By Tony Attwood
Arsenal ended September in the lower reaches of the first division – way below what had been hoped for after their dramatic seizing of the Championship for the fifth time the previous May.
They were at least undefeated in the last two games however (although saying this is rather a case of clutching at straws), and they had made bad starts to the season before. Although these starts had not been quite this bad in the 1930s, for Arsenal were now only two points above Brentford who occupied one of the relegation spots.
And since this was the season immediately after the one in which champions Manchester City had been relegated, the notion of a sudden decline of a previously top club was a topic for debate.
Here is the foot of the table at the start of October.
The month started with a match away to Sunderland which ended goalless. The good news was that Arsenal had now gone three successive games without conceding a goal and thus three without defeat. The bad news was that in those three games they had only scored only once. Nelson came in at outside right, Cumner continued at outside left and Les Jones returned to his more familiar inside right role. Drake was still centre forward, but had thus far scored only one goal.
At least the team now had a full week between games, with no more friendlies arranged, and they used the time properly to prepare for a home match against Grimbsy. The Marriners were occupying their usual position in the lower reaches of the league, and had not won in their last three games. Crayston dropped out, Les Jones returned to right half and Bremner took his place at inside left. Bastin was still injured.
But despite any worries about the team changes, Bastin’s injury and Drake’s non-scoring run, it was a 2-0 victory for Arsenal with Bremner and Kirchen scoring, making it four games without conceding.
There was now another full week’s break before the away game to Chelsea who were sitting 13th with two defeats and three draws in the last five games. Those two defeats had both been by 1-5, against Blackpool and Manchester United and that gave Arsenal hope.
At last Bastin came back, although playing at inside right, where he had played before, but it was far from being his natural position. But the best that could be said was that Arsenal scored a couple of goals. The worst of it was that Arsenal lost 4-2 against such modest opposition.
For the next match wholesale changes were made, not least because on the same day Wales had a home game against England which Wales won 4-2. Copping and Hapgood played for England, Bryn Jones and Reg Cumner played for Wales. This was Reg Cumner’s international debut – his first of three caps and he certainly would have had more full caps had it not been for the war. (He was one of a handful of players who came through the Margate nursery and went on to play for their country.)
As a result of this match Leslie Compton, Wilfred Walsh, George Drury and Alex Wilson came in for their first games of the season and Bastin moved back to outside left. Walsh was another Margate man and this was indeed his first game for the club. He made three appearances in all for the season and moved on to Derby on 26 June 1939. Drury had played 11 times in the previous season and this year played 23 league games for Arsenal – another player of great promise whose years in football were lost to the war. Alex Wilson had played 37 games in the 1935/6 season when he was an FA Cup winner, but he then had dropped out of favour. This was the first of 19 games for this season – he moved on to St Mirren on 14 January 1941.
Preston had risen to sixth earlier in the season, but two draws and a defeat in the last three had taken them back down the table, an ultimately Arsenal won the match thanks to an own goal from Beattie. Not the most convincing way to win a match, but at least Arsenal were back in the top 10.
On 26 October 1938: England beat the Rest of Europe 3-0 at Highbury on a Wednesday afternoon. Early closing of the local shops allowed 40,185 to attend and Hapgood and Copping played. It was the second match to be shown live on British TV – the first having been the Arsenal v Arsenal Reserves match, also (obviously) at Highbury.
There was just one more league match in the month – this against Bolton, away from home. After a modest start they had risen to third thanks to a run of five wins and a draw in six games, slipping back to fourth prior to this match against Arsenal following a defeat to Huddersfield in the week before.
Despite the return from international duty of the regular squad members, Collet, Walsh and Drury kept their places, only Hapgood returning straight into the Arsenal team. Drake continued to play at centre forward despite still having only scored one goal all season. Bastin continued at outside left. The result was a 1-1 draw, Bryn Jones now playing at inside right getting the goal. Arsenal stayed in 10th place.
Here is the table of results for the month…
|Date||Opponent||Op pos||Venue||Result||Pos||Pts||Crowd||Av crowd|
|22.10.1938||Preston North End||12||home||W1-0||10||11||40,296||39,102|
Here are 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.
And here is the league table at the end of the month.
Derby were very much the team in form with five wins and one defeat in the last six. Of the others in the top ten only Middlesborugh had managed four wins (along with two defeats). Arsenal’s last six had given them two wins, and three draws. But six goals in the last five games was not what the Arsenal crowd was used to.
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.
- 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
- 77: Arsenal in January 1938: two steps backwards but a new genius emerges.
- 78: Arsenal in February 1938: a true resurgence takes us top of the league.
- 79: March 1938: Arsenal at the top and a fifth title looks possible
- 80: April/May 1938: from no titles to five in one decade – and the most amazing title of them all.
- 81: Arsenal in the summer: 1938. The Nazi salute; the world record signing.
- 82: Arsenal players in the 1937/38 title winning side, and comparisons with earlier seasons
- 83: August/September 1938/39. The start of the end.
- 84: Arsenal in the summer: 1938. The Nazi salute; the world record signing.