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March 2019
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From the earliest press criticism of the ref to the Queen inviting Arsenal to the palace.

To be fair, I can’t say that the 1910 criticism of the referee in a cartoon in the Woolwich Gazette was the first such suggestion of referee corruption but there were not too many such comments around in the early days.   As for Arsenal at Buckingham Palace, this was certainly the first time a squad had been invited by the reigning monarch into the palace.

Here are the anniversaries for the day…

15 February 1890 Arsenal played Chatham away and won 5-0 en route to winning Kent Senior Cup for the one and only time.  Arsenal’s nemesis, Royal Ordnance Factory FC (who split from Arsenal the following year) won it in 1893/4.

15 February 1896: Goalkeeper’s William Fairclough’s first game. He played for Woolwich Arsenal between 1895 to 1897 making 27 league appearances.

15 February 1897 Jimmy Boyle captained Woolwich Arsenal in a friendly against Celtic, his last match before a transfer to Dartford.

15 February 1907: The Kentish Independent reported the explosion at the Manor Ground, saying the refreshment bar behind Spion Kop was “a dreadful wreck”.

15 February 1910: The Woolwich Gazette ran a cartoon with a character “Gunner” presenting the referee with the FA laws of the game, whilst the Rover goes off with his bag of “2 offside points”.

15 February 1913, Archie Devine’s first game for Woolwich Arsenal away to Chelsea which ended 1-1.  He had transferred from Bradford City, but only lasted the one season.  The game was one of a sequence of 28 in which Arsenal either failed to score or just scored one goal.  Arsenal had also won only one of the previous 26 league games.

15 February 1919: Pitches in football grounds had not been attended to during the war, although matches continued, and their conditions had seriously declined.  Highbury also seemed to suffer a lot through poor drainage, and constant rain following a thaw at this time left the pitch as a mud heap and much of London flooded.  Nevertheless 16,000 saw Arsenal win 4-0 to leave the club second in the London Combination, six points behind Brentford.

15 February 1930: Middlesbrough 0 Arsenal 2 in the fifth round of the FA Cup as Arsenal moved towards the club’s first major trophy.  Lambert and Bastin scored.

15 February 1934: Henry “Jimmy” Bloomfield was born.  He played initially for Hayes before moving on to play for Brentford in 1952, but when the club were relegated from Division II into Division III South in 1954 he moved to Arsenal for £8000.

15 February 1975: Arsenal 0 Leicester City 0, 43,841 in the 5th round of the FA Cup.   Jeff Blockley returned to Highbury where he was so disliked by some in the crowd, and inevitably never put a foot wrong throughout the game.  

15 February 1977: Middlesbrough 3  Arsenal 0, and an attendance of 26,083. In the last four league games Arsenal had scored nil, let in six, won nil, drawn one and lost three.  Quite how this could be in a team that included Stapleton and Macdonald was simply beyond belief.

15 February 1983: Arsenal 2 Man U 4.  League cup semi final 1st leg.  Nicholas and Woodcock scored. Man U also won the second leg 2-1.

15 February 1992: After just one win in the last seven Arsenal beat Sheffield W 7-1.  Even more amazingly, Arsenal had scored just four goals in the previous nine games. Campbell and Limpar each got two.  Sheffield W finished the league in 3rd!

15 February 1998: Arsenal 0 Crystal Palace 0.  FA Cup 5th round on the way to the 2nd Double.    The second double: part 1, part 2, part 3.

15 February 2003: Manchester U 0 Arsenal 2 (FA Cup 5th round).  This was the game in which Ferguson, in a fit of rage, kicked a football boot in the changing room and it hit David Beckham.

15 February 2007: HRH Queen Elizabeth became the first monarch to entertain a football team at Buckingham Palace and Arsenal the first team to visit.  On 26 October 2006 the Duke of Edinburgh had opened the Emirates Stadium but the Queen had been unable to attend – hence this invitation.

15 February 2012: Milan 4 Arsenal 0 in the Champions League.  Arsène Wenger was visibly annoyed by the performance of his team.  Arsenal went out in the end but the replay showed a remarkable fighting spirit.

15 February 2013: David Bentley went to Blackburn on loan from Tottenham as his career appeared to enter its final stages.  Upon retirement to open a restaurant he said that he had “never felt like a footballer”.

15 February 2015: 85 years to the day after Arsenal beat Middlesbrough on the way to their first trophy, two goals from Giroud saw Arsenal sail through the fifth round of the FA Cup against Middlesbrough, and hopes began to develop that the club might retain the FA Cup, something it had only ever done once before.

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