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December 2019
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“The worst half any Arsenal fans could remember.” Said in the unbeaten season!!!!

The simple fact is that the dislike of Arsenal within the mass media is generally so intense that reason, logic and any type of even semi-decent reporting goes out the window.   But even if this bizarre setting, suggesting that a match in the unbeaten season contained “the worst 45 minutes [by Arsenal] that any of their fans could remember” is surely one of the most bonkers comments in a newspaper about a football match of all time.

This was in The Times and was certainly untrue, since I was there and it was absolutely not the worst half I could remember.  I also watched dreadful games in the latter part of Bertie Mee’s reign in the 1970s which really were the worst I had ever seen, as Arsenal sank towards (but just missed) relegation.  No, this was a solid grinding out a victory performance – no more no less.

Yes, it was not the best match of the unbeaten season, but to say it was the worst anyone had ever seen is just so utterly and totally insane that in any sort of real world the journalist concerned would have been taken to the local hospital for a check up.

But no, the writer carried on knocking Arsenal day after day, match after match.  It was ever thus.

Here are the anniversaries for today…

31 August 1906: Percy Sands signed as a professional, although he had been playing with Arsenal as an amateur since 1902, while also working as a teacher.  He played for the club for 17 years, playing 327 games.  

31 August 1909: the FA agreed that professional players could be members of the Association Football Players Union and a dispute between players and the FA came to an end allowing the season to start on the following day.

31 August 1910: George Burdett signed from Tottenham as an amateur. He played 28 games for Arsenal across two seasons and was a musician with the Royal Artillery Band at Woolwich.

31 August 1925: Joseph Toner’s last game.  It was Chapman’s second game with the club, but having seeing his side lose at home to Tottenham and draw 2-2 at home to Leicester on this day, he subsequently started to take dramatic action.

31 August 1925: Bob John was injured and out until October.  By the time John returned to fitness Blyth was established in his position of left half and so Bob John became a very successful left back for the next 18 months before returning to his old position.

31 August 1929: Arsenal debut for Alex James, after playing 147 games for Preston – a 4-0 home win over Leeds in front of 41,885.  Jack (2) Hulme and Parker scored.

31 August 1931: Last game for William Harper in his second spell at Arsenal.  He won a league winners’ medal in 1930/1, and overall played 63 times for the club before moving on to Plymouth.

31 August 1935: First appearance for John Milne. He had previously played for Glasgow Ashfield, and Blackburn Rovers, and was a Scottish international, but little is known of his life.  The game was between last season’s league winners – Arsenal, and the runner’s up Sunderland. Arsenal won 3-1: Drake got two and Bastin the third.  66,428 turned up – Arsenal’s biggest ever crowd for the opening day of the season.

31 August 1946: Numbered shirts were confirmed by the League as permissible  for all clubs, as per a ruling just before football was abandoned for the duration of the war, in 1939.  On 25 August 1928, Arsenal had worn numbered shirts for the first time, but the move was outlawed by the authorities.

31 August 1946: First appearance for Ian McPherson.  He started with Rangers but left the club to serve with the RAF during the second world war and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. He was signed by Arsenal in August 1946.

31 August 1946: Arsenal’s worst ever start to a season,  Wolverhampton 6 Arsenal 1.  The season began with the same fixtures as the abandoned 1939/40 season.  (See 26 August 1939:).

31 August 1949: First game for Arthur Shaw, in a 2-3 home defeat to Chelsea.  He was born in London, and played initially for Brentford, as well as representing England as an amateur player.

31 August 1959: Dr Jimmy Patterson died. In the 1st world war he was a medical Officer to the 14th Battalion the London Regiment, the London Scottish with the rank of Major, and served on the front line.  His manager at Arsenal, Leslie Knighton, in his autobiography dismissed Patterson as merely the brother in law of the club’s physio who he was “forced to play” because of a lack of funds to buy other players..  In reality Patterson was an ex-Rangers league winner of high quality who was so good he was later brought out of retirement by Chapman.

31 August 1963: Leicester 7 Arsenal 2.  Goalkeeper McClelland was injured and  Joe Baker went in goal – commenting after that the club had no arrangements for who should take over if there were to be an injury to the keeper.

 31 August 1976: Arsenal beat Carlisle 3-2 in front of 21,550, in the League Cup, Ross scoring two) and Macdonald very satisfactorily getting the third.

31 August 1988:  QPR 0 Arsenal 2, in a competition to celebrate 100 years of the Football League – a competition which Arsenal went on to win.  Arsenal were quoted as 16 to 1 for the title. Having watched this match I should have placed a bet!

31 August 1991: Arsenal 2 Man C 1 (Smith, Limpar).  It was Arsenal’s first victory after two defeats and a draw, and Arsenal lost the next game (to Coventry) as well.

31 August 2001:  Sylvinho sold to Celta Vigo for £5m.  He had played 55 times for Arsenal between 1999 and 2001, and after 84 games for Celta Vigo he played 89 times for Barcelona.

31 August 2003:  The Times reported the league match against Man City as containing “the worst 45 minutes [by Arsenal] that any of their fans could remember”.   It ended Man City 1 Arsenal 2 and was the 4th league match of the unbeaten season.

31 August 2005: David Bentley loaned to Blackburn.  After 14 games on loan he moved to the club permanently and played 88 times before moving to Tottenham in 2008.

31 August 2005: Justin Hoyte loaned to Sunderland.  He played 27 times for them before being sold to Middlesbrough for whom he played 142 league games between 2008 and 2013.

31 August 2006: M Poom brought in on loan from Sunderland.  He later moved permanently to Arsenal for the 2006/7 season, and played one game before ending his career with Watford.  He was Estonian player of the year six times.

31 August 2006: William Gallas transferred to Arsenal along with a £5m settlement fee after Ashley Cole had illegally negotiated with Chelsea.  Cole claimed the salary Arsenal had offered him had made him feel sick thus creating the new medical condition of pure greed sickness.

31 August 2007: Lassana Diarra moved from Chelsea to Arsenal.  He lasted just five months and sought a move in January 2008 claiming that he had been promised regular games, which he was not getting.

31 August 2011:  André Santos, Thomas Eisfeld, Per Mertesacker, Yossi Benayoun (loan) and Mikel Arteta, all joined Arsenal, 

31 August 2011: Gilles Sunu left Arsenal to join Lorient.  He had never played for Arsenal in the league but went on to play 67 games for Lorient before moving on to Evian.

31 August 2012: Goalkeeper Dejan Iliev transferred from Belasica.  He was the first Macedonian to join Arsenal, and featured for Arsenal in NextGen and Youth Cup matches while playing for his country at under 21 level. 

31 August 2012:  Nicklas Bendtner went to Juventus on loan.  He only played nine times for the club in the league and did not score.  He later moved on to VfL Wolfsburg but only scored one goal in 18 games in his first season there. In 2017 he moved to Rosenburg.

31 August 2012 Park Chu-Young moved to Celta de Vigo.   On  22 September 2012 he became the first Korean to score in the Spanish League

31 August 2014: After winning the Community Shield very easily against Manchester City, Arsenal had beaten Palace in the League 2-1, drawn 0-0 with Beşiktaş in the Champions League and now drew 1-1 away with Leicester..

31 August 2016: Serge Gnabry sold to Werder Bremen who soon sold him to Bayern Munich who then in July 2017 sent him out on loan. He returned to Bayern for the 2018/19 season to much acclaim.

31 August 2016: Jack Wilshere loaned to AFC Bournemouth for the season.  He was due to go to Roma but reports suggested Bournemouth offered a £2m fee and Jack was happier staying in England.  He transferred to WHU in the summer of 2018.

31 August 2016: Kelechi Nwakali loaned to Maastricht for the season.

31 August 2017: Sead Kolasinac voted Arsenal player of the month with 50% of the vote.

31 August 2018: Reiss Nelson loaned to Hoffenheim where he played 23 games during the course of the season, and was highly acclaimed.

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