On 24 April 1915 Arsenal beat Nottingham Forest 7-0.
The football season had started just before the war against Germany had broken out, and the decision was taken to continue through the season. There was after all no conscription at this time, although much effort was made to recruit men to the front.
Henry Norris gained his knighthood and the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the army for his ceaseless work in recruiting, and he used many Arsenal matches as a way of putting his message across. While now, with the knowledge of the horrors and incompetence that young men faced through being engaged in this war, it may well seem horrific to recruit people for such horrors, it was with much enthusiasm that men signed up and went to war.
After this match Arsenal played war time friendlies which are not counted in any of the official records.
Arsenal had joined the league in 1893 as part of an extension of the second division, and gained promotion to the first in 1904, having come runners up that season. Arsenal were relegated back to the second division in 1913 – coincidentally the final year in Plumstead.
In this final game in the second division Arsenal’s team was
Graham Buckley Bradshaw
Rutherford King Benson Blyth Lewis
This was a very adhoc team. Benson for example had played all his other games of the season at left back, and was suddenly centre forward. King had played centre forward all season and was suddenly an inside forward. Bradshaw was inside left through the season and moved to left half.
Part of the explanation as to what was going on comes from the fact that the manager changed for this game. Our manager was Punch McEwen – and there is a lot more on him and on this game in our article on James Punch McEwen where you will also find a full write up on this game.
Here’s the league table after that game.
|2||Preston North End||38||20||10||8||61||42||1.45||50|
|20||Glossop North End||38||6||6||26||31||87||0.36||18|
Before football resumed in 1919 Arsenal were elected to the first division. We regularly get supporters of other teams claiming that this was a fixed election, but whenever we point out that all the evidence contradicts this, and that we will donate £100 to a charity of their choice if they can come up with the evidence of fixing, not another word is said.
There are lots of articles on this site about the events of 1919, but the best starting place is here.
- Woolwich Arsenal: The club that changed football – Arsenal’s early years
- Making the Arsenal – how the modern Arsenal was born in 1910
- The Crowd at Woolwich Arsenal – crowd behaviour at the early matches