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Fear and trembling as Arsenal prepare to meet Blackburn on 12 February

And thus and so, 100 years ago, we prepare for Blackburn Rovers at home: 12th February 1910.

Leading up to this match Blackburn were 5th on 30 points (two for a win of course) while Woolwich Arsenal were 16th on 18 points.   Blackburn had been top for a while, and despite the slip of late were still thought of as possible title contenders.

Worse (for Arsenal), they were the top scorers so far this season with 53 goals, while we had the worst defence having let in 56 goals.  The signs were not good.  (Top scorer for the season for Blackburn was the wonderfully named Wattie Aitkenheadwith 14 goals. )

Blackburn’s defence was also outstanding and regularly mentioned in dispatches.   They had the England international goalkeeper Jimmy Ashcroft, and in front a full back pairing of Cowell and Crompton which made the back three the most famous in the land.   Wattie Aitkenhead was top scorer with 14 goals and the consistent Edwin Latheron added 10 more.

Coming to this game there were memories of October 2nd when Woolwich Arsenal went away to Blackburn with a hopelessly injured goalkeeper, and lost 0-7.  (There’s a full report on this game in the blog for that date – you can find it with the calendar.)

Blackburn had finished fourth in 1909/10 and although they were yet to win the league, there was a feeling that they might be able to do it.

There was a connection between the two clubs in terms of their grounds.   Blackburn had played at Ewood Bridge which was the site of Ewood Park, then moved away and finally back again in 1890.

The ground was considered an important landmark in the First Division of the Football League and was used for the England v Scotland kick around in  1891.   Two years later Blackburn bought the ground, only to have one of the stands collapse during a game.

This led to a series of ground improvements, with a roof being put on the Darwen End stand in 1903 and with that stand alone holding over 12,000 people.

Then in 1904, came the link with Woolwich. Archiebald Leitch had designed the new Ibrox ground, a part of which had collapsed in 1899 killing many people.   Despite this Leitch then designed the one small grandstand at Woolwich Arsenal, and then in 1907, (having worked on the Fulham and Chelsea grounds at the same time in 1905) the Nuttall Street Stand at Blackburn.

There was in fact one other link: both Blackburn Rovers and Woolwich Arsenal were Scottish clubs, relying heavily on players from the north to bolster their teams.

Game details coming up soon.

(c) Tony Attwood 2010.

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THE OTHER BITS THAT YOU REALLY DO NEED TO KNOW

  • Arsenal 100 years ago – read the rather amusing and quite adventurous MAKING THE ARSENAL novel  click here

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