3 League titles in 3 successive seasons under 3 different managers

By Tony Attwood

It is my experience that a lot of Arsenal fans think that Herbert Chapman won the league three times in succession – something which no manager since has done.

It is a nice idea but it is not true. Chapman won the League title twice and the FA Cup once.  His second League title was the start of winning three in succession, but tragically he died part way through the second of those three title winning seasons, in 1934, and Joe Shaw took over and won the title.

What is particularly frustrating, and must be very annoying for Joe Shaw’s descendants is that he is not even credited for this on the official Arsenal site, and in fact no manager is given the honour.  Very strange!   George Allison was the manager for the third win in a row and that third victory is celebrated on this date in 1935.

Here are the anniversaries.

4 May 1908: William Curle signed from Rutherglen Glencairn.  He played three times in the 1908/9 but then either stayed in the reserves or retired from football as he did not sign for another club.

4 May 1918: The third season of wartime football ended with the final game in the National War Fund trophy series.  Sadly no full details seem to be available of the tournament as a whole, but it didn’t attract big crowds, and only 1500 turned up for Brentford 1 Arsenal 1.  There was one more war time season to go.

4 May 1925: The date on which Leslie Knighton was sacked as manager is not clear – it was between this date and 9 May.  The story of Knighton’s entire career in every gory detail including all his vast number of false claims and excuses is contained in our series on Henry Norris at the Arsenal

4 May 1926: John “Jack” Lee signed as an amateur by Arsenal from Horden Athletic.  It appears that three weeks later he then became a professional with the club and played in the 1926/7 season.

4 May 1931: Northampton 0 Arsenal 1.  Chapman returned to his earlier days as manager, in the second in a series of three friendlies at Northampton, to raise money for the local hospital – a common type of post-season friendlies.

4 May 1935: Despite losing 0-1 at home to Derby on the last day of the season George Allison made it three championships in a row for Arsenal under three different managers.  The defeat meant Arsenal equalled the club’s all-time goal difference record of 69 set in 1904.  A draw and they would have beaten it.

4 May 1953: Three days after Arsenal had won the league in the final match of the season the club played a home game against Tottenham, and lost 0-2.  The proceeds of the match went to the Lord Mayor of London’s National Flood Disaster Fund.

4 May 1959: Arsenal 2 Birmingham City 1.  Dave Bowen’s last game.  He moved on to Northampton Town as player manager.  Arsenal ended the season in third, following three successive wins following seven before that without a win.

4 May 1962: Ian McKechnie left Arsenal for Southend.  He was signed as an outside left, but became a goalkeeper and played 23 times for Arsenal in that position.

4 May 1969: Reykjavik 1 Arsenal 3.  First games for Charlie George and for Eddie Kelly.  This was part of a three match tour – the Iceland game being followed by two matches in Malta.

4 May 1976: Bertie Mee left his post as manager.  He managed 539 league games – the largest number of any manager until Arsene Wenger, and won three major trophies, as did Chapman and Allison.  But his win percentage of 44.71% making him 10th best manager, worse than not only Chapman and Allison but also Howe and Neill.

4 May 1987: Cesc Fàbregas born.  It is said that Barce would not let him play in youth matches for fear of other clubs poaching him.  Also that Pep Guardiola gave Fàbregas his shirt as consolation when Fàbregas’ parents divorced.

4 May 1987: QPR 1 Arsenal 4.  Martin Hayes scored his 19th goal in 31 starts to make him far and away the top scorer for the season.  Second highest was Quinn with eight.

4 May 1994: Arsenal won the Cup Winners Cup for the one and only time by beating Parma 1-0 in Copenhagen.  Ian Wright missed the final through suspension, Alan Smith scored the goal

4 May 2002: Arsenal won the FA cup and Ljungberg became the first player since 1961 to score in two successive cup finals, and so the 3rd double was completed.  Tim Lovejoy, commentating said, “Oh no, he’s got through.  Oh, it’s alright.  it’s only Ray Parlour.”

4 May 2003: Arsenal 2 Leeds 3.  The championship was lost by this defeat, but this was the last defeat before the run of 49 league matches unbeaten.  Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp scored.

4 May 2004: Portsmouth 1 Arsenal 1.  Reyes scored to keep the belief in the unbeaten run alive in the 36th league game of the unbeaten season.  Two to go – but the last three had been drawn which started a few worries and predictions from Ferguson that Arsenal, like Ferguson’s Rangers, would lose at the last.

4 May 2006: Man City 1 Arsenal 3.  Arsenal continued to battle for 4th place with Tottenham.  In the end Arsenal ended up two points above Tottenham with a far superior goal difference as well.

4 May 2008:  Jens Lehman – the only player ever to play every match in a season and be unbeaten – came on as a sub for the game v Everton for the last home game of the season.  He was given an overwhelming ovation and in his unique style he turned and bowed to each side of the ground.  It was his final appearance.

4 May 2013: QPR 0 Arsenal 1.  Walcott scored after 40 seconds.  It was the fastest PL goal of the season and took Arsenal into 3rd place while QPR headed for relegation.

4 May 2015: Hull 1 Arsenal 3 in a match described as a typical piece of one sided refereeing from Mason, every Arsenal semi-foul called but Hull allowed to do pretty much what they wanted.  Another not given penalty for Arsenal and the Hull game came from a non-given foul.

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