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The extraordinary speed of Arsenal’s decline after the first double; the Arsenal anniversaries

While the first Arsenal double in 1971 is of course remembered as a core part of the club’s history, what happened thereafter is rarely mentioned.

Bertie Mee stayed in office and attempted to introduce a military style approach to managing footballers – footballers who now were immortalised and feted after their achievements.   Tension was rife and the club declined rapidly.

By 1975 Arsenal were 16th in the league and still in decline and for several seasons had spells when they were being talked about as relegation candidates.

Two anniversaries on this day – one in 1972 and one in 1977 remind us just how fast the club collapsed, and how quickly Mee lost any sort of grip on the club and its players.


 

12 February 1887: Alexandra Utd 0 Royal Arsenal 6.  It was Arsenal’s seventh game since their formation the previous December, and took the goals scored total to 33.

12 February 1907: The Daily News reported an explosion in the Manor Ground had wrecked Arsenal’s catering facilities.  It did not however interrupt the playing of matches.

12 February 1910: Arsenal 0 Blackburn 1.  The defeat left Arsenal perilously close to relegation and the low crowd of just 7,500 took them closer to closure.. Match preliminaries here.  See also report on the crowds during the era.  

12 February 1910: Andy Ducat’s international debut for England.  As a cricketer he played 1 test match for England and 429 first class matches.  He went on to play six times for England at football.

12 February 1927: Daniel Lewis’ first cap.  He played three times for Wales between 1927 and 1929.  Also first league match for John Barley at home to Leeds. He went on to play 8 league games across three seasons.

12 February 1937: Laurie Scott signed for Arsenal.  Ernest Tuckett went to Bradford City in part exchange.  He played 115 games for Arsenal before moving on to Crystal Palace in 1951.

12 February 1938:  Arsenal v Preston – the fourth ever 70,000+ crowd to see Arsenal.  Arsenal lost 0-1 to the team rivalling them for the championship. However Arsenal won the league, while Preston came third.

12 February 1966: Last game for Joe Baker (a friendly).  He played 144 games for Arsenal and scored 93 goals – a terrific goal to game record – before going on to Nottm Forest on 26 Feb.

12 February 1972: Arsenal 2 Derby 0.  Attendance: 52,055. It was after this game that the dream of consecutive Doubles, and then the dream of retaining the league title both began to slip away.

12 February 1977: Man C 1 Arsenal 0. The fourth consecutive game without a win, the start of seven consecutive defeats in the league – the worst ever run of defeats, beating the six recorded under both Chapman and Knighton, and worse than anything in the relegation year.

12 February 1985: Ian Allinson injured as Liverpool beat Arsenal 3-0.  In the 1984/5 season Allinson with 10 goals was joint top goal scorer in the league with Talbot and Woodcock.

12 February 1993: Benik Afobe born.  After multiple loans and a bad injury, he finally came good with MK Dons and was transferred to Wolverhampton Wanderers in early 2015 and then to Premier League Bournemouth one year later.

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