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September 2017
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GCR Books

September 1931; the champions recover from a poor start.

by Tony Attwood

After the disappointing August, Arsenal were now looking to re-establish themselves in September.  Parker took over in goal and we were back with the same outfield players who started, and indeed ran the show during the previous season.

For anyone who took notice of very early league tables Arsenal were indeed in a poor position as September began…

P W D L F A G.Av Pts
18 Arsenal 2 0 1 1 1 2 0.500 1
19 Grimsby Town 2 0 1 1 2 5 0.400 1
20 Blackburn Rovers 2 0 1 1 2 7 0.286 1
21 Sheffield United 2 0 0 2 1 4 0.250 0
22 Newcastle United 2 0 0 2 1 5 0.200 0

The opening match of the month however was overshadowed by the death of John Thomson, the goalkeeper of Celtic F.C who died in hospital after fracturing his skull in a collision with Rangers forward Sam English in the match at Ibrox.

On that day – 5 September – Arsenal played Birmingham City away, and still could not get their first win – the game ending in a 2-2 draw, Lambert and Hulme getting the goals.  The following day – the Sunday, the Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Snowden announced salary cuts for all government employees, and reductions to unemployment benefit.

On 9 September Arsenal played their fourth game, this time at home to Portsmouth, and got … another draw, making it three draws and one defeat in opening the defence of their title.  Those who the previous season had claimed that London teams could not win the League began a chorus of the notion that last season’s victory was a fluke, not to be seen again “in our lifetime”.  It was 3-3 with Lambert getting two and Bastin the third.

The following day, 10 September 1931 Jimmy Brain was sold to Tottenham for £2,500.  He had scored 125 goals in 204 league games but with his form failing and Jack Lambert, David Jack and Dave Halliday in the squad he was given a transfer.  He had however got his League Winners medal but missed out on the cup winning run the season before.  He played 45 times for Tottenham in the league and scored 10.

On September 12 Arsenal played Sunderland at Highbury and finally, in front of a very disappointing crowd of 22,926, got the win they wanted.  It was in fact Arsenal’s second worst home crowd of the season.

David Jack was out through injury but Parkin proved an admirable substitute at inside right.  Indeed Parkin’s figures for the season make interesting reading: played nine scored seven.

Parkin had been bought from Newcastle by Chapman in 1928 and between then and 1936 made just 25 appearances scoring 11 goals.   He did however win the London Combination five times – in the days when that was considered an important league in its own right, with games at Highbury often attracting crowds of 10,000 plus.  In 1936/7 he spent one season at Middlesbrough before having two years at Southampton.

On this occasion, on September 12,  Hulme got both goals.

Meanwhile political and economic turmoil was everywhere and on 15 September the Royal Navy went on strike in protest at its salary cuts.

On 16 September Arsenal were away to Portsmouth, and the re-birth of confidence was there for all to see as Arsenal ran out easy winners 3-0, Bastin getting two and Parkin the other.

This was followed on the 19th by a second away win in quick succession, 3-1 at Maine Road against Manchester City, Jack coming back into the team at outside left (from which position he scored two of the goals) and Parkin retaining his position.    Lambert was also once again on the score sheet.

The following day Britain removed itself from the gold standard, and quickly introduce means testing for people in receipt of unemployment benefit for more than six months.

Arsenal by and large had played mid-table teams through the month but with the final game of September Arsenal played one of the top clubs: Everton.  They won at home 3-2.  As a result, having gone into the month in 18th, Arsenal had now moved up to third.

Here are Arsenal’s results for the month’s  games in summary once again using the format for the month followed in the articles on 1930/1.  The explanation of the headings is below.

Date Opponent Op Pos H/A Result Pos Pts Crowd AC
5.9.31 Birmingham  8 away D2-2 15  2 26,810 19,627
9.9.31 Portsmouth  7 home D3-3  13 3 25,403 40,547
12.9.31 Sunderland  14 home W2-0  10 5 22,926 40,547
16.9.31 Portsmouth  14 away W-0  4 7 22,977 17,478
19.9.31 Manchester City  11 away W3-1  3  9 46,756 24,173
26.9.31 Everton  4 home W3-2  3 11 46,637 40,547
  • Op pos, is the league position of the opposition before the game
  • Pos is Arsenal’s position after the game
  • AC is the average crowd for the home team through the season, providing a comparison between the crowd on that day and and the norm expected by the home side.

The League Division One table after close of play on 30 September 1931 thus read…

Pos Team Pld W D L F A GAvg Pts
1 West Bromwich Albion 9 6 1 2 18 7 2.571 13
2 Sheffield United 8 5 1 2 17 8 2.125 11
3 Arsenal 8 4 3 1 17 10 1.700 11
4 Sheffield Wednesday 8 5 1 2 27 16 1.688 11
5 Huddersfield Town 7 4 2 1 11 8 1.375 10
6 Everton 8 5 0 3 16 13 1.231 10
7 Aston Villa 6 4 1 1 22 10 2.200 9
8 Liverpool 8 4 1 3 19 13 1.462 9
9 Middlesbrough 8 4 1 3 21 18 1.167 9
10 Birmingham City 8 3 3 2 15 13 1.154 9
11 Blackpool 8 3 2 3 10 18 0.556 8
12 Leicester City 7 3 1 3 12 11 1.091 7
13 Sunderland 9 2 3 4 12 12 1.000 7
14 Bolton Wanderers 8 3 1 4 16 19 0.842 7
15 Manchester City 9 2 3 4 12 18 0.667 7
16 Newcastle United 6 3 0 3 12 10 1.200 6
17 Derby County 9 3 0 6 14 20 0.700 6
18 West Ham United 8 3 0 5 10 20 0.500 6
19 Blackburn Rovers 8 2 1 5 13 20 0.650 5
20 Grimsby Town 8 2 1 5 11 23 0.478 5
21 Portsmouth 8 2 1 5 8 17 0.471 5
22 Chelsea 8 1 1 6 11 20 0.550 3

In the second division Tottenham, who had been very close to promotion for most of last season were now having a much tougher time

Pos Team Pld W D L F A GAvg Pts
1 Leeds United 13 9 2 2 24 8 3.000 20
2 Plymouth Argyle 13 8 3 2 29 17 1.706 19
3 Bradford Park Avenue 13 8 2 3 26 14 1.857 18
4 Bury 13 8 2 3 29 16 1.813 18
5 Stoke City 13 8 1 4 25 13 1.923 17
6 Wolverhampton Wanderers 12 7 2 3 29 14 2.071 16
7 Nottingham Forest 13 7 2 4 27 23 1.174 16
8 Millwall 13 6 2 5 25 19 1.316 14
9 Oldham Athletic 13 5 3 5 22 21 1.048 13
10 Burnley 12 5 3 4 18 18 1.000 13
11 Southampton 13 6 1 6 24 26 0.923 13
12 Port Vale 13 5 3 5 21 25 0.840 13
13 Swansea Town 13 6 0 7 23 20 1.150 12
14 Notts County 13 5 2 6 24 28 0.857 12
15 Tottenham Hotspur 13 3 4 6 24 27 0.889 10
16 Bradford City 13 3 4 6 21 29 0.724 10
17 Manchester United 13 3 4 6 18 25 0.720 10
18 Chesterfield 12 4 2 6 17 28 0.607 10
19 Preston North End 13 3 3 7 19 34 0.559 9
20 Barnsley 13 3 3 7 15 27 0.556 9
21 Bristol City 13 2 2 9 15 29 0.517 6
22 Charlton Athletic 12 1 2 9 13 27 0.481 4

The series so far…

Untold Arsenal 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

 

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