How could we lose to Newcastle on Xmas Day?

How indeed!

But that is what happened at Christmas 1909.  The club had been favoured with three home games in a row.  Newcastle had to travel south on Christmas Eve and probably stay in a grotty hotel.   A trip to Woolwich was called “a trip to hell” by the northern clubs because of the problems with the journey.

And we had been on a run of two draws followed by three wins.

Three home games in a row and the results had been

18 December 1909.  Notts County (home).  Lost 1-2

25 December 1909.  Newcastle (home).  Lost 0-3.

It wasn’t even a problem with injuries – we were playing 10 of the 11 who had beaten Preston away 4-3 and Tottenham at home 1-0.

The big difference was that those teams were sinking into the lower part of the league, while Newcastle were in the top half.  It wasn’t that in 1909 there was a “top 4” but rather a “top half” made up of clubs who might well challenge for the title or the cup.   And Woolwich Arsenal, like Tottenham and Chelsea (the two other south east teams in the first division at the time) were very much “bottom half”.

There are no reports around of the game that I can find, but we can wonder.  Did the Newcastle players stay sober on Christmas Eve, while ours got smashed out of their heads (being at home and all).

Or were they just a better team?

Whatever the issue, Newcastle at home on Xmas Day was not a match to remember, but this being 100 years ago the club had only one spare day before they had to gather the troops for another match – against Liverpool on December 27th.

Suddenly the euphoria of the five games unbeaten had gone and things started to look bleak.  True 20,000 had turned up for Christmas Day, but two years before, for the same fixture there was a crowd of 25,000.

It was not looking good, and the first mutterings about the financial future of the club could be heard.

Making the Arsenal – the book

Making the Arsenal – the blog

Making the Arsenal – review of the book by A Cultured Left Foot

Tony Attwood Christmas Day 2009

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