Arsenal in the FA Cup: 1904/5

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1st round.  Feb 4.   Bristol City (home).  Drew 0-0  Crowd 25,000

Having played Bristol Rovers in the previous season, and having been now permanently excused the preliminary rounds, Woolwich Arsenal got Bristol City at home in the first round proper.

Strange at it seems today, Bristol City were by 1905 heading towards emulating Woolwich Arsenal.   They had entered the league in 1901 (replacing New Brighton), and come sixth, fourth and fourth.   Arsenal were promoted in 1903/4  and so in 1904/5 were playing for the very first time in the top league.   Bristol City were still in the second (destined to come fourth for the third year running – they won the league in 1905/6 and were promoted to the First Division).

So a first division against second division clash, but not one that would raise talk of minnows, and giant killing.

The crowd was not our biggest home crowd of the season – although it was equalled for the league game against Everton.  The top crowd was 32,850 for the league match against Villa.   Indeed it would be a mistake to believe the old tales about Arsenal ultimately failing as a club in this era because of poor crowds.  Only a handful of Arsenal away games got bigger crowds than Arsenal would get at home.

1st round.  Feb 8.   Bristol City (away).  Lost 0-1  Crowd 10,000

There was a strength in this developing Bristol City side, as seen by the fact that ultimately they were runners-up to Newcastle in 1906/7 and in 1909 got to the FA Cup final.  Ultimately the bubble burst and in 1910/11 they finished 19th in the first division and went down.   They didn’t come back until 1976, when their first match of the season was against Arsenal.  We lost that one too.

In the second round Bristol City lost to Preston North End, and in the third Preston lost to The Wednesday.  In the semis Aston Villa beat Everton 2-1 and Newcastle beat the Wednesday 1-0.

According to the Sporting Chronicle 101,117 turned up at Crystal Palace to see Aston Villa 2, Newcastle United 0 in the final.  Rather amusingly Wikipedia has the game kicking off at 3pm BST.  In fact “Daylight Saving Time” was not even proposed until 1907 in a William Willett pamphlet called The Waste of Daylight.   The government would have none of it until May 1916 when the Germans adopted the policy.  In a panic the government (somehow believing that Germany would be attacking us an hour earlier than we knew) quickly followed.   (Source: The National Maritime Museum – at, of course, Greenwich).

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