Next up for Woolwich Arsenal 100 years ago, after the disaster of Christmas Day, was Liverpool at home.
At that time everyone knew the background: Liverpool were formed by the left-overs of Everton.
When Everton moved out of Anfield Road and trotted off to the Goodison Park, a bunch of malcontents stayed behind and formed Everton – which the league refused to recognise, what with their already being an Everton FC.
Liverpool joined the league in 1893 – at exactly the same moment as Woolwich Arsenal. And like Woolwich Liverpool had a significant number of Scottish players in their team.
In 1905 the “Spion Kop” was built. It was named after the location of a battle in the Boer War where a Liverpool regiment was massacred. (There’s more about the Boer War in “Making the Arsenal”).
Liverpool FC then proceeded to bounce around between the divisions as if they couldn’t make up their minds where to be.
- 1893-4 – Division II
- 1894-5 – Division I
- 1895-6 – Division II
- 1896-1904 – Division I (league champions 1901)
- 1904-5 – Division II (2nd division champions)
- 1905 – 1915 – Division I (league champions 1906 – the first time a club had won Division II and Division I in successive seasons)
As for 1909-10 they were flying high looking as if they might win the league again (although in fact they ended up runners up). After Christmas Day they were 5th, but just two points off the leaders (Blackburn Rovers).
Woolwich Arsenal were 17th out of 20 (the 19th and 20th club would be relegated) and just 3 points off the club bottom of the league. If they were to avoid relegation, they needed to start winning again, and return to the ways of their run of just a few weeks earlier.
What is interesting however is that Liverpool were not seen in 1909 as a particular threat. True, they were having a decent season, but they were not considered an automatic “top half” club. Indeed in 1908-9 Woolwich Arsenal had ended 6th and Liverpool 16th, just two points off the second relegation spot.
So, after two defeats at home, it would be hard to say people were optimistic. But Liverpool were not considered one of the top teams, so it might be possible to get something out of the game, and avoid slipping back into the relegation positions currently occupied by Tottenham H and Bolton W.
There was hope, but not too much of it.
You can read about Arsenal in the present day at Untold Arsenal
You can read the whole story of Arsenal’s extraordinary year in 1910 in the book MAKING THE ARSENAL which is told through the diary of a Fleet Street journalist of the time.
Read what Arsenal Independent Supporters Assn said about “Making the Arsenal”