Whatever happened to Loughborough FC? Arsenal’s strange involvement

Loughborough FC may well not be a club you’ve heard of, unless you study Arsenal’s earliest history, in which case you might know they turn up several times.

They won the Midland League in 1894/5 and then were elected to the second division of the Football League.  They didn’t fare well however and in 1900 the club finished bottom of the League, conceding 100 goals in 34 games, winning only a single game and collecting only 8 points of a possible 68.   After failing to gain re-election to the League in 1900, the club applied for acceptance back into the Midland League, but failed to turn up for the fixtures meeting on 9 June. The club was declared defunct on 29 June.

But that is not quite all there is to say because they had some interesting games against Arsenal which is what puts them in our history books.

On 12 December 1896 Arsenal played Leyton in the FA Cup at won 5-2. But the League and FA were in dispute over whose games took precedence so there was a league match on the same day.  Arsenal lost 0-8 to Loughborough in the league on that day – our biggest defeat – but of course Loughborough were playing our reserve team.

The next season on 22 September Woolwich Arsenal were playing Loughborough in a United League game when the game was abandoned with 8½ minutes remaining.

Those remaining minutes were played three months later on 22 December 1897 following the Football League fixture between the two clubs. Ten of the eleven players that played in the first fixture played in the second fixture, with Paddy Farrell playing in place of Frank McAvoy. So it could be construed that Farrell was Arsenal’s first substitute in a competitive game.

But that is not all.  For on 12 March 1900: Arsenal recorded their biggest ever league win.  Arsenal 12 Loughborough 0. Only 600 turned up to this Monday afternoon game, and such was the state of Loughborough, Arsenal paid their visitors’ train fare to and from the game so that the match could be played.  Six different players scored for Arsenal.

Here are the anniversaries

12 March 1887: Arsenal 3 Millwall 0 – the first home game against the local rivals when Arsenal were south of the river, and Millwall north.  The crowd was recorded as 600, but within five years 12,000 attended this fixture, and a year after that it was 20,000. The rivalry was indeed intense.  See also here

12 March 1892: Arsenal played Great Marlow in front of 3000, just 2000 fewer than the crowd against Wolverhampton Wanderers two weeks earlier.

12 March 1900: Arsenal recorded their biggest ever league win.  Arsenal 12 Loughborough 0. Only 600 turned up to this Monday afternoon game, and such was the state of Loughborough, Arsenal paid their visitors train fare to and from the game so that the match could be played.

12 March 1910: Arsenal 0 Man U 0.   The result left Arsenal and Tottenham equal on points with Arsenal in the relegation zone on goal average.  Worse for Arsenal Tottenham had two games in hand. See also here

12 March 1913: Former Arsenal player Jimmy Blair is recorded as having committed suicide aged 27.  After leaving Arsenal he played for Manchester City, Bradford City and Stockport County.

12 March 1919: Sir Henry Norris’ friend, the nationally famous entertainer George Robey regularly arranged charity matches and on this day there was another such in which his team played an RAF team at Stamford Bridge.  Sir Henry often gave his blessing to Arsenal players being involved.

12 March 1927: Reg Tricker had been spotted by Arsenal while at Charlton and joined Arsenal from Charlton Athletic for £2,250 on this day, before making his full debut just one week later in a 2-1 defeat at home to Everton.

12 March 1930.  From this day on to 21 April Arsenal had five wins, five draws and one defeat.  And in the midst of this Arsenal got to their second FA Cup final.

12 March 1932: Arsenal 1 Man C 0; FA Cup semi final at Villa Park.  It was Arsenal’s 6th semi-final, but more impressively their fourth in six years.   Bastin scored the only goal of the game.

12 March 1935: Five years after having abolished all speed limits on Britain’s roads (urban and rural), they were reintroduced in an attempt to stop the carnage.

12 March 1954: The 42nd and final match for Ben Marden, a 2-0 home win against Aston Villa.  He moved on to play for Watford for two years and then played non-league football.

12 March 1955: Arsenal 2 Aston Villa 0.  The start of seven match winning run in which Arsenal let in only one goal.  Tapscott and Roper scored the goals.

12 March 1968: Birmingham 2 Arsenal 1.  FA Cup 5th round replay. It was the second year running Birmingham put Arsenal out, but Arsenal retained hopes of winning the League Cup.

12 March 1975: Alan Ball captained England and Macdonald scored one of England’s goals as England beat West Germany 2-0.

12 March 1977:  QPR 2 Arsenal 1; The 7th and final consecutive defeat in the worst run in Arsenal’s league history.  It even surpassed the dire runs during 1912/13 when Arsenal were relegated to the second division. The manager was Terry Neill.

12 March 1981: David Price sold to Crystal Palace.  In an eight year career at Arsenal he made 116 league starts and 26 in the FA Cup.  He was a significant part of the side in the 1978/9 season, playing in all the Cup games, including the final.

12 March 1983: Arsenal 2 Aston Villa 0.  FA Cup round 6.  Woodcock and Petrovic scored to take Arsenal through.

12 March 1988: Arsenal 1 Nottm Forest 2.  FA Cup round 6.  For the second round in succession over 50,000 turned up at Highbury.  David Rocastle scored.

12 March 1992: Andy Cole, after just one game for Arsenal moved on to Bristol City and later Newcastle before getting almost 200 games for Manchester Utd.  He is often thought of as the George Graham player who got away.

12 March 2002: Arsenal 0 Deportivo La Corunia 2 in Champions League 2nd group made progress difficult.

12 March 2005: Bolton 0 Arsenal 1 FA Cup round 6.  A goal by Ljunberg in the second minute took Arsenal through.

12 March 2012: Having not played for Arsenal, Sean McDermott was loaned to Leeds, but couldn’t get a game there either, and eventually was sold to Sandnes Ul in Norway.

12 March 2012: Against all the odds and the protests of those opposed to the continuation of Arsène Wenger as manager, Tomas Rosický signed a new contract, and went on to have some remarkable performances for the team.

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