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25 January 1890: Arsenal’s first ever trophy

by Tony Attwood

For more on the Arsenal History Society and our free video collection, please see the notes at the foot of this article.

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.


ARSENAL HISTORY SOCIETY FREE VIDEO COLLECTION

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.

ARSENAL DAY BY DAY: THE STORIES

Just as the videos have been put in date order so we are now doing a day-by-day series of Arsenal events, looking to find one good story a day throughout the year.   This project started on 1 December, and we are adding to it each day.   The index is 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.

1 comment to 25 January 1890: Arsenal’s first ever trophy

  • kyeyune emmanuel

    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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