Royal Arsenal in the London Senior Cup; retiring as cup winners.

Arsenal and the London Senior Cup

We are used, in the 21st century, to Arsenal first team playing in three competitions and a combination of the first team and reserves playing in the fourth (the league cup).

In the early days of football life was more complicated and a whole range of competitions came and went – and we’ve already looked at a few of them here – both in terms of leagues (The United League, the London League) and Cups (such as the London FA Challenge Cup and the Sheriff of London Shield).

The London Senior Cup however seems harder to find information on, although Andy has already given us quite a background to it.

Wiki tell us that The London Senior Cup was first won by Upton Park in 1882 and we know that Royal Arsenal won it in 1891.  It is apparently still very much alive and fought for by smaller clubs in the 21st century.

The London Senior Cup was Royal Arsenal’s first first-team competition, and on 29 October 1887 Arsenal played their first ever non-friendly game (at least as far as I can see) against Barnes in the second round of the Cup.  Arsenal lost 4-0.

In the following season Arsenal beat Phoenix on 3 November 1888 3-0 in the second round, and then Dulwich on 24 November 1888, 4-2.

In the 4th round we beat Old St Pauls on 8 December 1888 3-1 before going down to Clapton 2-0 on 19 January 1889 in the semi-final.

By 1889 things were looking up with Arsenal reaching the final.    From the records made available by Andy we can see that they once again apparently had a bye in the first round, and then continued like this…

Round Date Opposition Venue Score
2 02/11/1889 Unity H 4-1


3 23/11/1889 Foxes H 4-1


4 14/12/1889 St. Martins Athletic H 6-0
SF 11/01/1890 London Caledonians N 3-1


F 08/03/1890 Old Westminsters N 0-1


The following season things changed, and Arsenal played in the first round twice, beating Old Westminsters away on 13 December 1890, and then losing 4-5 on 31/01/1891  having been 2-0 up at half time.

On 21 February 1891 we beat Casuals 3-2 in the second round, then Clapton in the third round on 28 February 1891 were beaten 3-2.  That took us straight to the final on 7 March 1891 where we beat St Barts Hospital 6-0 in front of a crowd of 6,000.  We had won the Cup.

And that was it.  I presume (and Andy will tell me if this is right) that having then turned professional ready for the 1891/2 season Arsenal dropped out of the competition, and so played in it no more.  We retired as winners.


The books…




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