Searching out the location of Arsenal’s first FA Cup match

by Tony Attwood

For many people history is just the dry recording of facts, and I get a regular stream of correspondence telling me that I should be more concerned about Arsenal in the present day than bothering with all this history stuff.

But I find history interesting, and over the years it has given me much pleasure and amusement, as when my partner and I went out searching for the location of Arsenal’s first ever FA Cup match.

We know the game was against Lyndhurst – but it turns out there have been two Lyndhurst teams in the south of England.  One still exists, but another has folded.  One of my colleagues in the Arsenal History Society was fairly sure the team that has now folded was the team that Arsenal played, but I wondered… and so got in touch with the Lyndhurst club that remains we went hunting for the ground.

To anyone who doesn’t do such exploring it must seem an incredibly odd thing to do, to go meandering across the country looking for a football ground on which a match may or may not have been played over 100 years ago – but it was interesting finding the place, corresponding with the secretary of the club, and going on and spending a couple of days in the area, doing the things tourists do.

That first ever FA Cup match for Arsenal was on this day in 1889, and there’s the record of what we found at the ground, along with some photos in my write up of the visit.

Here are the annivesaries

5 October 1889: First ever FA Cup match played by Arsenal, as Royal Arsenal beat Lyndhurst 11-0.  There is some debate over which Lyndhurst it was, but the club of that name in Hampshire (which is still in existence and whose ground one can visit), claim the honour.

5 October 1896: Rushden Town 5 Woolwich Arsenal 3, United League  This was Arsenal’s first season in the league, in which they generally played their first team players.   They continued in the league for three years after which they moved into the Southern District Combination.

5 October 1904: Reginald William Tricker (known as Reg) was born in Karachi and moved to England in 1908 with his family.  Reg joined Arsenal from Charlton Athletic for £2,250 on 12 March 1927, before making his full debut just one week later in a 2-1 defeat at home to Everton.

5 October 1912: After starting the season with four successive defeats Arsenal recovered with three unbeaten including this 0-0 draw with Oldham.  However the relief was short lived as Arsenal did not win again until March. Also on this day Aston villa beat The Wednesday 10-0.

5 October 1919: The rail strike was called off after the employers caved in to workers demands. Simultaneously the Met Police launched their first mobile patrol unit using horse drawn carriages.

5 October 1922: Sir Henry Norris, William Hall, Charles Crisp, John Humble, Leslie Knighton, and the Arsenal players involved in the match against Tottenham, plus the directors, managers and players of Tottenham, were summoned to an FA Commission of Inquiry into the game played at White Hart Lane on 23 September.

5 October 1923: Albert Sigurður Guðmundsson – the Arsenal player who became Icelandic Minister of Finance, was born.

5 October 1925: The new “WM plus zonal marking” high speed counter attack system played for the first time in a 4-0 victory over West Ham.  It was gradually refined as players were found who could meet the exacting demands of the new system, but it did not lead to long term Arsenal success for several more years.  See also here

5 October 1927:  Samson Haden sold to Notts County for £1350.  He went on to play 289 league games for Notts C, scoring 36 goals.  Later he became player manager and manager of Peterborough, but after that we lose sight of him.

5 October 1929: Cliff Bastin league debut for Arsenal in a 1-1 away draw against Everton. He went on to play 21 games in his first season, scoring seven.

5 October 1936: Gerry Ward born in Stepney.  He was signed by Tom Whittaker who was convinced he had a great future at the club, and who made him the youngest ever player to start a match for Arsenal.

5 October 1936: The Jarrow March began with 207 marching towards London in protest against poverty and unemployment

5 October 1953: First game for Len Wills in the floodlight opening friendly at QPR which Arsenal won 3-1.  He first played for Eton Manor FC, an amateur club formed by several well-to-do families to support young men and boys in the East End of London.

5 October 1954: Dynamo Moscow 0 Arsenal 5 making Arsenal the first English club to play in the Soviet Union.  The attendance was 90,000

5 October 1964: Frank McLintock signed from Leicester for £80,000.  He had played in two Leicester cup final sides (1961 losing to Tottenham, 1963 losing to Man U) but won the League cup final in 1964 beating Stoke over two legs.

5 October 1966: Debut for John Woodward v WHU, in the league cup.  Arsenal lost 1-3 at Highbury, with David Jenkins scoring his only goal of the season.  John made just two starts and came on once as a sub for Arsenal.

5 October 1970: Arsenal beat Tottenham at Highbury.  Later they did it again at White Hart Lane in the last match of the season to win the league.

5 October 1974: Last game for Jeff Blockley, having played 52 league games for Arsenal.   He was dropped and placed on the transfer list and then sold in January 1975 to Leicester for half the fee Arsenal paid for him

5 October 1974:  A month after sacking Brian Clough, Leeds United finally appointed Jimmy Armfield of Bolton Wanderers as their new manager on 4 October.   On 5 October Leeds United celebrated by beating Arsenal.

5 October 1976: Arsenal played Blackpool (key exponents at the time of anti-football – an approach centred on total defence and endless fouling) at home in the League Cup for the third time and finally  won 2-0, in front of 26,791 (who clearly thought this match couldn’t be as bad as the last two games). Stapleton and O’Leary broke the 11 man defence..

5 October 2004: The name “The Emirates Stadium” was announced, with naming rights granted for 15 years alongside an eight year shirt sponsorship deal.  The price was about £100m. Although the name did not leak out in advance, Arsenal did start buying web sites with EmiratesStadium in them although they missed which Untold Arsenal used when it opened in 2007.

5 October 2014: Arsenal lost their first league game of the season 0-2 to Chelsea. Much was made of the fact that Arsène Wenger had not beaten José Mourinho in 12 games, and that Arsenal had dropped to 8th in the league.

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