Storm clouds gather: is this the end of Arsenal?

November 6th, 1909.  100 year ago exactly.  The world looks bleak.

Arsenal are bottom of the league division I, having never been relegated in their history.  Their record is played 11, drawn 1, won 2, lost 8.

There was light on the horizon at the start of the day, as after a terrible run of results with a defence that just seemed happy to let the ball go into the goal to give themselves a break, Woolwich Arsenal had beaten Everton at home 1-0.

True they lost they next match away 0-1 to Manchester U, but Manchester were a top club having won league and cup in the last couple of years.  Now on Saturday November 6th 1909 came Bradford City.

This was Bradford City’s top era.   Just six year olds, they had been elected into the 2nd division in the year they were founded, and had won promotion to the first division in 1908.  In this season they were destined to end up 7th  just six points behind Liverpool in second place.  (Their city rivals Bradford were formed in 1907, did one year in the Southern League and then joined the second division in 1908).

In the rest of England, Woolworths opened their first storie, and it was announced that next year the Earth would pass through the tail of Haley’s Comet.

So, it was a day of mild hope for the Arsenal, as 10,000 turned up at the Manor Ground to watch Woolwich play Bradford City.  There was also some hope in that the team for once did not include any one-game wonders – people who just turned up once or twice and then were never seen again.   True we still had the centre half Thomson playing at centre forward, but otherwise it was at least a team who had got to know each other.

But sadly not well enough.  I can find no reports on the game, save the score which was 1-0 to Bradford.  Another defeat, and next up was Sheffield Wednesday away.  It was all looking fairly terrible.

In fact the season 1909/1910 turned out to be the most adventurous in the history of Woolwich Arsenal, and  the most monumental in the whole history of Arsenal FC.   If you would like to read the whole story, as a story (not as dry history I would add) you’ll probably enjoy MAKING THE ARSENAL.  It tells the story of the club through that tumultuous period through the eyes of a Fleet Street journalist who stumbles on the strangest plot ever to engage the club.

Details available at

(c) Tony Attwood 2009.

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