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December 2019
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Arsenal player banned retrospectively to the delight of the media.

The events following the game between Arsenal and Celtic in the Champions League on this day in 2009 are among a group of happenings which show that there most certainly is something very underhand and nasty going on in football.

The BBC’s online report of the event read, “Eduardo was the central figure when Arsenal did score after 28 minutes – and he was very much the villain in the eyes of Celtic’s travelling fans when he tumbled theatrically as he went around Boruc in the area.

“Spanish official Mejuto Gonzalez infuriated Celtic by pointing to the spot, and Eduardo stayed cool despite the protests to send Boruc the wrong way to effectively put the tie out of the reach of Tony Mowbray’s side.”

But this was Arsenal and the press raised a storm of protest with demands from Celtic that Eduardo receive a European ban for diving.   The SFA then took up the issue, and the media went beserk attacking foreign cheats in general and Arsenal players in particular.

Eduardo was charged and then banned for two matches, an utterly ludicrous state of affairs that had the media dancing and cheering all day and night.  Eduardo and Arsenal appealed and Uefa accepted Arsenal’s appeal.  And of course Uefa had to, because Arsenal’s appeal was simple: the video evidence showed that there was contact between the keeper and Eduardo.”

But the memory of the furore whipped up by the media remained long, and many who were not previously convinced that there was something nasty going on began to realise that things were not quite as OK as they had previously been led to believe.

Here are the anniversaries.  Details of our books are at the end

26 August 1893: The start of the infamous Tennant-Macfarlane Case in which James Tennant was tricked into signing for East Stirlingshire (against his wishes) when drunk.  He later moved to Woolwich Arsenal and on 12 March 1900 Tennant scored two in the record win over Loughborough

26 August 1904:  Joe Hulme born in Stafford.  He played for York City and Blackburn before Herbert Chapman brought him to Arsenal in 1926 and he spent 12 years at Highbury, thus sharing in all the great moments of the Chapman and post-Chapman era.

26 August 1910: Henry Norris resumed his column in the West London and Fulham Times but made no mention of his interest in Woolwich Arsenal.  George Allison was now Woolwich Arsenal programme editor and club historian of Arsenal.  In the third chapter of his autobiography Allison calls Norris “one of the most far seeing men I have ever known.”

26 August 1913: Alf Kirchen born in Norfolk.  In 1934 he was signed by Tom Parker (holder of Arsenal’s consecutive appearance record), then manager of Norwich City,.  Arsenal paid £6000 for him in March 1935.

26 August 1922: The crowd of 43,000 attended the league opener at champions Liverpool and saw Arsenal 0-3 down by half time.  In the end Boreham and Young got two back, but also in the second half Liverpool scored two more to make it 2-5.

26 August 1924: Dan Lewis joined from Clapton Orient.  He played for Arsenal in goal for six seasons, despite Chapman trying out various other keepers, and despite his faux pas in the 1927 cup final.  In October 1924 Arsenal played a friendly against the O’s possibly in part payment for the player.

26 August 1933: Arsenal started as Champions with a 1-1 draw at home to Birmingham with David Jack scoring.  Despite winning only two in the first seven, and the tragic death of Herbert Chapman in 1934, Arsenal ran out champions once again.

26 August 1939: Wolverhampton 2 Arsenal 2.  First game of the 1939/40 season which was abandoned after three games.  Arsenal transferred to the wartime League South A which they won.  See also here

26 August 1958: Tommy Docherty debut.  He scored in a 3-0 win against Burnley – his only ever goal for Arsenal.  He played 83 times for Arsenal before moving on to Chelsea.

26 August 1968: Leonard Thompson died of a heart attack at the age of 67.  He played 26 times for Arsenal between 1927 and 1933.  He later played for Islington Corinthians who toured the world becoming famous for their huge fund raising efforts.

26 August 1975: Arsenal 2 Norwich City 1.  The first sign of promise for the season to come but the crowds were as poor as ever with just 22,613 turning up.

26 August 1978: Brady returned but there was still no Jennings and no Rix, and the outcome was Everton 1 Arsenal 0, with 41,179 in the crowd.

26 August 1987: Kevin Richardson signed from Watford.  He had already won the league with Everton, and went on to win it again under George Graham, leaving the club in 1990 for Real Sociedad.

26 August 1993: Frank “Tiger” Hill died in California aged 87.  He played just 81 games for Arsenal but won the league three seasons running.  After injury curtailed his playing days he had an extensive career as a manager, and was one of the vanguard fighting against the oppressive retain and transfer system.

26 August 1999: Luís Boa Morte sold to Southampton.  He had played 25 times for Arsenal and played just 14 with Southampton before getting an extended run with first Fulham and then West Ham, retiring from football in 2013.

26 August 2000: Sylvain Wiltord brought in from Bordeaux.  He had played 99 games for Bordeaux before moving for a club record fee of £13m.  He scored the goal at Old Trafford to win the league in 2002.

26 August 2000: Arsenal beat Charlton 5-3 keeping the record of five goals scored once every 20 games running, and go top of the league.  It was part of a run of eight unbeaten.

26 August 2003: Giovanni van Bronckhorst  loaned to Barcelona for the season.  At the end of the season the transfer was made permanent and he stayed there until 2007, ending his career in 2010 at Feyenoord where he was captain.

26 August 2009: Arsenal 3 Celtic 1.  After the match  Massimo Donati demanded that Eduardo da Silva receive a European ban for diving in an incident in which the ref had given a penalty.  The SFA chief agreed, the media whipped up a storm and by 29 August Eduardo was retrospectively charged with diving on no evidence at all!

26 August 2010: Sébastien Squillaci joined Arsenal from Sevilla FC, for whom he had played 49 times, on a three year contract for £3.5 million.

26 August 2012: Having opened the season for only the third time since entering the league in 1893, with a 0-0 draw, Arsenal’s season continued with a second 0-0 draw in a row.  It was the first time this had ever happened.

26 August 2016 Takuma Asano loaned to Stuttgart for the season.

Publications

“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.

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