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When a bitter ex-Arsenal manager twists the truth for his own purposes

Leslie Knighton surely is the most notorious, devious and underhand of all the Arsenal managers in history.

All managers write and say things to bolster their own position and excuse their own failures, but surely there has never been one who issued so many absolute downright lies in his own defence as Knighton, who managed the club from 1919 to 1925 and then having retired totally from the game write the autobiography of his time in football, in 1946.

One might put down some of the errors to the fact that he probably had no access to any historical documents, but so wild and are many of the tales that one can only put them down to malicious intent or a desperate need to beef up his own reputation.

On this day in 1926 we have the issue of Dr Paterson – a man whom Knighton describes in his autobiography as the brother in law of the club physio whom he was “reduced to playing” – suggesting he had to play this man because the chairman would give him no money for transfer fees.

In fact Dr Paterson had previously won the league in Scotland with Rangers, had played for the Scottish League and later turned out for the team representing the English League.  When Arsenal secured his services, he was one of the most sought after players in the game.

There is more on Knighton of course in the series “Henry Norris at the Arsenal” on this site.

Here are today’s anniversaries…

 

20 February 1899: William Elcoat, Arsenal’s fifth most successful manager in the all time records, left the club claiming that he was having difficulties working with the club’s board of directors.

20 February 1904: Arsenal lost 0-2 in 2nd round of FA Cup to Man City in front of 30,000 spectators.  However the main focus continued to be that of getting one of the two promotion spots.  Arsenal were third, one point behind Burnley but with three games now in hand.

20 February 1909: A run of just two wins in 11 games ended with Arsenal beating Liverpool on this day, 5-0.

20 February 1915: Arsenal were away to Blackpool, and managed to come back from the recent poor results to score a 2-0 win. It was probably the first time Arsenal played in a warzone, Germany having announced two days earlier that it considered all the waters around the British Isles to be just that.

20 February 1926:  Dr Jimmy Paterson played both in the game this day against Aston Villa away, and on 24 February for the replay at Highbury in front of 71,446 – a game which Arsenal won 2-0, with Paterson scoring the first goal.  This is important in Arsenal’s history since it relates to one of the issues about which Knighton later libelled Henry Norris.

20 February 1932:  Arsenal 2 Blackpool 0 making a perfect February of five league and cup wins.  Jack and Parkin scored with 39,045 at Highbury.

20 February 1933: The Management Committee of the Football League finally gave Arsenal permission to wear shirts including “white collars and cuffs.”  In this era all  colour changes had to be formally approved.  But Arsenal waited until 4 March to play in the new shirts.

20 February 1935: First game for Bobby Davidson.  He played against Arsenal in the friendly at Muirton in September 1934 and was selected for the Scottish League team against the Irish League a few weeks later.  Arsenal were at home to Stoke who had topped the table briefly earlier in the season, but were now lying fourth.  Arsenal won 2-0 to stay top.

20 February 1937: Burnley 1 Arsenal 7 (FA Cup, 5th round).  Ted Drake got four.  Burnley were a mid-table second division side at the time

20 February 1950: Peter Marinello born.  Despite all the hype surrounding his arrival he only played 38 league goals for Arsenal and scored just three goals.  After Arsenal he had seven other clubs before retiring.

20 February 1971: Arsenal 3 Ipswich 2.  Match 28 of the first Double season.  George, Radford and McLintock scored, 39,822 in the crowd.

20 February 1998: Death of George Male aged 87.  He joined the club in 1929 and finally left in 1975, having spent more than half his life at Arsenal.

20 February 1999: First hat trick for Anelka v Leicester.  Arsenal won 5-0, in what was part of a 19 match unbeaten run.  After the game Arsène Wenger said to Bergkamp he had never seen anyone play so well without scoring.

20 February 2002: Gilberto scored Arsenal’s fastest goal (v PSV) in the Champions League.  It was timed at 20.07 seconds..

20 February 2007:  Kevin Campbell’s last game as a footballer: Cardiff v WBA.  After leaving football he moved into the security business.

20 February 2011: Leyton Orient 1 Arsenal 1.  FA Cup 5th round in front of 9,136.  Rosicky scored and Arsenal won the replay.

 

 

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