Error strewn stories about Arsenal FC are commonplace, and often easy to spot because of inconsistencies in the account, and the fact that information can be checked and be found to be inaccurate.
Of course in the past it was harder to check such matters, as when Arsenal’s ex-manager Leslie Knighton wrote his autobiography in 1946, of which about a third included his tales of his time as Arsenal’s manager. Knighton probably didn’t think anyone would contradict him. He was after all, writing about events that occurred over 20 years before his volume was published.
One can imagine his shock then when he discovered that within days of his volume appearing, George Allison’s autobiography appeared. Allison, like Knighton had been Arsenal’s manager, but the prime difference was that Allison had won the league twice, and the FA Cup. Knighton had won nothing and spent the latter part of his tenure just escaping relegation.
The contrast between the two volumes is extraordinary. Knighton portrays the club owner from 1910 to 1927 (Henry Norris) as a crook. Allison (who worked at Arsenal from 1910 onwards, and was later a highly esteemed writer on contemporary events as well as football) saw him as the visionary who rescued the club from extinction by investing his own money. Allison portrays Norris as a man dedicated to making Arsenal not just successful on the pitch but also profitable – in order to ensure its long term survival.
And yet, the constant negative attitude of the media towards Arsenal, has ensured that it is the Knighton account of Norris that is remembered, not that of the man who continued the legacy of Chapman.
We think of this today, as this is the anniversary of Arsenal signing Alf Common – a signing completely paid for by the chairman Henry Norris. Common was coming towards the end of his career, but he was one of the most famous players of the day, and he brought in the crowds at Plumstead, exactly as the club needed.
The anniversaries are below.
The Arsenal History Society is part of the Arsenal Independent Supporters Association – a body which gives positive support to the club, and has regular meetings with directors and senior officials of the club to represent the views of its members to the club. You can read more about AISA on its website.
7 August 1898: James Ramsay born. He joined Arsenal from Kilmarnock (with whom he had won the Scottish cup) in February 1924 for £1775 – one of many examples of Leslie Knighton spending over £1000 on a player, despite saying in his autobiography Henry Norris forbade all such transfers.
7 August 1898: John Dick signed from Airdrieonians, and Woolwich Arsenal was his second and last club. He was just about the club’s first “stalwart”.
7 August 1898: Jim Devlin transferred to Airdrie as part of the John Dick deal. He only played one game for Arsenal but his transfers involving Arsenal, Tottenham, Millwall, Sunderland and Airdrie suggest some strange activities in the background.
7 August 1900: Frank Ransom joined Arsenal after a trial period. He played only one game for Woolwich Arsenal on 26 December 1903, away to Leicester Fosse in what was Arsenal’s promotion season from the second division. He stayed with Arsenal until 1905 when he moved to Southend United and then Crystal Palace. Although many say he was Irish, this seems not to be the case.
7 August 1910: Alf Common signed. The move can be seen as something of a publicity coup for chairman Henry Norris, as Common had been the first £1000 player and at the time of his signing he was famous throughout football.
7 August 1930: It was a time of significant doom and gloom as unemployment broke through the two million mark.
7 August 1968: Vince Bartram born in Birmingham; he started as a footballer with 4th division Wolverhampton Wanderers. After a series of loans he moved to Bournemouth in 1991, playing over 100 games under the management of Harry Redknapp.
7 August 1973: Freddie Cox died aged just 52 – he had won the cup with Arsenal in 1950. After retiring from playing he returned as a manager, winning promotion with Gillingham. After working with Bournemouth he retired from football in 1970.
7 August 1982: Tony Adams first appearance, a friendly away to Colchester. He had signed as a schoolboy and played his first league game on 5 November 1983 and went on to become “Mr Arsenal”.
7 August 1991: Arsenal beat Watford in a friendly; Ray Parlour’s first game. Siggi Jonnson’s last game. Ray played 339 league games, Siggi just 8.
7 August 1993: Eddie McGoldrick’s first game; the Charity Shield match v Man U (1-1). He had transferred from Crystal Palace and before that Kettering, Nuneaton and Northampton.
7 August 1997: Christopher Wreh joined from AS Monaco for £300,000 where he had played under Arsene Wenger. He played just 13 games for Monaco and 33 on loan with Guingamp.
7 August 1999: Thierry Henry’s first appearance – as a sub in Arsenal 2 Leicester City 1 on the opening day of the season. He had scored 3 goals in 16 for Juventus, and 20 in 105 for Monaco and did not consider himself a natural goalscorer.
7 August 2000: Guy Demel joined from Nîmes for whom he had played one game. He never played for Arsenal and moved to Borussia Dortmund winning the Bundesliga in his first season. He later played for WHU and totalled 302 games for six clubs after leaving Arsenal.
7 August 2000: After losing both games in the Ajax tournament Arsenal went to Scotland and beat Dunfermline 0-3, in front of 10,330 for the opening of the new stand at East End Park. Vieira, Henry and Kanu returned, Robert Pires was on show, but there was still no Dennis Bergkamp.
7 August 2002: Gilberto Silva joined from Atlético Mineiro for £4.5m despite Atlético Mineiro being placed on a transfer embargo because of unpaid wages and difficulties getting a work permit. Prior to coming he had twice given up football to work in a sweet factory due to financial difficulties at home.
7 August 2005 : Arsenal lost to Chelsea in the Community Shield at the Millennium Stadium in Arsenal’s 19th appearance. Fabregas scored for Arsenal and after the match Mr Wenger called Chelsea a long-ball team.
7 August 2009: Håvard Nordtveit loaned to Nuremberg for the season. At the end of the loan he moved on to Borussia Mönchengladbach where he became a considerable success, playing 120 games in his first four seasons with them.
7 August 2009: Arsenal TV on the Setanta network closed as the digital channel went out of business in the UK having failed to take on Sky.
7 August 2012: Santi Cazorla joined Arsenal from Málaga. On 3 August Untold Arsenal had written “This could be a player we’ll love and love again.” For once we got it right!
7 August 2014: Johan Djourou was sold to Hamburg for a fee of around £2.5m after 86 league games for Arsenal, and loan spells at Birmingham, Hanover and Hamburg.
7 August 2015: Serge Gnabry was loaned to WBA but bizarrely only made one start for them with the manager the eccentric Tony Pulis complaining the player was not fit. Eventually Arsenal withdrew him from the club. He later signed for Bayern Munich. Pulis was later ordered by the courts to pay £3.7m damages to Crystal Palace after he lied to the club about his future intentions.
7 August 2016: Arsenal concluded a pre-season without their major stars who had been involved in the Euros, with a 3-2 victory over Manchester City. Chuba Akpom scored for the fourth match in a row.
7 August 2018, Alisher Usmanov announced that he would accept an offer from Stan Kroenke to buy his 30% stake in Arsenal for £550 million, in a deal that would allow Kroenke to take full control of the club.
7 August 2018: Calum Chambers loaned to Fulham for a season.
7 August 2019: , Carl Jenkinson left Arsenal to join Nottingham Forest for a £2 million transfer fee.