Finding events on 29 February is of course tough, and indeed even searching for the last Arsenal game played on this date turned out to be an activity that took me back to the last century. I may have missed one but I think the last Arsenal league game on 29 February was almost 50 years ago.
But on this day Pal Lydersen made his debut for Arsenal in a friendly against Barent. His is not a name well remembered in England but he was a Norwegian international playing 20 times for his country.
Between 1985 and 1991 he played for IK Start before transferring to Arsenal in 1991. As a full back at a time when the club had Dixon and Winterburn in the squad his opportunities were limited, but he did make 15 appearances before being loaned back to Start in 1994 where he immediately became a regular in the team. He was then transferred back to Start (as it were) for the 1995/6 season, before going on to Sturm Graz and finally Molde for 1997/8 and the following season, playing 59 times in all in this last part of his career.
He retired in 1999. According to the Daily Telegraph he was one of the players that was implicated in the George Graham signings for cash scandal that had him dismissed from Arsenal, but in typical Telegraphian style, no evidence is supplied.
Here are such anniversaries as we can find for leap day…
29 February 1904: Arsenal 4 Burnley 0. Tommy Shanks scored a hat trick. It was the second match of a five game winning run in the league. The result left Arsenal in second position, five points behind Preston but with a better goal average and two games in hand.
29 February 1924: James Ramsay joined Arsenal from Kilmarnock with whom he had won the Scottish Cup. His fee was certainly over £1000 – another example of how Knighton’s memoirs misled the public as to the restrictions placed on him by Henry Norris. Ramsa played 75 times and scored 11 goals.
29 February 1936: Arsenal 4 Barnsley 1 – FA Cup round 6, in front of 60,420 as Arsenal progressed to the semi-final. Beasley (2), Bowden and Bastin (pen) supplied the goals.
29 February 1964: Arsenal 1 Stoke City 1. Only 26,206 turned up to see Joe Baker score on leap day. It was the start of a run of six games without a win, which came after a run of just one win in four. However despite the poor runs Arsenal ended the season in 8th.
29 February 1972: Derby 0 Arsenal 0 after extra time. FA Cup 5th round replay, played in front of 63,077 as Arsenal attempted to retain the FA Cup.
29 February 1992: Barnet 0 Arsenal 6; a friendly arranged after Arsenal were knocked out of the FA Cup. Goals from Parlour, Wright, Campbell (2), Limpar, Smith. Crowd 4,484. Pal Lydersen made his debut.
29 February 2020. Arsenal were due to play Manchester City away on this day in the original fixture schedule, to make this the first Arsenal league match on 29 February in 48 years, but the game was postponed because of Arsenal’s Europa league involvement the previous Thursday. However an under 18s match was arranged on this day.