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The days when pro footballers would play three games in three days

In my last post I mentioned the time when Arsenal played three games in three days.

I wrote that piece just before Wolverhampton W created a storm in the EPL by actually changing their team around because the players couldn’t manage two tough games in four days.

What is interesting is that in 1904 when Arsenal played three games in three days seven of the team played all three games.   Obviously they made the guys of tougher material in those days.

But to bring us up to date – well up to date 10o years ago as is the wont of this site, 100 years ago to the day Arsenal were preparing to play Notts County (on 18 December 1909) – the first of three home games in a row.  There was of course no thought of “resting” players.

Arsenal had already played Notts County away in October and suffered a 5-1 defeat.  But although it was only two months later, only three of the players who had turned out for Woolwich in that first match were getting ready to play for the club in the pre-Christmas game.

Woolwich Arsenal were struggling for players, and had by December resorted to playing people out of position – most notably with the left back playing right back.

Notts County (who at this time were themselves playing at the City Ground) were having a solid midtable season (they ended the season 9th in the league out of 20).  Founders of the Football League they had slipped into the second division, and returned to the top league in 1896/7 after the Test Matches (play-offs).  They had won the FA Cup for the only time in 1894.

In 1905 the finished in a relegation position but were let off as the league was expanded from 18 to 20 teams.

They were thus an average team, who had never won the league, and had won the Cup in the previous century.  In those days they were not spoken of with the reverence that is (I think quite rightly) given to them as the oldest league team in the world.

Woolwich Arsenal were on a run – undefeated in five matches including three consecutive wins in their last three games.  What could go wrong?

Footnote.

I wrote this page a few days after Notts County had been sold by Munto Finance seemingly for £1.

In doing a little background work on this piece I read the official Notts County web site.  Although the sale of the club, and the breakdown of all that had been promised, happened some days ago, on 16 December 2009 the club’s official site still had this message….

“On 14 July 2009, Notts County moved into a new and exciting era after the Munto Finance, following successful due diligence, completed the acquisition of the Football Club. The previous month Supporters Trust members voted overwhelmingly to gift their shares to Munto to take the club forwards. Peter Trembling became executive chairman with immediate effect following the takeover. Less than two weeks later, Munto signalled their intent with the appointment of former England and Mexico Manager Sven-Goran Eriksson as the Director of Football at Meadow Lane.”

(c) Tony Attwood 2009

You can read the full story of Arsenal’s fall and re-birth in 1910 in the novel, “Making the Arsenal”.  Full details on www.emiratesstadium.info. The book is also available from amazon.co.uk

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