25 January 1890: Arsenal’s first ever trophy

by Tony Attwood

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123 years ago today Arsenal won through to a cup final, which in turn led to the club’s first ever trophy: the Kent Junior Cup. “Junior” in this regard did not relate to the players’ ages but to the fact that the cup was intended for reserve teams.

The reserve team had been created for the season 1886-87, with them playing a total of three friendlies. And it should be remembered that at this time there were no leagues in the south of the country, so this was indeed the only option.

The reserves played their first competitive game against Upton Excelsior in the London Junior Cup; winning comfortably by 3-0. They played two more games in the competition beating Upton Ivanhoe 4-3 and losing 1-4 to Spartan Rovers. Details of the games however are scarce, and there is not even mention in reports as to which round of the competition the games were played in.

But 1889-90 saw the big expansion of the club, ahead of the decision in 1891 to become a professional side. In all the first team was entered into the FA Cup, the London Senior Cup, the London Charity Cup and the Kent Senior Cup with the reserves in the Kent Junior Cup. The first team reached the finals of the three regional cup competitions but before they played in any of those games, the reserves reached the final of the Kent Junior Cup on 1st March 1890 beating en route, Dartford Working Men’s Club (7-1), Lewisham (9-1), Ordnance Store Corps (13-1) Cray Wanderers (score unknown) and Folkstone (2-1)

The final against was played on 1st March 1890 at Gravesend’s Bat and Ball ground. As the name suggests, it was originally built to play cricket on but during the winter football was played on it (I am sure the cricketers really appreciated that).  Interestingly Danskin played in goal, as he was too injured to play in the outfield.

Here’s the report from the local paper

These teams met on the Bat and Ball Ground, Gravesend, on Saturday in the above competition. Both clubs have a splendid record, the Excelsior lads having an unbeaten record up to Saturday last, while the Royals have beaten Dartford Working Men’s Club, Lewisham, Ordnance Store Corps, Cray Wanderers, and Folkestone in the above competition. Much interest was taken in the match by the partisans of both clubs so that a hard game was looked forward to.

The Excelsior winning the toss, Kime started the ball at 2.45, both teams striving their utmost to take the lead. The Woolwich players being much quicker on the ball were leading at the interval by one goal to none. After having much the best of the exchanges during the second 45, the Reds quickly settled what little hopes the Excelsior supporters had left, as after the change of ends the Royals, playing splendidly together, quickly registered five more goals, victory resting with the Royal Arsenal Reserves by six goals to nil Kime scoring three, Christmas, Charteris, and Rowland one each. Every man on the winning side played a splendid game, and it would be unfair to signal out any special player. The Excelsior played hard to avert defeat, but found their opponents much too strong for them.

Teams: – Royal Arsenal Reserves: D. Danskin (goal), J. Gardener, J. Wilson (backs), A. Brown (captain), W. George, A. Walton (half-backs), A. Christmas, J. Rowland, J. Kime, J.M. Charteris, D. Gloak (forwards). Chatham Excelsior: Taylor (goal), Clark, Davis (backs), Wymhill, Pellath, Williams (half-backs), Williams, Jenner, Hartland, Tonbridge, Wells (forwards).

The cup was brought to Woolwich by the winning team on Saturday evening, and reports say they received quite an ovation at the Arsenal station.


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One Reply to “25 January 1890: Arsenal’s first ever trophy”

  1. thank you comrades for your wonderful articles and reviews of Arsenal history . there is nothing i enjoy ,ost than reading your very intelligele , honest and die- hard arsenal spirit. i am ugandan , and an fervent arsenal fan.

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