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

31 August 1959 Dr James Paterson, war hero and Arsenal player passed away.

Jimmy Paterson was born on 9 May 1891 in London, and although he was English he was considered by many to be Scottish.  Indeed he won the Scottish League with Rangers and his parents were Scottish, but he was born in England, and therefore English he was.

He was educated in Glasgow, and started his league career playing for Queen’s Park before moving on to Rangers in 1910 and while still studying he became a regular part of the first team playing at outside right as Rangers won the league.

The next season he changed wings, and continued to play until he graduated in 1916 – Scottish league football, unlike that in England, not being suspended for the first world war.

Having signed up, he was appointed Medical Officer to the 14th Battalion the London Regiment, the London Scottish with the rank of Major, and served on the front line.

There was formal recognition of his heroism in 1917 as he was awarded the Military Cross – the award granted for an act or acts of exemplary gallantry during active operations against the enemy on land to members, of the armed forces.

His citation stated, “Under an intense hostile bombardment, he dressed the wounded and cleared them from the road, personally seeing to their removal to the aid post. He then returned and cleared the dead from the road, setting a fine example of coolness and disregard of danger.”

When the war ended he returned to Glasgow and worked in a local hospital. Without any warning to the local media he then turned out again for Rangers, in September 1919 playing against Raith.  In fact he played without having gone back into training – an incredibly dangerous thing to do in terms of injuries that could be sustained, and is reported to have been very overweight, but he still won over the crowd, and scored.

Rangers won the title again that year but Dr Paterson moved on.  His brother-in-law, John Scott, who worked in London was made Arsenal’s club doctor and Jimmy moved to England to join him in his house in Clapton, and was persuaded by John to sign as an amateur for Arsenal in September 1920.

Although an amateur it seems that like other amateurs of the time he received expenses and “gifts” which are reputed to have included a “baby grand piano from Harrods, a diamond-studded tie-pin and a fine Venetian vase.”   A baby grand, I should add, is not a “baby” in the conventional sense, but still a fairly large instrument, just a little smaller than the full size concert grand which is normally only seen in concert halls for the performance of concertos.

Paterson made his debut for Arsenal on the left wing against Derby on 30 October 1920 and played 20 league matches that season.

Now this is where we come to the curious issue which as far as I know has never been resolved before.  Paterson’s manager at the time was Leslie Knighton, the man who re-wrote Arsenal’s history to suite himself in his post-second world war autobiography, often claiming that he was forced to take players from where ever he could find them, because of Norris’ parsimony, and the winding up of the scouting network.

Many events show this story to be a total falsehood, written to excuse the poor performance of the team during the era – but one stands out.  

Knighton claimed that he was so short of players that he was at one stage even forced to bring in the brother in law of the club’s physio, to make up the numbers.  That brother in law was Dr Jimmy Paterson.  Knighton totally played down the quality of Paterson as a player, and this image has been heighted by Bernard Joy in Forward Arsenal! in which is reports only that Paterson had played for Queens’ Park in Glasgow, ignoring the fact that Paterson won the league twice as an integral part of the Rangers team.

So rather than the man that Knighton in his autobiography claims to have been reduced to playing – the brother-in-law of the physio, who had once played for Queens Park, this man was one of the great heroes of Scottish football.

What Knighton also omits to say is that in 1920/1 under his management, Arsenal won only two of their first 11 games.  Paterson then made his Arsenal début against Derby on 30 October 1920 and with Paterson in the side the club went unbeaten in the next seven, winning five.

Then in March 1921 Paterson was selected for the Football League against the Scottish League, coincidentally played at Highbury.

Before the match, he is reported to have gone into the Scottish dressing room to shake hands with all the players, many of whom he had played with before the war.  But it was Paterson’s cross that led to the only goal scored by a man who was himself to become an Arsenal legend, Charlie Buchan.

After his 20 games in 1920/1 Paterson only played two league games the following season, but 26 in 1922/3 and 21 in 1923/4, at which point he retired, although was still technically on the books of Arsenal.

But then on 13 February 1926 he was persuaded by Herbert Chapman to play once again – in Chapman’s first season at the club.

Chapman needed someone to fill in for the regular number 11, Haden.   Jimmy kept his place for the 20 February 1926 FA Cup game against Aston Villa away, not least because Joe Hulme who Chapman had signed from Blackburn was cup tied, and he played again on 24 February for the replay at Highbury in front of an amazing 71,446 which Arsenal won 2-0, with Paterson scoring the first goal.

He played his final game on 6 March 1926 away to Swansea, again in the FA Cup which Arsenal lost 2-1.

In all he made 77 appearances for Arsenal, scoring two goals.

Dr Paterson then left London and moved to a country practice at Bramley in Surrey, and finally retired to Ayrshire in the 1950s. He died of a heart attack and died 31 August 1959 aged 68.

He clearly was a great man, and it is quite shocking that he was used as an excuse by Knighton for his own failings.  It is rather late in the day, but very good to put the record straight.

30 August 1930: Gerrit Keyser made his debut in a 4-1 away win at Blackpool.

Despite only playing in one defeat in the first 12 games of the season, he was then dropped and never played for the club again.  This game was the first of five consecutive wins and a nine-game unbeaten sequence. 

But behind that bald statistic is a really odd story – and one that certainly should not be forgotten.   For Gerard Keizer was a player who clearly must have been quite extraordinary, because in the summer of 1930 Herbert Chapman signed him from non-league Margate, and immediately thrust him into the first division side.

In fact Keizer’s 12 games were the first 12 games of the title winning 1930/1; Arsenal’s first ever championship winning season.  Of those 12 we won 8, drew 3 and lost 1.

Keizer was brought in after Dan Lewis, our regular keeper until that point, had suffered a crisis of confidence.  Lewis had made the error that cost Arsenal the 1927 cup final, and when he was dropped by Chapman for the 1930 final it is said that his confidence took such a battering he felt unable to start the new season.   Meanwhile Charlie Preedy who played in goal in the 1930 final was not seen as a permanent replacement and so Keizer was brought in.

But to find why Keizer was then dropped after such a successful start, we have to dig a little deeper.

Keizer was Dutch.  He had joined Ajax aged 16 and by the time he was 20 he was their reserve keeper.  In fact Keizer was registered with two clubs (allowable since he was an amateur and the clubs were in different countries).  Apparently he would fly back to the Netherlands on Saturday nights to play for Ajax on Sundays.

Maybe it was this that made Chapman drop him as suddenly as he had picked him.  Or maybe it was the fact that Keizer never kept a clean sheet during his 12 game spell – although to be fair, Arsenal only kept three clean sheets all season.  They won the league not because of their defence but because they scored 127 goals in 42 games.

Whatever the cause, Keyser left at the end of the season, moving to Queens Park Rangers, before dropping his London connection to become Ajax’s first choice keeper in 1933.  He then played 302 games for the club as they became the dominant force in Dutch football, as well as gaining two Netherlands caps.

In 1945 Keizer flew to London once again to ask Arsenal for help in rebuilding Ajax after the war.   Arsenal (themselves seriously affected financially by the war) generously donated a set of kit and some footballs.

This was the start of another period of regular trips between Amsterdam and London for Keizer but in 1947 he was caught with a rather fine collection of five pound notes among the football kits he was carrying, and he was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment for smuggling.  Whether this secondary business activity had been going on in 1931 and was the cause of Keizer’s sudden removal from the club we shall never know.

After his release from prison, Keizer went into business and became one of Amsterdam’s leading greengrocers and in 1955 he returned to Ajax as a member of the club’s board. He died in 1980 aged 70. 

29 August 1925: Chapman’s first game as manager of Arsenal

The match was against Tottenham, and it was the first league match under the new offside rule in which only two defenders other than the keeper needed to be behind the ball when it was kicked. 

Chapman entered Highbury as the man who had just won the league twice with unfancied Huddersfield, and his prestige could not have been higher.  As were the hopes, with Arsenal having finished the previous season 20th out of 22, missing relegation by one place.

Arsenal lost this game 0-1.  The outgoing manager Leslie Knighton alleged some 20 years later that he was promised the gate money from the game as a benefit payment, but no evidence of such an agreement was ever produced and almost all of Knighton’s anti-Norris statements were subsequently proven to be untrue. 

Knighton had been at Arsenal since 1919, and had never got close to winning either of the trophies on offer, and only a few of his transfers had been successful.  Indeed at the time benefits for managers who went on to work elsewhere were rare.

So why would a man who had only just avoided relegation two years running get a benefit?   And why wait until a Sunday newspaper asked for a story 20 years later – long after the Norris and Chapman had both passed on – before making such an allegation?

Also on this day we saw Charlie Buchan’s debut after signing for Arsenal for a second time. Part of his transfer arrangement was that Arsenal would pay a fee of £100 for every goal he scored in the season.  He scored 20.   The money was paid personally by Sir Henry Norris and didn’t come out of club funds.

28 August 1971: Arsenal 0 Stoke City 1: the double winners defeated three times in opening games.

There was a feeling that Arsenal had grown into the Double.  Two League Cup final defeats, the Fairs Cup win, and then the Double.  It was a progression, and I think there were many fans who really thought this rise and rise would be inexorable.

As we know, it wasn’t, and in a very real sense the sign that things would not be the same came as early as 8 July 1971 when Don Howe left Arsenal to manage WBA.  The move was not a success and WBA was relegated in 1973.   Don moved on to Leeds and to Galatasaray, before coming back to Arsenal in 1977 as coach with Terry Neil as manager.  But his loss as the footballing assistant to Bertie Mee was keenly felt.

Then on 22 July Jon Sammels was sold to Leicester for £100,000, after becoming a victim of the “boo-boys” in the crowd.  He had played 215 league games including 13 games in the Double season and went on to play 241 for Leicester, leaving them for Canada in 1977.  There is not question that he would have got a lot of games in 1971/2 had he stayed, but he would have been a valuable reserve.  But that element in the crowd that Arsenal have suffered from even since Chapman, was out in force and it was Sammels they went for.  If he had to go because of that, so be it, but a good replacement was needed.

Two days later the friendlies began and they included…

31 July 1971: Benfica 2 Arsenal 0.   This was designated the “Champions Challenge Match,” celebrating with each club’s victory in their respective leagues.   Again we see Marinello in the starting XI, and there were thoughts that maybe he had turned the corner.

4 August 1971:  The return of the Champions Challenge Match ended Arsenal 6 Benfica 2.  44,244 turned up to celebrate Arsenal as double winners.  Storey, Roberts, Graham 2, Armstrong, and Radford were the scorers.  Unfortunately the ref then reported Benfica for the behaviour of the entire team after he was attacked by several Benfica players.

7 August 1971.  Feyenoord 1 Arsenal 0  (63,000).  This was Charity Shield day, and Arsenal had of course won the double in 1970-71 but did not take part in the 1971 Charity Shield match having organised a pre-season trip to the Netherlands long before the end of the season.  I guess the excuse was that it was so long since Arsenal had played a Charity Shield game (1953 to be precise) that no one even wrote it in their diaries.   With Feyenoord threatening to sue if Arsenal didn’t show, and with no profit to the club from playing in the Charity Shield, the 1971 FA Cup Final runners up Liverpool and second division winners Leicester City were invited to take part instead.

 14 August 1971: And so the season began, and it got off to a cracking start with an opening match of Arsenal 3 Chelsea 0.  49,174 turned up and McLintock, Kennedy and Radford scored.

On August 17 there was more good news withHuddersfield 0 Arsenal 1.  The  attendance was a paltry 21,279.

But then came disaster in the oddest possible circumstances on August 20 withManchester Utd 3 Arsenal 1, in front of just 27,649.

The game was played at Anfield with Man United banned from playing their first two home matches anywhere at all within Greater Manchester, after their fans had thrown objects, believed to be knives into the away section at a match at the end of 1970/71 season.  Anfield and Stoke’s ground were selected as the replacement locations.

The front page of the Guardian announced with ill-concealed excitement and mock horror that “About 100 fans” were thrown out of Anfield, and that “the windows of some houses in Anfield were smashed and “600 skinheads” were said to have been “kept in check” by police.

Liverpool were instructed by the FA to pay Arsenal compensation for lost revenue. 

So Arsenal had an early defeat but in odd circumstances, and for match 4 on August 24 it was an even greater shock with Arsenal 0 Sheffield United 1 in front of 45,395.   

With a second home game just four days later Arsenal needed to pick themselves up, but instead August 28 gave us Arsenal 0 Stoke City 1 in front of 37,637.

After Ritchie scored in the 19th minute Stoke looked for all the world as if they had done what they wanted and would now just see out the rest of the game – which is what they did.  Where the Arsenal forwards had previously looked capable of finding some kind of way through, now they looked uncertain when facing the packed defence.  It was as if everything that had worked last season, no longer worked this season.

There really was only one explanation: after the games against Man U and Sheffield U, Arsenal had started to lose belief in their own invincibility.

By the end of the month the season was not looking promising, not least because the teams Arsenal had beaten made up two of the bottom three.

1Sheffield United65101125.5011
2Derby County62401061.678
3Manchester United63211281.508
3Stoke City6321961.508
6Wolverhampton Wndrs6231871.147
7West Bromwich Albion5221541.256
9Ipswich Town6141331.006
9Leeds United5221441.006
11Manchester City52121152.205
12West Ham United6213541.255
13Tottenham Hotspur5131780.885
15Coventry City61326110.555
17Nottingham Forest6123690.674
18Newcastle United5122350.604
19Leicester City51137110.643
21Crystal Palace61144100.403
22Huddersfield Town60245120.422

Doubts were expressed about not having brought in a player or two to boost the team, and doubts about Mee’s tactics which had looked so right for three years, but suddenly didn’t seem to be all there.

27 August 1932: Arsenal start their run of three consecutive league titles.

The run of three consecutive league championships under three different managers (Chapman, Shaw, Allison) began with Birmingham 0 Arsenal 1.  The first goal of this unique Arsenal run was scored by Reg Stockill in his first match.  He only played four games in the season – but scored three goals.

However this was not his first achievement that would go down in history.   For although he was only 18 when he scored that opener for Arsenal he was already in the record books as being the England Schoolboy international who aged 15 years 281 days scored York City’s first-ever goal in the Football League against Wigan Borough.

And yet he was, utterly amazingly, allowed to leave the club after just two games, and went to Scarborough who in 1929/30 became Midland League Champions.

It was while he was still at Scarborough and still aged just 17 years 6 months that Arsenal signed him.  And yet despite all his promise and success he couldn’t get further goals…

Reg Stockill made his debut against Huddersfield Town on 27 April 1932 and played the last three games of 1931-32 and the first two of 1932-33, scoring in both, before being displaced by Ernie Coleman. He only played two more games for Arsenal, his final appearance being in the 8-0 win over Blackburn, in which Stockill again scored. After playing in the reserves for the 1933-34 season he moved to Derby County in September 1934. In total he played 8 games for Arsenal, (one in the cup) scoring four goals.

At Derby he suffered a serious knee injury on Boxing Day 1934 which kept him out of the game for fifteen months.   But he stayed at Derby for five seasons and played 66 league appearances scoring 29 goals before moving to Luton in 1939 playing the first three games of the season – before football was suspended due to the declaration of war on Germany.

We have no record of him thereafter, save that he died on 24 December 1995, aged 82.  

26 August 1893: James Tennant tricked into signing for East Stirlingshire (when drunk)

James Tennant played outside left for Woolwich Arsenal in 51 league matches, scoring 8 goals.

He was born in Parkhead, Glasgow in 1878, and his clubs are listed as Linton Villa, Parkhead, St Bernard’s, Woolwich Arsenal, Middlesbrough, Watford and Stenhousemuir.  

In 1899/1900 he played in 26 league games and scored 6 goals, and in the following season 25 games and scored 2.

On 2 September 1899 Tennant made his first appearance (along with James Jackson).  It was the first game of the season – Arsenal’s seventh in the league and the first under Harry Bradshaw – the man who gave Arsenal promotion.  

Although the match resulted in the club starting the season with a 0-2 defeat at home to Leicester Fosse, Tennant kept his position for the first four games (the fall guy was another Glaswegian, Hannigan at outside right, for whom that match was his first and last).

But Tennant returned at the end of the year and then kept his place until the end of the season in which Arsenal finished 8th.

His second season was much the same – in the starting XI for the first five games, then a few intermittent appearances, and then a run from January to the end of the season, in which we came 7th.

27 April 1901 saw his final game, a 0-1 defeat to New Brighton Tower. He also made three cup appearances, all in his second season, and scored two goals.

But there is one more thing – and I found this on the Falkirk Football History site and for which I have taken the information mostly verbatim from the site.  I am writing to them today to express my thanks.

In essence, a couple of Falkirk players mistakenly signed for East Stirlingshire.  Both players, through the secretary of the Falkirk club (Mr Robert Bishop) desired East Stirlingshire to release them, which E.S. refused.

Macfarlane and Tennant afterwards made application to the Scottish Football Association for reinstatement as amateurs, which was rejected on the ground that it was the duty of the players to get the professional forms reduced.

Then followed an action by Macfarlane and Tennant in the Court of Session against E.S.F.C., and several of the office bearers, members of committee, and two of the members, to have the professional forms reduced, in which action defences were lodged and expensive and prolonged litigation was in prospect which no one wanted.  Eventually an agreement was reached which read…

First The Falkirk Football Club shall unreservedly withdraw and apologise for, in writing, all insinuations and imputations contained in the various letters sent by their Secretary to the East Stirlingshire Football Club anent the circumstances and others, under which the said Thomas McFarlane and James Tennant signed foresaid professional forms; and the said Thomas McFarlane and James Tennant and the said Falkirk Football Club, for their Interest, shall unreservedly withdraw and apologise for, in writing, all insinuations and imputations contained in foresaid summons and reduction against the East Stirlingshire Football Club and their members.

Second- In consideration thereof the East Stirlingshire Football Club shall, so far as they can competently do so, grant release to the said Thomas McFarlane and James Tennant of their professional engagements with them.

Third- The Falkirk Football Club and the East Stirlingshire Football Club shall play a friendly game at football at Brockville Park, Falkirk, on the afternoon of Saturday, ninth December, eighteen hundred and ninety three, at half-past two o’clock; the game to be suitably advertised. The price of admission shall be sixpence per head. The members of both clubs shall be admitted free on showing their membership cards. The free proceeds of the gate money shall be divided equally between the two clubs. Out of the share falling to the Falkirk Football Club there shall be paid to East Stirlingshire Football Club the sum of seven pounds ten shillings sterling.

Fourth- Both parties shall concur in having the action of reduction before referred to taken out of court with all convenient speed. The pursuers and defenders in said action shall each pay their own expenses.

Fifth- The Falkirk Football Club and the East Stirlingshire Football Club shall pay the expenses of this agreement equally.

25 August 1899: Arsenal chairman warns the club players to lay off the whisky before a game.

The chairman in question was George Leavey who said, “No man with a skinful of whisky can play football.”

For much of its existence Arsenal has been dependant on benefactors – men who put their own money into the club in order that it may survive.

George Leavey ran a chain of Gentleman’s Outfitters, and opened a shop in Woolwich in 1896. For a number of years he put money into the club to keep it afloat, and was first elected a director in 1898, becoming Chairman in 1899 and club president in 1900, a post in which he remained until 1910. He was then re-installed as Chairman again when Norris took over, retiring at the end of April 1912.

At the June 1899 AGM Leavey concluded the meeting with a request to the public present not to offer drink to the players. He went further at a pre-season dinner for the players in August 1899 when he stated: “Woolwich is a place fraught with much mischief to young men. Half past twelve closing may be good in its way, but it is unquestionably bad for football. Don’t let people stand you drinks. They will do you and the club the greatest evil that can be done. No man with a skinful of whisky can play football”.

As chairman at the half-yearly general meeting in January 1900 he made an impassioned speech concerning the very existence of Arsenal as a going concern, but he was determined to keep them afloat during the Boer War and he moved the resolution: “That this meeting hears with regret of the difficulties of the Arsenal Football Club owing very largely to the continuous pressure of work in the Royal Arsenal, and hereby pledges itself to use every endeavour to assist the club through its present financial difficulties and heartily wishes the old club success and greater prosperity in the near future”.

His and Lawrance’s finances, and the re-introduction of Humble’s administrative nous ensured the worst deficit in the club’s history was overcome in 1900. The improvement was such that Leavy was quoted as saying the finances were back to being “eminently satisfactory” by the 1903 AGM.

In 1909 the Kentish Independent stated that Leavey had paid the players’ wages several times during that close season, and it may have been this that was the final proverbial straw which led to voluntary liquidation.  Following the low share take up in 1910, Leavey turned to Norris, and the Kentish Independent noted: “Arsenal club saved. Fulham Gentlemen on the board. The Arsenal Football Club crisis has taken another and a sensational turn”.

Leavey reported the rescue arrangements at the Football League sub‑committee meeting on 18th May 1910 and thus handed over the financial reins to Norris and as part of the takeover Norris agreed to pay the liabilities of the company.  A large part of those were the £3,600 owed to George Hiram Leavey.

It is frightening to consider how much he had given the club in addition to that which was formally recorded as in 1908 it was stated by Humble that Leavey had lent the club in the region of £15,000 for transfers over the previous years.

50 years ago today: 24 August 1971: Arsenal 0 Sheffield United 1

Arsenal were of course double winners in 1971, and started the following season full of hope for further glory.  Indeed they won their opening two games of the 1971/2 season beating Chelsea and Huddersfield.  But then came a shock – a 3-1 defeat to Manchester United.

That game was played at Anfield, as Man U were banned from playing their first two home matches anywhere at all within Greater Manchester, after their fans had thrown objects, believed to be knives into the away section at a match at the end of 1970/71 season.  The front page of the Guardian announced with ill-concealed excitement and mock horror that “About 100 fans” were thrown Anfield, and that “the windows of some houses in Anfield were smashed and “600 skinheads” were said to have been “kept in check” by police.

With the deep analytic ability for which Fleet Street was and is famed we were told that the  hooligans were “mindless”.  That was it.

So Arsenal had an early defeat but in odd circumstances, but  for match 4 on August 24 it was an even greater shock with Arsenal 0 Sheffield United 1 in front of 45,395.   That things were not going to go as well as everyone had hoped was now completely apparent and it was clear that the result against Man U could not be put down to being “just one of those things,” what with the game played at Anfield.

But this was different.   Newly promoted Sheffield United based their game on endless energy – everyone ran constantly looking for the best position, and it left Arsenal unsure who was where, and who should be marked by whom.  Mee’s tactics looked askew, and there was no Don Howe to make suggestions – Don having moved on.

In fact it was Arsenal that looked more like a newly promoted side than the visitors, who controlled the pace of the game in the manner and style of George Graham last season.

Unfortunately, having found the game not going as they expected Arsenal didn’t seem to have another plan, and with no Charlie George to provide the unexpected, Arsenal were reduced to looking very ordinary indeed.

With a second home game just four days later Arsenal needed to pick themselves up, but instead August 28 gave us Arsenal 0 Stoke City 1 in front of 37,637.  After five games Arsenal, the double champions, were 15th.

23 August 1958: George Swindin’s first match as manager: Preston 2 Arsenal 1.

Arsenal however then won five of the next six, scoring 24 goals in the process and there was real hope that Arsenal would return to the best of days they had under Tom Whittaker, but it was not to be, and under Swindin Arsenal never won a single opening day’s match.

Swindin took over the club in the saddest of circumstances when in October 1956 Tom Whittaker died of a heart attack.  Whittaker had won the league twice and the FA cup as manager of the club, and served Arsenal over the years as player, assistant manager and finally manager.   Like Chapman and Allison before him, Whittaker won the league twice but his championship in 1952/3 was the last trophy of the club until 1971 – and indeed the only near misses in that spell were the two league cup final defeats under Bertie Mee in 1968 and 1969.

George Hedley Swindin, between 1936 and 1954, made 297 appearances for Arsenal as a goalkeeper, including two seasons when he appeared 42 times for the first team.

George was born in Doncaster and played for Rottherham YMCA, New Stubbin Colliery, Rotherham United, Bradford City (his first professional appointment), Arsenal and Peterborough United.

Swindin made his Arsenal début on September 3, 1936, in a team that include Male, Hapgood, Crayston, Copping, Hulme, Drake and Bastin.

He was one of three players used in that season in goal, and was said to be erratic at first. Despite the club again using three keepers the following year under the management of George Allison, we won the league and George Swindin got his league winners’ medal.

In the war, in common with many players, he became a physical training instructor, and continued to play in wartime matches.

In the second season after the war Arsenal won the league with Swindin in goal for every game, keeping clean sheets in 21 out of 42 games.   After 1950 he was again sharing the number 1 shirt, but played in two cup finals in 1950 and 1952, winning the first.

He finally came under the challenge of Jack Kelsey but played enough in 1952/3 to get his third championship medal – the final triumph of the Whittaker era.

Swindin moved to Midland League side Peterborough United as player-manager in 1954, and took his team to several famous FA Cup runs and three consecutive Midland League titles between 1956 and 1958.

When George Swindin became manager in 1958 it is said in most histories that he made huge changes to Jack Crayston’s side that had come 12th in the previous season.  But this is not quite true.

For 1958/9 the opening XI on the first day of the season were all players who were there the year before.  Newcomers did arrive or were promoted from the reserves, but in this first season only Docherty (38 games) and Henderson (21 games) made a significant number of starts.

But Arsenal were top of the league in February 1959 , however they slipped away despite the return of top scorer David Herd after a period of injury at the end of 1958).   After this the chopping and changing did start, and by the end of the year seven players had made their first start for Arsenal, but of these probably only the name of John Barnwell will be particularly remembered.

Eventually the club reached third place, but that was the high point and after that the darkness set in.

George’s record was not too after that.  13th in 1960 (and knocked out of the cup by Rotherham), 11th in 1961, 10th in 1962 – there seemed to be no progress.

What is noticeable is that the number of players who played 25 or more league games a year (out of 42) declined year by year under Swindin, and yet in the 10 years from 1952 to 1962 the best years were the years with the most players playing over 25 games.  Consistency was always a winner at this time.  By his final year as manager all the players he had inherited apart from Jack Kelsey had gone and the regular players we were left with were McCullough, Eastham, Bowen and McLeod – the four who with Jack Kelsey made over 35 appearances in the final season.

After resigning as manager in May 1962 he went to Norwich for five months, and then Cardiff from 1962 to 1964, resigning after the club were relegated to the second division.   After that he moved to Kettering Town and Corby Town, and then left football finally taking over a garage in Corby before retiring to Spain.  He returned to England later but suffered from Alzheimer’s.  He died in Kettering in October 2005, aged 90.

22 August 1914: Tottenham 1 Arsenal 5.

Much has been written about Tottenham’s objections to Woolwich Arsenal moving from Plumstead to Highbury, with Tottenham fearing that the move would diminish their crowds.

And yet within a year of the move the two clubs were playing a pre-season friendly at Tottenham.

This was Arsenal’s only pre-season friendly recorded for the season, although it is more than likely that a match between the first team and the reserves was also played as this seemed to happen each year. 

13,564 turned up for the first match between the two after the move to north London, reflecting a certain thawing in relationships although the idea of the game was not repeated until 1938, suggesting that one explanation is that Arsenal offered the game at WHL as part of a way of smoothing the situation between the two clubs.

Although it should be noted that games between the two clubs were not unusual for by the time of this match the two had played each other over 40 times.  Many of the games were friendlies but there was also a series in the United League in which both teams played in the late 19th century.

The first Football League match between them was in 1909, and these games quickly drew the attention of the crowds even when the clubs were on opposite sides of the river.  In fact the league game on Christmas Day 1911 saw a crowd of 47,100 at White Hart Lane.  Unfortunately Arsenal lost 5-0.

Tottenham had feared that Arsenal’s move north would reduce crowds for both the clubs and neighbouring Clapton Orient but in fact the opposite happened.

Yet in the first season at Highbury, with Clapton Orient and Woolwich Arsenal in the second division and Tottenham in the first the local derby was a second division affair – and amazingly it had drawn a record 35000 to Highbury.  But interestingly, as Norris also predicted, Tottenham boosted their crowd figures too, because, it seemed, there was a growth in interest in football in north and north east London generally.  One of the three clubs was in the news each day and the local press vied with each other for some snippet of news from the clubs.