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October 1909 Blackburn Rovers v Woolwich Arsenal

This article was published 5 October 2009.  It is indexed under George Morrell

October 2nd 1909  Blackburn Rovers v Woolwich Arsenal

A curious coincidence: 100 years ago almost to the day, Arsenal played Blackburn Rovers.

But the club and the date are where the coincidences ended, for the events of October 1909 and October 2009 could hardly have been more different.

While October 4th 2009 resulted in a brilliant display and a memorable 6-2 win for Arsenal, the October 1909 game was at Blackburn, and Woolwich Arsenal lost 7-0, their worst defeat of the season.

The game was preceded by a 3-2 home win against Chelsea (not too hard to do, as Chelsea were doomed to relegation that year), but the Blackburn game was the start of four consecutive defeats during the course of which Arsenal let in 19 goals.

There’s not much by way of explanation beyond the fact that the team wasn’t very good.  True this was the same one that beat Chelsea the week before, but it was pretty much the team that was having a rough time of it all the way through the opening part of the season.  

Having started with a 5-1 defeat to Villa on 1 September our only other point had come with a 0-0 draw at home to Sheffield United.

So difficult times, undoubtedly caused by the lack of money.  The club’s benefactor (the local gentleman’s outfitter) was running low on cash, the munitions factories were shedding staff not taking them on, and there was little chance of taking the crowds up (the only source of extra cash).

Yet Arsenal had finished sixth the season before, and there was hope at the start of the year that things could move on.  But the lack of transfers in and that opening day defeat showed that this was a team going nowhere fast.

However while it was not too hard to predict where the club might finish at the end of the season, no one was quite able to see what might happen to the club off this field.  

In fact it turned out to be the year when everything changed.

There’s more on the 1909/10 season in the coming days – and publication of “Making the Arsenal” – the book about the most extraordinary season in the history of the club, is just three weeks away.

For daily news on Arsenal in 2009 please visit www.blog.emiratesstadium.info

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