Arsenal v Blackburn, 1920. The goalkeeper plays at full back as 10 first teamers are injured

By Tony Attwood

Paul Matz, of Arsenal Independent Supporters Association has kindly answered my request for a photocopy of the oldest Arsenal programme that could be found in his collection.  It is Arsenal v Blackburn on Saturday November 13th, 1920

The programme is numbered Volume IX Number 16 and costs two pence (that is 2d, which is under 1p in modern currency).

It’s a four page affair containing the normal editorial bits by Gunners Mate (George Allison who went on to become our manager, and who had started writing the column in 1910.  There’s more about him as a journalist in “Making the Arsenal“).  There’s also a piece by Dr “Pat” of Highbury, and “Random Jottings” by the chairman of the Middlesex FA.  The back page has the teams laid out in the classic formation of 2-3-5.  There’s also an advert for the Finsbury Park Empire (a music hall) – a piece of advertising that continued into the 1950s.

Unfortunately the quality of the programme and the smallness of the print prohibits putting up a meaningful scan but here’s a couple of snippets.

First, the banner at the top says

Arsenal Football Club Ltd

Colours – red shirts, white knickers

Directors – Colonel Sir Henry Norris M.P., D.L (Chairman)

Lt-Col C D Crisp OBE, Messrs, W Hall, J W Humble, G  W Peachey OBE.

Manager Leslie Knighton

Secretary Mr H J Peters

The fascinations with this are everywhere – we played in “knickers” not shorts, and the man whom I refer to as Henry Norris in “Making the Arsenal” and on these pages when writing about 1910, was by now Colonel Sir Henry Norris MP DL.

Norris (I’ll stay with the Norris rather than the Sir Henry for the moment) got his knighthood and his army rank as a result of running a recruitment office in Fulham during the first world war, before general conscription was introduced.    He was, by 1910, already Unionist Mayor of Fulham, (the Unionists became the Conservatives) and at that time angling for a seat in Parliament.  I am not sure what the DL stands for – maybe someone can help me.

But there is also, sitting alongside him on the board that ran the club, Jack Humble, the socialist who (it is said) walked from Durham to Greenwich looking for work, and who along with two others founded Woolwich Arsenal FC.  Quite how he could work alongside Norris I have no idea, but he did, and only left the club when Norris did in the “club coach sale” scandal.

I won’t rewrite the whole of the front page of the programme, but I do want to publish one section from page one.

There are three headlines on the page, “Well done” which congratulates everyone on Blackburn* away the previous saturday, “A great night” which talks about an event when the players went to meet the MP for Islington for a “merry party”.  And finally, “The Injured”. Here’s what that one says.


Illness and injuries are still playing havoc with our fighting force as you know.  Hutchings and Graham were not able to play against Blackburn Rovers.  I am not certain if Rutherford will be fit to turn out today but we hope so. Voysey, Cownley, Butler, North, Jewett, Hopkins, Dunn and Walden have also been out of action and Dunn, whose sprained wrist prevents him keeping goal, has been keeping fit by playing at full-back.  He had a trial run in this position in a friendly match with Reading a fortnight ago and acquitted himself so well that he was in the team at full back against Clapton Orient** at Highbury last Saturday.  This game was considerably marred by the fog but it was possible to finish it and our juniors came out of their shell to the extent of winning by 6 goals to 2.


So maybe nothing changes.

Interestingly the programme doesn’t contain a list of fixtures, nor any league table.  The Arsenal team for the day was listed as


Shaw, Hutchins

Baker. Buckley. McKinnon

Smith, White, Pagnam, Blyth, Dr Jas A Peterson

The official record shows that  it was a 2-0 win to Arsenal with 40,000 present. McKinnon and Buckley scored.  White and Pagnam scored.

Arsenal went on to end up 9th in the first division.  Leslie Knighton remained as manager until 1925 when Herbert Chapman arrived.

* The programme writes a whole column about the game against Blackburn which was the previous weekend, pointing out that Arsenal were unlucky not to have a penalty, and criticising the press reviews of the match of being inaccurate.  That game ended 2-2

** This would have been a reserve game in the London Combination

Arsenal in the present day is covered by Untold Arsenal

2 Replies to “Arsenal v Blackburn, 1920. The goalkeeper plays at full back as 10 first teamers are injured”

  1. Maybe the DL stands for Deputy Lieutenant. This seems to be some obscure historical appointment – just what they do I really don’t know.
    I remember the Arsenal programmes back in the 50’s not only stated that the team wore knickers, but they also wore stockings and not socks!

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