By Tony Attwood
Having completed my short analysis of Woolwich Arsenal’s league results in the last article, I began to wonder what Tottenham’s results were like over the same period. No particular reason – I just thought it would be interesting.
In fact it turned out to be more than interesting. Here’s the chart. After the year (which marks the second year in each season so 1894 is 1893/4) the next three columns are Woolwich Arsenal, recording the league they were in, the number of games played and the position. After that the same for Tottenham.
|Year||WAFC league||Games||Position||TH League||Games||Position||Best club|
|1909||Div I||38||6||Div II||38||2||WAFC|
|1910||Div I||38||18||Div I||38||15||THFC|
|1911||Div I||38||10||Div I||38||15||WAFC|
|1912||Div I||38||10||Div I||38||12||WAFC|
|1913||Div I||38||20||Div I||38||17||THFC|
|1914||Div II||38||3||Div I||38||17||THFC|
|1915||Div II||38||5||Div I||38||20||THFC|
The final column shows which of the two clubs was in the higher position – a bit nerdy I know, but well…
However what suddenly struck me was this. Tottenham make this huge fuss about 1919, when having come bottom of the first division in 1915 they were relegated to the second division. Arsenal simultaneously came up, having come 5th in the second division – something that was as a result of the chairmen voting on which clubs should be part of the new enlarged first division. (If you have read my little piece on the events of 1919 you will also know there was the issue of match fixing that needed to be dealt with – there’s a link at the bottom).
Anyway, let us consider Tottenham’s position in getting out of the Southern League. Tottenham won the Southern League once, in 1900, but in 1908 when they were promoted, they came 8th.
Now let’s just ponder this. In 1908 Tottenham came 8th and went up. In 1915 Woolwich Arsenal came 5th and went up. Tottenham make a lot of fuss about Woolwich Arsenal going up, and yet, somehow, the sadness and regret of Tottenham fans at having gone up so unfairly having just come 8th in the Southern League in 1908 has escaped me.
Certainly Tottenham could not claim to have been endless champions of the Southern League. They won it once. That was it. So what machinations went on to get Tottenham promoted that year?
Was it bribery and corruption? That might seem a little extreme to allege but then it is exactly what Tottenham have been alleging since 1919, despite the fact that the evidence is all there that there were calls for the match fixing clubs (Liverpool and Manchester United) to be thrown out of the league, thus making not just four places but six places available in the first division in 1919.
What similar event allowed Tottenham to rise from the Southern League to the Football League after coming a miserly seventh?
I think we should be told! For whatever the reasons, maybe the same ones applied in 1919 when Arsenal went up having come 5th.
Of course we could go further. In 1895/1896 Tottenham were neither in the First nor Second Division of the Southern League. Yet the following season they jumped over the second division into the first. How come? It all looks a bit dark and misty.