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October 2019
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One of the famous stories about Arsenal turns out not to be true at all.

This is the day in Arsenal’s history in 1925 when supposedly a conversation took place between manager Herbert Chapman and club captain Charlie Buchan as to how the club could counter the approach teams were taking to the new offside law introduced in the summer of 1925. The rule change meant that only two men needed to be behind the ball when it was played forward, for the attacking player not to be offside.  Previously it had been three.

The story became well known because Buchan wrote it up in his autobiography, but a careful study of the way he tells the tale therein, and then a comparison of his account with other matches shows that it was not as simple or clear cut a change as Buchan suggested.

Buchan claimed that he devised the idea of the centre half (number 5) playing between the two full backs as a central defender, but in fact some teams had already been doing that, and what Chapman did was go much further.  For what the manager looked for was a player who could play alongside the new centre back, receive the ball once the attack was broken up, and then quickly and accurately send it upfield to the inside forward, who would immediately pass it on to the fast running winger.

It was a strategy that worked – although it did take the club a long time to find the manpower to make the most of it.

During this period there was an extraordinary number of very high scores – the six goals that Newcastle scored against Arsenal in the first half alone, on this day in 1925, was not unusual, and this run of high scores continued for a couple of years after the introduction of the new rule.

The rule itself was introduced in order to create more goals on the grounds that fans wanted goals, and that the more goals there were, the more fans would go to games.   It was a neat idea, but unfortunately not true.  The number of goals went up, but the crowds continued to go down.

Here are the anniversaries

3 October 1896: Arsenal played their second game in the United League – a 2-2 home draw against Luton Town – with a not insignificant crowd of 8000 – very high for the United League.

3 October 1903: There was 20,000 in the crowd for the Man U home game on this date, compared with 1,000 for the next away game (at Glossop)!  Arsenal won 4-0, making it 21 goals for and 0 against in the first five games of the season.

3 October 1914: Arsenal were away to Leeds City (managed by Herbert Chapman)  and secured a 2-2 draw with 12,000 in the crowd. One of the earliest meetings between Chapman and Henry Norris.

3 October 1917: Eddie Carr born. At 17 he signed as an amateur for Arsenal, going first to the Margate nursery club, and turning professional in time for the start of the 1936/7 season.

3 October 1925: Arsenal lost 0-7 to Newcastle.  0-6 down at half time Chapman changed tactics – but the introduction of WM did not happen at this point as Buchan suggested in his autobiog.  This was the third 0-7 defeat for Arsenal in the first division – and certainly the one with the most implications. Buchan’s 1st signing   Transforming WM.

3 October 1931: Arsenal lost to Grimsby 3-1 – one of the shocks of the season – it was only the second time 1st division Grimsby had ever beaten Arsenal. Lambert got Arsenal’s goal and 17,840 turned up to witness the event.  The only relief for Arsenal fans was that Tottenham lost 4-2 to Chesterfield.

3 October 1936: 79th and final league appearance of Pat Beasley v Man Utd. He was signed by Chapman but missed out on honours.  However he played in the cup final of 1938 for Huddersfield, and guested for Arsenal during the war. See also here.

3 October 1958: Jackie Henderson signed from Wolverhampton for £17,500.  Wolverhampton hardly used him as they became champions and soon sold him on at a profit.

3 October 1958: John Snedden joined as an amateur from Bonnyvale Star Juniors.   Turning pro a few months after joining he started his career on 16 January 1960 in a game away to Tottenham, his only game of that season.

3 October 1970: On the way to the double Kennedy scored his first hattrick as Arsenal beat Nottm Forest 4-0 in match 11 of the first Double season.  The start of a 14 match unbeaten run.

3 October 1972: John Roberts final game in league cup v Rotherham. He later featured for Wrexham and Hull City and finally for non-league Oswestry Town.   He subsequently went on to work as a stationery salesman and as a driving instructor.

3 October 1979: Arsenal drew 0-0 away to Fenerbahce.  Thousands spent the night shouting abuse in front of Arsenal’s hotel, fans ambushed Arsenal’s coach to stop Arsenal training on the pitch, armed troops faced the crowd, riot police protected the dug out during the game.  Arsenal played it cool despite pitch invasions and everyone got out alive.

3 October 1989: Arsenal beat Plymouth 6-1 away in the League Cup in front of 17,360.  Thomas (3), Smith, Groves and OG. Having beaten Plymouth 2-0 at Highbury, Arsenal went on to beat Liverpool before losing to Oldham.

3 October 1999: The run of three victories through September was disrupted by an away defeat to WHU.  Vieira confronted Ruddock and was subsequently charged, banned for six matches and fined a record £45,000 by the FA.  He apologised in a very personal commentary about his family and his brother.

3 October 2014: Brian Mcdermott returned to Arsenal after being sacked by Leeds as manager and joined the scouting team, as assistant to the chief scout.   He later re-joined Reading as manager, and it is noted that shortly after being sacked as Reading manager in 2013, McDermott was filmed performing an acoustic version of Bob Dylan song Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door at a karaoke pub

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