by Tony Attwood
This is part of a series of articles covering every aspect of Arsenal FC throughout the 1930s. Details of all the other articles in the series are given below.
At the end of 1937 the league table looked a lot more promising from Arsenal’s point of view than it had before.
|5||Preston North End||22||8||8||6||36||26||1.39||24|
|16||West Bromwich Albion||20||8||3||9||36||41||0.88||19|
Over the Christmas games Arsenal had lost two and only won one, but although Arsenal’s results were not of the best, others had a bit of slippage too. Looking at the last six games at the end of the year, Arsenal were still the form team with four wins and two defeats. No one else in the top ten had won more than two of their last six, which explains why Arsenal had now climbed up to third in the league.
Arsenal began the new year at home to Everton who had been soundly beaten in the opening match of the season, and had having continued in the same vein of form and were now 19th and had only won one of the last five. Their home form was modest – five wins, two draws, three defeats and they were two points above the relegation positions.
From a historical point of view we can see that the most important point about this game was that Reg Lewis came in for Ted Drake to play his first ever league game at the age of 17. Reg Lewis had joined from the nursery club Margate on 9 May 1935, and went on to score 103 goals in 154 league games in a career cut short of course by the war. Inevitably Reg scored.
Sidey also came in for Joy but the team was not disrupted by that change and secured a 2-1 win (Hunt getting the second goal) taking Arsenal up to second in the league. as Brentford were held with a 1-1 draw by Bolton while Leeds and Charlton also drew – 2-2 in that case.
There was then sad news as on 6 January 1938: Joe Hulme transferred to Huddersfield Town at the age of 33, after 12 wonderful years at Highbury in which he played 333 games, scoring 107 goals. He won three championship medals, two Cup winners medals and was the only player to play in all of Arsenal’s pre-war Cup finals.
Then as always there was the first pause for the FA Cup, this time a home game against Bolton who were now lying 7th in the league but with only one win in the last seven league games.
For this game the defensive unit was restored: Male, Joy and Hapgood at the back, Crayston and Copping in front of them, and the preferred forward line of Kirchen, Hunt, Drake, Jones, Bastin with Hunt and Jones dropping back to be the playmakers. It was all over at half time with one from Kirchen and two from Bastin as another home win by 3-1 saw Arsenal safely through to the fourth round. Tottenham, who were going nowhere fast in the second division and sitting comfortably in mid-table also got through with a win over Blackburn.
However there was then one of those surprises that FA Cup draws like to hand out. Having had a third round tie against another first division club, Arsenal got the same again for the fourth round. But not just against any club – it was against the increasingly impressive Wolverhampton – away from home. And that wasn’t all, because a quick look at the league fixtures showed that the previous week Arsenal were also down to play… Wolverhampton, away, in the league.
Wolverhampton were now sitting fourth in the league, but with three games in hand over the league leaders, and were still unbeaten at home (although they had drawn four of the ten games.)
For the first of the matches against Arsenal it was noted that Wolverhampton had been slipping of late with just three wins in their last nine, but they had won their last league game beating Man City 4-2 away to take themselves up to second. For this, the league game, Bastin was forced to step down and his regular substitute, Dennis Compton played on the wing.
And… Arsenal lost 1-3 and slipped down to third in the league. The only good news was that for the first time in six appearances Drake got a goal. Brentford, Charlton and Bolton all won to keep up the pressure at the top.
For the second game against Wolverhampton, this one being in the Cup, Arsenal returned with the same team save for Bastin on the wing, and this time won 2-1. Arsenal were through to the fifth round. Drake scored again (another good sign) and Kirchin got the other.
There was also some amusement when the news came through that Tottenham had played a goalless draw with New Brighton of Division III North. They did manage to win the replay at WHL by winning 5-2 however.
Finally Arsenal had another away game – their third in a row, this against Sunderland, who had won just two of their last 12, but were still sitting within two points of Arsenal. Once again the same team was maintained for the most part but Lewis was given a chance for his second game, having scored in his first, but this time Arsenal could only manage a 1-1 draw. Hunt scored.
Here’s the Arsenal summary for the month…
|Date||Opponent||Op pos||Venue||Result||Pos||Pt||Crowd||*Av crowd|
|08.01.1938||Bolton W FAC3||7||home||W3-1||64016||44,045|
One interesting point is the difference between the crowds at Wolverhampton on FA Cup day and for the League match. The Cup crowd was much bigger even though the league match could be seen as a potential league title decider, even this early in the season.
The abbreviations, as always…
- Op pos, is the league position of the opposition before the game. Chesterfield’s position is obviously in relation to Division 2.
- Pos is Arsenal’s position after the game
- AC is the average crowd in league matches 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. *reminds us that the average crowds are only based on league games and for cup games are just provided by way of comparison.
Finally we come to the league table at the end of the month… The team form was now Wolverhampton with five wins and a draw in the last six, followed by Brentford with four wins, a draw and a defeat. Arsenal’s last six in the league had only yielded two wins, one draw and three defeats.
Wolverhampton were now four points above Arsenal with a game in hand – that defeat against Wolverhampton in the league was looking to be a possible death knell for a challenge on the title. Maybe it would be another Cup year.
|7||Preston North End||25||9||10||6||41||29||1.41||28|
The full details of the 1930s series can be found below.
Arsenal History on Kindle
The novel “Making the Arsenal” by Tony Attwood which describes the events of 1910, which created the modern Arsenal FC, is now available for the first time on Kindle. Full details are here.
Also available: Woolwich Arsenal: the club that changed football (Kindle Edition) For full details please see here.
For an index of the various series on this site please see the home page.
Here is the 1930s series to date…
- 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.
- 52: Arsenal in the Summer 1935 after three championships in a row
- 53: September 1935: After three successive championships things get sticky
- 54: October 1935: Ok but not good enough
- 55: November 1935; Drake starts scoring again.
- 56: December 1935: beating the record, and record confusions. Ted Drake before and after the magnificent seven.
- 57: January 1936: the league won’t be won, but what about the FA Cup…
- 58: February 1936: an early example of rotational selection
- 59: March 1936: Wembley again but player rotation starts affecting the crowds
- 60: April/May 1936; Arsenal win the Cup. A match report and season’s end
- 61: Arsenal in the Summer of 1936
- 62: Arsenal players 1934/5 and 1935/36: the fundamental problem with the team
- 63: August / Sept 1936: 20 different players used in the first seven league games
- 64: October 1936: Arsenal in free fall
- 65: November 1936: Arsenal reborn, TV starts, the king demands, the palace burns down.
- 66: December 1936: Top of the league as the king steps down.
- 67: January 1937: Arsenal unbeaten as the goalkeepers change (again).
- 68: February 1937: Seven in the cup, and all to play for in the league
- 69: March 1937: Arsenal top but Man City close in
- 70: April / May 1937: Arsenal slip back and Man City triumph – for the moment
- 71: Arsenal players 1936/7, Arsenal crowds in the 30s, and comparisons with earlier years
- 72: Arsenal in the summer: the overseas tour of 1937
- 73: Arsenal in August and September 1937: a brilliant start and a TV first.
- 74: Arsenal in October 1937: Allison decides it is time for a total change.
- 75: Arsenal in Nov 1937; a tactical signing changes the game
- 76: Arsenal in December 1937; a settled team and a revival
For an index of the various series on this site please see the home page.