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GCR Books

Arsenal in November 1932: records fall, greatness beckons.

By Tony Attwood

The month began with Arsenal top of the league…

Arsenal had been encouraged by a defeat at the end of October for Aston Villa away to West Brom, but there was no mistaking Villa’s desire to overcome Arsenal, after the torment of losing out in 1931.

Aston Villa had not won the league since 1910, but had been second, four times (including 1931).  Having slipped back to 5th in 1931/2 they were determined to recover and win another title.  In fact the reverse happened and by 1936, as Arsenal’s success story steamed ahead, Villa were back in the second division.   But that is taking us ahead of ourselves.

Back in 1932, each side had four league games in November, two home and two away, starting out on 5 November, when Aston Villa with the home advantage beat Blackpool 6-2.

But 5 November was a special day for Arsenal – for three reasons.  First, Arsenal were away to Wolverhampton and Arsenal scored their biggest away victory in the league thus far 1-7 at Wolverhampton.  Jack got a hattrick, Bastin 2 and Lambert 2.  Coleman having scored in every game since he came in, was injured and dropped out, so Lambert took over and immediately got two goals to remind the manager he could still do it.

Wolves were however bottom of the league and had a goal difference of 20 for 31 against.   (The record scoreline page on Arsenal.com seems to have missed this game, but I’ve treble checked and it certainly happened!)

But there was more.   First Arsenal thus scored 3+ goals for the fifth league match running – a feat not repeated under 2008/9.

And finally, on 5 November 1932: Gillespie Road tube station became Arsenal (Highbury Hill).  The Highbury Hill element of the name was later dropped as the station adopted its long term name of Arsenal. (See also “Chapman’s achievements“).

Next up on 12 November Aston Villa were away to Everton, last season’s surprise champions.  The result was a 3-3 draw.   Arsenal on the other hand made it 11 wins, two draws and one defeat from the start of the season  with a 1-0 win over Newcastle who were ninth in the league.  This was also the first time the new West Stand was used by the paying public.

The crowd was 56,498 – the first time it had passed the 50,000 barrier this season (in part because of the work on the west side of the ground.  But it was also not surprising that everyone wanted to be there, what with Arsenal having just scored 15 in the last two.  Coleman was back at number 9.  Hulme got the goal.

Which set everything up for the Aston Villa v Arsenal game on November 19.  Coleman, having come back for the previous game, was out of the side again, and Lambert took his place once more.

Whatever result people were predicting it probably was not the result they got: Aston Villa 5 Arsenal 3,   Jack, Lambert and Bastin scoring for Arsenal.  Coleman had obviously had not pleased the manager in the match the week before and Lambert was back, and scored again.  But otherwise it was Arsenal’s now preferred lineup which had been so settled in the last four games (with the exception of the number 9).

Villa went top on goal average as a result, but the difference between the two clubs was narrow indeed.  And although it was shocking that this Arsenal defence, so carefully built up by Chapman, could let in five, this was part of a run in which Arsenal scored 40 goals in nine games, 12 of which came from Bastin.

But it should also be remembered that at this time, Villa was Arsenal’s bogey team. Arsenal had only managed to beat Villa twice in 11 league games, dating back to 1927 and Villa could boast six league titles and six FA Cup triumphs to Arsenal’s one of each, so it very much looked like the old boys establishing their position against the upstarts.

Except that on 26 November while Arsenal were beating Middlesbrough 4-2 at Highbury, Villa were losing 5-2 away to Man City who at kick off were 19th, one point above Middlesbrough.  Quite how Villa could beat Arsenal 5-3 and then lose to such a lowly team as Man City 5-2 is hard to say.

Villa had scored 14 goals in their previous three games, and had only lost one game so far in the season.  What is more odd is that the team that beat Arsenal was exactly the same team, man for man, as the lineup that lost to Manchester City.

For Arsenal’s game on November 26, Coleman (2) Hulme and Jack obliged with the goals.  Alex James was injured and Parkin got his first game of the season at number 10.

The combination of results took Arsenal back to the top of the league, but it wasn’t quite all over for the month for on November 30, Racing Club de Paris came to Highbury for the first time – and for that game Chapman made a number of changes.  Roberts and John dropped out for Hayes and Sidey, Jack and Coleman dropped out for Lambert and Stockill.  It was in fact one of only two times that Racing played at Highbury – the other being in 1953.

Here’s the regular table of results etc with a guide to the abbreviations below

Date Opponent Op Pos H/A Result Pos Pts Crowd AC
05.11.32 Wolverhampton  22 A W7-1  1 22 43,570  27,104
12.11.32 Newcastle  9 H W1-0  1 24 56,498  41,958
19.11.32 Aston Villa  2 A L3-5  2 24 58,066  32,249
26.11.32 Middlesbrough  21 H W4-2  1 26 34,640 41,958
30.11.32 Racing Club de Paris  — H W3-0   —  — 20,000
  • 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 (in the previous column) and the norm expected by the home side.

The league table at the end of the month looked like this…

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