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The day Arsenal just avoided going out of business

Today is the anniversary of the moment in 1910 when Henry Norris took over Woolwich Arsenal FC.  There were no other deals on offer at the time, and without Norris’ engagement with the club, it would have ceased trading and been wound up.

Norris subsequently cleared Arsenal’s debts, moved the club to Highbury and made it profitable, eventually bringing in Herbert Chapman as manager.

His name was subsequently blackened by the autobiography of Arsenal manager Henry Knighton whose totally fanciful stories of Norris’ evil deeds were seized upon by the press and other clubs as proof that Arsenal bribed its way into the first division in 1919.

We are at this moment currently running the real story on Untold Arsenal, to commemorate 100 years in the First Division.

25 July 1883: Joseph Lievesley born.  He played in goal for Poolsbrook United, and Sheffield United and was the unfortunate keeper to be in goal in an FA Cup first round replay on 16 January 1908 in which Swindon Town beat Sheffield United.  It was Swindon’s first win in the FA Cup proper for 20 years. He later played in goal for the last ever Woolwich Arsenal match.

25 July 1910:  Woolwich Arsenal was formally taken over by Henry Norris and William Hall in a meeting at the Mortar Hotel, Woolwich.  It was chaired by George Leavey, who was confirmed as chairman of the new limited company with Henry Norris as a director at this stage.  The solicitor Arthur Gilbert, was installed as company secretary.

25 July 1921: On 25 July Arsenal published its annual report, showing itself at last back in profit, to the tune of £5434 – about £250,000 today (without taking into account the particular inflation that has occurred in football above and beyond in the country at large).

25 July 1945: Although the war was over and it had been announced that the FA Cup would resume in 1945/6 it was felt it would be impossible for football league clubs to get their teams back together with demobilisation still being a long way from completion.  On this day the league divided into North and South divisions although there was opposition to the plan.

25 July 1972: Arsenal 2 Watford 0 (Kelly, George).  Playing Watford as the first pre-season game was a tradition of the time as Arsenal shared training facilities with Watford.  It was the first of four matches before the start of the campaign.

25 July 1983: John Lukic signed for the first time.  He transferred to Arsenal for £75,000 as a replacement for Pat Jennings and stayed at Arsenal until 1990 returning in 1996.

25 July 1987: Arsenal beat Morton 1-0 in Nigel Winterburn’s first game.  He went on to play 440 league games for Arsenal. 

25 July 1988: Steve Williams left Arsenal for Luton Town.  He was replaced in the team by Michael Thomas.

25 July 1992: First game for John Jensen and Ian Selley a in friendly v Byafossen.  Selly showed a lot of promise, but when he suffered a broken leg it affected his subsequent game and he spent his later career playing in non-league football.

25 July 1998: David Grondin signed from St Etienne. He made one Premier League, two League Cup and one UEFA Champions League appearance before going on loan to Cannes, Beveren and Dunfermline Athletic for whom he finally signed.  He ended his career in 2010 playing for Brussels.

25 July 1998: Double winners Arsenal drew 1-1 away to Luton, making it two draws and one defeat in the first three pre-season games.

25 July 2003: Jens Lehmann signed from Borussia Dortmund for £1.5m.  He went on to become the only goalkeeper ever in the top division to go a whole league season undefeated and later worked with Arsene Wenger at Arsenal.

25 July 2003: Arsenal beat Austria Wien 2-0 to record their first pre-season win after a defeat and two draws.  Bergkamp and Jeffers scored the goals.

25 July 2012: Pedro Botelho transferred to Atlético Paranaense.  He never played a league game for Arsenal but went on five separate loan deals after signing in 2007, prior to this transfer.  By 2018 he was back playing in Brazil

25 July 2015: Arsenal beat Lyon 6-0 in the Emirates Cup with goals from Giroud, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Iwobi, Ramsey, Ozil and Cazorla.  This was part of the run in which the club won every pre-season game.

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