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Woolwich Arsenal in the FA Cup 1898-1901

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1898/9

1st round proper.  Jan 28.   Derby County (home).  Lost 0-6  Crowd 20,000

Another attempt at breaking past the first round barrier without success.  We were excused the preliminary rounds, presumably on the basis of sauntering through once again last year, but came down with a crash.

This was our eighth appearance in the competition proper, and each time we had lost.  Here’s the rather awful record…

  • 1890/1 Derby County (home) 1-2
  • 1891/2 Small Heath (away) 1-5
  • 1892/3 Sunderland (away) 0-6
  • 1893/4 The Wednesday (home) 1-2
  • 1894/5 Bolton Wanderers (away) 0-1
  • 1895/6 Burnley (away) 1-6
  • 1897/8 Burnley (away) 1-3
  • 1898/9 Derby County (home) 0-6

In this final year of humiliation, Derby had a good first division season, ending up third.  Woolwich Arsenal were seventh in the second division.

1899/1900

3rd prelim round.  Oct 28.   New Brompton (home).  Drew 1-1  Crowd 5,500

3rd prelim round.  Nov 1.   New Brompton (away).  Drew 0-0  Crowd 2,000

3rd prelim round.  Nov 6.   New Brompton (at Millwall).  Drew 2-2  Crowd 2,000

3rd prelim round.  Nov 8.   New Brompton (at Tottenham).  Drew 1-1  Crowd 2,000

3rd prelim round.  Nov 14.   New Brompton (at Gravesend).  Lost 0-1  Crowd 3,000

We played New Brompton last in 1897/8 and details of that club appear in the review of that season.

What’s rather interesting is if we look at the whole series of fixtures at this time.

  • Oct 28.   New Brompton (home).  Drew 1-1  Crowd 5,500
  • Nov 1.   New Brompton (away).  Drew 0-0  Crowd 2,000
  • Nov 4.  Newton Heath (away). Lost 0-2.  Crowd 5,000
  • Nov 6.   New Brompton (at Millwall).  Drew 2-2  Crowd 2,000
  • Nov 8.   New Brompton (at Tottenham).  Drew 1-1  Crowd 2,000
  • Nov 11.  The Wednesday (home).  Lost 1-2.  Crowd 7,000
  • Nov 14.   New Brompton (at Gravesend).  Lost 0-1  Crowd 3,000

18 days and seven matches – all pretty much with the same team.  And not a win in sight.

1900/01

Despite the fiasco of last season’s results in the Cup Woolwich Arsenal were given a bye until the final supplementary round in the first season of the new century.   And wouldn’t you know it…

Final supplementary round.  Jan 5.   Darwen (away).  Won 2-0  Crowd 5,000

Yes we actually got through to the first round again.

There seems to be a lot of Darwen clubs around, including AFC Darwen, Darwen Old Wanderers and Darwen Ramblers, but it looks like we played Darwen.

This famous old club, dates from the very start of association football (founded in 1875, when Association Rules were drawn up).  Like Woolwich Arsenal they relied on Scottish players to get themselves established.

We should not think of their early years as being just another non-league team.  They got to the quarter-finals of the FA Cup before Arsenal were born (in 1878-79) and the semis 1880-81.   

They joined the Football League in 1891 but finished bottom, but were saved by the creation of Division II into which they moved, and thus entered an up and down phase, by 1894-5 being more regularly in the same division as Woolwich Arsenal.

In 1899 Darwen (along with Blackpool) were not re-elected and so joined the Lancashire League in 1899 which is where they were when Woolwich Arsenal met them in the Cup.

1st round proper.  Feb 9.   Blackburn Rovers (home).  Won 2-0  Crowd 11,000

At last, Arsenal had made it into the second round of the cup. At last we had beaten a first division team (at least I think this was the first victory over a first division team in the cup).  And Woolwich Arsenal had beaten a team that had won the FA Cup five times (1884, 1885, 1886, 1890, 1891).

2nd round proper.  Feb 23.   West Bromwich Albion (home).  Lost 0-1  Crowd 20,000

It couldn’t last, but it was nonetheless a record breaking season.  And the club must have thought they were in with a chance against WBA who ended up bottom of the league this season with just seven wins.   But the giddy heights of the second round was too much, and Woolwich Arsenal went out.  Top score of the round was Middlesbrough 5 non-league Kettering 0.

In the third round WBA went on to beat Middlesbrough away 0-1 before losing 4-0 to Tottenham in the semi-finals.  Tottenham beat Sheffield United 3-1 in a replayed final in April.

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