Jermaine Pennant joined Arsenal on this day in 1999, a stunning talent that was never fulfilled either with Arsenal or with any of the many other clubs he played for. In all he signed for 11 different clubs and went on loan to a further six, his final club being Billericay Town in 2017 for whom he played 13 times. The following year he appeared with his wife on the notorious Jeremy Kyle Show, was a contestant on Celebrity Big Brother and published his autobiography: Mental – Bad Behaviour, ugly truths and the beautiful game. I’m not too sure what he has done since then – if you know please do write in.
Here are the anniversaries.
8 January 1887: The newly named Royal Arsenal FC (previously known as Dial Square FC) played their first game – against Erith on Plumstead Common. Arsenal won 6-1, part of an opening sequence of three matches in which the club scored 23 goals. See also here.
8 January 1910: Sheffield United 2 Woolwich Arsenal 0. Arsenal’s disastrous run continued amidst rumours – which turned out to be true, that suggested the club was on the edge of bankruptcy. Rescue however was on hand in the shape of Henry Norris, later in the year.
8 January 1916: Arsenal 4 Croydon Common 2. The game showed that the Common continued to play during the war. But it was the only Southern League club not to continue after this season, and thereafter several Common players turned out for Arsenal in the wartime league, eventually transferring to Arsenal in 1919. .
8 January 1921: George Grant, the alleged “Chinese international,” having played 57 times and scored four goals.for Woolwich Arsenal, The Arsenal and Arsenal, now played against Arsenal in the FA Cup. It ended QPR 2 Arsenal 0.
8 January 1927: Sheffield U 2 Arsenal 3 as Arsenal started the journey to their first FA Cup final. Prior to the arrival of Herbert Chapman, Arsenal had reached the cup semi-final twice – in 1906 and 1907, but had lost both times.
8 January 1930: Bert Humpish joined Arsenal from Wigan aged 28 – perhaps the oldest non-league player to come to Arsenal in the modern era.
8 January 1949: Arsenal 3 Tottenham 0 in FA Cup round 3. It was the first FA Cup match between the two. McPherson, Roper and Lishman scored. It was also the first time in four seasons Arsenal had made it past the third round.
8 January 1957: Don Roper returned to Southampton after 10 glorious years at Arsenal, but his return ended in a dispute that soured relations with the Saints for the rest of his life.
8 January 1962: David Court signed as a professional. He later returned to Arsenal as head of youth development and became the last member of the Swindin era at the club. After working in the financial sector he returned to Arsenal in 1996 as Assistant Head of Youth Development, alongside Liam Brady.
8 January 1972: Stoke City 0 Arsenal 0, in front of a typical Stoke crowd of just 18,965. Alan Ball failed again to find his way into the game and the travelling fans began to show a little impatience with their new star. He did not help his cause when, having one of the best chances of the game, receiving Armstrong’s centre on the far post he then missed the goal utterly.
8 January 1980: Arsenal 2 Cardiff 1, FA Cup 3rd round replay, part of another adventure that ended at Wembley. Sunderland got both goals after a 0-0 draw, meaning that Arsenal had now gone 13 FA Cup games without defeat.
8 January 1999: Jermaine Pennant joined Arsenal from Notts C for £2m. Although highly talented, he was beset with personal problems, and only played 11 times for Arsenal, but did get a hat trick in the first game of the 49 unbeaten run.