26 May: A manager is born, the League say “No!”, and winning the league at the very last mo.

Of course on 26 May the event that catches everyone’s eye still is 1989 and Michael Thomas.

Phil Kelso, our first reforming manager won’t get a mention, which is a shame because what he achieved in his four years was remarkable.   He took a club that had never got beyond the second round in the FA Cup (and only done that twice) into the semi-finals for two years running (1906 and 1907), and having taken over after our promotion from the second division secured the club in a solid mid-table position.

He later moved on to managing Fulham for 15 years, and it is notable that as his departure from Arsenal led to the gradual decline of the club which culminated first in bankruptcy and secondly in relegation, his departure from his long term spell at Fulham led to five managers and two caretakers in 11 years.

The full details of his life are given in the first link below.

But time should also be taken to consider the 26 May 1913 issue.  Tottenham objected like mad to Arsenal’s moving its ground by 12 miles, just as they had objected to Chelsea entering the Southern League while they were there.  But it was plain for all to see that the Football League regulations of the day gave no power to the League to decide where a club played – only (as they pointed out in the 1910 AGM when they previously looked at the issue) which division the club played in.

Tottenham were simply muddying the pools and causing a fuss, knowing full well that they didn’t have a legal leg to stand on.

  • 26 May 1871: Arsenal manager Phil Kelso born. Manager from 1904 to 1908 he was one of the great innovators, paving the way for the major changes of Chapman and Wenger in subsequent centuries, the “Mr Transformation” of the club in the Woolwich days. There is an index of articles about him here.
  • 26 May 1913 Tottenham’s demand for an EGM of league clubs to stop Arsenal’s move from Plumstead to Highbury defeated at League’s AGM, re-iterating the League’s position from the 1910 AGM that the league regulations gave them no say in where a club played.
  • 26 May 1938 both Ted Drake and Cliff Bastin scored in their final England appearance which ended England 4 France 2.  Ted Drake’s two goals made it six goals in five England games.
  • 26 May 1987: Nigel Winterburn signed from Wimbledon for £400,000.  He went on to be one of the famous back five, playing on the left with Dixon on the right, with Adams and Bould in the centre.
  • 26 May 1989 Liverpool 0 Arsenal 2.  Arsenal won the league.   Prior to the match the Daily Mail ran the headline “You don’t have a prayer Arsenal” and Brian Moore’s commentary of the game, which was shown live on TV, contained the famous line, “It’s up for grabs now”. Alan Smith’s goal gave him 23 goals in 36 league games.  Michael Thomas (who later played for Liverpool) scored the winner “right at the end”.
  • 26 May 2013: Arsenal Ladies won FA Cup for sixth time in eight years.  They won it again in 2014, but then found their days of dominance curtailed as other clubs started to invest heavily in their women’s teams.

Tony Attwood

The complete Arsenal on this day index is now here with around 5000 major events in Arsenal’s history recorded.  May and June recently fully updated.

The books

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