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Tinkering with the off side rule and its strange consequences

The stated reason for changing the offside rule in 1925 was to stop the decline in the number of people attending games, which itself was deemed to be because of the decline in the number of goals scored.   The change in the rule, which meant that only two men had to be between an opposition player and the goal when he received the ball, did indeed create many more goals, but did not reverse the declining numbers going to games.  It was thus a failure as an experiment, but the international committee would never admit this.

Although the story was then told that Arsenal sorted out how to play the new offside rule, in fact there were many different approaches to playing within the new rules, and as our review of 1925/6 season in the “Henry Norris at the Arsenal” series reveals, there were many really curious results, as different systems came up against each other.  This led to teams scoring six one week and conceding seven the next!

Here are the Arsenal anniversaries for today.

14 February 1891.  Arsenal beat Crusaders 1-0 in the London Charity Cup   This was Arsenal’s second and final entry into what is a rather mysterious Cup competition, of which few details remain, and they were knocked out in the next round, after two replays, by Old Carthusians.

14 February 1912: Bryn Jones (whose transfer smashed the transfer record) born in Merthyr.   He played for a variety of clubs including Merthyr Amateurs,Glenavon and Aberaman Athletic, before signing for Wolverhampton Wanderers in 1933 for a fee of £1500.

14 February 1920: Arsenal lost 3-0 to Oldham in front of 14,000.  However results elsewhere meant Arsenal stayed in 11th – and mid table security was the target in the first year back in the 1st division.  But Arsenal had lost four and won just one game in the last five and were in need of a change of fortune if they were to avoid slipping back towards division 2.

14 February 1925:  The International Board experimented with the proposed new offside law in the Arsenal v Huddersfield Town game.   The build up to the event and the meetings and agreements that had to be arranged may have secured Chapman’s arrival at Arsenal in the summer, for it certainly showed that where tactical changes were required, Chapman was the man.  Huddersfield won 5-0 which did little for Arsenal’s precarious league position but a lot for the future of the club.  It was Arsenal’s worst home defeat since 28 October 1893 when Arsenal lost to Liverpool by the same score.  See also here.  This was just one of a number of games that used the new law before it was introduced.

14 February 1925: Dan Lewis was dropped from the Arsenal team for first time.  Herbert Chapman had a habit of dropping goalkeepers, but reinstated Dan in time for him to play in the 1927 Cup Final, where Dan made the mistake that led to Cardiff’s victory.

14 February 1927: Dan Lewis made his Welsh international début against England, two years to the day from his Cup Final disaster, subsequently winning two more caps for his country.

14 February 1931: Arsenal were top of the league and on this day at home to Derby, secured that position winning 6-3, the goals coming from a Bastin hattrick, James, Hulme and Jack.

14 February 1970: Arsenal 0 Chelsea 3.  Last senior appearance of Bobby Gould.  He went on to play for West Bromwich Albion (then managed by Don Howe) and then Bristol City, West Ham, Wolverhampton (for a second time), and Bristol Rovers (as player coach), before moving into management.

14 February 1978: For the second leg of the League Cup Semi-Final 49,561 came to Highbury in the knowledge that the 1-2 defeat in the first leg should have given Arsenal a strong chance to reach Wembley.  But Liverpool “used their long experience in two-legged affairs” (as the press would have it) or in common parlance played for a 0-0 draw, and got what they came for.

14 February 1989: Arsenal 2 France 0.  Hayes and Smith scored.  This friendly was part of the League’s attempt to rehabilitate English football with Europe having been banned due to Liverpool fans’ behaviour in the European Cup Final.

14 February 1991: Herschel Oulio Sanchez Watt born.  He never played a league match for Arsenal, and after half a dozen loan spells settled at Colchester.

14 February 1995: Glenn Helder signed from Vitesse Arnhem.  After leaving football he admitted to attempting suicide because of his gambling addiction.  In 2007 he served a prison sentence for threatening one girlfriend and abusing another.

14 February 1996: Arsenal 2 Aston Villa 2, league cup semi-final.  Bergkamp got both goals.  The second leg one week later was a goalless draw, and Arsenal went out.  It was the nearest Rioch got to a trophy with Arsenal.

14 February 1997: John Hartson sold to WHU for £5m.  He later set up a foundation to raise money to fight testicular cancer and became a pundit with BBC Radio.

14 February 2002: Kolo Toure signed for Arsenal from ASEC Mimosas for £150,000.  He played 225 league games for Arsenal, before leaving for Manchester City.

14 February 2005: Arsenal 5 Crystal Palace 1, this was supposedly the first Premier League match with no Englishmen in the starting XI for Arsenal or any other team, wilfully ignoring the fact that Liverpool had played the FA Cup final of 1986 without a single player who could qualify to play for England.

14 February 2014: Chuba Akpom started a loan deal with Coventry.  He joined Arsenal aged six, and at the age of 19 started to make first team appearances as a centre forward.  In 2015/6 he went on loan to Hull and hit a hattrick in the 4th round FA Cup match that took Hull through to an appearance against Arsenal, in which he could not play.

 

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