I recently did an article on Arsenal’s first ever league match – against Newcastle. Rather curiously the return match of this fixture was in the same month (obviously the 19th century fixtures computer worked in a different way from today).
Here’s what the Newcastle paper of the day made of it all…
“There was a large attendance at St.James’ Park on Saturday afternoon when these teams met in a League Game. Frequent falls of rain had softened the ground, and moisture continued to drop at intervals during the play.
The United side were: – Lowrey (Goal), Jeffrey and Miller (backs),
R.O’Reilly, W.Graham, and J.McKain (half backs) T.Crate, C.Quin,
W.Thompson, I.Ryder, and J.Wallace, (Forwards)
Woolwich Arsenal: – A.Williams(Goal), Pyle and Stress(Backs) J.Davis, R.Buest, D.Howat(Half backs), W.Shaw, D.Gammell, J.Heath, A.Elliot and C.Booth (Forwards) (N.B. 2-3-5 system)
Thompson started up the incline and within a few minutes, Wallace scored with a nice shot from the left wing. For a while the visitors were able to do very little against the rushes of their opponents. And after a series of attacks, Thompson placed the 2nd point to the credit of his side.
Coming away, the visitors got hands dangerously close, but nothing resulted. Jeffrey was cheered for some good feeding work, and Crate made a good run, which nearly led to a goal. Williams came limping out of a collision with Quin, but directly after stopped a swift shot.
One or two of the visitors now began to use their weight in which respect they had superiority, but Referee (Mr.Chalmers of Middlesbrough) promptly allowed fouls. At half time the scores were: – Newcastle United..2 Woolwich Arsenal 0
Upon restarting, the visitors showed better, and the ball flashed about in proximity to the home goal. It was not long however, before play was at the other end and Williams through stepping the ball too far gave the United an excellent free kick.
This they failed to improve upon, but the ball continued bobbing about close tot the visitor’s posts and the custodian did some smart work. He and Thompson at one time showed alittle desire to deal with each other instead of with the ball.
Crate narrowly missed scoring with a fine shot, after which Wallace put the ball under the bar. The custodian threw it out which led to a dispute, but the referee allowed a point. At this stage there was only one team in it. Lowrey was a passive spectator of the game, and the home backs were scarcely ever required on their own side of the half line. Thompson made a fine run and shot a grand goal, which Williams had no chance to save amid great enthusiasm.
A series of scrimmages ensued inthe visitors quarters and Williams effected some good saves, but before long he was nonplussed by Thompson, who screwed in the 5th goal. The game now resolved itself with attacks on the visitor’s goal and from one of these Wallace made up the half dozen.
Numerous shots were stopped by the goalkeeper, but other members of the team were played out longbefore the finish.Final result: – Newcastle United 6. Woolwich Arsenal 0!
The results accurately represents the characters of the game. Excepting a few minutes in each half, the visitors never seemed able to make an effort, and only once or twice at the most did they come near to scoring.
Lowrey hardly ever touched the ball while his opponents at the other end had an active time. The visitors were heavy men, but so far was this from being an advantage to them that they appeared incapable of settling down to hard work and they tried all they knew long before the finish.All through there was only one winning team, each member of which rendered a good account of himself.
Thompson and Wallace divided the goals between them, but Crate and Quin had hard times in not scoring. The halves were very safe, and Jeffrey with more than his usual smartness. Some 2,000 spectators were present.