Today of all days

Arsenal’s history one day at a time

This series takes a look at what was happening to Arsenal and in the world around them on this day at one point in Arsenal’s past.

15 November 1950

On 15 November 1950 Leslie Compton won his first full cap for England, having won 12 war time caps.  He was the oldest player ever to win his first full cap – at the age of 38.

Leslie Compton played for Arsenal between 1930 and 1952 mainly as a centre-half, making 253 appearances and scoring 5 goals.  He won a First Division title medal in 1948 and a FA Cup winners medal in 1950.

His brother Denis played for Arsenal between 1936 and 1950, mainly as an outside left,  making 54 appearances and scoring 15 goals.  He also won a first Division title medal in 1948 and the FA Cup winners medal in 1950.

Denis  Compton CBE was born in Hendon on 23 May 1918 and died in Hendon on 23 April 1997.  If we are to separate the Comptons somehow, we’d call Denis a cricketer who played football, in contrast to his brother Leslie who was a footballer who played cricket.  Denis played in 78 Test Matches and played for Middlesex – his home county.  He was a slow left arm bowler, and cricket reports call him one of England’s most remarkable batsmen.  He scored 123 centuries in first-class cricket.   A stand at Lord’s is name in his honour.

Denis started his football career at Nunhead in 1934/5 before moving to Arsenal, where he made his début in 1936.  He also played for England in wartime matches.

So, on to his brother Leslie whose England appearance we celebrate today. 

Like his brother he played cricket for Middlesex, but it was at football that he excelled.   He came to Arsenal straight from Middlesex Schools, and played as an amateur in 1930 playing his first first-team game on 24 April 1932 against Aston Villa, just after turning pro.

He started as a right back, but then when George Male took that place, and Denis went back into the reserves.

His first medal came with the Charity Shield in 1938.  During the war he continued to play for Arsenal and, being converted to centre forward he scored ten goals in one game against Leyton Orient.

After the war however he moved into the centre of defence.  He missed a few games in 1947/8 because of his commitments to Middlesex (which must mean that Arsenal and Middlesex had a deal as to when he was available) but he played for the rest of the season as Arsenal won the First Division title and both Comptons got their league winner’s medals.

Denis was then selected to play for England on 15 November 1950, at the age of 38 years and 64 days; the oldest post-war England débutante and the oldest ever outfield player to début.

Leslie retired in the summer of 1952 but stayed on for three more years as a coach and scout.  His cricketing record was 272 appearances for Middlesex where he played as wicket keeper, and both brothers won the 1947 County Championship.

The Comptons are thus the only brothers ever to have won the League and County titles in  football and cricket.

14 November 1886

How did Arsenal get their first fixture?

Imagine: you have just formed a football club, and you want to play another club. What do you do?

Maybe phone a local league and ask to join? Or perhaps look up the phone numbers of the clubs in that league asking if they would like to play a friendly? Or maybe do a bit of research for other teams nearby, on the internet? Or even set up your own internet page.

But supposing there were no leagues, and few other clubs around. And no internet. What then?

This was exactly the problem facing all new clubs in the late 19th century. Without Leagues to play in, without telephones and the internet, finding teams to play was tough.

But what clubs did have were specialist weekly magazines and a postal system that invariably delivered letters by the next day – and so that is what was used. Indeed on this day in 1886 a team called Eastern Wanderers did exactly this in a magazine called the Referee: they advertised for opponents.

And it was most likely this which caused some men in the Dial Square factory at the Royal Arsenal on the south bank of the Thames to set up a team to play Eastern Wanderers. Which is what they then did.

Thankfully we have proof that the game took place because on 12 December 1886 “The Referee” newspaper published the results of all the matches from the previous weekend of which it had been notified. It announced that Dial Square had beaten Eastern Wanderers by 6-0.

Without that announcement in the paper it would have been a lot harder for the now well established origins of Arsenal to be traced. Indeed thanks to the same publication we know that the club was calling itself Dial Square FC at its origins, for at the start of the following year, undoubtedly encouraged by their win in the first game, Dial Square itself was advertising for opponents.

Unfortunately, when one is relying on advertisements and reports in the media some of the background information that we might wish to see is missing: these were very functional commentaries that assumed that the readership knew about what was going on.

So for more details of the game we have to rely on notes and commentaries made at the time, and these are few and far between – and sometimes contradictory.

But thereafter we do have any bit of luck in tracing Arsenal’s history, for Dial Square, being set up as part of an existent cricket club, immediately started keeping its own formal records. And although Dial Square FC quickly broke away from the cricket club and became Royal Arsenal FC, and although many of the early records have been lost over time, we have enough details that survived to know exactly how the club was formed, and the results of its games in the years before it joined the Football League.

But supposing there

13 November 1920

One hundred years ago today

The month of November 1920 saw Arsenal 16th in the league just three points above the relegation zone.

Away from the pitch on 8 November many of the senior members of the club attended a dinner given at the House of Commons hosted by Baldwin Raper, Arsenal’s local MP who was a regular at Highbury and an avid fan.  Sir Henry Norris, Arsenal’s chairman, and other directors were all in attendance representing the board along with manager Leslie Knighton, secretary Harry John Peters and the majority of the regular first XI.   

Sir Henry’s speech reflected his view that Arsenal had to be seen as a business if it was to survive.  He wanted the club to win trophies, but to do that it had to survive, which meant it had to make money to pay off the debts of the building of Highbury.

The following Saturday (13 November 1920 – 100 years ago today) saw a step in this direction with Blackburn and the result was an improvement: an Arsenal victory by 2-0 with 40,000 in the crowd.

It is a match that is of interest for two reasons.  First, due to a very high number of injuries Arsenal’s regular goalkeeper played at full back with the backup keeper playing in goal!  The programme for the game spoke of no club ever having such an injury list as Arsenal. 

Plus the famous Dr Paterson made his home debut.  He had played for Rangers before the war, winning the League with them and playing for the Scottish League against England.  After the war he had moved in with his brother in North London and looked for a club to play for as an amateur.  With his brother being Arsenal’s medical officer, we were the obvious choice, and so he joined.

What made Dr Paterson even more memorable in Arsenal’s history was that in his memoirs, written 20 years after he left the club, Arsenal’s manager of this era, Leslie Knighton, sought to explain the club’s failure on the pitch at this time by the restrictions placed on him by Sir Henry Norris, saying basically no budget was available.

Knighton then states in his autobiography that he was “reduced to playing the brother in law of the club’s doctor” in the squad, because no one else was available.  Forgetting that the said brother in law was one of the most highly regarded footballers in the land – and indeed a notable war hero, whose work for his country at the very least, did not deserve such disrespect.

Also of interest is that the Arsenal programme for this day, is perhaps the oldest Arsenal programme in public circulation is numbered Volume IX Number 16 and costs two pence (that is 2d, which is under 1p in modern currency).

It’s a four page affair and it contains the normal editorial by Gunners Mate (George Allison who went on to become our manager, and who had started writing the column in 1910).  There’s also a piece by Dr “Pat” of Highbury, and “Random Jottings” by the chairman of the Middlesex FA.  The back page has the teams laid out in the classic formation of 2-3-5.  There’s also an advert for the Finsbury Park Empire, which emphasises the link between Henry Norris and the world of entertainment.

The programme also includes a whole column about the game against Blackburn which was the previous weekend, pointing out that Arsenal were unlucky not to have a penalty, and criticising the press reviews of the match of being inaccurate.  At least the club in those days had the ability to speak out against the national media.

There are three headlines on the main news page, “Well done” which congratulates everyone on the Blackburn away result the previous Saturday, “A great night” which talks about the event mentioned above at the House of Commons which is called a “merry party”.  And finally, “The Injured”. Here’s what that one says:

“Illness and injuries are still playing havoc with our fighting force as you know.  Hutchings and Graham were not able to play against Blackburn Rovers.  I am not certain if Rutherford will be fit to turn out today but we hope so. Voysey, Cownley, Butler, North, Jewett, Hopkins, Dunn and Walden have also been out of action and Dunn, whose sprained wrist prevents him keeping goal, has been keeping fit by playing at full-back.  He had a trial run in this position in a friendly match with Reading a fortnight ago and acquitted himself so well that he was in the team at full back against Clapton Orient [in the London Combination] at Highbury last Saturday.  This game was considerably marred by the fog but it was possible to finish it and our juniors came out of their shell to the extent of winning by 6 goals to 2.”

The result on 13 November of Arsenal 2 Blackburn Rovers 0 was seen by many football writers as indicative of their improvement since August: a good win on a pitch made treacherous by morning rain.  Arsenal were now 14th.

12 November 1894

On 12 November 1894 Arsenal player David Howat had a benefit match – and rather curiously it was played against a team that was run by a leading referee of his own team.  And this was not a one-off match, for Roston Bourke’s XI was well known in the late 19th century.

What’s more later in life Roston Bourke continued to be well known in footballing circles as he became the football correspondent of the Islington Gazette (Arsenal’s local paper).  On this day  Arsenal beat the refs 6-2 and the game was attended by 1200 people.

Later the great, great nephew of Roston Bourke (1866-1955) got in touch with the AISA Arsenal History Society and wrote an article for us about his great great uncle.  Part of that article is republished below…

After playing as a forward and half-back for Old Holloway Collegians, Arthur Roston Bourke  joined the joined the ranks of referees. A newspaper at the time recorded “he was not one of those clever individuals who think themselves born referees and quite capable of taking charge of most important matches straightaway. He had two years’ apprenticeship among the juniors and started at the very bottom of the ladder in 1892. In this season, however, senior clubs in the Southern League became well acquainted with the referee with a curious name.”

In that year in fact he joined the London Football Association Council and was asked to organise teams of London players to oppose clubs at some distance from town – hence the formation of A. Roston Bourke’s XI.

In 1893, (the year Woolwich Arsenal became a league club) the FA formed the first referees’ society and Arthur Roston Bourke was appointed as Honorary Secretary. Its prime purpose was to examine the qualification of referees orally and appoint them to matches. This later became the Referees’ Association and he is mentioned in the history section of their website.

Moving on, in 1896 Mr Bourke’s team played against Reading at their first game at their new ground in Elm Park, Reading on 5 September.

However because A. Roston Bourke’s XI was a scratch team from Holloway College and thus not registered with the Football Association, Reading were later fined £5 and suspended for playing against an unregistered team. The match was abandoned due to torrential weather; Reading were leading 7–1 when the match ended!

In 1898, during a Cup Tie between QPR and Richmond, he ordered one of the Rangers players, Sammy Brooks, off the field and was then himself subjected to a gross assault on the part of one or more of the spectators. The FA decreed that Rangers’ Club Ground should be closed for two weeks and that during that period the Rangers ‘should not play within a radius of seven miles of their own ground.’ Sammy Brooks was also suspended for a month.   (You may also recall that Woolwich Arsenal’s ground was closed because of a crowd incident although Arsenal’s ground was closed for six weeks, after the initial sentence of “the rest of the season” was reduced – there are more details here).

Arthur Roston Bourke was also a keen cricketer, playing at Lord’s for Middlesex Colts in 1887, and worked as a schoolmaster at Holloway College, founded by his father William Roston Bourke, close to Arsenal’s ground. He was secretary of Holloway College Cricket and Football Clubs and the Amateur Dramatic Society.

And as we noted above he later became a sports writer (under the name of Norseman) for the Islington Daily Gazette where he devoted a lot of energy in reporting on Arsenal, sometimes critically, but always constructively, as a life-time fan.

11 November 2001

During 1993/4 reports in many sources suggested that Osama Bin Laden was an occasional visitor to Arsenal, and a supporter of the club – particularly being seen at the European Cup-Winners’ Cup campaign which of course resulted in victory.

Indeed there are reports of him buying a replica shirt for one of his sons in the club shop at Highbury.

Of course there is no verification other than the fact that the story does turn up in a number of books including several biographies of him including “Bin Laden: Behind The Mask Of Terror”, by Adam Robinson.  

If he was indeed at Arsenal, there was nothing that Arsenal or the forces of law and order could have done about it at the time, since Bin Laden was at that moment a citizen of Saudi Arabia and in the UK legally. He had indeed previously studied English at a course in Oxford.

Then on 11 November 2001, the BBC reported that Arsenal had barred the terrorist from Highbury.  In their commentary they suggest Bin Laden favoured the Clock End.  So that’s all right.  I was in the East at the time.

Then, as the story came out, so did the chant,

Osama, woah-woah,

Osama, woah-waoh,

He’s hiding in Kabul,

He loves the Arsenal

The only problem apparently was his tendency to come out of his cave shouting “Come on you gunners”.

There was a certain amount of buoyancy in the air for the 1993/4 season in that Arsenal had just completed a unique FA Cup and Football League Cup double, just two years after winning the league in 1991. And the winning wasn’t over as Arsenal then went on to win the Cup Winners Cup in 1994 beating Parma.

In the Cup Double season Ian Wright was the top scorer with 30 goals.  The following season he exceeded himself by being top scorer with 35 goals – his highest ever number of goals for Arsenal.

Arsenal then had three more years of waiting before winning their second League and Cup double in 1998 to give Mr Wenger his first trophies at Arsenal.  He went on (as you may well recall) to win the League twice more, and the FA Cup six times more, to give him the all-time individual record of seven FA Cup wins.

As for Osama bin Laden, he was killed in Abbottabad, Pakistan, on 2 May 2011, by a United States military special operations unit in an operation code-named Operation Neptune Spear, which was ordered by President Obama and carried out in a CIA operation.

10 November 1969

On 10 November 1969 Jens Lehmann was born.  Happy birthday Jens!

He played for Schalke, Milan and Borussia Dortmund before becoming the only player ever to play in every single top division game in one season without once being on the losing side.

He joined Arsenal on 25 July 2003, filling the vacancy left by David Seaman who had just left the club – just in time for the Unbeaten Season.   

But more than being a member of the Unbeaten squad, Jens was the only man who played in every match of that season. 

He is however remembered for his occasionally erratic style and eccentric manner, as when for example having won the league at White Hart Lane he was the only member of the squad who felt unable to come out and celebrate with the fans after the game, having made an error that led to a Tottenham goal.

But despite being the only ever-present member of the 2003/4 squad, criticisms of him always continued, and by 2004/5 he was occasionally replaced by Almumia – although errors by Almunia eventually led to Lehmann’s return.

There was also endless commentary surrounding whether Lehmann and Wenger actually got on, but despite the criticism and commentary, he was man of the match in the 2005 FA Cup final which Arsenal won 5-4 on penalties, following his saving of a shot from Scholes.

He continued to play into the 2005/6 season and ensured Arsenal achieved the record for the most successive clean sheets in the Champions League (ten).  However in the 2006 Champions League final he was sent off against Barcelona and eventually Arsenal lost.  But he was named Champions League Goalkeeper of the Year for 2005/6 for those 853 minutes without conceding.

n 2008 Lehmann went to Stuttgart and  returned to Arsenal after retiring, due to a goalkeeper injury crisis at Arsenal.  With Wojciech Szczesny, Lukasz Fabianski and Vito Mannone all injured on 17 March 2011 Lehmann re-signed on a rolling contract until the end of the season and was a substitute in Arsenal’s match against WBA  on 19 March 2011.

He played again on 10 April 2011 in the away game at Blackpool when Almunia was injured in the warm up, making it 200 games for the club and the oldest player to play for Arsenal in the Premier League.

In the summer of 2017 he was confirmed as Arsenal’s assistant coach, a post he held until Arsene Wenger left Arsenal in the summer of 2018, at which time all his backroom staff left with him. Which is a shame because it would have been so much fun to see how Jens developed over the years to come.

We wish him well, and thank him totally for the unique achievement of being omnipresent in the Unbeaten Season.

9 November 1914

November 1914: the country was at war.  And yet the Football League continued for the whole season.  At the start this was because of the feeling that “it would all be over by Christmas”.  By Christmas the feeling was “we’ve got this far, we might as well finish.”

By 1 November 1914 the war had reached the eastern Pacific where a Royal Navy squadron was defeated by superior German forces.  It was the first British naval defeat of the war losing two ships.  But the war did not directly affect that many people in Britain.  There was no conscription, no rationing, no air attacks.

There was however, on 3 November by a German naval raid on Yarmouth.  Little damage was done to the town since shells only landed on the beach, as German ships laying mines offshore were interrupted by British destroyers.   On 5 November, Britain annexed Cyprus and declared war on the Ottoman Empire, while the following day Carl Hans Lody became the first spy to be executed for treason during the War.  He was shot by firing squad in the Tower of London.  It was the first execution for treason on UK soil since 1747.

And so amidst this changing background, but not much change in day to day life, football did continue.   On 7 November Arsenal lost 3-0 away to Birmingham in front of 15,000.  But that was not the only Arsenal news for on Monday 9 Novemberit was announced that the most recent Arsenal share issue had resulted in the sale of 276 new shares had been sold to individuals. 

So why were Arsenal selling shares?

It is something that most Arsenal history books ignore, largely because it goes against the standard narrative of Henry Norris the businessman crook.

In fact, the truth is that having rescued Arsenal in 1910 and built a new stadium at Highbury in 1913 using his own money, Henry Norris was now executing the third and final part of this plan, to create a club owned by the fans, not by businessmen or those with inherited wealth.

This was indeed a revolutionary model, and no one was quite sure how it would look.  But Norris was also willing to look to the future.  He constantly spoke out for votes for women, equal property rights for women, pensions for injured soldiers returning from the war, and state subsidized rail fares for commuters – among other radical changes.

The government were not of the same mind for the following Monday income tax was doubled, meaning that the working men were now fighting the government’s war and having to pay for it as well.  (Those with inherited wealth that earned interest via investments paid no tax on investments, nor on any property sold at a profit).

And not everyone was in favour of football continuing at this time however, although they supported the continuance of horse racing (for the sake of the horses).  And it was this attitude that led to one of the most amusing episodes in football reporting, as the Times ordered one of its staff to attend the next Arsenal match to report on what was happening, as part of their anti-football propaganda.

Unfortunately, what the hapless reporter did not know was that the game he went to was not a League match but a reserve game played at Highbury on 21 November.  His subsequent rampant, raging piece said that the crowd was tiny (which it was being a reserve match) and that there was no attempt to recruit men into the army (which there wasn’t since it was a reserve match).  

In fact what was happening was the Henry Norris was himself encouraging Arsenal supporters to sign up at first team games, and when they did, he set up and funded a training camp for them, where they worked until the Middlesex Regiment was ready to receive them – a long term project for which he was knighted in 1917.

His success in recruiting volunteers was such that he himself was recruited by the War Office.  Starting with no rank at all, by the end of the was he had become a Lt Colonel and was put in charge of conscription when that was introduced in 1917, and at the end of the war he was in charge of overseeing demobilisation.  

As for Norris’ dream of selling Arsenal to its supporters, this continued until the boardroom coup of 1925 at which point he was removed from the club.  The Hill-Wood clan took over, and immediately set about reversing the Norris policy of a club owned by the fans, and from here on shares were primarily bought by directors.  This was the policy that allowed the club in the 21st century to be sold to the Kroenke family with no fans as shareholders at all.

8 November 2003

8 November 2003: Arsenal beat Tottenham 2-1 in the 11th league match of the Unbeaten season.  The Observer in its review called it “another stuttering performance” from Arsenal.  It was, you may recall, the unbeaten season. (Oh sorry, I just said that).

In fact this negativity against Arsenal was a constant theme in the press in the early parts of the unbeaten season. For example, on 31 August 2003 The Times reported the league match against Man City as containing “the worst 45 minutes [by Arsenal] that any of their fans could remember”.   It ended Man City 1 Arsenal 2 and was the 4th league match of the unbeaten season. I would love to know who those fans were.

Indeed even at the end of the season some of the newspaper journalists could not set their dislike of all things Arsenal aside, telling anyone interested that this was not really an unbeaten season, because Arsenal hadn’t won the cups as well. And anyway it had been done before, by Preston NE. That was somewhere around the 13th century I think.

But really, what was so extraordinary during this time was the absolute inability of the media to see that Arsenal had something going for them at this time. True Arsenal had lost the Community Shield game in August against Manchester United – but that only on penalties, and that had been followed by four straight wins and a draw in the league.

Then had come the first defeat – losing 0-3 at Highbury to Inter Milan. Indeed it was as if from the start that the players knew that the league was the thing they were after, because at the end of September we could only draw with Lokomotiv Moscow away, and that was followed by a defeat to Dynamo Kiev.

Even the League Cup offered only slight respite in that we had to use penalties to be Rotherham United at home (we won the shoot out 9-8).

But all the while it was going rather well in the League.. Not every performance was magical, of course, but some were sublime, and most who were at Leeds on 1 November to see a 4-1 away victory will hold that in the memory still.

The defeat of Tottenham on this day in 2003 may not have been our finest performance but it was important – and that wasn’t just because it was Tottenham. It was the start of the return of the confidence.

Beating Birmingham away 3-0 in the next match was enjoyable but not necessarily one to remember forever … were it not for the fact that it was followed by a 5-1 away win against Inter. Even the media struggled a little to knock Arsenal after that match. Yes there were still hiccups, such as a tedious goalless draw with Fulham in the next game, but slowly the recognition arose that alone among the teams in the Premier League we were unbeaten.

“Of course it won’t last all season,” the commentators said, and indeed they were still saying that in April, but we know what happened.

After the victory on this day however we were top of the League four points ahead of Chelsea in second and 18 points ahead of Tottenham who were undoubtedly having fun even though they were 13th just four points above relegation.

Thus far we had played 12, won nine, drawn three. Defeats would come the press told us. Going unbeaten all season was impossible.

7 November 1896

7 November 1896: Notts C 7 Arsenal 4.  Only 3000 witnessed Arsenal’s biggest league aggregate game thus far. 

The game was part of an amazing 11 league game sequence in which 76 goals were scored – fractionally under 7 per game.  The run included the 0-8 defeat to Loughboro and two games in which Arsenal scored six.

What makes the match even more interesting is that this game came in a sequence of 12 games in the League and the FA Cup in which there were at least five goals scored in every game.  And in fact in the game immediate after the sequence Arsenal only let the scoring slip a little: they won 4-0.

The run started on 17 October with a 5-3 away defeat to Walsall.  The next game was a 6-1 home win against Gainsborough Trinity.  Then came the 7-4 defeat, followed by a 5-2 defeat.

Out of the 12 games Arsenal did however win seven including a 6-2 win on Christmas Day over Lincoln City in the league.

But at this point despite having three successive wins in which the club scored a total of 15 goals and conceded just four (“just” being an appropriate term during this run), Arsenal then lost successive league games 4-1 against Gainsborough Trinity and Darwen, before beating Chatham 4-0 in the cup.

What makes all this scoring even more extraordinary than it might already sound is the fact that at this time, the offside rule required three defensive players to be between the attacking player and the goalline at all times – even if the attacking player was nowhere near the ball.

Mind you the rules also allowed the goalkeeper to handle the ball anywhere in his own half, rather than just within the penalty area, and while most keepers tended to stay behind the posts, there are reports of some keepers occasionally running the length of their half with the ball to release it to their forwards who were making a quick dash to the opposition goal.

The only problem with this approach however was that play could be so rough at times that the keeper could readily be tripped, the ball released and then booted towards the unguarded goal.

Woolwich Arsenal came 10th out of 16 in the second division this season – their fourth in the football league division 2.  In 30 games they scored 68 and conceded 70.  An average of 4.6 goals being scored per game.

6 November 1976

At the end of October 1976 Arsenal found themselves having won two and lost four of the last six games.  Even Norwich in 18th had a better record in that period of games.  Arsenal were 13th and not in danger of relegation, but certainly nowhere near challenging for a trophy.

And strangely by being in 13th Arsenal were London’s top club. QPR were 15th, Tottenham were 17th and West Ham were bottom of the 1st Division.

The talk in the media was that London clubs were not suited for football, because the players indulged themselves in London’s night life, whereas life was simpler, tougher and grittier in the north, and managers were stricter and better able to control their players.  London footballers were soft.

But all bad runs come to an end one way or another and Arsenal had a decent November, starting with this win over Birmingham City on 6 November.  The crowds, mostly in the 20,000s, had shrunk back to the levels of Bertie Mee’s latter years but with Nelson back in defence and Simpson and O’Leary re-established at centre back, things started to look up. Indeed even Macdonald scored, albeit with a penalty.

In this game on our chosen day, Gary Jones was sent off on 37 minutes when he fouled Stapleton.  He’d already been booked, and seemed to have with him an I Spy Book of Fouls, as it looked as if he was going for the world record.

The penalty itself was not without incident.  With Ball, the regular penalty taker, not on the pitch because of injury it looked for all the world as if no one quite knew who should take the shot – something that most certainly did not reflect well on Neill’s management preparations.  Then with Brady and Ross having a row over who was going to take it, Macdonald nicked the ball from both of them and set himself up to take the kick.

In the second half Nelson and Ross added to the score.  But most attention came with the managerial interview afterwards in which the Birmingham manager Willie Bell said he would appeal the sending off, as the ref had let so many fouls go before, it was ludicrous to give that one.  It was a novel approach, and one that, not surprisingly, did not actually result in the sending off being rescinded.  But the media lapped it up and the problem was presented as Arsenal’s fault!

But although Arsenal’s win got some attention in the media it was Ipswich Town’s move up to second in the First Division with a 7–0 thrashing of West Bromwich Albion and Tottenham Hotspur’s 5–3 defeat at struggling West Ham United that got the headlines.  Of Tottenham, Frank McGhee, pompously proclaimed in the Daily Mirror as “the voice of sport”, wrote the headline “So Pathetic”.  He was referring to Tottenham, not his own writing, and for once his pomposity could be excused.

With England achieving nothing in world football since the 1966 world cup, matches were now stopped in order to allow the internationals to take place.   Arsenal use the time to fix up two friendlies

  • 12 November A’Naser  1 Arsenal 3 (Mathews, Macdonald, Radford)
  • 15 November Dubai National Civil Service 0 Arsenal 3. (Macdonald, Rostron 2)

Arsenal returned to England to find that on 17 November 1976 England suffered a set-back in their attempt to reach the World Cup Finals being beaten 2–0 by Italy in Rome and thus the interruption to events looked to be for nought.

Indeed Arsenal were not too worried about such matters as up next was Liverpool at Highbury, and not surprisingly the crowds returned, 45,016 being in the ground for the 1-1 draw.

Arsenal ended the season in 8th, as London’s top club.  Tottenham ended up bottom of the league and were relegated.