By Tony Attwood
I’ve recently finished the series covering all the players who played in the first Arsenal league season of 1893/4, – the index to the whole series is on the home page.
Prior to that we had the Arsenal in the 70s series, and there is a full index to that series of articles here.
Indeed if you scroll down the left side of the screen you’ll come to an index of many of the series we have done.
So I’ve been contemplating what to do next, and the thought struck me that I have never seen a series of articles or a book on Arsenal’s first title winning season, so I might have a go at that. But if you do know of anyone who has written such a volume, do let me know. I do like to try and uncover, rather than re-run, stories from Arsenal’s past.
Meanwhile, today, 9 May is quite an important day in Arsenal’s history, so I thought I’d highlight it – and add here all the anniversaries of today, 9 May.
It is the day that Arsenal went professional – coincidentally the day on which James Paterson was born.
What is interesting about Dr Paterson is that it is his life story that reveals that the tales told by Arsenal manager Leslie Knighton about his boss, Sir Henry Norris, were completely untrue.
Then on 9 May 1936 Bernard Joy became Arsenal’s last amateur player. His subsequent history of Arsenal became very popular and was regarded by some as a definitive text for many years, but once again takes the Knighton tales (which were written 20 to 25 years after the events they describe, and without reference to any notes or documents from the era) as the truth.
And what adds to the fun is that once again on 9 May 2010 Arsenal’s programme published an article by Brian Glanville which repeated many of the Knighton stories, and which was seemingly written without any reference to the analyses which show how far from the truth they were.
Ah well, can’t win them all.
Here’s the anniversary list for today. Unless I change my mind (or find someone has beaten me to it) Arsenal: the first championship season, will begin in a few days.
9 May 1891: Royal Arsenal FC voted at its AGM to turn itself into a professional side, making the club the first professional team in the south of England in a move proposed by Jack Humble. Although the move had opponents the opposition did not lead to any expulsions or bans as the club’s official history suggested for many years.
9 May 1891: Dr James Paterson born. He was awarded the Military Cross in the first world war and his history at Arsenal is a major factor in exposing the mendacity of Leslie Knighton’s autobiography which misled historians of the club for years.
9 May 1922: Andrew Kennedy joined Arsenal from Crystal Palace. He played 24 league games and two FA Cup games in his first season for the Arsenal, and in the summer won two caps for Ireland.
9 May 1931: Dan Lewis transferred to Gillingham. He is forever remember as the Welsh goalkeeper who spilled the ball in Arsenal’s first FA Cup final, to allow Cardiff to score.
9 May 1935: Reg Lewis joined from Margate, but his debut was not to come until 1 January 1938. During the war years he scored 143 goals in 130 games!
9 May 1936: Bernard Joy became last amateur player to play for England in a full international. His book Forward, Arsenal, although reiterating the standard errors of other Arsenal histories, contains much to illuminate what happened in the club in the years in which he played for Arsenal.
9 May 1954: Derek Tapscott played his first international for Wales. In all he made 14 appearances for his country.
9 May 1962: Death of George Jobey, the man who scored the first Arsenal goal at Highbury. After he retired as a player he had gone into management with considerable success, but was dogged with “illegal payment” allegations.
9 May 1965: Peter Storey’s first appearance in a post-season friendly. His league debut came in October.
9 May 1971: Half a million people are said to have lined the streets to see the Double Winners’ Parade. Frank McLintock is said to have fallen asleep on the town hall steps due to some energetic celebrating the night before.
9 May 1973: Leeds 6 Arsenal 1. It was the last match of the season as Arsenal came runners up. It was also the end of the last season in which Arsenal seriously challenged for the title under Mee. It was also the league debut for David Price
9 May 1981: Arsenal 3 Eastern Athletic Association (Hong Kong) 0. Last game for Frank Stapleton. After 223 league games he signed for Man U – a move that was not surprisingly, poorly received by Arsenal supporters..
9 May 1987: Arsenal 1 Norwich City 2. Last game for Viv Anderson. He had played 120 league games, and moved on to Manchester United. Arsenal finished the season 4th.
9 May 2004: Fulham 0 Arsenal 1. After 3 draws in succession the 37th league game of the unbeaten season resulted in a win. Reyes scored the goal, while Henry, Vieira and Parlour were all booked. Just one game to go.
9 May 2010: Arsenal 4 Fulham 0 concluding an unbeaten run which started with Arsenal 2 Stoke 0 on 5 December 2009. The Arsenal programme included a three page analysis of Henry Norris by Brian Glanville that repeated much of the misleading and often completely inaccurate information written in the autobiography of Leslie Knighton, the manager Norris sacked for incompetence.
9 May 2013: Daily Mail reported that “Arsenal agree £30m-a-year deal with Puma in most lucrative kit contract in Britain”.
9 May 2014: Koscielny signed a new long term contract after frenzied speculation about him leaving. Wenger later called him the best value for money player he had at the club. In the 2015/16 season with both Arteta and Mertesacker out of the team he became captain.