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The day that football got itself together, and Arsenal went top of the league.

by Tony Attwood

This is a day that is as good an anniversary of the foundation of football as any other – the day in 1863 that the FA was formed by a group of enthusiasts who wanted to write the rules of the game came together for that purpose.

It is also the day when the new Arsenal Stadium (renamed the Emirates Stadium for sponsorship purposes) was formally opened by the Duke of Edinburgh.

Plus we might note that on this day in 2013 Arsenal were top of the league following a 2-0 away win at Crystal Palace.

Here are the anniversaries.

26 October 1863.   Representatives of several football clubs met at the Freemasons Tavern, Holborn and formed the Football Association after Ebenezer Morley wrote to Bell’s Life newspaper, suggesting that football should have a set of rules.

26 October 1881: Tim Coleman born in Kettering.  He played 196 times for the club before being sold in 1908 to help try and reduce the club’s debts.

26 October 1889:  Arsenal played Thorpe (Norwich)  and drew 2-2 in FA Cup.  Thorpe declined the chance of a replay because of the cost of travelling to Plumstead so Arsenal went through.

26 October 1903.  Arsenal won their 8th match in a row from the start of the season beating Leicester Fosse 8-0.

26 October 1914: ”The Arsenal Football Club Limited” was proclaimed for first time on the masthead of the programme for the Football League v The Southern League at Highbury

26 October 1915: Questionnaires requiring people to declare who in the house was liable for military service started to go out under the “Group and Canvas Scheme”.  It was Fulham’s success in getting this organised (while most parts of the country struggled with the administration), that brought Henry Norris’ administrative abilities to the attention of the War Office and resulted in his being called up.

26 October 1918: Arsenal suggested that they might be following last year’s form, for after a very promising start they now lost their second match in a row: 1-2 against Crystal Palace.  But now the Spanish Flu epidemic took hold and dominated most people’s thoughts, reducing the interest in football.

26 October 1925: Sheffield Utd 8 Manchester City 3.  The result was notable not just for the score but because on 4 October Manchester City had beaten Burnley also by 8-3.  High scoring continued through the season suggesting the Buchan’s WM tale didn’t really solve the problems of the new offside law.  It is also interesting that a year later when the Times reviewed the effect of the offside law they ignored games like this, and claimed the new rule had resulted in more defensive play!

26 October 1929: Harold Peel’s last game (Man U 1 Arsenal 0).  He re-signed for Bradford from whence he had come for £1,125 in December 1929

26 October 1932: Alex James’ final international match.  He made eight appearances for Scotland and scored four goals and was one of the Scotland team that beat England 5-1 at Wembley in 1928. Meanwhile  Arsenal played Islington Corinthians – a team that had been formed earlier in the year to raise money for local charities.

26 October 1938: England beat the Rest of Europe 3-0 at Highbury on a Wednesday afternoon.  Early closing of the local shops allowed 40,185 to attend. Hapgood and Copping played.  It was the second full match to be shown live on British TV.

26 October 1946: Albert Sigurður Guðmundsson played his final league match for Arsenal – a 2-1 away defeat to Chelsea.  He was subsequently refused a work permit by the UK government.

26 October 1968: Jimmy Robertson made his first appearance of 1968/9 season becoming the 16th Arsenal player to be used that season.  No other players were subsequently introduced that year – this being the first time ever Arsenal only used 16 players all season.  The feat was repeated in 1970/1.

26 October 1974: Terry Mancini’s debut game.

26 October 1976: Arsenal beat Chelsea 2-1 in the League Cup with 52,285 in attendance, Ross and Stapleton getting the goals.  Arsenal were given a boost when Chelsea’s Bason was carried off on the quarter hour with a double shin fracture following a collision with Sammy Nelson.  Nelson went to apologise to the Chelsea team after the game. Eddie McCreadie admitted there was nothing to apologise for.

26 October 1997: Arsenal completed a 12 game unbeaten start to the season with a goalless home draw with Villa,  12th league game of the 2nd Double Season    The second double: part 1, part 2, part 3.

26 October 2002:  After losing to Everton and Auxerre, Arsenal suffered their 3rd defeat in a row, 2-1 to Blackburn making this the worst run in 15 years.  Edu scored for Arsenal and conceded an own goal.

26 October 2003: Charlton 1 Arsenal 1.  The 10th league match of the unbeaten season; Henry scored the goal.  The result meant Arsenal had won seven and drawn three, and remained top of the league.

26 October 2005: George Swindin who played 271 league games in goal for Arsenal and had four years as manager, died in Kettering aged 90 after suffering for some years with Alzheimer’s disease.  His last football job was as manager of Corby Town.

26 October 2006: The Duke of Edinburgh opened the Emirates Stadium.  The Queen was unable to attend and so the team and Arsène Wenger were invited to the Palace on 15 February 2007, for tea, making Arsenal the first ever football club to be invited to the Palace for tea.

26 October 2013: Arsenal beat Crystal Palace away 0-2 with goals from Arteta and Giroud.  The result left Arsenal top of the league with 7 wins, 1 draw and 1 defeat (that on the first day of the season to Villa).  Arsenal were two points ahead of Chelsea and Liverpool, and 8 ahead of Man U who languished in 8th.

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