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.

15 August – 21 August Arsenal anniversaries

15 August 2009: Arsenal start the season with a 1-6 away win – the video

16 August 2003: The first match of the unbeaten season

16 August 1925: Arsenal buy Highbury

17 August 1971: Matchday 2 of the first double season

17 August 2019: Arsenal beat Burnley – the video

18 August 2001 Middlesbrough 0 Arsenal 4: the start of the great away games run.

18 August 2006: The first ever league goals at the Emirates

19 August 1989: The start of a new season after winning the League at Anfield. But what happened?

20 August 1960: Alan Skirton plays his first game for Arsenal.

20 August 1995, 2021 and 2022: Martin Ødegaar signs, Saliba’s first goal, and Arsenal playing Middlesborough

21 August 1976: Malcolm Macdonald made his league debut in Terry Neill’s first game as manager,

21 August 2001: Arsenal 1-2 Leeds

15 August 2009: Arsenal start with a 1-6 win

9th August 1997: The start of the second double season

9th August 1997:  Overmars, Petit and Grimandi all start their first game for Arsenal.  And of all people to play: Leeds United managed by George Graham at Elland Road.

Did we know these new players? No, most of us didn’t. And we certainly did not know that the Petit / Vieira partnership would be one of those partnerships that would be talked about for years to come.

Our team was


Winterburn  Bould  Grimandi Garde

Overmars (Hughes) Vieira (Platt) Petit  Parlour

Wright Bergkamp

With new faces in the team it wasn’t a great start to the season – we took the lead and Leeds equalised before half time.

The commentators were their inevitable English-is-best selves, criticising all these foreign players who “don’t know how the game is played here” – Grimandi coming in for quite a pasting despite providing a beautiful pass to Wright for the goal.

The interesting point of course is where these two clubs went subsequently.  At the time of this match Leeds were up there with the big boys, and with Graham in charge there was hope that they could win something.  As for Arsenal, well, what does this Frenchman who has been in Japan know about football in England? Not a lot according to the media.

After Arsenal won the double did any journalist apologise for his negative comments during pre-season and on this day? Maybe, but I never saw it. There is a rather nice set of videos from that season here.

8 August 2011: Arsenal History Society launched

The Annual General Meeting of the Arsenal Independent Supporters’ Association took place at the Emirates Stadium, with the highlight being a Q&A with Mr Ivan Gazidis, Arsenal’s Chief Executive. It was a highly informative and positive affair, in which concern about the restriction on money available for transfers (due to the club’s repaying of the debts incurred in the building of the new ground) was balanced with a matter that perhaps not too many people will recall (and which in contrast was of course much smaller, but which I feel was still important).

That smaller matter was the proposal to establish AISA Arsenal History Society as a body in its own right, associated of course with AISA itself.

In retrospect that was quite a step forward, as it showed how much Arsenal Independent Supporters Association, as the recognised organisation for UK Arsenal supporters, values the work already done in uncovering Arsenal’s true history – and it gave a solid base for that work to continue.

Part of the reason for this positive step was a further announcement that we were able to release at that time: a series of articles in each match day programme for the coming season, under the title “Arsenal Uncovered” in which within each episode an article written by a member of the Arsenal History Society team explored a part of Arsenal’s history that most supporters might not know about.

Since then the AISA Arsenal History Society has totally re-written huge chunks of Arsenal’s history which has previously been wrongly recorded and through these pages on this website continues to explore the history of the club which has so often been wrongly written in the past.

It was perhaps fitting that our 12th birthday in 2023 was itself marked by a visit to Arsenal’s original stadium – the Invicta ground – where members of AISA were able to stand on the terraces where Arsenal fans in the 19th century cheered on their team at its first home. I am sure that in their wildest dreams they could not have imagined how far this club would go – or indeed that there would one day be an Arsenal Independent Supporters’ Association nor an Arsenal History Society.

You can read more about our return to the Invicta Ground and see a photo of us standing on that original terrace on the Arsenal History Society website.

Arsenal anniversaries 8 – 14 August

8 August 1923: The wonderful Jimmy Brain was signed.

8 August 2011: Arsenal History Society launched

9 August 1997: The start of the second double season

9 August 1998: Arsenal beat Man U 3-0 in Charity Shield, winning it for the ninth time

10 August 2003: Arsenal lost in the Community Shield match having returned 8000 of their tickets due to lack of fan interest.

10 August 2014: Arsenal win the charity shield

11 August 1979 and 2002: losing and winning to Liverpool in the Charity Shield

12 August 2007: Arsenal continue their 27 match unbeaten run.

12th August 2007: A touch of argy-bargy against Fulham: the video.

13 August 1988: Arsenal 4 Tottenham 0

13 August 2008: On this day Arsenal won 2-0 in the Champions League (the video)

14 August 1996. Arsenal sign Patrick Vieira for £3.5m

14 August 2005: Thierry Henry takes on Newcastle and wins

6 August 1923: Arsenal report an annual profit

On 6 August the club published its annual report showing a profit for the year of £5000.  That would be over a third of a million pounds in today’s money just based on inflation.  But we must remember football inflation is way above general inflation.

£5000 in 1923 was about the world record for a transfer.  The world record currently (2018) is over £200m.  I am not saying that Arsenal’s profit was equivalent to £200m, but it was exceptional and what’s more the long running debt to Humphreys Limited (who had built Archibald Leitch’s grandstand at Highbury)  had finally been paid off.

The club was still not debt free, for the accounts show loans of £8510 from Sir Henry Norris and William Hall still on the books, and a further list of other creditors with claims totaling £4344, presumably including the bank.  But one huge debt was out of the way at last.

The point about these figures is that despite the club’s ups and downs in the League, the great gamble that Arsenal would flourish in a large stadium in north London, near to public transport links, surrounded by the homes not of men who worked in factories but the men who worked in the City of London running the Empire, had again been proven to be a valid prediction. 

It had been an incredibly bold move by Henry Norris to suggest this move after his alternative rescue plans had failed to gain support in 1910, but amazingly it had worked. Arsenal were well and truly back in business and paying off their debts.

4 August 1999: Nic Anelka sold to Real Madrid

4 August 1999: Nic Anelka transferred to Real Madrid for £23,500,000 – a profit of £23m which it is said, paid for the new training complex that Mr Wenger wanted built.  Also quoted as 2 August in some reports.

Nicolas was sadly one of the players on whom the Arsenal fans turned. He joined for just £500,000 and won the PFA Young Player of the Year in 1998/9.  He was then nicknamed Le Sulk by the Sun, and it was a tragedy that it was taken up by some supporters (although I don’t recall hearing it too often at games). 

He played 72 times for Arsenal, plus 17 times as a sub, and scored 27 goals before going to Real Madrid in 1999 – an astonishing profit.

He won the Champions League with Real Madrid in 2000, before going to PSG for £20m and then moved to Liverpool on loan and then to Manchester City where he scored 37 goals in 89 games.

In January 2005 he moved again this time for £7m to  Fenerbahçe with whom he won the league in 2005. In 2006 he joined Bolton for £8m and was their top scorer with 11 goals.  He signed a four year deal in 2007 but in January 2008 went to Chelsea for £15m.   With Chelsea he has played 116 times and scored 47 goals.

Anelka’s final time in football ended in 2015 after playing for Mumbai City. In 2020 a Netflix documentary called Misunderstood was released looking at his life and playing career. His last role in football was as the sporting director of fourth-tier French club Hyeres but he left after three months. We have no news of him since.

Arsenal anniversaries 1-7 August

1 August 1980: After 235 league games Liam Brady transferred to Juventus for £514,000.

2 August 2015: A stunning strike gives Arsenal the Community Shield

2 August 1999: Davor Šuker arrived from Real Madrid while Nic Anelka was sold to Real Madrid

3 August 2012: Benik Afobe loaned to Bolton

3 August 2014: Beating Benfica 5-1

4 August 1948: Death of David Danskin.

4 August 1991: Nic Anelka transferred to Real Madrid for £23,500,000

5 August 2016: Arsenal miss penalty but still win 8-0: the video

5 August 2009. Everton 1 Arsenal 6.

5 August 2012: Nigeria v Arsenal – “postponed”

6 August 1923: Arsenal report an annual profit

6 August 1977: Pat Jennings signed for £45,000.

7 August 2001: beating Dunfermline away on this day

7 August 2002: Gilberto Silva joined Arsenal from Atlético Mineiro

27 July 2006: the return of the clock

The original big clock at Highbury was placed at the rear of the then uncovered Laundry End of the ground (which later became the North Bank), on or around 10 September 1930.  Pictures from the time show the clock having a 45 minute face. Commentaries in newspapers stated that the end of each half would be announced by a klaxon and that the clock measured 8 feet 6 inches across.

Thus fans the majority of whom at that time would not have their own watch, were able to see how much time there was left in each half.   (There being no substitutes, and fewer visits from medical staff, interruptions were fewer, and so halves really did last 45 minutes, and 3pm kick offs did end at 4.40pm. As people left the ground newspaper vendors were to be heard shouting, “All the half-times, 3.30 winners”).

However the Football Association felt that this ticking of 45 minutes would provide far too much information to the fans, would distract them from the game and undermine the credibility of the match officials. Thus Arsenal were ordered to remove the clock.

However the FA’s injunction was itself not explicitly and so Arsenal responded by changing the clock so that the clock face showed the normal time of day – which worked just as well, because of the strict regularity that of ten minutes for half time, and no time added on for injuries.

The FA took no more action and the clock remained at the rear of the terracing until 1935 when it was decided to cover part of the Laundry End (later known as the North Bank).

With the  College End of the ground opposite, remaining uncovered, the clock was placed at that end, and this quickly became known as the Clock End.

Different clock companies were charged with maintaining the clock which did actually break down occasionally, and by the time of the move to the Emirates it was in the hands of Smith of Derby.

When Arsenal FC moved from Highbury to the Ems, the club claimed that the original clock on the south bank was saved and moved to be put on the stadium outer wall facing what then became the Clock End Bridge over the railway.   However, there is the strong claim also made that the clock that transferred to the Emirates only made its debut at the start of 1989 – but somehow the Club has always passed it off as the original.

The Islington Gazette however reported that one of their staff had seen the clock in pieces and that a new clock replaced it, with a similar, but not identical clock. The move of the clock took place on 27 July 2006 and this Highbury clock was lifted into its new home on the wall of the Emirates by a 25 tonne crane and took four people nine hours to install.

After the removal, Smith of Derby also built a half-size (ie 1.3m diameter) replica of the clock which is placed in the Diamond Club within the stadium.

Then on 21 August 2010, ahead of the home game against Blackpool, a new version of the clock, suitably scaled up in size to be appropriate to the Emirates was unveiled at what was the South End of the ground, and this quickly became renamed as the Clock End.

Arsenal anniversaries 25-31 July

25 July 1972: Arsenal 2 Watford 0 (Kelly, George).

25 July 2015: 6-0 in the Emirates Cup

26 July 2010: The AISA Arsenal History Society suggest three statues around the Emirates Stadium.

26 July 2020: Mike Dean gives us one of those looks (Arsenal v Watford, the video)

27 July 2005: FC Utrecht 0 Arsenal 3. The first ever unbeaten pre-season

27 July 2006: The return of the clock

28 July 2000, 2002, 2009. The days of the profitable transfers

28 July 2021: Arsenal knock in the goals against Watford

29 July 1976 and 20 July 1979: Malcolm MacDonald signed, and retired.

29 July 2017: Arsenal beat Benfica 5-2 after going 1 down.

30 July 2007: Jose Antonio Reyes, one of the Invincibles, left Arsenal.

31 July 1995: Celtic 2 Arsenal 1.

31 July 2019: Arsenal play Angers: the video