By Andy Kelly
122 years ago today Arsenal won the Kent Junior Cup – the first ever trophy that the club won.
Having played only friendlies during 1886-87, Royal Arsenal entered the London Senior Cup the following season. They received a bye in the first round and were soundly beaten 0-4 by Barnes. This season also saw the introduction of a reserve team who played three friendlies.
As the club continued to grow they entered more competitions. At this time there were no leagues in the South of the country so they were restricted to cup competitions only.
1888-89 saw the first team enter the London Senior Cup again where they reached the semi-final before being knocked out by Clapton at Leyton. They were expelled from the Kent Senior Cup having refused to play extra-time in the 3rd round game at Gravesend. Amazingly the home team had turned up late. At the end of the 90 minutes of normal time the score was 3-3. However, as the light was fading fast and the temperature was dropping Royal Arsenal didn’t want to risk injury to their players and went home. This was the first of a number of disputes that the club had with the Kent FA.
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. I’ve not been able to find which rounds of the competition that these games were.
For 1889-90 the first team was entered into four competitions: the FA Cup, the London Senior Cup, the London Charity Cup and the Kent Senior Cup. The reserves were entered into the Kent Junior Cup. The first ever FA Cup game resulted in a hefty 11-0 win against Surrey champions Lyndhurst in the 1st Qualifying Round. The reds reached the 4th Qualifying Round before being dumped on their backsides by 1-5 by crack amateur outfit Swifts who were based in Slough. Swifts had reached the semi-final stage of the FA Cup three times previously and had provided England with 8 players.
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. The route to the final was:
|19 October 1889
|Dartford Working Men’s Club
|2 November 1889
|30 November 1889
|Ordnance Store Corps
|21 December 1889
|25 January 1890
As you can see, details are somewhat sketchy for some of the games. Jimmy Charteris scored 3 against Dartford Working Men, 6 against Ordnance Store Corps and 1 against Folkestone.
The final against Chatham Excelsior 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. The Royal Arsenal team lined up as follows:
J. Gardener J. Wilson
A. Brown W. George A. Walton
A. Christmas J. Rowland J. Kime J. Charteris D. Gloak
Club founder David Danskin was playing in goal as he was struggling to play outfield due to a knee injury. At centre-forward was J. Kime playing in what may have been his first game for the club. A report of the match is transcribed below:
KENT JUNIOR CUP. – FINAL TIE
ROYAL ARSENAL RESERVES v. CHATHAM EXCELSIOR
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, who received quite an ovation at the Arsenal station.
This turned out to be Danskin’s penultimate game for the club. He retired from playing after the first team game against Clapton where, again, he played in goal.
The first team had to wait three weeks before they won their first honours. We’ll be publishing an article on 22nd March detailing the events.
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