“Woolwich Arsenal, the club that changed football” is the definitive history of Arsenal from its inception as a league club through to its first year at Highbury, and reveals dramatic elements of Arsenal’s early days that have never been revealed before.
“Making the Arsenal” is a journalist’s inside view of the events around Arsenal’s collapse in 1910 and the rescue that paved the way for the move to Highbury and the arrival of Herbert Chapman.
Both books are now available on Kindle and in print. Please see here for more details.
By Tony Attwood
I’ve recently spent a bit of time looking at the opening matches of the season, and seeing if they give any clue as to what happens in the rest of the season. Unfortunately there is no pattern that I can discern. The start to the first double season for example was rather unexciting with two draws, and by match five we had those two draws, two wins and a defeat.
The second double season opened in 1997 with three draws and two victories. In 2001/02 we had two 4-0 victories, a draw and a defeat in the opening four – and another double at the end. None of those openings really gave us a clue of what was to come.
On the other hand the start of 2004/5 was sensational with Arsenal getting 29 goals in the first nine games, winning eight and drawing one, as the unbeaten record continued. But it didn’t end up in a trophy. 2009 also started in terrific fashion with ten goals in the first two, but again no league title.
Today is the anniversary of those starts in 2004 and 2009 which ultimately led to disappointment – but for anyone who was at the games, it was nonetheless amazing at the time.
22 August 1914: Tottenham 1 Arsenal 5. This was the only pre-season friendly recorded for the season, although it is more than likely that a match between the first team and the reserves was also played. 13,564 turned up for the first match between the two after the move to north London, reflecting a certain thawing in relationships. Arsenal didn’t play Tottenham again in a friendly until 1938
22 August 1925: At the second pre-season game of Chapman’s reign 13,269 turned up for a “practice match” between the first team and the reserves
22 August 1932: The first experimental television broadcast by the BBC was conducted.
22 August 1937: Birth of Laurie Brown. He started as a centre forward with Bishop Auckland and then played briefly with Darlington before moving back to non-league football with Woking. He played in the 1960 Olympic Games side before signing for Northampton, and was the club’s top scorer in 1960-61 as they were promoted to the Third Division.
22 August 1953. Gerry Ward became the youngest ever Arsenal player in the League. Whittaker recorded in his memoirs that he was in serious need of new players at the time but had no doubt about Ward being a player who would shine for Arsenal.
22 August 1953: Dennis Evans first league game; a home 0-0 draw with Huddersfield with 54,000 turning up to celebrate last season’s championship winning team in their first home match of the new campaign.
22 August 1959: Mel Charles first league match. He played 60 league games and scored 26 goals before moving on to Cardiff.
22 August 1963 Ian Ure signed from Dundee for £62,500. He had been a member of their championship side and played in the side that reached the European Cup semi-finals. He was also in the Scotland team on 8 November 1961 that beat Spain 6-2 at the Bernabeu.
22 August 1964: BBC TV launched Match of the Day with one recorded game and chose Liverpool v Arsenal. It meant that Arsenal continued their run of broadcast firsts, being the first team with a radio commentary and the first televised team when Arsenal v Arsenal Reserves was shown.
22 August 1970: Arsenal 4 Manchester United 0. Match 3 in the first Double season, and the first win of the season after two draws. George and Graham scored but George was seriously injured and did not play again until 6 February.
22 August 1978: League debut for Paul Barron: a 1-1 draw away to Manchester City. Macdonald scored for Arsenal. Rice returned in defence, but there was still no Rix and so Walford came in as number 11. 39,506 were in the crowd. See also here.
22 August 1981: Portsmouth 0 Arsenal 1 (Nicholas). The final pre-season friendly. In all Arsenal won two by the odd goal, and drew the other two.
22 August 1987: Charlie Nicholas played his final game – a 0-2 away defeat to QPR. He scored just 34 goals in 151 league games – far fewer than was hoped for when he signed for the club in 1983.
22 August 1998: Champions Arsenal drew 0-0 with Liverpool, the first of four consecutive draws – the first three of which were goalless.
22 August 1999: Davor Suker league debut v Manchester U. Arsenal lost 2-1. Ljungberg scored in what was Arsenal’s first defeat of the season. Sky called this “the world’s first live interactive match”, as the new digital service gave alternative camera angles. It was Arsenal’s first home defeat since December 1997.
22 August 2002: West Ham 2 Arsenal 2. After creating the record for consecutive wins, in the first match of the season, Arsenal were finally held to a draw – although at one stage were 2-0 down.
22 August 2004: Arsenal beat Middlesbrough 5-3, one of four games in which Arsenal scored five or more that season. With Bergkamp captain Arsenal went 3-1 down. Dennis scored, and the comeback started. He said later, “I took it personally”.
22 August 2009: After beating Everton away 6-1 Arsenal followed up with a 4-1 defeat of Portsmouth. Diaby got two, Gallas and Ramsey the others.