If we ever create “Arsenal Day” it has to be 22 June

By Tony Attwood

OK I am biased – because 22 June is my birthday.  But it is also the day that made me think of creating the Anniversary Files of Arsenal – files that now contain over 5000 important Arsenal events, the largest collection ever gathered together.

Of course it is a nerdy sort of thing to do – but also an interesting one, for the creation of the Anniversary Files has led to the unravelling of all sorts of issues in Arsenal’s history that have never been resolved before.

In due course the files are to be published in book form but as I do this work I am constantly struck by how random the whole “on this day” thing is.  Some days like yesterday have a paucity of detail (indeed yesterday to put in anything much I had to stretch a point and give Bergkamp a listing for joining us on two days running).  Other days, like 22 June, have not just one monumental event but two.

Take a look:

  • 22 June 1893: First AGM of Woolwich Arsenal under Jack Humble 1893; first directors elected.
  • 22 June 1925: Herbert Chapman took up the job of Secretary Manager of Arsenal FC.

If you wanted two events that totally symbolised the transformation of Arsenal from a works team into the greatest football club in the country you have to pick those two events.

In 1893 Arsenal was busy seeing off the first of two major challenges to its survival (the second was the financial crisis of 1910).  The owner of the club’s ground, in collusion with a splinter group on the committee that ran Royal Arsenal FC, had increased the rent on the ground to an impossible level and then refused to negotiate.

Rather than give in, the working men – often under the guiding hand of Jack Humble, who had been very instrumental in developing Royal Arsenal administratively over the years since its inception in 1886 – took on their landlord and the more middle class members of the committee, applied to join the Football League, gained admission, took on another ground opposite their old site, and built a new stadium in the course of a few months.

The first AGM was the great statement that Woolwich Arsenal FC, the League Club, was on its way, and the election of Jack Humble as the club’s first chair, was a testament to his dedication to the club.  In fact apart from a three year retirement from the club from 1907 to 1910 he continued to serve as a director until after the appointment of Chapman.

Which brings us to the other notable day.  Chapman taking up his job at Arsenal on this day.

It is often forgotten that Chapman did not have immediate success.  Yes he took Arsenal to runner’s up position in the league in his first season, but then things slipped back, and after five years, before he won the club anything, he tendered his resignation to Sir Henry Norris (the chairman from 1910 onwards), who rejected it.

There are lots of articles on this site about Humble and Chapman, but if you really want to get a view of what’s what with the events of 1893, then I’d recommend “Woolwich Arsenal the club that changed football” of which I am co-incidentally a joint author.  You can buy it on Amazon, or at the Arsenal shops at the Emirates, or direct from the publishers.   In fact if you buy two of our books you can get a fairly nifty discount.

The Books




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