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December 2019
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Chapman banned, Norris banned and a coincidence of dates

One of the great bits of fun in considering the history of any organisation is the strange coincidences that turn up.   As with the fact that some 33 years apart there were two key events in the Arsenal of history that happened somewhere between 1st and 5th December.  And the fact that in neither case can we work out the exact date of the event.

Somewhere between these dates in 1886 Dial Square FC was formed ahead of their one and only match to be played against Eastern Wanderers.

And then in the same period 33 years on, in 1919, Arsenal changed its name from The Arsenal to Arsenal.   There is a popular story that says that Herbert Chapman pushed through the change, but at the time it happened he was actually banned by the FA from taking any part in football because of his earlier involvement with Leeds City who allegedly had paid players during the war.

The case against Chapman was farcical (you can read more of it here) but it is worth noting because the case illustrates the idiocy of the FA and the flimsy evidence on which it was willing to ban people.  This is particularly interesting because it also informs us about the approach of the FA when it came to the hearing against Sir Henry Norris, which caused him to leave Arsenal.

Here are the anniversaries…

1 – 5 December 1886:   Extrapolating from the dates of other events we can take it that between these two dates a meeting was held to form Dial Square FC ahead of their first game on 11 December against Eastern Wanderers.   1 Dec is the date George Osborne is reported to have given in 1890 when talking about the Royal Oak meeting to form a club.

1 December 1906.  First game for Archie Low.  He had joined from Ashfield in Glasgow the previous June as cover for Roddy McEachrane. The game ended Arsenal 0 Sunderland 1.

1 – 5 December 1919: Curiously 33 years after the club was founded, and somewhere during exactly the same spread of five days, The Arsenal FC became Arsenal FC in terms of the way the club referred to itself.  However the club’s actual legal name did not change.

1 December 1923: Arsenal started a sequence of 9 games in one month with a 2-2 home draw against Blackburn with 20,000 in the ground. Young playing at centre forward finally got his first goal of the season in his seventh match.

1 December 1926: St Ivel in the Islington Gazette suggested for the first time that the reserves were on course to win the league – a significant improvement on their 5th place the previous season.  It was a time when the reserve league was taken very seriously by club and players.

1 December 1934: Arsenal 7 Wolverhampton 0.  For the second match running Drake scored four as  Arsenal scored five or more for fifth time in 17 league games.

1 December 1973:  Arsenal played out a 2-2 draw with Coventry at Highbury in front of just 22,340.  Arsenal’s scorers were unexpected: the young Hornsby, and Nelson. But the hero was Wilson, Arsenal’s pitch was unplayable, and the game started late as the players went off to change their boots after the warmup.  Arsenal’s tactics were to run through the middle, as the journey was shorter.

1 December 1983: Tommy Caton joined Arsenal from Man City.  In his wild, short life he played 95 times for Arsenal.

1 December 1983: Lee Chapman sold to Sunderland for £100,000.  He had been brought in as the club’s new goalscorer but played just 23 league games and scored just four goals.

1 December 1985: Paul Merson signed a professional contract.  Before becoming an integral part of the team he had one loan spell with Brentford who were managed by the Double winning captain of 1971, Frank McLintock.

1 December 1992: Cup Match 4 of Arsenal’s Cup Double season.  Arsenal beat Derby 2-1 in a replay of the 3rd round match in the League Cup.  Wright and Campbell got the goals.

1 December 2001: Ipswich 0 Arsenal 2 with goals from Ljungberg and Henry.  League match 14 of the third Double season. Although part of a run of three consecutive wins it was in fact just part of a run of three wins in nine.

1 December 2007: Aston Villa 1 Arsenal 2.  Arsenal went five points clear and the media began to talk of another unbeaten season.  Flamini and Adebayor scored. However the run lasted just one more game.

1 December 2012: Arsenal 0 Swansea 2.  Arsenal had 21 points, their worst total after 15 games for 18 years.  They were 10th in the league behind Stoke, Swansea and WBA, but ahead of Liverpool.

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