The origins of “Boring Boring Arsenal” and the passing of one of our great managers

Here are the anniversaries of Arsenal for 13 March.  

The full index to what is on this site is here.

“Boring Boring Arsenal” came from 1993 (see below) and our manager who died on this day was George Allison part of the collective of four successive managers who between them won seven league titles and three FA Cups.   Allison, like Chapman and Whittaker won the league twice and the FA Cup once, (the other league title was won by Shaw under Allison’s guidance) but he also had the unenviable task of running Arsenal from a single, tiny office at White Hart Lane during the second world war, and then trying to put a team together in the first season after the war.

What he also did was write an autobiography that was published upon his retirement, which gives a totally different view of Sir Henry Norris from that expressed by our earlier manager Leslie Knighton.  Allison worked with Norris as programme writer/editor through the whole of Norris’ reign at the club and in his autobiography spoke of him in glowing terms.


Meanwhile, the latest episode in our series of articles about Henry Norris at the Arsenal is now published:

The 3rd Knighton allegation against Norris: did he sell much-needed Fred Pagnam just for profit?

Now the anniversaries


13 March 1890: The London FA narrowly turned down a proposal to form a Southern League, despite the huge success of the Football League and the development of the Football Alliance.  The Southern League however was formed in 1894.

13 March 1893: Arsenal prepared for entry to the Football League by playing friendlies against league clubs throughout this period.  On this day it was Arsenal 0 Aston Villa 1.

13 March 1915: William Middleton first appeared as a director of Arsenal Football and Athletic Company Limited in the club’s  annual report with 100 shares, part of the plan to diversify the share ownership away from Henry Norris.

13 March 1920: Arsenal beat Sheffield United 3-0 at Highbury.  With only five of the XI who started the season now in the side, Jack Peart was introduced at right back. The Islington paper commented that the paper was pleased to see the club sticking by its own young players, and Peart was in this category,

13 March 1924: Andrew Neil signed from Brighton and Hove Albion.  He had previously played his whole career in Ayrshire, and went on to make his debut for Arsenal in a 2-1 defeat to Nottingham Forest two days after signing.  He played the remainder of the season and scored twice before appearing 16 times in the 1924/25 campaign.

13 March 1926: Two years to the day after signing for Arsenal, and despite this being his most productive season, Chapman sold Andrew Neil back to Brighton having just signed Alex James.

13 March 1937: Arsenal beat Leeds United 3-4 away.  Leeds were currently in 20th position, although with a strong home record but their recent results included a 0-2 home defeat to Birmingham, a 2-2 home draw with Bolton,  a 7-1 away defeat to Everton and a 1-4 away loss to Brentford.

13 March 1957: George Allison, Arsenal manager from 1934 to 1947, and part of the great dynasty that included Chapman, Joe Shaw and Tom Whittaker, died of a heart attack.  He won the league twice, and the FA Cup – exactly the same as Chapman. Tottenham suffered the backlash, beaten 3-1 at WHL. Dave Bowen claimed two of the goals – the only ones he ever scored for Arsenal.

13 March 1959  Despite his superstitious nature, and this being Friday 13th, manager George Swindin drove on a 400 miles round trip to put in a £40,000 + bid for Swansea’s Wales international centre half Mel Charles.

13 March 1962 George Swindin was told by Arsenal chairman Denis Hill-Wood he would no longer be manager after the last match of the season, 1st May, but that he was required to continue his duties for the remaining 12 matches of which Arsenal won five.

13 March 1965: Nottm Forest 3 Arsenal 0.  Part of the run of only two wins in the final 10 games of the season under Billy Wright’s management.

13 March 1970: Jimmy Robertson transferred to Ipswich.  In his two seasons he started 45 first division games and scored seven goals.  In July 1972 Robertson joined Stoke City for £80,000 but his career was badly set back with a leg break in December 1974.  In 1976 he moved on to Seattle and then Walsall and finally Crewe.

13 March 1971: Crystal Palace 0 Arsenal 2 in League match 31 of the first Double season.  Four wins in five restored the faith that the title might just be possible but Leeds remained six points ahead and Arsenal only had two games in hand.  Graham and Sammels got the goals.

13 March 1972: Arsenal 1 Derby 0.  FA Cup 5th round 2nd replay; after extra time.  Kennedy got the goal that took Arsenal through towards their second successive cup final for the first time in the club’s history.

13 March 1976: Coventry 1 Arsenal 1.  The draw made it four games unbeaten, but only 13,938 turned up perhaps reflecting Arsenal’s lack of firepower – which had resulted in four goals in five games.  Powling got the goal.

13 March 1993: Coventry 0 Arsenal 2.  After the 11 “Boring Boring” games with neither team scoring more than 1 goal, Arsenal finally get two, one each from Campbell and Wright.

13 March 2004: Blackburn 0 Arsenal 2  The 28th league game of the 3rd double season.  It was the 8th consecutive win with goals from Henry and Edu.

13 March 2010: Hull 1 Arsenal 2 turned out to be last game for Hull’s manager Phil Brown who had launched bizarre attacks on Arsenal and Cesc Fabregas for various degrees of imagined misbehaviour.

13 March 2013: Bayern Munich 0 Arsenal 2.  This was the first of ten consecutive away wins – an all time record for the club.  Giroud and Koscielny got the goals.

13 March 2016: Arsenal were looking to be the first team since 1886 to win the FA Cup three years running, and Arsene Wenger was looking to be the most successful FA Cup manager of all time when they were beaten by Watford 1-2 at the Emirates in the 6th round.

Our books “Making the Arsenal” and “Woolwich Arsenal: the club that changed history” are both available on Kindle.

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