Today of all days

Arsenal’s history one day at a time

This series takes a look at what was happening to Arsenal and in the world around them on this day at one point in Arsenal’s past.

The series has articles for each day from 21 October onward – just scroll down the page to find the date you want

9 June 1986: Keown sold to Villa after Graham decideds he’s not good enough to play for Arsenal.

Martin Keown signed for Arsenal in 1980 under Terry Neill and made his début during Don Howe’s reign, went on loan to Brighton in 1985, and then was transferred to Aston Villa after George Graham had come to power.  He was re-signed by Graham near the end of his (Graham’s) reign, and then strode into his pomp as a  player of supreme brilliance.  He played 311 league games for Arsenal after his return, including one against Manchester United which none of us will ever forget.

If a player ever showed desire, commitment and utter, total and absolute belief in our club it was Martin Keown having a nice little chat on September 21 2003 with that Van Nistelroy fellow.   To take the issue of a player cheating, and of him being supported in this endeavour by the ref, and let the player and the world know what he thinks takes courage, and Martin showed it that day.

He was, and forever will be, one of us.

Martin was born in 1966, and won nine trophies with Arsenal as well as getting 43 caps for England.  He now works for Arsenal as a coach and scout, and is a pundit on a whole variety of stations.  He is also playing this season for Wembley FC in the FA Cup, which is wonderful.

He joined Arsenal in 1980 as a schoolboy and after the Brighton affair started out for Arsenal for the first time on 23 November 1985 but only got 22 games before Graham moved him on.  Villa were in a state of near terminal decline, having won the league and Euro Cup they were within a couple of years fighting relegation and sacking managers.  Martin played for Villa in the second division and got them back into the first, before being sold to Everton.   They meandered around mid-table and eventually Graham brought Martin back.

The club had Linighan, Bould, Adams and Keown at this time and at first Martin missed out on the Cup Double (he was cup tied) and the Cup Winners Cup final.  But then came Mr Wenger.

Martin won the Double in 1998 and 2002 and of course won the league in 2004.  His last season gave us all a lot of good feeling for him as he was regularly brought on in the last ten seconds of a match in order to qualify for his 10 games to get a medal.   Quite often as he would prepare to come on at the end, one of the other subs would run on instead and then feign surprise that it was Martin and not he who was being invited to play for ten seconds.

He subsequently had a few games for Leicester and Reading, before finally retiring from playing – at least until this season’s FA Cup (an issue we recently covered on Untold) wherein he will play with Ray Parlour and have David Seaman as goalkeeping coach.  The only black spot in this bit of fun is the fact that Venables is involved – Venables who utterly ignored Martin’s claim for a position in the England team.

Although of course I don’t know Martin at all, I love the way he talks on TV, his calmness and knowledge, and the fact that he has never tried to push himself as a big time operator.  After retiring, for example, he went to coach for Newbury FC, and I believe he also coaches the Oxford University team.  OK not my favourite University but still, a great thing to do, without fuss, just done because he lives there and he can help.  And of course he is giving guidance and thought to Arsenal’s defence.

And now the roll call of honours – the roll call of a man who was shipped off to the sinking Aston Villa, but a man who never once stopped believing.Every one of these honours is with Arsenal – the other clubs never got a look in.

  • Premier League: 1997–98, 2001–02, 2003–04
  • FA Cup: 1997–98, 2001–02, 2002–03
  • UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup: 1993–94
  • FA Community Shield: 1998, 1999, 2002

8 June: Amidst Arsenal upheaval the offside rule changed

It was one of the most odd coincidences.  Just after Herbert Chapman joined Arsenal, the offside rule changed – a rule which Chapman then exploited to develop a new approach to football.   Here’s the timeline.

On 11 May Arsenal advertised for a manager.  Herbert Chapman, who had just won the league with Huddersfield, and whose team had smashed Arsenal 5-0 at Highbury on February 14, applied.  We don’t know for sure why he applied – maybe he had talked with Sir Henry on February 14, or maybe he fancied London, or maybe he wanted to prove himself again, or…

Meanwhile Leslie Knighton worked out his notice and left on 16 May 1925.  Chapman’s Huddersfield were on a tour of Scandinavia, and returned on 4 June, and there was clearly then some talk between Chapman and Arsenal even if there had not been earlier.

And on 8 June the Football League voted to change the offside law to two defenders behind the ball, rather than three.  (A couple of matches experimenting with this had been tried at Highbury in recent weeks).

Sir Henry Norris then opened discussions about the transfer of Charlie Buchan.  This was before Chapman signed for Arsenal – but Buchan claimed later that he was told about the transfer possibility by Chapman, which suggests the discussions started before the Scandinavian tour, and included the option of buying Buchan.  Maybe Chapman made signing Buchan one of his demands for taking the job.

On 10 June Huddersfield’s directors met with Chapman to discuss the move to Arsenal, and on 10th or 11th June 1925 Chapman called Sir Henry to accept a job offer.  Arsenal then bought a house in Hendon for Chapman and his family and they moved in the following year.

Around June 15 Arsenal announced that they had bought Highbury and some extra land from the College that was leasing it to the club.  Yet another new era was starting.

On Monday 22 June 1925, exactly 32 years to the day after Jack Humble took the chair for the first ever AGM of the newly formed Woolwich Arsenal Football and Athletic Club Ltd, Herbert Chapman took up the job of Secretary Manager of Arsenal FC.  An iconic moment if ever there was one.

7 June 2013: David Bentley leaves football behind

David Bentley, once of Arsenal, who had earlier in his career pushed for a transfer away from Arsenal, in order to get the games he felt he deserved, was released by Tottenham on this day in 2013, and heard of no more in football. 

Bentley came to Arsenal aged 13.  He played as a centre forward, a number 10, central midfield and wide midfield.  He was an under 21 international too.  He played his first game in January 2003, as a sub in the FA Cup but after that season he went on loan to Norwich who were relegated on the last day of his season there.

In May 2004 he played for Arsenal in the Premiership. It was his one start in the league.

By the summer of 2005 he had put in a transfer request, as he admitted he was fighting to overcome a serious gambling habit.  But there were no takers at his salary, and with his outspoken approach to football, so he went to Blackburnin January 2006, and immediately scored a hat trick for them.  It looked like his problems were over.

On 27 February 2007 he signed a new contract which made Mark Hughes (then Blackburn manager) say, Bentley was “a great talent with a big future”.

But it was never going to be enough for Bentley to play in a Lancashire town for a club with limited support (much of the time the club played with the upper tier of one stand shut, because of the smallness of the crowds), and in the summer of 2008 Bentley started talking about the need to join a bigger club.  He went instead to Tottenham.

The transfer took place on 31 July 2008 Tottenham paying £15m plus £2m performance fees.  Of this £7m went back to Arsenal as part of the deal that Blackburn had signed with Arsenal when they bought him.

He was utterly full of himself when he scored what we must all agree was a truly remarkable goal in the 4-4 draw between Arsenal and Tottenham on 29 October 2008  but that was the high point.  By June 2009 he was talking again to other clubs.  Greener grass, anything is better… it seems to be always the same.  By 2011 Tottenham were trying to recoup some of their money by loaning him out again.

On September 2012 he went on loan for FC Rostov in Russia, but an injury there, as with injuries in earlier games elsewhere, cut his time short and attempts by other clubs to sign him (for example QPR) failed amidst talk of seriously high wage demands.

On 15 February 2013 he went back to Blackburn on loan and played in the FA Cup fifth round at Arsenal.  On 7 June 2013 he was released by Tottenham. 

Later he set up his own restaurant.  He is since said to have invested in a restaurant with Alex Oxlade Chamberlain and other businesses in Spain and England and done a job-swap TV show.

6 June: Arsenal supporters’ fundraising committee refuses to hand over the money it raised

All through the first half of 1910 the fans of Woolwich Arsenal ran a fund-raising committee based in Rotherhithe.  But then having raised what seems to have been a fair amount of money, at a meeting on 6 June, the committee resolved not to hand over any of the money it had raised to Henry Norris and William Hall, pending further developments.   Instead they applied for shares in the new limited company set up to rescue Arsenal.

This was a canny move in that the money so invested would be safe, for if the new company failed to get off the ground, the money would be returned to the committee.  They were thus using their funds to help get the new company operational, without putting the money at risk – at least not unless the company successfully took over the club, but then folded.

Meanwhile the number of employees at the Royal Arsenal factories continued to decline, in particular as the closure of the torpedo factory began, as it was moved to new premises in Greenock.  This hit Arsenal FC particularly hard since the “torpedo boys” were avid supporters of the club, and had been at the forefront of establishing noisy, excitable and sometimes (as in the case of a visit to Nottingham Forest where the stand was set on fire) downright dangerous away support.  

In fact it was not just Woolwich Arsenal among the London clubs who were seeing a downturn in attendances, but also Fulham.

Chelsea, on the other hand, who were the club with by far the biggest stadium in the country, announced by way of contrast with Arsenal and Fulham, they had made a profit of £1945 for the year.  And that in the year they were relegated.

The reason was not on the pitch, but attendance figures – Chelsea were the best supported club with an average attendance of 28,545 despite regularly being threatened with relegation.  Arsenal were the worst in the first division with an average of 10,390. The extraordinary point is that Chelsea were the top supported club in a season in which they were relegated.

Their ground, Stamford Bridge, was built as a football ground in 1905 and was initially offered to Fulham, who turned the opportunity down.   But what particularly helped Chelsea was not a regularly large number of supporters in the ground, but the fact that for their very big games (most particularly against Tottenham and Arsenal, there was in reality no limit to the number that could attend.  A couple of 60,000 attendances in the season worked wonders for their average.

By late June Arsenal clearly needed to be getting ready for the new season, but this activity was being held up by the amount of time it was taking to resolve issues surrounding the company’s debts.  Worse on15 June 1910 Woolwich Arsenal factories had started to lay off men due to a long-term downturn in armaments work following the end of the Boer War.

On 27 June Athletic News carried an article saying Woolwich Arsenal did not yet have a full squad of players, and although this was not a total disaster (since pre-season training did not start until August) it meant that many of the most promising young players who might be available were being signed elsewhere.

It was looking bleak.

5 June 1922: concern about dramatic rise in transfer fees

On 5 June 1922 an interview with Arsenal chairman, Sir Henry Norris, appeared in the prestigious football journal, Athletic News. A key theme in the interview was the question of transfer fees which were once more on the rise.  It was an appropriate time to hold such a debate since the summer of 1922 was a summer dominated by questions of money, both inside and outside of football. 

In the pre-war era transfer fees had been rising inexorably until the record for the era was achieved in February 1914.  That was a fee of £2500 for the transfer of Percy Dawson from Hearts to Blackburn Rovers.

In the first major post-war transfer David Mercer went from Hull to Sheffield United for £4500, an increase in the record of 80%.  By March 1922 the record had risen to £5500 as Warney Cresswell went from South Shields to Sunderland.

This was a time when the government saw football as a source of revenue, particularly as Entertainment Tax had been introduced in 1916.  It was set at either 25% or 50% of the cost of entering a football match.

However transfer fees were not taxed as such being considered to be allowable expenditure.  In other words, in a very simple model, a club might have an income of £10,000, and spend £9000 on salaries and transfer fees.  It had thus clearly made £1000 profit, and would pay tax on that £1000.

This was an encouragement to pay higher transfer fees to reduce the profit of successful clubs and reduce the losses of the less successful clubs.  However Sir Henry appeared to feel the government was likely to change this rule and was also likely to argue that transfer fees could not be counted as expenditure and thus would be taxable.  

Sir Henry also wanted to end the maximum wage that players could receive.  He expressed in the interview his determination to try and push his point of view once more at the League’s AGM next time around.  He also voted in the House of Commons on 20 June to keep Entertainment Tax, but only in certain circumstances – circumstances which effectively would remove it from being payable on entrance to a football match! 

Unfortunately his desire to give footballers a fair wage, recognising the shortness of their career came to nothing as other clubs opposed this, and the maximum wage lasted until 18 January 1961 when it was finally deemed illegal.

4 June 1925: Herbert Chapman returned to England to talk about the vacancy at Arsenal

On 11 May 1925 Arsenal advertised for a manager.  Herbert Chapman, who had just won the league with Huddersfield, and whose team had smashed Arsenal 5-0 at Highbury on February 14, applied.  We don’t know for sure why he applied – maybe he had talked with Sir Henry on February 14, or maybe he fancied London, or maybe he wanted to prove himself again, or…

Knighton worked out his notice and left on 16 May 1925.  Chapman’s Huddersfield were on a tour of Scandinavia, and returned on 4 June, and there was clearly then some talk between Chapman and Arsenal even if there had not been earlier.

Meanwhile Sir Henry Norris opened discussions about the transfer of Charlie Buchan.  This was thus before Chapman signed for Arsenal – but Buchan claimed later that he was told about the transfer possibility by Chapman, which suggests the discussions between Sir Henry and Chapman started before the Scandinavian tour, and included the option of buying Buchan.  Maybe Chapman made signing Buchan one of his demands for taking the job.

On 10 June Huddersfield’s directors met with Chapman to discuss the move to Arsenal, and on 10th or 11th June 1925 Chapman called Sir Henry to accept a job offer.  Arsenal then bought a house in Hendon for Chapman and his family..

Around June 15 Arsenal announced that they had bought Highbury and some extra land from the College that was leasing it to the club (until now the ground had simply been leased).  Yet another new era was starting.

On Monday 22 June 1925, exactly 32 years to the day after Jack Humble took the chair for the first ever AGM of the newly formed Woolwich Arsenal Football and Athletic Club Ltd, Herbert Chapman took up the job of Secretary Manager of Arsenal FC.  An iconic moment if ever there was one.

On 15 August 1925 a crowd of 11,406 came to Highbury for a pre-season practice match.  On 22 August at the second such game 13,269 turned up. 

But then on 29 August the season kicked off with….  a 1-0 home defeat to Tottenham.   Using much the same team as performed so poorly last season Chapman then produced four wins and two draws, ultimately taking Arsenal to its highest ever position in the league thus far: 2nd.

3 June 2008: The only man to play in the entire unbeaten season left Arsenal.

That may was, of course, Jens Lehmann, and on this day he transferred to VfB Stuttgart.

He remains the only player in the entire history of League football in England to have played through the complete season without ever being on the losing team.   He played in total 200 games for Arsenal.

Through his career he was awarded

  • UEFA Goalkeeper of the Year: 1997, 2006
  • UEFA Club Football Awards Best Goalkeeper: 2005–06
  • FIFA World Cup All-Star Team: 2006

And that was not all, for with Germany he achieved this…

  • FIFA World Cup Runner-Up: 2002
  • FIFA Confederations Cup Third Place: 2005
  • FIFA World Cup Third Place: 2006
  • UEFA European Football Championship Runner-up: 2008

In 2012, Jens gave an interview about his time at Arsenal, and in particular his relationship with Arsene Wenger.  He said that Mr Wenger “is a coach who not only inspires you on the pitch but as well off the pitch, because when you talk to him you are always finding it very exciting and you are always getting some great information about some other things in life.

“I think that makes a great coach as well. And he made Arsenal – he bought and sold so many players with a fantastic financial track record, that actually the new stadium and everything he has built comes down to him and to his performance.

“So I quite enjoyed working for him, whereas at times it was psychologically very, very demanding, and I still had to recover from that even years after.

“I was arguing with him quite often, particularly when he took me out of goal, but then after 20 minutes of arguments we would talk for another half an hour on private things, very smooth and relaxed, so there was always a professional relationship and a private one, and the private one is still very good right now, which is quite fortunate because I’m doing my coaching licence at Arsenal, and so I’m looking over his shoulder. They let me train the reserves sometimes and the Under 18s, which is a big gesture, and I really appreciate that.

What he didn’t mention is a particular connection he has with Mr Wenger.  Jens studied economics at the University of Münster.   Mr Wenger got his at the University of Strasbourg.  They probably debated inflation and Thatcherite M3 theory.

In football terms, Jens Lehmann started out in 1988 with Schalke 04 and despite a difficult start he stayed for ten years.  He even scored for Schalke with a penalty on two occasions.  He also won the Uefa Cup with them, beating Inter in the final after saving a penalty in the shootout.

Jens joined Arsenal on 25 July 2003 to replace David Seaman, and despite his defeat-free first season he was criticised from the off.  The criticism reached the point in the next season that he was replaced by Almunia, but Lehmann quickly regained his place, and became man of the match in the 2005 cup final – not least for saving Scholes’ penalty.

2 June 1936: Arsenal fined for putting out a weakened team.

In the 1930s, the Football League, dominated as it was by northern and midlands clubs who saw Arsenal as nothing other than southern upstarts who needed to be put in their place,  announced that Arsenal should pay a £250 fine for playing weakened teams throughout the run up to the FA Cup Final. 

On February 29 1936 Arsenal had beaten Barnsley 4-1 at Highbury in the 6th round of the FA Cup.  With other clubs playing League matches that day Arsenal now had a couple of games in hand, but clearly had little chance of winning the League.  However being in the semi-final Arsenal had every chance of winning the cup.

From this point on, new names started to appear in the Arsenal team for league games – players who had not made a single appearance before, during the season.  Players like  Cartwright (left half and right half), Kirchen (outside right), Cox (centre forward), Tuckett (centre half), Westcott (centre forward) and Bernard Joy, (centre half).   Additionally Dougall, who had made one earlier appearance got a a run of games at inside left.

These players notched up 30 games between them during the remainder of the season – but (not surprisingly) not one of them played either in the semi-final of the Cup on 21 March against Grimsby, nor in the final on 25 April against ~Sheffield United.

On 4 March 1936 Arsenal beat Derby County away 4-0 which given Derby’s position in the league was a fair vindication of the team selection by George Allison, especially as new men Dougall, Kirchen and Cox all scored.   And despite playing some reserves in the first team, and despite winning only two games in the last 14, Arsenal still came in 6th at the end of the season.  But with three games to go before the end of the season Arsenal had won the cup on 25 April beating Sheffield U 1-0

1 June 2007, Gilberto captained Brazil against England

This was the first senior international match at the new Wembley Stadium.

Gilberto was not everyone’s favourite at Arsenal but he was so missed during a long absence with the back injury that after that fans seemed to love him more and more.

He started as a footballer in 1997 with a tiny team, and by 2002 he was playing all of Brazil’s games in the World Cup finals.  It was quite a rise to success in five years.

And then he came to Arsenal for £4.5 million.  How could the fee be so low?  It took a while to make a guess, as we realised the issues with his former club.

And after that he was an Invincible winning the 2003/4 League.  On 19 August 2006 he scored the first league goal at the Emirates.  He also won the cup twice.

 And yet none of with Arsenal might have happened, because Atlético Mineiro had not paid their players, they were banned from transfer deals, and there were problems getting the work permit.

But he did get the work permit, and the transfer was arranged, and it was Minerio’s problems with money that probably took the fee right down.

Gilberto played his first game for Arsenal on 11 August 2002 as a sub in the Community Shield, and he scored the winner.  Not a bad start.

But we also had Edu and at first it was unsure who would be the top man in midfield.  Eventually Gilberto won, Edu moved on.

Meanwhile he was suing Atlético Mineiro for his past wages, while also getting his first medal in the Cup Final win against Southampton.

He played 32 of the 38 unbeaten games as an Invincible but it was at the start of the next season that things started to go wrong… the things ultimately diagnosed as a fractured back.   It looked like he would never play again.

By September 2005 Gilberto, having fully recovered from his injury which affected him for 18 months said he wanted to stay at Arsenal for the rest of his career and despite problems earlier in the season he then played in the Champions League final.

Privately he is a patron of The Street League, which organises football matches for homeless people, refugees and asylum seekers.   It is a patronage which, it seems to me, reflects his own humble beginnings.    And he’s a mandolin player and a guitarist – he is reported to have played in his local pub while playing for Arsenal.

31 May 1893: Woolwich Arsenal FC elected to Division II of the Football League.

It was an amazing moment for the club, because at the time it was under a ceaseless assault from a rival organisation – Royal Ordnance Factories FC, which had been formed by ex-members of the Royal Arsenal committee who were working in cahoots with Arsenal’s landlord at the Invicta Ground.

Quite what the rival group thought they could achieve and how they could achieve it remains unclear.  Maybe they thought that when the landlord of the Invicta increased the rent of the ground, the club would meekly bow down and accept.  Perhaps they genuinely believed (as they implied in their press statements and letters) that Woolwich Arsenal was run by a bunch of nobodies and would quickly fail without their personal support.

Eventually Arsenal left the Invicta and set themselves up on the opposite side of the road at the Manor Ground – and even there Royal Ordnance Factories tried one last trick of allowing Arsenal to upgrade the ground ready for the new season, and then attempting to buy it from the landlord – leaving Arsenal bankrupt.

But what the Royal Ordnance Factories club didn’t realise was that they were dealing with men of reliance who believed in their club.  Arsenal outwitted ROF FC on every issue – buying the Manor Ground themselves, and joining the League.  ROF FC were left to join the Southern League – where they survived for three seasons, before calling it a day part way through their fourth season.

Royal Arsenal had turned professional in 1891, and contrary to reports elsewhere did not almost go bust when other clubs refused to play them.   Far from it – everyone wanted to play Royal Arsenal FC, as they were by far the most famous team in the south.

Thus it was that they were accepted into the second division on 31 May 1893, and played their first match the following September.

This is, in fact, the day the modern Arsenal started.