The wartime league programmes during both world conflicts are rarely remembered these days, but at the time they did produce some interesting matches with extraordinary results. The fact that Arsenal beat Crystal Palace 5-0 on this day in 1939 does not sound too unlikely, but considering that it followed victories with scorelines 7-0, 8-4 and 6-1, it can be seen that Arsenal were romping over their opposition.
Most interesting was that Leslie Compton scored nine goals and this brother Dennis eight, across these four games. Although to be completely clear we should note that the first game of the series, a 7-0 win over Swindon Town, was a friendly. The following three (against Charlton, Clapton Orient and Crystal Palace) were in the wartime Football League South A division.
Here are the anniversaries
4 November 1893: FA Cup 2nd prelim round: Arsenal beat Clapton 6-2 in front of 2,500. The club finally went out of the cup in the 1st round proper. Cooper got two goals and so was retained at centre forward for the next game.
4 November 1901: Arsenal lost 0-5 to Tottenham in London League Premier Division in front of 3833 – not a bad crowd considering that the game was played on a working day in the afternoon.
4 November 1916: Arsenal beat Watford away 4-2 in front of 2500 in the wartime league. It was the first time in the season Arsenal had won successive matches and only their third win of the season after playing ten games. It was also the first time they had scored four goals in a match this season.
4 November 1919: The government produced a policy of two Home Rule parliaments in Ireland – one in Dublin and one in Belfast – with a Council of Ireland to provide a framework for possible unity. The uprising however continued.
4 November 1921: John Hardy Robson signed from Innerleithen (or Vale of Leithen according to some sources) as the third choice keeper. He went on to play 86 league games for Arsenal before moving in 1926 to Bournemouth and Boscombe Athletic.
4 November 1922: Henry White’s final game (a 0-1 away defeat to Everton). He had two seasons at Blackpool (70 games, 18 goals), one at Fulham, then it was Walsall, Nelson, Walsall again, Stafford Rangers, and finally the short lived Thames Association. See also here.
4 November 1922: Howard Carter the archaeologist found the entrance to King Tutankhamen’s tomb in the Valley of the Kings.
4 November 1931: Bill Dodgin born in County Durham, and was himself the son of a footballer (Bill Dodgin senior – 1909 to 1999) who played for Huddersfield Town, Lincoln, Charlton, Bristol Rovers, Clapton Orient and Southampton.
4 November 1933: Arsenal drew 1-1 with Portsmouth, with Bastin scoring his 7th in 13 games. Unfortunately he then didn’t score again until a 1-0 win on Christmas Day – but the club kept on winning.
4 November 1937: Leslie Jones signed from Coventry. Tottenham had made an offer of £7,000 for him, but were outbid by Arsenal. He played his first game just two days later in the 2-1 defeat to Grimsby – so just like Reg Cumner in the following season, he scored on his debut.
4 November 1937: Bobby Davidson signed for Coventry. He was transferred to Coventry City in exchange for Leslie Jones (see above). We may wonder why such a promising player was transferred so readily: the answer may be in his personality as he was constantly in trouble with refs. See also here
4 November 1939: With war having been declared in September the league had been abandoned after three matches. Arsenal’s ground was unavailable, being taken over for the war effort, so after a series of six friendlies all away from home Arsenal had joined the wartime league and on this day beat Crystal Palace 5-0 to make it played three scored 19.
4 November 1944: Arsenal lost 1-3 to Reading in the wartime league to make it three defeats and a draw in the last four.
4 November 1949: Jim Fotheringham joined as an amateur. Arsenal was his first club. He went on to play 87 games for Arsenal before moving onto Sunderland.
4 November 1970: Arsenal 2 Sturm Graz 0 in front of 37,667 in the second leg of the Fairs Cup match to take Arsenal through. Kennedy scored and Storey got a penalty to wrap it up.
4 November 1972: Final appearance for George Graham; Arsenal 0 Coventry 2. Graham then moved on to Man U. He had made 219 league starts for Arsenal and scored 59 league goals across seven seasons. See also here
4 November 1975: Arsenal played a friendly away to Fenerbahce winning 2-0 with goals from Powling and Ball
4 November 1978: Arsenal played Ipswich for the first time since the FA Cup final in May and beat them 4-1 in front of 35,269 fans. Arsenal missed an open goal in the first minute, went 0-1 down on 11 minutes, but Stapleton got a hattrick and Nelson the other.
4 November 1989: David O’Leary beat George Armstrong’s appearance record. In the end he made 523 league starts and won the league twice, the FA Cup twice, and the League Cup twice.
4 November 1998: Dynamo Kyiv 3 Arsenal 1 in the Champions League during one of the seasons when Wembley was used as an experiment. It left Arsenal with just one win in the group.
4 November 2000: Middlesbrough 0 Arsenal 1 made it five league wins in a row, Henry scoring a penalty. In fact Henry scored in four of the five games.
4 November 2001: Arsenal went four down in 20 minutes in biggest home league defeat of Arsène Wenger years which ended Arsenal 2 Charlton 4. Yet despite the catastrophe this was nonetheless League match 11 of the third Double season.
4 November 2009: Arsenal beat AZ 4-1 on the way to winning their Champions League group.
4 November 2011: Robin Van Persie was Barclays player of the month for October. He scored eight goals in the three wins and one defeat during the month.
4 November 2015: Bayern Munich 5 Arsenal 1 meant that Arsenal had three defeats and one win in four in the Champions League, and seemingly marked the end of the run of consecutive qualifications to the group stages.