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The two great Arsenal managers who are mostly forgotten

When we think of the names of great Arsenal managers we naturally think of Chapman, Graham and Wenger.  If we are being generous we might include Bertie Mee who won three trophies, but then we would have to ignore the awful decline of the team under him, and his vision of reducing the size of the club to one that only employed 18 players, with no youth set up at all.  Chapman, like Mee, won three trophies but left the club in a far better state than he found it; that cannot be said of Mee.

However there are two other names that we should add to the list of three glorious managers, two men who were managers in the Woolwich Arsenal days: Harry Bradshaw, who took Arsenal from an eternal mid-table position, to promotion from division two in 1904, and his successor Phil Kelso, who then took over from him and had the impossible task for keeping Arsenal in the first division without adequate funds.  Not only did he do this, he also took Arsenal to their first two FA Cup semi-finals.

Today is the anniversary of Phil Kelso’s birthday, and you can find an index to articles about him below – but you might care to start with this article.

Here are all the major Arsenal anniversaries for 26 May

26 May 1871: Arsenal manager Phil Kelso born. Manager from 1904 to 1908 he was one of the great innovators, paving the way for the major changes of Chapman and Wenger in subsequent centuries, the “Mr Transformation” of the club in the Woolwich days. There is an index of articles about him here.

26 May 1912: Arsenal played Rapid Vienna in match seven of a nine match tour series.   Arsenal won every game (the match was won 8-2).

26 May 1913 Tottenham’s demand for an EGM of league clubs to stop Arsenal’s move from Plumstead to Highbury was defeated at League’s AGM, re-iterating the League’s position from the 1910 AGM that the league regulations gave them no say in where a club played, only what league they were in.

26 May 1915: Arthur Biggs born in Bedfordshire.  He signed for Arsenal as an amateur in October 1933 and played 3 games before moving on to Hearts in Scotland

26 May 1926: In the penultimate game of a six match tour at the end of Chapman’s first season the result was Rapid/Amateure All Stars 0 Arsenal 1 (15,000) (Parker)

26 May 1938 both Ted Drake and Cliff Bastin scored in their final England appearance which ended England 4 France 2.  Ted Drake’s two goals made it six goals in five England games.

26 May 1939: In what Joy described as the most successful tour Arsenal had ever undertaken, Arsenal beat Denmark 6-0 with goals from Kirchen (2) Crayston (2) Lewis and Drury.  It was match six of a seven game tour.

26 May 1957: The first ever assination occurred at a football match, as Ali Chekkal, the prominent Algerian politician who was in favour of the continuing French occupation of Algeria was shot as he left the ground after the French Cup Final.  Toulouse beat Angers 6-3.

26 May 1987: Nigel Winterburn signed from Wimbledon for £400,000.  He went on to be one of the famous back four, playing on the left with Dixon on the right, with Adams and Bould in the centre.

26 May 1989 Liverpool 0 Arsenal 2.  Arsenal won the league.   Prior to the match the Daily Mail ran the headline “You don’t have a prayer Arsenal” and Brian Moore’s commentary of the game, which was shown live on TV, contained the famous line, “It’s up for grabs now”. Alan Smith’s goal gave him 23 goals in 36 league games.  Michael Thomas (who later played for Liverpool) scored the winner “right at the end”.

26 May 2009: Liverpool 1 Arsenal 2.  FA Youth Cup Final second leg, Arsenal winning 6-2 overall.  Coquelin and Wilshere played in the team, Watt and Ayala scored.

26 May 2013: Arsenal Ladies won FA Cup for the sixth time in eight years.  They won it again in 2014, but then found their days of dominance curtailed (at least until 2019) as other clubs started to invest heavily in their women’s teams.

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