30 April 1910: the day the new Arsenal is launched

It would be great to report that the new Arsenal – the Arsenal that became the club we know and love today, was launched with a huge fanfare, wild parties in the streets, dancing on the lawn and the rest.

But it wasn’t.

Saturday 30th April 1910 was the final day of the football season – although Woolwich Arsenal along with three other clubs in the first division had already finished all their fixtures and knew that they were safe – by the skin of their teeth.

London eyes were turned to Chelsea and Tottenham to see if either would go down to the second division with Bolton. Woolwich Arsenal had already had their great celebrations at staying up, and that was that.

In an attempt to earn a little more money the club had arranged two friendlies – one on 28th April away to Colchester (where we won 3-2) and one at Ilford on this day 100 years ago, where we lost 2-3.   There’s no records I can see of crowds, so whether the club did get much back from this is not known.

But either way the new share issue was out, this was the day for the launch and… not much happened.

Henry Norris who appeared to be backing the scheme and (so it was said) was willing to buy up all the shares if no one else took them, was nowhere to be season.  His team, Fulham, was away at Clapton playing the Orient, and that is where he went.

The sun came out, Haley’s Comet blazed overhead clearly visible through the day, the other end of season games were played around the country, and… nothing much happened in Woolwich.

It was now a question of waiting to see

a) if there would really be a Woolwich Arsenal next season

b) if there was, who would own it?

And already point b) was a problem, because there was real opposition to Norris buy the club.  It was already rumoured that if he did buy it, he’d move the club to Fulham, and merge it under the name Fulham Arsenal, playing in Arsenal’s slot in the first division.

Given the huge logistical problems of getting from Kent into London, and then getting across to Fulham (which was still an outlying suburb, and which – thanks to opposition from Norris personally – did not have trams) no one in Woolwich would go and watch the new club.

If Arsenal went, then football would leave Woolwich, and most people thought it would never come back.

Kent’s one famous club was on the edge, and those who were interested waited to see what happened next.

But first they wanted to know if Chelsea had gone down.


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