By Tony Attwood
It was approaching a year since Chapman had died (January 6) and Arsenal as a team had marched on as if nothing had happened. With Joe Shaw having taken over as manager upon the great man’s death, Arsenal had won the league for the second time in succession.
Now for 1934/5 Arsenal had their third manager in three years: George Allison, once a journalist, once editor of the programme, now the manager.
The first 11 games of George’s reign had been a triumph. Just one defeat, 5-1 thrashings of Tottenham and Birmingham, and a staggering 8-1 win over Liverpool.
The crowds were amazing too, with 68,145 turning up for the victory over Man City at Highbury on October 13, and 70,544 seeing the Tottenham game on October 20.
Between October 27 and November 17 there had been a wobble with two defeats, a win and a draw but normal service was resumed on November 24 with a 5-2 win over Chelsea, followed on December 1 with a 7-0 win over Wolverhampton.
In those two games Drake had scored eight of the twelve goals, and more were expected on December 8 – but the result was Huddersfield 1 Arsenal 1 – the Arsenal contribution coming from an own goal. Drake, James and Bastin were all there – they just couldn’t score.
And so to December 15 1934. Arsenal v Leicester. Arsenal had scored 39 at home and let in eight in nine games at home thus far. Away Leicester had scored 10 and let in 20.
Fun and games were expected and yet only 23,689 turned up – and I would love to know why. There used to be tube strikes, there used to be a thing about men going shopping with the lady wife before Christmas, but even so… Maybe the heavens opened.
Those attending however would have been rewarded with this table in the programme. After the Huddersfield game Arsenal sat second, and Leicester at the foot of the table.
|6||West Bromwich Albion||18||8||4||6||44||40||1.10||20|
|16||Preston North End||18||6||4||8||25||32||0.78||16|
Although the one point behind Sunderland Arsenal had scored more goals and had a better goal average. Arsenal were scoring exactly three goals a game on average.
Arsenal won 8-0 for the first, but not the last time, that season (they also beat Middlesbrough at home by the same score on April 19 1935). Drake got three, Hulme three and Bastin two.
After the game the table stayed the same, with Sunderland also winning.
And yet it must seem now a bit strange that with all these sensational score lines Arsenal were not top of the league. Why was that?
The answer comes with the away record. Arsenal had won 10 drawn six and lost three by the end of the Leicester game, but away from home the record was won one, drawn six and lost two!
Indeed in the next game on December 22 matters got worse because the score was Derby 3 Arsenal 1. In the next away game on December 26 it was Preston 2 Arsenal 1.
Finally however matters turned around on the eve of the first anniversary of Chapman’s death with Liverpool 0 Arsenal 2.
By the end of the season Arsenal’s away record was a more respectable won 8 drawn 8 lost 5 including a rather wonderful sounding Tottenham 0 Arsenal 6 on 6 March 1935. We won the league by four points having scored 115 goals of which 74 were at home – the third league victory in a row, with each won under a different manager.
But that away record… I wonder if as Christmas approached in 1934 there were fans on the terraces , and journalists scribbling in Fleet Street, all saying of Allison, “he’ll have to go” and noting just how no team could ever win the league with that sort of away record.
Yet we did – for the third time running.
- The Anniversary Files: January to June
- The Anniversary Files: July to September
- The Anniversary Files: October to December
- Untold Arsenal