Arsenal anniversaries: the dubious activities of Lees revealed for all to see



Compiled by Tony Attwood

Today’s headline comes from 1971

26 April 1893: Sevenoaks 0 Arsenal 11.   This was part of the programme of building towards the launch of Arsenal’s league career starting in September, but as the score suggests, local teams were not really up to Arsenal’s strengths.

26 April 1899:  Woolwich Arsenal 3 Woolwich League 0.  This is one of those tantalising  friendlies which exist in the results, but for which we have no information.  Charlton (formed 1905) certainly played in the Woolwich League for a few years, and the League’s existence suggests a multiplicity of clubs in the area but beyond that at the moment we have no information.

26 April 1910  With the original Woolwich Arsenal limited company dissolved on 25 April, a new company bearing the same name as the old one came into existence on this day. This company still trades today and continues to carry out its business as Arsenal FC.

26 April 1912:  Arsenal manager George Morrell took the job of manager at Leeds City who had just finished one place from bottom in Division II.  Henry Norris and William Hall naturally met with their manager – and ultimately persuaded him to stay.  The job at Leeds instead went to Herbert Chapman – something which ultimately led to him getting a life-time ban from football.

26 April 1913: Arsenal 1 Middlesbrough 1; after a disastrous season Woolwich Arsenal played their last game at the Manor Ground as Arsenal were relegated for the only time in their history. Stonley scored the last Arsenal goal in Plumstead; it was his only goal in Plumstead.  3000 turned up for this final match.  Also here   It was Jo Shaw’s testimonial and the amount he was to be paid was enhanced by the directors, due to the smallness of the crowd.

26 April 1915: Following Henry Norris’ efforts and funding in setting up the first Footballer’s Battalion on this day, the Footballers Battalion XI played the Sportsmen’s Battalion at Craven Cottage.

26 April 1917: Wartime league match attendances varied enormously.  On this day 1000 turned up to see the postponed game against Brentford away.  It ended goalless.

26 April 1919:  In the aftermath of the huge fall out between Arsenal and Fulham, the Victory Cup Final was played at Highbury with 36000 present, Chelsea beating Fulham 3-0.   The Islington Daily Gazette reported anti-Fulham feeling at the match, even in the press room.   Meanwhile Arsenal played a friendly away to Brentford.  It ended in a 3-3 draw in front of 3,000 and thus with a game between the top two, the final London Combination season as the London wartime league of the first world war, was over.  The Combination did, however, return in a different guise.

26 April 1926: Arsenal 5 Hibernian 0. Last game for John Alex Mackie.  He played 108 league games for the club, 119 overall, before moving to Portsmouth, and later Northampton, ending his career at the outbreak of war.  See also here.

26 April 1930.  Arsenal won the F.A. Cup for the first time, 2-0 v Huddersfield as Arsenal played Chapman’s previous employers.  It was the final remembered for the Zepplin flying overhead, and because it involved Chapman’s present and past employers playing each other.  It was also the first final in which the managers led their teams onto the pitch.  See also here

26 April 1952: Manchester United 6 Arsenal 1.  Last game for Reg Lewis. His career was hampered by injuries and he retired having played 176 games scoring 116 goals. He went on to run a pub and work in insurance.

26 April 1958: Last game for Mike Tiddy.  Preston 3 Arsenal 0.  His career was shortened by repeated injuries, and eventually Arsenal brought in Joe Haverty as a replacement.  Mike moved on to Brighton and Hove Albion.

26 April 1965: Man U 3 Arsenal 1 ended the season with Arsenal 13th after just two wins in the last 10.  George Eastham scored a penalty for Arsenal.

26 April 1971: Leeds 1 Arsenal 0.  Charlton was obviously offside as he took the ball and shot in injury time.  The shot hit the post, ran along the line as Charlton ran into McNab and the ball went in.  With Arsenal players outraged both by the off-side and the foul on McNab the police came onto the pitch and led the ref away.  Arsenal were now one point behind Leeds.

26 April 1975:  Arsenal 1 Tottenham 0.  The only win in the last five as Arsenal ended the season in 16th.  Kidd scored the goal (his 19th of the season) in a far from full Highbury.  Arsenal lost the final match 0-1 to West Ham.

26 April 1980: Arsenal 1 WBA 1.  Stapleton scored his 13th of the season.  Better form could have given Arsenal 3rd instead of 4th at the end of the season, but Arsenal won just one of the last six, scoring just five goals in those games, while letting in eight.

26 April 1986: Arsenal 2 WBA 2.  This draw in front of just 14,843 made it one win in eight.  Robson and a penalty from Allinson gave Arsenal their goals.

26 April 2008: Perry Groves was arrested in Colchester and issued with a fixed penalty notice for a Section 5 public order offence of using abusive and insulting words and behaviour, likely to cause harassment.

26 April 2009.   Arsenal beat Middlesbrough 2-0 at home.  After one defeat in 25 games in league and cups Arsenal had a bumpy end to the season being knocked out of the FA Cup and in the semi-final of the Champions League and losing one (but only one) league game, which made pundits write off all of Arsenal’s achievements in the year.  It was ever thus.

26 April 2015: A goalless draw with Chelsea, who were on their way to be runaway champions, was part of a run of 16 games to the end of the season in which Arsenal lost just one match, ending the season in 3rd.

26 April 2017: Arsenal 1 Leicester 0.  This win through an own goal was one of nine wins in the final ten games of the season.  That was enough to win Arsenal the FA Cup but not enough to get to the top four – the club missing out by one point, and allowing Liverpool to sneak in above them.

26 April 2018: Arsenal 1 Atletico Madrid 1 in the Europa League semi-final.  It was considered by most commentators to be “not enough” to get Arsenal through, as indeed it turned out to be.

26 April 2023: Despite having been leading the league table for most of the season Arsenal now suffered their 12th consecutive League loss against Manchester City.  The lead at the top was now just two points and Man C had two games in hand.

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