This is part of our series on Henry Norris at the Arsenal. Details of the series are given at the end of the article.
The previous article in the series was Experimenting with the offside law as Arsenal lose 6 in a row, scoring just 2.
By Tony Attwood
Arsenal entered March 1925 having lost six games in a row during which they had scored two, and conceded 14. As a result the table now looked like this…
|2||West Bromwich Albion||30||19||4||7||48||26||1.846||42|
|14||West Ham United||29||11||6||12||43||44||0.977||28|
|22||Preston North End||30||7||2||21||25||61||0.410||16|
With this decline in their form Arsenal had fallen down the table, but no serious thought was given to the notion that Arsenal would be in danger of relegation, not least because Forest had not won in their last seven games, and their case looked terminal.
In an attempt to rectify the situation, on Wednesday 4 March 1925 Arsenal bought Notts County’s Don Cock, the man who had scored against them and then been sent off in the Notts County v Arsenal game earlier in the season. He had previously played for Brentford and Fulham.
However the transfer was not a success – Knighton only used the player twice this season, (although to be fair he was injured in his second match) and Chapman gave him but one game in 1925/6 before moving him on to Clapton Orient in October 1925.
But one can understand the need for the transfer. Arsenal’s problem was that Woods, Ramsey and Toner who had played number 9, 10, and 11 through so much of the season were now all missing. Indeed of the forward line the only man with any experience in the Arsenal team was Brain and since getting his four goals against Leeds he had not scored a single goal.
Against Bolton Arsenal thus now put out an experimental forward line of Hoar, Brain, Cock, Blyth and Haden. Cock was thus playing his first match, Haden his third of the season and Blyth his second at inside left. And yet amazingly it worked as Arsenal won 1-0 with Blyth getting his first of the season.
What made the win all the more pleasing was the fact that Bolton were third at the time. While Bolton’s away form was only modest (having won 3 and drawn 6 out of the 15 away games) Arsenal’s form overall had been so poor that they were given little hope.
Except for one factor, for Bolton’s last five games had provided a very interesting set of results… At home they had won their last three scoring 12 and conceding just two, but away, they had lost both games 1-0, the second of these to bottom of the league Preston.
|07 Feb 1925||Bolton Wanderers v Cardiff City||W||3-0|
|11 Feb 1925||Sunderland v Bolton Wanderers||L||1-0|
|14 Feb 1925||Preston North End v Bolton Wanderers||L||1-0|
|21 Feb 1925||Bolton Wanderers v Burnley||W||5-0|
|28 Feb 1925||Bolton Wanderers v Manchester City||W||4-2|
So maybe the scoreline was not such a great achievement after all. But the result was nonetheless very welcome.
Knighton followed up the purchase of Cock with Joe Hughes from Guildford United on 10 March and he made his debut on that same day. That was in fact his only game for Arsenal, but perhaps this was not a case of Knighton being at fault, as the records show that Hughes retired from football in the summer due to a serious illness. He did however recover and became a school teacher.
In the second match of the month, on 14 March, Arsenal played Notts County away, and not surprisingly the manager put out the team that had won the week before. County had slipped considerably of late and far from being top of the table were now 10th.
Arsenal were now 18th, eight points ahead of Forest with a game in hand and there was still no worry about relegation. County also were in a bad run having not won in the last four, so there was hope, but it was not to be as County won 2-1, although there was consolation as at last Brain got another goal. Arsenal remained at before, in 18th, now eight points above both Preston and Nottingham Forest.
Meanwhile on the building front, once again we find that the Kinnaird building company had put in and were granted an application to build another single house. It really was a case of just keeping the company ticking over.
Next on 21 March Arsenal welcomed Everton, complete with Dixie Dean in the team – the first appearance of Dean at Arsenal.
With Cock now injured Woods came back at centre forward, and it was noted, Everton had only won a single game away all season. They had drawn six, that was true, but it was felt a couple of goals should do it. Mind you Arsenal hadn’t scored a couple of goals in eight games, so that was a tall order. But Arsenal were 2-0 up at half time, Everton submitted and it ended Arsenal 3 Everton 1. Woods, anxious to show that he was not going to be usurped by any newcomer got two and Baker got the other – his first of the season. It was also the first time Arsenal had scored three since December.
On the following Monday Arsenal were back at Highbury with the league game against West Ham – the club that had so exercised Knighton in terms of the FA Cup match, in his autobiography, if not in reality. But having picked up two wins in the last three games, the run was not to continue. Arsenal lost 1-2 but the score was not the key issue of the day – only 10,000 turned up at Highbury – their lowest in the first division since returning to the top division in 1919. It was of course a Monday late afternoon game, but even so there had been other midweek games with much higher crowd figures than this; it was an exceptionally low turnout.
This was the last game for Tom Whittaker; his only game of this season. He had played just 64 games for the club but his impact behind the scenes, returning the following season as assistant trainer was much, much greater, and he went on to be a major force in the club as manager winning two League titles and the FA Cup as manger before his untimely death in 1953.
The final game of the month saw Arsenal lose 2-0 away to Sunderland. In the Sunderland team was Charlie Buchan. One suspects that this was the moment that Sir Henry Norris decided that Buchan, or a player very much like him, was what Arsenal needed. And indeed following the 10,000 crowd for the West Ham game, maybe it was also the moment that he knew that Knighton most certainly had to go. Although of course it is possible that discussions with Chapman had started at the game against Huddersfield on 14 February.
The Sunderland game was the end of the League football for the month, but on Monday 30 March there was another game at Highbury in which the proposed new offside law was tried out once more. The game was Amateurs of the South v Professionals of the South and was in aid of the FA Benevolent Fund. Unfortunately I can’t find a report of the game nor even the score, but I suspect there were a number of other games of this type held to allow managers to consider what they were going to do in relation to the new rule.
However discussion was not just of the off-side rule, for elsewhere at this time there was also a growing conversation ensuing about water shortages as what turned out to be the driest six months of the 20th century continued to deliver no sign of rain.
Here’s the table for the end of the month
|1||West Bromwich Albion||35||20||7||8||53||31||1.710||47|
|10||West Ham United||34||13||9||12||49||48||1.021||35|
|21||Preston North End||34||9||3||22||32||65||0.492||21|
There were still eight games to go, meaning Preston could repeat their escape act and end up on 37 points. Arsenal therefore did need to win a few more games. And it is also, at this point, worth noting Arsenal’s away form this season. Only the two clubs heading for relegation had done worse on the road. Here’s the away form table…
|19||West Ham United||15||2||2||11||19||38||0.500||6|
|22||Preston North End||14||1||2||11||5||32||0.156||4|
And here is the usual summary of the month’s game.
The series continues
Henry Norris at the Arsenal
We are currently evolving a complete series on Henry Norris at the Arsenal. The full index to the articles that cover the period from 1910 to this point are given in Henry Norris at the Arsenal
Perhaps the most popular element in the Norris story is that of Arsenal’s promotion to the first division in 1919. Therefore we have separated that story out below. It raises in part the question of the validity of the chief critic of Henry Norris: the Arsenal manager from 1919 to 1925 who Norris sacked. Thus in the selection below we include articles which consider the question as to the validity of Knighton’s testimony.
For the complete index on Norris at the Arsenal please see the link above.
- April 1915: New revelations concerning perhaps the most important month in Arsenal’s history
- November / December 1915: the match fixing scandal comes to the fore: Norris is armed
The voting and the comments before and after the election
- The first suggestion that Arsenal could be elected to the 1st division.
- Arsenal in January 1919: rioting in the streets and the question of promotion
- What the media said about the election of Arsenal to the 1st division in 1919
- Arsenal prepare for the vote on who should be promoted to the First Division
- March 1919: The vote to extend the league and what the media said
- Why did the clubs vote for Arsenal rather than Tottenham in March 1919?
The Second Libel
The Third Allegation
The Fourth Allegation
Did Henry Norris really beg Leslie Knighton to stay and offer him the hugest bonus ever? And if so, why were there no new players?
- May/June 1921: Knighton the fantasist. The fourth allegation.
- Why did Arsenal manager Knighton turn down Man City but not buy players? Summer of 1921.
The Fifth Story:
The Sixth Allegation
- March 1922: Desperate times for Arsenal, Norris returns and the transfer limit allegation overturned
The Seventh Allegation
- Arsenal in the Summer 1923: another Knighton allegation but the evidence is again against him.
- Anticipation a plenty but another terrible start to the season: August 1923 – the non-signing of Moffatt.
The Eighth Strange Story