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December 2019
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How the media makes up Arsenal tales. One day: two stories

If one wants to take a single day to provide evidence of the constancy and depth of the media’s antagonism against Arsenal then 3 December is as good as any.

On this day in 1923 Sir Henry Norris obtained a writ against the Fulham Chronicle for their personal attack on him, which contained within it, not a single shred of evidence.  And on this day in 1949 Arsenal were moved to publish a rebuttal of a newspaper story that claimed that Arsenal players had been smoking at half time in a match.  The newspaper subsequently apologised and admitted it had no evidence for the story.

Of course I have not trawled past copies of newspapers day by day to check for untruths, but it has been quite clear from the reports and analyses we undertaken in Untold Arsenal that the policy of making up tales about Arsenal continues today.   Indeed just a few days ago, if the accumulated newspapers and websites are to be believed, Arsenal are discussing their vacant managerial position with no fewer than 13 different clubs.

3 December 1904: David Neave’s first match; Small Heath 2 Arsenal 1.  He was born in Arbroath and started his football career with non-league Scottish clubs Forfar Athletic, Montrose and Arbroath, before joining Arsenal.

3 December 1915: The West London and Fulham Times, for which Henry Norris had regularly written on football matters, published its final edition, as a lack of advertising in wartime and restrictions on what could be said in the media brought about its end.   

3 December 1918:  Sir Henry Norris asked a soldier, Lieutenant Niss, to launch his campaign in the general election..  The Lieutenant made much of Sir Henry’s service to his country and the need to repatriate all Germans (not least so that they did not compete for jobs) and the view that Kaiser Wilhelm should be prosecuted for war crimes.

3 December 1919: George Curtis born in West Thurrock, Essex.  He joined Arsenal in December 1936 and stayed with the club until 1947 making just 14 appearances either side of the war.  He later went on to manage Norway.

3 December 1921: An away win over Blackburn left Arsenal still bottom of the league but with a game in hand and a better goal average than the clubs immediately above them.

3 December 1923  Sir Henry Norris obtained a writ for libel against the Fulham Chronicle which claimed that as a result of a detailed piece arguing for free trade “a torrent of wrath” had been unleashed on Sir Henry by the local Conservatives and called him “a disgruntled and embittered man” who acted from “personal malice”.  The defendants apologised, expressed regret and Sir Henry was awarded costs and 100 guineas as damages. Sir Henry, as always, gave the money to charity. 

3 December 1925:  The question of the Irish border was finally settled with the British government acquiescing on the issue of Irish contributions to pensions, and the Irish accepting the existing border as permanent.

3 December 1932:  For the fifth away match running Arsenal scored 3+ goals – a feat not repeated until 2008/9.  They scored 21 goals in these five games, this final game being Portsmouth 1 Arsenal 3.

3 December 1919: George Curtis was born in West Thurrock.  He started out with Anglo in Purfleet, and moved straight from there to Arsenal who placed him with Margate on loan until bringing him back for the April 1939 games.  

3 December 1949: The Arsenal programme printed a rebuttal of allegations in the South Wales Football Echo and Express, claiming that the Arsenal players came out for the second half smoking cigarettes! 

3 December 1962: Arsenal beat Chelsea 4-1 in final of the London Challenge Cup.  It was Arsenal’s 10th win of the competition and was revenge for the 1960 final which Arsenal lost 3-1 to Chelsea.

3 December 1983: Tommy Caton’s first game, a 0-1 home defeat to WBA.  It was part of a sequence in which Arsenal won just one game in nine.

3 December 2011: Wigan 0 Arsenal 4, making it six wins and a draw in the last 7, going from 15th to 5th in just two months.  Arteta, Vermaelen, Gervinho and Van Persie got the goals.

3 December 2016: Arsenal beat WHU 1-5 away with goals from Özil, Alexis (3) and Oxlade-Chamberlain from 25-yards.  The main focus in the subsequent media coverage was that one of the goals should not have been allowed.

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