Somehow you would expect Manchester United to be rivals of Manchester City (even if most Manchester IOU fans are based in Cornwall and Surrey.) You’d expect Liverpool and Everton fans to be rivals, since Liverpool split from Everton and tried to take over Everton’s fixture list when they did so. Besides both sets of supporters seem to have a continuous need to say “Kalm down” every third seconds.
And on that basis you might say it is obvious that Tottenham H and Arsenal are rivals, since the grounds are just about 2.5 miles apart.
But it is not really like that. The rivalry between Tottenham and Arsenal goes back to the days when Arsenal played in Kent, and Tottenham were well and truly the pride of Middlesex.
Either out of decency to the neighbours, or perhaps because no one could be bothered to look up the details, Arsenal has never been that forthcoming about the Arsenal/Tottenham situation. Which is a bit of a shame, because Tottenham has never been so reticent.
If there’s a game between the two clubs then the old line about Arsenal having stolen Tottenham’s place in the first division in 1919 is wheeled out. Indeed it is said so many times that people all around football have come to believe it is true. And that, my dear Arsenal, is what you get for being too much of a gent.
It wasn’t always thus. If you are a regular reader of this site you will know that in the 1930s Arsenal’s programmes rubbed Tottenham’s noses in it. Highbury, the programme proclaimed, was the most accessible ground in London. And Arsenal were London’s oldest professional team.
Being proud of our history is important, and it is what this site celebrates. Over the last couple of years we have gathered together a few articles which clarify the mutual history of Tottenham H and Arsenal, and below are the links.
I hope you find it helpful. And of course, if you have an article about the history of Arsenal covering any point from the earliest days at Woolwich please do send it in.
And to Tottenham fans – I am sorry, this is an Arsenal site so we don’t publish histories of Tottenham H. But I would like to say thank you to every Tottenham fan who to this day keeps the memory of Arsenal’s origins alive by calling us Woolwich Arsenal. Arsenal fans should be proud of those humble origins as a club linked so closely to the survival of our country and empire. Yes we were a small town team in Kent. And as Tottenham H this season celebrate the 50th anniversary of their last championship, we might think that if they had started out in the sticks, and had had to fight their way through collapse and chaos, maybe they’d have a successful club too.
Here’s a list of the articles we have prepared so far on this site. There’s more to come as we will of course want to celebrate the 50th anniversary, comparing and contrasting what Tottenham H have won in the last 50 years with what their dreaded rivals Woolwich Arsenal has won. That will appear shortly.
Meanwhile why not choose one of these…
How come they ended up as such bitter rivals?
Tottenham Hotspur: the dark history. In 1892 Arsenal attempted to start a new Southern League, and Tottenham applied. But when the votes for members were cast they got none (other than the one they cast for themselves. Why? A look at Tottenham until 1919.
How Tottenham has taken over Arsenal’s history How Woolwich Arsenal and Tottenham H became rivals
Arsenal’s fixed promotion. The story of 1919 told by Tottenham H that Arsenal bought their way into the first division – but it is a story designed to hide the corruption of others, corruption that the League really didn’t want exposed. Parts of this story are told in the top two articles above, but this is the complete detailed report.