By Tony Attwood
Arsenal’s motto “Victoria Concordia Crescit” was used in the club programme on this day for the first time in 1913, as part of generating a new spirit of togetherness in the club’s first months at Highbury.
It translates as Victory through Harmony, and it is impossible to believe that many of the bloggers who write regularly about Arsenal have ever heard of the original, or the English translation, let alone considered it.
Yet it was very important in 1913. Arsenal had been ripped apart in the early 1890s when it became professional, as one clique within the club (which was in those days run by its members) tried to seize control by fair means or foul.
When the club became effectively bankrupt in 1910 the supporters group charged with raising money to help the survival of the club, refused to hand it over to the new owners, which helped speed along the decision to move the club from Plumstead to Highbury and the launch of the new motto.
And the new slogan did work for a while, pulling the crowd together to support the club even during the poor years of near relegation after the war. But success brought along the boo-boys and those who wanted to jeer key players, and Chapman was often heard to complain about the Arsenal crowd.
Perhaps Arsenal’s problem has been that apart from a short period in the 1970s, they have not be willing to take on the media and so the media has become more and more extreme and wilder and wilder in its story telling and negativity, knowing they can always get away with it. “Victory Through Harmony” is still the club’s motto, but seemingly is rarely used.
20 September 1913: First use of “Victoria Concordia Crescit” – Victory through Harmony – in the club’s programme. It was used by Henry Norris (although it may have been suggested by George Allison) to symbolise the hard work and dedication that had taken Arsenal to Highbury, and was only later taken on as the club’s motto
20 September 1919: Arsenal beat Sunderland 3-2 having been 1-2 down at half time. There were 42,000 in the ground, the largest attendance so far at the stadium.
20 September 1923: Sir Henry Norris was at Highbury for Arsenal Reserves 2 Reading Reserves 2. When it came onto rain, Norris gave instructions to the ground staff to let people standing in the wet go under the cover in the grandstand; even though they hadn’t paid to. A tiny gesture, but interesting in the context of the oft given views of Sir Henry.
20 September 1933: Rangers 2 Arsenal 0. It was the first of a long series of games against Rangers titled the “Game of Champions” set up by Herbert Chapman and his friend Bill Struth of Rangers. The games went on until the war, and were re-established through the 1950s and 1960s with occasional matches thereafter.
20 September 1952: George Wood born in Douglas in Lanarkshire; he played as a goalkeeper for Arsenal between 1980 and 1983. The story is that at Lanark Grammar he was an outfield player but his PE teacher converted him to goalkeeping duties. He went on to play for Lanark United and Forth Wanderers before joining East Stirlingshire.
20 September 1975: Arsenal 2 Everton 2, with another poor Highbury crowd of 24,864. “Same old Arsenal,” said the Express in reporting this game, their point being that no matter what happens to them, Arsenal, seem to be incapable of changing.
20 September 1962: Danny Clapton transferred to Luton. He had played 207 league matches plus 18 cup games, scoring 25 goals (all in the league), and later went on to play for Corinthians of Sydney.
20 September 1980: George Wood debut on his birthday. The plan was that he would eventually replace Pat Jennings, but Jennings played on until he was 40, and Wood moved on to Crystal Palace in 1983.
20 September 1996: Eddie McGoldrick sold to Man City for £300,000. He had played 57 league games for Arsenal and was a substitute in the Cup Winners’ Cup final.
20 September 1998: Ljungberg scored within seconds of coming on for his debut against Manchester United. “Fergie shell-shocked by awesome Gunners” wrote Henry Winter as Arsenal won 3-0 with other goals also from Anelka and Adams. It was Arsenal’s first win after four draws.
20 September 2002: Arsène Wenger pronounced that, “Arsenal can go unbeaten all season” to huge derision from the media. “It’s not impossible as Milan once did it but I can’t see why it’s so shocking to say it. Do you think Manchester United, Liverpool or Chelsea don’t dream that as well? They’re exactly the same. They just don’t say it because they’re scared to look ridiculous, but nobody is ridiculous in this job as we know anything can happen.” Not one journalist ever apologised for the derisory remarks they made after Wenger’s initial comment.
20 September 2008: Arsenal made it 10 goals to 1 across three victories by beating Bolton. Eboue, Bendtner and Denilson scored, adding to three from Adebayor and three from Van Persie, plus another from Denilson in the previous two games.
20 September 2011: One of the lowest ever Emirates attendances up to this point 46,539 saw Arsenal 3 Shrewsbury Town 1 in the League Cup. Shrewsbury took the lead but Gibbs, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Benayoun gave Arsenal the win. Chuks Aneke made his only appearance for Arsenal as a 90th minute sub.
20 September 2016: Arsenal beat Nottingham Forest 0-4 in the League Cup. Forest included Bendtner and Lansbury, both of whom were booked, and Arsenal scored through Xhaka, Holding, Lucas and the Ox. One year later the Ox was playing for Liverpool as they were knocked out in the 3rd round of… the League Cup.
20 September 2018: Arsenal 4 Vorskla Poltava 2. The first of Europa League game of the season, which ended with Arsenal reaching the final. Aubameyang (2), Welbeck and Ozil got the goals.