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.

Arsenal anniversaries 18-24 July

18 July 2020: Arsenal reach the cup final for the record number of times – the video

18 July 2020: The story of Arsenal’s record breaking cup achievement

19 July 2007: Arsenal pre-season video against Genclerbirligi

19 July 2008: Barnet 1 Arsenal 2 (Simpson, Barazite)

20 July 1979: Malcolm MacDonald retired.

20 July: Arsenal go 2-0 up within four minutes

21 July 1898: Tom Whittaker, our fourth longest serving manager, born.

21 July 2010: Arsenal beat Sturm Graz. The video

22 July 2016: Arsenal sign Bolton’s Player of the Year Rob Holding for £2m.

22 July 2013: Arsenal start their Japanese tour

23 July 1865: Henry Norris, the man who saved Arsenal from extinction, born

23 July 2019: Real Madrid against Arsenal, international champions cup.

24 July 2011: the preseason friendly played on a ploughed field – the video

24 July 2011: The ploughed field story

Arsenal anniversaries 11 – 17 July

11 July 2003: Peterborough 1 Arsenal 0 : the prelude to greatness

12 July 1995 & 1998. Two events which show how far a club can go in three years

13 July 1904: Phil Kelso becomes Arsenal’s 6th manager

13 July 2017: Arsenal play in Australia – the video

14 July 1894: The day of the first “Woolwich Arsenal Football Company Day Excursion” to Hastings

15 July 2019: Arsenal beat Colorado Rapids 3-0: the video

15 July 2020: As football resumes after the stoppage for the pandemic, Arsenal beat Liverpool: the video

16 July 1962: Joe Baker signed for Arsenal.

16 July 2022: Arsenal in pre-season v Hangzhou Greentown

17 July 2004: Barnet 1 Arsenal 10.

17 July 2017, Ozil vs Bayern Munich (and seven in Vietnam)

9 July 1976: Terry Neill becomes Arsenal’s manager

During his time as manager Terry Neill won just one trophy – the FA Cup, although he did achieve the record of three FA Cup finals in a row (losing the other two to Ipswich and West Ham. along with semi-finals in the FA Cup (once) and in the league cup (twice).

His highest league position was third (achieved once) and his lowest, 10th. He was sacked by Arsenal on 16 December 1983 and subsequently retired from football aged 41.

LeagueFA CupLeague Cup
1976/78th5th round5th round
1977/85thFinal (Ipswich)Semi-final
1978/94thWon (Man U)3rd (Rotherham)
1979/804thFinal (WHU)5th (Swindon)
1980/13rd3rd round4th round
1981/25th3rd round4th round
1983/46th3rd round4th (Walsall)

He later ran the business development department of The Hub (London), a media management company, and passed away on 28 July 2022, aged 80.

Arsenal anniversaries 4-10 July

4 July 2020: Arsenal beat Wolverhampton away 0-2 as the league catches up on its postponed games

5 July 1939: The Football League agreed to allow numbered shirts.

6 July 1959: David Bowen sold to Northampton Town for £5,000.

6 July 2023: The story breaks that there is to be a statue of Arsene Wenger at the Emirates after years of campaigning by AISA.

7 July 2020: the video: Arsenal 1 Leicester 1

8 July 1975 David O’Leary became a professional at Arsenal.

9 July 1976: Terry Neill became Arsenal’s manager

9 July 1999: Barnet 1 Arsenal 6

10 July 2014: Alexis signs for Arsenal

4 July 2020: Arsenal’s first ever league match in July – the video

29 June 1971: Don Howe left Arsenal having helped guide the club to the Double as first team coach.

Don was born on 12 October 1935, and played with West Bromwich and won 23 caps with England.  He was voted one of the top players ever with WBA in a poll by the fans.  He was signed as a player for Arsenal by Billy Wright in 1964 but broke his leg in March 1966 and retired from the game.

He then became reserve team coach for Bertie Mee and first team coach in 1968.

Don left Arsenal after the Double of 1971, and it is often said that the quick collapse of the team after the Double season was indeed down to this change as Don returned to his old club WBA as manager.

Don did not have success at WBA and the club was relegated in 1973.   He moved on to Leeds and to Galatasary, before coming back to Arsenal in 1977 as coach with Terry Neil as manager.  In 1981 he added to this role his duties as a coach for England.

Terry Neil left Arsenal on 16 December 1983 following a run of five defeats in the last six games, with the club lying 12th in the first division, and Don Howe became caretaker-manager.  He became permanent manager after the game against Leicester on 28 April 1984 following a run of five wins and two draws in the last seven games.  Arsenal were 6th – the highest position they had held that season after the second match.

As he took over new players were emerging.  Jennings, Sansom, Talbot, O’Leary, Woodcock, Nicholas, Rix and Davis were established players, while Howe added Mariner, Lukic, Steve Williams, Rocastle, Keown, Quinn, Martin Hayes and a certain Tony Adams.

After four consecutive wins in a run of 8 wins, 2 draws and 1 defeat in 11 games Don Howe resigned on 22 March 1986, amidst rumours that he was going to be replaced.  Steven Burtenshaw took over with the club 5th in the league.  The momentum was immediately lost and with five defeats in the next seven games Arsenal slipped away from their challenging position.

Don Howe moved on to be assistant to Bobby Gould at Wimbledon at the moment when they won their one trophy, beating Liverpool in the FA Cup Final.    The two men reversed roles at QPR for a while during Don’s management there.  He then moved on to Coventry and took them into the Premier League – again for part of the time after that with Bobby Gould.  Don resigned in the summer of 1992 and became a TV and newspaper pundit before working as assistant manager for England 1994/96 taking England to the semi-final of the Euros.

Then from 1997 to 2003 he was youth team coach at Arsenal

Don passed away on 23 December 2015.

Arsenal anniversaries 27 June – 3 July

27 June 2005: Stuart Taylor sold to Aston Villa

28 June 1913: Woolwich Arsenal gain possession of the Gillespie Road site just 10 weeks before the first match of the season!

29 June 1971: Don Howe left Arsenal having helped guide the club to the Double as first team coach.

30 June: The Kentish Independent published a list of season ticket prices at Woolwich Arsenal – showing a price of £2 2s – about two thirds of the weekly wage of a skilled artisan and equivalent to about £250 today

1 July 2020: Arsenal’s thump Norwich: the video

2 July 1975: Charlie George sold to Derby

3 July 2000: Edu joins Arsenal

16 June 1917: Sir Henry Norris under attack

Sir Henry Norris, the man who rescued Woolwich Arsenal from extinction and moved the club to Highbury was given a knighthood in recognition of his work in forming and paying for the Footballers Battalion, plus his exemplary work in running his recruitment office in a way that few other local authorities were able to do.

His first full-time job during the first world war however was at the War Office in Worthing, during which time he was given the rank first of Lieutenant and then later Captain), where he was charged with the task of finding out why the local authority has put in a return to the War Office with the claim that the area had no (really no) men of conscription age who should be serving their country in the armed forces.

The answer was simple – but it was one of those that can readily be covered up if all parties agree to hide the story. Quite simply the local authority was using elected councilors to collect the data and they were working their way round their own local areas. And while of course the good citizens of Worthing were as patriotic as everyone else, they also felt that although the front line in France needed lots more soldiers that didn’t necessarily include their sons.

So there was a trade off it seems. Don’t put my son’s name down on the list, and you can be sure of my vote in the next local election. Norris tumbled what was going on at once, and reported back to the War Office. It seems they were impressed. Norris had just been knighted for his fund raising activities, now he had been shown to be a man who didn’t mind getting his hands dirty on the ground, and would obviously stand for no nonsense.

But that did not assuage the assaults on him in the local Fulham newspaper for it now appeared that a shortage of manpower (due of course to men joining the military, which is what Sir Henry had been working on) had meant that the Council had not been carrying out its statutory obligation to clean the borough’s sewers, and on 16 June 1917 they started flooding.  It was just what the newspaper needed, and Sir Henry was held personally to blame.  The fact that the Borough simply had no one available to do the work was not mentioned.

Now I do appreciate that a newspaper article about sewers is not exactly the normal anniversary celebrated in an article on football history, but it was a key moment for Sir Henry, and thus for Arsenal, for from here on personal attacks on Sir Henry Norris became more common in the local press, and it was this attack that was the start of a constant campaign against him which ran on through all his time at Arsenal.

What gave the newspaper more ammunition against Sir Henry was that he was missing a fair number of meetings of the local council of which he was leader and the London County Council on which he represented Fulham, and the full explanation was not given until 8 August, when it was revealed that Captain Sir Henry Norris had been promoted to Lt Colonel in the British Army, and had been made a Deputy Director of Recruiting.  

This promotion reveals the level of service he delivered to his country during his stint in working for the War Office in recruitment in Worthing and the efficiency of that work was recognised. The same efficiency as he showed in rescuing Woolwich Arsenal from extinction, and moving them to Highbury.

Indeed I think we might pause for a moment, as the leap in his status within the army is something to behold.  From holding no rank at all, and having no military experience, and indeed having been turned down for active duty on account of his age and eyesight at the start of the war, he had in the space of three years become first a Lieutenant, and then a Captain.  He had then by-passed the rank of Major completely and become now a Lieutenant Colonel (and would henceforth have been generally addressed as Colonel).   Officers of such rank would normally be commanding battalions of between 300 and 1000 men, although it is a rank also used for task force Executive Officers, and for administrators of army matters of the highest rank, who had not served in battle, which is exactly what Sir Henry now was.

All told there were eight Deputy Directors of Recruiting in the country, each controlling a different region: Lt Colonel Sir Henry Norris was in charge of the South-East of England including Kent, Hampshire, Sussex and parts of Surrey.  It was a position of great responsibility, given as a result of the way he had, at great personal cost, conducted himself and served his country thus far.

Clearly Norris’ experience and ability in this specific field had been recognised.  He had responded to the outbreak of war by using football matches as a recruitment ground for what became known as the Volunteer Army.  He had then organised the “Derby Scheme” in the autumn of 1915 in a way that completed the gathering of data and the analysis in a far faster way than was achieved anywhere else (the aim being through a series of interviews to determine whether British manpower goals could be met by volunteers or if conscription was necessary.)

He had then organised Fulham’s response to the  Military Service Bill which was introduced in January 1916 and effectively introduced conscription and then following that was posted to Worthing to organise conscription in Sussex.

And now he had been put in charge of conscription and recruitment over a significant part of the south east of England.  During this period he had risen from Mr Norris to Lt Col Sir Henry Norris.

14 June 1973: David O’Leary signed for Arsenal.

He signed as an apprentice for Arsenal in 1973 and played for the reserves from the age of 16, playing his first game for the first team on 16 August 1975, aged 17.  Twenty years later, on 17 May 1993 David O’Leary played his farewell game v Manchester United.

His first major honour was the FA Cup – playing in the win over Manchester United although he also played in the defeats in the other two cup finals of the era, and the Cup Winners Cup final of 1980.

By the age of 26 he had played over 400 times for the club, and then overtook the record for the most games for the club – reaching 622 (Armstrong held the record before that).

It was the partnership of Bould and Adams that finally dislodged him, but he did win the league with Arsenal in 1989 and 1991, and played in the double-winning side of 1993, often as a sub. Then he was given a free transfer to Leeds after 19 years with Arsenal, and played regularly for them.  He retired from football as a player aged 37, after suffering an Achilles injury.

David O’Leary had a more difficult relationship with Ireland, missing games through being dropped by Charlton, and for refusing to give up a family holiday when he was called up at the last moment.

After life as a player, O’Leary went into management as assistant to George Graham at Leeds.  After Graham went to Tottenham, O’Leary became Leeds manager and in 1999 took them to fourth in the Premier League.In 2000 Leeds were knocked out of the Uefa cup in the semi-final and finished third in the league, and it seemed that Graham knew what he was doing when he took O’Leary into management as astoundingly Leeds got to the semi-finals of the Champions League. 

But Leeds were in real trouble – as the words “Peter Ridsdale” took on a special meaning.  Gambling on the fact that Leeds would play in the Champions League again, he had borrowed £60m for O’Leary to buy new players.
But Leeds didn’t get into the Champions League for 2001/2, nor the next season. 

Meanwhile, O’Leary wrote or had ghosted a book “Leeds United on Trial” – about the activities of some players in the town centre, and their subsequent trial – while at the same time spending what was then an amazing £100m on players over a four year period.

Indeed three facts can be noted. O’Leary didn’t win a trophy at Leeds, he never seemed to ask where on earth the £100m had come from, and he was beyond doubt disloyal to the club in his writing of the book.

O’Leary left, and in 2004 Leeds were relegated to division three with £80m debt.  Meanwhile, O’Leary became manager of Aston Villa and by 2005 was spending considerable sums of money on players, but only finished two places from relegation.  He left in 2006.  His next management job was in the UAE from July 2010 to April 2011 when he was sacked having won six of the 15 games his team had played.

However, despite his later activities he is quite rightly remembered as a true servant of Arsenal, and a truly remarkable player.