October 1935: Ok but not good enough

By Tony Attwood

The league table at the end of September read…

Arsenal, as we can see, were in sixth, four points behind the leaders.  What was now clearly needed was not only a solid run by the club itself, but also some faltering by the clubs above them.

In the country at large unrest continued particularly in the mining industry, while industrialisation continued apace with the opening of a new major steel works in Corby, Northants, where a small village was transformed into a key industrial centre, and the first steel was produced in October.

At Highbury there was much relief with the return of Ted Drake after one game’s absence in an otherwise unchanged side for the match against 11th placed Blackburn Rovers who had just lost had just lost two in a row, conceding nine goals.  But despite the 5-1 victory Drake did not score; instead the hero of the afternoon was Bowden with a hattrick.  Bastin and Milne got the other two.  It was Bowden’s first hattrick for the club.

Elsewhere Derby and Sunderland both won, while Huddersfield drew.  Thus the league table moved little, although Arsenal’s goal average improved somewhat.

On 8 October there was more political change as Clement Attlee was appointed as interim leader of the Labour Party in succession to George Lansbury who resigned due to a wish to maintain his Christian pacifist principles.

Next up for Arsenal was Chelsea away.  Since their return to the first division in 1930 Chelsea had never finished above 12th, and had twice flirted with relegation.  But this season it looked as if at last they might do have their best season, and they were now sitting in 10th position.

Arsenal had generally done well against Chelsea in recent years, but this year Arsenal had to settle for a 1-1 draw with Crayston getting his first goal of the season.   The crowd however was utterly extraordinary: 82,905, not just double the normal Chelsea home crowd, but double plus 15,000.

Meanwhile Sunderland lost 4-0 to Grimsby; Middlesbrough beat Huddersfield 4-2, and Derby lost to Sheffield Wednesday.  Arsenal were still not taking the league by storm, but they were inching closer.

Thus there was still the feeling that if only Arsenal could put a run together they could climb back up the league and take a shot at a fourth successive title.

But on wider horizons there was a feeling that the country was falling apart in a class war.  On 16 October the owners of the Nine Mile Point Colliery in South Wales announced that the mine was closing indefinitely after a day of fighting between police and striking miners.

For Arsenal the third league game of the month was against Portsmouth, who were having a poor season, sitting in 16th having had one win in the last six.  This was certainly a game that Arsenal were expected to win – and indeed needed to win if they were going to show that they were serious about retaining their title.

But there was an unprecedented problem – both Male and Hapgood were out because on 19 October both were selected to play for England away to Ireland.  And to add insult to injury Bowden was selected as well.  As a result Compton played at right back and Bob John played his first game of the season at left back.  England won 3-1.

While Leslie Compton was highly regarded he was still inexperienced.  Bob John on the other hand was of course a highly experienced played, but he was at the end of his career having played only nine games in the previous season, and only four of those at full back.

The lack of both full bakes proved to be a deadly loss, for while Derby, Sunderland and Huddersfield all won Arsenal slipped to their third defeat of the season, losing 1-2, Milne scoring the solitary goal for Arsenal.   Elsewhere Aston Villa lost at home to WBA 0-7 while the fourth consecutive win lifted Tottenham to the top of the second division, equal on points with Manchester United who had been in the second division since 1931.

Arsenal now had a chance to put their league woes behind them on 23 October taking part once again in the Charity Shield match, as league champions.  But for the first time in the Charity Shield sequence Arsenal lost a Shield match in a 1-0 home defeat to Sheffield Wednesday in front of 13,300.   Male and Hapgood naturally returned and Bernard Joy got another run out as did Hill and Davidson.

This left one more game in October – at home to 20th placed Preston North End who had won just two of their last ten games.  This time it was Milne and Davidson who were out through injury, replaced by Hulme and Beasley at outside and inside right respectively.  The rest of the team was back to the side that played in the opening league game of the season.   The result was a 2-1 win with Drake and Bastin getting the goals.  It was Drake’s first goal since September 18.

Elsewhere Sunderland beat Sheffield Wednesday 5-1, Huddersfield lost and Derby drew, and perhaps most surprisingly Middlesbrough  lost to Grimsby.  In the second diversion both the top two lost – Man U to Bradford Park Avenue and Tottenham to Leicester.

Here is, as always, the summary of the games of the month.

Date Oppsotion Op Pos H/A Res Pos Pts Crowd AC
9 05.10.1935 Blackburn Rovers 11 home W5-1 4 11 45,981 41,960
10 12.10.1935 Chelsea 10 away D1-1 5 12 82,905 34,977
11 19.10.1935 Portsmouth 16 away L1-2 7 12 34,165 19,358
23.10.1935 Sheffield W (CS) home L0-1 13,300 41,960
12 26.10.1935 Preston North End 20 home W2-1 4 14 42,126 41,960

The abbreviations, as always mean…

  • Op pos, is the league position of the opposition before the game
  • Pos is Arsenal’s position after the game
  • AC is the average crowd in league matches for the home team through the season, providing a comparison between the crowd on that day (in the previous column) and the norm expected by the home side.

The league table at the end of the month showed that Arsenal had made a little progress in their search for upward movement in the table and were now just three points off the top.  Also Arsenal now had the best goal average in the league.


Arsenal in the 30s

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