In August 1914, with war looming, Arsenal started preparations for their second season at Highbury, and for their second season in the second division since the relegation at the end of their time in Plumstead in 1913.
Although I don’t have a record of the match, we can be fairly sure that Arsenal would have played Arsenal Reserves in a pre-season warm up game at Highbury. It was the commonplace event for almost all clubs. We do know that in the previous pre-season (when Highbury was still being built) Arsenal played two such warm up matches behind closed doors).
Other than that we don’t have any information of a pre-season game except this one: 22 August 1914: Tottenham 1 Arsenal 5 in front of a crowd of 13564.
This game had a certain historic significance because it was the first derby game since Arsenal moved to north London. Leaving aside war time games, when both teams were populated with guest players, it was also the last time the sides played each other until 15 January 1921 when the result was Tottenham 2 Arsenal 1.
The fact that this game was played shows that the rupture between the clubs caused by Woolwich Arsenal’s move north lasted just one season. As the chart below shows, games between the two had been regular since the earliest days of the clubs, starting just 11 months after the formation of Dial Square FC (the club that quickly transmuted into Royal Arsenal FC). Quite why there was a big gap between 1889 and 1896 I’m not sure, but maybe the 10-1 victory in 1889 had something to do with it.
|19 Nov 1887||away||Fr||1-2|
|04 Feb 88||home||Fr||6-2|
|22 Sep 88||home||Fr||0-1||500|
|09 Mar 89||away||Fr||1-0|
|21 Sep 89||home||Fr||10-1|
|16 Mar 96||home||Fr||1-3||1000|
|26 Mar 96||away||Fr||3-1||3000|
|30 Apr 96||away||Fr||2-3||1500|
|09 Nov 96||home||UL||2-1||2000|
|25 Feb 96||away||UL||2-2||2000|
|09 Nov 96||home||UL||2-1||2000|
|25 Feb 96||away||UL||2-2||2000|
|25 Dec 96||home||UL||2-3||5000|
|08 Apr 97||away||UL||0-0||14500|
|11 Mar 99||home||UL||2-1||6000|
|29 Apr 99||away||UL||2-3||7000|
|7 Apr 1900||away||SDC||2-4||4500|
|24 Apr 00||home||SDC||2-1||1500|
|16 Sep 01||home||LLDP||0-2||6000|
|4 Nov 01||away||LLDP||0-5||3833|
|23 Apr 02||home||SPCC||0-0||2500|
|29 Apr 02||away||SPCC||1-2||2000|
|01 Sep 03||away||LLPD||1-0||7000|
|14 Nov 03||home||LLPD||1-1||16000|
|10 Oct 04||home||SPCC||1-3||8000|
|09 Apr 06||away||SPCC||0-0||7000|
|28 Apr 06||home||SPCC||5-0||12000|
|01 Feb 08||away||Fr||1-0||10000|
|01 Nov 09||away||LPFACF||0-3||4500|
|04 Dec 09||home||FL||1-0||18000|
|16 Apr 10||away||FL||1-1||39800|
|08 Apr 11||home||FL||2-0||24583|
|25 Dec 11||away||FL||0-5||47100|
|26 Dec 11||home||FL||3-1||22000|
|29 Apr 12||away||Fr||3-0||5000|
|24 May 12||away||Fr||4-0|
|14 Dec 12||home||FL||0-3||13000|
|19 Apr 13||away||FL||1-1||20000|
|10 Nov 13||away||LFACC||1-2||8000|
|22 Aug 14||away||Fr||5-1||13564|
Codes from the third column: Friendly (Fr) London FA Challenge Cup (LFACC) Southern District Combination (SDC) Southern Professional Charity Cup (SPCC) London League Premier Division (LLP) London PFA Charity Fund (LPFACF) FL (Football League Division 1)
Arsenal’s score is shown first in all cases. Research undertaken by Andy Kelly, to whom I’m very grateful.
As we can see from the crowd figures where they are available, there was a lot of interest in these games, and both clubs must have noted the loss of income when Arsenal were relegated from the first division at the end of the 1912/13 season; hence the announcement of this friendly.
To return to the lack of the match in 1913/14 however, this was probably because relationships between the clubs were so strained, not least because of Tottenham’s vigorous protests against Arsenal’s move north, and their failed attempts to engage with Islington council to get the move banned, and the similar failure of their call to get an EGM of the Football League to debate the issue and (they hoped) refuse Arsenal permission to move.
But the refusal of the League to act over the move of Arsenal north merely confirmed what the League had said in 1910 when a move west (rather than north) had been proposed for the club. As it made clear at the meeting with Arsenal in June 1910, the League had no jurisdiction at the time over where the clubs played. They could seek to stop new clubs from entering the League in areas where it was felt there were already too many clubs, just as they could promote the notion of a club being set up specifically to play in a particular location – as with clubs like Chelsea in 1905, and later Bradford and Thames Association. But nothing in their rule book said where the ground of an existing League club had to be.
So that position, thus confirmed in 1910, was again confirmed again in 1913 when Woolwich Arsenal announced the move north. (The story of 1910 is told in “Making the Arsenal” if you wish to go into it further).
In 1913/14 – the first at Highbury, and the season immediately before the 5-1 defeat of Tottenham – Arsenal had come 3rd in the second division of the League , missing promotion on goal average Tottenham had come fourth from bottom in the 1st division, missing relegation by four points.
Here’s the second division table for the end of the 1913/14 season
|2||Bradford Park Avenue||38||23||3||12||71||47||49|
And Tottenham’s final table in division one for that season.
|19||Preston North End||38||12||6||20||52||69||30|
Although Arsenal had failed to get promotion, and Tottenham had flirted with relegation, there was one outcome which possibly surprised Tottenham. As a regular newspaper columnist during his days at Fulham, Henry Norris had learned the benefit of keeping football in the news for as many days a week as possible. Indeed as a director of Fulham, he had used the proximity of Chelsea to Craven Cottage to do just that.
Now in north London, the same happened. With Clapton Orient and Woolwich Arsenal in the second division and Tottenham in the first the local derby was a second division affair – and amazingly it had drawn a record 35000 to Highbury. But interestingly, as Norris also predicted, Tottenham boosted their crowd figures too, because, it seemed, there was a growth in interest in football in north and north east London generally. One of the three clubs was in the news each day and the local evening press vied with each other for some snippet of news from the clubs.
So the advent of this friendly in the summer of 1914 between the two clubs that had effectively been at war with each other in the summer of 1913 can be readily explained through reconciliation to the facts of the matter, and a recognition that the game itself would bring in cash and start off further debates in the press.
After the friendly Arsenal started the new season well with just one defeat in the first nine. Tottenham on the other hand had the reverse fortunes – they won only one game in the first nine. The friendly result did indeed predict what was to come.
Arsenal finished fifth in the second division this season – the last season before the League was suspended for the duration, and Tottenham finished bottom of the first division.
However there were complications because it soon became apparent at the end of the season that Liverpool and Man U had been guilty of match fixing, in order to ensure that Tottenham and Chelsea went down, rather than Man U.
What happened next is covered in our article published 18 months ago. This is the article which offered a reward to anyone who could find any corruption within the way the League handled the matter, beyond the obvious failure to deal with either Liverpool and Man U, both of whom were guilty of match fixing.
The article investigates what happened at the time – and reprints many of the original commentaries and documents. If you want to comment on the subsequent election of Arsenal and relegation of Tottenham it is really worth reading this because there are facts raised in the piece which are not covered in any other reports written since the events happened.
So in the context of these opening games of the 1914/15 season the Arsenal away win in a pre-season friendly is not that hard to explain – neither in terms of the end of the earlier animosity between the clubs, nor in terms of the result.
The details of the game are sadly missing – although someone somewhere must have the newspaper report or team sheet. If you find it, do let me know.