By Tony Attwood
Arsenal finished the 1938/9 season in fifth place (not their worst since 1930, but still rather disappointing for the reigning champions).
They then set off on a post season tour which took in six Scandinavian games and a seventh against the Belgian national side.
Writing of this tour Bernard Joy called it “Easily the most successful tour undertaken” although as he says, he was “unable to make the trip” so I guess he was thinking only of the results. There were other absences too: Bastin, Denis Compton, George Swindin, and Alex Wilson did not travel, although (and this is Bernard Joy at his most infuriating) he doesn’t tell us why.
The explanation might be that Allison wanted to give games to Laurie Scott, Geroge Marks (who played in goal for each of the games) and Gordon Bemner, and Joy does note that the average age of the side was in the early 20s. He also tells us that after the game on 26 May, the team returned to London before setting off again for the final game against the Belgium national side.
Scott, Leslie Compton, Male and Cartwright shared the right back position on the tour, Compton mostly playing left back, with Young getting one game. Crayston, Cartwright and Pride played in different games at right half, while Fields, Sidey and Les Jones took centre half, and Jones, Collet and Fields played right half.
Kirchen Drake and Walsh shared duties at outside right, Drury and Bremner took inside right, Drake and Lewis naturally shared centre forward, Bryn Jones, Drury and Curtis played inside left and on the left wing we had Nelson for every game except one in which Kirchen took over.
|10/05/1939||Sweden||4-0||40,000||Drury 1||Crayston||Kirchen 2|
|12/05/1939||Swedish XI||8-2||20,000||Lewis 2||Nelson 3||Compton||Drake 2|
|16/05/1939||Gothenburg Alliance||3-0||26,000||Drury 1||Drake 2|
|22/05/1939||Danish XI||3-0||30,000||Drury 1||Lewis 2|
|24/05/1939||Danish XI||4-1||4,500||Bremner 1||Lewis 3|
|26/05/1939||Danish XI||6-0||21,000||Drury 1||Lewis 1||Crayston 2||Kirchen2|
|04/06/1939||Diables Rouges||5-1||25,000||Drury 2||Lewis 1||Nelson 2|
Meanwhile the England internationals proceeded. On 13 May 1939 England played away to Italy and drew 2-2 with Male and Hapgood in the team. Then on 18 May 1939 England played Yugoslavia away with the same Arsenal players in the team. This was Eddie Hapgood’s last game for England. He played 30 games in all for England including captaining England in the notorious game against Germany in Berlin on 14 May 1938, where the players were ordered to give the Nazi salute before the game.
Finally on 24 May 1939 we have Romania v England which England won 2-0 . Male and Copping played, and again it was their final appearances. It was England’s last full international for seven years with Male finally getting 19 caps and Copping 20 caps.
Back in England on 3 June 1939 Jimmy Logie signed for Arsenal from Lochore Welfare. He served in the Royal Navy through the war before returning to Arsenal with whom he won the league twice.
On 26 June 1939 Wilf Wash was sold to Derby. He had spent two years at Margate before making his three league appearances as a forward, but was not considered by Allison to be of the quality needed.
Elsewhere in the summer however all the talk was of preparations for war. On 28 June the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force was created, absorbing the companies of the Auxiliary Territorial Service. Then on 1 July the Women’s Land Army was re-formed to work in agriculture.
At its AGM on 5 July 1939 the Football League finally allowed numbered shirts having previously outlawed them as Herbert Chapman and others tried to introduce the concept.
Back with football Arsenal made one signing: on 9 August 1939 Lionel Smith signed as a pro. He had joined as an amateur left back and signed professionally in August on the eve of the new season.
And that season began in effect on 19 August 1939 with another Arsenal v Tottenham friendly, which Arsenal won 1-0. Clearly the clubs had found the experiment which had been tried with a similar game before the start of the season in 1938 to their taste. But more of that in the next article when we consider what happened to the Football League in September 1939 and thereafter.
Arsenal in the 30s, the series
- 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: the Nazi salute, Bastin as the symbol, Whittaker for England, the world record signing.
- 82: August/September 1938. The start of the end.
- 83: Arsenal in October 1938: the champions stagnating in mid-table
- 84: November 1938: facing relegation?
- 85: December 1938: the manager makes changes and a new hero is found
- 86: Arsenal in January 1939: some signs of recovery.
- 87: February 1939: Arsenal struggle to make a continuing impact.
- 88: March 1939: goalscoring and away form are the key problems
- 89: April / May 1939: Arsenal clamber back to 5th, and achieve film stardom