best season in terms of numbers, while south of the river.  It suggested the move was paying off.

17 May saw a stark reminder of the troubles continuing in Ireland, despite the release of hunger strikers from prison, as Sinn Féin supporters and Unionists engaged in pitched street battles in Derry.

On the following evening of 18 May 1920 Sir Henry and Edith Norris went to St Augustine’s Hall, Lillie Road, to attend a concert to raise money for Fulham’s ex-servicemen.  This was very much in keeping with Sir Henry’s interest in that he had campaigned for servicemen to be treated properly by the state upon their return, and not left to beg on the streets.

Back with the football, on 31 May the Football League and the Football Association held their AGMs – one after the other.  The Football League’s AGM kicked off the day (as it were) and once again the League managed completely to overturn a decision taken at the previous meeting: they agreed to take over the Southern League Division 1, re-creating it as Division Three.  They further agreed that they would also create a second Division Three for clubs in the north, as soon as enough clubs applied, and would then have Division Three (South) and Division Three (North).

At this time the Southern League consisted of two divisions, with the second division consisting of 11 Welsh clubs.

The first division of the Southern League had ended as below, and we can readily see that it contained clubs that have continued to exist in the Football League since this date.

However it wasn’t quite this straight forward for the futures of Lincoln and Grimsby – the two clubs that had come bottom of Division Two had to be resolved.  Lincoln left the Football League completely while Grimsby went into Division Three. They then in 1921/22 moved across to Division Three (North).

But there was one other major decision taken on that day: to elect Leeds United to the second division to replace Lincoln.  This was one of the most extraordinary decisions for an organisation known for extraordinary decisions.  Leeds City had been ejected from the Football League part way through the 1919/20 season for their refusal to hand over financial documents pertaining to the club’s operation during the war years.  Port Vale had taken over their place – and inherited Leeds’ results for the first eight games.

Leeds City were no more, but a new club, with the same directors and the same ground, had now been formed – Leeds United – and they were duly voted into the second division – at the expense of Lincoln City!

However to return to the Southern League, here is the final table of the Southern League for 1919/20.

Team P W D L F A GAv Pts
1 Portsmouth 42 23 12 7 73 27 2.704 58
2 Watford 42 26 6 10 69 42 1.643 58
3 Crystal Palace 42 22 12 8 69 43 1.605 56
4 Cardiff City 2 42 18 17 7 70 43 1.628 53
5 Plymouth Argyle 42 20 10 12 56 29 1.931 50
6 QPR 42 18 10 14 62 50 1.24 46
7 Reading 42 16 13 13 51 43 1.186 45
8 Southampton 42 18 8 16 72 63 1.143 44
9 Swansea Town 42 16 11 15 53 45 1.178 43
10 Exeter City 42 17 9 16 57 52 1.096 43
11 Southend United 42 13 17 12 46 48 0.958 43
12 Norwich City 42 15 11 16 64 57 1.123 41
13 Swindon Town 42 17 7 18 65 67 0.97 41
14 Millwall 42 14 12 16 52 55 0.945 40
15 Brentford 42 15 10 17 53 59 0.898 40
16 Brighton & Hove Albion 42 14 8 20 60 72 0.833 36
17 Bristol Rovers 42 11 13 18 62 78 0.795 35
18 Newport County 42 13 7 22 45 70 0.643 33
19 Northampton Town 42 12 9 21 64 103 0.621 33
20 Luton Town 42 10 10 22 51 76 0.671 30
21 Merthyr Town 42 9 11 22 47 79 0.595 30
22 Gillingham 42 10 7 25 34 74 0.459 27

That evening the FA held its AGM and in this meeting a motion was passed thanking Lt Col Sir Henry Norris for his work in presenting to Parliament with the Ready Money Football Betting Bill.

In response Sir Henry Norris warned the FA that they needed to be vigilant because the bookmakers were being very active in working to stop the proposal becoming law with all MPs being sent propaganda by gambling companies, urging them to vote against the bill.

This vote of thanks by the FA is another interesting point in relation to suggestion that somehow Sir Henry misbehaved in getting Arsenal elected to the First Division of the League one year before.   Of course this was not a meeting of the League, but nevertheless it would seem rather unlikely that if Sir Henry had been involved in nefarious acts one year before in getting the League to elect Arsenal to the first division, the FA would choose to ally themselves with him in this attempt to change the law.  He was, after all, not the only MP closely associated with a football club.  As noted before the Hill-Wood family were now represented in Parliament.

Finally we must return to Tottenham, whose progress we noted at the start of the season.  They had been relegated to division two, and made short shrift of the situation, returning to division one at the first chance.  Here is the top of League Division Two table at close of 1919-20 season.  Tottenham would be playing Arsenal at Highbury in the League in 1920/21.

Pos Team P W D L F A GAvg Pts
1 Tottenham Hotspur 42 32 6 4 102 32 3.188 70
2 Huddersfield Town 42 28 8 6 97 38 2.553 64
3 Birmingham City 42 24 8 10 85 34 2.500 56
4 Blackpool 42 21 10 11 65 47 1.383 52
5 Bury 42 20 8 14 60 44 1.364 48
6 Fulham 42 19 9 14 61 50 1.220 47

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.  The most complete review of this, which puts right the numerous misunderstandings of the events of that year appears, and most importantly cites contemporary articles and reports, such as the minutes of the FA meeting where the promotion was confirmed, and the reports in local papers thereafter, here in these two sets of articles…

The preliminaries

The voting and the comments before and after the election

Here’s the year by year account.  We’re adding two or three new articles a week.

 

The Henry Norris Files Section 1 – 1910.

Section 2 – 1911

Section 3 – 1912

Section 4 – 1913

Section 5 – 1914

Section 6 – 1915

Section 7: – 1916

Section 8: 1917

Section 9: 1918 and the end of the war

Section 10: 1919, the reform of football, the promotion of The Arsenal

Section 11: 1920 – the second half of the first post-war season

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