26 April 1913 – Arsenal’s last game in Plumstead

by Andy Kelly

Woolwich Arsenal’s final game of the disastrous 1912/13 season was played at home and, thus, was the last game that they played in Plumstead. Earlier on in the year the directors had announced that they would be leaving South London for Highbury.

When Henry Norris and William Hall took control of the club in 1910 they said that they would keep the club in Plumstead if it paid its way. The people of Plumstead did not turn up in big enough numbers and so, true to their word, Norris and Hall decided to move.

We’ll never know if Woolwich Arsenal would have survived if they had stayed in Plumstead. But we do know that The Arsenal thrived at their new home with bigger gates and, eventually, great success.

This final game had been earmarked as Joe Shaw’s benefit game, similar to what we now call a testimonial game. The takings at the gate would be handed over to Joe, with a minimum guaranteed payment of £250. The apathy showed by the locals was typical: only 3,000 paid to get in, generating just £130 in receipts. The directors made up the rest.

At least Arsenal didn’t lose. They managed a 1-1 draw with Middlesbrough. The result left them bottom of the table, where they had been since the beginning of December.

Below is how the Kentish Independent reported the last game as well as a concert in honour of Joe Shaw and news about the move to Highbury. (Click on the image to enlarge it)

Kentish Independent 2 May 1913

Following Woolwich Arsenal’s departure a new team was formed in the district. They called themselves Woolwich and would rent the Manor Ground for the 1913-14 season. As with Woolwich Arsenal, the new team’s name was a misnomer as they would never play in Woolwich.


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