I guess that most people who look at any sort of anniversary files take a particular interest in what happened on their birthday. I’m no exception, and today is my birthday, which I am delighted to share with this being the date of the first ever AGM of Woolwich Arsenal FC – as the club prepared to enter the Football League.
Of course, choose any day and there are positive moments such as that, and sad ones, such as in this case the death of George Lawrence. He is one of the men now forgotten but who played a fundamental role in establishing and stabilising Arsenal in its early days. He wrote what I think is the first ever history of Arsenal, and was involved with his wife in setting up the first ever day excursions for the club and its supporters.
He was also a benefactor to the club – one of the men who saw the great benefit of having the club associated with the Woolwich Arsenal factories. It is sad, in my view, that there is no recognition of him at Arsenal today.
But there is recognition of Herbert Chapman, who took over at Arsenal, on this day in 1925. And I’m rather proud of being part of that recognition, as I was able, in a meeting with Ivan Gazidis, to put forward the notion that there should be a statue of Chapman at Arsenal, ideally with the great man looking up at the stadium arms outstretched as if to say “I created this”. Because in many ways he did – at least in terms of the modern club.
That statue, and the others around the ground, along with this blog, are my contribution back to Arsenal for all the pleasure (and the heartache) it has given me over the years.
Here are the anniversaries. Details of the books and other series of articles are below.
22 June 1893: The first AGM of Woolwich Arsenal was held under the chairmanship of Jack Humble; as the club’s first directors were elected ahead of entry into the Football League for the first time. Humble later took a break as an Arsenal director but returned to serve with Norris until 1927.
22 June 1894: Robert Turnbull born. He played initially for the Royal Engineers AFC – who appeared in four of the first eight FA Cup finals, and who were pioneers of the passing game. He joined Arsenal in 1921 as an amateur
22 June 1900: Frederick Coles joined from Nottingham Forest. Little is known of his pre-Arsenal life but he is recorded as having also played for Notts County and Nottingham Post Office, probably the only Arsenal man to have done so.
22 June 1901: George Lawrence, benefactor extraordinaire to the Woolwich Arsenal, and the club’s very first historian, died of a heart attack. He is one of the men, without whom there would have been no Arsenal.
22 June 1904: James Henry Bigden joined Arsenal from West Ham. He was a local lad, and having been a near ever-present player over two seasons there was considerable upset in West Ham as he and other key players moved.
22 June 1911: The coronation of George V.
22 June 1921: The King opened the new Parliament of N Ireland, and three days later the months of drought ended with heavy rain. Two days after that the coal strike ended. The mood of the country lifted.
22 June 1922: There was outrage as it became known that Irish Republican Army activists had killed Field Marshal Sir Henry Wilson MP (a leading opponent of the separation of Ireland into two states) at the front door of his house in Belgravia.
22 June 1925: Herbert Chapman took up the job of Secretary Manager of Arsenal FC. It was a moment of supreme importance within the club, ranking alongside the move to professionalism in 1891, the application to join the League in 1893, the rescue of the club by Henry Norris in 1910 and the move to Highbury in 1913.
22 June 1983: Arsenal signed Charlie Nicholas. He played 84 times for Celtic scoring 48 goals and when Terry Neill wrote his autobiography he made the signing of Charlie the first chapter of his book. In December 1983 Terry Neill was sacked. Nicholas later became a pundit for Sky.
22 June 1988: Graham Rix transferred to Caen, followed by Le Havre and Dundee. He retired in 1993 from playing, went to Chelsea where he became youth team coach, and also played once in an end of season game in 1995 against Arsenal.
22 June 1998: David Seaman and Tony Adams played in England 1 Romania 2 in the World Cup Finals in France. Only Sherringham in the England team was older than the Arsenal pair. In 2019 Adams became the honorary President of the Rugby Football League.
22 June 2000: Nigel Winterburn, a member of the most famous defence in football history, joined WHU on a free transfer (also reported as 23 June). Since retiring he has done some work as a defensive coach and some media work.
22 June 2017: Arsenal announced that Asano’s loan to Stuttgart had been extended for another season.
“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.
Elsewhere on the site…
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.
A full index of our series can be found on the home page.