February 19th 1910 was third round of the Cup day, and with Arsenal having been knocked out by Everton in the Second Round, they had no match. But in the fixture list of the time there were games scheduled, and where both clubs were already out of the cup those games went ahead. As a result the bottom of the first division looked like this…
- Chelsea played 26 points 19
- Tottenham played 24 points 18
- Woolwich Arsenal played 25 points 18
- Bolton played 27 points 16
- Middleborough played 25 points 15
Arsenal had beaten Bolton and Middlesborough in late January, but seemed incapable of getting any points at all against the clubs higher up the table. Next up was Sunderland who were in 10th position. Sunderland AFC began in 1879 as “Sunderland & District Teachers Association Football Club”, to provide “recreational amusement” for schoolteachers. But like so many teams at the time they had a split (Arsenal seems to have been one of the few clubs who didn’t split) and the original founders moved on to create Sunderland Albion. Sunderland made an interesting move when they applied for a place in the League – the offered to compensate the opposition for their long rail journeys to the north. The League bought it and they got in. Arsenal, as far as I know, made no such offer, despite the regular criticism of the problem of getting to the Manor Ground. Sunderland entered the league at the expense of Stoke who got kicked out, and they won the title in their second season. In fact in the mid 1890s they were close to winning three titles in a row – in the end they got three out of four. They also proclaimed themselves World Champions after beating Hearts in 1895.
But Sunderland wouldn’t let the big money issues go and paid £1000 for the first time (about £90,000 today) for Alf Common – who later moved on to Woolwich Arsenal. So, looking forward to this fixture on the 26th Arsenal would have been nervous. The famous, the rich, and the crooked Sunderland. Although having a poor season, they were still solidly midtable and Arsenal were anything but solid.
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Arsenal in 1910 – the complete story in the most wonderful book about Arsenal ever written by anyone, ever, honest, I am not kidding you.