Arsenal in the second division

The run up to 1909.


This charts the history of Arsenal 100 years ago – leading up to the take over of the club by Henry (later Sir Henry) Norris in 1910.


Today: the league history of the club up to this point.


Woolwich Arsenal spent 11 not very eventful years in Football League Division II (that is two out of two – there were only two divisions).  For the first eight years they came in a variety of positions from 5th to 10th.


Then came the seasons from 1901/2, to 1903/4 in which the club came 4th, 3rd and then a magnificent 2nd, and thus gaining promotion.


Throughout all these years in the second division Woolwich Arsenal had a superb home record – and it is not hard to find out why.  Visits to Arsenal by northern teams were hated – they called it their visit to Hell.


Elsewhere in the League most journeys to away grounds were short.  Arsenal was the exception.  Not only did the clubs have to get to London, they had to get across London and out to Greenwich – which meant a difficult tram journey on top of the rail journey and the underground journey.


Given that overnight stops were not normally on the agenda, clubs often tried to make do with a very early start – hardly the ideal preparation for a kick off at 3pm.  Throughout the second division years the number of home defeats per season ranged from four in their first season down to none in the promotion year.  The home results that year in fact were won 15, drew 2, lost 0.  Scored 67, against 5.  An average of 4-0 per game.  Sadly the away form rarely kept up with this and even in the promotion season Arsenal won just six of their 17 away games, scoring just 24 goals.


First division teams were obviously more able to travel – and quite possibly able to afford a cheap hotel in London on the Friday night before the game, and it became more common for the club to knock up just nine wins instead of 14 or 15.  With no advance in away form life was tough, but in the years that followed Arsenal came 10th, 12th, 7th, 14th, and 6th.


So that was the key: home form.  It kept the club in the League, and eventually won them promotion in 1904.


You can read the full story of 1910 – the year that saw the making of the modern Arsenal in the book MAKING THE ARSENAL.   For details please visit



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