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How Tottenham’s actions inadvertently helped Arsenal into the first division

If you are a regular reader of this site you will probably have read how Arsenal helped Tottenham get elected to the Football League in 1908, after the League had turned them down.   We know why many clubs would not vote for Tottenham to join the League in 1908 – they had resigned from the Southern League assuming their position in the Football League was secure – an assumption that was ill founded.  When the League turned Tottenham down in 1908, Tottenham applied to rejoin the Southern League, but the Southern League said “no”, unhappy about Tottenham’s actions, thus leaving Tottenham  without a League.   However at the last minute a place became avaialable (full details in the article above) and so Tottenham applied again, and with Arsenal’s vote, just scraped in.

But why were clubs against Tottenham?   Largely it seems because in 1905 Tottenham, as members of the Southern League, had vetoed Chelsea’s application to join that League.  That had led to Chelsea applying instead to join the Football League – something that Arsenal, unlike Tottenham, supported – and Chelsea got their place.

Come 1913, when Arsenal moved to Highbury, Tottenham led a campaign to get that move prohibited by the League, even though there was nothing in the rules to stop the move, arguing instead that Tottenham should have the vacant place in the 1st division.  But feelings against Tottenham still ran high, and it seems many clubs remembered how Arsenal had helped Tottenham in  1908, and contrasted this with Tottenham’s negative attitude towards Chelsea in 1905.   Arsenal’s credibility was still high within the League when the issue of the move to Highbury was debated, and Tottenham’s credibility was much lower.

We remember this set of events today, the day that Chelsea was created in 1905.

10 March 1892: Royal Arsenal beat Casuals 3-1 in a friendly.  The crowd of 1000 was very much on the low side – as some games at the Invicta were seen by up towards ten times as many.

10 March 1894: Arsenal 1 Middlesbrough Ironopolis 0 – this was Arsenal’s only home game against the side who withdrew from the league at the end of the season.

10 March 1898: Thomas Mitchell, the club’s first professional manager, resigned after seven months of friction with the club Committee. As it turned out he was the fourth most successful manager of all time for the club, in terms of win percentage, although he managed only 26 games.  He later went on to win the FA Cup five times with Blackburn Rovers between 1884 and 1891.  See also here

10 March 1904: David Neave signed from Arbroath.  He played three league games before going to Leyton but then returned to play 151 more league games.

10 March 1905: Chelsea FC were formed and immediately applied to play in the Southern League.  Tottenham objected, and had their objection upheld so Chelsea applied to join the Football League – which they did the following September.  Tottenham’s tactical ineptitude in terms of management was repeated when they tried to stop Arsenal’s move to Highbury in 1913 and to prevent their own relegation in 1919.

10 March 1906: Manchester United 2 Woolwich Arsenal 3.  Arsenal’s first ever appearance in the quarter final of the FA Cup.

10 March 1917: Arsenal were away to West Ham, and the huge improvement in their results continued further with a 3-2 victory in front of 6,500.  The following day there was news that British forces had captured Baghdad, the southern capital of the Ottoman Empire.

10 March 1919: At a Special General meeting of the Football League plans were mapped out for post war football including Arsenal and Chelsea being elected to the first division.  The most detailed analysis of all the issues surrounding Arsenal’s election, and the myths that were circulated appear in a series of articles indexed here.

10 March 1922: Samson Haden joined from Castleford.  He went on to play 88 league games and five FA cup games.

10 March 1928: Arthur Milton born in Bristol.  He signed for Arsenal as an amateur in 1945, and played both cricket and football for England.

10 March 1934: Arsenal 3 Aston Villa 2.  Shaw’s team went on their second winning run – this lasting seven games as Arsenal moved towards their second successive championship – and showed they could cope with the tragedy of Chapman’s death.

10 March 1938: Arsenal brought in George Drury signing him from Sheffield Wednesday.  He went on to play 11 games in the remainder of the season, for the most part at inside left, with Jones playing inside right.

10 March 1951: Arsenal 2 Aston Villa 1.  First game for Arthur Milton.  He went on to play 75 league games. Milton was the last man ever to play both football and cricket for England as a full international and won a League winners’ medal with Arsenal in 1953.

10 March 1964: John Barnwell sold to Nottingham Forest for £40,000 and played a major part in their becoming league runners’ up in 1967.  He played 138 games across seven seasons with Arsenal and later managed Wolverhampton with whom he won the league cup. He then became Chief Exec of the League Managers Assn.

10 March 1973: Ipswich 1 Arsenal 2.   Radford and Ball scored in a game that was part of a run of one defeat in 14.

10 March 1979: Arsenal 2 Bristol City 0: a return to form after two defeats.  Rix and Stapleton scored but the crowd of just 24,288 was disappointing given that  Arsenal were third in the league after this win. It was the first game for Brian McDermott

10 March 1992: 700th game for David O’Leary.  Arsenal 2 Oldham 1 – but only 22,096 turned up.  Merson and Wright scored.

10 March 1993: Arsenal 2 Crystal Palace 2.  League cup semi final 2nd leg.  Cup match 13 of Arsenal’s cup double season.   Linighan and Wright scored, 28584 in attendance.

10 March 2001: Arsenal 3 Blackburn 0,  FA Cup 6th round.  Wiltord, Adams and Pires scored – all within the first 36 minutes.

10 March 2004: Arsenal 2 Celta Vigo 0 took Arsenal through to the quarterfinals of the Champions League having won the first leg 2-3.  Henry got both goals – as well as one of the goals in the first leg.

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