This site celebrates the activities of Woolwich Arsenal, precursors of Arsenal FC, 100 years ago. Today…
Arsenal 0 Nottingham Forest 1,
Monday 9 October 1909. Division I
100 years ago there were no internationals going on, and football carried on in its proper fashion – with first division matches.
This match, like all midweek games in October was played in the afternoon – when the men working at the armaments factory were at work. Maybe because of this the official records don’t record the crowd.
Just to complete the picture Arsenal were the first Football League club to install floodlights, and the first floodlit game was against Hapoel Tel Aviv at Highbury in September 1951. The rules of the time said that clubs could play under floodlights as long as both sides agreed. So midweek games were still being played in the afternoon right through the 1950s.
In 1909 there was electric lighting (electric street lighting started to be installed in London in the 1880s) but there was nothing powerful enough to illuminate a football ground for another 40 years.
So, to return the 9 October 1901, this was Arsenal’s eighth game of the season, and thus far they had won only one – against Chelsea who were already looking doomed for the relegation they ultimately got.
The previous games were a 7-1 and 5-1 thrashing, the first largely caused by playing a goalkeeper with an injured knee, and the second when using the reserve keeper.
The reserve keeper played one more game for Arsenal in his entire career – this one. So G Fisher made his second and final appearance, while H Oliver playing centre forward made his one and only show for the club.
This defeat left Arsenal precariously near the foot of the table, and it was to get worse in the next game – but I’ll leave that for the present.
Forest had won the Cup in 1898 and come fourth in Division I in 1901, but they’d slipped away and had only returned to the top league in 1907, having won the second division. In the 1909/10 season they had just about the worst defence in the league, and so failing to score against them was another sign of how much trouble Woolwich Arsenal were in.
One win, one draw, six defeats, scored 7, against, 28. Not looking good.
The book, “Making the Arsenal” which tells the story of Arsenal in 1910 – the year that saw the birth of the modern Arsenal club – will be published on October 30th 2009, and will be available via this site. There’s more information on Arsenal today at www.blog.emiratesstadium.info