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June 2020
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Those who have hurt Arsenal from within

Arsenal has, for much of its existence, been a club which others have sought to damage, both from within and without.

The earliest split came with the move to pay the players in 1891, which in turn led to a battle for control of the club.   At that time the club was run by a committee, elected by the club’s members, and this meant that the club was run by workers from the Royal Arsenal factories.

This outraged a small group of professional men who felt that working men could not possibly understand the ins and outs of running a business, largely because they were workers, not men born into the middle classes.

Eventually the middle-class group split from the mainstream group and set up their own club opposite Arsenal’s ground in Plumstead but not until they had tried to bankrupt Royal Arsenal by bribing the owner of their new stadium to renege on his agreement to rent Arsenal a new ground.

That rival club, Royal Ordnance Factories FC, was primarily backed by the club’s landlord up to 1893, and it took over the ground he owned which Royal Arsenal had been using.

It seems however that fate did not deal kindly with George Pike Weaver, the owner of the ground from which Arsenal were evicted, for not only did Royal Ordnance Factories FC fail mid-season, in 1914 his main source of income – a mineral water company – closed down, owing to the supply of clean mains water in the area.  He did, in the end, get his comeuppance for his duplicitous behaviour.

But it is not only his bad behaviour that we notice in today’s anniversaries, for this is the anniversary of Jack Lambert’s birth – one of the all-time greats of Chapman’s Arsenal.  His scoring record was utterly sensational for in 1930/31 he scored 38 goals in 34 League games – a record only once surpassed, and that by Ted Drake.  And yet Lambert was regularly booed by the anti-Arsenal gangs of the day, whose descendants are with us still in the form of the AAA.

Why did they do it?  Because they thought it was clever.

Here are the anniversaries.

22 May 1902: Jack Lambert born.  He played local football for Greasborough and Methley Perseverance, before being rejected by The Wednesday after a trial run.  He then played non-league with Rotherham County, and finally managed to get a run with Rotherham United in the 3rd Division North.  He then became one of our greatest players ever.

22 May 1912: Arsenal played Grazer AK winning 6-0 in the 5th game of a nine match tour of Germany and Austria.

22 May 1914:  Christopher Buckley signed.  He was a regular at centre half during much of that season. During the war he became a farmer, but continued to play wartime football for Arsenal, making 33 appearances.  He was later chairman of Aston Villa. 

22 May 1914: George Pike Weaver’s mineral company closed – significant because Weaver was the leader of the attempted coup at Arsenal in 1892, and the owner of the Invicta Ground from which Arsenal were evicted by Weaver in 1893 – a move that resulted in Arsenal joining the Football League and playing at the Manor Ground.

22 May 1931: After 3 games in Denmark Arsenal moved on and on this day we had Stockholm Combined XI 1 Arsenal 5 (6,000).  Williams, Parkin (2), Sidey and Bastin scored.  

22 May 1946: Leslie Jones transferred to Swansea as a player coach. He then played for Brighton and Hove Albion.  In June 1950 he was appointed manager of Scunthorpe United, their first League manager – and promptly recruited his home club and Arsenal friend Reg Cumner. 

22 May 1953: Paul Marriner born.   He started with Chorley, before turning professional at 20 with Plymouth.  He moved onto Ipswich, worked under Bobby Robson, and became an England international at that time.

22 May 1971: Frank McLintock played his ninth and last game for Scotland.  After retiring from playing, he joined his old club Leicester City as manager in 1977. However, City went through a spell where they had one win in 26 matches and Frank’s tenure was not a happy one.

22 May 1990:John Lukic sold back to Leeds.  In his second spell with Leeds he played 265 games, and won a second championship and a runners’ up medal in the League Cup with them.

22 May 1999: Thailand 4 Arsenal 3.  Kanu got two and Petit the third in this second and final match of a brief Far East tour.

22 May 2009: After Hull accused Fabregas of spitting, being improperly dressed, illegally entering the field of play after the match was over, and Arsène Wenger of not shaking hands, Arsenal were cleared on all counts at a hearing.

22 May 2009: Arsenal 4 Liverpool 1, FA Youth Cup Final first leg.  The team included Francis Coquelin and Jack Wilshere.  Goals from Sunu, Wilshere, Watt, and Emmanuel-Thomas. 

22 May 2011: Arsenal concluded the season with Fulham 2 Arsenal 2 after consecutive defeats at Stoke and home to Villa.  Arsenal finished 4th, three points off 2nd place.

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