1934-35 season statistics and a comparison with the previous seasons
By Tony Attwood
The quote is oft repeated that George Allison was the luckiest football manager that ever lived – for he inherited the Chapman team, and just had to watch them play.
To see how reasonable an analysis this is, or to consider whether it is an unworthy slur I’ve compared the 1934/5 season with 1933/4 and also added in the players who played in 1932/3 – the three seasons in which Arsenal won the league consecutively.
The first thing to note in relation to Allison’s management is that the 1934/5 season included five players who did not play in the previous season. Of these Copping and Crayston became mainstays of the squad. Also we might include Ted Drake, was the sensation of the season with 42 goals in 41 games. He only joined at the end of the previous season – and was a player that Chapman had hall marked and pursued with a vigour prior to his death. Indeed it seems the essence of the transfer was already in place in January 1933, although Drake did not move until March.
So in many ways this was still the team of the previous year – a season that Chapman had managed until his untimely death halfway through the season. Ten players who had played 20+ games in 1933/4 were still playing for Arsenal in 1934/5, and of these only Jimmy Dunne really dropped out of the limelight.
But what of the season before – the championship winning season of 1932/3.
The table below lists all the players who played in 1934/5, the third consecutive championship team, and then in the subsequent columns includes the performances of those in the two previous championship winning teams. (Full details of the squads for 1933/4 and 1932/3 – along with previous seasons – are given in earlier articles.)
|Player||Position||Pld 34/5||Goals 34/5||Pld 33/4||Goals 33/4||Pld 32/3||Goals 32/3|
|Cliff Bastin||Outside Left||36||20||38||13||43||33|
|Pat Beasley||Wing half||20||6||23||10|
|Ralph Birkett||Outside rt.||4||2||15||5|
|Ray Bowden||Inside right||24||14||32||13||7||2|
|Les Compton||Full back||5||1||4|
|Wilf Copping||Left half||31|
|Jack Crayston||Right half||37||3|
|Robert Davidson||Inside f’wd||11||2|
|Peter Dougall||Inside left||8||1||5|
|Ted Drake||Centre f’wd||41||42||10||7|
|Jimmy Dunne||Centre f’wd||1||21||9|
|Eddie Hapgood||Left back||34||1||40||38|
|Frank Hill||Wing half||15||3||25||27||1|
|Joe Hulme||Outside rt||16||8||8||5|
|Alex James||Inside left||30||4||22||3||41||3|
|Bob John||Half Back||9||31||1||37|
|George Male||Full back||39||42|
|James Marshall||Inside f’wd||4|
|Herbie Roberts||Centre half||36||30||1||37|
|Tim Rogers||Outside rt||5||2|
|Norman Sidey||Centre half||6||12||3|
|Reg Trim||Full back||1|
|George Cox||Centre f’wd||*||2|
|Ray Parkin||Inside f’wd||*||5||5|
*Only involved in friendly games.
The nine players shown in red played in all three seasons – and this perhaps is the figure that most of all shows just how much of a legacy Chapman created. Not just a league winning team (twice) but a team of which nine players would still be playing in a league winning team the following season, and the season after.
However even if we do see Allison as inheriting a wonderful team, he still had to manage the team and get the results. And most certainly one thing he did do was get the goals flowing again. In winning the league in 1933/4 the Arsenal goal scoring machine had slipped as this comparison across the Chapman years and beyond shows…
In 1934/5 Allison gained one fewer point than the league winners’ of the previous season, but the same as the season before – so his achievement was on a part with that of Chapman’s.
The goal scoring of 1934/5 was the third highest in the club’s history – and a very significant improvement on 1933/4.
But (and this is generally ignored, and yet is incredibly important) this was the best defensive record of Arsenal in the first division, except for 1904/5 when the club only played 34 games and let in 40 goals.
Indeed the defence was what Allison changed, bringing in Copping and Crayston as the defensive mid-field pairing. So yes, Allison did benefit from all the groundwork laid by Chapman but he put his own mark on the club.
Even better than that however, and perhaps reflecting his previous role as an administrator of the club, he kept the gate receipts rising.
The highest divisional average ever achieved for the first division was 1919/20 as the troops returned from war. Chelsea gained an average gate of 42,615 but since then the top club’s gate had declined to 1924/5 when 29,485 was the top average gate in the first division.
Gates had gone up and down in the following years until Arsenal took over as the club with the highest average league attendances in 1930:
- 1928/29: Manchester City – 31,715
- 1929/30: Arsenal – 35,537
- 1930/31: Arsenal – 37,106
- 1931/32: Arsenal – 40,507
- 1932/33: Arsenal – 41,958
- 1933/34: Arsenal – 40,750
- 1934/35: Arsenal – 46,252
And there is nothing to suggest that somehow the competition was easier one year than the other. Here is the top of the final table for 1933/4:
And for 1934/5
There is a remarkable similarity in terms of most of these figures – except Arsenal scored 40 more goals in Allison’s season. The third and fifth teams each time scored identical points totals.
In terms of players Arsenal used 22 players in the league in 1932/3, 24 in 1933/34, and 25 in 1934/5. A tiny increase across the seasons.
But of course it is in goalscoring that the big difference can be seen.
|Season||Top scorer||Goals||2nd scorer||Goals||3rd scorer||Goals|
What Allison had was Ted Drake, a goal scoring machine equal to Jack Lambert in 1930/31 (38 goals in 34 games) and Bastin in 1932/3.
Indeed, we keep coming back to the same two points. What Allison was given was Ted Drake. What he added was a much tighter pair of midfield enforcers.
All he had to do now was to keep the trophies coming.
Arsenal in the 30s
- 1: Life in 1930 and winning the first major trophy.
- 2: The cup winners who dropped out and the players who came in
- 3: How Chapman put his triumphant 1931 team together.
- 4: September 1930; played 8 won 7 drawn 1.
- 5: October 1930: A stumble, Villa are close behind, Man U have 12 defeats in a row.
- 6: November 1930: Scoring 5 in three games in one month.
- 7: December 1930: 3 games in 3 days and 14 goals scored.
- 8: January 1931: the biggest league win ever at Highbury
- 9: February 1931: the goals just won’t stop coming.
- 10: March 1931: hope, defeat, hope
- 11: April 1931: Arsenal win the league for the very first time.
- 12: Arsenal in the summer of 1931, the records and the Scandinavian tour
- 13: Arsenal in shock – July and August 1931
- 14: September 1931; the champions recover from a poor start.
- 15: October 1931: Arsenal lose to Grimsby
- 16: November 1931: Chapman’s exasperation with goal keepers
- 17: December 1931: A scoring sensation but a dreadful month
- 18: January 1932: A return to form and a record score
- 19: February 1932: From a faltering start to nine wins in a row
- 20: March 1932: Huge crowds, an emergency signing, better results, another semi-final
- 21: April 1932: Film of Arsenal in the Cup Final, and attempts to win the league.
- 22: Arsenal in the summer of 1932. Arsenal runners up in league and cup, Man U’s average gate drops below Plymouth’s, Stanley Matthews first game, and the greatest run in Arsenal’s entire history is about to begin.
- 23: August 1932 – preparing for the ultimate greatness.
- 24: September 1932: Arsenal’s first steps into immortality
- 25: October 1932: The rise to the stars
- 26: November 1932: Records fall, greatness beckons.
- 27: December 1932: Greatness and supremacy
- 28: January 1933: Top of the league and defeated by Walsall.
- 29: February 1933: New shirts, awful weather, a record score
- 30: March 1933: Top of the league but a month to forget
- 31: April/May 1933: Champions for the second time
- 32: 1929/33: All the men who played in the League for Arsenal.
- 33: Arsenal in the summer 1933: Champions and water shortages
- 34: August/September 1933 – the start of the new season.
- 35: October 1933 – a return to progress
- 36: November 1933 – displacing Tottenham.
- 37: December 1933: Chapman’s last month; Arsenal triumphant
- 38: January 1934: The death of Chapman
- 39: February 1934. Chapman is gone, but the club moves on.
- 40: March 1934. Chapman’s two teams fight for the title
- 41: April 1934. Joe Shaw wins the league for Chapman
- 42: 1933/34 League players, and how the goals declined but the crowds went up.
- 43: Arsenal in the summer 1934: Allison takes over from Shaw and Chapman.
- 44: August/Sep 1934: Allison starts with a bang
- 45: October 1934 – Arsenal finally blow away the north London curse
- 46: November 1934: vying for the top of the league, and the Battle of Highbury
- 47: Arsenal in December 1934: two steps forward, two steps back.
- 48: January 1935: Suddenly Arsenal’s form turns upside down
- 49: February 1935. Despite one slip, Arsenal remain top.
- 50: March 1935: Beating Tottenham by a record score
- 51: April/May 1935: Winning the league for the third time in succession.