24 December 1932 – the most extraordinary Arsenal Christmas ever

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This was probably the most extraordinary Christmas Eve in the history of Arsenal FC. Before the game Arsenal were top of the League.  Sheffield Utd were a decent mid-table 12th, having won seven, lost seven, drawn five.  But better than that they had just won five in a row, scoring 13, letting in six.  It was a run that was turning a lot of heads, given that they had only managed to win two of their first 14 games this season.  And besides the media were still not ready to think of anyone but a northern or midland team winning the league.  Arsenal of late were an aberration: no doubt about it. During thir poor run Sheffield United had lost once by 2-5 and once 1-5, both away from home, but the five straight wins, including a 4-3 over Derby County suggested they had recovered from that poor opening spell. Arsenal’s team was now the standard line up…


Male  Roberts Hapgood

Hill John

Jack James

Hulme Lambert Bastin

And on Christmas Eve 1932 it was 5-1 at half time and it ended Arsenal 9 Sheffield Utd 2.  It meant that thus far in the season Arsenal had in different games scored six, seven, eight and nine goals.  In this game Lambert scored five – which turned out to be his final hatrick (plus two!) It was his 12th hat trick – more than any other player in the club’s history, which perhaps emphasises more than ever what a tragedy it is that this wonderful gifted player died young (in a car crash) and is now forgotten even by Arsenal FC. Such was the amazement in the football world (well, England) at the score, that the fact that Aston Villa drew while Sheffield W beat Liverpool was hardly noticed.  Arsenal were now six points clear with a massively superior goal average to anyone else’s. So on to Boxing Day – and wouldn’t you know, Arsenal lost at home, 1-2 to Leeds who had crept up to fifth place in the table.  In their nine away games thus far in the season Leeds had scored nine, and conceded nine.  Scoring two away to Arsenal was considered by most people to be a misprint in the evening papers – not for the last time this season.  The only consolation to Arsenal was that Villa lost and Sheffield Wednesday drew. As was the way of such things at the time, Leeds and Arsenal then played each other again the next day in the return fixture and this time, coping with a loss of form and injuries Chapman shuffled the pack bringing in Norman Sidey made his debut replacing Hill to become the fourth player to wear the right-half shirt this season. Sidey had signed as an amateur from Nunhead of the Isthmian League in 1929 and turned pro in 1931. Haynes came in at centre half and Stockhill played his first game since the opening two of the season (in which he scored both of Arsenal’s only two goals).   He played at inside right with Jack moving to centre forwards. There was mumbling a-plenty at the result – a goalless draw –  especially as Villa and Sheffield Wednesday both won. It was one of only two games all season in which Arsenal did not score. So after five wins in a row, Arsenal had lost one and drawn one in the space of two days.  But you’ll probably know, it all turned out ok in the end. Being the time of year it is you might also enjoy the article “Christmas Day Schedules for Arsenal”also on the blog. If you have been, thank you for reading. Tony Attwood  


For details of the videos sorted by club, and videos in the order we published them, plus our 21 golden great videos please see here.

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.


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

Henry Norris at the Arsenal:  There is a full index to the series here.

Arsenal in the 1930s: The most comprehensive series on the decade ever

Arsenal in the 1970s: Every match and every intrigue reviewed in detail.

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