The lowest ever crowds in the last 80 years and worst league position since 1925

Failing as Arsenal manager didn’t seem to matter much in the days of Billy Wright who passed away on this day in 1994.  His reputation as a wonderful player stayed with him, and only Arsenal fans remembered the humiliations of his time at the club.

In the league we finished 7th, 8th,13th and 14th, in that order.  In the FA Cup we went out in the 5th, 5th, 4th (to Peterborough) and 3rd round.  So both league and cup results got worse and worse as his tenure continued.

As for the crowds, those who know Arsenal’s history will be able to quote the 4,554 who turned up for the league match against Leeds on May 5.  The excuse put out by those apologists for Wright that there was a match on TV at the same time seem a little hollow; on 5 April just 8,738 turned up at Highbury for the game against West Brom.  At least we got a point on that day with a 1-1 draw.  At one stage in the season we got three wins in 14 league games.  We missed relegation by four points.  Wright was succeeded by the club’s physio – Bertie Mee – who won the Fairs Cup and the Double.  But then under him in 1975 we were 16th, and the following season it was even worse.

Here are the anniversaires.

3 September 1898 John Dick played his first league game for Arsenal – a 1-0 away victory over Luton Town.  He was an ever present that season, playing in every league and cup match.

3 September 1904: First game in the first division; and the first under Phil Kelso as manager.  As with Arsenal’s first game in the second division the match was against Newcastle away, and Arsenal lost – 0-3; Newcastle went on to win the league.  This was also the first game for James Henry Bigden a stalwart of West Ham, and Archi Gray who came from Hibernian.

3 September 1904:  Jock Rutherford scored the first goal that Woolwich Arsenal conceded as a First Division team.  But at the start of 1913/14 he was in dispute with Newcastle over wages and was sold to Woolwich Arsenal.  He was still playing for Arsenal in Chapman’s first season in 1925/6.

3 September 1905: Jimmy Dunne born. He started with Shamrock Rovers, and then moved to New Brighton scoring six goals in his first eight league games. Then it was Sheffield United, who signed him in February 1926 – which is when he became a star.

3 September 1906: Final game for Jimmy Blair, a 4-1 away defeat to Bury.  He played 13 league games and scored three goals for Arsenal.

3 September 1910: Bury 1 Arsenal 1. It may seem strange to think of Bury in the first division, but they were – and indeed they won the FA Cup in 1900 and 1903, recording the highest score in a Cup Final.  It was the first game for Harry Logan.

3 September 1910: Duncan McDonald’s last game for Arsenal.  He transferred from Arsenal in the summer of 1911 reportedly to West Hartlepool – but that seems very unlikely and it was probably Hartlepools United.

3 September 1914: The FA attempted to head off some of the negative publicity gained through the continuation of professional football during the 1914/15 season, by encouraging younger footballers to join up. However Charles Buchan wrote in his memoirs that when he told his employers at Sunderland FC of his intention to join up, they responded by threatening to sue him for breach of contract; so he didn’t volunteer until the summer of 1915.

3 September 1921.  Sheffield Utd 4 Arsenal 1 as Arsenal made it three defeats in succession at the start of the season for only the second time (the previous being 1894). Arsenal included 5 players who had not played the opening game one week before.

3 September 1932.  Arsenal 6 Sunderland 1 (Hulme 3, Coleman, Jack, Bastin) as Arsenal started an amazing 18 match run in which they won 15, drew 2 and suffered just one defeat scoring 66 goals in the process (3.66 a game)

3 September 1936: George Swindin played his first game for Arsenal as Arsenal lost 2-0 to Brentford.  He was signed by Allison after playing for Bradford City for two years.

3 September 1977: Ritchie Powling’s last game.  Arsenal 3 Nottingham Forest 0.  He had played 55 league games in all and scored three goals before moving on to QPR.

3 September 1988: “Never take too much notice of the first home game” was etched in the minds of supporters as Arsenal lost the first home game of the season: Arsenal 2 (Marwood, Smith) Aston Villa 3.  After five games and two defeats Arsenal were 7th.  We did however ultimately win the league.

3 September 1994: Billy Wright died aged 70 of stomach cancer.  After his utterly disastrous spell as manager of Arsenal, he became a television pundit and Head of Sport for ATV and Central Television, before joining the board of directors at Wolverhampton Wanderers.


You can read about our other research on the home page of this site

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