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GCR Books

Arsenal in the summer of 1931. The records are totted up and the Scandinavian tour.

By Tony Attwood

This is the 12th article in the series Arsenal in the 1930s.  The index to all the articles in the series can be seen at the foot of the article.

On 2 May 1931 Arsenal ended their first ever League Championship season beating Bolton 5-0 to set up a record 66 point league total.  Jack Lambert scored two to make it 38 goals in 34 games (also a new record).  David Jack scored two to make it 31 goals in 35 games.

The team for this match was identical to the team for the first match of the season, except for the goalkeeper – William Harper retaining his place.  The final league table looked like this

Pos Team P W D L F A GAv Pts
1 Arsenal 42 28 10 4 127 59 2.153 66
2 Aston Villa 42 25 9 8 128 78 1.641 59
3 Sheffield Wednesday 42 22 8 12 102 75 1.360 52
4 Portsmouth 42 18 13 11 84 67 1.254 49
5 Huddersfield Town 42 18 12 12 81 65 1.246 48
6 Derby County 42 18 10 14 94 79 1.190 46
7 Middlesbrough 42 19 8 15 98 90 1.089 46
8 Manchester City 42 18 10 14 75 70 1.071 46
9 Liverpool 42 15 12 15 86 85 1.012 42
10 Blackburn Rovers 42 17 8 17 83 84 0.988 42
11 Sunderland 42 16 9 17 89 85 1.047 41
12 Chelsea 42 15 10 17 64 67 0.955 40
13 Grimsby Town 42 17 5 20 82 87 0.943 39
14 Bolton Wanderers 42 15 9 18 68 81 0.840 39
15 Sheffield United 42 14 10 18 78 84 0.929 38
16 Leicester City 42 16 6 20 80 95 0.842 38
17 Newcastle United 42 15 6 21 78 87 0.897 36
18 West Ham United 42 14 8 20 79 94 0.840 36
19 Birmingham City 42 13 10 19 55 70 0.786 36
20 Blackpool 42 11 10 21 71 125 0.568 32
21 Leeds United 42 12 7 23 68 81 0.840 31
22 Manchester United 42 7 8 27 53 115 0.461 22

The success of Arsenal’s now-perfected counter attacking style can be seen by considering Arsenal’s home and away records for the season.

At home Arsenal were four points behind Villa.

Pos Team P W D L G G GAvg Pts
1 Aston Villa 21 17 3 1 86 34 2.529 37
2 Arsenal 21 14 5 2 67 27 2.481 33
3 Middlesbrough 21 13 5 3 57 28 2.036 31
4 Sheffield Wednesday 21 14 3 4 65 32 2.031 31
5 Blackburn Rovers 21 14 3 4 54 28 1.929 31

Away however Arsenal more than made up for the difference at home…

Pos Team P W D L F A GAv Pts
1 Arsenal 21 14 5 2 60 32 1.875 33
2 Aston Villa 21 8 6 7 42 44 0.955 22
3 Sheffield Wednesday 21 8 5 8 37 43 0.860 21
4 Huddersfield Town 21 8 4 9 36 38 0.947 20
5 Portsmouth 21 7 6 8 38 41 0.927 20

Meanwhile, Tottenham’s huge downturn towards the end of the season meant that they could look forward to a fourth consecutive season in the second division.

Pos Team P W D L F A GAv GD Pts
1 Everton 42 28 5 9 121 66 1.833 55 61
2 West Bromwich Albion 42 22 10 10 83 49 1.694 34 54
3 Tottenham Hotspur 42 22 7 13 88 55 1.600 33 51
4 Wolverhampton W 42 21 5 16 84 67 1.254 17 47
5 Port Vale 42 21 5 16 67 61 1.098 6 47

The records show that the Arsenal squad for the season contained three Scotsmen (Harper, James and Johnstone, two Welshmen John and Jones, and Indian goalkeeper (Preedy) and a Dutch Keeper (Keyser).  The remainder of the squad were English…

Player Position Games Goals
1 Alf Baker Right back/Right half 1
2 Cliff Bastin Outside Left 45 29
3 James Brain Inside right 17 4
4 Horace Cope Left back 1
5 Eddie Hapgood Left back 41
6 William Harper Goalkeeper 22
7 Alfred Edward Haynes Half back 2
8 Joe Hulme Outside right 35 16
9 David Jack Inside forward 38 33
10 Alex James Inside left 43 5
11 Bob John Half Back 43 2
12 William S Johnstone Inside forward 2 1
13 Charles Jones Outside left 24 1
14 Gerard Pieter Keyser Goalkeeper 12
15 Jack Lambert Centre forward 36 39
16 George Male Full back 3
17 Tom Parker Full back 44
18 Charlie Preedy Goalkeeper 11
19 Herbie Roberts Centre half 43 1
20 Bill Seddon Half back 21
21 Leonard Thompson Inside left 2
22 Joey Williams Winger 9 2

Arsenal played 42 league games and three FA Cup games in this league winning season.  Of the 22 players used the number of appearances breaks down as

  • 10 or fewer games: 7 players.
  • 11 to 20 games: 3 players
  • 21 to 30 games: 3 players
  • 31 to 40 games: 3 players
  • 41 to 45 games: 6 players

But perhaps it is in the goalscoring that we should focus most attention.  Arsenal scored 127 league goals and six FA Cup goals – 133 in total.  Here is what the four main goalscorers got…

Player Games Goals Goals/game % of total
Bastin 45 29 0.64 22%
Jack 38 33 0.87 25%
Lambert 36 39 1.08 29%
Hulme 35 16 0.45 12%

In short these four men scored 88% of Arsenal’s goals.  Bastin, amazingly, played in every single league and cup game in his first full season with Arsenal (he had joined in, in the second half of the previous season and played in the FA Cup final).  Undoubtedly Arsenal were aided by all four men staying fit for most of the season – and the fact that they had behind them the amazing Alex James, the most perfect inside right, who himself missed only three games.

Before the end of the season, Arsenal had already arranged a series of friendly matches, given their new high profile of having become FA Cup winners the season before.

The first game was on 4 May 1931: Northampton 0 Arsenal 1.  Chapman returned to his earlier days as manager, in the second in a series of three friendlies at Northampton, set up in order to help Northampton recover from a devastating fire at their ground.  7503 attended the game, which saw an appearance for Bert Diaper a nephew of Tom Parker.  He had played for Cowes on the Isle of Wight, and played in the Combination team.  He gained one other game in the tour, but after that vanished from the club although we do know he played for Fulham between 1933 and 1935.  Lambert got the Arsenal goal.

On 9 May 1931 Dan Lewis was transferred to Gillingham.  He is forever remember as the Welsh goalkeeper who spilled the ball in Arsenal’s first FA Cup final, to allow Cardiff to score.

After this Arsenal went on a 20 day seven match tour of Denmark and Sweden.  Throughout the tour the team was pretty much the league winning side with just occasional games for the less regular players

14 May: Danish XI 0 Arsenal 2 (15,000).  Williams and Thompson got games; Jack and Bastin got the goals.

17 May: Danish XI 1 Arsenal 5 (10,000).  Haynes, who had played two league games in the season, got a run out, and Brain, Parkin, Thompson and Bastin got the goals, with one own goal.  Ray Parkin was at the club from 1928 to 1936 but only got 25 league games.  He did however, in those 25 games, score 11 goals!

19 May: Copenhagen Combination 1 Arsenal 1 (20,000).  Lambert got the goal.

22 May: Stockholm Combined XI 1 Arsenal 5 (6,000).  Williams, Parkin (2), Sidey and Bastin scored.  Norman Sidey was at the club from 1929 to his retirement in 1939 and played 40 league games for the club during those ten years.

27 May: Swedish National XI 1 Arsenal 6 (12,000).  Lambert got four, Williams and Jones one each

29 May: AIK Sweden 0 Arsenal 5.   Jack (3), Lambert and Brain got the goals

3 June: Gothenburg Combination 2 Arsenal 3.  Jack, Lambert and Bastin scored.  This was the last senior appearance of Jimmy Brain and in September 1931 he moved to Tottenham for a transfer fee of £2,500.  He had played 204 league games for Arsenal and scored 125 goals including what was, at the time, a club record 34 goals in the 1925/6 season.  For Tottenham and played 47 games for Tottenham and scored 10.

And with that, Arsenal FC, Champions of England for the first time ever, went on holiday.

There was one other piece of transfer activity however, although one that is rarely recalled.  On 4 July 1931 Tommy Black joined Arsenal from Strathclyde.  He played 16 reserve games in 1932/3 before playing in the notorious defeat to Walsall in the FA Cup. He was transferred to Plymouth Argyle six days after the Walsall game.

 

 

 

 

1 comment to Arsenal in the summer of 1931. The records are totted up and the Scandinavian tour.

  • Nigel

    Thank you Tony for a very informative and interesting analysis of the fantastic 1930-31 season. Great players in any era make a difference and Alex James, Cliff Bastin, Eddie Hapgood, David Jack and Joe Hulme (and later in the ’30s Ted Drake) would still be strong contenders to be in any Arsenal’s best ever team squad in my opinion. They were backed up by other high class players such as Herbie Roberts, Bob John, Jack Lambert and Charlie Jones and the reserves who only made an occasional appearance always fitted into the style of play and were more than adequate. Even compared to modern times it represented a very strong squad in the days when no substitutes were allowed. Looking forward to your next 1930’s season which I guess will be the double runners up of 1931-31.

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