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December 30: Anniversary of Arsenal’s first away league win

By Tony Attwood

If you have read “Woolwich Arsenal, the club that changed football” (see link below) you will know that Woolwich Arsenal became a professional club in 1891, but did not join the Football League until 1893, and thus became the only southern club in the league.

Naturally this meant that all away games were quite a trek for the players, and although the players were used to away games as friendlies they were not used to the type of schedule that the Football League imposed.

Thus it was that although the club picked up some good home wins, away was a problem.

After four matches in this season Arsenal must have thought they were doing ok, and their fans seemed to be thinking of instant promotion, for the results were won 2, drawn 1 and lost 1.

The problem was that three of these games were at home – and the only defeat was away – at Notts County.

Then came the awakening.  Newcastle United, also elected to the league that year, beat Woolwich Arsenal 6-0 – the start of a threematch sequence in which we let in 15 and scored 1.

The first away point came on December 9 in a 2-2 draw with Northwich Victoria.   The first victory away was on December 30, 1-0 against Ardwick.

There is an Ardwick FC still with us today, but not the same club as we played in 1893.  That Ardwick was founded in 1880 as St. Mark’s (West Gorton), they became Ardwick AFC in 1887 and then became Manchester City in 1894.

Unfortunately the win over Ardwick did not end the run of away defeats.  The next three league matches were away and we lost all three.

What saved what was starting to look like a disastrous season was a run of four consecutive wins in February (including two away games).  Even though we lost the last three games, the club ended a respectable ninth, out of 15.  Ardwick ended up 13th.   There was no automatic relegation from the second division, but there was constant movement.   Middlesbrough Ironopolis and Northwich Victoria both dropped out of the league at the end of the season.

Woolwich Arsenal prepared themselves for their second season in the league.

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