Arsenal’s forgotten great manager, and a certain match v Liverpool


We have a small number of copies of  “Woolwich Arsenal, the club that changed football”  and “Making the Arsenal” now available as printed books.  They are also available on Kindle.    Please see here for more details.

The series

Henry Norris at the Arsenal:  There is a full index to the series here.

Arsenal in the 1930s: The most comprehensive series on the decade ever

Arsenal in the 1970s: Every match and every intrigue reviewed in detail.

Today in history

Ask most Arsenal fans who were Arsenal’s all time great managers and quite possibly the names Chapman, Graham and Wenger will crop up.  But there is a strong case for including Phil Kelso who was born on this day in 1871.  He was the manager from 1904 to 1908 and he transformed the club on minimal resources and solidifying our position in the first division, following the promotion of the season before.

It is also the anniversary of the match at Liverpool in which Arsenal won the league “right at the end” in 1989.

Here are the anniversaries for today.

26 May 1871: Arsenal manager Phil Kelso born. Manager from 1904 to 1908 he was one of the great innovators, paving the way for the major changes of Chapman and Wenger in subsequent centuries, the “Mr Transformation” of the club in the Woolwich days. There is an index of articles about him here.

26 May 1912: Arsenal payed Rapid Vienna in match seven of a nine match tour series.   Arsenal won every game (the match was won 8-2).

26 May 1913 Tottenham’s demand for an EGM of league clubs to stop Arsenal’s move from Plumstead to Highbury defeated at League’s AGM, re-iterating the League’s position from the 1910 AGM that the league regulations gave them no say in where a club played.

26 May 1915: Arthur Biggs born in Bedfordshire.  He signed for Arsenal as an amateur in October 1933 and played 3 games before moving on to Hearts in Scotland

26 May 1926: In the penultimate game of a six match tour at the end of Chapman’s first season the result was Rapid/Amateure All Stars 0 Arsenal 1 (15,000) (Parker)

26 May 1938 both Ted Drake and Cliff Bastin scored in their final England appearance which ended England 4 France 2.  Ted Drake’s two goals made it six goals in five England games.

26 May 1939: In what Joy described as the most successful tour Arsenal had ever undertaken, Arsenal beat Denmark 6-0 with goals from Kirchen (2) Crayston (2) Lewis and Drury.  It was match six of a seven game tour.

26 May 1987: Nigel Winterburn signed from Wimbledon for £400,000.  He went on to be one of the famous back four, playing on the left with Dixon on the right, with Adams and Bould in the centre.

26 May 1989 Liverpool 0 Arsenal 2.  Arsenal won the league.   Prior to the match the Daily Mail ran the headline “You don’t have a prayer Arsenal” and Brian Moore’s commentary of the game, which was shown live on TV, contained the famous line, “It’s up for grabs now”. Alan Smith’s goal gave him 23 goals in 36 league games.  Michael Thomas (who later played for Liverpool) scored the winner “right at the end”.

26 May 2009: Liverpool 1 Arsenal 2.  FA Youth Cup Final second leg, Arsenal winning 6-2 overall.  Coquelin and Wilshere played in the team, Watt and Ayala scored.

26 May 2013: Arsenal Ladies won FA Cup for the sixth time in eight years.  They won it again in 2014, but then found their days of dominance curtailed (at least until 2019) as other clubs started to invest heavily in their women’s teams.


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