Opening games can be misleading: ask Man U!

The opening game of the season played on this day in 1989 saw Arsenal, the champions, defeated by last season’s 11th placed team Manchester United, 4-1.  Prior to the game the new Man U chairman appeared on the pitch complete with football, performed a very decent keepy-upy and then slammed a ball into the net.

Huge roars all round, not least because the chairman had promised to finish the rebuild of the Old Trafford Ground and take Man U back to the top.

Except  that Knighton, the new chairman, didn’t have the money, and was reliant on backers, who having seen his antics and the state of the Man U club, pulled out.  Knighton later went on to “take Carlisle to the top” but landed them with massive debts and near extinction.

As for Man U, they did not build on their 4-1 defeat of the champions on the opening day and ended the season in 13th.  Arsenal finished in fourth.  The following season Arsenal regained the title in the Almost Unbeaten season, suffering just one defeat.  Man U made it up to sixth.

Here are the anniversaries.

19 August 1904: Woolwich Gazette reported Archibald Leitch was engaged in work on the  Manor Ground building refreshment bars utilising the back of the Abbey Wood End slope.  It was probably the first job since the Ibrox disaster for the man who went on to design Highbury.   

19 August 1939: On the eve of war Arsenal beat Tottenham 1-0 in a friendly.  After three league games the season was abandoned and the league did not resume until 1946.  In a reversal of the 1st world war, Arsenal spent most of the war years based at White Hart Lane

19 August 1946. Ray Daniel signed.  Because of conscription he did not start playing for Arsenal until May 1949.

19 August 1956: Joe Wade left Arsenal to become player manager at Hereford.  He had played 86 times for Arsenal, his only senior club.

19 August 1961: Laurie Brown and John MacLeod each played their first match for Arsenal, a 2-2 draw with Burnley.

19 August 1966.  George Eastham transferred to Stoke for £35,000.  He’d scored 41 in 223 games for Arsenal and transformed the legal basis of the retain and transfer system – which Woolwich Arsenal had originally established in a court case.

19 August 1969: Last appearance of Ian Ure in a 1-1 draw with Leeds.  He had played 168 league matches for Arsenal, before moving on to Manchester Utd and then St Mirren.

19 August 1975: After a dire opening match against Burnley, Sheffield United 1 Arsenal 3 was much better although peppered with Sheffield appeals for penalties from the third minute onwards.  Brady ignored the fuss and gave Arsenal the lead on the 34th minute with a shot from 30 yards.  Sammy Nelson was sent off for handball in the 72nd minute, but Kidd made the game safe seconds from the end.

19 August 1978: John Kosmina played his first and last game for Arsenal as a substitute in the match against Leeds.  He had transferred from Adelaide City earlier in the year and the following season left to play for West Adelaide Hellas.  John Hawley, one of the brave heroic men of football, played in the game.

19 August 1989: In the first league match after winning the title in the last seconds at Anfield, Arsenal lost 4-1 away to Man U, but were undefeated in the next seven.

19 August 2000: Arsenal started their season at Sunderland with a 0-1 defeat.  Arsène Wenger was falsely accused of violent and threatening behaviour towards the fourth official in a case that rumbled on and on for months to come.  It was the start of a long continuing campaign by officialdom against Arsenal.

19 August 2006: Gilberto scored his first league goal for Arsenal and Arsenal’s first league goal at the new Emirates Stadium in a 1-1 draw with Aston Villa.

19 August 2011: Joel Campbell signed from Saprissa for around £1m.  He played only eight league matches before Arsenal signed him, and then loaned him to Lorient.

19 August 2011: Jay Simpson sold to Hull City.  He never played for Arsenal but had successful loan spells with Millwall, WBA and QPR.  In 2019 he left Orient to play for Nea Salamina in Greece

19 August 2012: Arsenal confirmed that Alex Song had been sold to Barcelona, amidst rumours of a dispute with the management over tactics.  He played 39 times for Barcelona before being loaned to WHU. By 2018 he was playing for Swiss Club Sion II.

19 August 2014: Besiktas 0 Arsenal 0: the first Champions League play off.


The Arsenal History Societyis 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.

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100 Years in the First Division: the absolute complete story of Arsenal’s promotion in 1919.

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