When dismissing the notion of match fixing seriously backfired on the League

Making fun of people who suggest there might be something amiss with football is a common substitute for proper debate.  The very notion that it could happen in English football is thus considered laughable and not worthy of investigation.  Those suggesting something is amiss are themselves held to be worthy of derision.

Such was the case in 1913, when Henry Norris, the Chairman of Arsenal, went to watch a Liverpool match, and found the spectacle so outrageous that he alleged match fixing in a subsequent newspaper article.  The League did not take kindly to this sort of reporting and rather than investigate the game, they instead warned Norris that if he ever repeated the allegations in terms of any match he would be banned from football for life.

The League officials probably regretted that action when two years later another Liverpool match was so blatantly fixed that the bookies refused to pay out to any punters who had placed a bet on the game.  Uproar ensued, during which Henry Norris dutifully kept absolutely quiet.   On this day in 1915, the enquiry into the match fixing finally opened.

They did indeed find match fixing (it would have been impossible not to), but what perhaps is regrettable is that the only people punished were the players.  The management of the club, who must have been aware as anyone as to what was going on, were let off without any blemish on their esteemed names.

Here are the anniversaries.

7 June 1915: The Football League opened its enquiry into the Manchester Utd 2 Liverpool 0 match; the second match involving Liverpool in which match fixing was alleged.

7 June 1917:  The British army detonated 19 ammonal mines (an alternative to TNT) which had been placed under the German lines.   10,000 enemy soldiers were killed in what is said to have been the deadliest deliberate non-nuclear man-made explosion in history.

7 June 1922: This was the moment when Sir Henry Norris, the Arsenal chairman and major shareholder, began to split completely from his political work in Fulham, telling his party he would engage with them no more.

7 June 1928: Dave Bowen born.  He first played for Northampton but was spotted by Pat Whittaker, the son of Arsenal’s manager, and signed by Arsenal after only 12 games for Northampton.  See also here

7 June 1928: After two years at Arsenal, Jack Lee was sold to Chesterfield for £250.

7 June 1941: Tim Rogers played in a wartime international for Wales against England.  England won 3-2.

7 June 1947: Arsenal lost 1-2 to Sheffield United away in the final league match of the season – the only time AFC have played a league match in June.  The season was extended because of the number of postponements due to the exceptionally bad winter weather.

7 June 1948: Alf Morgan (also known as Stan Morgan) was transferred from Arsenal to Walsall.  He was on Arsenal’s books for 1946 to 1948 but played just twice in the league.

7 June 2013: David Bentley once of Arsenal, and who had pushed for a transfer in order to get the games he felt he deserved, was released by Tottenham, and heard of no more in football.  He then set up his own restaurant.  He is since said to have invested in a restaurant with Alex Oxlade Chamberlain.


“Woolwich Arsenal, the club that changed football” and “Making the Arsenal” are now available as printed books, and on Kindle.    Please see here for more details.

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