Sunderland 6 Arsenal 2, 16th October 1909

16 October 1909, one hundred years ago.


Sunderland 6 Arsenal 2,

Crowd: 10,000


 So there it was: four defeats in a row, during which we scored three and let in 19.  It doesn’t get much worse.  In fact it couldn’t because we were bottom of the league with a set of results thus far of…


Played 9, won 1, drawn 1, lost 7 .


We had the goalkeeper back (see reports on previous matches to see how important that was) but had the centre half M Thompson playing at centre forward.  He didn’t score though, and it wasn’t until we signed Buchenham in November that we had a regular centre forward (although even then we still didn’t have a regular scorer).  It was fairly awful.


So what of Sunderland – originally Sunderland and District Teachers AFC – a great name I am sure you agree.


These were the days when Sunderland were not the Black Cats, but were in the Rockerites if they were anything at all..  By the time of this match Sunderland had won the League four times, and would do so again in 1913. Indeed the team they put out for this game had the start of the side that charged to the 1913 championship.


They also had the honour of scoring 100 goals in 30 matches in the 1892/1893 season.  And they had, in the previous season, beaten Newcastle 9-1.  But they came into this match on the back of a 3-0 defeat away to Sheffield United, so the club was very much up and down..


This season Sunderland ended a mid-table 8th – which puts the 6-2 defeat of Woolwich Arsenal in some kind of context.  Arsenal were, both before and after this match, bottom of the league.   “Arsenal The Complete Record” quotes the crowd as 10,000, which sounds a nice round number.  But one web site says that the crowds at Sunderland moved between 2,000 and 35,000 – an extraordinary variation if correct.  I have no idea what caused that.


One other final connection between Woolwich Arsenal and Sunderland.  Charlie Buchan joined Woolwich Arsenal in December 1909. After a series of reserve games he presented his travel expenses which the manager George Morrell rejected and so Buchan trotted off and signed for Leyton before moving on to Sunderland to March 1911 whereupon stardom beckoned.


Making the Arsenal is a novel which traces the ups and downs of Woolwich Arsenal in 1910 through the eyes of a Fleet Street journalist.  It will be published on October 30th.


© Tony Attwood 2009



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