Arsenal v Bristol City, November 20th 1909

So we had had a draw away from home last weekend against Sheffield Wednesday.  Now a home match against Bristol City.

The draw had done nothing for our league position, and we were still firmly bottom of the league, but it had been preceded by two defeats, and that therefore was a step forward. Also the defence was more stable after all those heavy defeats in October.  We were still in the tunnel, but maybe there was light.

The trouble quite simply was the team.  There was no consistency.

There was no question of putting out the same team twice although at least this time there were only two changes from last week’s team.  Heppinstall came in at outside left having not played through injury since September 11.  But yet again we had a new centre forward – Buckenham – the seventh different person to play number 9 in just 14 games.

William Elijah Buckehamwas another of those mystery players.  Born in Woolwich in 1888 he played for several teams in the area, transferring from the 86th Battallion Royal Artillery, playing 21 games this season and scoring five times.  After that he was on his way again, presumably with the military, moving on to Southampton.

Frank Heppinstall was another short term player although he did play across two seasons.  Born in 1885 he came from Swindon Town and played 18 games in 1909/10 and 5 the following season, but he never scored a goal.

What do we make of these changes?

Injury played a part, but more than that, the club was in deep financial trouble.   It was clear that there was no money and wages were slashed to the minimum – so the manager who had been brought in to cut costs was doing just that.  Trying out anyone and everyone, looking for someone who might just make it, while costing less than the maximum wage.

As for this game, the mini revival began to take shape – it was a 2-2 draw in front of 8000.   Buckenham was one of the scorers.

It was only the second time all season we had scored in two consecutive matches.  The club had come up a couple of years earlier and struggled on low crowds, and as great a feeling of isolation from the mainstream of northern football as Arsenal had in Kent.   They ended the season 16th and went down with Nottingham Forest the next season.

So a draw against modest opposition was no big deal – but it was one more point, and two games without defeat.

The whole story of what happened as Arsenal’s finances collapsed and the club was taken over by Fulham is told in MAKING THE ARSENAL written by Tony Attwood (ie me) – a novel which tells the story of 1910.   You can find details on and buy the book there, or via Amazon – when they have copies in stock.

(c) Tony Attwood

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