End of season feelings, 100 years ago and today.

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May 2010: some Arsenal supporters are expressing discontent.  Equally many are very happy with the progress of the team, seeing the progress as reaching a moment of great excitement with so many of the youngsters who joined us six or seven years ago coming through.

April 1910: what did everyone feel?

Of course we don’t know because 100 years ago there was little thought of recording the thoughts of everyday people who went to football and supported their teams.  History was still very much the history of the ruling classes.

But we can guess – and we might well guess there was a lot of dismay among the support.

The prime reasons for misgivings were…

The club had escaped relegation, but only just, through a series of 1-0 victories at the end of the season.  It did not auger well for next year.

The club was broke, and up for sale. The only buyer on the horizon was Henry Norris who clearly was interested in taking Woolwich Arsenal and turning them into Fulham Arsenal.  The fund raising committee was raising money but nowhere near enough.

As a team Arsenal had lost the knack of scoring goals. They were the lowest scorers in the first division.

Crowds were poor. Big numbers had turned up for the home and away games with Chelsea and Tottenham, but otherwise there was no major interest.

In many ways the club was going backwards. The high point had been two cup semi-finals earlier in the decade, but that now seemed in the distant past.

The locality was a problem as well, with the announcement in January 1910 of the closure of the Woolwich torpedo factory.  The Woolwich workers were being laid off, and with no unemployment pay, the unemployed certainly would not go to football matches.

If Woolwich Arsenal were doing anything, they were hanging on.  Nothing more.

So what of Arsenal today.

The prime reasons for misgiving now, among those who take that particularly negative view of proceedings can be considered in the same way…

The club has been in the top four of the EPL for 10 years and with more players coming through and a young team on the pitch there is every reason to expect further improvement.

Rather than being the club most likely to go bust, the modern day club is the club most likely to succeed.  We are just about the only club in profit (at least the only one not using either a Virgin Islands accounting system or a benefactor).

We spent much of the season scoring goals for fun, and looking like we might reach 100.  Then we lost all our goal scorers, and things slipped away, but we are still there with the top three, and with a new goalscorer joining the team next season, this could be something.

Every game sells out. While it looks like Man U will fail to sell all its season tickets next year, our 10 year waiting list remains.

The club is clearly progressing when we consider the youth team formed six years ago who are about to burst on the scene. Last season we got to two semi-finals, this year we slipped back on that, but there’s no reason not to expect a good position next season.

The stadium is widely considered one of the best in the world – and offers a way of watching football far superior to most venues.  If you don’t like the Ems then I guess you would prefer terracing – and that decision is a governmental one, not a club one.

So, taken by the criteria that caused dismay 100 years ago, things are looking rather fine.

Tony Attwood

You can read the whole story of Arsenal in 1910 in Making the Arsenal, the story of Arsenal’s most amazing year.

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