From programme editor to Arsenal manager in 24 years

That headline does indeed reflect what happened to George Allison between 1910 (when he was editing the Arsenal programme) to this day in 1934 when he managed Arsenal for the first time at home.

In fact Arsenal owe a huge amount to Allison, not just in terms of winning the league twice and FA Cup once during his tenure, but also running the club virtually single handed out of a tiny office at White Hart Lane during the second world war.  And there was far more – as a journalist he was fascinated with Woolwich Arsenal, and so ensured the club got full coverage at a time when no one else from the London papers seemed to want to go to Plumstead to cover them.

As his fame as a journalist grew (particularly as a result of his wartime work in the first world war) so he ensured Arsenal benefitted, later linking up with the BBC for early TV recordings, as well as being the voice of radio commentaries on the BBC.

By the time Herbert Chapman died, Allison was a director of Arsenal, and took over the management of the club the following season.

But we should also note Allison for his autobiography which completely rejects the view of Sir Henry Norris taken by Arsenal’s earlier manager Leslie Knighton, whose tenure involved regular narrow escapes from relegation.  Allison’s view of Norris is so utterly different from that of Knighton, one can only wonder (given the number of factual errors there are in Knighton’s work) if Knighton wasn’t confusing the club’s chairman with someone else.

Here are the anniversaries

1 September 1888: The first recorded pre-season friendly involving just Arsenal, in which Arsenal first team (The Probables) played the reserves (The Improbables).  A second match was arranged one week later, after which the matches against other clubs began.

1 September 1893: Kentish Mercury reported Jack Humble, the Woolwich Arsenal chairman, had presented the new Manor Ground to the press, along with an updated list of Division II fixtures.

1 September 1894: John Caldwell debut in the 5-2 defeat to Lincoln, after joining Arsenal from Hibs.  He played in all 30 league games in his debut season, and in the club’s FA Cup match.

1 September 1896: Woolwich Arsenal played their first ever pre-season friendly as a league club and beat Rossendale 4-0.

1 September 1897: First match for Fergus Hunt (who became the top scorer, getting fifteen goals in each of the 1897-98 and 1898-99  seasons) and for Roger Ord who went on to play 99 league and cup games.  Both players had been with Middlesbrough Ironopolis during their one and only season in the league.

1 September 1897: Andy Kennedy who gained two caps for Ireland, born.  He was signed by Leslie Knighton for Arsenal in 1922 having played originally for Glentoran.

1 September 1902: Roddy McEachrane’s first game.  Preston 2 Arsenal 2.  McEachrane played in 28 of the games in the season as Arsenal came third.  The following season both Preston and Arsenal were promoted.

1 September 1904: First game for Archibald Gray and Charlie Satterthwaite in a pre-season friendly.

1 September 1906:  Arsenal beat Manchester City away 1-4.  It was the last victory on the opening day of the season until 1913, in the first match at Highbury.

1 September 1909: First match for Frank Heppinstall. Aston Villa 5 Arsenal 1.  He had transferred from Swindon Town and went on to play 18 league games this season.  See also here

1 September 1910: Arsenal opened a new season with a 1-2 home defeat to eventual champions Man U in front of a crowd of 15,000   It was Alf Common’s first game.  See here for review of the team  Willis Rippon scored in his first match.  George Allison (later to be Arsenal manager – see 1934 below) edited (and indeed wrote) the programme.

1 September 1914: FA agreed that football for the 1914/15 season should continue despite Britain having declared war on 4 August 1914.

1 September 1914: Arsenal opened the season (v Glossop) as The Arsenal, having changed their name between 20-23 April.  There was a home league game on 23 April, and it is possible the new name was in the programme then, but until we can get hold of a programme, it’s not clear if they changed the masthead in time for that match;  I suspect not.  Arsenal won 3-0 in front of a crowd of 7,000 – way down on last season because of the declaration of war.  It was the first  game for Frank Bradshaw  Christopher Buckley and Harry King who scored two goals.

1 September 1919: Daniel Burgess signed from Goldenhill Wanderers and made his league debut in a match against Liverpool.

1 September 1921: The  Borough Council of Poplar in London refused to collect part of its rates in protest against the way rates were calculated: an unprecedented form of rebellion by those representing a poor working class area.  30 councillors were sent to prison

1 September 1923: Arsenal’s third match of the season (v Newcastle) and they lost – as they did all four opening games. Throughout the referee repeatedly lectured players on their behaviour.  After the day’s games Arsenal were bottom.

1 September 1934: First home match for George Allison as manager. Arsenal 8 Liverpool 1.  Ted Drake and Ray Bowden each score hattricks in front of 54,062.  Having won the league for the last two seasons expectations were very high despite Chapman’s death.   It was Jack Crayston’s first game.

1 September 1939: Germany invaded Poland, having been warned that such an action would be taken as an act of war against Britain.   “Operation Pied Piper” was announced: the evacuation of children began.  The army was mobilised and the blackout imposed.  BBC TV shut down but the Football League continued on the ground that war had not actually been declared.

1 September 1945, 21 days after the cessation of final hostilities, the FA Cup resumed.  The Football League reorganised yet again, this time into the Football League North and Football League South.  Although there was opposition to the move, thishad been approved on 25 July 1945.

1 September 1953: Ted Platt sold to Portsmouth.  Ted never made it as the first choice keeper, playing only when Swindin was injured until, in 1952, with Swindin out for much of the season, Ted Platt played in the first three games.  After letting in five goals in that short sequence was replaced by Jack Kelsey.

1 September 1970: Arsenal 0 Leeds 0. This was one of only three draws at home that season – every other home league match was won.  But after six games played Arsenal were still just sixth.

1 September 1983: Jose Antonio Reyes born.  Reyes joined Sevilla FC at the age of 10. and went on to play 86 games for Sevilla before moving to Arsenal.  He died in a car crash on 1 June 2019 aged just 35.

1 September 2001: Greg Lincoln signed for Stevenage Borough.  He was a Premier Youth League winner in 1998 but never played for the first team.  He had trials with a number of clubs before moving to Stevenage, but he only got one game with them.

1 September 2003: Francis Jeffers loaned to Everton for season.  After that he moved to Charlton and continued moving from club to club until reaching Accrington Stanley in 2013.

1 September 2008: Kieran Gibbs signed a new contract with Arsenal after a loan period with Norwich.  By the start of the 2015/16 season he had played 111 league games for Arsenal.  He was eventually sold in 2017.

1 September 2009:  Uefa banned Eduardo for two games for “deceiving the referee” in Arsenal’s play-off match against Celtic after a furore by the media.  This totally overturned the standard view that the referee’s view was final.  He was subsequently found not guilty and pardoned.  No one from the media apologised for the wild accusations they had wrongly made.

1 September 2014: Ignasi Miquel sold to Norwich for £1.5m.  He played five times for Arsenal and seven times for Leicester on loan before his departure.

1 September 2014: Ryo Miyaichi loaned to Twente for the season.  But after eight games in the first team he was moved across to the reserve team and played 14 times for them.  By 2017 he was playing for the reserves of a 2nd division German team.


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