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Arsenal News
December 2018
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Anniversaries 12: December

Note: The anniversary file pages have over time been split and split again as they have grown.  There is an index to the files at the foot of this page along with details of sources etc.

Last major update: 6 January 2018

1 – 5 December 1886:   Extrapolating from the dates of other events we can take it that between these two dates a meeting was held to form Dial Square FC ahead of their first game on 11 December against Eastern Wanderers.

1 December 1906.  First game for Archie Low.  He had joined from Ashfield in Glasgow the previous June as cover for Roddy McEachrane. The game ended Arsenal 0 Sunderland 1.

1 – 5 December 1919: The moment The Arsenal FC became Arsenal FC.  As with other events exactly 33 years before (see 1886) the precise date remains unclear.

1 December 1934: Arsenal 7 Wolverhampton 0.  For the second match running Drake scored four as  Arsenal scored five or more for fifth time in 17 league games.

1 December 1983: Tommy Caton joined Arsenal from Man City.  In his wild, short life he played 95 times for Arsenal.

1 December 1983: Lee Chapman sold to Sunderland for £100,000.  He had been brought in as the club’s new goalscorer but played just 23 league games and scored just four goals.

1 December 1985: Paul Merson signed a professional contract.  Before becoming an integral part of the team he had one loan spell with Brentford who were managed by the Double winning captain of 1971, Frank McLintock.

1 December 1992: Cup Match 4 of Arsenal’s Cup Double season.  Arsenal beat Derby 2-1 in a replay of the 3rd round match in the League Cup.  Wright and Campbell got the goals.

1 December 2001: Ipswich 0 Arsenal 2 with goals from Ljungberg and Henry.  League match 14 of the third Double season.  Although part of three consecutive wins it was in fact just part of a run of three wins in nine.

1 December 2007: Aston Villa 1 Arsenal 2.  Arsenal went five points clear and the media began to talk of another unbeaten season.  Flamini and Adebayor scored.  However the run lasted just one more game.

1 December 2012: Arsenal 0 Swansea 2.  Arsenal had 21 points, their worst total after 15 games for 18 years.  They were 10th in the league behind Stoke, Swansea and WBA, but ahead of Liverpool.

2 December 1899: Arsenal 2 New Brighton Tower 0 – NBT were one of the clubs created to fill a stadium.  They resigned from the league in 1901.

2 December 1907: The Professional Footballers’ Association set up.  The first football union was set up in 1898 but ran into difficulties.  The PFA was then set up to replace it and became the longest surviving sports person’s union in the world.

2 December 1922: Frank Bradshaw’s first game.  He became a pro with Wednesday and won the FA cup with the team before moving to Northampton in 1910, and then Everton, where he played 66 league games and scored 19 goals.

2 December 1922: Andrew Kennedy’s first game.  He must be counted as one of Knighton’s better signings coming from 3rd Division South team Crystal Palace, and at the end of his first season for Arsenal winning two caps for Ireland.

2 December 1933: Arsenal 2 Liverpool 1 making it 8 wins and two draws in last 10.  Hulme and Dunne scored

2 December 1936: Ted Drake scored three for England v Hungary.  In all he played just five games for England but scored six goals in those games.

2 December 1936: Ray Bowden’s last game for England.   In all he won six caps for England, and  was one of the seven Arsenal players who played for England against Italy in the Battle of Highbury match, which England won 3–2.

2 December 1967: Pat Rice made his debut as a sub in 1-0 loss to Burnley but had to wait until 1970/71 to become a regular in the first team.  

2 December 1970: Arsenal 4 Beveren Waas 0; Fairs cup 3rd round 1st leg.  Kennedy 2, Sammels and Graham got the goals.

2 December 1995: Aston Villa 1 Arsenal 1 – one of four draws in a row, in the mid-season collapse.  Platt got the goal in a sequence of just four goals in five games.

2 December 2003: Fabregas became the youngest Arsenal player ever to score in the League Cup as Arsenal beat Wolverhampton 5-1.  First and last appearance for Michal Papadopulos.

2 December 2009: Man City 3 Arsenal 0 (league cup).  Five Arsenal players were booked in the match.

3 December 1904: David Neave first match; Small Heath 2 Arsenal 1.  He was born in Arbroath and started his football career with non-league Scottish clubs Forfar Athletic, Montrose and Arbroath, before joining Arsenal.

3 December 1932:  For the fifth away match running Arsenal scored 3+ goals – a feat not repeated until 2008/9.  They scored 21 goals in these five games, this final game being Portsmouth 1 Arsenal 3.

3 December 1933: George Curtis was born in West Thurrock.  He started out with Anglo in Purfleet, and moved straight from there to Arsenal who placed him with Margate on loan until bringing him back for the April 1939 games.  

3 December 1949: The Arsenal programme printed a rebuttal of allegations in the South Wales Football Echo and Express, claiming that the Arsenal players came out for the second half smoking cigarettes!

3 December 1962: Arsenal beat Chelsea 4-1 in final of the London Challenge Cup.  It was Arsenal’s 10th win of the competition and was revenge for the 1960 final which Arsenal lost 3-1 to Chelsea.

3 December 1983: Tommy Caton’s first game, a 0-1 home defeat to WBA.  It was part of a sequence in which Arsenal won just one game in nine.

3 December 2011: Wigan 0 Arsenal 4, making it six wins and a draw in the last 7, going from 15th to 5th in just two months.  Arteta, Vermaelen, Gervinho and Van Persie got the goals.

3 December 2016: Arsenal beat WHU 1-5 away with goals from Özil, Alexis (3) and Oxlade-Chamberlain from 25-yards.  The main focus in the subsequent media coverage was that one of the goals should not have been allowed.

4 December 1909: Arsenal beat Tottenham 1-0 in their first ever league encounter.  Lawrence scored in front of 18,000.  It came as part of a five match undefeated run – the best run of form in the 1909/10 season which almost saw Arsenal relegated.  Although it was only game 16 of the season Arsenal had already used their 6th different centre forward.

4 December 1914: George Swindin born in Yorkshire.  He played as an amateur for various clubs, including Rotherham United, before turning professional in 1934 with Bradford City.  He was with Arsenal as a player from 1936 to 1954 making 297 appearances as a goalkeeper.  

4 December 1924: Alexander Graham sold to Brentford.  Alex went to Scotland during the war and returned in 1919 to take up the number five shirt at Highbury, and was a regular player for three seasons.  He won one cap for Scotland, in 1920, in a 2-0 win against Ireland

4 December 1933: The second attempt by Arsenal to introduce numbered shirts (despite opposition from League and FA) in a friendly against F.C Vienna, which Arsenal won 4-2.

4 December 1952: Bill Dodgin signed from Fulham.  Fulham were managed by Bill’s father (also called Bill Dodgin) and Bill junior left when Fulham were relegated to the second division.

4 December 1956: John Barnwell’s first game in the Southern Floodlight Cup.  After playing as an amateur for Bishop Auckland he had moved to Arsenal in 1955 turned pro in 1956 and started playing for the first team in 1957.

4 December 1959: Terry Neill signed from Bangor City for £2500.  He played 241 league games for Arsenal before playing for Hull – and later went on to manage both teams.

4 December 1961: Arsenal beat Millwall 3-1 to win London Challenge Cup.  It was Arsenal’s 13th appearance in the final.

4 December 1962: Kevin Richardson born in Newcastle.  He played for Everton with whom he won the league and cup, then moved to Watford before becoming part of the 1989 league winning team – playing in the final game against Liverpool

4 December 1968: Tottenham 1 Arsenal 1 in the second leg of the league cup semi-final having won the first leg 1-0.  Once again Radford scored for Arsenal to win 2-1 overall and go on and face Swindon Town in the final.

4 December 1974: Alex Cropley transferred from Hibernian to Arsenal for £150,000.  He had played 118 times for Hibs but broke his leg twice playing for Arsenal, and never made the impact hoped for.

4 December 1976: Alan Ball’s final Arsenal game; a 5-3 win over Newcastle.  Macdonald got a hatrick, Ross and Stapleton the others.

4 December 1991 Cliff Bastin died in Exeter aged 79.  He had been one of the very greatest Arsenal players of all time.  After retiring from playing football, after the war, he ran a cafe, wrote for the Sunday Pictorial and went on to be a publican.  With Arsenal, Bastin won the FA Cup twice, and the First Division title five times.. By the age of nineteen Bastin had won a League title, FA Cup and been capped for England

4 December 2004: Arsenal 3 Birmingham 0; the win started a month of four wins and a draw.  It was also Almunia’s first Premier League game.  He went on to play 109 league games for Arsenal.

4 December 2010 Arsenal beat Fulham 2-1 to go top of the league.  It was the only moment the club were top of the league during the season, losing the next game to Man U and dropping to second.

5 December 1885 Millwall beat Eastern Wanderers 3-1 at Glengall Road. This game in itself takes on a significance here because it gives us a record of Eastern Wanderers, Arsenal’s first opponents, playing in this era – and of matches on the Isle of Dogs where the first Arsenal game (as Dial Square) took place, and thus helps validate the otherwise sketchy references to Arsenal’s first game taking place on that site.

5 December 1886: A likely date either for the setting up of Dial Square FC or a practice match ahead of the first game.

5 December 1904: Woolwich Arsenal 26 Parisian XI 1; one of Arsenal’s biggest wins.  It is reported that the French team were a man short and used an Arsenal reserve to make up the numbers.

5 December 1921:  The FA cited opinions about football’s unsuitability for females and called on clubs belonging to the associations “to refuse the use of their grounds for such matches”. The ban destroyed women’s football and was not lifted until 1971.  Even to this day, the FA has (perhaps typically)  never apologised.

5 December 1959: Lee Chapman born.  He started out with Stoke with whom he played 99 league games and scored 34 goals, but he was never able to rediscover that form at Arsenal.

5 December 1960: Arsenal lost 1-3 to Chelsea in the London Challenge Cup final.  The competition had started out as a tournament for the first half of the season but had moved to an April or May final in the 1930s.  This was the first season he returned to a winter final.

5 December 1967.Pat Rice’s first start for Arsenal in the League Cup against Burnley.  Arsenal won 2-1 with goals from Radford and Neil.   Rice had already been listed as the substitute a couple of times, but had not been called upon.

5 December 1970: Man City 0 Arsenal 2.  Armstrong and Radford scored in League match 20 of the first Double season.

5 December 1981: Début for Stewart Robson in West Ham 1 Arsenal 2, having been a youth and reserve player since 1978.  He went on to make 150 league appearances but later became a highly eccentric anti-Wenger commentator

5 December 1981: Last game for Pat Jennings, the first man to play over 1000 senior games.  Arsenal beat WHU 2-1 with Hollins and Whyte scoring.  It was the 5th of 6 consecutive wins, but the 6th game was not played until January 20 because of bad weather.

5 December 2009: After a 0-3 home defeat to Chelsea Arsenal beat Stoke 2-0 to start a month of five wins and 1 draw.   It was Arsène Wenger’s 500th game in charge.

6 December 1885.Angus McKinnon, was born in Paisley.  He played with the junior league team Petershill in the north of Glasgow and there are suggestions Angus signed for Heart of Midlothian and then Carlisle United in the Lancashire Combination before going to Woolwich Arsenal in May 1908.

6 December 1886: Working through the events of the winter of 1886 we can conclude  that the Secretary of the newly formed Dial Square FC, having seen an advert requesting fixtures in “The Referee”, wrote to Eastern Wanderers on this day to fix up the club’s first game.

6 December 1913: Arsenal 1 Leeds City 0 and Chapman’s first visit to Highbury.  Before he was to become Arsenal’s manager, Leeds City would be ejected from the league and Chapman banned from football for life.

6 December 1919: 50,000 came to Highbury for the first time to see 1-1 draw with Chelsea.  It was also the day on which the programme referred to the club on its cover for the first time simply as “Arsenal”.

6 December 1930: Arsenal v Grimsby abandoned due to fog.  It was replayed on January 28th 1931 with the result  Arsenal 9 Grimsby Town 1.  

6 December 1955: Tony Woodcock born in Nottinghamshire.  He started with Nottingham Forest in 1974, joining their first team in the 1976/7 season and working under Brian Clough he was a major force in the drive to win the League, League Cup and European Cup.

6 December 1982 George Graham became manager of Millwall, at a time when they were bottom of Division 3.  They avoided relegation that season and in 1984–85 they were promoted to the Second Division.

6 December 1997: Arsenal beat Newcastle U away 1-0 in a sequence in which the club won two out of eight but still went on to win the Double for the second time.  (Game 17)  The second double: part 1, part 2, part 3.

6 December 2003: Leicester 1 Arsenal 1.  With no Henry, no Vieira, and Cole sent off for wild challenge Arsenal managed to secure a draw in the 15th league match of the unbeaten season.

6 December 2011: Olympiacos 3 Arsenal 1.  Arsenal put out a much changed team and with Fabianski injured on 25 minutes, Mannone took over.  Rosicky gave Arsenal the lead but Mannone had a difficult night thereafter.

6 December 2014: Stoke City scored three in the first half (including one in the fourth minute) and appeared to have scored a fourth before the ref changed his mind.  Cazorla and Ramsey scored in the second half to leave it 3-2 to Stoke.

6 December 2016: Basel 1 Arsenal 4 in the Champions League.  As a result of this and PSG’s results Arsenal won the group and on 12 December were drawn against Bayern Munich in the round of 16.

7 December 1886: The most likely date for Eastern Wanderers to have agreed to play Dial Square in what was to be the forerunner of Arsenal’s  first match

7 December 1889: Royal Arsenal lost 1-5 to Swifts ending the club’s first FA Cup run.  Swifts had reached the cup semi-finals in 1874, 1876 and 1886.  In 1890 they merged with Slough Albion & Young Men’s Friendly Society, to form Slough FC which later became Slough Town.

7 December 1896, Arsenal 1 Aston Villa 3.  This was a benefit match for Joe Powell’s family after he died having been injured playing for Arsenal against Kettering.

7 December 1903: Arsenal lost 3-1 at home to Millwall Ath in the final season of Arsenal in the London League Premier Division.  It was Arsenal’s first defeat in the League.  The crowd was given as “Moderate”.

7 December 1909: Henry Norris, acting as Mayor of Fulham, helped the Church Commissioners save face after there was public uproar over the Church’s decision to rent its land in a residential area to an oil storage company.  The event undoubtedly led to a rapport which Norris used in his favour when renting Highbury.

7 December 1911: Ronnie Rooke born.  He started out with Crystal Palace in the Third Division South, playing 18 games and scoring four times before going to Fulham in the Second Division in 1936 scoring 57 goals in 87 league games, including all the goals in Fulham 6 Bury 0 in the FA Cup.

7 December1912: League debut Frederick Groves v Derby.  He had played for Barnet Albion and Glossop North End before signing as an amateur player in August 1912, turning pro 14 months later.

7 December 1914:  Having entered the competition for the first time in 1908/09 Arsenal reached the final of London Challenge Cup for first time, losing 1-2 to Millwall.  

7 December 1932: David Jack’s final cap for England – he played nine times for his country and scored three goals whereas with Arsenal he played 181 games and scored 113 goals.

7 December 1939: Ian Ure born in Ayr.  He played for the now defunct Ayr Albion and then Dundee and as a member of their championship side which then reached the semi-final of the European Cup and is inducted into their hall of fame.  He also played for Scotland, in the team that beat Spain 6-2 at the Bernabeu.

7 December 1940: Jack Lambert (Arsenal’s reserve coach) died in car accident aged 38.  He had played 143 league games for Arsenal and scored an amazing 98 league goals making him the most prolific goalscorer who played over 100 games, in Arsenal’s history.

7 December 1946: Second and last game for Cyril Grant.  Cyril fared a little better at Fulham, his next club before moving on in March 1948 to Southend United of the Third Division South where he was twice top goal scorer. He stayed there until the end of his League career aged 35 and scored 64 goals in 183 matches before moving on to Gravesend & Northfleet.

7 December 1974: Carlisle 2 Arsenal 1.  It was Alex Cropley’s first game after his transfer from Hibs, and is remembered for what the press called an “eight man brawl” which was broken up by police officers entering the field of play as the ref looked on helplessly.

7 December 2002: Man U 2 Arsenal 0.  After scoring in 47 consecutive games Arsenal failed to score.

7 December 2004: Arsenal 5 Rosenburg 0.  Arsenal had already qualified for next phase of the competition, but saw no need to take it easy.  The goals came from Reyes, Henry, Fabregas, Pires and Van Persie.

8 December 1863: First rules of football published.  In 1862, J. C. Thring, head of Uppingham School had drawn up a set of rules the year before which were presented in London on October 26, 1863 and on 8 December the first rules of football were published.  They allowed catching the ball and there was no rule on the maximum number of players per team!

8 December 1888: Arsenal beat Old St Paul’s in London Senior Cup.  Apart from a reference to the club in the FA cup the following season, details are hard to find.

8 December 1906: Birmingham 5 Arsenal 1, leaving Arsenal with just two wins in seven, but despite the poor run Arsenal were still fourth in the league, a position which was solidified by three wins and a draw during the rest of the month.

8 December 1925: John (“Jack”) Butler’s only appearance for England (against Belgium), despite him being born in Ceylon.  From 1935 to 1939 he managed the Belgium national team.

8 December 1926: Herbie Roberts joined Arsenal for £200 from Oswestry Town where he was a part time player at one of the oldest football clubs in the world. His “day job” was as a policeman.

8 December 1953: Rangers 1 Arsenal 2.  The series of games created by Herbert Chapman continued until 1968/69.

8 December 1991: Jimmy Carter made his senior debut but he went on to make only 25 appearances.  The result was Nottingham Forest 3 Arsenal 2.

8 December 1999: Ömer Rıza sold to West Ham.  He never played for them but was loaned to Barnet and eventually sold on to Cambridge, before moving to Turkey. However in 2009 he returned to English football with Shrewsbury and continued to play in non-league football in England until 2015.

8 December 2010: Braga 2 Arsenal 0.  Having won the home leg 6-0 Arsenal went down, as a result of some very strange refereeing decisions.

8 December 2012. If this were a movie it would be “How the season was saved by a seemingly insignificant win”.  The result was Arsenal 2 WBA 0 and Arsenal were in 10th position when this win came along and it was followed by a period in which Arsenal beat Reading 2-5, Wigan 0-1 and Newcastle 7-3 and gradually climbed back up the table.

9 December 1893: First league game for James Boyle: Northwich Victoria 2 Arsenal 2 in front of a crowd of just 2,000.  The game gave Arsenal it’s first ever away point in the league.

9 December 1922: First league game for John “Alex” Mackie – the man who (despite endless stories to the contrary) it seems did not get a pet monkey as a signing on fee (although he may later have bought a pet monkey).  Arsenal beat Birmingham 1-0 to end a run of 8 without a win.

9 December 1922: Arsenal 1 Birmingham 0 was also the first game for Andy Kennedy, having transferred from Crystal Palace for whom he had played just one game.

9 December 1961: Paul Davis born in Dulwich.  He signed for Arsenal in 1977, and played for the first team for the first time against Tottenham on April 7 1980 at Tottenham; a game which Arsenal won 2-1.

9 December 1995: Southampton 0 Arsenal 0.  It was the second of four consecutive draws, two of which were 0-0 and two were 1-1.  It left Arsenal third, but nine points behind the leaders Newcastle Utd.

9 December 1975: Arsenal 2 Feyenoord 1; Peter Storey Testimonial.  It is said that the follow-up celebration in Storey’s pub lasted two days and included a range of “interesting” guests.

9 December 1981: Willie Young sold to Nottingham Forest.  However from this point on he began to suffer injuries and eventually retired to run a pub.  Later he moved onto the less common ex-football occupation of running kennels.

9 December 1998: Panathinaikos 1 Arsenal 3; the first Champions League run concluded with an Arsenal victory.

9 December 1999: Nantes 3 Arsenal 3 in the Uefa Cup en route to the final, but only after letting a 3-1 lead slip.  Grimandi, Henry and Overmars scored.

9 December 2000: Arsenal 5 Newcastle 0; A Parlour hattrick helped Arsenal maintain second place but they were still six points behind the leaders, Man U.

9 December 2001: Arsenal 3 Aston Villa 2.  League match 15 of the third Double season.  After going four games without a win Arsenal had now won three in a row, leaving them three points behind the leaders, Liverpool.  Wiltord scored the first and Henry got the other two.

9 December 2007: Middlesbrough 2 Arsenal 1: ending the 22 match unbeaten run.  Despite the defeat Arsenal were still top of the league.

9 December 2011: Arsenal History Society’s suggestion that the club erect statues to famous Arsenal men,made to Arsenal CEO Ivan Gazidis in a discussion on Arsenalisation, finally came to life: the first three statues were unveiled.  In the meeting it was specifically requested that the statue of Herbert Chapman should be of the great man looking at the new stadium as if saying, “I did that”.

9 December 2015: Arsenal needed to beat Olympiacos in Greece by two clear goals to qualify for the Champions League group stages having lost 2-3 in the home leg.  The media felt the result was impossible but a Giroud hattrick saw Arsenal easy winners.

10 December 1892: Royal Arsenal won through the qualifying rounds of the FA Cup into the competition proper for first time with 5-0 defeat of Clapton

10 December 1898: New Brighton Tower 1 Arsenal 3.  It was one of only two games in the whole season where no record is given of the crowd, suggesting that it was very small indeed.

10 December 1906: In the Southern Professional Charity Cup Arsenal lost to the local rivals Millwall, who at this stage played north of the river on the Isle of Dogs.

10 December 1923: Arsenal played in their third final of the London Challenge Cup beating Charlton 3-1, thus winning the trophy for the second time.

10 December 1926: Horace Cope purchased for £3125 from Notts County.  Although he stayed for seven seasons he fell out of favour after three seasons, with the arrival of Eddie Hapgood, and only played 65 league games for the club.

10 December 1932: Arsenal 4 Chelsea 1, the West Stand (costing £45,000) opened by Prince of Wales (although it had been used by the public for several games before this). This game was part of a 20 match sequence in which Arsenal lost 2, drew 2 and won 16.

10 December 1960: Arsenal 5 Bolton 1: George Eastham debut – he scored two goals. Strong got two, Barnwell the third.  It made up a little for a 6-0 defeat to WHU, a 4-1 defeat to Chelsea, and a 5-3 loss to Wolverhampton earlier in the season.

10 December 1963: Arsenal 6 Everton 0.  (Baker 2, Eastham 2, Armstrong and Strong).  It was the second 6-0 of the season, but was undermined by a 2-7 and 0-5 defeats.

10 December 2006: Chelsea 1 Arsenal 1 – the first meeting after Cole’s acrimonious transfer.  Cole is quoted as saying, “It’s never been about money.  For me it is about respect”.

10 December 2009: Carlos Vela signed new long term contract.  After five loan periods he signed for Real Sociedad after a loan spell with them, in 2012, and by 2015 had played 120 league games with them.

10 December 2016: Arsenal 3 Stoke 1.  It was the final game in a 14 match run in the League, in which four games were draws and the rest wins.  However Arsenal only won 8 of the next 18, which led to the club missing out on the Champions League for the first time after 19 consecutive years – a record which was only surpassed by Real Madrid.

11 December 1881  Thomas Tindal Fitchie (only man to be signed by Arsenal five times) was born.  TT became a travelling salesman with Jacques & Co a sports goods and games manufacturer. They encouraged his football career as it allowed them access to the clubs and the players who were his team-mates.

11 December 1886: Arsenal’s first game under the name Dial Square, beating Eastern Wanderers 6-0.  When Arsenal History Society first came along there was no contemporary evidence to show this game actually took place, but our research found the missing newspaper evidence including the only contemporary report of the match – something which had been lost for 100 years.  After this match, membership of the club was expanded from those who worked in the Dial Square factory to everyone working for the Woolwich Arsenal.

11 December 1897 Arsenal 4 New Brompton 2, FA Cup qualifying round 5.  Arsenal thus qualified for the first round proper but as happened two years earlier Arsenal lost to Burnley in the next round.

11 December 1902: Dan Lewis born in Maery, Glamorgan, and after playing for clubs in his area moved to Clapton Orient, before joining Arsenal in 1924,

11 December 1909: After 7 consecutive away defeats Arsenal’s upturn in away form continues, beating Preston 4-3 making it three wins in a row.  See here for the build up to the game    Arsenal’s centre forward problems revealedand also here

11 December 1937: Arsenal 2 Preston 0.  Last game for John Milne who lost his place to “Boy” Bastin.  He went on to play for Middlesbrough and later went to Mexico City with Tom McKillop and Jimmy Hickie to train a team there.

11 December 1943: Jack Crayston’s last game in the Football League South (wartime league).  At the end of the war he joined the coaching staff at Highbury and in June 1947 was appointed assistant manager to Tom Whittaker

11 December 1960: John Lukic born.  He played first for Leeds as a schoolboy and then started with the first team in 1979 before transferring to Arsenal for £75,000 as a replacement for Pat Jennings.  

11 December 1963: Nigel Winterburn born.  He was with Birmingham City and Oxford Utd until joining Wimbledon in 1983, from whom he was signed by George Graham for Arsenal as part of the most famous defensive unit in Football League history.

11 December 2012: Arsenal lost in league cup to Bradford on penalties.  It was 1-1 after extra time with Vermaelen scoring, but he then missed one of the penalties along with Cazorla and Chamakh in the shoot out.

12 December 1886: The report of the score of Arsenal’s first match against Eastern Wanderers appeared in The Referee magazine – the first contemporary confirmation that the game actually took place that was discovered by the Arsenal History Society. Prior to this there were only commentaries made many years later.

12 December 1892: Royal Arsenal 3 FG Armitage’s XI 1.  We have no record of who FG Armitage was and why he had a team – all information would be gratefully received.

12 December 1896: Arsenal 5 Leyton 2 in FA Cup.  In 1905 Leyton joined Southern League II and in 2002 won a High Court action to show they were a continuation of the original team, of this name, making it the second oldest existing club in Greater London, after Cray Wanderers.   On the same day  Arsenal lost 0-8 to Loughborough in the league.   See also Patrick Boylan

12 December 1899: Charlie Jones born.  Jones’ early career was not promising one.  He left Cardiff City after one game, and moved into the Third Division with Stockport.  When he got back to the first division with Oldham they were relegated, and after a couple of seasons he moved to Nottingham Forest also in the second division and started playing for Wales.

12 December 1908: 7 months after his move to Arsenal Angus McKinnon plays his first game.  It ended Arsenal 1 Newcastle 2.

12 December 1921: Reg Boreham’s first game – in a match against Bolton which was abandoned due to fog.  He went on to play 51 league games before his contract was cancelled upon the departure of Leslie Knighton.

12 December 1946: Ronnie Rooke signed for Arsenal aged 35 from Fulham.  Before signing for Arsenal he never played in the top division of English football and remains the oldest player to make his Arsenal first team debut.  David Nelson and Cyril Grant went to Fulham as part of the deal.

12 December 1970: Arsenal 2 Wolverhampton W 1, making it seven games in the last eight that Radford had scored in.    League match 12 of the first Double season.

12 December 1991: Mickey Thomas sold to Liverpool (exact date varies in reports.  See 16 December).  It was one of the most ironic transfers of all time, give that he had scored the last minute goal at Anfield in 1989 to win Arsenal the league.

12 December 2014: Francis Coquelin recalled from his loan at Charlton and came on as a sub in the next three games, before taking over as Arsenal’s first choice defensive mid-fielder.

13 December 1890 Old Westminsters 1 Arsenal 4 in London Senior Cup.  Arsenal had hopes in this trophy having reached the final the previous year, but went out in the next round.

13 December 1897 Arsenal 3 Rushden 1 in United League.  Only 1,000 turned up, but it was Arsenal’s fourth successive win in the United League.

13 December 1902: Arsenal were involved in one of the greatest FA Cup shocks of the era: Brentford 1 Arsenal 1.  In this season Brentford came bottom of the first division of the Southern League with 2 wins and one draw all season

13 December 1960: Rangers 4 Arsenal 2, in the continuing series of games initiated by Herbert Chapman.  This was the 12th match in a series that finally ended in 1968/9.

13 December 1975: Last game of 49 for Geoff Barnett.  He then moved on to Minnesota Kicks.  He later managed the Kicks, before returning to England to run a pub, and then went back to Minnesota where he worked as a “Starter” at a golf course.

13 December 1976: Alan Hudson signed from Stoke.  He had been a mainstay as playmaker for Chelsea, but their financial crisis, and Hudson’s singular nature led to his transfer to Stoke in January 1974.

13 December 1976: John Radford signed for West Ham.  He had played 475 league games for Arsenal and scored 149 goals, winning the League, FA Cup and Fairs Cup.  He played one season for WHU, and one for Blackburn before dropping into non-league football.

13 December 1988: David Hillier’s first appearance (a testimonial v Shrewsbury).  He went on to make over 100 appearances for Arsenal before playing for Portsmouth and Bristol City, retiring from football in 2003.

13 December 1997: After the 1-3 home defeat by Blackburn Ian Wright was warned by the police about his abusive behaviour towards a group of Arsenal fans.  Match 18 of the 2nd Double season – the last defeat before the Double was achieved.   The second double: part 1, part 2, part 3.

13 December 1998: Arsenal lost 3-2 away to table topping Aston Villa.  Having taken a 2–0 lead, through two goals scored by Bergkamp, Arsenal let in three goals in the second half to lose the match.  This debacle was followed by a 19 match unbeaten run, which took Arsenal to the edge of winning the championship themselves.  This was the only game in which Arsenal conceded more than one goal all season.

13 December 2000: Tomas Danilevicius signed from Lausanne Sport for £1m.  He played two league games and one FA Cup tie before being loaned to Dunfermline.  After that he returned to Beveren in July 2001 before going on to Italian football.

13 December 2015: Aston Villa 0 Arsenal 2 followed one win in the previous four, but still took Arsenal back to the top of the league with goals from Giroud and Ramsey.

13 December 2016.  Everton 2 Arsenal 1.  The result ended a run in the League, 10 wins and four draws and started a run in which Arsenal only won 8 of the next 18, leading to the club missing out on the Champions League for the first time after 19 consecutive years – a record which was only surpassed by Real Madrid.

14 December 1889: Arsenal played teams in two separate cup matches in one day, following the refusal of both cup organisers to allow a postponement.  The results were Gravesend 2 Arsenal 7, (Kent Senior Cup) and Arsenal 6 St Martin’s Athletic 0, (London Senior Cup)

14 December 1895: Centre half Jimmy Boyle became the 4th goalkeeper to be used thus far in the season, but Arsenal remained 5th despite a 1-4 away defeat to Burton.  Boyd scored the Arsenal goal.

14 December 1922 Don Roper born.  He was spotted as a schoolboy by Southampton, playing for Bitterne Nomads, in the Hampshire League and turned professional with Southampton in 1939, (and not 1949 as Brian Glanville claimed in the Guardian) and started playing for the club during the second world war.

14 December 1935: Ted Drake scored seven in the 7-1 away win against Aston Villa. An 8th goal by Drake was controversially disallowed by the ref.  With manager Allison ill and unable to attend, Tom Whittaker had the job of phoning the result to the boss who asked who scored the goals Whittaker reported that he simply said, ‘Drake’.”  For the full story see here.

14 December 1937: John Milne sold to Middlesbrough.  He had made 54 appearances for Arsenal scoring 19 goals, and retired from football following the outbreak of war.

14 December 1946: Ronnie Rooke took over from the injured Reg Lewis and scored the only goal in a 1-0 victory over Charlton. Rooke went on to score 21 league goals in 24 games from this point on.

14 December 1985: Full debut for Niall Quinn in a 2-0 home win over Liverpool, in which Quinn also scored.  Charlie Nicholas got the other.  It was the end of a sequence of one win in five during which Arsenal had conceded 10 and scored just three.

14 December 2003: Arsenal 1 Blackburn 0.  The 16th league match of the unbeaten season.  Bergkamp scored the only goal in a match which was the only win in four successive league games.

14 December 2011: Under three years since his wild anti-Arsenal allegations as manager of Hull City (then of the Premier League) following on-the-pitch altercations manager Phil Brown lost his job at Preston

14 December 2013: Man City 6 Arsenal 3.  A reversal in this match and a conversion of two draws into wins, would have given Arsenal the league.

15 December 1890, Luton offer five shillings (25p) per week offered to 3 players leading to the suggestion they pre-dated Arsenal as the first southern professional club.  Arsenal however was the first club in the south to go fully professional.

15 December 1926: Harold Peel, a stop gap signing by Chapman, arrived at Arsenal from Bradford PA.  He played for the first time on 1 January 1927, and went on to play nine times that season at either number 10 or 11.

15 December 1934: Arsenal 8 Leicester 0.  This game included Drake’s 6th hat trick of the season.  Arsenal thus far had scored eight twice and seven once in 19 league games.  Hulme also got a hattrick, and Bastin the remaining two.  For a review of Dec 1934 see here.

15 December 1966: Arsenal 4 Cardiff 2.  A fund raising game on behalf of the Aberfan Disaster Fund.  Tragically the fund was seized by the government and parents of the children killed received £500 each from the NCB and had to ‘prove’ that they were ‘close’ to their children before any payment for mental suffering were made.  Most government action involved covering up the incompetence of senior NCB officials.

15 December 1995 the European Court ruled the retain and transfer system introduced in 1893 following a court case involving Arsenal, was prohibited by Article 39(1) of the EC Treaty.  Bosman had arrived and the football world would never be the same again.

15 December 2000: Paolo Vernazza sold to Watford for £350,000 after just four league games for Arsenal.   He played 96 times for Watford before moving onto Rotherham, and then later played non-league football, before retiring in 2011.

15 December 2000: Christopher Wreh sold to Al-Hilal.  Although he kept Ian Wright out of the FA Cup Final, after playing for Arsenal he is reported to have been to seven clubs, but played rarely.  However Christopher himself has denied the many strange stories that have circulated about his life after Arsenal.

15 December 2001: West Ham 1 Arsenal 1.  League match 16 of the third Double season.  The result left Arsenal second, three points behind Liverpool, and having played a game more.


16 December 1893: In the first year in the FA Cup Woolwich Arsenal won through to the first round proper beating 2nd Scots Guards.

16 December 1905: William Garbutt (the man who made Italian football) joined Arsenal from Reading.  He was part of the Arsenal side that reached two FA Cup semi-finals in successive seasons; but was then displaced by Jackie Mordue and played in the reserves before moving to Blackburn at the end of the 1907/08  season.

16 December 1911: First game for Leigh Roose.  He joined from Aston Villa in what was to be his final season in football and in many ways his transfer was as much a publicity stunt as anything else, as he was just about the most famous footballer in the country at the time – an absolute showman whom the crowds would turn out to see.

16 December 1970: Charlie George played his first game for the first team since an injury on the opening day of the league campaign.  This match was against Beveren in the Fairs Cup 3rd round.

16 December 1983 Terry Neill was dismissed.  He was the 15th most successful manager at the club with a win percentage at under 45%.  He did however lead the side to one FA Cup triumph against Man U.

16 December 1983: Don Howe became manager, having previously been reserve team coach for Bertie Mee and first team coach in 1968.  See also here

16 December 1995: Arsenal drew with Chelsea during disastrous 15 match run which gained just four wins.  Dixon scored what was only Arsenal’s second goal in four consecutive games.


17 December 1896: John Anderson signed from Crook Town.  He made his debut on 1 January 1897 and went on to play 144 league games for Arsenal over seven seasons before moving to Portsmouth in 1903.

17 December 1902: Arsenal 5 Brentford 0; FA Cup supplementary round.  Arsenal went out in the next round, but only had two more years of playing in the qualifying rounds before they gained automatic continuous entry to the 1st round proper.

17 December 1904: Arsenal scored five in the 1st division for first time in a game away to Notts C, with the local paper making a special positive mention of the vibrant Arsenal away support

17 December 1944: Jimmy Robertson (the first player to score for each side in north London derbies) was born.  Having failed to get into the Middlesbrough team he went to Cowdenbeath and then St Mirren before being purchased by Tottenham in 1964, for £25,000.

17 December 1955, Dennis Evans scored one of the most famous own goals in history when a whistle in the crowd resulted in Evans kicking the ball into his own goal to make the result  Arsenal 4 Blackpool 1. It was only Arsenal’s 7th win in 21 games.

17 December 1960: Arsenal 2 Burnley 5.  Strong and Herd got the goals.  The result meant that in the last four games Arsenal had scored 13 and conceded 13.  It also meant Herd had scored seven in five league games.

17 December 1983: Arsenal 3 Watford 1.  First match as manager for Don Howe.  Raphael Meade got a hat trick – his first goals of the season.

17 December 2008: Following a dispute Lady Bracewell-Smith left the Arsenal board of directors without indicating what would happen to her shares.

17 December 2009: Brian McDermott became first team manager of Reading.  He stayed until 2013 and then managed Leeds for one season before returning to Arsenal as chief scout.

17 December 2012: Reading 2 Arsenal 5.  Santi Cazorla scored his first hat trick.

18 December 1909: After 3 wins in a row, in which they scored seven, Woolwich Arsenal started a run of three home games in a row but lost two and drew one.  This 1-2 home defeat to Notts C was the first of five without a win.

18 December 1920: Bradford City 3 Arsenal 1.  In this season both Bradford clubs were in the 1st division.  By 1927 both were in the Third Division North.

18 December 1926: Arsenal 2 Tottenham 4 – a defeat that moved Chapman to ring the changes.  Arsenal lost the next game, but after that just one of the next eight as newly purchased players were slowly bedded into the team.

18 December 1931: Jack Humble, one of the founding fathers and the first ever chairman of Woolwich Arsenal FC,  died after a lifetime of service to the club.  He played for Royal Arsenal, and worked continuously to save the club in 1910, and remained a director until 1927.  As such he was the director’s last connection with Royal Arsenal, but lived long enough to see Arsenal win the FA Cup, and sadly died halfway through the first title winning season.

18 December 1931: William Harper transferred to Plymouth.  He played 82 for Plymouth and was then given the honour of a testimonial match against Arsenal in 1972 and had the training ground of Argyle named after him: Harper’s Park.

18 December 1937: Final game for Joe Hulme – Liverpool 2 Arsenal 0.  He won three league champions medals and two FA Cup winners’ medals and was the only player to play in all of the first four Arsenal Cup Finals of the 1930s.

18 December 1954: Newcastle 5 Arsenal 1.  Arsenal then rebounded from this defeat by going unbeaten in the next five games.  

18 December 1969: David Hillier born.  He played schoolboy football for Blackheath before joining Arsenal in January 1984 as an associated schoolboy turning professional in February 1988.

18 December 2001: League match 17 of the third Double season.  Arsenal’s final defeat of the season.  Arsenal 1 Newcastle 3.  All three defeats were at home – the other two being to Leeds and Charlton.  Arsenal won 18 and drew three of the remaining games.

18 December 2005: Arsenal 0 Chelsea 2.  Arsenal’s third consecutive defeat.  In the run, Arsenal had scored nil and let in five, being beaten also by Bolton and Newcastle.  10 years on, Bolton, came bottom of the Championship while Newcastle were relegated from the Premier League.  

19 December 1903: Arsenal 5 Grimsby 1.  The score meant Arsenal had scored 25 goals in six games, which left Arsenal second, two points behind league leaders Preston.  In fact the season finished with Preston as champions, just one point ahead of Arsenal as Arsenal gained promotion.

19 December 1933: Jim Fotheringham born.  He joined Arsenal as an amateur in 1949 and after Bill Dodgin was dropped as keeper Jim got 39 games in the 1953/4 season before himself being dropped in favour once more of Dodgin.

19 December 1959: Jimmy Magill debut.  Sheffield W 5 Arsenal 1. He began his career with Portadown but moved to Arsenal in May 1959.  He went on to play 116 games before moving to Brighton and Hove, his final club.

19 December 1970: Man U 1 Arsenal 3, making it five consecutive wins in League match 22 of the first Double season.  But despite the victories Arsenal’s progress was matched by Leeds who still led Arsenal by two points.

19 December 1988.  Alexis Sánchez born in Tocopilla, Chile

19 December 1989: Rangers 1 Arsenal 2, Zenith Data Systems Challenge Cup between the champions of Scotland and England.  Arsenal won 2-1.  There is a video on You Tube.

19 December 1990: Tony Adams imprisoned for four months for drink driving.  He gained 50% remission for good behaviour, and subsequently dedicated much time to his charity which supported sports people with addictions.

19 December 2012: Gibbs, Jenkinson, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ramsey, and Wilshere, all signed new contracts, as Arsenal spoke about the value of having young British players in the team.

20 December 1890: Arsenal’s game against Old Westminsters in London Senior Cup abandoned.  Generally it was the fog that caused games to be stopped rather than any concerns about the state of the pitch.

20 December 1902: Arsenal lost 1-4 to Manchester City; the crowd of 25,000 smashed the ground record set on October 11.  The defeat left Arsenal in third place with Man City five points ahead at the top of the table.

20 December 1902: William Linward joined Arsenal from WHU.  An outside left he made his début on Boxing Day and then on the following day he played again against Burnley – a match which marked a major upturn in Arsenal’s fortunes.

20 December 1924: In a rare success in Knighton’s final season, Leeds were beaten 6-1.  The result left Arsenal 10th, but a terrible second half to the season saw them end up 20th, escaping relegation by one place.

20 December 1970.  Birth of Patrick Kwame Ampadu.  He made his debut as a sub in March 1990, but after just two appearances moved to West Brom in 1991.

20 December 1998: Arsenal 3 Leeds 1 (Vieira, Bergkamp, Petit).  From this game to the end of the season Arsenal lost only one game, going the next 19 unbeaten in the league losing finally to Leeds on 11 May.

20 December 2003: Bolton 1 Arsenal 1.  The 17th league match of the Unbeaten season.  After the game Mr Wenger said, “Provided Bolton keep playing like that, we will look back at this result and feel very happy. They are as good as a team as we have played.”

21 December 1889: Arsenal beat Cray Wanderers 2-0 on their way to the club’s first ever trophy, the Kent Junior cup.

21 December 1903: Arsenal beat Bristol Rovers in cup 2nd replay at Tottenham in the Final Supplementary Round – effectively the fifth round of the cup before the first division teams joined the competition in January.

21 December 1907: Death of Bob Buchanan  aged just 40 at St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington.  He had played for two seasons for Woolwich Arsenal, and twice been a Southern League title winner with Southampton St Mary’s.

21 December 1929: Alf Haynes’ first league match – a 1-0 away defeat to Liverpool.  He went on to play 13 games that season – but it turned out to be his most prolific period with Arsenal.

21 December 1956: Jack Crayston became full time manager after 2 months as caretaker.  He had just managed five games undefeated, and went on to a further five without loss, winning his first match as permanent manager the following day 4-0 against Birmingham.

21 December 1963: Death of Andrew Kennedy.  In January 1928 Andy Kennedy was sold to Everton.  However despite over 100 games for Arsenal, Everton played him only once, and he moved to Tranmere, where he stayed for two seasons, retiring in 1930.  Beyond that we have no information on his life.

21 December 1985.  Gus Caesar played his first League match, a 1-0 away win of Man U.   He joined Arsenal in August 1982 becoming a pro in February 1984 playing in the heart of the defence or full back.

21 December 1991: Arsenal 4 Everton 2.  All four goals by Ian Wright who also scored two hat tricks in the season as he went on to score 24 goals in 30 league games through the season.

21 December 1996: Andy Linighan’s final game away to Nottingham Forest.  He had played 118 league games and scored 5 goals.

21 December 2002: The Arsenal programme had Robert Pires on front cover in Emperor mode and he duly scored the second as Arsenal beat Middlesbrough 2-0 to stay top of the league, two ahead of Chelsea, four ahead of Man U and seven ahead of Newcastle in fourth.

22 December 1891: The final 8.5 minutes of previously abandoned United League match v Loughborough from 22 September were played out after a  League game between the sides.  One of the Arsenal team had not played in the abandoned match, and so could be construed as Arsenal’s first substitute outside of friendly games!

22 December 1900.  Arsenal 2 New Brighton Tower 1 – a game against one of the artificial clubs of football created to make use of a large stadium.

22 December 1934: Despite near perfect home form Arsenal’s away form continued to be a trouble as Derby beat the champions 3-1.  The two previous home games had been a 7-0 and 8-0 victories.

22 December 1971 Arsenal paid £220,000 (a record) for Alan Ball.  Arsenal were 8th at the time, eight points behind the leaders.  They ended the season 5th, six points behind Derby, the new champions.

22 December 1984: Arsenal 1 Watford 1.  Last league game for Colin Hill.  He was replaced by Viv Anderson and moved on to C.S. Marítimo in Portugal.

22 December 2007: Bendtner scored six seconds after coming on for the match against  Tottenham to give Arsenal a 2-1 victory.

23 December 1893: Arsenal 7 Crusaders 0.  By modern standards it was a strange time to set up a friendly, with forthcoming games on Christmas and Boxing Day, but the club wanted every penny it could get and games were the only way to bring in money.

23 December 1905: Debut for William Garbutt v Preston – the man who later took football to Italy (and who is still honoured in that country for so doing).  He was part of the Arsenal side that reached two FA Cup semi-finals in successive seasons.

23 December 1906 – David Neave returned to Arsenal, having moved to Leyton FC (the non-league club, not the same as the Orient) earlier in the year.

23 December 1911: Last (and 200th) game for Archibald Gray and for David Neave.  It ended Notts County 3 Arsenal 1 in front of 6000 fans.

23 December 1922: Huddersfield 4 Arsenal 0.  Stephen Dunn lost his place as a result of this match after 44 games, before leaving football and moving into a career in business.  He remains one of Arsenal’s mystery players of whom little is known beyond his period at Arsenal.

23 December 1960: Terry Neill scored on his debut as a player – it ended Sheffield W 1 Arsenal 1.  He went on to score 8 goals in 241 league games. Articles on Terry Neill as a manager are here.

23 December 1976: Alan Ball sold to Southampton for £60,000, having played 177 league games and scored 45 goals.  In all he played 833 games, including spells in the US, Canada, Hong Kong, and Australia.

23 December 1978.  Tottenham H 0 Arsenal 5.  The Brady goal from this game has regularly been used as part of the pre-match entertainment at the Emirates.  John Motson’s commentary has also become famous as he said, “Look at that, oh look at that.  What a goal by Brady!”  Sunderland got a hattrick, Stapleton the other.  The result left Arsenal in 4th and Tottenham in 11th place.

23 December 1988: Kenny Sansom sold to Newcastle for £300,000.  He played 314 league games for Arsenal out of a career total of 636.  He also played 86 times for England between 1979 and 1988 – a record for a full back at the time.

23 December 1995: Liverpool 3 Arsenal 1 made it five games without a win.  Arsenal’s goal came from a penalty by Wright.  Arsenal returned to winning ways on Boxing Day against QPR before suffering two more defeats.

23 December 2000: Liverpool 4 Arsenal 0.  Arsène Wenger commented that the lack of goals for Arsenal was problematic.  “It has been our problem all season.  We so very rarely score two in a match…”  Arsenal’s team included Parlour, Ljungberg, Bergkamp, Henry, with Pires, Wiltord and Kanu on the bench.  

23 December 2001: 10 man Arsenal finally beat the Anfield jinx – Liverpool 1 Arsenal 2 in a month of five wins, 1 draw, 1 defeat.  League match 18 of the third Double season.

23 December 2006: Arsenal 6 Blackburn 2.  Arsenal made it 3 wins and 2 draws in December with two more games to go.  The goals came from Gilberto, Hleb, Adebayor, Van Persie (2) and Flamini.

23 December 2008: Fabregas ruled out for four months after injury in 1-1 draw with Liverpool.  He still managed to make 45 appearances in the season and score 13 goals.

24 December 1894: New Brompton 5 Arsenal 0.  Despite playing 30 league games in the season, Arsenal also played 31 friendly games.  New Brompton played in Gillingham, and with the grounds just 28 miles apart this was something of a local derby between two Kent teams.  The crowd was 5,000, similar to many league game crowds at the time.

24 December 1904.  A 1-0 win over Sheffield U gave Arsenal three wins in a row in the first division for the first time, with the club playing five games in seven days.  The result left Arsenal in a very satisfactory 9th position in the league.

24 December 1927: Cliff Bastin’s first ever game, Exeter Reserves v Bath City in the Southern League.  He went on to play 17 times for Exeter’s first team in 1928/9 before moving on to Arsenal.

24 December 1932: Arsenal 9 Sheffield Wed 2.  This meant that thus far in the season Arsenal had in different games scored 6, 7, 8 and 9 goals.  (Lambert scored 5 – which turned out to be his final hatrick (plus 2!) It was his 12th hat trick – more than any other player in the club’s history).

24 December 1938: John Barnwell born.  After playing as an amateur for Bishop Auckland he moved to Arsenal in 1955 turned pro in 1956 and started playing for the first team in the match against Sunderland on 13 April 1957.

24 December 1949: Arsenal 5 Sunderland 0.  Amazingly it was Arsenal’s only league win in a run of nine games.  Despite this poor run Arsenal ended the year in fourth position, but more importantly went on to win the FA Cup.

24 December 1955:  Chelsea 2 Arsenal 0.   This was the last league game Arsenal played on Christmas eve.  43,022 turned up.

24 December 1958: Stan Charlton sold back to Leyton O from whence he had come.  It was Arsenal’s only ever transfer on Xmas Eve!   He became the captain and was still there when they made their one and only appearance in the first division.  Orient’s first match that season was at home to Arsenal and the editor of the Anniversary files was there to see it with his dad.

Arsenal’s Christmas reviews: 1904 and 1905;  1890, 1891 1892.

25 December 1886: It is suggested in some non-contemporary sources that a meeting was held at the Royal Oak to change the name of the club to Royal Arsenal.  However on 2 January 1887 an advert appeared in “The Referee” from Dial Square F.C. seeking matches – seeming proof that the club did not become Royal Arsenal on this day.

25 December 1889: First recorded Arsenal game on Christmas Day – in a friendly match Royal Arsenal beat Preston Hornets 5-0

25 December 1893: Arsenal played the first Christmas Day league game.  It ended Woolwich Arsenal 4 Burslem Port Vale 0, in front of 10,000 fans equalling the previous highest crowd achieved at the club’s very first league game.

25 December 1894. Playing Burslem Port Vale on Christmas Day for the second year running Arsenal scored 7 for first time in a league game.  The 7-0 victory turned out to be the highest ever Christmas Day score.

25 December 1896: Woolwich Arsenal 6 Lincoln City 2.  Although not beating the Arsenal score of 1894, this was the highest goal aggregate ever achieved on Christmas Day in a league game.

25 December 1897: The first game against Tottenham on Christmas Day (United League) finished Arsenal 2 Tottenham 3.  The crowd was 5,000

25 December 1899: Arsenal’s worst ever Christmas Day defeat – Lincoln 5 Arsenal 0 in division 2.  However Woolwich Arsenal recovered enough to be unbeaten in the next four games.

25 December 1902: Arsenal lost to Burton United to make it three defeats in a row, with two goals goals and eight conceded.  Arsenal won the next game 5-1, and were undefeated in the nine games thereafter.

25 December 1906: Despite having league games on 22 and 26 December Arsenal play Celtic in a friendly at the Manor Ground. Although Arsenal lost 0-2 the idea worked as 15,000 turned up to watch.

25 December 1909.  Arsenal lost to Newcastle at home 0-3 in a run of four defeats and a draw. See also here

25 December 1911: The only ever Christmas Day league game against Tottenham saw 47000 attend at White Hart Lane to witness a 5-0 Tottenham victory.

25 December 1912: Alex Graham first game against Notts County. Alex had a trial with Woolwich Arsenal in December 1911 and signed for the club in January 1912, playing most of that year in the reserves before getting this Christmas Day game.  Henry Norris subsequently revealed the gate takings of £235 for the game.

25 December 1915: Arsenal’s first London Combination (ie wartime league) Christmas Day game was played ending West Ham United 8 Arsenal 2.

25 December 1918: Bertie Mee born.  He had a short career with Derby County and Mansfield as well as appearing for Southampton in the war time league, and trained as a physiotherapist in the Royal Army Medical Corps and worked as a remedial gymnast with disabled servicemen for 12 years before joining the staff of Arsenal in 1960,

25 December 1922: Last league game for Stephen Dunn.  He had replaced EC Williamson in goal but after this 4-1 defeat to Bolton he was replaced by McKenzie who remained in goal for the rest of the season.

25 December 1925: Arsenal 3 Notts C 0.   First Christmas Day game at Highbury, following the purchase (rather than leasing) of the ground.  The lease had prohibited games on Christian holidays.

25 December 1930: Man C 1 Arsenal 4 – the start of a 14 goal onslaught in 3 league games played on consecutive days.  The others were Arsenal 3 Man City 1 and Arsenal 7 Blackpool 1.  Across these 3 days Bastin and Brain got three goals each and Jack got four.

25 December 1934: Arsenal 5 Preston 3.  The 7th occasion of scoring 5+ in the first Allison season; the most Christmas Day Arsenal goals in a first division game at Highbury.  It meant Arsenal had scored 20 goals across three consecutive home matches.

25 December 1936: First game for Frank Boulton – a 4-1 win over Preston.  Frank played for the club for two seasons before moving on to Derby County.  He played 36 times for Arsenal and won a league winners’ medal.

25 December 1952: Bolton 4 Arsenal 6 – Arsenal’s highest league aggregate on Christmas Day.  Holton scored 2, Milton, Logie, Ropier and Daniel got the others.  Arsenal scored 33 goals in nine games

25 December 1954: Danny Clapton’s first game.  Arsenal 1 Chelsea 0.  This turned out to be Arsenal’s last Christmas Day game at Highbury.  Tapscott scored.  The crowd was 47,178.  

25 December 1956: Christmas day league games ended in 1956 with Arsenal away to Chelsea, the result being a 1-1 draw.  Boxing Day games continued however, meaning players still had to train on Christmas Day.

26 December 1892: First game for Joseph Powell, who went on to become Woolwich Arsenal’s first captain who died after being injured on the pitch and getting tetanus.

26 December 1893: Arsenal (in the shape of Buist) scored their first ever league penalty, in 1-3 defeat to Grimsby.  This was also (rather obviously since it was the first league season) the first Arsenal league game on Boxing Day

26 December 1895: Arsenal 10 Cliftonville Athletic 1 – Arsenal’s highest ever Boxing Day score

26 December 1899: Arsenal v Loughborough abandoned.  The replay on 12 March 1900 created our biggest ever win.

26 December 1902: Bill Linward played his first game for Arsenal, (a friendly) and then immediately went on to play his second match on the following day (his first league game).

26 December 1909: Charlie Buchan signed as an amateur.  He left the club over a contractual dispute, and signed for Sunderland without playing a league game for Arsenal, but returned under Chapman in 1925 to lead a rejuvenated side to the club’s highest ever league position.

26 December 1910: First game for Thomas Winship who played in the first match at Highbury, and who (much later) was credited with the pass that resulted in the first ever goal in the Third Division (North).

26 December 1914: Some seven weeks after scoring six at Highbury for the first time Arsenal did it again beating Leicester Fosse 6-0.  But with the war news very bleak indeed and the recruiting officers stepping up their work at League matches, only 6000 turned up – the second lowest crowd at Highbury.

26 December 1922:  Arsenal 5 Bolton 0.  First game for John Robson, at 5’ 8” Arsenal’s smallest ever goalkeeper in the league.   He went on to play 97 league games for the club over four seasons before moving on to Bournemouth and Boscombe Athletic.

26 December 1929: Last game for John (“Jack”) Butler, one of the claimants to be our first foreign player, (being born in Ceylon) and also Woolwich Arsenal’s first centre half.  After 267 league games he moved on to Torquay Utd.

26 December 1929: Tom Parker played his 172nd consecutive game for Arsenal – an all time record in the club.  It ended Arsenal 1 Portsmouth 2.  Tom captained Arsenal to the club’s first league and cup honours.

26 December 1931: Last game for Bill Seddon, one of the players to win Arsenal’s first FA Cup and first league title.  The result was Arsenal 0 Sheffield Utd 2 in a run of three consecutive defeats.

26 December 1950: Stoke City 1 Arsenal 0.  The first game for Cliff Holton: he scored an amazing 293 league and cup goals through his career and won the league with Arsenal in 1953.

26 December 1958: Last game for Jim Fotheringham, a centre half for Arsenal in the Whittaker era.  The result was Luton 6 Arsenal 3; Julians, Evans and Bloomfield scored Arsenal’s goals.  After 72 league games Jim moved to Heart of Midlothian.

26 December 1970: Arsenal 0 Southampton 0. League match 23 of the first Double season after which Arsenal won every home game through the rest of the season.  The story is told that after the match George Armstrong said to his team mates, “I bet we win the Double”.

26 December 1975: Last game for Eddie Kelly, a Double winner who played 168 games for Arsenal despite upsetting Bertie Mee upon his arrival with his “welcome gift” requests.  He moved on to QPR in September 1976.

26 December 1992: Jack Crayston, the Arsenal player who also managed the club, from 1956 to 1958, died.  As a player he gained two league winner’s medals, a cup winner’s medal, and eight England caps playing 168 times for the club.

26 December 1994: Stephen Hughes played his first game.  It ended Arsenal 0 Aston Villa 0.  He made 22 starts for the club before being transferred to Everton in March 2000.

26 December 1995: Arsenal 3 QPR 0.  Goals from Merson (2) and Wright gave Arsenal their first win in six games in a run of one win in eight.

26 December 1997: Arsenal 2 Leicester 1.  Game 20 of the second double season.  The first of 18 unbeaten games which took us to the league title.  Platt scored – the other was an own goal.

26 December 2000: Thierry Henry’s first hattrick in a 6-1 win against Leicester.  Vieira, Ljunberg and Adams got the other three.  The score meant that Arsenal had scored 16 goals in four consecutive league games, conceding just two.

26 December 2001: Arsenal 2 Chelsea 1.  League match 19 of the third Double season.  Campbell and Wiltord scored and the win kept Arsenal in second place in the table.

26 December 2003: Arsenal 3 Wolverhampton W 0  The 18th league match of the Unbeaten season.  Henry, Aliadière and Vieira scored as Wolverhampton accumulated five yellow cards.  The result was a relief after three draws and a 1-0 win in the previous four games.

26 December 2008: Phil Brown of Hull (later to accuse Fabregas of spitting and wearing inappropriate clothes while not in the team) showed an early version of his eccentricity by holding his half time team talk on the pitch.  It was widely condemned in the media.

27 December 1897: Clement Ross Voysey, the man whose transfer to Arsenal was investigated twice by the FA, and whose whole career at Arsenal is shrouded in mystery and uncertainty, was born in New Cross.

27 December 1902: Arsenal started their record breaking 10 match unbeaten run with a 5-1 home defeat of Burnley.  Coleman (3), Briercliffe and Anderson scored in a match which ended a run of three consecutive defeats in which the club scored 2 and conceded 8.

27 December 1901: Walter Anderson signed from Sheffield Utd.  He went on to play 28 league games over two seasons before moving to Plymouth Argyle in 1903.

27 December 1904, Nottingham Forest 0 Woolwich Arsenal 3.  This was one of five games played in eight days, of which the club won two.  In the next three games Arsenal scored nil but conceded nine.

27 December 1909: Woolwich Arsenal 1 Liverpool 1.  This was the only point won in a run of five games which saw Arsenal sink perilously close to relegation.

27 December 1921: Cardiff 4 Arsenal 3 Debuts for Billy Milne (who got the DCM in the first war and as an ARP warden in the second put out the fire when  Highbury was hit by an incendiary device) and Robert Turnbull (the man who saved the club from relegation in 1922/3 by scoring 20 goals).

27 December 1926: Cardiff City 2 Arsenal 0.  League debut for Horace Cope and Harold Peel – two Chapman signings who made only modest impacts. It was also the last match for James Ramsay who move to Kilmarnock on 30 December.

27 December 1930:  Arsenal 7 Blackpool 1  With hatricks for Jack and Bain, and a goal from Bastin it was the fourth game of the season with five or more goals by Arsenal. It was also George Male’s first game for the first team.  Arsenal went on to score 5+ five more times.  

27 December 1932: Leeds 0 Arsenal 0. It was one of only two games all season in which Arsenal did not score.  Also Norman Sidey’s debut.  He signed as an amateur from Nunhead of the Isthmian League in 1929 and turned pro in 1931.

27 December 1969: Arsenal 0 Newcastle 0.  Jimmy Robertson’s final Arsenal game.  After 45 league starts for Arsenal he moved on to Ipswich in March 1970.

27 December 1971: Nottingham Forest 1 Arsenal 1.  It was Alan Ball’s debut for Arsenal, having been brought in from Everton to bolster Arsenal’s attempt to retain the FA Cup and League title won the previous year.

27 December 1972: George Graham sold to Man U for £120,000.  Having had the temerity to protest to Bertie Mee about being dropped to the bench he was one of the players to suffer Mee’s policy of brooking no interference in his policy making.

27 December 1993: Swindon Town 0 Arsenal 4.   Campbell’s second hatrick of the season signalled the start of a three match run of goalscoring for Arsenal which saw them score 10 conceding 0.  In this game Wright got the fourth goal.

27 December 2010: Freddie Ljungberg joined Celtic.  After leaving Arsenal he had moved to West Ham and then north America, before playing seven times for Celtic.  In his career he played 391 games and scored 88 league goals.

28 December 1904: Arsenal lost 0-4 away to Sheffield United; the 4th of five games in eight days.  Arsenal won two and lost three of the games, scoring five and letting in nine.

28 December 1907:  Charles Lewis – a rare example of a local lad (he was born in Plumstead) playing for Woolwich Arsenal – played his first game on this day  He went on to play 206 games for the club before moving on to Margate in 1921.

28 December 1908: Sheffield W 6 Arsenal 2.  Part of a run of just two wins in 11.  The run continued through the winter but was ended with a 5-0 thrashing of Liverpool on 20 February.

28 December 1935:   Sunderland 5 Arsenal 4.   It was the first time Arsenal let in five goals since 19 November 1932. Bowden, Drake, Bastin and an own goal gave Arsenal their four against the eventual champions who were virtually unbeatable on their own pitch.

28 December 1936: David Nelson’s first game, a 3-1 win over Preston.  When he left Arsenal he was part of the deal that brought Ronnie Rooke to the club.   Kirchen, Nelson and Milne scored, making it the fourth game in succession in which Kirchen had scored.

28 December 1939: Frank McLintock, Arsenal’s first Double winning captain born.  In a curious twist he played in two league cup final defeats with Leicester before joining Arsenal in 1964 and then featuring in two more league cup final defeats.

28 December 1940: Arsenal 8 Luton Town 1, in the wartime Southern Regional League.

28 December 1963: McLeod (2), Baker and Armstrong scored as Laurie Brown played his last senior game: Arsenal 4 Birmingham 1.  After a spell in the reserves Tottenham bought him and played him their next game – against Arsenal.

28 December 1965: Arsenal 5 Sheffield W 2.  After this game Arsenal only won one of the next fourteen, and ended the season in 14th place.  Eastham got two, Skirton, Sammels and Baker the others.

28 December 1990: Paul Dickov moved from trainee to professional.  He went on to play 22 league games for Arsenal, and had two loan spells (Luton and Brighton) before being sold to Man City in 2006.

28 December 1991: Man City 1 Arsenal 0.  It was one of seven consecutive games without a win which ensured Arsenal did not continue as Champions.  During these seven games Arsenal scored just two goals and conceded six.

28 December 1997: Tottenham (at this moment bottom of the League) 1 Arsenal 1.  Arsenal were in 6th position. Game 21 of the 2nd Double Season.   Ray Parlour scored.  The second double: part 1, part 2, part 3.

28 December 1999: Vieira made his return from suspension for the 2-0 win over league leaders Leeds United, who were eight points in front of Arsenal at the time.  Ljungberg and Henry got Arsenal’s goals.

28 December 2001: Arsenal 2 Middlesbrough 1.  League match 20 of the third Double season.  Middlesbrough took the lead but Pires and Cole turned the game around in the second half to make it three consecutive wins.

28 December 2008: Arsenal 1 Portsmouth 0.  A poor game but the unbeaten run went on, and on (until May).  This was also the first of 8 consecutive home games without conceding a goal.  Gallas scored to start Arsenal’s run of three consecutive wins.

28 December 2014: Francis Coquelin started his first match for Arsenal in 23 months.  It ended West Ham 1 Arsenal 2 and Coquelin kept his place thereafter, with negotiations being opened to give him a long-term contract at Arsenal.  Cazorla and Welbeck scored.

28 December 2015: Arsenal beat Bournemouth 2-0 recovering from a 4-0 defeat against Southampton with goals by Gabriel and Ozil.  Arsenal were again top of the league, and stayed there for four games, until a run of three draws and a defeat in late January put paid to hopes of winning the league.

29 December 1888. Iona 1 Royal Arsenal 5 in the Kent Senior Cup on the way to winning the trophy.

29 December 1894: Arsenal 1 Dresden United 0.  Dresden were based in Stoke on Trent, and played in The Combination and the Midland League until being wound up in 1897.

29 December 1982: Vladimir Petrovic joined from Red Star Belgrade for £45,000.  He played 13 league games for Arsenal before moving on to Royal Antwerp.  After finishing playing in 1988 he gradually moved into management, and has managed both national and league teams including Red Star Belgrade.

29 December 1990: Andy Cole made his only appearance for Arsenal in a 4-1 win over Sheffield Utd.  In 1991 he went on loan to Fulham, before being transferred to Bristol City in 1992.

29 December 2003: Seb Svard loaned to Stoke.  He never played for Arsenal in the league but played 13 times for Stoke.  Two further loans ensued before he signed for Borussia Mönchengladbach.

29 December 2003: Southampton 0 Arsenal 1.  3 wins and 2 draws in December left Arsenal in 2nd one point behind Man U.  The 19th league match of the Unbeaten Season; Pires scored the goal.

29 December 2007: Everton 1 Arsenal 4 – Arsenal moved to the top of the league.  Eduardo (2), Adebayor and Rosicky scored.

29 December 2012: Arsenal 7 Newcastle 3. A Walcott hat trick helped Arsenal to  four straight wins after the Swansea defeat.  The Ox, Podolski and Giroud got the other goals.

30 December 1893: Arsenal’s first ever away win in the league: Ardwick 0 Woolwich Arsenal 1.  Henderson got the goal in front of a crowd of 4,000.  Arsenal went on to win away twice more in the season, including a 3-6 win at Middlesbrough  Ironopolis.

30 December 1961: Charlie Nicholas born.   He played 84 times for Celtic scoring 48 goals.  He brought great hope of a renaissance when Terry Neill signed him in 1983 but ultimately did not live up to his high promise.

30 December 1995: Arsenal 1 Wimbledon 3.  One of the low points of the Rioch year, coming during a spell of one win in eight games.  Ian Wright scored in front of 37,640.

30 December 2006.  Sheffield Utd 1 Arsenal 0.  Arsenal 7th league game of the month, and their only defeat.  The result left Arsenal in 5th place, 17 points behind the leaders.

30 December 2010: Harvard Nordtveit sold to Borussia Monchengladbach for £800,000.  He became a regular fixture for the club playing over 150 league games for them before going to West Ham.;

31 December 1898: Haywood and Hunt each got a hatrick in a game that ended Arsenal 6 Luton 2.  It was also the start of a run of six goals in four consecutive matches for Haywood and concluded a run of five goals in three for Hunt.

31 December 1904:  Arsenal 0 Newcastle Utd 2.  The last of the five games in seven days which resulted in one victory and four defeats.  The decline was all the more concerning in that it had come in the wake of Notts C 1 Arsenal 5 – the first time Arsenal had scored five in the first division.

31 December 1909: A miserable end to the year with Arsenal having lost their last three league games of the year (all at home) and with (truthful) stories circulating that Arsenal were in dire financial trouble.  Arsenal were in 18th, just one point above the relegation spot.

31 December 1921: Arsenal played their eighth game of the month beating Chelsea 2-0 away to make it  2 wins, 3 draws, 3 defeats in the month.  40,000 turned up.  The result left Arsenal one from bottom with only Manchester Utd behind them.

31 December 1960: Nottingham Forest 3 Arsenal 5.  Herd got three, Eastham and Henderson the others.  It was the 10th match in the 25 league games thus far in the season in which five or more goals had been scored and the sequence continued in the first five league matches of 1961.

31 December 1980: Death of Leslie Jones – the man fundamental to the league title win of 1938.   He was released on a free transfer in 1946, and went to Swansea as a player coach signing on 22 May 1946.  Shortly after he moved on again to be player manager at Barry Town.  He then played for Brighton and later managed Scunthorpe.

31 December 1984: David Rocastle and Michael Thomas signed as professionals.  Rocastle made his debut in September 1985, Thomas in February 1987.

31 December 1984: Brian McDermott sold to Oxford for £40,000.  He had played 61 times for Arsenal in the league and scored 12 goals, as well as having two loan spells with Fulham and IFK Norrköping.

31 December 1984: Steve Williams, the most committed of players, signed from Southampton for £550,000.  During his time at Southampton he played in a league cup final, became captain of the club, played in the FA cup semi-final and took the club to runners’ up in the first division in 1984 – their best ever performance.

31 December 1994: John Jensen scored his first ever goal for Arsenal – Arsenal 1 QPR 3.  His failure to score before that point became a matter that was widely discussed and resulted in a number of fans thereafter proclaiming “I was there when Jensen scored”.

31 December 2008: Jay Simpson went on loan to WBA where he played 13 games.  After a further loan spell with QPR he was sold to Hull City for whom he played 78 games.  After a period in Thailand he returned to play for Leyton Orient.

31 December 2009: Abou Diaby signed a new contract to keep him at the club until 2015.  Sadly continuing injuries precluded him playing very much and the contract was allowed to expire.

The Anniversary files now have over 5000 entries, and are now divided into monthly sections.


The anniversaries file aims is the biggest database of Arsenal events ever produced.  However in trying to build it I always openly acknowledge that some of the details recorded here will be  wrong, and facts will be inaccurate and will need correcting, not least because information may be taken from inaccurate sources, or (in my specialist way) I may have made copying and typing errors.   So far over 250 people have contributed to the articles that make up the anniversary files, and if you can help us improve the data, please do either comment on an article (and I’ll correct the file itself), or write a new article for us. A correction and a citation of sources would be good however, rather than just saying “you’re wrong”.   A special mention as always must go to Andy Kelly and Mark Andrews, who helped with the early development of this site.   But whether you can add original research or corrections with the right data, or articles on people we have not yet covered, that will be very welcome indeed.

The dates in this file are being added to all the time, and come from a whole variety of sources including the internet and a variety of printed volumes.  If you notice an error please write to Tony@schools.co.uk – ideally with a correction and a note of your source.

I would particularly like to mention Richard Lerman and David Brown, and their wonderful (but now tragically out of print) volume The Gunners: Day to Day Life at Highbury”, which is a mine of information.     Also to “Arsenal On This Day” by Paul Donnelley (Pitch Publishing).  Also where would any of us be without “Arsenal a complete record” by Fred Ollier (Breedon Books), and “Arsenal the football facts” by Dean Hayes (John Blake).  If I have missed another sourcebook, please do let me know and I will correct this at once.

If you know of any anniversary dates not yet listed, please do write in and add them.   Not only are new dates being added at the rate of about half a dozen a day, but so are links being added to articles on this site.  It is intended to produce a book based on this site in due course – but the date gets put back as I find more and more info.