Arsenal take on Watford in the Cup 100 years ago

Next up for Arsenal – Watford in the First Round of the FA Cup, January 15th 1910.

In 1910 there was only a First and Second Division of the Football League, and so the clubs in minor leagues (most prominently the Southern League which had two divisions) played out ties in the preliminary rounds, and then the winners went into round 1 with the Football League side.

Watford had been around nearly as long as Arsenal, and as “West Herts” had joined the Southern League in 1896 turning professional one year later and amalgamating with Watford St May a year further on to form the club “Watford”.

In 1900 they had gained promotion to Division 1 of the Southern League but went back down in 1903, coming up again in 1904 which is where they were in 1910 when they came to play Arsenal for a second time.

The first meeting was in the 1905/06 season when having beaten Southport Central  3-1 and Worcester City 6-0 they lost to Woolwich Arsenal (at the Manor Ground) 0-3.

This was a familiar pattern for Watford, one or two wins in the preliminary rounds, and then out.

The 1909/10 results were Bromley (h) 8-1, Wycombe Wanderers (a) 4-0 and then Woolwich Arsenal (a)

Over the same period of time Woolwich Arsenal had had greater success, both by being a first division team, and in their cup runs.

In the 1905/6 season Arsenal had beaten West Ham in the first round 3-2, Watford 3-0, Sunderland 5-0, Manchester United 3-2 before losing 0-2 to Newcastle Utd in the semi-final.

The following season Arsenal made their way to the semis again, beating Grimsby, Bristol City, Bristol Rovers, Barnsley and them Sheffield Wednesday in the semi.

But the run could not last, and in 1907/08 we lost 1-4 to Hull City after a 0-0 draw in the first season.   It became a famous defeat, symbolizing the decline of the club.  Indeed if you have read Making the Arsenal, you’ll know it was still being referred to, and was mentioned at the public meeting where the club’s finances were discussed in January 1910.

The next season was little better.  A 2-0 victory over Croydon Common (a club owned by Henry Norris) and then a defeat to non-league Millwall Athletic 0-1 in round 2.

Thus it was: two semi-finals followed by a couple of early knock outs.

The FA Cup was the main competition 100 years ago, and larger crowds could be seen at Cup games than League games.  But Watford of the Southern League was hardly an attractive option.  At the previous meeting only 11,000 had turned up for the Watford game, and the crowd was expected to be modest once again.

  • Buy Making the Arsenal at or here
  • Read what The Online Gooner said about MAKING THE ARSENAL here
  • Read what Arsenal World said about the book here
  • Read what Arsenal Independent Supporters Assn said about Making the Arsenal here
  • Read what A Cultured Left Foot said about Making the Arsenal here
  • Read a review of the Untold Arsenal blog here

There’s more about Woolwich Arsenal 100 years years ago on the site every day or two.  And there’s a lot about Arsenal today on Untold Arsenal every day.  Do join us again.

(c) Tony Attwood 2010.

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