14 December: Arsenal’s two games in one day (for the first time)

By Tony Attwood

14 December 1889, Two games in one day

I’ve been finding it hard to get the exact low down on the The Kent Senior Cup.  The Wiki page on the competition has it starting in 1889/90 but Andy Kelly’s statistical pages has Arsenal playing in it the season previously.  The Kent FA don’t seem to publish their own clear year by year history, which is a shame.

But Andy is invariably right and he has the details of the games, so I’ll go with his approach.

In 1888/9 Andy shows Arsenal playing their first KSC game ever, away to Horton Kirby winning 6-2 on 10 November 1888.  I presume this was round one.

On 29 December 1888 we beat Iona 5-1 (second round) and then on 9 February 1889 we drew 3-3 away to Gravesend.  Arsenal however were disqualified for refusing to play extra time, and thus they went out of the competition.  The home team had somehow turned up late, but been allowed to participate by the referee, and Arsenal are reported to have been worried by injuries in extra time in the fading light.  Their view seems to have been that Gravesend should have been disqualified for lateness, but the Kent FA saw it a different way.

On 9 November 1889 Arsenal beat West Kent at home 10-1 and then came the notorious day on 14 December 1889 when Arsenal were required to play both Martins Athletic at home (winning 6-0) in the London Senior Cup and Gravesend 7-2 away in the KSC on the same day.  By and large it was the London Senior Cup game that got the reserves, while the Kent game got the first team.

On 15 February 1890 Arsenal played Chatham away and won 5-0 before playing Thanet Wanderers and winning 3-0 in the final on 23 March 1890.

This is how Wiki records the results…

Season Winner
1889–90 Royal Arsenal
1890–91 Lincoln Regiment
1891–92 Highland Light Infantry
1892–93 Ashford United
1893–94 Royal Ordnance Factory

There seem to be two reasons for Arsenal pulling out of the Cup.  One was the move to professionalism in 1891.   As we have shown Arsenal were not barred from playing other clubs because of this, nor were they thrown out of the regional FAs but I think they were debarred from their cup competitions.

Second the dispute noted above about the Gravesend match was just one of a number of run-ins Arsenal had with Kent FA, and relations were soured – especially if the two cup games in a day was because Kent wouldn’t move.   The details of Arsenal in the London Senior Cup  are given here.  

We might also note Royal Ordnance Factory as a winner of the Kent cup in 1894.  ROFFC was a club formed as a breakaway from Royal Arsenal.

The story of ROFFC is told in detail in our book “Woolwich Arsenal the club that changed football” (see note below).   There is a summary here.


Arsenal books for Christmas at discount prices


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