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.

5 February 1931

Leicester City 2 Arsenal 7

On 27 December 1930 Arsenal beat Blackpool 7-1 in Division One.  Following two FA Cup matches in which Arsenal beat Aston Villa in a replay, Arsenal then lost to Sunderland in the League and Chelsea in the Cup.  The bubble, the newspapers proclaimed, had burst.  It was impossible for a London club ever to think of winning the League because there were just too many distractions for the players.

True Arsenal had finished January in second place with games in hand but no, a London team at the top was unthinkable.

So instead attention turned on 5 February to Malcolm Campbell and his setting of a new land speed record of almost 246mph.  There were also rumours that the miners’ strike might not only end but that a new settlement would include a revolutionary agreement of three years with no further strikes.  Everyone now looked to the cotton mill owners who had locked out the cotton weavers for daring to ask for more pay.

Arsenal approached the game on 5 February thus having won just one of their last three matches.  Leicester were currently in 15th at the time of the game, but eight of their 11 victories in the league had come at Filbert Street, and so the nerves among supporters (if not the players) continued.  Jones dropped out at number 4 and Seddon came back, Preedy retaining his place in goal.

The result was a spectacular 7-2 away win for Arsenal, which took the club back to the top of the league.  Lambert got three, Bastin two, and Jack and Hulme one each.   It meant Lambert had scored seven in three matches, and Arsenal had scored seven twice and nine once in three of the last five games.  The decision to stay with Lambert as the centre forward – established through the cup run last season – was now fully vindicated, despite anything the press and some of the crowd might say.

Of course the fact that the other two games (the ones in which Arsenal had not scored seven and nine) had resulted in a draw and a defeat gave those who liked to take pot-shots at Arsenal plenty of ammunition, but the crowd of 17,416 knew they had been treated to a spectacular display.

But then, just to show that consistency was not what they were about, Arsenal, now back at the top of the league proceeded to draw their next match against ninth placed Sheffield Utd, something that must have pleased second placed Sheffield Wednesday, who were also only able to draw 2-2 away to Bolton.

In fact Sheffield Wednesday were about to embark on one of those collapses that often separates out the challengers at this time of year, as for them the Bolton game was followed by three consecutive defeats.  Aston Villa, who themselves had only won three games in eight through December and January, were now putting their own positive run together of eight straight wins, which included some extraordinary results such as an 8-1 against Middlesbrough on 31 January and 6-1 against Huddersfield away on 7 February.

The main cause of Arsenal’s failure to win against Sheffield Utd however was another injury to Lambert which had been sustained in the Leicester win and which kept him out of the side for five games.  Jack took over again at number 9 and Brain did his usual deputy job at inside right.  Parker, who had also been injured against Leicester, missed his first game allowing Cope to get his one and only game of the season against Sheffield Utd.

Of course, if you know your Arsenal history you’ll have realised what was about to happen.  Having won their first ever trophy (the FA Cup) the previous April, Arsenal won the League for the first time in 1931 with a record number of points, while scoring 127 goals in 42 league games.

It was the start of the 1930s triumph, which contained five League titles, and two FA Cups.  It must have been quite a moment. And one in the eye for all those who said a London team could never win the League.

4 February 1922

The Duke visits Arsenal, and asks for a cup of tea

We have noted before that Leslie Knighton, the manager who came to Arsenal to take over after the first war world was in many ways doing what others were all over football were doing: bringing in players where ever he could find them, using 30+ players in a season (seasons which included only the FA Cup and the League – no extraneous issues in those days) and trying to cope with the fact that so many  of the men who would have been at the height of their footballing ability by 1922 had tragically died or been injured in the war.

Yet despite having an average sized squad for the first division and using many players throughout each season, Knighton also claims that he was “ordered” to “abandon” the Arsenal scouting system by Sir Henry and that as a result he had to scrabble around to find players.

We’ve already seen one example of this: how Knighton claimed he was so short of money and players he was forced to play the Arsenal club doctor’s brother-in-law on the wing.  But as we have noted the player in question had played for Rangers before the war and represented the Scottish League against the English League.   Paterson in fact ended his career in February 1926 as a highly regarded player, having played 77 times for Arsenal.

But of course Knighton did bring in players: people like Bob John, Jimmy Brain, Tom Whittaker and Alf Baker (and all brought in despite his having to “abandon” the Arsenal scouting network, and having to resort to signing 5 feet tall players from the 7th tier of English football).

Bob John was Knighton’s great triumph, who was found playing for Caerphilly when he was transferred in January 1922, and there were other clubs interested in signing him.  (In fact Knighton makes much of how he beat the others to the signature of John, in his autobiography.  John made his first team début in October 1922.)

Jimmy Brain was also in Wales, a player at Ton Pentre, and he came to Arsenal in 1923 – again being picked up by the Arsenal scouting system which seems to have spread across the whole of the UK.

So what was going on at Arsenal at the time?    Certainly during this period, Sir Henry and William Hall (who were primarily property developers) were incredibly busy with their business, as well as spending time abroad (which Sir Henry had always liked to do).  When these two were away Jack Humble (the first Woolwich Arsenal chairman back in 1893) took greater responsibilities in the club, but he was still employed full time with the armaments factory.  

All this activity contradicts another claim made in Knighton’s autobiography: that Sir Henry Norris was in charge of everything, and with him not around, everything fell apart.

As an example of this Knighton tells in which the Duke of York came to a match at Highbury on 4 February 1922, and with Sir Henry and William Hall unavailable, Jack Humble and two other directors (Charles Crisp and George Peachey) did the honours.   Here Knighton could have made much of Humble – a man who famously walked from Durham to Plumstead to find work, in 1886 – now meeting the Duke as a director of London’s most famous club.   But no, he attacks Humble and the other directors for not knowing how to behave, by suggesting (and it is all done by suggestion) that Arsenal wasted money buying in the finest champagne for the Duke, only to find that all he wanted was a cup of tea.  

There is no evidence, and even if true, the champagne could have been put in store for the day Arsenal won the League, but champagne for the Duke, winding up the scouting system, putting arbitrary restrictions on who could be signed…  it is all set up to show that Sir Henry was a fool with no knowledge of football and that Knighton was the man holding it together.

None of it can be backed up and most of these stories can be shown to be untrue, but these are the tales that form the basis of the endless attacks that we still see today on Arsenal’s competence.  In terms of media, it seems, nothing changes.

3 February 2018

Prior to this game the story was that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang had a fever so having been bought for £56m he was not going to make his debut in this match although Henrikh Mkhitaryan was sure to make his first start at the Emirates Stadium..

Theo Walcott returned too, and he was heralded by the media as being inhot goalscoring form” having scored three already for his new club.

But Everton had only won two of the last 22 meetings in all competitions and Arsenal were at this stage the only club to have totted up 100 goals against another team in the Premier League era.

The Everton manager was the incessantly gum chewing Sam Allardyce who quite amazingly had managed to lose his last eight matches against Arsenal. It was his 500th Premier League game as a manager. Quite why clubs kept on employing him was not quite clear.

But to be fair, Everton entered the game having just won against Leicester, while Arsenal had just lost 3-1 to Swansea.  The media talked it up as a likely win for Everton, celebrating their manager, their non-existent new stadium, and just how wonderful Theo was (something they had never quite understood while he was at Arsenal).

There was also much talk of Arsenal not having been doing very well of late with just two wins in the last eight, a run that included that first ever FA Cup third round defeat for Mr Wenger.

A debut goal for Aubameyang, a hat-trick for Aaron Ramsey, and three assists for home debutant Mkhitaryan was not what the media were hoping for as they looked to knock Arsenal around once again.  It was not a bad return at all and Arsenal moved to within three points of fifth-placed Tottenham.

Sadly however although it was a fine win it was not the start of a fine run, as Arsenal won just one of the next six games scoring only five goals.  But then Aubameyang got the hang of it all and in the following six games there was 18 goals and six straight wins.

Funnly ol’ game.

2 February 2002

On 2 February 2002 Arsenal drew 1-1 at home with Southampton.  It was considered a poor result since it left Arsenal 3rd in the table, whereas a win would have left them second.  For Southampton it meant that they were 13th – and the table showed them as a club that should have been beaten. Southampton got their equaliser on 80 minutes.

But the result did mean that Arsenal had not only scored in every league during the season, but they also set the new record of scoring in 26 top league games.

The goal itself came from Wiltord.  Henry had crossed, Bergkamp took the cross down, and Wiltord scored from five yards.

As for why we didn’t win – the lack of Patrick Vieira who went off on 28 minutes was a major cause.  After that the free flowing football that we were expecting didn’t happen.  Gio van Bronckhorst came on, but the movement thereafter was not as good as before.

In the press it was the usual theme – Arsenal don’t take their chances, Wasteful Arsenal, and all that stuff. And yes it was disappointing. The team was: Wright, Luzhny, Campbell, Upson, Cole (Grimandi 52), Pires, Vieira (van Bronckhorst 27), Parlour, Wiltord, Henry, Bergkamp (Edu 71).

After the game the table looked like this…

1Manchester United2616376435+2951
2Newcastle United2515464832+1649
6Leeds United2411943523+1242
7Aston Villa2591063128+337
8Tottenham Hotspur2595113534+132
9Charlton Athletic248883030032

Arsenal in third, but with a worse goal difference than Man U and thus effectively with four points to make up.

The next game (away to Everton who were having a poor season, languishing in 14th and who had already lost 5 home games) followed by the return game, were both eminently winnable.  But then there was second in the table Newcastle, away.  Not so easy.

In fact, what happened was utterly amazing.  Arsenal played 13 more games and won the lot!

  • 10 Feb 2002: Everton 0 Arsenal 1
  • 23 Feb 2002: Arsenal 4 Fulham 1
  • 2 Mar 2002: Newcastle 0 Arsenal 2
  • 5 Mar 2002: Arsenal 1 Derby C 0
  • 17 Mar 2002 Aston Villa 1 Arsenal 2
  • 30 Mar 2002 Arsenal 3 Sunderland 0
  • 1 April 2002: Charlton 0 Arsenal 3
  • 6 April 2002: Arsenal 2 Tottenham 1
  • 21 April 2002: Arsenal 2 Ipswich 0
  • 24 April 2002: Arsenal 2 WHU 0
  • 29 April 2002: Bolton 0 Arsenal 2
  • 8 May 2002: Man U 0 Arsenal 1
  • 11 May 2002: Arsenal 4 Everton 3

After the 29 April match Man U could still have won the league if Man U had won their two remaining  games and Arsenal had lost.   This was in fact possible given that the 8 May game was a Man U v Arsenal game.

But Arsenal won, and the final table looked liked this

3Manchester United3824598745+4277
4Newcastle United3821897452+2271
5Leeds United38181285337+1666
7West Ham United38158154857-953
8Aston Villa381214124647-150
9Tottenham Hotspur38148164953-450
10Blackburn Rovers381210165551+446

Arsenal had not only overtake Man U on points, but also on goal difference, which one might not have expected.   But then, no one really expected 13 wins in a row.

1 February 1921

Herbert Chapman returns to football

Herbert Chapman was manager of Leeds City of Division II when the first world war broke out and having taken up a job outside of football for the duration, he returned to Elland Road in 1918 when the war concluded and resumed his work.

But only a few months later (and with football just consisting of a continuation of the war time leagues – the official league not resuming until August 1919), he resigned, moved to Selby and apparently gave up football totally to become a superintendent at an oil and coke works.

Leeds City were subsequently reported by some former professionals of paying “guest” players who had appeared for them in war time league matches – something that was outlawed.  But the evidence was dubious in the extreme, consisting purely of rumours; there were no written records.

Thus the League had no documentary proof save the say-so of the ex-players  However when charged Leeds City directors would not give the League their detailed financial records, arguing that to do so would set a dangerous precedent, since the League’s investigatory committee would contain directors of other clubs, and so they would become aware of Leeds’ financial state, which would give them an advantage if competing with Leeds for a transfer.

And so in the arbitrary way that it often deals with these things, the Football League removed Leeds City from League membership, and suspended five officials, including Herbert Chapman (who wasn’t even at the hearings), for life.  

Thus with eight matches played in the 1919-20 season Leeds City were expelled from the league, and their fixtures were taken over by Port Vale, who bizarrely were able to count the eight games Leeds City had played  (four wins two draws and two defeats) as their own!

Leeds City was wound up, the players sold, and out of the mists a new club appeared using the same ground, with the same directors but now calling itself Leeds United.  Without further ado they were admitted to the League for the 1920/21 season, replacing Grimsby in Division 2! 

For Herbert Chapman however matters went from bad to worse since in late December 1920 he was laid off from his job at the coke works.  He was unemployed, and banned for life from his other main mode of activity.

Then he was approached by Huddersfield Town to be assistant to Ambrose Langley, who had played with Herbert Chapman’s brother Harry at The Wednesday (where Harry had made over 200 appearances).

Herbert then appealed against his life ban, using the most obvious of cases that since the League had no idea when any illicit activity had taken place (since it hadn’t seen the records) they couldn’t possibly know that there was a case against him.

Even a five year old child could see that the case against Herbert Chapman obviously had no basis, and after just a month’s unemployment he became an employee of Huddersfield Town on 1 February 1921, subsequently replacing the incumbent manager.  He remained manager of Huddersfield until 11 June 1925 when he was given permission to discuss matters with Arsenal who were now looking for a new manager, having sacked Leslie Knighton.

Perhaps by chance, or perhaps as part of a good PR campaign, on 15 June 1925 Arsenal announced that the club had reached a deal to buy (rather than lease) the Highbury stadium, and some additional land around it, and that the lease of the site had ended.  Sir Henry Norris’ huge gamble in 1913 of taking the ground on a limited period full-repairing lease had paid off.  Arsenal had a new manager, and had secured their home for as long as they wanted it.

And so it was that on 22 June 1925, 32 years to the day after Jack Humble chaired the first ever AGM of the newly formed Woolwich Arsenal FC, just ahead of the club’s arrival in the Football League, Herbert Chapman took up the job of Secretary Manager of Arsenal FC.   It was a moment of supreme importance within the club, ranking alongside the move to professionalism in 1891, the launch of Woolwich Arsenal and its application to join the League in 1893, the rescue of the club by Henry Norris in 1910 and indeed the move to Highbury in 1913.

31 January 2003

You won’t recall him but on 31 January 2003 Guillaume Warmuz was purchased from Lens.  But stay with me on this for a moment because there is a point in mentioning him beyond the fact that he only stayed a very short while before being sold on to Borussia Dortmund.  He later played for Monaco, retiring at the end of the 2006–07 campaign at the age of 37.

On 16 February 2008, Warmuz was appointed director of football at FC Gueugnon lasting eight days in office. From May to December 2012, he acted as Auxerre’s goalkeeping coach. The on 1 June 2017, Warmuz was appointed as manager of Championnat National 2 side Montceau Bourgogne In April 2018, with his side facing relegation, Warmuz resigned as manager and we have no more information beyond that.

And my point is, this is the typical 31 January story. Players ought to be warned: don’t do anything on 31 January other than play football. At least don’t do anything with Arsenal, for Warmuz was just one of so many players who failed to make a mark at Arsenal and then moved on, leaving on 31 January.  It seems to be the day of leaving.  Here are a few others just taken from 2006 onwards.

31 January 2006: David Bentley was sold to Blackburn Rovers.  He undoubtedly had a huge talent, but never lived up to expectations and after playing with Tottenham reserves eventually gave up football in 2014 to run a restaurant.

31 January 2006: Quincy Owusu Abedyie  was sold to Spartak Moscow.  He had numerous loans out from that club and later played for Panathinaikos before moving on to Boavista.

31 January 2011: Nacer Barazite never played a league game for Arsenal, but was sold to Austria Wien on this day.  He later moved on to AS Monaco and FC Utrecht.   

31 January 2011: Gilles Sunu loaned to Lorient.  After the loan spell he signed permanently for them having never played for Arsenal in the league.

31 January 2011: Kyle Bartley loaned to Rangers.  He later moved on to Swansea.

31 January 2011: Ryo Miyaichi completed his move to Arsenal.  He looked tremendously promising, but injuries appeared to hinder his talent and he was consigned to a range of loan deals before moving on.

31 January 2012: Thomas Eisfeld joined Arsenal from Borussia Dortmund for £420,000.  Despite some highly promising performances he did not make the final breakthrough and eventually joined Fulham.

31 January 2012: Ryo Miyaichi went to Bolton on loan and played 12 times for them before making one final English loan deal with Wigan.  After this he moved to Europe.

31 January 2013: Chuks Aneke loaned to Crewe for the second time.  After failing to break into the Arsenal team he moved on to Zulte Waregem in the Belgian League.

31 January 2014: Arsenal agreed a loan deal for injured Kim Kallstrom.  Despite Arsenal making it clear that they did not pay his wages until he was fit, the press always labelled it a “controversial” move.

31 January 2014: Daniel Boateng joined Hibs on loan.  He returned to Arsenal at the end of the season and then moved on to Södertälje FK

31 January 2014: Ju Young Park joined Watford on loan having failed to make any impact at all with Arsenal, his transfer remaining one of the most puzzling of the modern era.

31 January 2014: Frimpong sold to Barnsley.  The club later released him after just a handful of games and he moved on to Russia where unfortunately his discipline problems continued to follow him.

31 January 2017: Six young Arsenal players went out on loan, including Krystian Bielik who went to Birmingham City.

31 January 2018: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang joined Arsenal from Borussia Dortmund for a fee of around £56m.  It was Arsene Wenger’s final signing for Arsenal. There had to be one good deal in the end.

There is one other transfer on this day that does stand out however: 31 January 2013: Monreal signed for £8.5m from Malaga to cover for the injured Gibbs.   Despite his low fee he went on to play both at full back and central defence for the club and by 2015/16 was seen as a fundamental part of the new back four.   On 31 January 2019 Monreal joined Real Sociedad on a two year contract.

30 January 1987

On 30 January 1987 Tommy Caton was sold to Oxford Utd for £180,000.  He was one of those amazingly talented footballers but one of the wild bunch; he died aged 31.

Thomas Stephen Caton was born 6 October 196.  He was a centre half, one of the wild bunch of hard drinking Arsenal players, but none the less a great player for all that – although he never achieved anything like his potential with Arsenal.

Tommy was born in Liverpool, and started out with Man City in 1978 and played in the cup final aged 18.   By the time he was 19 he had played 100 first division games, and although obviously not a goal scorer by trade he did score two against Arsenal on 4 December 1982.

However Manchester City then had one of their collapses for which at the time they were quite well known, and were relegated in 1983 ending up one point behind Coventry and safety.

Caton didn’t fancy the second division so asked for a transfer, and so moved to Arsenal for £500,000.  It was said that he wanted a club with stability but within two weeks of his arrival Terry Neill was dismissed, to be replaced by Don Howe.

Tommy was transferred to Arsenal on 1 December 1983, and made his debut under Terry Neill’s management on 3 December 1983, wearing the number 6 shirt, playing alongside David O’Leary.  He replaced Hill who moved to right back, himself replacing Robson who later re-emerged at number 7.   Caton’s arrival also meant that Arsenal did not have to rely on Chris Whyte at all, whose failings had (to put it politely) come to the attention of the crowd.

He was the regular in his position playing 35 league games in 1984/5 but only 20 in 1985/6 in which season, from mid-December on, his place was taken by Martin Keown.

By the start of 1986/7 a new central partnership of O’Leary and Adams had taken over (Keown being moved on because he dared ask for a pay rise) and thus there was no longer a place, under Graham in his first season, for either Caton or Keown.

Caton however was not transferred at once, leaving in February 1987 for Oxford Utd for £160,000 – a huge diminution in his value, due to his lack of recent games and the start of his foot and ankle problems.   In November 1988 he moved again, this time to Charlton who at the time were in the first division.

They like Man City at the start of his career, were relegated, but Caton suffered the injury which cut his career short, and he retired from football in March 1993.

In his personal life, Tommy was associated with the players who drank – players like Sansom and Rix, which Sansom mentions in his book.  While for some it may make amusing reading, what happened to Sansom subsequently casts the volume in a different light.

The tragedy of Tommy Caton at Arsenal however was not just drink – it was also that he arrived as a flamboyant character under Neill, within weeks found himself playing under Howe, and then suddenly under Burtenshaw and finally Graham.  Only a few players could satisfy all of those men.

After 100 league and cup games and 3 goals, at 24 his time at a big club was over without him ever living up to anything like the potential he had shown at Manchester City.

But the tragedy was far, far deeper than that because only one month after giving up football because of the injuries, on 30 April 1993 he died suddenly of a heart attack.  He was just 30, and left a family with three children.

You can read more about the Arsenal anniversaries on this day on the AISA Arsenal History Society website.

29 January 1896

Can you run a football club by committee?  Certainly in the early days of Arsenal it was thought so, and indeed thought so, so strongly, that the committee rejected all attempts by everyone else involved with the club to change the system.

And indeed you have to remember that by 1896 Woolwich Arsenal had been a professional league club for two and a half years, playing in a league where full-time professional managers were the norm.

Arsenal had finished 9th and 8th in their first two seasons in the League and in fact were heading for 7th this season – so mid-table safety was looking secured, but now of course people were looking upwards and wondering why the pre-eminent team in the south was not following the lead of their northern counterparts.

The committee that ran Arsenal had half-yearly general meetings to discuss all matters that were placed on the agenda and on 29 January 1896 the issue of appointing a manager to oversee team affairs came to the fore once more.   But the sub-committee that ran team affairs objected most strongly.

However this objection was not treated lightly by other committee members not on the team selection sub-committee, for the sub-committee was accused of using away games as a personal benefit, since all its members were granted an expenses paid weekend for each such match.

Discussions it seems became heated not least because the topic had been coming up on the agenda since before Arsenal joined the league.  Indeed as far back as 1892 there are records of a sub-committee of five elected from the general committee to manage the team selection.

On this day in 1896 Mr Evans raised the issue of appointing a manager of the team, but he was rule out of order, for not having submitted the motion in the proper manner.

A second attempt was made at the AGM when another committee member – Herbert Chase – repeated the exercise, but in a manner no one could explain, the issue was not printed on the agenda paper and so once more could not be debated.

However by January 1897 feelings were running high.  Arsenal had lost 8-0 to Loughborough in December, and although several high scoring matches that had gone in Arsenal’s favour had followed, successive 4-1 defeats to Gainsborough Trinity and Darwen caused feelings to rise.  A 4-2 defeat in the cup to non-league Millwall Athletic was the final straw.

The board of directors finally agreed to advertise for a manager – and there was no shortage of applicants, the local paper reporting that 54 men had applied for the job.  Eventually Thomas Mitchell became Arsenal’s first professional manager.

He had been a referee and a manager of Blackburn Rovers with whom he had won the FA Cup four times.  But there was a warning that came with him.  Mr Mitchell had resigned from his job at Blackburn because interference from the board concerning matters of training and team selection.

But he was appointed and on 30 March 1897 he took up his duties as the first ever Arsenal manager.

28 January 2004

On 28 January 2004 Jose Antonio Reyes transferred to Arsenal from Sevilla for £10.5m.  He later played over 100 games for Atletico Madrid and Sevilla having played 69 for Arsenal

It can occasionally seem strange to remember some of the names that played in the Invincibles (although I most certainly was there).  I mean, we all know Lehmann did the 38 games, something no one else achieved, and we remember Henry, Vieira, Pirès, Lauren, Toure, Cole, Campbell, Ljungberg, Gilberto Silva  – all playing 30 or so games.   And of course Bergkamp just a little way behind.

But the names of some of the players who were also there come back to me as a bit of a shock.   Pascal Cygan got 10 starts, only two short of Parlour, for example.  And Joes Antonio Reyes started 7 and was a sub in 6.  It seems (to me at least) hard to believe now that he was part of that campaign.

Yet Reyes came with such fanfares; the man bought amidst protests by the fans at his old club.   The great rising star.  And?

He was born 1 September 1983, started with Sevilla aged 16, joined Arsenal aged 20 having played 86 games for the team.  He managed 69 league starts for us between 2004/7 before going to Real Madrid on loan, then Atlético Madrid then Benfica on loan then Sevilla to which he returned in 2012.

Overall for us he only scored 16 goals, but they came in bursts, most notably six in six at the start of the 2004/5 season.  Otherwise, he just didn’t happen for him and inconsistency was the name of his game.

There were always stories about Reyes.  He was from a Romani family (Gitanos) and the tales were from the start that no only could he not speak English, but also that could hardly be understood by his team mates in Spain, because of the thickness of his accent.   He only liked the local food that his family provided, and in essence was endlessly homesick for a totally different lifestyle – although his parents and his brother moved to England to be with him so presumably he got mothers’ cooking.

On 21 May 2005 he was sent off in the FA Cup Final, only the second player to suffer the indignity, but then signed a new six year contract soon after and in 2006 played in the Champions League final.

But after that it was all downhill, with Real Madrid taking up the role we later associated with Barcelona, of targeting players and deliberately unsettling them (they were also doing it to Cesc at the time, just to annoy Barca).

In the summer of 2006 Reyes left for Real Madrid in a one year exchange deal with Júlio Baptista.  On 30 July 2007 it was announced Reyes had left Arsenal for good.  No one really minded.

He is a player who, one might say, had his moments.  Those six in six for us, the two scored for Real Madrid to give them the championship… but then also a whole season with Atletico Madrid in which he failed to score.

Then the total tragey; on 1 June 2019, Reyes died at the age of 35 following a car accident.  Early reports that the car had been travelling at 135mph were disputed.

But he remains honoured as a player who played in the Unbeaten Team, played in Cup Final and a Euro Cup Final, and for those days he stays in our memories.

27 January 1934

The history of a football club that started in the league in 1893 is of course packed with the names of hundreds of players who are no longer remembered by fans or even the club, although undoubtedly somewhere there are relatives who are still telling their children and grandchildren that a member of the family once played for Arsenal.

I suspect for most people Alex Wilson is one of these names – a player not now remembered, but one who played his part for the club over 80 years ago.

In fact on 27 January in 1934 Alex Wilson played his first game for our club.  And a fine game it was as the result ran out Arsenal 7 Crystal Palace 0 in the FA Cup.  Although truth be told the result was not especially remarkable for on that day five of the FA Cup games had six goals or more in them. 

Frank Moss was the keeper at the time, and in these days there was no question of swapping around reserve players even for a supposedly easy FA Cup match.  But he was injured for this match, and Wilson took over – one of six games he played in that season – sadly for him too few to get a winners’ medal as Arsenal won the league.

This was however the traumatic season – the season in which Herbert Chapman died and Joe Shaw took over as manager.  He is therefore counted as one of Joe Shaw’s players.

Alex Wilson was born in Lancashire, and played for Overton Athletic and Greenock Morton winning promotion to the first division with then in 1929.

He was signed by Chapman in May 1933.  Over the first two seasons he played intermittently but did get a run for the last nine games of 1934/5 – losing only the final game (by which time Arsenal were champions).

But with Moss’ injury problems continuing new manager George Allison kept Alex in goal and he played 43 games that season, including in the cup final where we beat Sheffield United 1-0.  So he did get a medal.

However in the close season Allison signed George Swindin and Frank Boulton and after playing in the first game of the season Alex Wilson played only one more game, as first Swindin then Boulton became the first team keeper.

But Alex Wilson returned in 1938/9 after Boulton was sold and played 19 league and one cup game.  After the second world war broke out he joined St Mirren, having played 90 games for Arsenal.

He did turn out as an emergency keeper for Brighton and Hove Albion in the 3rd division south in 1947/8 and was also trainer and physiotherapist for the club before moving on to Birmingham City, Sunderland and Blackpool, as well as Kent County Cricket Club.

In 1967 he emigrated to the USA and worked as a physio for the Boston Beacons of the NASL. He died in Boston at 1971, aged 62.

One of the men who was there for Arsenal when called upon, and of course a man who has appeared on the Highbury Wall.