How the truth behind Arsenal’s first match was finally revealed.

This is our daily review of Arsenal anniversaries taken from the Arsenal day by day  files prepared by the AISA Arsenal History Society.

Our headline is taken from this day in 1886.

Here are the stories from this day in history…

11 December 1881  Thomas Tindal Fitchie (only man to be signed by Arsenal five times) was born.  TT became a travelling salesman with Jacques & Co a sports goods and games manufacturer. They encouraged his football career as it allowed them access to the clubs and the players who were his team-mates.

11 December 1886: Arsenal’s first game under the name Dial Square, beating Eastern Wanderers 6-0.  When Arsenal History Society first came along there was no contemporary evidence to show this game actually took place, but our research found the missing newspaper evidence including the only contemporary report of the match – something which had been lost for 100 years.  After this match, membership of the club was expanded from those who worked in the Dial Square factory to everyone working for the Woolwich Arsenal.  (The article linked here, is, to the best of my knowledge, the definitive analysis of the setting up of the first game, overthrowing many of the myths that had circulated previously, when detailed information had not been researched.)

11 December 1897 Arsenal 4 New Brompton 2, FA Cup qualifying round 5.  Arsenal thus qualified for the first round proper but as happened two years earlier Arsenal lost to Burnley in the next round.

11 December 1902: Dan Lewis born in Maery, Glamorgan, and after playing for clubs in his area moved to Clapton Orient, before joining Arsenal in 1924,

11 December 1909: After 7 consecutive away defeats Arsenal’s upturn in away form continues, beating Preston 4-3 making it three wins in a row.  See here for the build up to the game    Arsenal’s centre forward problems revealedand also here

11 December 1937: Arsenal 2 Preston 0.  Last game for John Milne who lost his place to “Boy” Bastin.  He went on to play for Middlesbrough and later went to Mexico City with Tom McKillop and Jimmy Hickie to train a team there.

11 December 1943: Jack Crayston’s last game in the Football League South (wartime league).  At the end of the war he joined the coaching staff at Highbury and in June 1947 was appointed assistant manager to Tom Whittaker

11 December 1960: John Lukic born.  He played first for Leeds as a schoolboy and then started with the first team in 1979 before transferring to Arsenal for £75,000 as a replacement for Pat Jennings.  

11 December 1963: Nigel Winterburn born.  He was with Birmingham City and Oxford Utd until joining Wimbledon in 1983, from whom he was signed by George Graham for Arsenal as part of the most famous defensive unit in Football League history.

11 December 2012: Arsenal lost in league cup to Bradford on penalties.  It was 1-1 after extra time with Vermaelen scoring, but he then missed one of the penalties along with Cazorla and Chamakh in the shoot out.



The latest post from our series on Henry Norris at the Arsenal

November 1918: war ends, FA / League quarrel, Henry Norris is called on (again).

Yesterday’s anniversaries: Which Arsenal man said, “It’s never been about money.  For me it is about respect”?

Special feature: Highbury: from start to end with previously unseen pictures of the end of the stadium.

What’s on the Arsenal History Society site

An index to the various series that contain over 1,700 articles on this site concerning the history of Arsenal appears on our home page.

2 Replies to “How the truth behind Arsenal’s first match was finally revealed.”

  1. My first visit to your site and really admiring your work.

    Just wondering if there is any scope to see an uploaded account from the newspaper of Arsenal’s first match from 1886?

    Keep up the brilliant work.

    Best Wishes,

    Andy Hallewell

  2. Thank you Andy.
    There are no contemporary reports of the match, but a few comments made years later speak of a very muddy field with an open sewer down one side. But such commentaries coming from years later may not be accurate.
    The two main articles we have are
    Arsenal’s very first season. 1886/7 – the games, the results

    11 December 1886: the definitive story of the build up to the very first Arsenal game

    If you type 1886 into the box at the top right you will get other bits and pieces relating to that game.

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