It seems hard to imagine that just three years after winning their first double, Arsenal could be 22nd in the league and heading for relegation. The only thing that lightened the gloom was that Tottenham were also in trouble and were 21st.
But that was the situation on this day in 1974 as all the glory of the double season fell away and relegation looked like the most likely outcome.
In a sense it was in retrospect also a sad day on this date in 2004 as the final match of the glorious 49 undefeated was played. All that was to follow was the notorious 50th game against Manchester United which brought the run to an end, and caused Arsenal to have a dip which let a second league title on the trot slip out of their grasp.
Here are the anniversaries.
16 October 1909: Arsenal lost away to Sunderland 6-2; goalkeeper Hugh MacDonald returned but was seemingly still not fit. However the keeper kept his place for the rest of the season and Arsenal won the next match 1-0.
16 October 1915: A surprisingly large crowd (for wartime) of 12,000 turned up at Highbury to see a 1-1 draw between Arsenal and Millwall Athletic of the Southern League. Millwall had been the local rivals to Arsenal during the Woolwich Arsenal days, and it is interesting to see that the rivalry (at least as reflected in the crowd numbers) was still there.
16 October 1919 Frederick Pagnam signed from Liverpool, after standing out against the match fixing scandal that besieged Liverpool and Man U. The transfer was one of the first episodes that disproved the “Knighton Thesis” that the manager had his scouting networks wound up by Sir Henry Norris. See also here.
16 October 1920: Arsenal drew 1-1 away to Bolton in front of 35,000 as neighbours Clapton Orient went to the top of the second division. But such matters were overshadowed by the start of a national coal miners strike.
16 October 1922: Occasionally, at this time, clubs would arrange friendlies in order to try out new players and new tactics and to allow the manager to see the reserves in action (since they normally played at the same time as the first team). On this day Arsenal reserves played Southampton who had won the 3rd Div South last season, Arsenal winning 5-3. The game also saw Bob John get a match, as he edged ever closer to the start of his magnificent first team career with Arsenal.
16 October 1926: Arsenal 2 WHU 2 leaving Arsenal with just one win in nine, with Lambert and Brain scoring. After coming second the season before there must have been some disappointment, but the crowds kept on growing. 35,534 turned up for this game.
16 October 1935: The owners of the Nine Mile Point Colliery in South Wales announced that the mine was closing indefinitely after a day of fighting between police and striking miners.
16 October 1937: Jimmy McGrory played his last match for Celtic. In playing this game he achieved a UK wide record of 550 goals scored during his senior career (395 in the league for Celtic plus another 13 league goals in the following season for Clydebank).
16 October 1965: Arsenal lost away to Blackpool 3-5 – the last five goal defeat until the 70/71 Double season when Arsenal lost 5-0 to Stoke. Armstrong and Radford plus an o.g. gave Arsenal their goals.
16 October 1961: Paul Vaessan born. Arsenal was his only club, his sublime talent and promising career cut short by injury.
16 October 1971: Arsenal made it five in a row in the league with Chelsea 1 Arsenal 2 in front of 52,338. This was Arsenal’s first league win at Stamford Bridge in 10 seasons, and there was no doubt Arsenal could have had a lot, lot more goals in the game.
16 October 1973: Arsenal lost 1-0 to Barcelona in a game for the benefit of Johan Cruyff who had transferred to Barcelona, but was not yet registered to play for the club. No Spanish team would offer a game so Arsenal agreed, providing Barcelona would play a re-match at Highbury in March the following year, for George Armstrong’s testimonial.
16 October 1974: Manchester City 2 Arsenal 1, the crowd a paltry 26,658. At this moment Tottenham were 21st and Arsenal 22nd in the league. On the same night Tottenham recorded their lowest post war crowd (12,813). And all this just three years after Arsenal won the double.
16 October 1976: The 1975 champions Derby County belatedly recorded their first League win of the season when they thrashed an awful Tottenham Hotspur side 8–2 at the Baseball Ground. For Arsenal fans it was rather a fine weekend (see above).
16 October 2004: The last of the great 49 unbeaten run, a 3-1 home win over Aston Villa. The victory made it eight wins and a draw so far in the season. Pires got two and Henry the other.
16 October 2011: Arsenal beat Sunderland 2-1 with van Persie getting both goals. It was a relief for the club, which on 28 August had lost 8-2 to Manchester United. Since that match there had been two wins and two defeats
16 October 2012: Steve Gatting took over as under 18s coach having previously worked at Christ’s Hospital school in the same position.