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Woolwich Arsenal – the complete league record.

Woolwich Arsenal Year by Year – the record

Notes:

  • The year is the second year of the season, thus 1894 is 1893/4
  • The red figures in the position column reflect the best ever for the club.
  • Points, 2 for a win, 1 for a draw.
  • Woolwich Arsenal became The Arsenal towards the end of the 1914 season.
Year Position Games Won Drawn Lost Points
1894 9 (Div II) 28 12 4 12 28
1895 8 30 14 6 10 34
1896 7 30 14 4 12 32
1897 10 30 13 4 13 30
1898 5 30 16 5 9 37
1899 7 34 18 5 11 41
1900 8 34 16 4 14 36
1901 7 34 15 6 13 36
1902 4 34 18 6 10 42
1903 3 34 20 8 6 48
1904 2 (prom) 34 21 7 6 49
1905 10 (Div I) 34 12 9 13 33
1906 12 38 15 7 16 37
1907 7 38 20 4 14 44
1908 14= 38 12 12 14 36
1909 6 38 14 10 14 38
1910 18 38 11 9 18 31
1911 10 38 13 12 13 38
1912 10 38 15 8 15 38
1913 20 (releg) 38 3 12 23 18
1914 3 (Div II) 38 20 9 9 49
1915 6* 38 19 5 4 43

The 1914/15 season was played even though war was declared shortly after the start of the season.  After the end of the 1915 season the football league ceased until 1919.

*1914/1915 – was The Arsenal 5th or 6th in the league?

At the end of the 1914/1915 season three clubs had 43 points – Birmingham, Arsenal and Hull City.  Official records at the time recorded Birmingham as 5th, Arsenal 6th and Hull 7th.

The way the clubs were differentiated was goal average, which meant taking the number of goals scored and dividing by the number of goals let in.    (To be quite clear, the number of goals scored is the top of the equation, the number let in is the bottom.

Here are the records

For Against Goal Average Position*
Birmingham C 62 39 1.5897 5
Arsenal 64 41 1.6829 6
Hull 65 54 1.2037 7

Quite clearly Arsenal had a better goal average than Birmingham and should have been declared 5th not 6th, and in later records this is changed.

Just out of curiosity I have tried reversing the procedure and dividing the number of goals let in by the number of goals scored.   This would put Hull 5th, Birmingham 6th and Arsenal 7th.  But just to be quite sure this rather odd way of calculating was not used, I then checked the figures for 1913/14 when Arsenal ended up 3rd in Division II and so lost out on promotion on goal average.

In that season Bradford had 71 goals for and 47 against, and Arsenal 54-38.  If we divide in the way that makes the most sense (goals scored over goals let in) Bradford get promotion with an average of 1.51 and Arsenal comes third with an average of 1.42.  That must have been the way it was done.

Interestingly, if the clubs had used goal difference in 1915 as today the result would have been Birmingham with +23, Arsenal with +23, Hull with +11.  But Arsenal scored two more goals and so would have gone up.  Had they done so it would have saved a lot of fuss after the war!

Quite why an error was made in 1915 is anyone’s guess, but the fact is that interest in the league was overshadowed by the small matter of the first world war, and given that everyone knew well in advance that the league was to be stopped, it can hardly have seen relevant.  I like to imagine a number of small boys and old men working the figures out by long division and realising the mistake, perhaps writing to the paper, and finding their letter never published.

But by 1919 Norris would have known, and quite possibly used the argument in his push for Arsenal’s promotion.   He would have started from being 5th.  As we know, Derby and Preston were promoted as the first and second club, and Chelsea were re-elected to the first division upon its enlargement.  Which left one place between Barnsley (3rd), Wolverhampton (4th) and Arsenal (5th).

The rest of the story is told in our special article on the promotion to Division I

1 comment to Woolwich Arsenal – the complete league record.

  • A typo to point out: Yes, Arsenal had a 1.68 goal avg, & to your point, should be considered 5th in league if goal avg was the deciding measure, but note that this is due to 69 goals scored, not 64. A 64 to 41 ratio would be inferior to B’ham’s. A quick look at the 1914-15 results confirms the 69 goals.

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