23 April 1910 was a curious date for Woolwich Arsenal. It was their last game of the season – one week ahead of most other clubs.
The one issue of interest to Arsenal had been settled a week earlier – they were not going to be relegated, and so this match hardly mattered an inch.
Arsenal did not play about with the team – that had happened throughout almost the entire season. In fact Woolwich Arsenal played the same team for the last three games: Villa at home, Tottenham away, Preston North End at home.
It was the only time it happened all season. Maybe injuries were just as commonplace a year ago as now.
But anti-climax is the only word to be used here. 10,000 turned up, and Arsenal duly lost 1-3.
Quite where Arsenal would end up at the end of the season, they had to wait and find out in one week’s time. Indeed everyone had to wait and find out who would go down with Bolton. The other issues were settled long before – Aston Villa won the league by a mile, and their decision hardly to turn up for the midweek match against Arsenal two weeks before were still rumbling.
The season on the pitch was depressing. But now the fun would start. By next September when the league started all over again, who would own the club? Or come to that, would there even be a club to play football at Woolwich?
Certainly Henry Norris was sniffing around, but there were stories that he wanted to move the club to Fulham. Equally certainly the sales of shares in a new company to local people was not working. And the current owner clearly did not have any more money to put into the club.
It was going to be one hell of a summer.
The whole story of 1910, including the extraordinary events of that summer, are told in “Making the Arsenal” – the novel.