By Tony Attwood
Having won their opening game of the new season Arsenal were faced with seven games in September.
In the table that follows, column three “Op pos” shows the position of the opponents BEFORE the game as a measure of their strength. “AC” is listed to show the average crowd. For Arsenal home matches it is the average crowd for the season, and thus always the same number. For away matches it is the average crowd of the opposition for the season.
The aim in each case is to be able to judge the attractiveness of Arsenal as opposition away from home, and the attractiveness of the opposition at Highbury.
Crowds in red were above the average for the home club.
* indicates a midweek game, remembering that there were no floodlights and games were thus played on a working afternoon. However many such games were arranged around the local “half day closing” day which was common in shops at the time.
Thus leaving aside the first match in September (for which Bolton’s position of first is of course measured on only the opening day’s games (and that because they had conceded no goals and thus on the goal average system had an average of infinity), Arsenal had four matches against clubs that were struggling, before meeting 5th placed Leicester and 8th place Birmingham at the end of the month.
As for the crowds – all were above the average for the season except the Blackburn home game, against modest opposition, on a midweek afternoon. This meant Arsenal fans were excited, and so were the fans at the grounds they visited.
By the end of the month the team was as below. The goals scored by each player by this point, after eight games is shown in brackets after the players name
|Outside left||Bastin||6 inc 1 pen|
|Centre forward||Lambert||14 inc 3 hat tricks|
|10||West Ham United||8||3||2||3||21||20||1.05||8|
There was one other big incident in Arsenal’s world during September. The original big clock at Highbury was placed at the rear of the then uncovered Laundry End of the ground (which later became the North Bank), between the 7th and 9th September thus being ready for the home game on 10 September 1930.
The exact date of the work is not known – the source of our information (which is different from that which has been published by Arsenal) is a picture in the Daily Mirror in its paper on that day – in its preview of the match against Blackburn.
The picture shows a clock with a 45 minute face. Other sources state that the end of each half would be announced by a klaxon and that the clock measured 8 feet 6 inches across.
Thus fans who did not carry their own wrist watches (the majority at that time) were shown how much time there was in each half. (There being no substitutes, and fewer visits from medical staff, interruptions were fewer, and so halves really did last 45 minutes).
However the Football Association felt that this ticking of 45 minutes would provide far too much information to the fans, would distract them from the game and undermine the credibility of the match officials. Thus it was that they ordered the club to remove the offending instrument of time.
Arsenal naturally had to obey the instruction but rather than remove the timepiece (which the FA had clearly intended in their instruction, but didn’t actually say) Arsenal simply changed the clock so that the clock face showed the normal time of day which of course was enough to tell supporters how much time was left.
The FA gave up at this point and took no more action and the clock remained at the rear of the terracing until 1935 when it was decided to cover part of the Laundry End. With the College End of the ground remaining uncovered, the clock was placed at that end, and this quickly became known as the Clock End.
Also during the month (on 18 September) William Harper returned for second spell with Arsenal having previously left Arsenal to play in the American Soccer League. He replaced Keyser in goal in October, and played 19 games in the season.
On 15 September the government announced that 90 railway stations would be closed to passengers because of the decline in the use of the railways.
On 18 September in a sad misunderstanding of political events which both scientists and politicians can make, Albert Einstein told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that there was “no reason for despair” over the Nazi Party’s strong showing in Sunday’s elections, because it was “only a symptom, not necessarily of anti-Jewish hatred but of momentary resentment caused by economic misery and unemployment within the ranks of misguided German youth. I hope that the momentary fever and wave will rapidly fall.”
On a much lighter note on 24 September there was the first performance of Noël Coward’s comedy Private Lives at the Phoenix Theatre (London) featuring Coward, Gertrude Lawrence and Laurence Olivier in the cast. The play (which caused the censor much concern but was ultimately allowed) has been constantly revived for both the West End and Broadway and has played around the world.
This picture from Arsenal.com shows the ground in 1931
One final point. In 1903 a speed limit of 20mph was introduced in Britain. It was abolished in 1930 leaving those who owned cars free to drive at any speed that they wished, anywhere, including in city centres.
Arsenal History Society has published five books on Arsenal – all are available as paperback and three are now available on Kindle. The books are
- The Arsenal Yankee by Danny Karbassiyoon with a foreword by Arsene Wenger.
- Arsenal: the long sleep 1953 – 1970; a view from the terrace. By John Sowman with an introduction by Bob Wilson.
- Woolwich Arsenal: The club that changed football. By Tony Attwood, Andy Kelly and Mark Andrews.
- Making the Arsenal: a novel by Tony Attwood.
- The Crowd at Woolwich Arsenal by Mark Andrews.
You can find details of all five on our new Arsenal Books page