March 1932 opened with Arsenal third in the league. Two wins and a defeat in the league saw them stay in that position in the run-up to Easter, while a 1-0 win over Manchester City in the FA Cup semi-final saw them progress to the final where they would meet Newcastle, in what was to be their third cup final in six years.
25 March 1932 was Good Friday, and that meant at the time, a rush of three games in four days – the first being Derby at home. The win over Derby on this day took Arsenal up to second behind Everton who on this day also won, beating WBA 2-1.
We may wonder these days simply at the notion of three games in four days. And indeed the whole affair seems to us now even stranger since clubs could not rotate their squad, and were, under League rules, forced to put out their strongest teams. This was for fear of collusion between clubs in fixing results, as Manchester United and Liverpool had been found guilty of doing some 15 years earlier.
And although Arsenal were not making progress in catching Everton, the accountants must have been rubbing their hands together, for these three consecutive home League games had brought a total of 167,871 through the turnstiles – an average of fractionally under 56,000 per game. Sir Henry Norris had taken Arsenal to Highbury in order for the club to operate profitably, and although he had now departed, his dream was certainly fulfilled.
So it was that immediately after the Derby game, the team played West Ham on 26th March. The result was a 1-1 draw, with Lambert scoring again.
But what was particularly noticeable for WHU was that this was the only point they gained in the last ten games of the season. They were 17th after this match, and finished the campaign bottom, letting in 22 goals in their next four games.
The players were, of course, given Sunday off, but then on Easter Monday they were back on the road to play Derby on 28th March. After their defeat to Arsenal on Good Friday, Derby had drawn against Newcastle. Now they drew with Arsenal again 1-1, Jack getting Arsenal’s goal.
Overall Arsenal had played six league and one cup game in the space of 26 days, winning four, drawing two and losing one.
After stumbling Everton had won four and drawn two of their last six and were three points ahead of Arsenal. Arsenal had only won three and drawn two of the five games in the month, but there was still one game in hand and a better goal average.
Meanwhile Tottenham went through a run of winning one game and drawing four in March 1932, ending the month in 10th position in division 2.
Sadly, in the end, all the excitement of a possible League and Cup double came to nothing as Arsenal eventually finished the season in second, and as runners’ up in the FA Cup. The double, it was said, was impossible in modern times because of the level of competition and number of games. It had happened twice in the 19th century when the number of games was fewer, and that was all.
Thus Arsenal finished the season with results which just a few years before would have seemed impossible but now, having won the league with a record number of points the previous year, the result was a disappointment: runners’ up in league and cup.
And yet greater glory was just around the corner, for in the following three years Arsenal would win the league three times running, only the second team ever to do so.
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