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10 April 1948: Arsenal win the League in Whittaker’s first season

By Tony Attwood

10 April 1948:  Arsenal win the First Division Championship by drawing with Huddersfield 1-1.

After the game (and remember this was the era of two points for a win, not three) Arsenal had a lead over Manchester United of seven points, with United only having three games to play.  It was all over.

For many fans it would have looked all over on March 29 when Arsenal beat Middlesbrough 7-0, but this was the day when it all finally happened because…

Strangely after the March 29 match Arsenal had a bit of a stutter.  Here are the results:

  • Lost away to Blackpool 0-3
  • Drew away to Middlesbrough 1-1
  • Beat Blackburn at home 2-0
  • Drew with Huddersfield away 1-1 (league title secured, April 10)

So here was the league table after the games on 10 April 1948

P W D L F A Av Pts
1 Arsenal 38 22 11 5 72 30 2.40 55
2 Manchester United 39 17 14 8 72 46 1.56 48
3 Burnley 38 17 12 9 51 40 1.27 46
4 Preston North End 38 18 7 13 60 59 1.02 43
5 Derby County 36 15 12 9 67 51 1.31 42
6 Wolverhampton Wndrs 38 16 9 13 76 65 1.17 41
7 Aston Villa 38 16 9 13 57 52 1.10 41
8 Blackpool 38 15 10 13 49 38 1.29 40
9 Manchester City 38 15 10 13 50 41 1.22 40
10 Sheffield United 39 15 10 14 63 64 0.98 40
11 Portsmouth 36 16 5 15 55 44 1.25 37
12 Liverpool 38 14 9 15 57 57 1.00 37
13 Everton 36 16 5 15 47 53 0.89 37
14 Middlesbrough 38 14 8 16 68 60 1.13 36
15 Chelsea 38 13 9 16 49 60 0.82 35
16 Stoke City 39 13 9 17 38 52 0.73 35
17 Bolton Wanderers 38 15 4 19 44 54 0.81 34
18 Huddersfield Town 38 11 11 16 48 55 0.87 33
19 Charlton Athletic 38 13 6 19 49 65 0.75 32
20 Sunderland 38 11 9 18 50 64 0.78 31
21 Blackburn Rovers 38 10 9 19 46 64 0.72 29
22 Grimsby Town 39 8 6 25 44 98

The results, after becoming champions in the second post-war league, quite amazingly were…

  • Lost to Derby at home 1-2.   52,000 turned up for this match to celebrate the title, and probably not that many really minded the defeat.
  • Drew with Portsmouth away 0-0
  • Drew with Manchester City away 0-0
  • Beat Grimsby Town home 8-0.  35,000 saw the last game of the season.

This was an absolute triumph for Tom Whittaker in his first season in charge.  That great and faithful servant to the club George Allison, had taken charge for the first post-war season (1946-7) but it had not been a success for him.  We opened with a 6-1 defeat by Wolverhampton Wanderers, and although we recovered after that, finishing 13th in the league was not exactly what was expected from the club that had dominated the 1930s.

Even the FA Cup gave Allison no respite, as we went out in the 3rd round to Chelsea after two replays.

In fact 1947/8 was no better for Arsenal in the cup as we went out to Bradford 1-0 at home, and we put out pretty much the first team.

But the league triumph was what Arsenal wanted, to show that they could still do it in the late 1940s as they did it in the 1930s.

Our top scorer was Ronnie Rooke  with 33 league goals from 42 games, including four in the final match against Grimsby.  Ronnie is our third best goalscorer per game (for players who played over 30 games for the club).

The whole league season was included as Number 9 in our Iconic Moments series.

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