3 May: Surely the biggest day of all for Arsenal celebrations

By Tony Attwood

If there are days with more Arsenal anniversaries of importance to celebrate, this surely has to be up there with the best of them.  But I do actually think this is the biggest day of them all.  Bigger than the founding of the original club, bigger than – well everything.

Just consider, on 3 May we have

1893: Royal Arsenal becomes Woolwich Arsenal and gets its new ground, ready to become a league club in September

1971: Beating Tottenham 0-1 away amidst chaotic scenes to win the league in the final game of the season, before going on to win the double.

1998: Beating Everton 4-0 to win the League in game 36 of the second Double season, Tony Adams scoring his most famous goal to give us the “That sums it all up” commentary, as Arsène Wenger became the first non-UK manager to win the English league, with an unbeaten run of 18 games starting on Boxing Day.   

Three incredible days to recall.  I was (rather obvioiusly) not born when Woolwich Arsenal was formed, and was (ludicrously) living in Algeria when the 1971 double was achieved.  But I was there in 1998, and can still remember it as if yesterday.

Here is the full list.

3 May 1893: George Lawrence signed the documents to turn Royal Arsenal formally into Woolwich Arsenal.  He then ensured the freehold of the Manor Field was obtained by arranging contracts and the deposit with the freeholder of the Manor Ground.

3 May 1905: Tom Arnold signed from Coventry City.  He went on to play just two games for Arsenal before being transferred back to Coventry in 1907.

3 May 1907: Spencer Bassett turned professional having signed from Maidstone as an amateur the previous year.  He only played one game for the first team – away to Notts County on 7 October 1909 and transferred to Exeter City in 1910.

3 May 1915: Athletic News reported that Sheffield United had made a loss of £2050 despite winning the FA Cup.  Sheffield Wednesday had debts of £10,000 because of recent ground improvements. So Arsenal were not alone being in debt – and at least they had good reason: the building of Highbury.

3 May 1919: Arsenal played their first post-season friendly, a 1-0 away defeat to West Ham in front of 8000 as WHU prepared for life in the Football League.

3 May 1920: The Province of N Ireland was created.

3 May 1924: Arsenal 1 Preston 2.  One win in the last six meant Arsenal ended the league in 19th  but Sir Henry Norris didn’t act and Knighton lasted one more season.

3 May 1929: John Barley transferred to Reading having played 8 league games across three seasons, scoring one goal.

3 May 1930: Having won the cup one week earlier Arsenal showed off the trophy in their final match but lost 2-4 at home to Villa, making it only one league win in the last nine games of the season.

3 May 1933: Arsenal had already won the league and had one league match left to play but still managed to fit in a friendly against Cliftonville.   Arsenal put out a strong team and won 4-0.

3 May 1950: Last game for Dennis Compton.  Arsenal 2 Portsmouth 0.  He was then selected to play for England on 15 November 1950, at the age of 38 years and 64 days; the oldest post-war England débutante and the oldest ever outfield player to début.

3 May 1951: The Metropolitan Police played the Paris Police at Highbury.   There were considerable jokes made about the possible number of sending offs, and even perhaps arrests.

3 May 1952: Arsenal 0 Newcastle 1. FA Cup final.  It was Arsenal’s last FA Cup final for 19 years – until the victory in extra time in 1971.

3 May 1965: John Jensen born in Copenhagen.  He started his career at Brøndby IF, and was Danish Player of the Year in 1987. He also played with Brøndby in 1990 as they reached the semi-final of the Uefa cup

3 May 1969: Bob McNab’s last cap of four for England, but the bulk, and indeed the best part of his career with Arsenal was ahead of him.

3 May 1971: Arsenal beat Tottenham 0-1 at WHL to win the league, with Kennedy scoring.  With much of north London blocked for most of the day tens of thousands entered the ground through broken turnstiles making much of the ground unsafe.  Two minutes from time Kennedy headed in an Armstrong cross. In the final minutes of the final game, 78 years to the day after the formation of Woolwich Arsenal FC, Arsenal moved towards the Double for the first time.

3 May 1980: Cardiff 0 Arsenal 1.  Last game for goalkeeper Paul Barron.  He played just eight times for Arsenal and moved on to Crystal Palace in August.

3 May 1986: Birmingham 0 Arsenal 1.  Tony Woodcock scored his 11th and final league goal of the season.  He was Arsenal’s top scorer as he was the previous season when both he and Brian Talbot got 10 each.  But only 6,234 were in the crowd to see it.

3 May 1998: 105 years to the day after the formation of Woolwich Arsenal, and 27 years to the day after the winning the league as part of the first double, Arsenal beat Everton 4-0 and won the League in game 36 of the second Double season. Adams scored his most famous goal on 89 minutes in front of the north bank as Arsenal secured 10 successive wins, a new Premier League record.  Arsène Wenger became the first non-UK manager to win the English league, with an unbeaten run of 18 games starting on Boxing Day.   Even the commentary of the Arsenal v Everton game became famous as Martin Tyler said, “That sums it all up” as Adams scored and turned to the crowd, arms out wide.  The second double: part 1, part 2, part 3.   

3 May 2018: Atletico Madrid 1 Arsenal 0 meant that Arsenal went out of the Europa Cup at the semi-final stage having drawn the home match 1-1.

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