The Arsenal anniversary files.
On this day in 2007 David Dein was sacked as director of Arsenal. He had argued consistently at board meetings for Arsenal not to build a new stadium to replace Highbury but instead to move to Wembley on a permanent basis. His crime was to continue to speak in favour of this move, even after the board voted against it which is something that as a director one simply cannot do.
But supposing the board had listened, what would have happened?
Certainly we would not have had the years of privation, and certainly the success of the Unbeaten Immortals would have continued, simply because the money to buy new players would have been there. So in the next ten years, although it would not have been season after season of league titles, the chances are we would have picked up more championships.
Of course we would not have had the fixed asset of the stadium that we have now, nor the income from stadium sponsorship, and who knows, maybe our dominance would have dissuaded others from investing in clubs like Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea.
All what if, of course, but interesting to muse on nonetheless.
Here are today’s anniversaries.
18 April 1884: Gordon Rahere Hoare born. In his footballing life he had 13 clubs – two of which were Woolwich Arsenal, and one of which was Arsenal! He also seems to have been connected with the Hill-Wood family who ran Glossop NE, as he moved between the clubs.
18 April 1903: Arsenal 0 Millwall Athletic 2. The last game against Millwall under its Athletic guise. 4000 saw the game – after this our local rivals became just “Millwall”. They moved south across the river from the Isle of Dogs in 1910.
18 April 1914: Arsenal 2 Clapton Orient 2. 35,000 attended – the biggest crowd thus far at Highbury, but the draw meant Arsenal were not promoted. It was also the last ever game of Woolwich Arsenal. By the next game they were The Arsenal. The next time the ground had this many in it was a world war later: 5 April 1919.
18 April 1918 Following the abolition of the previous approach not to enforce conscription in Ireland, taken against all the advice of Lt Col Sir Henry Norris who was now overseeing conscription, the Lord Mayor of Dublin convened the Irish Anti-Conscription Committee to devise plans to resist new conscription regulations. The bishops’ annual meeting declared the conscription decree an oppressive and unjust law, calling on the Church’s adherents to resist “by the most effective means at our disposal”.
18 April 1925: Arsenal 5 Burnley 0. Knighton’s last victory as manager. He oversaw two more games (both defeats) and was then sacked to make way for Chapman. He won 34.33% of the games in total, the worst of any long-term manager.
18 April 1927: First league game for Herbie Roberts. He became the first brilliant exponent of the “stopper” system, and a regular all the way through the 1930s era. He broke his leg in the 1937/8 season and retired after 335 games scoring five goals.
18 April 1930: Arsenal 1 Leicester 1, leaving Arsenal 12th, just six points above the relegation positions. However Arsenal won the cup for the first time and avoided the drop, but only by three points.
18 April 1931: Having come 14th in 1930, Arsenal won the League for the very first time with two games spare, by beating Liverpool 3-1 at home during a nine match unbeaten run to the end of the season.
18 April 1934: Arsenal needed two wins and a draw from their remaining four matches to be utterly certain of the title but on this day lost 0-1 to lowly Portsmouth.
18 April 1936: Arsenal 1 Aston Villa 0. It was Arsenal’s only win in the last six games of the season and one of only two in the last 14 as the 3 times champions fell from grace, but despite it all, they were still fifth on this day.
18 April 1953: Arsenal 3 Stoke 1 – all three goals from Lishman, making it five wins in a row scoring 18 goals to go top of the league, equal on points with Wolverhampton and with two games in hand.
18 April 1960: Last league game for Gordon Nutt. He then moved to Southend had a year with PSV Eindhoven, and after playing non-league moved to Australia where he played, set up a film lighting company in Sydney, and was head coach of the Tasmanian Soccer Schools for ten years.
18 April 1964: The season ended Liverpool 5 Arsenal 0 with Arsenal having two wins in the last 11 games – and an exit to Liverpool in the 5th round of the cup. Despite ending 8th manager Billy Wright was given more time, but the worst was yet to come.
18 April 1969: Stefan Schwarz born. He came to Arsenal from Benfica, and played 34 games in 1994/5 before moving on to Fiorentina. He finished his career with Sunderland and won a Bronze World Cup Medal in 1994 with Sweden.
18 April 1979: Matthew Upson born. He came through the Ipswich Academy, went to Luton Town for whom he played just four minutes as a substitute, and then to Arsenal for £2m in May 1997.
18 April 1993: Tony Adams dropped Steve Morrow as Arsenal won the league cup 2-1. This was the first of three games against Sheffield Wed at Wembley and was Cup match 15 of the Cup Double season. The FA Cup was also won 2-1.
18 April 1998: Arsenal 5 Wimbledon 0. Arsenal’s first win against the Dons at Highbury in six attempts. The goals came from Adams, Overmars, Bergkamp, Petit and Wreh in the 33rd league game of the 2nd Double season. The second double: part 1, part 2, part 3.
18 April 2007: David Dein was sacked as director of Arsenal. He had preferred an Arsenal move to Wembley instead of building the Emirates, and it is said he continued to speak in favour of this move, even after the board voted against it.
18 April 2009: Chelsea 2 Arsenal 1, FA Cup semi final. It was the 26th Arsenal semi-final in the FA Cup, and the sixth semi-final in the first decade of the 21st century.
18 April 2015: Reading 1 Arsenal 2, FA Cup semi-final. Arsenal became the most successful team in the FA Cup ever, even before the FA Cup final. Sanchez and Gabriel scored.