Arsenal’s debts as a result of building their new stadium, later renamed the Emirates, were well documented, as was the effect they had on the plans of Arsene Wenger in the transfer market.
But what of Highbury; did the club have similar financial problems after moving there in 1913? In fact when Arsenal moved to Highbury in 1913 they had to build a new stadium – but they only leased the ground so they knew that at the end of the lease they could be thrown out and forced to return the ground to its original state, at their own expense.
In fact that never happened as Arsenal under Henry Norris subsequently bought the ground. But by 1915, two years after building the ground Arsenal were in £5000 of debt (as reported in Athletic News on this day in that year). However just as today the debt concerning Tottenham’s new ground looks to be far, far higher than Arsenal’s debt with the Emirates, so Sheffield Wednesday, who had only engaged in ground improvements, had debts twice Arsenal’s size in 1915.
19 April 1864: Birth of George Davie, the Arsenal player who sued the Royal Arsenal Committee and in losing that fight changed the transfer system, invoking “retain and transfer” – a system which stayed until George Eastham challenged it again in court.
19 April 1897: After three consecutive defeats, Arsenal made it 3 consecutive wins by beating Darwen 1-0. The goal by O’Brien gave him 14 in 26 league games to become top scorer for the season.
19 April 1904: Bradford City 0 Arsenal 3 making it 91 scored, 22 conceded for the season – a goal difference of +69 – equalled only in 1934/5 but never bettered. Coleman scored to make it 23 league goals for the season. Arsenal drew the last match 0-0 to secure promotion.
19 April 1913: Tottenham 1 Arsenal 1. Last game for Hugh Macdonald in his second spell at Arsenal – he moved on to Fulham in November. The goal was scored by George Grant – one of just two goals he scored that season.
19 April 1915: George Morrell resigned as Arsenal manager; having become Arsenal’s longest serving manager thus far. His win percentage was 35.27% – just above Knighton’s but he was the manager who got Arsenal promotion.
19 April 1915: Athletic News reported that Arsenal were £5000 in debt. Later they reported that Sheffield United had made a loss of £2050 despite winning the FA Cup and that Sheffield Wednesday had debts of £10,000 because of recent ground improvements.
19 April 1919: The semi final of the highly controversial London Victory Cup match at Highbury. Sir Henry Norris was outraged by Fulham’s manipulation of the situation and ultimately resigned as a director of that club.
19 April 1930: Huddersfield 2 Arsenal 2. This league match took place one week before the two met in the Cup Final at Wembley, and relegation looked a possibility. Yet only 11,988 turned up for the league match. Bastin and Hulme scored.
19 April 1933: Ralph James Evans Birkett signed from Torquay. He played 19 games and scored 7 before going to Middlesbrough in 1935.
19 April 1935: Arsenal 8 Middlesbrough 0. Amazingly it was the third time Arsenal scored eight in a league game and in each Drake got at least three. This time he got four as 45,719 watched the fun. Rogers (2) Bastin and Beasley got the other goals. It was Rogers’ first game.
19 April 1946: Derby 1 Arsenal 1 in a run of six games without a win as the wartime league headed towards its conclusion. Arsenal needed new players – and how!
19 April 1957 Good Friday. An 11am kick off saw Arsenal draw 1-1 with Blackpool before 50,000 + crowd at Highbury. Many came to see 42 years old Stanley Matthews play ‘for the last time’ – wrong by 8 years. David Durie of Blackpool and Mike Tiddy of Arsenal refused to play on religious grounds – both were lay preachers.
19 April 1965: Arsenal 3 Blackpool 1, made it three home games in a row with under 20,000 present. Baker got two of the goals to give him 25 in 42 league games. The result left Arsenal 9th, 16 points behind the leaders.
19 April 1965: Perry Groves born in Bow – so no doubt of him being a cockney. He was the nephew of Vic Groves who played for Arsenal in the 50s and 60s. He was also George Graham’s first signing (from Colchester).
19 April 1972: Arsenal 2 Stoke 1. FA Cup semi final replay. George and Radford scored and took Arsenal to successive cup finals for the first time ever.
19 April 1975: Ian Allinson played his first game for Colchester – the club that allowed him to move to Arsenal after an administrative error.
19 April 1975: Arsenal were in 17th and Tottenham 20th in the league with four and three games to play respectively. Relegation for both clubs was a possibility.
19 April 1976: Last game for Brian Kidd. He played 37 league games in the second of the two seasons he was with Arsenal, scoring 11, before returning to Manchester, but this time with City. Arsenal lost 2-1 away to QPR, taking QPR to 2nd place one point behind Liverpool.
19 April 1980: Liverpool 1 Arsenal 1, in the League. Arsenal’s previous two games had been draws with Liverpool in the FA Cup. There was then a game against WBA before two more attempts to resolve the cup games, as Arsenal ultimately did.
19 April 1999: Arsenal beat Wimbledon 5-1 as Kanu scored his first league goal for Arsenal (he had scored in the cup on March 6). Parlour, Vieira and Bergkamp plus an own goal completed the rout in front of 37,982.
19 April 2006: Arsenal v Villareal, Champions League semi-final. Toure scored the last Highbury goal under floodlights while a squirrel on the pitch led to comments about the squirrel having more Champions League experience than Tottenham.
19 April 1997: Vieira kicked the ball out as Stephen Hughes was down injured. Blackburn took the throw and deliberately sent it behind the defence, chased it down, got a corner and scored. Blackburn shrugged off the Arsenal protests and gained a 1-1 draw.
I’ve just discovered another box of copies of the book “Woolwich Arsenal, the club that changed football” our store room, having previously said it was out of print. So both this book and “Making the Arsenal” are now available as printed books, and on Kindle. Please see here for more details.