How Arsenal has changed its pre-season year by year, and the interesting case of 2005

by Tony Attwood

As you can imagine, writing the Arsenal History files has been an education for me – I knew some of the facts I would be covering, but as it turns out, only a handful.

The history of Arsenal’s pre-seasons for example was not something I knew about.  I had over the years seen a number of pre-season games, and knew from my father that Arsenal had been in the habit of playing a first team against the reserves (often known as the Reds against the Blues) at Highbury on the Saturday before the first game.

But no one seemed to have gathered together a complete history of Arsenal’s pre-season.   And indeed the one I put together is not complete – but has a lot more in it than any other article, series or book I could find.

The whole index to the Arsenal in the Summer series is here  At the last count there were 67 articles, each covering a specific summer, ranging from 1893 to 2014.

Today is the anniversary of the start of the 2005 pre-season games, which we describe as the first of the modern era.   The article about Arsenal: 2005 in the summer.

Here are the anniversaries for today…

16 July 1917:  The London Combination announced how it would run its wartime league for clubs in the capital in the season to come. The league was reduced to 10 clubs from the 14 of the previous season, removing the four non-London clubs: Watford, Luton, Southampton and Portsmouth, to fend for themselves.

16 July 1936: The nation’s collective heartbeat stopped as George McMahon tried to shoot King Edward VIII at the Trooping of the Colour.

16 July 1946: John Hollins born in Guildford into a family in which both father and grandfather played football, as well as his three brothers.

16 July 1954: Jimmy Bloomfield signed.  He played initially for Hayes and moved on to play for Brentford in 1952, but when the club were relegated from Division II into Division III South in 1954 he moved to Arsenal for £8000.

16 July 1962 Joe Baker was Billy Wright’s first marquee signing and Arsenal’s record signing at the time.  He had been Hibernian’s  top scorer for four years getting 102 goals in just 117 league games before moving to Torino.

16 July 1963: Bob Wilson signed as an amateur, having been playing reserve games for Wolverhampton while studying at Loughborough College (now Loughborough University) to train as a teacher.

16 July 1977: Singapore 1 Arsenal 5 (Macdonald 3, Stapleton, Brady).  This was the second match of a four game tour also taking in Yugoslavia and Australia.

16 July 1996: Valur Gíslason transferred from Fram Reykjavík.  He never played a league match for Arsenal, and in 1999 moved to Strømsgodset in Norway, before then returning to Fram.

16 July 2005: Barnet 1 Arsenal 4 (Hleb, Henry, Bergkamp, Hoyte).  This was the start of the first pre-season series of the modern era in which Arsenal won each of six games scoring 20 goals along the way.

16 July 2008: Alexander Hleb signed for FC Barcelona from Arsenal around €15 million plus €2 million if Barcelona won the La Liga.  The club duly came first in 2008–09 which took his transfer deal to €17 million – just about what Arsenal paid for him.

16 July 2011: Hangzhou Greentown (China) 1 Arsenal 1 (Vela).  Match two of a six game pre-season series, after beating Malaysia 4-0 three days earlier.

16 July 2013: Seb Squillaci to Bastia on a free transfer.  Although only given a one year contract this was extended and he played over 50 games for the club.

16 July 2013: The tale of Arsenal’s running man begins in the Far East.  He ran alongside the team bus for so far that he was invited on board, and later came to a match at the Emirates Stadium.

And here are the main features from the site   There is an index to all our series on the home page.

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.


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