By Tony Attwood
I remember as a child being so fed up that birthdays only came once a year. It was so long to wait – why did a year have to be that long?
Now as a more senior member of society I think the opposite, and would very much like the Earth to swing out into the orbit of Neptune. One birthday every couple of hundred years would do me fine.
Arsenal however have achieved what I wanted as a child – two birthdays.
The first (in the year, but not in origins) is today: 26th April. On this day in 1910 the club that we support today was re‑born.
This company was called The Woolwich Arsenal Football And Athletic Company Limited and was set up by George Leavey. However, this venture failed to get off the ground and within a month Henry Norris and William Hall stepped in to save the club by taking the company that Leavey had put together.
The company has gone through two name changes since that day in 1910 and is now officially known as The Arsenal Football Club Public Limited Company.
Now the second birthday – 11 December. The final proof that Arsenal played its first match on that day was discovered only recently by Andy Kelly of the Arsenal History Society, in The Referee dated 12 December 1886 where it reported the previous day’s games.
As you can see it answers the questions of the name that the club played under, the opponents, the venue and the score. The (A) confirms that it was a game of Association Football and not Rugby which would be shown by (R).
So a journey that has taken several years is complete. We now finally have the contemporary evidence we craved as to the day on which Arsenal played its first game.
- 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