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.

22 April 2018

With Arsene Wenger having announced that he was leaving Arsenal, “Match of the Day” on BBC TV featured the “Football should be an art” banner, at the Arsenal Stadium, in its opening sequences for the Arsenal match against West Ham United, which Arsenal won 4-1.

The banner was organised by AISA members and publicised with the support of the “Untold Arsenal” blog and was primarily funded by AISA members.

Here is the video of that moment when the BBC chose our banner as the focal point of its recognition of Mr Wenger’s importance in the club.

During his time at Arsenal Mr Wenger oversaw 1235 competitive games and 57.25% of them were won – a higher percentage win rate than any other permanent manager in the entire history of Arsenal. He won the League three times and the FA Cup seven times, making him the most successful manager in the history of the FA Cup since its foundation in the 19th century.

21 April 1930

Leicester 6 Arsenal 6

This game took place five days before Arsenal’s FA Cup final against Huddersfield Town and the club rested a number of players.

Arsenal’s David Halliday scored four goals; Arsenal had been 3-1 down at half time and also had a goal disallowed.

Now lest you think this was the Arsenal of the 1930s at the top of their game, it was far from it.  Arsenal were more in danger of relegation than of winning the league, and in fact had not won anything yet.   And it was the fact that they were about to play in the FA Cup final (which they won) which caused them to put out a number of reserve players – including Halliday.

The FA Cup final was in fact later the same week, and not only did Halliday not play in that, he never played for Arsenal again.

The 6-6 score represents the top league’s most goals in a game.  In professional football in England it has only been equalled by Charlton 6 Middlesbrough 6 in the second division on 22 October 1960.

And indeed Arsenal’s other results around this time don’t reflect any particular ability to score goals…

  • 18 April 1930: Arsenal 1 Leicester 1
  • 19 April 1930: Huddersfield 2 Arsenal 2
  • 21 April 1930: Leicester 6 Arsenal 6 (four for Halliday)
  • 26 April 1930: Arsenal 2 Huddersfield 0 (FA Cup Final)
  • 28 April 1930: Arsenal 0 Sunderland 1
  • 3 May 1930: Arsenal 2 Aston Villa 4

Arsenal could technically have gone down as late as early-April, but it would have taken the strangest set of results for Grimsby, (who had a late mini-revival), Burnley and Everton to have overtaken Arsenal.  It was indeed a league table that was utterly congested at the bottom, and for Arsenal to have sunk, not only would they have had to lose every match, the others would have had to have won against higher placed clubs throughout.

But to turn to happier events.  What of the FA Cup run?  Here it is – the run towards Arsenal’s first major trophy.

Here it is…

3Jan 11Chelsea (h)2-055579
4Jan 25Birmingham (h)2-243274
4replayJan 29Birmingham (a)1-047521
5Feb 15Middlesbrough (a)2-042073
6Mar 1West Ham (a)3-040797
SFMar 22Hull (Leeds)2-247549
SF replayMar 26Hull (Villa Pk)1-046200
FinalApr 26Huddersfield (Wembley)2-092486

The draw against Birmingham didn’t inspire confidence but Cups are generally won by slipping along unnoticed.

But what of David Halliday, Arsenal’s great hero on this day.

He had come from Sunderland where between 1925 and 1930 he played 166 games and scored an amazing 156 goals.  In his one season with Arsenal he played 15 goals and scored eight, before moving to Manchester City (76 games, 47 goals) and finally Clapton Orient (53 games 33 goals).

After that he had one season in non-league football between retiring in 1937 having played 449 games and scored 336 goals.

In his final year of playing he was also manager of Yeovil, before getting a job managing Aberdeen where he stayed until 1955.  He then had three years managing Leicester.  He then scouted for Leicester in Scotland and died on 5 January 1970, aged just 68.

Just one season for Arsenal, but we should remember that game, and indeed celebrate his remarkable career.

20 April 2018: Arsene Wenger announces he is leaving

The simplest way to measure a manager’s success or failure is by the number of trophies won – Arsène Wenger won 10.   More than anyone else at Arsenal.  But then of course he had many more years to do that in than other managers.  So maybe we should measure his win percentage – what percentage of the 1228 league games did he win?   The answer is 57.38%.

Only those who managed for less than a season (Pat Rice and Joe Shaw) did better.  Pat Rice because he only managed for four matches and Joe Shaw because he took over from Herbert Chapman when Chapman died, and managed 23 games to win Arsenal the title.

For the record Unai Emery who succeeded him gained 55.13% and at the time of writing Mikel Arteta is recorded at 54.55%.  These figures come from league and cup matches so include Champions League and Europa League games as well as Premier League and FA Cup.

As for the greatly revered Chapman, how did Arsène Wenger compare?   Chapman’s win rate was 49.88%.  Thus for Mr Wenger to maintain a win rate higher than that across 21 years is something very special, and probably won’t ever be seen again at Arsenal.

But what did he give us?

Certainly a continuously full stadium virtually all the way through – something we never had under any other manager, where much of the time the average attendance was in the 30,000’s, not knocking around the 60,000 mark which was Highbury’s capacity before seating was installed.

He gave us players the clubs could never have afforded to buy once they were established.  Vieira and Henry are the greatest examples but there were many others whose value shot up after Mr Wenger discovered them.

People like Robin van Persie, Cesc Fabregas… the players who would then leave having made their name, in order to get higher salaries than Arsenal could afford either with the smaller stadium, or the repayment of the loans on the Ems.

And he gave us trophies – on average just about one every other year.  But such was the hatred engineered against him by the media and certain supporters groups, that this staggering achievement was denigrated by deciding to say the FA Cup was not a trophy.  Of course, it was always a lesser trophy, than the League but it was still a trophy.  It still needed to be fought for and won – otherwise Manchester City, Tottenham and Chelsea would hardly have bothered so much to try and win it.

And that left Mr Wenger as the man who (I suspect forever) has won the FA Cup more than anyone else in history.

And looking back, what I suppose some people do forget is just where Arsenal were before Mr Wenger.  Maybe this table might remind those people a little.  We won the double in 1970/1.  Then in the next 25 years we won the League twice and the FA Cup twice

SeasonLeagueFA Cup

25 years to win four trophies.  OK if you want to include the League Cup let’s add two of them and the Cup Winners Cup.  That is seven trophies in 25 years.  Mr Wenger outdid that with 3 League titles (as opposed to the two in the previous 25 years), and seven FA Cups (as opposed to two FA Cups, two League Cups and one CWC – which makes five).  And he took fewer years to do it too.

And at the same time he provided entertainment enough to fill the stadium while maintaining a place in the top four – something that Arsenal had never done under any other manager in its entire history.  So there again, just like the FA Cup not being a trophy, coming in the top four was suddenly of no significance even though it was a greater achievement than the club had ever seen before – or since.

It’s a different game now.  As David Dein so memorably said, “The Russians have parked their tanks on their lawn and are firing £50 notes at us.”  They are still there, joined by the Abu Dhabians, or whatever the collective noun is for people from that Emirate.  But the memory of Mr Wenger lives on.  Here is this day in recent

20 April 2018: Arsene Wenger announced his retirement as Arsenal’s manager after 22 years at the club.  It took all of two hours before the first attacks and conspiracy theories about his departure started to appear on the websites of the national press.

20 April 2019: One year on from Mr Wenger announcing his retirement as Arsenal’s manager it looked like the change of manager had worked with the club being 4th in the league with a game in hand over the teams around.  But three defeats in the last five games saw Arsenal drop to 5th, missing the Champions League by two points.

20 April 2020: Two years on from Mr Wenger’s announcement of his departure, and with football being shut down because of the worldwide coronavirus outbreak, Arsenal were 9th in the league with ten games left to play.

20 April 2021: Three years on from Mr Wenger’s announcement, Arsenal sat 9th in the league, nine points behind the derided fourth position, and closer to relegation than to the top of the league and a member of the newly formed Super League.

20 April 2022: Out of both domestic cups and not competing in Europe Arsenal have just suffered three consecutive defeats before facing Chelsea away on this day.  They are fifth in the league and the consensus of media opinion is that they are unlikely to make it back to the “not a trophy” fourth spot.

Day by Day: the videos – An Arsenal video for (almost) every day of the year in order. 

Day by Day: the stories a key moment in Arsenal and footballing history for each day of the yearArsenal in April – all the anniversaries day by day 

19 April 1975

By Tony Attwood

At a time when many fans are complaining about Arsenal being mid-table, it might be worth remembering this date in history.   Arsenal were in 17th and Tottenham 20th in the league with four and three games to play respectively.  Relegation for both clubs was a possibility.

Most Arsenal fans, who made up a part of the 24,362 were also listening to transistor radios (mobile phones with constant connections to everything still being some 35 years in the future) to catch the Tottenham score.

Indeed they probably got more entertainment that way for while it ended QPR 0 Arsenal 0 the score at WHL was Tottenham 2 Chelsea 0.

In the final game of the previous season, Arsenal had played away to QPR.  Liam Brady scored his first goal for Arsenal, Alan Ball was seriously injured and Bob Wilson played his final game.  This season it was as if the players remembered that match and felt that having offered so much excitement one year before there was no need to offer any more.

Clearly, most of the crowd got the message, for they had gone long before the end.   Arsenal had enough chances to win, but without Brady operating in midfield, the invention was simply not there.  Ball had an off day, Kidd can’t be expected to score in every match, and sad to say Armstrong was looking a little older every time he appeared.

This was Arsenal’s sixth goalless draw of the season and if the lesson of 1974/5 was needed to be made plain, this game did it.  The current Arsenal was not good enough.  Arsenal were 17th (out of 22, with two going down), Tottenham 19th and Chelsea 21st.

On April 23 Chelsea drew 1-1 at home to Sheffield Utd while Arsenal were busy losing 3-1 away to Newcastle in front of a 21,895.

Carlisle were long since buried.  Now it was still a case of any two of the four above Carlisle to make the drop.  Tottenham looked safest with two to play, and the next game was on April 26 1975 against… Arsenal.  It ended Arsenal 1 Tottenham Hotspur 0, with 43,752 at Highbury, mostly hoping to send Tottenham down.

The Daily Express voiced the opinion that “Tottenham are simply not equipped in terms of either personnel or tactical development to face another season in the top flight”.  It was music to Arsenal fans’ ears after such an awful Gunners season.

This home victory for Arsenal – only their third since the start of February – gave Tottenham the need to get something out of their last match (against Leeds) in order to guarantee safety.  Their team boasting such notables as Perryman, Knowles, Jones, and Jennings looked lost.  Arsenal were not stunning, but were just about good enough.

The press’ verdict in general was that Brady, Rostron and Hornsby represented the future for Arsenal.  For Tottenham no future in the top division could be seen.

On April 28 1975 the 15th and 16th clubs played out their meaningless game and it ended West Ham United 1 Arsenal 0, 30,195 at the Boleyn Ground.

Tottenham beat Leeds Utd 4-2, and so saved themselves.  But as for Arsenal and the question of what next, these last few games gave no clue.  All that one could say was that they looked relieved that the season was over.

Storey, Radford, Simpson and Armstrong had looked through much of the season to be fading.  Were Rostron, Hornsby, Mathews and Stapleton really up to the standard set by Brady?  History has since told us, but really at the time, all four were grouped together as the possible bright lights.

Arsenal had finished 16th, their lowest position since 1924/5 – which itself was the season that caused Leslie Knighton to be sacked as manager, and Herbert Chapman brought in.  There was interest as to whether the once feted Bertie Mee would actually be in his job at the start of the next campaign.

In the Double season, Arsenal had used 14 players who made more than two starts in the league season.   In 1974/5 there were 20 such players – a 42% increase caused by injuries, lack of form, and transfers in and out.  Arsenal were unlucky with injuries – particularly with Cropley, but it was up to the club to cover for such situations.

Particularly worrying was that the top scorer was Kidd with 19 goals, followed by…

  • Ball 9
  • Radford 7
  • Brady 3
  • Hornsby 3

Kidd played 40 league games in the season – if he got an injury in the year to come, then what?

There was one other item of news: at the end of the season George Male left the club he had joined in 1929 as an amateur, and gone on to play 285 league games for Arsenal, winning a league winners’ medal five times, and one FA Cup winners’ medal.

George became a coach at Arsenal after retiring from playing, and worked with the youth and reserve teams, as well as being a scout, and he in turn discovered Charlie George.  He was also present to watch the double victories in 1971.

Having retired he moved to Canada where he had family, and died in February 1998, aged 87.   He was not however the last of the Chapman players to pass away, because Ray Bowden lived a few months beyond George Male and died aged 89 – that was truly the end of the era.

For anyone who noticed outside the club, the retirement of George was a strong reminder of what Arsenal had been, and where the club was now.

18 April 1998

Arsenal 5 Wimbledon 0

So, a 5-0 win over Wimbledon on this day – a win over a club now in League One.  And now over 20 years later one might think, so what? 

In fact this was Arsenal’s first win against the Dons at Highbury in six attempts!  The goals came from Adams, Overmars, Bergkamp, Petit and Wreh in the 33rd league game of the 2nd Double season.  The game was part of a winning run of 12 successive matches.  

And it was a great relief because Wimbledon really had been causing us problems.  In fact in 28 league games against Wimbledon between 1987 and 2000 we only won 13.

But if ever there was a time to beat Wimbledon It was on 18 April 1998 – a time at which we could say that under Mr Wenger, Arsenal scored five goals once every 20 league games.  Not a bad record, and certainly better than any other manager in the club’s history.

For before the arrival of Arsène Wenger we scored five goals once every 86 games in the Premier League.  

Our favourite opponents for the high scoring games became Middlesbrough – for in this era we have a 6-1 away win followed by a 5-1 and 5-3, and then a 7-0 at Highbury

But this particular 5-0 win was particularly special for we went on to win the league with two games to spare, and finished five points ahead of Manchester U who ended up in second place.  And then won the FA Cup – our second double.

The winning match of the season, by which I mean the game when we won the league, was a 4-0 home thrashing of Everton.   You will know this game, even if you were not there – because Tony Adams scored a wonder goal in front of the north bank, and just stood there, arms aloft.  It is one of the iconic pictures of Arsenal and Highbury.

But it was the FA Cup, which of course we won, that gave us particular problems that season.   We had another 0-0 at home in the fifth round with Crystal Palace, then of the Premier League, and against West Ham in the sixth we once again had to go to penalties.

In the League Cup we were at it again.  Against Birmingham in the third round we won 4-1 but not until extra time.  Against Coventry in the 4th round, there was extra time again.  We finally went out to Chelsea over two legs in the semis.

As for Europe, we lost to PAOK Salonika in the first round we played in, with a draw at home and a 1-0 defeat away.

My point therefore is that we won the double, but there were some very difficult times, and a lot of gnashing of teeth about the team’s performance on occasions.   The record book doesn’t lie – a double and five points ahead, but during the season itself it was not all plain sailing.  Although those high scoring games were something to behold.

17 April 1926: Chapman’s new team beats Chapman’s old team

By Tony Attwood

1925/6 was Herbert Chapman’s first season at Arsenal, having left Huddersfield Town as champions the previous season.  Thus as 1925/6 drew to a close there was a lot of interest in just how far Chapman had taken Arsenal (who in recent seasons had been strugglers at the foot of the 1st Division – although always avoiding relegation).

In fact he did rather well – although the first trophies for Arsenal were still a few years away.  But this interest grew as 17 April approached – the day of Arsenal v Huddersfield Town.

The month leading up to the game was not without its interest.  On 20 March 1926 Jack Rutherford played his final game for Arsenal (against Manchester City) aged 41 years 159 days – the oldest player to play a league match in the history of Arsenal.  Arsenal won 1-0.

Then on 2 April 1926, as part of the Easter programme of three games in four days, Clem Voysey also played his last game for the club, although this was in the reserves.  He was one of the most controversial figures in Arsenal’s history but quite what happened is forever shrouded in mystery.   However that was not Chapman’s problem – he simply didn’t see a future for the player, and so moved him on.

2 April saw a 3-0 away defeat to Aston Villa which resulted in Bill Harper being dropped.  He was the third keeper Chapman had tried out in the season, and clearly the boss was still not satisfied, although Harper did come back for another 23 league games in the following season.

And the historic moments kept on coming, as on 3 April Tom Parker played his first game.  It was the start of a record breaking continuous 172 game unbroken sequence for Parker, the score being Arsenal 4 Blackburn 2.  Baker, Blyth, Lawson and Buchan got the goals, and if there is any one moment in which we might say the birth of the new Arsenal occurred it was this.  Parker was the rock at right back on which the new team was secured.

Thus the mark of Arsenal’s rise in terms of power and tactical ability was noted by all commentators on 17 April 1926 with the score Arsenal 3 Huddersfield 1.  Huddersfield still went on to win the league but Chapman was edging Arsenal towards the unthinkable: second in the league.

A friendly match on 26 April 1926 saw Arsenal beat Hibernian 5-0. It was the last game for John Alex Mackie.  He played 108 league games for the club, 119 overall, before moving to Portsmouth, and later Northampton, concluding his career at the outbreak of war.

And so, on 1 May 1926 Herbert Chapman ended his first season with Arsenal 3 Birmingham 0 and Arsenal and the achievement of that unprecedented 2nd place in the league, after just missing relegation one year earlier.  Jimmy Brain scored two to make it 34 goals in 41 games, beating the previous record of Harry King (26 in 37 games in 1914/5).

16 April 1977

It’s Freddie’s birthday

Freddie Ljungberg was born on 16 April 1977 in Sweden and was spotted as a remarkable footballing talent from very early on,  as well as being noted for his ability in other sports.  Unlike many footballers he was also academically gifted, and started taking a degree, but then football took over.

Ljungberg made his debut for Halmstads on 23 October 1994 and was signed by Arsenal in 1998 for £3m.  It is said that Arsène Wenger had never seen him play when he signed him – but just saw him on TV.   The story however does not ring true in terms of the full picture, given the intense detail that Mr Wenger normally goes in.   Mr Wenger may not have seen Freddie, but he will have watched hours of video footage of Freddie and had numerous scouting reports.   Ljungberg repaid the faith by scoring within seconds of coming on against Manchester United in his debt on 20 September 1998.

Freddie was everything that Mr Wenger goes for – a man who loved football and who was always full of enthusiasm and hard work.  He was one of the midfielders who always seemed to drop back a little too much, but would then run in from that position.  With Pires playing in front of him out wide or drifiting into the middle or Bergkamp always finding positions to exploit, it was the perfect combination.  Indeed when Pires got his awful injury, Ljungberg simply slotted into his role.

And of course he had red hair, and his own perfect song to match.

There are so many things to say about Freddie’s time at Arsenal, not least that he was the first man to score a Cup Final goal outside England (at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff), and a penalty in the shootout 2005 final and  beyond everything he was an Invincible in the 49 run .But he got injured a lot, and also apparently suffered from severe migraines.  Mind you he didn’t always help himself – he got blood poisoning from his tattoos at one stage and it was thought he might have cancer.  He didn’t.

1994–1998Halmstads BK7910
2007–2008West Ham United252
2009–2010Seattle Sounders FC372
2010Chicago Fire152
2011–2012Shimizu S-Pulse80
Total 38762

On 23 July 2007 he was sold to West Ham – a side that he captained.  But after a set of injuries he left just one year into his contract and then we had all the “spotted in” games the papers love.  He was spotted in LA, so he was going to play there (no he was going to get a tottoo).  He was going to Lazio, Monaco, everywhere, but he signed for no one and the transfer window closed, but he still kept on “being seen” and “being seen with.”

On 28 October 2008 Seattle Sounders signed him and he made an impact before going in for surgery on a hip injury.

From there he moved to Chicago and on 27 December 2010, Ljungberg joined Celtic and signed a short term contract, and in 2011 played briefly in Japan.  On 24 August 2012, Ljungberg announced his retirement from football.

On 12 June 2018 Freddie returned to Arsenal as under 23 coach and a year later joined the first team coaching squad. He became interim head coach after the sacking of Unai Emery. After Mikel Arteta was appointed Freddie was retained as assistant first team coach, but resigned soon after, but has said he intends to return to football coaching.

15 April 1921

To the away game by coach

1921 was a time of great industrial unrest in Britain, and on 3 April coal rationing was introduced, as a result of the miners’ strike.  The board of directors at Arsenal were undoubtedly already trying to work out how they would complete their away trips to Bradford, Liverpool and Newcastle in the coming days if, as expected the railway timetables were disrupted.

In the years before the war the major unions involving transport workers, railwaymen and miners came together in the Triple Alliance with a view to co-ordinating action in the event of attempts by employers to cut wages.  However during the war, the state had taken control of these key industries and had held back on any cuts in pay in order to avoid strikes during wartime and the possibility of political unrest.

The regulations prohibiting a reduction in salaries were removed on 31 March 1921, and pay cuts were almost immediately introduced.  The miners refused to accept this and were locked out.  It was expected that the Triple Alliance would now bring much of the country to a standstill by calling out everyone involved in transport, but there were delays and at first the miners alone came out on strike.

While the nation waited to see who would blink first in the growing industrial confrontation, the football continued.  Arsenal played Sheffield United away on 2 April and the result was a 1-1 draw with Rutherford scoring Arsenal’s goal in front of 35,000.

After this came the two games against Bradford who were looking to be certainties for relegation, and in the home match on 9 April  a crowd of 30,000 saw Arsenal win 2-1.  Goals from Toner and Rutherford saw Arsenal through, and the match was nominated as a benefit game for Arsenal’s long serving quartet of Bradshaw, McKinnon, Hardinge and Rutherford with each player guaranteed a minimum of £500.

Arsenal remained in 9th position but there was now hope they might creep a little further up the table as they had a game in hand over Middlesbrough who were now just one point ahead.

However by now the railways were becoming unreliable and so for the away game at Bradford Arsenal travelled by coach on the Friday instead of taking a Saturday morning scheduled train as was normal procedure.  It should be remembered that many of the roads were still little more than tracks, rather than tarmac (which was only invented in 1902).

However, while Arsenal were making their way to the game on 15 April, the executives of the non-mining parts of the Triple Alliance voted against strike action after differences between the mining unions and the transport unions emerged; in Trades Union circles it became known as Black Friday.  However there was some action as members of the Alliance were told by their unions not to handle imported coal – and this part of the deal held firm.

Despite the very long coach trip Arsenal won the game 1-0, with Toner getting the goal.  They were still one point behind Middlesbrough with a game in hand, but there was now a three point gap between Arsenal and the club immediately below them: Manchester United.

The following day policemen on motorcycles began to appear on London’s streets, and the day after that (25 April) Arsenal beat Preston 2-1 at home, Hopkins and McKinnon getting the goals.  Finally Arsenal had moved up from 9th to 8th just one point below Tottenham, although the crowd of 12,000 was disappointing even allowing for the that the match was played on a Monday afternoon.

14 April 1914

The Times gets Arsenal’s name wrong

On this day The Times, known as the ultimate newspaper of record for the country, reported that Woolwich Arsenal football club had changed its name.

Unfortunately, for the national newspaper of record that was not the case for this latest name change in the series did not happen until the club became “The Arsenal Football And Athletic Company Limited” sometime between 20 and 23 April. 

The Board publicly announced the new name on 23 April, but did not formally approve the change until 10 May 1915.

Arsenal had already been through several name changes, playing their first ever match as Dial Square FC (the name taken because only men from the Dial Square factory at the Royal Arsenal were in the side).

After that first game the newly formed club was opened to men from across the whole of the Royal Arsenal factories, and so became Royal Arsenal.

The next change of name which occurred in 1893 came about because the club had successfully applied to join the Football League, as its first club in London. 

League rules stated that all clubs had to be limited companies.   However Companies House regulations stated that no limited company could have a name that associated itself with the royal family. 

So Arsenal became Woolwich Arsenal, named after the factory complex (even though their ground was in Plumstead.  In fact, they never played in Woowlich).

When Arsenal moved from Plumstead to Highbury, Sir Henry Norris was keen to show that this was still the same club as before, and so for the first season the club proudly kept the name Woolwich Arsenal FC, but by the end of this season the board had clearly decided to amend the name.  “The Arsenal” it was.

The next change came with the dropping of the definitive article as “The” disappeared and we were Arsenal Football Club Ltd.   That was in November 1919.

The story has circulated that this change was proposed by Herbert Chapman when he joined the club in 1925 but this is completely false, as five seconds research reveals.

There was a plan in the 1930s to become London FC, but the plan was dropped on the grounds it was too arrogant.  No one claimed the name London in football, until West Ham gave that name to their borrowed stadium possibly in honour of the fact that London tax payers paid for it.

13 April 1895

Fans can turn on players – it has happened over the years.  Indeed it has happened all the way through the history of the club right back to the 19th century.

Probably the first man to receive this treatment was Harry Storer who was born on 24 July 1870 and died aged just 37 on 25 April 1908.  He was an Arsenal keeper who has two very particular places in Arsenal’s early history, but sadly has no mention on

Harry Storer (often referred to in reference books that do mention him as Harry Storer Snr) was born in Ripley, Derbyshire.

He is first noted playing for Ripley Town, followed by Derby Midland, Gainsborough Trinity and Loughborough, before moving to Woolwich Arsenal in May 1894 at the end of Woolwich Arsenal’s first league season.

Harry immediately joined the first team, and played in goal in the first game of the 1894/5 season  against Lincoln City on 1 September 1894. He missed the second game when Crozier came in for one match, but after that stayed in goal for the whole season except for the final game.

His rise to fame was rapid – Loughborough at the time of the transfer, played in the Midland League, and Arsenal were in the second division, playing just their second season.  And yet Harry Storer has the honour of becoming the first ever Arsenal player to win representative honours being selected for the Football League XI to play on 13 April 1895.  The game came one day after he played his final league match of the season – the 6-1 win over Walsall Town Swifts on 12 April 1895.

But even then he did not have the summer off for in 1895 Storer, played five cricket matches for Derbyshire.

Having achieved such all round fame and honour Storer was naturally first choice at the start of the 1894/5 season but then it all went wrong, for on 16 November 1895 Storer played his last match for Arsenal.  This last game he played was Woolwich Arsenal 0 Liverpool 2.

Obviously it was a defeat but the previous games were five wins and just one defeat.  What’s more Arsenal didn’t have an obvious backup and so could hardly afford to lose him.

After the defeat to Liverpool Storer was dropped (and he was not injured) and Arsenal had serious goalkeeping problems.  Amber played one game, then Hatfield played the next one, and then amazingly Boyle who had just played four games as a defensive midfielder, played four games in goal (in which run Arsenal incredibly won three of the four).  Next, Gilmer got three games and finally Fairclough came in and played in goal for the rest of the season (a total of nine games).

And that’s not all for Russell played in goal for Arsenal’s only FA Cup game of the season – a 6-1 away defeat to Burnley.  It was the Year of the Seven Goalkeepers.

So we know the last game he played was Woolwich Arsenal 0 Liverpool 2 and we know Storer was successful (five wins and one defeat in the last six), recognised as a fine keeper and not injured. 

But what we also know is that after the Liverpool game the club suspended him for a month.

And we know that when the suspension was over he was transferred to Liverpool – in December 1895, making his début for them against Manchester City on 1 January 1896, keeping his place from then on and helping Liverpool win promotion.

What seems to have happened is that in his final game at the Manor Ground, Storer was involved in an altercation with fans behind the goal, and he claimed that the spectators had behaved in a “disgraceful” manner.   Now this was not the only occasion in which goalkeepers of either team were given a hard time, and indeed one Arsenal keeper (who moved on to play for Tottenham) was so outraged as his treatment upon his return, he left the field of play and assaulted a spectator.

But with Harry Storer this is a case of Arsenal fans booing their own keeper – and not just their own keeper, but the club’s first representative player, and a man who was achieving considerable success in goal for the club – and had achieved more than any other Arsenal player at this time.

As Mark Andrews’ book on The Crowd at Woolwich Arsenal revealed, as the crowds increased, one end of the ground (the Abbey Wood end) became the home of the barrackers.

Indeed, as Mark points out, so bad was the attitude of some of the crowd that local reporters often commentated on the fact that they were forcing decent minded supporters out of the ground.

So it seems that Storer stepped out of line in response to the booing and barracking (although we don’t know exactly what he did), and was suspended and then sold.  He continued to play for Liverpool until 1899 and stayed on the books until 1901.

Tragically he died just six years later in Derbyshire of tuberculosis.

And that is all we have on Harry senior, but we should also mention here others in his family.

Harry’s brother William played six test matches for England. But more attention should be given here to his son Harry Jr, who like his father and uncle played football and cricket, and became an England international and later a football manager.

Harry junior did not have the sadly foreshortened life of his father, and lived from 2 February 1898 to 1 September 1967.  After the first world war Harry played for Grimsby Town, Derby County and Burnley plus twice for England. Like his father he played cricket for Derbyshire.

Then in June 1931 Storer Junior became manager of Coventry City and took them to the 3rd Division (South) title in 1935/6.  Later he managed Birmingham City, and took them to the 2nd division championship in 1947/8.  He also won the 3rd Division North with Derby County in 1948 – an extraordinary set of managerial achievements.