Arsenal win the Sheriff of London Shield

By Tony Attwood

Arsenal in the Sheriff of London Shield

I guess most of us studying Arsenal’s history know that when Royal Arsenal became a professional club there was a bit of a to-do with the London FA and Kent FA, and both organisations heard motions that Royal Arsenal, as a professional outfit, should not be playing against the amateur teams of the area.

Rather amusingly, for many years Arsenal FC told the story in its handbooks and the like that Arsenal was indeed forbidden by the FAs from playing local clubs and so Arsenal almost went bust, being forced to play far away professional teams from the Football League.

It was all nonsense of course, as Andy Kelly through his research for this Arsenal History Society proved.  The votes for the expulsion of Arsenal were lost because the local amateur clubs knew that matches against Arsenal were the best attended games, and they didn’t want to throw away their biggest income of the season.

I mention this because it highlights some of the feeling that has existed between the amateur and professional game, a feeling which led, in March 1906 to a split in the Football Association, with a breakaway Amateur Football Association being formed.

This is of interest in the Arsenal story because of Arsenal’s involvement in the Sheriff of London Charity Shield which was set up to be played between and amateur and a professional side in England once a year by Sir Thomas Dewar.   The income from the game went to hospitals and charities.

It was first played on 19 March 1898 but abandoned after the setting up of the Amateur FA, and it was ultimately transmuted into the Charity Shield.  However it did make two returns – which gave Arsenal a chance to play for it.

The Shield at over six feet high was the largest trophy to be competed for in the history of football.  It is on display in the Watford Museum – Watford being the final holders of the Shield.

Arsenal first competed for the Shield in the 1930/31 season.  Here are the results

April 22 1931: Beat Corinthians 5-3 at Highbury attendance 12000

October 26 1932: Beat Corinthians 9-2 at Highbury attendance 9493

October 14 1964: Beat Corinthian Casuals 7-0 at Crystal Palace Recreation Centre

September 21 1965: Beat Corinthian Casual 5-2 at Highbury

The books…

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