By Tony Attwood
Surely every Arsenal supporter knows that Ted Drake once scored seven goals in a league game. What not everyone will know is that it was on December 14 1935, and was actually in the 7-1 away win against Aston Villa.
So those are the facts, but what else can we glean from this prime moment in Arsenal’s history?
The manager at the time was George Allison, now in his second season after taking over from Herbert Chapman. Allison’s team had won the league for the third time running the previous season, but things had not gone so well this time around. We were fourth in the league at the time of the December 14 match, and had had some surprisingly poor results – particularly an away defeat at Grimsby Town in the second match of the season.
Our one compensation was that we did in fact win the FA Cup that season, beating Sheffield United in the final. The scorer was… Ted Drake.
Ted Drake played 26 games at number 9 that season, and scored 24 goals – not a bad effort really. He was injured in February, and after that managed just two league games, and the cup final. In was during this spell that any thought Arsenal had of making it four championships in a row fell away with only one win in nine league games through March and April.
Our problems were further enhanced by the fact that our second highest achiever on the goal scoring front was the inside forward Cliff Bastin who scored 11 in 31 games. When Ted was not playing, no one could step up and knock in the goals as he would have done.
Indeed when Ted Drake made his two appearances in the league near the end of the season he scored Arsenal’s one and only goal in each game.
So we finished 6th. Villa however were in much more trouble and spent most of the season near the bottom, and ended up 21st – and thus relegated.
For Villa the 1-7 defeat at home was part of a nine game run in which they drew three and lost six. They also lost at home 2-7 to Middlesboro, and 0-7 (again at home) to West Brom. Plus 2-6 (yet again at home) to Grimsby. In fact Villa let in 110 goals that season.
So Arsenal finished with the Cup and Ted got a medal for playing in the final. Next season we won nothing, but finally got back to the habit of winning the league in 1937/8 with another league championship for George Allison and Ted Drake.
Thus we have it. December 14. Ted Drake Day.
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