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The season starts… 100 years ago

By Tony Attwood

No transfer window, no internationals interrupting the week by week flow of the games, no European competitions, no “25” registered players, no safety certificates for the grounds, no alcohol restrictions, no pub licensing procedures, no smoking bans….

It makes you wonder sometimes what there was 100 years ago.

For Woolwich Arsenal there was a new season having just scraped survival in the first division, and a new owner (although he wasn’t seen around the ground very much at all during the close season, focussing his work and support on Fulham), and the unnerving knowledge that in two years time the club could move to a ground share with Fulham FC.

Henry Norris may not have been looming in the foreground (although reports have it that he did make it to this first game of the season), but he was certainly there in the background.

One little change came with the programme now being edited by the journalist “Gunners Mate” also known as George Allison, who of course became Arsenal’s manager in 1934, winning the league in his first season in charge.  More on him, and what he was doing writing the Arsenal programme, in a later article.

So the first match was Arsenal v Manchester United and we lost 2-1 in front of 15,000.   Rippon scored the only goal.   Not a bad crowd for a weekday.  I speculated in the article before last about the kick off time – and even if it did kick off after work finished at the armament factories there would have been precious little time to get into the game after work – so that was not a bad turn out.

Our record against Man U was not good – we had up to this point lost seven and won five.  Man U had already won the league once (in 1907/8) and were the FA Cup winners in 1909.

Perhaps the most notable fact was the Rippon scored on his debut.  At that moment it must have looked good for the young man, but it didn’t work out.

There’s full details of the team for that game here

So, not the most exciting of starts.  Next up was Bury away on September 3rd.

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